Monday, December 31, 2012

books i read that changed my life: 2012



"From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood."  -A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

My favorite books that I read this year:
The Rent Collector by Cameron Wright
This gave me a greater perspective on the privilege it is to be literate.  It was also a great lesson in humanity---there are many layers and aspects into every life.  Be so cautious in labeling and making judgements on a person until you have "walked in their shoes."
I initially bought the kindle version of this book...and I liked it so much I wanted to flip through the pages, make notes and use it as a reference...so I bought a paper back copy...and then a few more for anyone I thought might enjoy it as much as I do.
The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma
Reading to my daughters has always been one of my favorite joys of motherhood---this book took it to a new level for me.  It also adjusted a few of my parenting ideologies.
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Before reading this book I was fascinated by family history and genealogy.  This book fueled that fire for me.
I Knew Their Hearts by Jeff Olsen
A reminder that this mortal life is so small when considering the infinite.
This left me inspired to work hard for our daughters in order to give them as many opportunities as we can, but also because them seeing you work and sacrifice...is an even a better teacher.
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Peques
We read a chapter of this book on any morning we were organized and together. (It took us a few months.)  The chapters are short and it gives an assignment each day.  We LOVED it!  (especially Danny and I)  It gave us SO much to think about.  We plan to reread it regularly as a family.  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

she came into the world


Rose Aponi
entered the world on December 29th
weighing 8 lbs 4 oz
adored by her mother Lilly, her father Paul and her big sister Sage

She has many adoring aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents too...


Monday, December 24, 2012

my very favorite things at Christmas



No matter where we are in the world...
and what are circumstances might be...
with the these four I would find JOY!

Some of our favorite things about this holiday season---

Seeing the lights at Temple Square with most of the Davis family...Rob + Whitney were even there!  Danny, Kate + Sophie were able to be there (Ellie and I were hosting book club)

A new addition to our holiday celebration are the stockings hanging in the background.  Ellie wanted to learn to make a stocking in her sewing class and decided she would make three...one for her and then for her sisters!  They are beautiful!

Concerts...Ellie played O Little Town of Bethlehem (EmmyLou Harris inspired) at her guitar recital (a.k.a. guitar party) and I backed her up on guitar.  Kate played in a concert with all of her fellow cello students in her teacher's studio (50 students in all) at the Salt Lake Library.  Some of the songs she played were:  Jolly Old St. Nicholas, Allegretto, French Folk Song, For Health and Strength, Clock Tower Bells.  Sophie learned The First Noel and played slurs for the first time!  She worked so hard!

Grandparent parties...it was our second annual grandparent party.  Because Papa Davis is still recovering from his fall he couldn't come to our house SO we had two.  The first one was at the care center.  The girls brought their instruments to share their recital pieces.  Papa wanted everyone to hear it so we played just off of the dining room.  We brought clam chowder (Papa could eat it!) for dinner.

The next day we had the rest of the grandparents here at our house.  We served homemade clam chowder, rolls, appetizers, etc...  They were so sweet to listen to our music and the girls were thrilled to share their gifts with them.  The grandparents shared their favorite Christmas memories with us...and grandparent party has been some of our favorite memories!

We have loved our advent books each night...and LOVED the girls book club Christmas celebrations!  Ellie and Kate's groups did special service projects to celebrate the season.  Ellie's group collected books for the pediatric floor at South Davis Community Hospital.  Then as a group we were able to spend time delivering the books and reading to the patients (many who are very long term) there.  After 40 minutes or so I walked down the hall to find Ellie + Madelyn (they were reading partners) in a young man's room.  They had been there the entire time.  He listened with excitement and contentment as they read.  When it was time to leave I saw a glow and happiness on Ellie's face that brought tears to my eyes.  We wont forget that experience.  Kate's group collected books for Eliza's library!  Eliza is part of her book club and it was such a treat to be able to do something collectively in Eliza's honor---we  love her so much.  Then the girls wrote cards for Eliza's tree.  (Special service projects done in honor of Eliza that her mom + dad read to her as her gifts for Christmas.)

