Apr 29, 2014

Horses and People

4/29/2014 — cori

I just love days when a light bulb goes off and I get an epiphany.  They don't come all that often, so it tickles me on days when I can actually remember them and even relate it in a way that makes sense to another human being. Normally, my epiphanies only make sense to me - kinda like a dream.  It makes perfect sense until you start telling someone else about it and then you sound a little crazy.

I was in the middle of teaching a student today.  He is such a sweet, young Hispanic man.  He's a bull-rider and farmer.  He speaks, reads and understands English well, he just can't write it - unless he's copying something already written for him.  This baffled me.  There was no 'rule-book' for figuring out his situation.  I was asked to help him write better.  Where do you start?

I came to the understanding that he knew the name of the letters in the alphabet, just not the sounds they made.  He doesn't have all the tools he needs for writing since writing is made up of the sounds of letters.  The words he reads, he's memorized by seeing so often.  Many immigrants learn to read in order to survive, so that didn't surprise me.  I'm just surprised by how many words he's memorized.

As I was praying for wisdom in how to help this young man, I was reminded about when I began teaching Gavin math.   He was 5.  I had a curriculum with the exact words to say for each lesson.  How hard can it be to teach Kindergarten math, right?!  The problem was that the curriculum didn't take into consideration Gavin's brain.  He would interrupt my teaching monologue with brazen questions or observations saying, "you can also do it this way" or "why, mom, why?".  It was maddening.  I ended up ditching the daily teaching monologue and just asking Gavin questions.  Often times, I would be the one who would learn something new.  The kid just sees math on a completely different plane.  He literally sees the patterns math makes all around him and does an excellent job explaining the hows and whys of it.  My brain does not.  I needed  the monologue - not him.

Then it dawned on me.  Raising children and teaching people (be it kids or adults) is very much like riding a horse.  When you ride a horse (you've never ridden before), you can't just get on it and start making it do what you want or teach it new things.  You have to learn about the horse first, get to know the horse and his nuances. Once you take the time to learn the horse, he can trust you more and you can have a better ride.  Only then can you teach the horse what it is you want to teach it.

Sounds alot like my situation with Gavin.  It didn't take but a few weeks for me to realize that my little teacher's manual was of no use.  He was having none of my daily teacher reading from the book.  He wanted to do math in a completely different way.  He had  to do math in the way that made perfect sense to him.  I backed off and let him lead.  Math became way more fun.  I loved his excitement about it.  When I made him do it my way, neither of us were excited.  But once I learned to understand his style, we both grew in math by leaps and bounds.

The same holds true for adult students.  The most wonderful thing about adult students is that they want to learn.  They choose to take time out of their busy, work-filled day to come and learn English so they can better their lives in their new country.  My student and I finally figured out how to work on exactly what he needs, but it took me listening to him first.  I had to learn about him first before I could do anything to help him.  Now he trusts me to help him.  I like that.

Like I said, I just love epiphany days!

Apr 27, 2014


4/27/2014 — cori

As I was busy making dinner the other evening, I found my people doing what they do best....chilaxin with a good book.  I just like that they were doing it together and no one was in a headlock being dangled over the side of the sofa.  These moments of peace and stillness are beautiful to me.

Apr 25, 2014


4/25/2014 — cori

Greeted each morning anew
My eyes behold the wondrous hues
I stand and I stare and I consider with awe
My heart is so open, my feelings so raw
The beauty bestowed on one and all.

The sky is on fire, the celestial sphere aglow
The backdrop of heaven, it's glory does show
The spectrum of colors scream loud and bold
Never taken for granted, never growing old
The story of love forever retold.

If only we could hear the heavens sing
This would look like the sound the angels bring
In worship and honor and pure delight
With God at the center shining so bright
Calming our hearts and making everything right.

Apr 24, 2014

Lessons from Little House

4/24/2014 — cori

Can I just say I LOVE this show!  I don't care if that's the popular opinion or not.  I grew up on it, learned from it and continue to value the life lessons gained from it.  Whether you feel it was accurate of the timeframe, horribly idealistic, true or not, I bet we could still find some common ground of appreciation.

Chuck and I spent a long time last night talking about how much this show impacted us as kids and even now well into adulthood.  Having grown up without a positive male role-model, Pa became his surrogate Dad.  He said that everything he learned about being a Dad and husband came from Pa's example.  We could even list our favorite episodes, remembering the plot clearly.  I always appreciated Ma's quiet strength.  She did hard things, gracefully.  Although, I also remember fearing I would one day wake up blind, just like Mary did.  I walked around with my eyes closed for months, practicing - just in case that dreadful day ever rolled around.

