Wednesday, July 19, 2017

When the Lost Don't Want to be Found

Trying to find my brother is like playing a horrible game of hide and seek.  He's hidden out there somewhere with no evidence of where he's been.  There are no signs that he's moved or that he was in the location we think he's been.  He hasn't left traces of himself to lead us to where he is.  Being the seeker means taking on a detective role without any clues.  Or very few.

I've been reading the book Falling Free by Shannan Martin.  Don't read it unless you really want to be challenged by a family who simply followed God in ways that look so foreign to us in the middle-class but has resulted in learning more about who God is.  (In other words, go read it!  It's a quick, amazing read.)  As I read about the kids brought into her life through different circumstances, I kept thinking of my brother Jim.  We have continued to pray for him every night.  I've continued to think about and look at various websites that might lead to finding a trace of him.  Until today.

Today I did a google search for 'feeding homeless savannah ga.'  I simply wanted to get a contact number of someone I could talk to about Jim.  The Old Savannah City Mission came up and after looking through the site, I decided that I needed to call them.  I said a quick prayer that I wouldn't cry through the entire phone call.  And dialed.  The conversation went something like this:

P (person):  Hello.  The Old Savannah City Mission.  How should I direct your call?

M (me):  Hi.  My name is Jessica.  I have an odd circumstance and am honestly not sure who to talk to.  My family is looking for my brother Jim and we know he was in the Savannah area at some point but we don't know where he is and are trying to figure out where he might be so we can contact him.

P:  Ok.  Let me get you to other person.

Transfers to OP (other person)

OP:  Hello.  This is other person.

M (me):  (repeats similar statement)

OP:  Let me give you to another other person.

Transfers to OOP (other other person)

OOP:  Hello.  This is other other person.

M:  (repeats statement again)

OOP:  Well, let me at least look in our database online to see if he is possibly in the local detention center here.  (I give him Jim's name and info)  He's not registered in the detention center here - no record found.

M:  I know that he was in one of the tent cities in Savannah at one point.

OOP:  If he's in the tent cities, then he is likely not at a shelter.  Most of the people in the tent cities don't come into the shelters for a variety of reasons.

M:  Oh ok.  That makes sense.  I know that many shelters require people to be sober and detoxed.

OOP:  Not necessarily.  They do require that the people are not intoxicated or high.  It doesn't mean that they don't do things.  They just don't do them while at the shelter.  There are shelters that are wet shelters where they don't turn away people who are intoxicated or high.  There are liabilities and such things.

M:  That makes sense.

OOP:  I would recommend calling the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless.  They will likely not be able to give you any information, but may be another helpful source.

M:  Thank you.  (Get number and info)

OOP:  Our records here are still paper forms and it is tedious and time consuming to go through them to find someone.  Especially someone that you haven't seen in several years.  However, I'd like to help you.  Let me go through our files for the last four months and look to see if he's at least been here during that time.  Call me on Friday to let me know what the Authority says and I'll be able to let you know if he was ever here.

M:  Thank you.  I know that God has a plan for him and that as long as he's alive, there's hope.

OOP:  Yes ma'am.  I pray you find him.  I can only imagine how I would feel if it were my brother.

M:  Thank you.

**Deep breaths, teary eyes... I call the Chatham-Savannah Authority before I think too long about it.

CSA:  Hello.  This is the CSA for the Homeless.  How may I direct your call?

M:  Hi.  My name is Jessica and I'm trying to find my brother.  I know that he is homeless and I'm trying to figure out where he is.

CSA:  We can't give out information about the whereabouts of your brother.  His information is confidential and we are not allowed to give out any information regarding homeless people.  Unless it is local authority, police who are looking.

M:  How do you find someone who is homeless?  How would I go about finding someone who is homeless?

CSA:  Well, I guess the homeless person would contact their people.

M:  Oh.

CSA:  You might consider searching for him as a missing person.  Have you made a missing persons report?

M:  Oh - I hadn't thought of it in that way... we haven't.

CSA:  That may be a way to find him.