Kate's letter was as follows:  "I played cello at the care center and all the pepole were so happy and even my grandpa cried!  I love doing servece. (insert drawing of cello) I deleverd appel cider to som nighbors and was also thinking about giving this very letter to you.  All the pepole are proboly gulping the cider down! (insert drawing of Christmas tree with a gift underneath) Kate"  

A facetime performance...Annie and John practicing the musical number for John's family Christmas party.   We miss not having them here with us this Christmas.

Davis family Christmas parties:  With Papa + Sally @ Noah's...eating catered Cafe Rio and playing walley ball!  Then the next day @ Go Ute Nana's...a turkey dinner presents and stockings.  Hours of jumping (Lowe's Extreme sports) and two ultrasounds for the two babies coming!!!!  Lilly + Paul's baby girl and Sharon + Jason's baby boy!!!!!!!!!!!

Christmas Eve:  a phone call from the Lowe's in the morning inviting us to come enjoy homemade doughnuts!!!  The Passey's were there too and brought a delicious egg casserole! We met Nana Miller at Build A Bear in the afternoon so the kids could make their own stuffed animal...the older kids were give gift cards to spend at any store.  The little ones making stuffed animals were on CLOUD NINE!!!  It was so fun seeing them all together!  Mike + Annie were even there from AZ!  Ellie wanted to shop at Urban Outfitters!  She has wanted her own camera from there since her last birthday.  With a discount we receive because her aunt works for Anthropologie she could afford it with Nana's gift card and a few of her own dollars!  She wanted a mint colored Holga!  She went up to the counter with the camera, her gift card, and my discount card.  The manager was checking us out and said- "That will be $12.80."  She and I both thought it must be an additional $12.80 above her gift card.  As we were gathering more money the sales clerk said, "No.  Just $12.80"  The packaging was torn so I discounted it for you.  WOW!  Ellie was so excited.  We met up with all of the family to eat.  As we were walking back to the car we went by the Children's Museum.  Ellie asked if she could go into the gift shop.  She still had money to spend.  She saw some necklaces she loved right away...I thought she wanted them for herself.  She asked, "Mom, do I have enough on my gift card to buy these for Kate and Sophie?"  I was so touched that she wanted to share her own gift by buying something for her sisters.

How grateful we are to the many wonderful friends and family we are blessed to know.  It is our relationships and memories make Christmas so special to us.  Our blessings are abundant and we feel oh, so grateful!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird



It was our turn to host Ellie's book club in November.  She chose to read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  She had recently read it for a book report for school and LOVED it!  She and her fellow book club attendees are in fifth and sixth grade so I worried that the subject matter might be a little bit too rough for them.  I was wrong.  The girls that came to discuss the book that night loved it as much as Ellie and I do.

We discussed 4 lessons of the book (as found here)-

1.  put yourself in other person's shoes
2.  don't kill mockingbirds (hurt those that are vulnerable or weaker than you)
3.  keep fighting even if you know you'll lose
4.  the world is very unfair


The girls each shared different parts of the book that they felt related to these lessons.  Some of our favorites were:

When Scout and Jem learn that their dad, Atticus, is the best shot in the town.  They didn't even know he had ever shot a gun (is that an exaggeration?)  and were shocked when he was selected to save the town from a rabid dog.

The story of Mrs. Dubose.  She was so mean to Scout and Jem and said disgraceful things about Atticus.  Jem had finally lost it and destroyed some plants in her yard.  Atticus sent Jem back to appologize and then an agreement was made that Jem would read to Mrs. Dubose after school.  That story of compassion and forgiveness is beautiful.  Atticus later said of the experience,

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.  It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.  You rarely win, but sometimes you do.  Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her.  According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody.  She was the bravest person I ever knew."

