Monday, August 21, 2017

Walt Disney World ~ part one

All it takes is FAITH, Trust, and a Little Bit of Pixie Dust

BAKER 028

I am in love with this husband of mine. He was my childhood sweetheart, my first kiss, my world. He became the daddy of two little girls and is such a girl daddy. He loves Disney as much as I do and he surely makes all my dreams come true.

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So we went on this magical vacation.  And I am so grateful for our time together.

Before we went on our trip I thought it would be fun to have the girls to a little independent research project on Walt Disney himself or Disney World.

Man, oh man, they threw themselves into it like I've never seen!  I didn't take pictures of them working (just the final projects and presentations) but Anna was on her computer with a big ol smile on her face night after night.  I brought them to the library and they took out every book on Walt Disney and Disney World.

It was perfect timing because I was 'all of a sudden' busy with preparing for an interview.  I studied while they researched.

The evening before the trip (and the interview) they presented their projects.  Here is what they came up with.

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Anna's research was so detailed. I learned a ton about the history of the parks, his inspiration and how they were created.

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And then my sweet 10 year old really surprised me with her computer graphics. I had no idea she could do that!

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Such good information about his life!

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I am so glad that the girls taught us so much before we left. It really did make the trip even more meaningful.





Friday, August 18, 2017

Suddenly

In my life sometimes God likes to draw things out. Long, beautiful days of caring for toddlers. Rocking my infant to sleep in the middle of the night. Days that I think will never go away.

Sometimes I feel like I'm in a season in my life forever. And I know in that season that I never want it to change. That I could just camp there for the rest of my life.

But if I did. I would miss out.

I'd miss the blessings He has for me in the next season.

There are times I've wanted to dig my heals in and just stay.

And there are times that I've taken a HUGE leap of faith and jump.

One evening, 14 years ago, Scott and I were doing a Bible study together all cozy on the couch in our back den. (now our family room) Somehow the conversation brought up the fact that we still couldn't get pregnant. I remember as clear as day the conversation.

Scott: Well, you know, we could adopt. There are children all over that need a family.
Me: What? Us? WE could?

Scott jumps up to the computer and googles Chinese adoption. Why he googled Chinese adoption is beyond me. We had never ever thought about it or talked about it. But he did. And all these tiny Chinese baby faces popped up on my screen. And I wanted one so bad I could have jumped into that screen and pulled one out if I could.

Me: Could we really? Oh Scott, really?

Scott: Sure, why not? Why not us? Let's do it.

And just like that we were adopting a baby girl from China.

SUDDENLY

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Recently, I had another 'suddenly' moment.

You know my motto on this ol blog of mine. Just stay little, just stay little, just stay little.

But they won't and they can't.

And really, this suddenly moment has nothing to do with them growing up more. Because I'll always be there mama. Always bake pies for them. Always fix them special breakfasts. Always.

I'm not quite sure how to categorize this 'suddenly' because it doesn't really fit in a category.

Here is what happened...

Wednesday afternoon:

A call from the principal where I spend 2 teeny hours a day teaching reading.

"Hi Tara, I have a position open and I'd like you to interview for it."

Me: ummmmmmmm (not always the best first impression, but going through my mind was that's not for me. Surely Anna going into high school still needs me home)

Me (again): Well, I need to think about that. Can I call you back?

Him: Sure

Me: I'll call you later today.

Now, in that conversation two things happened.

1. I didn't give my rehearsed answer "no, I'm sorry. I can't. I won't be able to take a position like that. Thank you for thinking of me though."

2. I didn't totally say yes. There was still a way out.

But still,

SUDDENLY

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I was shaking, shocked. So I called Scott. And a friend. And my Mom and Dad. (Scott told me to call my Mom and Dad)

And there was something in my Dad's voice that changed everything. Some kind of sparkle. I didn't have to see it; I could hear it.

Dad: You were born to teach. It's in you. To get back into this town to teach (he taught 6th grade for 42 years in this town) would be amazing. It's so hard to get back in after leaving for that long. Take the opportunity. Interview. You can always say no. It would be amazing.

