Jenna's 5th Grade class went on a field trip to the California Museum of Science. The busses departed at 7:30 a.m., so it was an early morning for us. Jenna worried that she wouldn't have a friend to sit with on the bus, but she was brave and asked some friends if she could sit with them. They were good sports and sat three-to-a-seat on the way over. On the way back, Jenna found another friend to sit with, so her day went pretty well. She said the science center was boring, but because she took a camera, she was able to talk about the different things she saw. The coolest was the space shuttle Endeavour. We heard later that one of the docents commented that she wished she had had a camera to take a picture of our group entering the space shuttle room. Ours was the first group of the day so it was quiet. Some great music was playing, and the kids faces were full of awe as they stared at the huge shuttle. Kind of a reverent experience I guess. They ate lunch and Jenna's friends had fun with the camera. The grounds were beautiful also, and I love that Jenna admired them enough to photograph them. This was a huge trip for her, and one of the first that I have not gone on with her. She did really well and was pretty positive about the experience.
One of my favorite bloggers posted today about the Valentine's Day she spent at a funeral for her grandmother. As she spoke about the love that her grandparents had for each other and the love shared by their children and extended family, I was impressed at her description of love. She writes about "creating love" which resonated with me as I/we try to exist in a world where love is something many view as a phenomenon that is unattainable or unsustainable. If we understood the concept that love is created, maybe we wouldn't second guess ourselves so much and spend more time appreciating how far we've come in our marital relationships. You can read her post here (the picture of her grandparents children around the casket was precious).
"...it struck me how, before “love” can be felt and written and sung about, it must first be created. And it struck me how, though the polished-up package of love is attractive, the methods of creating it are less so. Creating love is hard, and slow, and often unappreciated until years later, when you look around at your one hundred and ninety-six family members and think that someone, somewhere, did something seriously right.
Creatinglove looks very different than falling in love. Creating love looks like forfeiting the carefree days of youth for the careful responsibilities of adulthood. Creating love looks like worries about money and teething and tantrums and two jobs and a worn-down house and sewing patches (again) on your four boys’ jeans because darnit if those kids don’t go through clothes faster than you can keep them on their backs. Creating love looks like long days and long nights–many good, some bad, but all of them coming at you full force, one after the other, each demanding as much of your scrupulous energy and attention as the last. Creating love looks heavy, and it looks tired. But it always looks forward. And it always looks beyond itself."
The qualifiers are over, and the division games have begun. Heather's team is in Division 10 (there are 23 divisions). Not bad considering some of the girls haven't ever played before. We were at Los Cab this time, right in our back yard, so the day was much less stressful in terms of driving, parking, etc. The girls took 2nd.
We had the opportunity to go to a pre-screening of The Host tonight. I've been looking forward to, yet dreading, this on-screen adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's novel. There have been way to many book-to-movie projects that have fallen flat in my opinion. I really enjoyed this book, and it was not certain in my mind that they could do a decent job with it since a lot of the dialogue between the "soul" and the "host" takes place in the mind of the host. If that was confusing, read the book. It's a great read once you get through the first 100 pages or so. The movie releases at the end of March. It was well-done and visually pleasing.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday were stay at home sick days for Heather. We took her to the doctor this morning and a sinus infection was confirmed. After three days of very little activity, it was good to see some life back in the living room. Balloons can bring the pep out in any kid, especially ours.
Sarah was the last to be picked up at the slumber party, but when her mom came, the girls were not quite done. So we let them stay together all day, right through dinner. They played and played and played. These were some cute piggy-like water balloon creations. There is no end to the creative play that ensues when these friends are together. Best friends are da bomb.