He said those wonderful words of a woman who had judged him---yet he saw her from her perspective...in her shoes.  Instead of seeing meanness he saw bravery.  He taught his children the same.

There are so many wonderful lessons in this book.  We can find as much pain, misery and hatred in the world...that we want to find.  But as I listened to these 10 and 11 year olds discuss what To Kill A Mockingbird has taught them, I was reminded of how much good there is in the world.  Standing up for what you believe in, protecting those more innocent than you and trying to put yourself in another person's shoes were lessons that penetrated into all of our hearts...

lessons that weren't new...
but just remembered...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

our advent 2012

I have been struggling through an internal debate on whether to do our advent again this year...
We LOVED it last year...
my very favorite advent yet...
opening a present everyday...
ending every night in December reading on the couch as a family...
no fighting over which book to read!
but it was a lot of time setting it up...
wrapping and numbering 25 books!
and I was feeling lazy~

UNTIL
at Stake Conference today-
Kate showed me this picture on her electronic device
(which was keeping her entertained for the 2 hour meeting)

I don't think I ever looked at this picture after it was taken that night...
It was day 19 of our advent last year.
It was a brand new book for our family.
It isn't really a Christmas book but it has a beautiful message.
We made crowns that night.

After looking at that picture today I decided to get busy...and start wrapping!
(I am only one day late!)

2.  Good King Wenceslas by Jane Seymour 
(This is our new book this year.  We heard her recite this last year with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I love the song---and the story was beautiful.)
3.  Christmas Cookies by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
(make cookies this night)
4.  Christmas Every Day by William Dean Howells
5.  The Snowbelly Family by Cheryl Hawkinson
6.  Yes Virginia by Chris Plehal
7.  Only A Star by Margery Facklam
(one of my very favorites)
8.  Sally's Christmas Miracle by Charles Schultz
9.  Lucky Pup's Christmas by Ken Brown
10.  Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood
11 & 12.  The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
13.  A Shepard's Gift by Mary Calhoun
14.  The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
15.  If You Take A Mouse To The Movies by Laura Numeroff
(go to the movies...or watch a Christmas movie @ home)
16.  The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern
17.  The Other Wise Man by Henry VanDyke
18.  It's A Wonderful Life for kids by Jimmy Hawkins
19.  The Gift of the Magi by O Henry
20.  Room For A Little One by Martin Waddell
21.  Olive The Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold
22.  The Christmas Carol (abridged and illustrated) by Dickens
23.  Come and See by Monica Mayper
24.  Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
(and the Christmas Story out of the Book of Luke in the Bible)


Monday, November 26, 2012

it's a gift

She takes after him...

she has his eyes
she is persistent
she plans ahead
she loves to work
she likes other people to count on her
she likes to help
she loves to laugh

...and she can touch her nose with her tongue. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

fallen leaves


sun warming our faces
fragrance of fallen leaves
my girls turning a chore into a game...

i am so glad i hesitated my first response
("NO", "we're in a hurry", "just get it done")
and replaced it with "YES!"
Ellie created that whole pile with her rake!
when they were ready for jumping they even grabbed my camera!
i am so much better off when i stop and listen to them.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

his fall


On November 7th my father-in-law was installing a light panel in what we "lovingly" call the "shed."   This is his life's work place.  He was standing in a wooden bin (see right) on top of his forklift (see left).  He was lifted approximately 20 feet in the air.  He had a terrible fall (which details aren't clear).  He fell those steep 20 feet and landed on the cement floor while hitting other debris on his way down.

His accident has caused broken bones in two legs, one arm, one wrist, rib, patella and possibly his hand and an ankle.  He also had serious injuries to his face, teeth, cheek and mouth.  Thanks to our good friend Shane + Danny's sister Michel---he went straight to the hospital via ambulance.

