Monday, September 12, 2016

The Airport on Middle Places

Sometimes serving looks like an airport.


It includes stuff like counting money, counting a lot of money, counting more money, making phone calls, replying to text messages in two languages, taking dictation, sitting in government offices, getting cars shipped from other countries, counting tassels on key chains,flipping switches on water pumps, driving a lot, making popcorn with a generator on a reservation …
The biggest thing I didn’t think about doing when Jamie and I planned a month in Honduras? I never thought about hanging out in the airport.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Post with Book Pictures

I started teaching preschool last month. I have 4-year-olds three days a week and 3-year-olds two days a week. I will refer to them simply as the Fours and the Threes.

My favorite part of the job?

The books.


My main goal is to foster a love of reading in my kids. We will, of course, also learn about numbers and shapes and colors, etc. However, I will teach most of those things alongside books that complement the topics.

I quickly learned that a funny book is the fastest way to a preschool heart. I try to read at least one funny book per day, so I did a Google search for "funny picture books" and started putting things on hold at the library. I will do a series of posts here, sharing my findings. Maybe it will help some of you in selecting books for your own children or for your classrooms.

Mustache Baby

written by Bridget Heos
illustrated by Joy Ang

I really liked this one. My Fours did laugh at it, but my Threes loved it more. I was surprised by that, because the Threes usually require more flat-out-silly rhyming to hold their interest. In this case, they were fascinated by the whole idea of mustaches and beards and who has them and who doesn't. I just put Mustache Baby Meets His Match on hold at the library.

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great

by Bob Shea

I had hoped for more from this one. It was cute, and I loved the drawings, the mood of them. I didn't read this one to my Threes. Once I had read it to the Fours, I decided the concept was a bit over their heads right now. I should mention that there are a lot more of the Threes, so it is harder to hold their attention as a group. The Fours listened to the book but didn't laugh. I think the concept may have gone over their heads as well. I would suggest reading it in an elementary school setting to start a conversation about jealousy and accepting others.

This is Not My Hat

by Jon Klassen

My kids loved this book, Threes and Fours alike. The Fours absolutely begged for it. "Read it again," they said. They have only had that reaction to one other book so far. I will have to give in and buy this one. After each read, they debate whether or not the big fish ate the little fish. One boy actually cries each time, insisting that no fish got eaten. They loved this so much, I grabbed the earlier book, I Want My Hat Back from the library. They weren't as impressed with that one. I think they just love the fish. Regardless, I am anxious to get my hands on We Found a Hat.

The Book with No Pictures

by B. J. Novak

This is, by far, the favorite book for my Fours. I have not read it to the Threes yet, due only to length. The Fours were dubious when I started reading the first time. "Why are there no pictures?" one kid asked. Another insisted "I only like books with pictures." Now they beg for it. I have to ration our reading so it doesn't get old. They laugh so hard I have to pause and remind them other kids are in other classes and we have to use inside voices. If you have not read this delightfully silly volume, go get it right now. It is the first thing I bought for my classroom, and I plan to take it with me to visit family next year. I can't wait to read it to my niece and nephews.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Chasing Dreams on Middle Places

I’ve been learning Spanish for a while now. I’ve been teaching myself steadily since August of 2015, but off and on for a few years before that. I’ve made a lot of progress and also very little, according to your standard of measurement.

Recently, I got the chance to carry on a very broken conversation with my friend’s mother. She is from Brazil, so she speaks Portuguese, not Spanish, but we managed to piece together enough to share a bit about our children and our husbands. I felt so proud to be able to do that, and I also felt horrified at how little I know. Learning something new is fun … and difficult and frustrating and exhilarating.

I love it.

Today I was reminded of how one instance of juxtaposition can teach you something brand new. It’s sort of like an epiphany – that moment the light bulb clicks on, a fuse ignites, your brain buzzes, smiles, sparks to attention.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Currently: The Best of Summer Gone

Current Books: I have too many open at the same time, and I am trying to wrap a few up. I started Daring Greatly on the flight to Honduras, and it is really good. I am just struggling to focus on non-fiction right now. That's also why I am only halfway though Foolsgold, even though I started it well before my Honduras trip. I'm reading from Original Voices before bed each night. That is a mix of poetry and prose. For poetry, I am more than half through The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins. That is another I was reading while in Honduras. I'm reading through my copy of Three Simple Rules to help me with small group facilitating. I just started The Hypnotist's Love Story to continue my Liane binge. I just finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and also the audio of Lit Up (very very good).

Current Playlist: "Trust in You" from Lauren Daigle. I listen to it on repeat as I drive to work each morning. It's getting me through a rough time. That line... "Letting go of every single dream"

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Binge-watching Downton Abbey on the weekends. I will finish the series this weekend or next.

Current Color: Bright blue, bright red... bright colors

Current Food: I am craving pupusas.

