Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rocky Re-entry

We missed Karate last week due to our church's Super Week (evening Vacation Bible School for the entire family), and of course my short term memory kicked in about how easily (NOT) my kids jump back into extra-curricular hobbies after being absent.  Even absent once.

It's the nature of this household.

I take a lot of deep breaths.

Harper was signed up for a three day tennis workshop this week, after 10 weeks off due to the broken armastrophe.  Although Day One never happened, due to her rocky re-entry nerves.  Day two and three?  All good.  Phew.

Same goes with Zane.  The moment we hit the door for Karate class tonight, he shared that he didn't want to take participate, and didn't want to take class next week either, which would earn him his uniform.

I sat patiently.  Really.  I did.  I prayed.  I asked him questions as to why.  The instructor is EXCELLENT and checked in with him several times.  He eventually worked up the nerve to sit with the other kids.  Me, by his side.  I love this studio, because I am well aware that at others I may not be allowed to accompany him on the floor.  Especially not at the fourth class. Maybe the first class, but fourth?  However, this place?  Dig them.

And then it happened.

All the kids have a card to mark off every 5 classes, for at the end of every 5 they take a skills test to earn a uniform, or belt, or stripe.  Zane was sitting next to an older boy (8 maybe) with a green striped belt.  Tonight, this boy was earning an orange stripe to add to it.  Said boy glanced over at Zane's card, pointed to the 1, 2, 3, and 4, and then tapped the #5 that was marked with the word "uniform".  Zane's 5th class is next week. Uniform day.

He had witnessed Zane's struggle to walk on the floor tonight.  There are only 5 kids in class, so when one sits out, it's pretty obvious.  So what does this kid go and do?

He turns to Zane, smiles, and gives him a high-five.

This was all done without speaking.  Zane beamed.

Yes, I about cried and hugged that boy.

The boy continued to encourage the other beginner in the class, who was testing for his uniform tonight, with another high-five.

Next week, I will corner that kid's Dad and congratulate him on a job well done.

And I will thank the boy as well.  And give HIM a high-five.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reading is Sexy

I am one of those annoying people who is always in the middle of a few books all at once.  There is a stack on my night stand that I rotate depending on mood.

I also seem to have developed a daily reading system which links the WHAT I am reading with the WHEN - or time of day.  I didn't plan this.  It's an organic thing.

Too confusing?

Welcome to my head.  You're here, so sit back and see if anything I write jars you to exercise yours with some reading material.

Here's a taste as to how I get it all done.

Morning:  This is usually the time when I read material to strengthen my relationship with God.  The Bible (duh) being one of those books - although I'm not a large chunk reader (although I have read through the entire book).  God has given me a unique ability to read a small portion of scripture which then triggers a very specific thought, usually based upon only  few words in the passage.  It is on these morsels that I feed.  Sometimes for days. Somehow, I am able to connect all these mini insights into what I can only describe as a pattern not unlike that of a spider web.  They are all connected.  They are all necessary.  They all flow out from the center.  Hey, it's my world. 

I also enjoy Christian non-fiction, but not in mass quantities, as (here goes my opinion) there are so many Christian books that I consider pretty fluffy.   My Pastor put it this way the other night:  "Do not mistake "leafiness" for "fruitfulness".  There are times, (admit it), that Christians are so He^%bent on the next Christian book, or movie, or website, or program, etc., that they get sidetracked from actually talking to people about the actual Lord.  Jesus wants all to know Him, not the next best Christian trend.  Ok, beat me up now.

Anyway, I am thankful to have a husband who can sniff out the fluff pretty quickly.  When he finds a book that he believes I will devour, he passes it along.  Here is the latest.  And yes, I think most peeps should read it.

The Me I Want to Be:  Becoming God's Best Version of You by John Orberg.  God doesn't call us to change into someone else when we make the choice to follow Him.  Only, sometimes we look at others and think we should resemble them.  This can only cause frustration, or as Ortberg puts it, a "languishing spirit".  I don't want the word languishing to describe me.  Thus, I'm taking a closer look at how God created me, and how the specific qualities of who I am can both draw me closer to Him and assist in best sharing His love with others.

Afternoon:  This is blog/web article time.  Here is a sampling of my fav's (in no particular order). Granted most of the blogs are written by friends . . . I get too overwhelmed to keep up with all the Mommy Bloggers of the world.  There are others I read, (I have a super long list), but I'll share more with you another time.  Also, these folks don't post everyday, so I don't hit this list daily.