Jenna finally had her birthday party this weekend. She wanted a slumber party and included friends from as far back as Kindergarten as well as new ones from her new school. All but two girls stayed over night, some for their first time, and the girls had a good time. They were crazy and goofy and all talked at once, so it was a little loud. They had fun playing games like Hullabaloo and Apples to Apples, and when we put on some Brian Setzer, there was a dance party that included a partnered dance contest. They were pretty creative with that! The settled down to episodes of AFV, stayed up a little too late, and woke up happy in the morning. After some pancakes and a bit more silliness, we said good-bye to our friends. Happy Birthday to our Jenna!
We started our Valentine's Day in the usual manner with a heart path leading to the kitchen table for breakfast. The girls found a treat on the table, and we had a nice breakfast. Since it was a school day, we didn't do anything fancy (mom actually forgot the heart pancakes). Jenna has been so enamored with the new toaster that she didn't even remember heart pancakes. Heather has begun to crave protein to sustain her in the morning, so she had a scrambled egg. I love doing a special morning of love for my girls.
One new thing I tried was an idea I found on Pinterest. Beginning February 1, I taped a heart to each girl's mirrored closet door each day while they were out of their room (the original ideas was to put them on the bedroom door). Each heart says something that is special about that daughter. I had a couple of extra hearts that I put up on Valentine's Day including one that said, "Happy Valentine's Day." They haven't said anything about the hearts, but I do catch them reading once-in-a-while. I hope they liked their special notes.
We didn't do a special dinner. I was at Volleyball with Heather, and Kelly was at Soccer with Jenna. Thank goodness OCMCO took the night off. We had a late dinner with candles, so at least we kept that tradition. Kelly and I will need a date night soon to make up for it.
The changing seasons are not reflected in California like they are in other parts of the country with the effusive color changes in the leaves or powdered sugar snow drifts that accumulate after a storm. Our air is crisp and cool, and the light shines differently from late fall to early spring, and then the warm, breezy days return.
Our personal seasons change a lot more frequently and often without visible signs. Just as we prepare and adapt for a change in a season of weather, it is prudent to prepare for or adapt to a change in a season of life. I do pretty well with a seasonal marker like a baby milestone or school starting, but subtle changes catch me off guard.
Our family has no milestone birthdays or major events occurring right now, however, my girls have started to need us more. That's not much different than it always has been except that now, they notice when we are unavailable, and I have become concerned as to what that translates into for them. We have always been present for our girls meeting their needs and loving them to pieces, but now they notice if we put something else first. They want, or rather need to be first and know that they are first in our lives. This doesn't mean we do nothing for ourselves, but it does mean that there needs to be a lot of balance going on and careful orchestration. I'm not sure what causes this need, however, I believe it has something to do with the peculiar season we/they are in their lives--middle school.
What a perilous time sixth through eighth grade is! It doesn't stop there because grades nine-twelve aren't much better, but middle school is the beginning. It's the transformation period from childhood to young adulthood. There are physical and emotional changes, and if a child ever needed to know that her parents were there for her and ready to be the soft place to fall, it's in middle school. I am beginning to see that both parents and home are needed anchors in this storm. Satan is ever present in the lives of these children who are navigating the multiple changes in their minds and bodies, and he is ready to devour. Have you noticed that experimentation with many things begins at this age--dating, make up, clothing, parties, and even sex. I know. The worst part is that he will get some of these kids before they are able to move past the middle school developmental storm and know what they want to do in their lives. Temptation will be rampant, and mistakes will be made.
It's no coincidence that parents start to 'check out' a little bit at this time (that is a general statement based on observation of parents I don't know well). The school pushes the parents away, and they begin to stay away. The school encourages the kids to be independent in their school dealings, and a parent is viewed as 'over-bearing' if they become involved. It also becomes 'uncool' on a student level for the students to have a parent involved, and the feistier kids even do their own pushing away. I've felt the feisty from one of my own, and I can see where it would be easier to wash one's hands and do what the world tells us to do which is leave them alone. I am fortunate to have many good friends who have not abandoned their kids, and we are all navigating together.
