Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mobile Home

I just got back from a partial week at the MEGA conference in Mobile.  The state department of education puts it on in jointly with the Mobile County Public Schools.  Evidently this has been going on for decades, but in seven years of teaching in Alabama, this is the first I've heard of it.

And I'm hooked.

I think I will have to set aside a week in July for the rest of eternity to attend this thing.

Anyway, so in 12.5 year of having ties to Mobile, this is the first time I was in Mobile all by myself.  No husband, no kids.  Just me in this city that my husband has been raving about for years.

Heretofore, I didn't really understand the draw.  There's nothing wrong with it, but there hasn't really been anything about it that really made it appealing, either (you know, except family), before this week.

I've been there often enough that I know general navigation skills, so I was able to go directly to the Civic Center from I-165 and park to take the shuttle.  And when we (the people standing and waiting) realized on Monday that the shuttle service didn't start until Tuesday a.m., I was able to lead a group of educators on foot (hey, free parking is free parking) to the Convention Center.

Tuesday I was able to take the shuttle and then for lunch I was wandering around downtown.  The place that I had staked out close to the Convention Center to eat was packed to the gills with educators, so I knew I had to take it to the streets.  And as it turns out, I had an expert on that very subject.  Summer of 2006, Eli actually worked in downtown Mobile at the wind-sail-looking government building, which was two blocks south of where I was, so I called him and asked him about where to go.

I ended up in a cute little old-fashioned soda shoppe that also serves sandwiches -- Three Georges on Dauphin Street.  I sat at the counter watching the jerk make sundaes and floats and ate my lunch combo, and then I chose my dessert, and then I paid for my meal.  Yeah, that's right.  I didn't have to pay for my meal until I could ring it up all together.  I then walked back through Bienville Square to get back to the Battlehouse Hotel, where my session was.  Yeah, I pretty much felt like a pro.  I ate way too many sweets, so I hiked it back to the Civic Center when the conference was over.

Being on foot in the city for three days made me appreciate the beauty of the architecture, of the oak trees hanging over the streets, the uniqueness of the heritage of the city.  I loved the old-world feel.  The wrought iron detailing and balconettes on buildings, the Spanish moss, the community squares where people sat and ate their lunches and fed seagulls. It might be a place to move if I could get a job at a building somewhere downtown!  Alas, that may have to wait until retirement since the state board of education is based in Montgomery.

I think what really struck me (pun intended, and you'll understand in a minute) was the storm that rolled in on Tuesday night.  As I looked across the bay, getting ready to drive to my hotel, lightning danced from one end of the sky to the other, reflecting off the choppy bay.  The wide open waterscape made the sky look SO HUGE! No trees or buildings to block the beautiful light show.

I'm amazed. A beach retirement is looking more and more likely...

Love you, Eli.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Patience and Perseverance

One time, I was talking about Elsie's crazy tantrums, and someone observed, "You must have prayed for patience."  Indeed.  What a wild ride.

I'm coming to a point where I have to put on my own big girl panties in dealing with the kids.  They want they want they want.  Lots of things.  They scream and cry if they don't get them.  (The older one is usually the leader, and I've taken to calling them Pete and re-Pete.)  I completely understand why there are spoiled kids out there, because the tantrums stink, and life in the short-run would be so much easier with less screaming.

But, I'm starting to weigh the long-term effects.  What are we teaching our children?  That they can have anything/everything they want, any/every time that want it?  That's hardly a life lesson.

Here are some specific thoughts on the subject I've had lately:

TV -- It's summertime, it's hot, and we're watching more TV than we do during the school year.  I'm not proud of that fact, but it is what it is right now (though as I'm typing this, the kids have the couch cushions off and are building castles and trains and boats, taking trips to the beach and the circus, and whatever else their imaginations fancy--it's actually pretty refreshing and gives me hope that I'm not ruining their minds this summer...well, except that they're humming the tune to Elmo's World as they're dragging the cushions around into new formations).  I know people who use the "on demand" function of their cable provider to show kids shows when they're wanted.  I see some use for this function, but I know that it is overused to proactively eliminate tantrums.  Elsie frequently is screaming at me that she wants to watch Dora.  Well, Dora's not on.  Deal with it.  I've had opportunity to talk with her about a television schedule, about being patient, about not getting to watch what she wants to watch.  And yes, I've had to weather the tantrums.  BUT, they are becoming fewer and farther between.

FOOD -- We visited my family in Texas a week or so ago, and one night we had my mom's taco salad for dinner.  The kids were at first resistant to eating (lettuce can be a deal breaker for them, haha), and my mother suggested that she had something else they could eat.  Yeah, that would have made feeding them easier.  But guess what?  We are not short order cooks.  So, we held the line and the kids did eventually eat what was put in front of them, even if they didn't eat a lot of it (more for me!).  For my particular brood, I'm not concerned about eating habits because they are generally bottomless pits that will eat most anything.  So, if they choose not to eat what is being served for dinner, there is not a menu change.  I'm not saying that it's never happened before and won't happen again (I'm a human being, remember), BUT I am saying that I'm more mindful of not giving in to tantrums, riding it through--isn't it our responsibility to teach our children to respond in appropriate and productive ways to the experience of disappointment?

So, in this trying time with two children at a willful age, the challenge of parenting is one that will make my hair go gray at exponential rates, will make me scream and cry myself, but when we survive--because we will survive--it will make us stronger, and I may actually have more of that elusive patience.  And will be blessed beyond belief.

Until then, cheers.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 2012 Debt Update

Hello, July!  The heat finally caught up to us, and the thermometers are spiking, which is not such a great thing except for the air conditioning.  On the flip side, the debt thermometer is creeping up and up.  This month we made about $1500 worth of progress.  Again, this was more than I could have imagined, but I am married to a hardworking man.  I've had to finally accept not working this summer since summer school didn't pan out.  It's frustrating that I can't help to make headway, but I'm thankful for time with the little'uns...usually.  One of the greatest epiphanies I had this month is that as the kids get bigger, the grocery bill will increase quite a bit (something about them being bottomless pits and growing children and all that).  I am so thankful that we will be blessed to have our student loans paid off by the time that happens, and that it won't be such a stretch.  Because guess what?  God provides.

 Second 10K Chunk, started 5/1/12
  fundraising ideas
Fundraising Thermometer

A third of the way there, and Eli hasn't even left to do his Army training (the weekend warrior two weeks a year, which is really like 2.5 weeks), so we will make more headway in the next two months or so since Army work is more lucrative than public defender work.

Anyway, thanks for keeping up with us, and thanks for your prayers and encouragement!