He is doing amazingly well considering the distance of his fall.  The medical staff said today that it was as though he fell so much closer to ground level...not 20 feet...they joked that "somebody must have carried him down."  I am not sure Papa feels like he was carried down.  But he did pull through his first surgery well.  Today in fact, the trauma ER floor was talking about how he took the suctioning tube from the nurse as they were treating him and suctioned his own mouth when he first arrived at the hospital. 

His next surgery is tomorrow...his femur plate and another plate in his wrist.  He has a long road to recovery ahead of him---but he is strong and surrounded by many people who love him...a few extra prayers wouldn't hurt.  xo

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election day 2012


Election day holds so much anticipation!
We have been enjoying the process immensely at our house!
We have watched debates together (primary, presidential and vice-presidential).
I don't care for the sparring, fighting and name calling that are prevalent in politics---
but I do love the enthusiasm for country and freedom.
I love when ideas are shared and encouraged that promote growth and optimism in our country.

Ellie has been learning a lot in fifth grade about elections.
I have been surprised at her interest level.
Last week she participated in a math competition.
After it was over she commented---"I was so nervous today about my math competition.  I can't imagine if I was running for president I would be too nervous to sleep."

On our way to church on Sunday she mentioned something her teacher taught about voting.
"Did you know you could vote for all republican or all democrat when you vote?"  I responded that I did...but haven't ever done that. She continued, "I don't think anybody would vote all democrat."  I asked her why..."Who would vote for Joe Biden?"  Poor Joe.  She must not have been impressed with him in the VP debates...I promise I am not slandering any candidates to my children.

It has been a great opportunity to remind them that we respect and value the opinions of others---especially when they differ from their own.  I have made a conscious effort to share my opinion (especially when they ask) but then ask them their opinion.  I have made it clear to them (I know they are young...but I will keep saying it) that their opinions are safe here and I expect them to respect the opinions of others (whether they are political...or as trivial as BYU vs. UT).  Ellie mentioned a friend of hers was hoping President Obama would win re-election.  I asked her what she liked about him and she didn't know.  Most of the class expressed a different opinion and she didn't want to put her on the spot.  Yesterday they talked again and her friend shared with her, "My family supports President Obama because my sister and parents weren't born here and they might have to go back if President Obama isn't president."  I was glad that Ellie had another issue to think about...a real concern that brings a different perspective from my own.

I hope that our girls will always hold a love of country, a feeling a patriotism and a duty to vote that Danny and I share.  Tonight we will be huddled around the tv as a family holding our breath...crossing our fingers...and saying a little prayer as we watch the election day excitement around the country.  Our hope is that Mitt Romney will be the 45th President of the United States of America.  Regardless of the outcome we will be celebrating the gift of democracy.  Happy election day!

Images found here and here.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

family pictures: 2012




We went out to Antelope Island for family pictures...
with the hopes of having pictures for a Christmas card.
I am grateful to have Christmas cards for a motivation to get this done at least once a year!

I will be completely honest...
these pictures give me a sense of serenity---
but as I reflect back it was a lot more frustration than serenity!

My friend Jenny and I had decided to take each others pictures to avoid timers, tripods and self-timers!
Their family was fabulous and being with them was the highlight of our adventure!
Unfortunately, half way through the photo shoot my camera batteries were dying faster than I could switch them.
My girls went straight into the water as soon as I suggested walking in that direction.
Sophie had to go to the bathroom once she hit the water.
In the midst of my camera/dying batteries distraction I dismissed it.
She didn't make it back to the car dry....
in fact, once the sun went down she was freezing...
wet from the water and her accident...
crying...
refusing to walk...
and our friend Tom rescued us and carried her back to the car while I carried my gear.
(I should have traded him!)
He is a SAINT!
And I am SO grateful for these pictures...
and these memories!
Thank goodness for good friends!
THANK YOU JENNY!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hallow-E'en

left: trunk o' treat on 10/30 right: trick o' treating 10/31

"Why do you wait at your door, woman, 
     Alone in the night?" 
"I am waiting for one who will come, stranger, 
     To show him a light. 
He will see me afar on the road 
     And be glad at the sight." 