Why am I writing all of this and thinking about it? Because I have been impressed to start to shed some of the extra things in my own life to be more available to my kids. I have the feeling that casual availability isn't going to cut it anymore. Jenna will enter middle school in the fall, and Heather will enter high school. I need to have ducks in rows including enough sleep. Seminary, rigorous academic schedules, sports teams and continued development are on the horizon. I am presently thankful to feel the seasonal change and to be able to prepare for it. Parenthood has proven more than having babies, changing diapers and making lunches. It's protecting, teaching, learning, loving and guiding, moving forward when you don't think you can, and drawing strength from a higher power when you know you can't and realize you need help. It is the best job I will ever have, and I want to be an outstanding participant.
Time to make sure my seasonal tools are dusted off and ready. If you have any suggestions for how you manage these seasonal changes in life, be sure to leave a comment or send an email. I'd love to hear from you.
This storm has been a cold one, and what a day to be up early and on the road for a volleyball qualifier! Ice on the windshield, frost on our roof...crazy. But Heather was her usual happy self with her special breakfast made for her by her Daddy. He makes the best homemade fried potatoes.
The girls did pretty well today going 2-1. They took 2nd and since this was the last qualifier, the pool they end up in is where they will compete. Heather suffered a little from being off sick, although her hops were still in tack. She looked like a hitter today which means her form is improving. As soon as everything clicks with her, she is going to be amazing.
Heather was out sick on Wednesday and Thursday, and she slept in on Friday. I drove her to school around recess time, and the sky was looking a little ominous.
On my drive back home, I thought the sky was looking really pretty, blue and sunny, and then I looked in my rear view mirror. Holy dark clouds!
Just as I joined my friends for lunch at Corner Bakery, the sky opened up and let loose. What I didn't know until my girls got out was about the HAIL that fell. We didn't hear it, but the kids sure did. It was the talk of the afternoon. Just before sunset as my girls were outside running around, they called me out to look at the sky. They know the beauty of the heavens is my favorite, and these scene didn't disappoint.
Another combined choir and orchestra rehearsal on Thursday evening found us packed into our rehearsal space. It's nice to have the orchestra so that we can really hear what our music will sound like. We're singing German, Latin, Spanish and even Hungarian this time around. It is a bit stressful to memorize in other languages, but somehow we pull it off pretty well. Because our combined choirs and orchestra will be attending the ACDA convention (American Choral Directors Association) in Dallas next month, we're striving for perfection. The who's who of the choral directing world will be there, so it's a big deal. I wish I was going with everyone, but I'm going to stay home this time. I've been feeling impressed to be around that weekend with my family. I know it will be a really exciting time, and I am happy for the conductors as I know the directors from around the globe will be impressed.
We don't often rehearse at this location anymore, but I love the view as I arrive and leave.
While I was preparing for my rehearsal, Jenna was at her practice. The coach's family brought cupcakes and sang to Jenna for her birthday. That was pretty darn special!
On the morning of February 4, around 8:00 a.m. to be exact, our baby girl entered her 11th year. As I woke her up and wished her a happy birthday, she reminded me she wasn't eleven until after 8:00 a.m., but since she was going to be at school at that time, it was okay to wish her said happiness. We celebrated at breakfast with her requested fare...
and at lunch when I picked her up from school to enjoy a Corner Bakery meal...
and after school at Sky High Sports with Sarah. There was hardly a soul there, so the girls had a ball with the place mostly to themselves.
After dropping off Sarah, we continued celebrating at HomeTown Buffet where there is an unlimited dessert bar, and then back home for presents.
We spoiled Jenna today without her requesting it. She did, however, totally pick up on why she was being treated so well today which I ascertained when she remembered last year's birthday spent at the church building with mom and dad and eight hours of rehearsal time. I think we made up for that today, and we had a pretty happy (and thankful) eleven-year-old.
I'm a wife and mother of two of the sweetest girls ever. In my former life, I was an elementary school teacher. I love learning and sharing experiences, and the chance to journal for posterity. I wish I knew as much about my ancestors as my posterity is going to know about me!