I thank them and end the call.  It's such a tricky maze.  If a homeless person doesn't want to be found, they are protected and no information can be given out.  Do other families have homeless family members that they can't find or are we alone in this crazy situation?  How do you get in touch with someone who doesn't want to be found?  Or does he hope to be found, but can't get to us?  And does that even make sense?

Thankful for these people that gave me more information about the system.  Now to continue pressing forward to finding him and accepting that he may not want to be found.  Doesn't everyone want to be found?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Vacation

Song: Vacation by Dirty Heads

Talking to Riley at lunch about how I want to put together a short clip of us to this song after our vacation next week (without the use of the two cuss word parts).  I begin dancing to it and she makes a face at me.

Me:  I think that'd be neat!
Riley: Yeah that's cool
Me: yeah cause I'm cool
Riley: No, You're like the total opposite of that

Time to dab.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Parenting

Riley had one of her closest friends over today.  They've been giggling, talking and playing on their iPads in her room.  It's times like these that make me thankful the walls in our home are so thin :)
I knocked on her door and then entered to tell her friend that her sister was on her way.  Riley was pulling her screen low so I knew that she was listening/watching something she didn't want me to see.   I gave her the 'mom look' and asked her to show it to me.  She pulled it away, but I caught the picture of a mom and her daughter.  She finally showed it to me and the title was '8 parenting fails you should not do.'  She then gave me the 'tween look' and smiled/smirked.  Oh boy... I walked out of the room.  Not sure what she's hoping to learn about being a parent but I'm pretty sure she's thinking I've failed something and she's trying to figure out how to tell me.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fourth of July

We participated in the Sparkman neighborhood festivities for the first year since moving two summers ago.  It's such a special place to live and we love the community.  Each street decorates and builds a float for the 4th of July parade and has a street party at someone's home.  The kids fill up tons of water balloons and have a huge multi-street water balloon fight.  This was Riley's favorite event and she can't wait to do more in it next year.  She loved the planning, plotting and filling of the balloons.  Julia just wanted to hang out with me, but I think she'll get into it as she gets older.

On the 3rd, we went to the Garland's house down the street and met tons of neighbors.  Kids set off small fireworks while we watched and grilled out.  The float was "the Marquis of Marquis."  It was a castle made of cardboard boxed with Guy Mitchell as the Marquis on the trailer throne.

The morning of the 4th, we walked down to the clubhouse for the Kid's Parade.  Riley's friend Vivian had been asked to hold the banner at the front of the parade and she'd invited Riley to hold the other side.  They took two loops around and had a great time leading the bikes, scooters, strollers and kids around the block.

The next parade was the neighborhood float parade with a fire truck, old cars and various street floats.  Julia rode in the truck on one side of the castle and Riley was on the other side.  The girls threw candy to the other kids on the streets.  Jeremy and I walked down to the Neuschafer's home to chat with them through the parade before returning to the start to get the girls.  Regent street did an amazing Star Wars Theme with this massive Darth Vader head, storm trooper golf carts and music blaring.  It was awesome.  My other favorite was 'the world's smallest float' which consisted of this teeny cart being pulled.

It was really special to meet so many neighbors and spend time with new friends.  As I was leaving the party on the 3rd, I went to say goodbye to a lady I had met that night.  I tried to remember her name.

Me:  So nice meeting you!  Is it Nikki?
Her:  No - Linda.  Rebekah?
Me:  No - Jessica.

Then total laughter erupted.

Bunk Beds

The girls have decided that they want to share a bedroom.  And that they need bunkbeds.  They conspired together to draw up an outline of the set-up of the room.  Julia said she would be the thinker and Riley could be the draw-er.  They had an art wall, combined clothing closet, and planned to use the spare bedroom closet for all their games and toys.

To prove to us that they can sleep in the same room and to show us how much they want this, they decided to pull out Julia's trundle bed and sleep in her room every night this week.  They also shared with us that they are pooling their allowance money together to buy the bunkbeds themselves.  Can't tell yet if these are threats towards us or collaboration between them.  Or both.

