Mason B: VIP

Last week, Mason was picked to be the VIP of this classroom. He was super excited, and he got to take in a bag of his very favorite things which represent his personality. He had to then share these items with the class. We worked very hard filling his VIP bag.

He chose his Bobby Bowden signed FSU football helmet; the Dan Marino signed Dolphins helmet that I passed on to him (Thanks MS for that gift circa 2000); the rubbing we did of my Mom’s first cousin, Tommy Dunlop, at the Vietnam Wall; a coin that he received at the wall from a veteran there visiting his loved ones; his sketch books in which he keeps his drawings and the scores of his baseball games; a little bear with a cross on it that represents Jesus to him; photos of him and Miss Julia and another of his soccer team from two years ago that had all of his friends on it; an Italian flag for his heritage; an army cap sent to him from Uncle Michael and Aunt Tanya for his kindergarten play last year; and Oatmeal the Bear.

Oatmeal is the first stuffed animal that I bought for him when I was pregnant, so it is very special to Mason. I was surprised that he wanted to share it with the class, but he did. However, he was in tears when I picked him up that afternoon. He perceived the entire class to be laughing at him for having a stuffed animal. As the afternoon progressed and I loved on him, it turned out that only two boys snickered briefly. They are his buddies, and the teacher assured me that the giggles stopped when he brought out his super cool football helmets.

Still, my Mommy heart broke for a little while. Kids start being mean really early. It helped ease his spirit that my cousin Kristen and her college friends sent Mason stuffed animal “love” via a photo from Jacksonville University.

We wanted to let Mason know that the big kids love stuff animals too! Much love from JU! — with Ashley Hirt.

I also showed him a photo of my former student, Anisha, with her Winnie the Pooh tthat was taken in her college dorm. Let’s just say that Mason understands the language of beautiful girls. By bedtime, he was all better.

Here are the information sheets that he and I had to fill out for his presentations.

Throwback Thursday {Miss Julia’s First Pageant}

It’s funny, I was looking for another picture and came across this one from Miss Julia’s first pageant, three years ago this month. I never even noticed this shot before.

How sad is it the number of beautiful moments we miss, because we are too busy to stop and actually experience them?

This was taken right before my Mom died, and she was standing nearby. I’d give a million dollars to go back to that very moment again and say, “I love you! Thank you for giving me the tools to raise this miracle of a granddaughter of yours!”

If Only I Had Real Super Powers

Adjusting to being a single mom has been a slow process, and I am still working on perfecting my skills. There are some days that I feel way too old for all of the responsibility; however, I am a perfectionists and will not let my kids down.

Our days start at 4:45 am. I get myself dressed, then wake them and get them dressed and ready for school– hair brushed and clothes pressed. I will not have the kids looking shabby on my watch. We have our routine down pat. Sort of. Mason feeds the animals, and we usually get out the door relatively on time. There were a couple of days recently when my beloved neighbors called. One morning, we left all the lights on in the house, and, on another, we did not shut the door good, and the animals pushed it open, resulting in a call to our local police department for precaution.

We eat breakfast at Burger King more mornings than I would like to admit. Yet, we manage to make our 35-minute commute in and catch the shuttle bus at 7 a.m. God bless our bus driver, Mr. Alvin. He should be the Leon County Schools Employee of the Year.

I pick the kids up promptly at 2:50, and we spend our afternoons at ballet, hair appointments, or just relaxing at home. Occasionally, we have play dates with friends, or they help me out in my classroom as I grade and get caught up on lessons. I do not have a planning period this year, so I have to use my time wisely. Netflix and a Smartboard work wonders for buying me time.

Once home, we are on a pretty strict routine. My mom’s rule prevails– homework gets done as soon as they walk in the door. I then make dinner, and I am proud of myself for learning to cook. When Miss Julia got sick for the second time this month, I made her homemade chicken soup. It was delicious, and I was honored to feed it to her. We eat together after the food has been blessed, then I pack lunches for the following day. Baths and showers are taken, reading is done, and then the kids settle down by watching their favorite shows.