Current Drink: My coffee every morning is so wonderful. I bought more Hope coffee from Mi Esperanza, and it is just perfect.

Current Favorite Favorite: The feeling of publication. It never gets old. I have three poems up at Scarlet Leaf Review this month. You can read them HERE.

Current Wishlist: A few new outfits, new black boots before winter, to try LulaRoe leggings, a writer's retreat

Current Needs: A bit more energy, because I am now extraverting 6 out of 7 days a week. I'd also do well with a girls' night out.

Current Triumph: I have my lessons planned through September, and I actually wrote a new poem today.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: I've had a cold and I can't seem to fully recover my voice. It starts out okay each morning but reading to kids all day, talking loudly over kids all day, singing silly songs with kids all day... I need some quiet time.

Current Indulgence: Doing this post and working on a poem when I have food to cook and still need to clean up before tonight's meeting.

Current Mood: Is exhausted a mood?

Current Outfit: My Buenas TARDIS El Doctor t-shirt, my favorite skinny jeans, grey and white polka dot shoes

Current #1 Blessing: Peace in my home, with my husband and my kids

Current Quote: Hope is a function of struggle. - BrenĂ© Brown

Current Photo:

Limited edition shirt from Out of Print Clothing

Title from:

“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” 
― Sylvia Plath

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Wildlife Teaches Me on Middle Places

I love to learn.
Back when I homeschooled, my main goal was to teach my kids one thing: Learning is fun.
Once someone realizes it can be fun to learn new things, they keep going. They learn more. They try harder and dig deeper and go for the gold. Who knows what they will learn, but God uses all of it to mold them into the people He meant them to be.
Recently, we moved to a house backing up to a patch of woods and a pond. Our new location reminds me that learning for the sake of learning is fun.
Yesterday, I peeked out the window and spotted a dark bird with a curved beak. It was in the water, right at the edge, and when it walked, I saw the legs were a bright yellow-orange.
I whipped out my phone and typed “pond birds” into Google. It only took a few clicks to locate the right critter. I have a green-backed heron. I read about his diet and social behavior.
One thing I am learning from the local wildlife is that mamas are mamas, no matter their species.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Returning to Abiding on Middle Places

I go to the dentist. A lot.
Weak teeth are a genetic trait in my family. I could go into all of the detail of my mouth and how I have landed my own time share at dental offices, but it’s pretty boring stuff. Suffice it to say, I spend a lot of quality time with my dentist.
I have had good dentists and bad dentists. Some office staffs treated me well, and some have left a lot to be desired. My current dentist is a good one, and his office staff is helpful and kind. Since my teeth are a huge source of discomfort and shame for me, feeling cared for at my dental office is important.
I was thinking of this recently, lying in yet another dental chair, sucking in gas to keep me from panicking or gagging. Most dentists have TVs over their chairs now, but I don’t care to watch them. Instead, I close my eyes. I try to breath evenly. I count to 100 in Spanish while mentally drawing the numbers to match the words. It’s somewhat meditative if you take away the needles and drills and spit.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Rainbow and Silvia

I don't know how to blog about Honduras.

I didn't journal as well as I'd planned. I didn't open my laptop unless I had to. I did a lot of verbal processing, thanks to Jamie being with me and willing to listen.

So now, here I am, back in America. I want to share so much with all of you, but where to start?

People ask, "What was your favorite thing?" That is a hard question, but I am going to give you two brief answers. These are just snapshots of moments that rise to the surface when I pause for any length of time.

The Rainbow - Three of us drove to the scouted location for a well that will be dig at Tierras del Padre (home to a tribe of Lenca people). As we wound down a backroad, I spotted a rainbow. It was so beautiful I couldn't take my eyes off of it. As the clouds moved, more of the rainbow showed through. It was a full arc of colors across the sky and even part of a second rainbow peeking out on the left side. Tim pulled over so I could climb a little mound of dirt and get a photo without power lines (we were just a few feet from where electricity ended). The best part? The end of the rainbow seemed to settle right on the location for the new well.

Silvia - Everything about Silvia made my trip better. Her smile, her shyness, her hugs, her quiet words... But the best was on the day I met her. Silvia brought me a book and asked me to read it to the group of kids that had just gotten out of school. They gathered around while I read in my halting Spanish. Silvia helped me with unfamiliar words. After, I asked the kids about my Spanish, "bueno o mal?" And they promised me, "bueno." My heart was soaring when Silvia asked me to keep the book. She carefully penned her name in the front cover. It just so happened that a friend had left me with a children's book written in Spanish. I pulled it from my bag, scribbled a note to Silvia, and gave it to her as a thank you.

There is so much more I could write about, and I probably will write about it. For now, I can only offer you snippets of days, flitters of thoughts, moments I hold in my hands like rubies in the sunlight. I keep finding new facets of their beauty.

Peace to you, friends.

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