Their current rooms are linked together with a full bathroom (Jack and Jill set up).  Julia likes a nightlight and sound machine on each night.  Riley likes her changing color iHome station.  Julia likes the fan on high and Riley prefers it to be on medium.  Julia wakes up around 7:00am and Riley likes to sleep in past 10:00am.  Three nights in and they've reached some good compromises that have made it work.  The sweetest part has been that they talk to each other for a short time before falling asleep and truly enjoy being together.

The first night was the hardest.  We said read books, prayed and said goodnight.  Julia was cold so she asked Riley if she could snuggle next to her on the trundle twin size mattress.  The two of them were packed like sardines together and could not get to sleep.  Jeremy and I were watching our new favorite show 'Scandal' and had assumed they were sleeping as all was quiet.  An intimate scene between a couple on the show began and towards the middle of it, we heard sounds near the gate to the hallway.  Bug-eyed and staring at the tv were our precious girls who had never seen anything like that.  Riley whispered "Oh wow."  Julia said nothing.  Jeremy and I were wide-eyed as well.  They had come to ask if I would serve them breakfast in bed in the morning.  I told them I would.  They went back to bed and we heard a little giggling.

When the show ended around 11:15pm, I went back to our room and saw that there was a light on in the bedroom coming from Riley's iPad.  They were laying side by side watching Liv and Maddie and hadn't yet fallen asleep.  I took the iPad away and the girls laid down once again to sleep.  Riley looked particularly tired in the morning, but they insisted that they had slept well.

The second night a compromise was made that Julia had to sleep in her own bed and Riley would sleep on the trundle.  Last night Julia came into bed with me in the middle of the night and tonight Riley wants to sleep in her own room.  The bunkbed conspiracy may be coming to an end.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Texting

Riley set up a text message that goes to Grandpa, Grandma, Jeremy, Julia, Riley and myself.  She titled it 'Family Forever.'  The girls often share pics and videos on it.  One of Julia's favorite ways to text is to use the automatic word creator and she chooses random words to send to us.  A recent text from her was this:

We will have the same number of you will get you back to our house and our dinner will be a great day one day for tomorrow we are all good things we are about to head out until quickly we can get back to work we will be able for the best of all things we can share and the world and said she will do the work we will do it for w you can do it all w to get to the game to play with them and the girls are they will win this game is great for who you can play with your kids and the kids are you available to watch and play with what time works great

A few days ago Julia sent my mom three links to songs from her favorite show Liv and Maddie - without telling me.   My mom wrote "Jules?  Is that you?"

One of my favorites was when Riley was wanting to spend the night at Charlie Grace's house.  She texted "Can I please please please please please stay at Charlies house!!!!!  I would love it if I could!  I would do anything!  I really want to!  And Charlie's mom said it was ok!"

We Facetimed and shared that she had been so crabby that it was best that she come home instead.  Riley then texted this gif that was hilarious from the remake of The Little Rascals movie.  The little girl is smashing a can of pop in her hands while making an angry face.  Riley told us that she looked up angry gifs and found this one.  She said there were other ones that would have shown how angry she was but they probably weren't appropriate and she might have gotten in trouble so she didn't send them. Lol!


Bike Riding

The girls have been wanting to ride bikes.  We have two bikes in the garage - one with training wheels and princesses on the side and the other was a purple bike.  It's rare that we go out bike riding and I've felt guilty that Julia hadn't learned how to ride her bike without the training wheels
and she's already seven.  Come to find out that the purple bike now fits her and Riley needed a new one.

Yesterday we went out to purchase a new bike for Riley and then promptly came home to ride bikes in the park across the street.  I had forgotten how hard it is to hold the back of the bike while running/walking and being slightly hunched over.  In a way, the fact that Julia is taller and not four years old means it was a lot easier to help her along.  She had a few seconds of biking alone without me holding on.  She was very determined and did a great job learning and listening.  If she felt me let go, she immediately stopped pedaling.  But soon learned how to focus on continuing to go without looking at her legs.  Riley enjoyed riding her bike through the parking lot and along the path.  She was very encouraging and would shout out "Great job Julia!"