Pittsburgh Mom
The Mile Marker
Huffington Post
New York Times Opinion
Chalene Johnson
Carl Daikeler
No Sugar
Debbie Legg
If Mama Ain't
Rauch House
Ordinary Time
Eat, Run, Live
Lala Land

Evening: It's fiction time.  Or personal memoir time.  Yes, a smattering non-fiction also.  I also read young adult fiction because I have children who will one day be young adults. Currently reading:  My Sister from the Black Lagoon.  Just finished:  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  On my list:  Among the Hidden, The View from Saturday, Little Bee, The Book Thief, Hunger Games, How I Became a Famous Novelist, Scout, Atticus & Boo, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.There's others, but I'm tired of linking.

So, as for my title?  You know, the one that made you go "huh"?  Reading is a passion of mine.  Passion is magnetic and contagious and even mysterious.  I, for one, think that's darn sexy.

And I have the t-shirt to prove it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Honeymoon Hiccup

One year.

One year in our new state. Our new town. Our new church.

Compare that to 18 years in the suburbs of Washington D.C., 4 years in college, and 18 years in the suburbs of Chicago.

Years in Beaver.  One.

All was great up until last week when I hit a bit of a sink hole and suddenly, without notice, craved our old community desperately. Only, it wasn't the actual community I was craving, but rather, a glorified version of it.

For example, our block back in Skokie/Evanston rarely did anything together on the 4th. No, to experience the "neighborhood" feel of Independence Day we traveled over to Harper's elementary school in north Evanston to play neighborhood playground games (sack races, pie eating contests, that sort of thing) with everyone else who actually lived there. We were located across a busy main road - rather than in that particular "sub-division" (if you can call it that) where her school was located.  Afterwards, we did the parade. Following the parade, we wandered over to a fantastic cookout hosted by an area family who invited everyone to a backyard food-fest every year.

Only, at those events we only kind of, sort of knew people. Everyone was friendly, (some, too friendly), but it wasn't as if we spent concentrated social time with these families outside of the 4th - for, honestly, it was a pretty tight-knit community.  So, for us, it was a surfacey type of fellowship.

Flash forward to this week.

Suddenly, I wanted that experience back. Why?

I have absolutely no idea.

So, how did I combat such unexpected and unwanted feelings?

We gathered some friends to go downtown for the fireworks, planned a day trip to Laurel Caverns, and then, I decided to actually go sit at the Beaver Pool and strike up conversations with people. One must note that I am not a fan of the Beaver Pool.  There aren't enough chairs, the bathrooms scare me, and I hate paying for stuff. Thankfully, however, a friend and her son and daughter were there, so my kids were quite content splashing away in the pool. Zane showed such a confidence in the water that I was actually able to jump out after a short period while he played with his friend. 

I positioned my chair (brought my own) next to an area momlete (mom/athlete) whom I've wanted to get to know better.  We winded up exchanging phone numbers, setting up a pool date for next week with a couple of kids she watches during the day who happen to be friends with Harper, and then I joined her for a yoga class later that evening. I even introduced myself to a woman who I have now seen at my local "watering holes": Good-will and SalVal. Not only that, but I actually sat and began reading a new book by John Ortberg, "The Me I Want To Be".  The book is pure therapy and knocked me right back to the present.

Can I say that it feels easier to "break in" here?  Even though many have been here for years, (like Evanston), I find myself making friendships more quickly - the kind with depth.

So, after some soul assessing, I realized that the thing I was craving on the hot July 4th day, was not actually what we had in Evanston, but rather, something we desire to have.  And to do so, we have begun initiating conversations and relationships.  Truthful ones.  Real life ones.

Just the other day I was asked how long we would be here.

"We don't plan on going anywhere.  I'd love for the kids to graduate high school here.  Really have a childhood home."

I don't know what God has in store, but that is my desire.  I'd like them to have a sense of  putting down "roots" in a neighborhood/community.  Of course, God paved the way for this move, so I have no doubt that His hand is completely masterful in designing our paths, but, here, on this day, this is what I desire.

So, I'm out of my funk now.  I will continue to meet, gather with, and enjoy my new friendships as we build our life here in Beaver.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Beaver Y2K

Yeah, I know it's Independence Day 2010.

You should know by now, that when I post something that initially doesn't make any sense, I have a point to make. A point which may or may not make sense to you, even thought it does to me.

That's the beauty of having a blog.

So, we move to this small town, right?

We learn during the first week that restaurants close early. Some as early as 4:00 pm. We welcome the owner of a locally owned appliance store into our home to help us get set up with all new gadgets. I venture into a town meeting that reminds me of a scene from The Gilmore Girls - only the discussion is more heated and the banter not as witty. That was last summer.

Did I think much of it? Well, the restaurant deal - yes. Annoying. The appliance guy having a sit down with us in our kitchen? Loved it. Town meeting? Kept my trap shut.

And yet, not once have you heard out of my mouth that Beaver is behind the times. That statement didn't come from me. It came from those of you who live here.