"Have you no fear in your heart, woman, 
     To stand there alone? 
There is comfort for you and kindly content 
     Beside the hearthstone." 
But she answered, "No rest can I have 
     Till I welcome my own." 

"Is it far he must travel to-night, 
     This man of your heart?" 
"Strange lands that I know not and pitiless seas 
     Have kept us apart, 
And he travels this night to his home 
     Without guide, without chart." 

"And has he companions to cheer him?" 
     "Aye, many," she said. 
"The candles are lighted, the hearthstones are swept, 
     The fires glow red. 
We shall welcome them out of the night— 
     Our home-coming dead."

by Winifred M. Letts

Thursday, October 25, 2012

within you there is a stillness


"Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself."
Hermann Hesse 


I have to remind myself over and over and over again...
to seek stillness and to make those things that bring real peace + joy my priorities

Instead I have been...
watching too much news
(especially political news)
over-scheduling myself
with the computer too close by

As much as I am not a winter person---
the quietness of snow falling throughout the day has inspired me to do better.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lake Powell 2012






A bit of heaven on earth is Lake Powell...
Danny and I snuck away with some friends to this beautiful spot in the world for 5 days at the beginning of October.

GORGEOUS VISTAS
evenings by a campfire
sleeping under the stars
wonderful people
games every night

We felt so lucky and happy to be there----
It was like a dream!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

summer peaches

There are so many things we love about summer...
afternoons at the pool, planting a garden, time outside, lazy mornings, swimming lessons, road trips, camping, family gatherings, sunshine...I could go on forever.
One of our last summer activities every year is harvesting the peaches from our little peach tree.
The girls love watching them grow throughout the season and are now SO good about leaving them on the tree until they are ready.  At the very end of the summer season (they had already been in school for a few weeks) we spent the evening outside and picked our peaches.

The summers go by as quickly as these girls are growing up.

Their ages are so much fun.
Some days I wish that I could make time stand still.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

lovest thou me?

Santa Fe, Argentina 1992

I was twenty years old.  I had been a church-goer with my family most of my life.  My mom was baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was three years old.  My dad's activity soon followed.  I had experienced many positive influences through church attendance: gospel teachings, a supportive church family and opportunities for some service.  At this time in fact, I was "serving" as the secretary in a youth group (12-18 year old girls).  It was standards night and the book "For the Strength of Youth" had just been released and we were presenting it to the youth for the first time.

As I listened to this meeting I had a clear realization that church activity had been a strong part of my life and upbringing...yet the gospel of Jesus Christ seemed weak.  Did I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?  As I sat in the large room with many friends around me I made a determination- I wanted the gospel of Jesus Christ to sink deep into my soul.  I wanted to know for myself.  I wanted to attend to my meetings and service because I loved my Savior- not because it is what my family did.  I decided that night that I would read the Book of Mormon every day.  This is a book of scripture that I had studied every four years in seminary and Sunday school but I had never read it seriously and sincerely for myself.  I started that night. 

The words and the stories within the book were familiar, I had heard most of them many times, but something was happening to my heart.  I felt it softening.  As I read one night I was so overcome with grattitude.  This feeling had never happened to me before.  I felt such joy and I was humbled by it.  What did I do to deserve to have this in my life?  I wanted to share.  I knelt by my bed to thank my Father in Heaven.  I felt so grateful to know this peace and feel this gospel.  The next thought and words that came to my mind surprised me---"If you want me to go- I will serve." 

Had I really just said that?  Friends and church members had asked me many times if I had plans to serve a mission.  My answer was always "no."  And a quick "no" at that.  I didn't have any interest in being called away from those I love for 18 months to an unknown location, I could have been sent anywhere.  That next day I thought about that prayer I offered at the side of my bed all day long.  How would I know if He wanted me to go???  As I returned home that evening from work I saw a letter that I had received in the mail that day.  My friend had written from his mission in Argentina.  (A country I would be called to.) As he completed the letter he wrote something like this:

Carin, I strongly feel that you should serve a mission.  It has blessed my life and strengthened my testimony like I can't describe in words....