Me: But what about Abigail. I was going to wait one more year.

Dad: She'll be fine. I've worked with her for 3 summers in the shows. I know she's ready for this. And this school. You love this school. That's everything. Do it.

And so,

SUDDENLY I had an interview for a teaching position.

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But the interview was in a few days. ANNNNNNND the interview was on the same day we were leaving for Disney World. 9 am interview, 1:15 flight to Disney.

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In that few short days Scott (he's an elementary school principal) helped me study and study and study.

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My loving family told me that all of that good teaching was still in me and that I could answer those kinds of questions. But I knew I needed to come up higher in things that had changed. (I'd been out of the classroom for 13 years)

I had books out, note books, I took notes, memorized them. I was NOT going to make a fool out of myself.

And then SUDDENLY the morning of Disney and the morning of he interview was here. There were no seconds to spare.

I slid on a pretty dress and heals. And drove to the school my Dad taught at and retired from when Abigail was a baby. (the interview was held at his old school because of construction at the elementary school)

I parked in his space he always parked in.

dads school

Looked over my notes one last time.

Opened my umbrella and walked in.

I sat up tall, tried not to shake from nerves and started talking.

SUDDENLY I was in an interview for teaching.

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When he asked the opening question "tell us why we should consider you for this position" I told the story of how when I was 8 my family traveled out west to see the Grand Canyon and we happened upon a book store smack dab in the middle of the country. I was looking around at books and my Dad slid one off the shelf. He said, "you'd like this one." The book was Little House in the Big Woods. And I read it before we even got to the Grand Canyon. And before we drove all the way back to Connecticut I had read most of the series and decided that I HAD to be a teacher when I grew up.

As the interview went on I felt my confidence rise. When they (the interview committee) looked down for a second to write what I just said I glanced at my notes for a second to make sure I was grounded in my answers.

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Somehow in that 45 minutes I felt like me. I wanted to portray me. Not some powerhouse teacher. I wanted to be me: the children's book collector, the chapter book library maker, the ukuleue teacher player, the gentle calm teacher. And so I was.

I remember the last question "so tell us anything you'd like us to know that would further your canadacy.

I took a deep breath and felt God so close to me. Proud of me for taking just this step. The one He opened the door for.

And I was me. I said, "I can do this. I always knew I'd return. This is what I was meant to do."

And I walked out.

SUDDENLY it was over. I had interviewed for a classroom position.

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He told me that there would be a second interview and a performance assessment for a next step (and somehow I'd have to handle that while in Disney)

When I pulled up at home my Disney girls were already in the car. I will always remember how beaming proud they were of me; sitting there in their seats ready for Disney. I had a "I can't believe they're mine" moment.

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Scott was holding my clothes and shoes to change into and doing the final lock up. I slid into my capris and Disney tee and we headed for the airport.

We spent 8 nights in Disney and it was a good distraction. A really good one. Because it took that principal 3 days to call me.

We were in the hotel room. The call went something like this.

Principal: Are you in Disney?

Me: yes

Principal: I'm about to make your trip even more magical... I'd like to offer you the 4th grade position.

Me: ummmmmmm (there I go again) Wow! Really?! I have to talk to my husband. I'll call you back.

So we talked. We were both shocked. And just like on that couch 14 years ago we looked at each other when we said yes to adoption and said yes again.

SUDDENLY I was back. A classroom teacher. Suddenly.

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When I called him back minutes later he told me all about the interview. I scribbled down the things he said.

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I was so flattered.

He said it was the most child-centered interview he'd ever heard, that he was blown away, that he would never forget this interview ever, and that he was deeply marked. Impossible to forget. I'm so glad I was just me.

And off to Epoct we went. We walked around that place like we were on cloud nine that night. In shock. In disbelief. In joy. In some worry (of course).

I kept thinking, what happened to my standard answer? In the past when I've been offered an interview I've said, "no thank you, I just can't right now"

But God took over and changed that.