This morning we chose to go out to try biking again.  We did about four laps up and down the path with some short distances of letting her go on her own.  On about the fifth time on the path, I let go and Julia just kept riding and riding.  Riley rode behind her yelling out encouragements and saying how proud she was of her.  Was so incredibly sweet.  Julia is a total champ!  She's got the bike riding down.  She told me that she wants to learn how to start herself off tomorrow morning so we'll work on that and she'll be all set to continue practicing on her own.  Such a cool day!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Future Husband

Riley came home the other day and shared that she thought a boy in her grade liked her.  She's very friendly with the boys (which is great!) and has told us that she's one of the only girls who is nice to them as most of the girls want nothing to do with each boys and/or tease them.  she shared with us that the boy had told her friend that he liked her.  Riley then talked to the boy and she said that she asked him several questions to get it out of him.

I shared that it's a great thing to learn how to be around boys and be their friends.  That they are fun to be around and that I wish I had spent more time just being friends with boys rather than worrying about if I liked them or they liked me.

Riley said that she told him "I don't think I've found 'the one' yet."

She's ten so it's very unlikely that she has.  However I shared that she should make sure he doesn't feel bad for liking her and that the best thing she can do is to treat him respectfully, kindly and friendly.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Random Things

Mother's Day Gift:  Riley wrote me a note -

I love you because...you are a kind mom who takes care of me and loves me.  You risk your life at breakfast and I love you for that.
Love, Riley Grant

Two things I'd like to point out:
1) I often tease her that I will only risk myself one time every morning when I put peanut butter on her Eggos.  It makes me nervous having to be near the peanut butter like that.
2) She included her last name... guess that's in case I'm not sure which Riley wrote it :)


Fidget Spinners

Riley:  I think Mom would go out of her nuts if Julia got a fidget spinner.
Jeremy:  There's 'going out of your mind' and there's 'going nuts' but there's not a 'going out of her nuts.'  
Until now!


COE

Jeremy wrote Riley a sweet note for her COE trip to Dinosaur Valley:

Riley,
I pray that you have a wonderful COE trip. That you find tons of adventures...and tons of rocks!!! Bring the adventure - leave the rocks.
Love, Dad


Writing

Jeremy (looking at her writing):  That's beautiful penmanship!
Julia:  Yeah, it's actually pencil.


Heaven

Julia (at bedtime):  I just don't get life.  Like everyone sees life different because they have different eyes.  When we go to heaven and wake up with our new bodies, I see yellow everywhere and you and dad there with me.  And God will have a puppy for all of us.


Goal Check Up #2

Finally taking time to evaluate where I am with my goals for this year.  Here goes...

1.  Take a course to learn Finale
Hoping to get on it this summer!

2.  Continue learning Spanish using a workbook, Duolingo app and lunch with friends
Have done Duolingo every single day this year.  Haven't had time for the workbook.  Eating lunch with friends but not speaking Spanish.

3.  Go to church
Definitely more consistent!

4.  Complete my SMU Graduate School Degree in December
Received grades for this semester - maintaining a 4.0!!!  Just have my project in the fall.  Already registered.  Can't wait!

5.  Clean our upstairs room completely and begin using it as a livable area to workout, play video games and lounge
We've been using it to work out, play the Wii and watch movies.  Has been great!!  Hoping to still declutter it more...  I did a thorough clean of the girls rooms today (took 3 hours) and that felt incredible!  So nice to be able to have the time to do it.

6.  Finish reading the entire Bible
Only have 6 days remaining!

7.  Apply to teach a workshop/session at TMEA and offer workshops in local districts/Orff chapters/GSES
My seventh grade students performed at the Bill Martin Symposium at Texas A&M in Commerce.  Was such a blessing to be asked to come!  Also able to help Julie Scott and taught one of her grad school classes on a Saturday as well as assisted her another day.  Was a great way to break the ice.  Hoping to develop my skills in this area.