As I read his words a strong feeling overtook me.  I knew it wasn't my friends words...but a calling to serve.  I knew my answer.  I walked down the hallway to my parent's room and told them the news- I was going on a mission.

As I listened to Elder Holland's message he gave last Sunday in General Conference this experience, from twenty years ago, came flooding back to me.  He shared the apostles experience found in the New Testament when Jesus returned after his resurrection.  Peter and several apostles returned to fishing.  Jesus needed them to be His disciples...Lovest thou me?  Lovest thou me?  Lovest thou me?

Where is my heart today?
I am busy, active and participating in church service---but where is my heart?
Is it focused on serving others?
Have I let go of pride?
Is it focused on Him? 


"To all within the sound of my voice, the voice of Christ comes ringing down through the halls of time, asking each one of us while there is time, 'Do you love me?' And for every one of us, I answer with my honor and my soul, 'Yea, Lord, we do love thee.' And having set our 'hand to the plough,' we will never look back until this work is finished and love of God and neighbor rules the world."  Elder Holland

I am left, after listening to these beautiful words, with a desire to do better...so much better...not only in deed...but instead in my heart.

Friday, September 21, 2012

not what we know...

pictures taken @ This Is The Place State Park June 14, 2010

Ellie was five years old and would soon enter kindergarten.  I had been a part of several school option conversations with other parents in my neighborhood.  I had been informed of the teachers to seek out and which to avoid at our public school.  I learned of a few private school options that not many of my friends were using.  I had also been told about charter schools in the area.  Never having been a mom of an elementary schooler the benefits (public vs. charter) were really unknown to me.  I really liked the charter emphasis (service learning, spanish, etc...), learning on your academic level (vs. grade level) and uniforms.

At the time I worked closely with one of my friends in a church assignment.  Her oldest child was in high school and her youngest was in the early elementary grades...with three in between.  She was always straight forward and honest with me...but didn't usually offer up advice unless I asked.  I sought out her opinion.  "What should I do?"  "Why have you stayed at the public school?"

I still remember what she told me...her oldest daughter was accepted into a spectrum program.  This program is still available and is offered to the kids worthy of an "honors" program in elementary school ages.   Only a few from each school are invited.  She considered it seriously (maybe even did it for a year or two) and ultimately decided it wasn't worth it---attending school out of the neighborhood, kids attending different schools, the extra work, etc...  "Now that this same daughter is in high school---she attends classes (the same classes) with a boy that stayed in spectrum.  For all visible purposes in her eyes they ended up in the same place...and the same high school classroom" was basically what I understood her to say.

I decided to try to apply to the local charter schools anyway and we didn't get in.  We didn't get in when she was in first grade either.  Entering 2nd grade I felt like Ellie was well established in our public school.  She had also been fortunate enough to have the teachers that most parents seek out in that school.  We didn't reapply.  In 2nd grade she entered a classroom of a teacher I knew nothing about.  We were fine.  I was the classroom mom.  Ellie was learning.  Kate was in kindergarten.  I liked her teacher.

As the year progressed I became frustrated with Kate's learning situation.  She had been a very early reader (of her own ambition...watching her sister learn to read) yet was still slowly going through the alphabet with the class and finally assigned very early readers when we hit January.  It was slow and frustrating.  I felt like her time was being wasted.  I decided to put my girl's names in for the charter school lottery again.

In the spring of that same year Ellie was crying and didn't want to go to school.  It broke our hearts.  She was always excited to get up...got ready independently and LOVED getting off to the bus.  Something changed---she was experiencing stomach aches and didn't want to go out the front door.  The teacher was especially stressed and anxious over end of year testing.  That combined with a few rowdy students in the classroom made for an uncomfortable learning environment for Ellie.