It is my dream school and with 11 elementary schools in this town, getting a classroom position in this school is almost impossible. It is my dream town to teach in. So many of my past colleagues that left for starting a family tried so hard to get back into this town but had to settle for traveling longer distances to other towns.

It isn't my dream year. I would have chosen to wait just one more year to get Abigail to middle school.

But waiting 8 years to be parents back then wasn't my dream time table either. And that was just as it should be.... timed perfect.

So we took a leap of FAITH. A true leap of FAITH.

And that's my story for now friends. There is so much more I could say but that's just about how it happend.

Two weeks ago I was in the middle of some wonderful lazy summer days. Today I am a 4th grade classroom teacher. I have 7 days before Open House when those kiddos come in to meet me. Yup, 7 days to get a classroom to look welcoming and ready. I need 7 months but with Scott and my girls I can do it in 7 days.

And I am a witness to the fact that God works in the slow days. God works in rocking your baby back to sleep days. God works in the driving your children to activity days. God works in the toddler lots of days at home days. But God also works in THESE DAYS. And with me SUDDENLY seems to work best when it's time to move me.

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Some things will not change. I will still back pies and make lunches. I will still cuddle with Abigail at night before she goes to sleep. I will still blog sitting at the same table as Anna while she does too many hours of homework. I will bake muffins and decorate my mantles for each season. But I will teach 4th grade. I will teach 4th grade. I will hang on to the strength of God and trust Him as He alone can tell me, "Take this next step. It is time. Trust me. Trust me."

SUDDENLY



Thursday, August 17, 2017

Home

We're HOME! From an amazing trip to Disney World. 8 nights!!! 9 days!!! And it was MAGICAL! WE walked in the door at 7:45 last night.

I love that first day home, I really do like to sort and power through laundry, empty suitcases and organize.

I love to notice all of the things in my home that I adore. The smooth hard wood under my feet, my kitchen, bedroom set, it's like seeing it again for the first time.

Today has a bunch of things on the calendar that we can't ignore. (Anna is getting braces!)

It'll take some time for me to load the gazillion photos of our trip to Disney to share with you. But I'll get to it bit by bit.

We have exactly two weeks before that FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. We are not ready... and I have so much more to share on that later.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Re~Post: January 16, 2014

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Dear Anna Jiang Qian and Abigail Mei,

I don't know how it can; but it does.  Just the thought inside my head as I type 'letters to my daughters' takes my breath away.

Daughters.

How happy I am to be your mama.

You are such big girls now. I'm not quite sure how it happened; ten and six. You were just babies on my hips. I carried you everywhere and all the time. Little Abigail I can still pick you up but you and your big sister are showing me the way now. It's your personalities shining through. I'm learning each day who you are and a little bit more of what you'll become. Each day you give me a little glimpse into the future but you still hold my hand. Oh and your hands still feel little in mine.

And you are sweet. Sweet to me, sweet to your daddy, sweet to your grandparents, and sweet to each other.

You are the best sisters.  I know you will be life long best friends.  You were chosen, put together to be together by God for a special purpose in life.  Although His plan is yet to fully unfold I know that walking in His path today and tomorrow will lead you to fulfillment in life; a happiness that the world can not offer you.  You have each other and forever love from daddy and I.

Sometimes when I look at you I see the difficult events that you have gone through.  Abandonment, newborn months and months in an orphanage, a chronic disease and food allergies.  But you remind me every day that those things make you stronger.  More patient.  They give you a more loving heart.  And a faith in God so great that it's the core of you.  They are parts of your life that I would take away in an instant if I could.  For my childhood knew no pain as you've been through Anna or daily struggle as you have Abigail.  But no one in the world I believe can feel love so deeply as you do Anna and no one in the world has more empathy for others than you little mei mei.

You are both a gift to your daddy and I.  We cherish you.  We love you.  We adore you.

