Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Ten… A developing story

This is my tenth year teaching.

I need to let that sink in a little bit.  It overwhelms me.  No, seriously.  I said it out loud today and I didn’t believe myself.  So I counted on my fingers to make sure.

I’m sure.  (Big gulp)

People who have taught longer than me will tell me that time flies, the years go faster, yadda yadda.  I know, ok?  I know.  It’s like telling a pregnant lady that if she thinks she is tired now, just wait until the baby comes.  

Some things are better left unsaid.

In my role as a division head, I only teach one class.  I spent the past two years working in our program for very academically at-risk students.  This year, I get to teach a class of Spanish again.  And so, on top of my minor freak-out about this being my TENTH year, I am also freaking out that holy cow, I have to remember how to teach Spanish.  I feel ready, but… I don’t know, nervous!

The first day of school is my absolute favorite.  I love the rush of the new kiddos, finding lockers, lost little freshmen, sharpening pencils, new outfits, old friends… It makes my heart swell every. time.  A year fresh and full of possibilities – it is the best.  And those nerves…. a thousand little butterflies ready to soar.

This year, I have been reflecting on where I will focus my energy, about how I will continue to develop in my roles in the building, but also in life in general.  It’s so funny, it’s like this new house has brought a sense of settling to life – things are still chaotic and ever-changing, but it feels stable, like I can breathe and think and do.

Part of my nerves, and oddly, part of my settling, is a song lyric that has been stuck in my brain for about two weeks now.  I think about it over and over, and then I pray about it, and wrestle with what it might mean.  I can’t get it out.  And with my tenth year gearing up to go, it just repeats and repeats…

“Every time somebody lives to serve and not be served…”

That’s it.

The message is clear as a bell.  There is no denying that.  How that serving looks in my world gives me much to consider, and certainly reflection on those times when I am living to be served merit reflection as well.  I can easily point to the others around me who I feel are demanding to be served, but this isn’t about them – it’s about me, and about a lyric that, in this tenth year, when life would seem to be settled, somehow is my driving force for change.

Go.

Do.

Try.

Help.

Love.

Live to serve and not be served.

This is a developing story.  More from the field as it becomes available.

To listen to the full song from which this lyric comes, see below:

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Zoo Day, Take 3

Sitting in my new writing space, I’m watching the last of our summer sunshine slip through the treetops.  I went back to work last week, but tomorrow, all of our teachers report.  The girls will go back to their Mimi Daycare.  John will be up and dressed in the morning.  Our routine will begin to settle in.

Our annual traditions have come and gone for the year, but as I wrap up the loose ends of a summer vacation, I realized that I didn’t write down enough of those moments.  After all, I write so that my girls can remember – when I don’t write, they have to rely on my poor photography skills and fuzzy memory to piece together their childhood.

So I write.

Ellie and I had our annual Zoo Day much earlier this summer.  Although, it’s worth noting that the traditional date, which is the day after I finish my school year, flew by without our normal outing.  At the end of the school year, I had a brief bout of food poisoning, and we moved, and I had to hire some positions unexpectedly… and soon it was mid-June with no Zoo trip.  So Ellie stomped into the kitchen, grabbed a permanent marker, and scrawled “ZOO DAY” on the calendar.

How does one argue with permanent marker in almost five-year-old handwriting?

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It’s funny, I don’t know if it is just because she has grown so much over the last year, or if it was timing, or just me, but this trip felt so different for me than in the past.  In year one, she was still in a stroller and pull-ups; year two brought an obsession with zebras and the bathrooms. This year, she wanted two things: Dippin’ Dots and a ride on the trolley.

She loves to get a zoo map and navigates through the zoo like any good tourist would do:

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By far, her favorite animal is still the zebra…

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But she also got a great kick out of the river otters this year.  She even picked out a river otter toy from the gift shop this year.  She lingered longer at each exhibit, too.  Since she can now read, she took great joy in examining the placards in front of each animal.  Things that she was once scared of, no longer made her panic.  I, the proud mother, happily snapped pictures of my brave girl, conquering the dreaded kangaroo pouch, the swamp, and that silly bird house.

We took our annual selfie on the trolley…

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And she made point to stand in every. single. one. of these look-through thingies (do they have a name???):

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I made her wait until the end of the day to get her Dippin’ Dots, even though she complained pretty much every five minutes until she got them.  We sat alongside the big fountain this year.  She enjoyed watching the people go by, and even made a new little friend with the girl sitting by her family eating Dippin’ Dots across the way.