Here is the list of things I've gleaned from Little House:

1.   Pa (and Ma) always put his family first, even above his own desires.

2.   Pa had an extremely hard work ethic.

3.   Pa adored his wife and always took the time to show her he appreciated and loved her.

4.   Ma respected Pa, even when she disagreed with one of his decisions.

5.   Ma never felt sorry for herself and did anything she could do to help the family.

6.   Ma was soft spoken, well educated, graceful toward others and devoted to her family.

7.   Pa genuinely enjoyed his children, playing with them, laughing with them, teaching them.

8.   They taught their children the value of hard work - everyone chipped in.

9.   They gave their children freedom to make their own choices and learn from them.

10. They disciplined their children out of love, not fear.

11. Their community was an integral part of their lives, they learned how to live with hard people.

12. Bad things happen. You learn from it and move on.  Don't wallow in self-pity.

13. Life's not fair, make the most of it.

14. They weren't afraid to tackle on hot-topic issues such as race, immigration, and politics.

15. They taught their children how to love others they didn't like and how to appreciate each other.

16. Every single episode had a moral to the story.  It wasn't entertainment for entertainment's sake.

17. They lived within their means.

18. They were comfortable in their own skin.

19. They didn't seek after riches.

20. They put emphasis on relationships as being more important than money.

21. They always sought God for guidance.

If you have any other's to add, I'd love to hear your input!

Apr 21, 2014

Love Does

4/21/2014 — cori

I borrowed my title from this wonderful book.  But this story isn't about this book.  Clear as mud, right? This is a beautiful book and very inspiring.  Bennett can't seem to get it out of his head and is in the process of reading it for the second time all on his own accord.  But my story is about how one person in our family has been practicing 'doing love' and how beautiful it looks.

A while back at dinnertime we were all discussing what our love languages are.  Not that we haven't talked about it in the past, but we could tell it needed resurrecting.  Even though a child is the same person as they grow, their emphasis on their love language of preference sometimes changes.  And it's always helpful to encourage your kids to show their siblings love and teach them what that looks like since most of the time it doesn't come natural for them.  Self-preservation and fighting come naturally.

We were especially direct about this with Gavin.  We realized he has only 3 short years left living in this house with us under our daily guidance.  That time will pass in the blink of an eye.  We wanted to make sure he left an indelible mark in the lives of his siblings...that they wouldn't loose relationship just because he's not here 24 hours a day anymore.  That takes being intentional.

Love is not easy, nor does it come naturally for many people.  Gavin, in particular, operates much better if he knows the formula for something.  Once he learned the 'formula' of everyone's love language, it seemed much easier for him to make the formula function.

Ever since our conversation, Gavin has been the first to jump at a chance to show love.  If you know Gavin,  you know this is way outside his comfort zone and what he's normally like.  He doesn't often show emotion.  So this opportunity 'do' love in a 'known quantity' was huge to him.

For example, every night before I take my bath, I wash my tub.  Every. Single. Night.  But guess who asks me every night, "Mom, are you about to take your bath?  Can I go wash your tub for you?"  Or if Chuck gets up do it instead, Gavin races to be the first one because he knows how much it means to me (obviously, acts of service is my love language).   The other day at breakfast I mentioned that I planned on stripping my bed sheets to wash them and before I knew it, he was up in my room stripping my bed and taking my sheets to the washing machine.

And lately, he has actually offered to do the dishes on the night Chloe is scheduled to do them if there are a huge stack of them.  This in particular has shocked me.  He never deviates from the schedule (and yes, we have a schedule of whose turn it is to do the dishes each night).  Never.  Fair is fair.  But twice he has, out of his own volition with not so much as a nudge or look on our part, said, "I'll do the dishes for Chloe tonight."

Stunned.  That is me.  He really took our discussion to heart and I have seen a huge change in his love choices.  It's beautiful and true and I know, very hard for him.  But I see Jesus in him.  Where we are weak, He is strong.  This is the perfect example of that.

So that got me thinking....am I showing him love in the way he needs/wants it?  Come to find out, he's a chip off the 'ol the block.  His love language is also acts of service (and quality time).  So lately I've been ironing his shirts for him (an activity that will never get done otherwise because of his extreme disdain for ironing).  Apparently, this little act means the world to him.  And he feels my love even more than if I were to give him a bear hug (which worked well when he was 5, but not so much at 15).

This won't be the last time we have this conversation with the kids.  It's always a good reminder to love intentionally.  If we can practice on those closest to us, then it will be easier and come more naturally to love those around us that we don't know or even to love our enemies, one of the hardest challenges of all.

Apr 15, 2014

Right Of Passage

4/15/2014 — cori

Today was a big day for our first born.  He went to the DMV to take the written test for his driver's permit.  He did not allow me to bring my big, bulky camera to document this momentous occasion.  He may think it's a big day for him - but rather, it's a big day for us, his parents.  Our baby is now going to be allowed to be out on these big, scary roads with other drivers...oh  my goodness, how can this be?! It was literally just yesterday that he was 1...I honestly don't see how he woke up the next day and morphed into a 15 year old young man.  Really, I don't.  Is this another one of his superhero tricks that he was forever pulling on me as a child?  It must be.