I just want to be sure I don't get dissed over any statements made in this blog about Beaver being 10 years behind, 'cause I didn't start that conversation.

Is Beaver 10 year behind? Maybe. In what way? I don't know. I guess, if it is, I don't mind. I don't need a strip mall on every corner. Beaver doesn't need to be Cranberry or Robinson. It's Beaver. I've been there done that with "Cranberry" and "Robinson".

Is Beaver 10 years behind in fashion? I have no idea. I stick with what I know and don't really shop much these days anyway. There does seem to be a large demographic wearing hip-hoppy wannabe looking getups - no, that wouldn't fly on the north shore of Chicago. But still, is that some sort of sign that Beaver is 10 years behind?

Music. Here again. Personal preference - not necessarily evidence of whether something is behind the times. I dig listening to the Pickle like everyone else while lounging at one of the four pools I frequent. I keep a list of friends who have them. Pools. Not pickles.

Restaurants? Main Street now boasts Japanese, Italian, and a soon to be tapas place (PLEASE OPEN SOON). If I need something else, I'd just go down to Pitt anyway.

Ok, so I'm not sure what "10 years behind" means. Yes, the pace is slower. Yes, I do happen to believe that I have experienced more cultural diversity than those who have lived here all their lives seeing as I grew up outside of D.C. and recently lived on a block where my neighbors were originally from Ghana, Jamaica, the Philippines, and Guyana. On Friday nights I would see the orthodox Jews (Hasidim even) walking to temple. But does that mean Beaver is 10 years behind? No, it just means that my world view might look a bit different based upon my former neighborhood.

Beaver people. Why exactly would you communicate that life is 10 years behind in our neck of the woods?

Just curious. And remember. I didn't say it. So don't give me a hard time. You can give me a hard time for still choosing not to get gas at BP even though I realize it's not really hurting BP. It's a just a personal choice. I'm still not stepping foot in Walmart - so I continue to be on board with shopping at small businesses. On this one, though, I just feel uncomfortable. Sorry. Tell me I'm being silly. I hear you. Just can't do it, though.

But, back to my original question. Why do you feel Beaver is stuck in the year 2000?

And, if we're 10 years behind, shouldn't I look younger?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dul/둘's a Charm

So far, so good.

Zane began Tang Soon Do classes at Steel Dragons last week.

To you it may sound corny, but I truly believe that God laid on my heart to look into Karate classes for Zane and then led me to Steel Dragons for that instruction. I looked into several schools, and found them all so large. Knowing my child as I do, I was certain that smaller class size would be essential. When I stumbled upon Steel Dragons, I had a holy spirit hunch that I'd found the place. After inquiring about classes I received a phone call from one of the owners, and was overjoyed to talk with her about her approach with the children which seemed so opposite from the intense structure and initial financial commitment I was finding at other studios.

Last week, the class consisted of her daughter, who is almost a black belt, and another young boy who had yet to receive his uniform. At this studio, uniforms are earned after 5 classes and a test. Zane thrives on that kind of thing. Today, he informed me that he only had 3 more classes to go to get his uniform.

Last week, Zane wouldn't go out on to the floor until Harper jumped in for the assist. They went out together. Then, Zane wanted me out on the floor. I didn't hesitate. I participated for part of the class and then quietly exited when I realized he was comfortable.

Today, he expressed that he was nervous because there might be new children in the class. This is exactly the type of hurdle that could block his enthusiasm and willingness to even try. BUT, the excellent gem of an instructor had left him with a task at the end of class last week, and Zane knew that it was important for him to bring to class the information that she would need for this week.

As we entered, he immediately told her that he had the information. And then, he sat with the class - even though he was the only child not in uniform (accept for the owners' youngest daughter who was trying class for the first time).

While he felt flustered during counting to 10 in Korean, another glitch that could send him running back to where parents were seated, he persevered. When the class moved out to the middle of the floor for warm-up and a trek through the jungle, Zane reminded his instructor that she had asked him to suggest that the class act like his favorite animal.  Lions.  This is complete evidence of a solid teacher - giving a child ownership and treating them as if they are an important part of the team.

After class, I asked Zane what he enjoyed most.

"I like the parts that don't make me worry."

"What do you mean, Zane? Which parts make you worry?"

"Last week made me worried. I was scared. This week, I did the whole thing."

"So you liked this part? Today's class."

"Yes. I loved it."

Can we all celebrate the fact that Zane actually participated in his FIRST "hobby" class outside of a preschool class? I know other kids take dance, t-ball, skating, etc. Zane never has, and like his sister, has been fearful of those environments. So today is officially a FIRST for him. Along with art classes, I'd say that my boy is beginning to embrace and actually attempt his interests.

We're looking forward to next week and are praying that class number set/셋 goes just as smoothly.

Way to go, Zane.