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Our Zoo Days are usually long – with a breakfast and several hours wandering the familiar paths.  This year, she had her fill in about two hours.  After that, she asked to go back home to Daddy and Tessa.  Our stop at the gift shop this year though, was considerably more difficult.  She is a thoughtful little lady, and after much deliberation over which item Daddy would most like to display on his desk at school, she settled on this keeper of a mug that I know John can’t wait to show off to his colleagues:

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(She doesn’t need to know that I had to dig it out of the back of our tupperware cabinet just to take this picture.)

A little older, a little calmer, a lot of sweet memories made with my sweet-ish girl.  Who knows how many more years of zoo days I can talk her in to, so I will continue to soak in every one. 🙂

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Making “Home”

Remember that we bought this house?

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I’ve been really wanting to give you a tour since we got ourselves settled in!  I put it off, hoping to have it “all done”  before I shared pictures, but let’s be honest… is our home ever really going to be all done?  I’m settling for all clean.

(And by all clean, I actually mean picked up enough that the junk can be easily moved to another room while I take a picture of this one.)

(Which is also why this tour will only include our main floor.  You’ll have to wait in suspense for our upper and lower levels.)

That’s our front yard, by the way.  We just cut a bunch of branches off our mostly-dead pine tree by the front window, with the plans to turn that spot into a little sitting area.  We live on a great corner with lots of passersby and since I love people-watching, I want a place to sit and enjoy the neighborhood.

Here’s the front entryway and stairs:

My mom bought me the two blue framed pictures to the right of the doorway a few years ago on a trip to Branson, Missouri.  I have been waiting since then to find a place for them in my home.  I love them here, and I love that whenever I see them, I think of her and I, poking around in old antique stores in 100 degree Missouri heat.

When you enter, this is  our main living space.  My plan is to add an area rug and some artwork on the walls.  This room also features one of my most favorite parts of the home, our bay window.  These pictures cannot do it justice – since I am not a photographer and have zero ability with any kind of editing software, imagine the most perfect lighting in the world and apply it to these pictures.  It’s gorgeous.

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Here’s our itty bitty dining area.  We bought this table with a bench seat so that it can be pushed in during the day when not in use – it’s perfect for us.  We can actually seat six fairly comfortably.  For gatherings, we aren’t really “sit down dinner party” kind of people, more like paper-plates-on-laps-in-the-yard, so this wasn’t a vital area in terms of space for us.  Still, it’s cozy, sweet, and perfect for our family meals.

Our kitchen isn’t huge, but I love it.  In truth, its size gives me a great excuse to banish my children to their playroom while I cook at night.  When I let him, John sits at the table and chats with me while I make dinner.  Most of the time, I kick him out too and enjoy 30 minutes of solitude.

Here’s the hallway from the living room/kitchen to the two bedrooms and bathroom on the main floor, as well as the door to the basement:

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I love bright and bold colors. So, while I will tell you that the downstairs bathroom was decorated “for the girls,” I will readily admit that if I lived alone, my bathroom would still look like this.  Both of our bathrooms are adorned with photos from my time abroad – this one features mi lindo Ecuador, one of my most favorite places in the world.

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The girls have been thrilled to have their own playroom, I’m sure just as much as I am.  I know this goes against what is popular right now, but once I had children, I really disliked the open floor plan that we had in our townhome.  Our family functions so much better in closed spaces, where messes are contained and I only have to clean a couple of rooms for the therapists instead of the whole house every day. 🙂

We had originally painted the kid’s bedroom in our old home with neutral colors, since the gender of each of the girls was a surprise.  I was able to use the decor from their old room in the new playroom.  All that we are missing yet are a couple of bins by the small table for their art supplies and the word “PLAY” in big, yellow letters up on the wall.

The last space on this tour is My Room, or the spare bedroom, or the office, or Oma’s room, depending on who needs it.  I have labeled it My Room, as the girls have their playroom and John has the basement.  All have been warned that if they want to enter, they must ask, and that it is not a dumping ground for The Stuff That Doesn’t Have a Place… because in this house, if it doesn’t have a place, it goes bye-bye.

I’ve been saving old calendar pages from my favorite Anne Taintor calendars for years to hang on the wall.  You know, things like this:

Once I get the frames, I’ll put them up on the walls…  But even as is, this is my little comfort zone:

The last piece of something that hasn’t found a permanent home is this sign, purchased on Etsy when we first moved in.  I adore it, and I’m still thinking about where it will permanently hang in our home.

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We are so thankful for this little, yet huge house that we can call our home.  When we moved, I wrote about how happy we were, smushed into our old home.  And guess what?  We’re happy here, too.  It suits us, and our needs, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that the only home we looked at, the one that just popped into our lives on a whim one Saturday, is now etched into the story of our life.  Perfect. ❤

 

 

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