8.  Go on one date each month with Jeremy
Well.... hasn't truly happened.  About 3 times since January.

9.  Limit myself to purchasing only one new unnecessary item for myself each month
Doing SO well with this!  I have purchased a total of 7 items this year - two of which were for the auction event, another 2 for school events.  This is more than 1 item per month.  However, the two items for the auction were absolutely necessary (as I truly didn't have a fancy enough cocktail dress and my heels had begun to rip in the front).  So with that added in - I've maintained one new item a month.

In May, I purchased a lavender dress for $9.99 and a super comfy soft dress for $14.95 - both from Altar'd State.   Using the Stylebook App to track what I wear and cost per item.  Not quite a minimal wardrobe but enjoying seeing patterns and it's helping me identify what I am missing and what I tend to gravitate towards.

10.  Find a tv show series to watch
Scandal!!!  Loving it.

11.  Family Fridays
Haven't done a designated day... or time.  Julia and I have played games every single day this week after school.  She sets them up in centers in her room.  Have loved the time with her.

12.  Complete the Google Teacher Certified Educator Level One
Surprised myself - completed it and passed the test on the first try! Passed the Level Two Google Educator course!

13.  Do all I can to locate, contact and engage with my brother Jim
Sent Rana a letter and a picture of Jim.  No word back as to his location.  Continuing to pray.

Julia turns 7

A few months ago in March, Julia turned seven.  She celebrated with a party at home with her Primer friends (Caroline, Yvie and Ellis).  The girls played some Mario Kart Wii, danced in the living room, ate ice cream cake and had a lot of fun together.

Julia has grown so much this year.  She often had sensory issues with clothing and had a hard time letting me go every morning.  This year she has developed more confidence in herself and security at school.  She still likes to roll her pants and leggings at the waist (even her jeans) but doesn't fuss at all about the uniform shirts in the armpits or cuffs.  This is huge.

Her reading and math concepts are definite strengths.  The biggest developments have been the social and emotional parts.  She is able to express herself verbally and not using physical outlets towards Riley when she's upset.  Again, this is huge.  We've worked a lot on telling the truth and saying sorry. She doesn't like to do it, but she's improved so much in this area.  I love seeing her being able to take responsibility and forgiveness too.

At night, she's been better about sleeping in her room.  This past week she slept with me almost every night.  One night she couldn't get to sleep so she wanted to write a song.  She hit her pillow repeatedly on a steady beat and asked me to sing a new song - make one up.  Then she'd ask me to keep a beat on my pillow and she would create a song.  She was hilarious.  And completely exhausted in the morning.  lol...

Julia loves Primer so much.  What an amazing year it has been!  So thankful we chose to give her a year with Ms. Hackney and all the special times they have together.  It's such a unique and special year.  I have no doubt she'll look back on this as one of her favorite years.

One of the highlights was when all four Primer girls went out to Ms. Hackney's farm (owned by Carley Hackney's aunt and uncle).  The girls were able to feed the cows, see their chicks (that had been hatched in their classroom), go on a hayride and make crafts.  The girls spent the night.  In the morning, all of the families came for a delicious pancake breakfast.  The girls had helped with all the fruit and gathering eggs from the barn.  We prayed together and had a wonderful morning.


Riley turns 10

Riley is now in double digits and is becoming such a wonderful young lady.  Her teachers often share stories about her with me.  Coach Mestre often shares that Riley goes out of her way to give him hugs and to say thank you.  In her fourth grade graduation speech, she said that one of her memories of 4th grade was on COE when one of her friends caught a giant fish.  Riley said that while she didn't catch one herself, she was so happy for her friend.  Love this quality in her!

She had a hard season of volleyball as her team lost every game.  However, it was not a total loss.  Riley worked diligently on her overhand serves and set a goal to get 5 serves over the net in her games.  She finished the season with 6 overhand serves - 2 in the last game!  We're very proud of her.

Riley went on a COE trip to Dinosaur Valley.  The students went down a muddy rock slide, swam in the Blue Hole, hiked and pitched tents and spent the night in the wilderness.  Amazing.

She also spent time blowing a glass flower at a local glass factory.  It was a fun Girl Scout activity.  And also very, very hot.