As the end of the school year approached we began looking at other school options seriously.  We really loved Capital Hill Academy and were still hoping for one of the charter schools to open up.  The morning we toured Capitol Hill Academy I called one of the charter schools and we were in!  Ellie was drawn for the lottery!  The first year Kate wasn't accepted (1st on the waiting list the whole year.) and my girls were at two different schools.  They next year Kate was in.

Now that we have been at the charter school for a few years I believe that we made the right choice for our family.  Sometimes I do look at many of my friends whose children are doing fabulously at our public school.  They are great kids and having a great experience.  It is so much easier...the bus nearly brings them to my front door!

Academic level learning I think has been beneficial for my girls...especially in literacy---in math they are at...or just barely over grade level.  I wonder if it will be different for Sophie who will be my only daughter to have begun in this system from the beginning.

Uniforms I love!  (Especially on a day like today...casual dress day...it took them 5 to 10 times as long to figure out what they were wearing)  I LOVE uniforms!  I feel like it gives the students an all day reminder of what they are there for.  There seems to be an extra sense of orderliness and puts the kids on the same playing field.  LOVE IT!

But as I listened to This American Life...the Back to School episode (thank you Natalie Norton for suggesting it on Instagram...I have been out of my TAL habit) all of this school ideology was presented to me in a different perspective and I suddenly thought of what my friend had told me all of those years ago---it isn't the school.

What leads to "success" in children...especially as they grow into adults has a lot more to do with what they know "non-cognitively" than it does with their letter grades (thank heavens for me...I wasn't a great high school student).  The way their character develops is a greater indicator of their successfulness in life than any school test will tell you.  The way they are nurtured at home, their ability to follow through with assignments, participating in a safe community, and developing character will take them further than anything else they learn in a classroom.

I was left wanting to listen to the podcast again, read this book...and also wanting to strengthen the traditions at home that create a safe environment for children.  I want to be more cautious in choosing extra-curricular activities and be leery of digital technology interrupting real conversations and relationships.  I want to have more reading on the couch, playing games around the table, dinners at home on the deck, and time listening and talking to each other.  Another reminder (I am sometimes hard-headed) that it is not what we know but how we love that really matters.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

around the corner



Ellie had a friend over yesterday.  They came up to me excitedly and asked if they could go on a bike ride!  "Without me?"  I was in the middle of preparing dinner.  I asked whether her friend had a bike with her...she didn't!  Whew!  Problem solved!

Ellie continued..."she could ride Kate's."
I suggested she ask Kate.
Kate said yes...darn!
My request- be back in 30 minutes!
(dinner was almost ready)

They were off...
in the streets...
helmets on their heads...
with independence as their guide!

They left so fast I could hardly process that my daughter would be on the streets...
on a bike...
without me looking over her!
She rode her bike once or twice to a friend's home...
but ride for the sake of riding...
with no destination in mind...
I was nervous!

The windows were open through out the house.  Several minutes had passed and I heard a faint cry out, from what sounded like a girl's voice, and I went straight outside...I looked down the street...I saw nothing.

Would she remember that I said that she should be back in 30 minutes?
Did she wear a watch?
Is she safe??
That is when I remembered, just like it was yesterday-

We lived on the corner, in our first home.  Ellie was a brand new baby.  I was standing in our bedroom with Ellie in my arms.  There were windows facing each side of the corner.  As I looked out I saw a girl speed by and go around the corner on her bike...a smile on her face...red hair braided on each side...independence & joy emanated from her all the way into my quiet house.  I looked down at my first baby and wondered---

When could I ever let you go...
all by yourself...
around the corner...
on your bike????

Now I know.
It was today.
As Ellie re-entered the kitchen after her short bike ride...
smiling from ear to ear...
"30 minutes exactly!" she exclaimed!

I guess we both accomplished a milestone today... <3