However, unbeknownst to the unsuspecting subject, I snuck in, snapped a poor quality photo with my camera phone as he was getting his official picture taken and snuck back out.  I got the 'thumbs up' through the window that he passed the written exam.  He only took like 35 online practice tests.  He was ready....even though he was slightly hyperventilating and moaning on our way in.  He kept repeating the phrase "oh no".  To make matters worse, as soon as we walk up to the counter to talk to the agent he asks Gavin in all seriousness, "Who was the only President not to get married?"  Gavin is taken back, not expecting this line of questioning and not at all sure if the guy was joking or not (he didn't look it).  He told him, with a half smirk, "I thought you were here to take a test?"  That elicited a smile and hopefully took the edge off his nerves a little.

We celebrated by (me) driving home (he's still mastering the high school parking lot) and having tea and cookies.  The perfect way to celebrate anything if you ask me.

Apr 11, 2014

Teenage Speak

4/11/2014 — cori

I know it's been a while since I was a teenager.  I swore I would NEVER forget what it felt like.  And then I had 3 kids, got a little distracted from the whole teenage thing and yes, I eventually forgot.  But now, thanks to Gavin, we are fully immersed in teenagehood again.  And it's bringing back lots of memories.  Some things don't change over time:

The teenage eye roll (meaning, whatever)
The teenage head shake (meaning, you have no clue, do you mom)
The teenage shrug (meaning, I'm noncommittal about that mom)
The teenage grunt (meaning, yes, no, or i don't know)

Even though several things have remained constant, it seems that teenage verbiage is bound to change generation to generation.  It's just the way things are.  I remember actually making fun of how our parents used to talk as teenagers or any generation before us for that matter.  We were the definition of cool.  We were the bomb.  So it shouldn't come as any surprise to me that I'm being made fun of now.

In my day we were all Valley Girl speak, like, totally man.  Like, where'd you get those rad Z Cavaricci jeans?  Like, oh my gosh, they are way cool!

The word "like" still infiltrates much of today's teenspeak.  It is one of those 'cool' words no matter what the generation.  However, I was recently introduced to what is now considered 'hip', 'groovy', 'rad', whatever your 'cool' word is.  Here is a convo (short for conversation) Gavin and I had the other day:

Gavin walking over to the trash can:  "...that trash, though"

Me: "Are you saying something?"

Gavin, still at the trash can getting ready to empty it: "ya.....that trash though"

Me: "Um.  I don't know what that means."

Gavin: "Mom.  It means, the trash stinks."

Me: "Then say that.  In my world we say sentences that include both a subject and a predicate.  Are they not teaching that in schools these days?  I simply can't talk without one of those things in my narrative."

Gavin: condescending smirk and combined eye roll (meaning I just don't get it)

He even makes fun of me when I try to talk all teenagery.  I summon the voice of Crush from "Finding Nemo", you know, the calm, California cool turtle who's all like, "Dude...that's far out."  I'll start trying to talk like a cool teenager and I'll lower my voice and be like, "Dude...like, what's all that about?"  Which only serves to elicit more eye rolling and head shaking and condescending smirks. He finally broke down and told me, "Mom, whenever you try to talk like a teenager, you do it all wrong. Nobody talks like that.  Ever.  Don't do it.  It's just funny."

So, just for all you other non-teenager types out there who want the low down on how to talk cool, here's the key: less is more (and try to drop the predicate or subject from your sentence to really impress them).

....that blog though.

Apr 5, 2014

Ten Years of Chloe

4/05/2014 — cori

You are my joy, beautiful and true 
My world is complete because of you.
Your heart of mercy beats with love.
You look out for others just because
You feel their pain and you hurt too.
You come to me and ask what to do.
We talk and pray and snuggle some
Then you decide whats to be done.
Your sensitivity to others is a gift.
May you grow in wisdom 
with how you use it.

Ten years ago, I had no clue
How empty my life was without you.
You teach me and love me everyday
As I watch you grow, learn and play.
You will always be my child, my daughter  dear. 
But our friendship keeps growing year after year.
I love who are and who you are growing to be
May I always remember to reciprocate your love and mercy.

Apr 4, 2014

Dancing With God

4/04/2014 — cori

The other night as I was tucking Chloe into bed, I was giving her her nightly Bible verse.  It was Zephaniah 3:17..."The Lord your God is with you and He is mighty to save.  He comforts you with His love.  He rejoices over you with singing and He delights in you (and so do I. "- my own little addendum).

Then she asks, "So how exactly does God sing over me?"

"Hmmm....well.  I like to think of it like this:  He loves you so much and you make him so happy just because you're you that it tickles him and he can't help but bust out with a song about you.  Or you could picture it like Morgan Freeman in "Evan Almighty".  I love that part at the end of the movie when the main character and God are talking and then end up dancing.  So you could think of God as Morgan Freeman dancing with you and smiling and completely delighting in you."

One of my constant prayers for my kids is that they really know how deeply, incredibly, unfathomably they are loved by God.  Once they can accept that love and bask in the depth and beauty and magnitude of it, they are free to love others with equal capacity.  You have to be able to receive love before you can truly give it away.  My job as their Mom is to constantly remind them and show them how much they are loved.

Dancing with God...what a beautiful mental image.  Ahhh, be still my heart.  I couldn't stop smiling - neither could Chloe.

Thank you Morgan Freeman for showing such a beautiful image of God.

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