Love, mommy xoxoxo

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Re~Post: March 18, 2016

I was thinking about our summer plans and stressing out just a little.  The things that go through my mind are so varied like
* will I be able to find food for Abigail to eat (real concern)
* should I try to bring an color coordinated outfit for each day so I dont have to was or should I try to pack like a normal person (why bother asking myself that?)
* will Anna be able to handle this kind of trip that involves meeting people she doesn't know?
* what about my eating, although not allergic is so specific these days?
* should I go with mostly cool sundresses or will Anna want shorts?
* what fabric doesn't wrinkle the most but is the most cool?
* how can I possible bring enough for Abigail to eat on the day of travel (drive to NYC and 10 hour flight) ?

Crazy things.

And then I remember our first big trip.  Well, of course China was our first big trip.  But this was next.  Anna was three. And I got one of those Disney flyers in the mail.  It was a good deal.  And I asked Scott what he thought.  Three nights was what we could afford.  (which turned into four) And it was magical.

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The excitement at the airport.

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Lunches at the hotel.

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We were constantly attached to Anna during this time in her life. Utterly, completly in love with her.

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I learned looking back at these photos that the things Anna liked best about our "big trip" were the little things. A carton of milk on a boat from one park to another.

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A tub of Cheerios and a fan to keep her cool.

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Being held

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And that toddler struggles come along on any trip

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Everything is better with an orange pop (and a mommy who catches the drips so they don't stain your Animal Kingdom dress)

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There were moments of tired and not caring at all where we were. (we ditched the stroller and I ended up carrying her most of the trip... in August heat... with her stuffed Nala)

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And there were moments of pure joy (still attached)

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The unexpected (like the raft ride to Tom Sawyer island) were the most memorable (she could have cared less about the amazing fireworks)

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And that the joy in the trip is really in following your child's lead (dancing on Tom Sawyer island)

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Closeness counts

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And running down the hallway late at night, barefoot, with a too expensive parade balloon will be the memory we talk about for years and years.

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Oh, and color coordinated outfits ARE super important!

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Re-Post ~ May 20, 2014

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Oh springtime in Connecticut... take a deep breath and smell the lilacs... sweet, isn't it?

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We live in an old house. And she needs a lot of love in the springtime from us. She won't settle for one of those crews that come and do the 'spring clean up' in two hours. She's more of an old soul that requires all of us working in the yard. (okay, so really it's Scott but I do my part by 'holding down the fort' so to speak so he can tend to the hours and hours we call 'spring' in our yard) We turn the earth. We rake winter away. We stand in mud after a long rain to carefully slide the first of the annuals out of the pack and into the soil.

Mothers Day... flowering vines to grow up my trellis... I can hardly wait girls... grow.... grow... grow (not you Anna and Abigail... the vines) 
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It's a big job but we wouldn't have it any other way.

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The earth smells different than in does in the summer. There's really nothing like New England in the spring. Perhaps it is because of the harshness of winter. It all just feels so magical.

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It's coming along nicely too. Everything is looking so sweet in our little yard.

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And in our house too...

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Scott's been working round the clock. For although spring is long and we really have plenty of time we have a little girl with a birthday party in May. So we really do have a deadline. At minimum the flowers must be planted, the grass tended to after a long winters sleep, and the mulch down. The rest can wait.

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So that husband of mine (during the busiest work time of the year as a principal) worked round the clock when he was home to make spring happen in our front and back yard. And yes, I know how lucky I am that he loves a pretty yard too... swoon. There were times he was out so late he was working in the dark and up so early in the garden at 5 in the morning before work.

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View from my kitchen sink... and a baseball game in the field beyond... now that's spring!
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The hostas have all been split and replanted.  Check.  He splits and I get the fun job of telling him where we need to plant the other half.

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And this past weekend we pulled off a big mermaid themed birthday bash in our swamp of a backyard. It rained and rained and rained the night before. But the sweet little girls stayed on the patio and the mulch (mostly). I've yet to look through those photos. But I will get them here just as soon as I can. I've got to run... a few annuls to water and then off to the girls school to volunteer. Happy spring!
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