She chose to invite her entire class plus a few girl scout friends to her birthday party.  They skated away for over an hour and a half.  Riley loved every minute.  She chose Nothing Bundt Cakes for dessert - they were big hits!

It has been wonderful to see her so happy this year and settled in nicely at GSES.  What a blessing Ms. Swan and her friends have been.

Catching Up

Here's a brief update of what has been our spring semester:

Jeremy - work. work. work. gaming. cook dinner. work. work. work. gaming. cook dinner. repeat. repeat. repeat.

Julia - school. soccer. playdates with friends. sleepover at Ms. Hackney's farm. turning seven this year. sleepover at Yvie's birthday party. growing up so quickly

Riley - school. volleyball.  playdates with friends. girl scouts. turning ten this year. birthday party at the roller skating rink. fourth grade graduation ceremony. recorder solo. growing up so quickly

Me - school. grad school. interviewing LS music teacher candidates. school. grad school...repeat. repeat. repeat.

This is obviously simplified but does show what we've been up to.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Grandparents Day

Every Spring we have two days for Grandparents Day at school.  Yesterday was for middle school.  My Orff and Recorder ensembles performed.  I was incredibly proud of them.  One of my favorite parts was having my dad there to see what I do with students.  You're never too old to have your parents support!  And I was so proud to spend part of the day with him.

The girls were fortunate to have both Grammie, Poppi and Grandpa there today.  Primer students sang a few songs and then the grandparents went back to their classrooms.  The students wrote puppet shows, created the puppets and the sets.  They were adorable!  Julia and Knox wrote one that they called "Two Friends are Great!"  Julia's puppet played the part of Crazy Girl and Knox's puppet played the part of Mr. Maraca.  They took a trip to the airport, rode an airplane and got a little silly along the way.  Loved it!

After the puppet shows, Julia showed us her Seesaw app where we got to see some of the work she has done throughout the year.  This was followed by chapel and then Julia went back to class while everyone hung out to wait for Riley's turn.

Riley's grade level sang a few songs.  It was cute watching Riley and her friend Lauren as they sang their hearts out and had great stage presence.  Then the Swan Squad girls performed a revised version of the song "Can't Stop the Feeling!"  They rewrote the words so that it was about Grandparents.

When we went to her classroom, each student had prepared a potato project.  The potatoes were dressed as the career that each student wanted to have when they grow up.  The shoe boxes holding them were decorated to match their career.  Riley's potato was an inventor and she had her BB8 figurine on a table to represent a robot that she built.  What I didn't realize about the project was that each student was going to read the short essay that they had written about what they want to be/do when they grow up!  I knew Riley had written one, but it was so impressive listening to the students present to a room full of grandparents!  It made me so proud to see a Grandma turn to another Grandma at the end of Riley's speech with wide eyes and saying "WOW!"  Her speech was very well written so I'll copy it here, exactly as she wrote it:

Have you ever made a robot?  Well, in my job, that's a lot of what I will do.  Hi.  My name is Riley.  When I grow up, I want to be an inventor.  I chose job because its' what I'm best at.  And, of course, my favorite thing to do.
Some of an inventors responsibilities include having to fix big problems around the world or making big decisions for my products.  Although, other than that, most of my time will be spent creating fun toys and games for kids just like me.  To me, this job is the best for me because I"ll get to do my favorite things.  For this job, I will need special training at MIT, Massachusets' Institute of Technology, in order to fulfill my dreams.  And, scince my job will be in Boston, I will live by my aunt and uncle.  I will live there because then my uncle can give me tips.
This job is important to me because I love helping others and seeing smiles.  When I'm older, I hope to create things that will change the world.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Yearly Goal Check-Up #1

Finally taking time to evaluate where I am with my goals for this year.  Here goes...

1.  Take a course to learn Finale
Not yet... but working on it!

2.  Continue learning Spanish using a workbook, Duolingo app and lunch with friends
Have done Duolingo every single day this year - even while at TMEA - and working in the workbook.  Still need to do the lunch with friends more and push myself to speak it!