We are in bed by nine, because our days start so early.

My house stays relatively clean, since it is on the market and subject to showings. I try to do the heavy stuff when the kids are not here. Saturdays are for my grad school homework and doing my major grocery shopping. I love to go to Thomasville and sit at Grass Roots Coffee checking off my lists. Laundry is the one area in which I could improve. It piles up.

But Sundays, they are for rest. We usually plan them with Mista Justin and his family. We have breakfast together, attend church, then relax and have fun as a group. It has been been beautiful watching his kids and mine bond. They all get along so well and miss each other when they are apart. The truth is, it is a miracle that our relationship has thrived. We live an hour apart and both work long hours while raising our kids. Thankfully, Jesus saw fit to put us on the same exact parenting schedule. As hard as relationships can be, Justin brings calm to the chaos and has made such a difference in our lives.

And then there is me. I do not get a lot of time to myself anymore, but I am okay with that. I miss my little ones so much when they are not with me, that I try to soak up every second with them. Family therapy has been great for us, and I treat myself to the occasional mani-pedi and a movie. I also schedule a lot of time with my girlfriends, and I have been delighted to find that this void that was in my life while I was married, has now been filled.

If only I could get more sleep…

Miss Julia as Miss Scarlett

Miss Julia was really sick most of this month. I have been so worried about her and could use prayers. I am afraid my stress level hit an all-time high seeing her in pain.

Last weekend, to cheer her up and get her some fresh air, Miss Ashleigh came over and we let her dress up in her Halloween costume. Since watching the beginning of Gone With the Wind with me over the summer, Miss Julia has insisted that she wants to be Scarlett O’Hara for Halloween. Of course, it happens to be my all-time favorite book and movie, so I am super excited. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would have a little girl who actually looks like Vivian Leigh!

Mista Justin helped me find the costume, and the quality is way better than I expected based on the price. It is well-made and beautiful. I ordered a large, and it fits perfectly.

We went uptown to the historic Wirick-Simmons house hoping to sneak a few pictures of Miss Julia on the beautiful columned porch. However, to our delight, a docent from the Historical Society was there, and she invited us in and helped us take photos inside.

Educational Leadership: Draft Vision, Mission and Beliefs

This week, I had to create a Vision, Mission and Beliefs presentation for school. This is a draft, and it was done in a cool program I had never used before called Haikudeck.

To be quite frank, I have entered this program on faith and am not sure where God is leading me. However, I surprised myself by working through my Vision. I started out with a more generic I want to be a principal slide, but that did not seem to fit. As I toyed with language and scribbled away on paper, God put on my heart that I am to become an educational advocate. So, we shall see how this plays out!

I’m Still Here!

It has been awhile since I last blogged, and I honestly thought about not blogging again at all. However, I enjoy the friendships I have met and am very grateful for the recorded memories. I need them. My brain is mush.

I have been extremely busy with the kids, with work, and with graduate school. My graduate class actually requires that I complete 40 hours of administrative shadowing, in addition to the class work, so that is a whole level above what I am use to commitment-wise.

The kids have both been sick. Mason had a mild stomach bug late last week, but Miss Julia has really struggled. She has had two respiratory infections this month and has missed quite a bit of school. Please continue to pray for her as she heals. As our doctor said, “We have got to get the sparkle back in those eyes!”

Mason has been an incredible big brother to his “Little Wissy” and has helped me keep her calm and at rest. He adores her. He told me last night that “she brings the laughter and smiles to our house.” That could not be more true.

He is starting to smile again. Finally. And he is becoming increasingly open with his creativity. On Saturday, he decided to play dress-up as he built his new Leggo Ninja set. How’s this for an American Ninja, complete with a Polo tag? Right now, he is super into Pokeman cards, and he has been playing some type of Spin the Coin game on the play ground in order to gain a collection of cards. Boys! They start early!

On a brighter note, my Jacksonville Jaguars won this week against Miami! Mason and I are excited to see Blake Bortles and his favorite Nole, Rashad Greene, victorious. It was a super fun game to watch, for once. #morejaguars