3.  Go to church
We went to church for 5 weeks straight.  Missed the last two weeks due to Conferences and something else... but it's better!

4.  Complete my SMU Graduate School Degree in December
Started my Kodaly class - on week 4 this week!

5.  Clean our upstairs room completely and begin using it as a livable area to workout, play video games and lounge
We've been using it to work out, play the Wii and watch movies.  Has been great!!  Hoping to still declutter it more...

6.  Finish reading the entire Bible
On day 253 out of 365... 45 days ahead of where the reading plan says I should be.

7.  Apply to teach a workshop/session at TMEA and offer workshops in local districts/Orff chapters/GSES
Still figuring this out...

8.  Go on one date each month with Jeremy
Went on a date last month when my parents were in town.  It is Valentine's day, but we don't do date nights on Valentines as we find it more stressful as it's always so crowded and feels too 'required.'  So we'll find another night soon - I hope!

9.  Limit myself to purchasing only one new unnecessary item for myself each month
Purchased the new pair of pants on January 1 and didn't buy anything else for myself the whole month that was unnecessary.  February 14 and I haven't purchased anything for myself this month - yay!!

10.  Find a tv show series to watch
Tv?  What is tv?  Not even close to this.

11.  Family Fridays
Spent time this weekend... not really scheduling it.

12.  Complete the Google Teacher Certified Educator Level One
Surprised myself - completed it and passed the test.  Moving on to Level Two and four modules in.

12.  Do all I can to locate, contact and engage with my brother Jim
Sent Rana a letter and a picture of Jim.  They'll be posting a flyer up to see if they get any responses.  Praying...

Pathetic

My blogging skills are pathetic this year.  Or I guess I could look at it as my life is overly full.  That's a much better way to look at it I think as there has been little down time to write.

It's been an exciting one and a half months to start off 2017.  Some highlights so far:

1)  Trump
Trump became President and many are claiming the world is coming to the end.  What a challenging and horrible two options we had to choose between for the election.  It's a shame that a trustworthy, well-spoken, caring and amazing leader could not have been an option.  Sometimes you have to choose the best of two evils... and that was the case for this election year.  I can only pray that good comes of this and that our country can figure out how to come together rather than continue to pour hate and division.  And I mean this on both sides.  It's been rough.  Explaining it to our kids has been a challenge as they don't need to know all of it, but I think they do need to understand what has happened in their own way.  We talk a lot about listening to others, giving care to others, being full of love and trusting/praying to God that He would be in this.

2)  Solo Flights
Riley took her first flight alone to see Grandma and Grandpa in TN.  I had the idea for her to fly to see them as the girls were arguing often enough and I was about to leave for TMEA in San Antonio for a longer weekend.  My parents were all for it and made it possible!  Riley was a bit nervous before going, but her nervousness was only about the possibility of turbulence on the flight.  She wasn't nervous to be by herself.
I took a picture of her at the airport before her first flight there.  She's such a young lady, but yet she held her stuffed animal snowy owl in her hands the whole time.  It was a reminder that while she's growing up, she's still a little girl... at least to me.  She'd probably not like me thinking that! :)

3)  Two More
Julia lost two more teeth!  Her lower tooth was wiggly and she asked Ms. Hackney if Mrs. Gunter could pull it for her.  Ms. Hackney told her to try twisting it.  Julia twisted it and it came out easily.  The second tooth came out a few days ago.  She went to show it to me at home and when she smiled, it was already missing!  She was shocked and unsure of where it had gone.  Since it was early morning and couldn't find it in bed or on the floor so we're thinking that she swallowed it.  And that's our story for that!

4)  Daddy-Daughter Dance
The girls got to attend the Daddy-Daughter dance this year.  We went shopping for dresses for both of them.  They looked stunning and beautiful and were so happy to go.  Jeremy went out shopping for a new suit coat and ended up finding two incredible coats as well as some other things that he truly needed.  Julia had him practice his dance moves and their hand positions for a waltz-like dance.  Hoping they get the chance to do it again!