Tuesday, July 31, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

I went away this weekend, to attend a baby shower of a good friend of mine in Denver. Mike stayed home and watched Elizabeth for three days, and although he has done this before, it still was a bit of a scary thing for both of us. I'm proud to say, though, that my husband did outstanding! He not only did the basics of feeding, bathing, and putting her to sleep, but he went for walks with her, took her swimming everyday, and even ran errands with her. When I came home on Sunday, he was a plethora of knowledge on her habits and idiosyncracies of late. It was so sweet, and inside I was just beaming with joy thinking what a good father my husband has become.

Going away is good for all of us. It gave my husband confidence in his childcare abilities. It provided an opportunity for my husband and daughter to bond, something that I have to make sure we build into our family time. It rejuvenated me and gave me an amazing appreciation of my family. It was good for me to go away, but I'll tell ya, by Sunday, I was ready to come home. When the airline agent told me my flight had been cancelled and that I would have to either fly stand-by or wait until Monday to fly home, I have never prayed harder to get on that stand-by flight. All I wanted was to get home. I understand now how Dorothy felt. Yes, there is no place like home, and I am so thankful I have a home that I look forward to returning to. Thank you, Mike, Elizabeth, Yoda and Obi (the dogs), Luke and Lea (the cats), and the one who gave it all to me, Jesus.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Big Girl Day

I let Elizabeth feed herself her yogurt yesterday. This is the result. She refused to let me feed it to her, and although I knew she wasn't completely ready to do it herself, I let go of my anal, clean-freak nature and let her at it. It was hysterical! She would dip the spoon into the yogurt and then hold it vertically, spilling all of the yogurt, before getting it into her mouth. Eventually, she figured out (after MUCH prompting from Mommy and Daddy) that she needed to turn the spoon horizontally in order to actually taste the food, but for a while, she didn't even care about doing that. She was just pleased as punch at the fact that SHE was feeding herself. SHE was a BIG girl today!

Yesterday was a big girl day, and I'm feeling my heart torn. On one hand, I'm so proud of my little girl, learning and growing and becoming more independent. But on the other hand, I miss my little baby who used to be so dependent and needing of me. I know I'm not the only mom who has felt this way or is feeling this way currently, and I realize this is the cycle of life. But this is just how I feel. I wonder how I'll feel in 17 years time when it is time to help her move into her college dorm or 30 years down the line when she is asking me parenting questions about her baby. I guess this is what they mean by motherhood. And although I am a little sad today, I'm so glad to be a part of this club.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lessons Learned from Traffic School

So, I've been at Traffic School for the last two Monday nights. Not my favorite thing to do on a Monday night, but I didn't really have a choice. A couple of months ago I was going too fast down Cambridge on my way back from Trader Joes (I take that short cut because there are less lights...there are also more cops, I came to find out.) Before I knew it, there were lights in my rearview mirror, and for the first time in ten years, I was getting a speeding ticket. I probably deserved it, and I probably needed to go to traffic school again, just to hear all of the stories that would scare me back into driving safely. I'm sure my husband was not thrilled about the $300 ticket we had to pay, but he's probably secretly thankful that I got scared by the stories and am changing my driving habits for the better.

My attitude about traffic school in the past has been that they make it so incredibly boring that you never want to go back and you change your driving habits for good. Obviously, that only lasted 10 years for me the last time. So this time, I took a different approach to traffic school. I tried to learn some new things and put them into practice so that I don't end up here again in another 10 years. So here's what I learned:
1. The most popular ticket was for speeding, but not on the freeway. Most of the tickets I heard about were given on the residential streets where 25 is the speed limit unless otherwise posted.
2. The second most popular ticket was for the infamous "California" rolling stop. No, it is not a legal thing to do in California. And yes, you will get a ticket for doing it.
3. The reason that the speed limit is still 65 mph is because the highways were built in the 1930's and 1940's when cars could only go that fast. Today cars can go a lot faster, but the highways haven't been updated to handle that.
4. The hands-free law doesn't start until next July (2008), contrary to all of the emails I received this month.
5. The number one cause of death in children in America is car accidents. Yikes!

As I looked around, I saw people of all different ages and ethnicities in the room. There were Caucasians, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians. I sat next to a woman from Iran and a man named Salvador. There was a young girl in there who truly had only been driving for a few weeks and an older gentleman who was 84 and was in there for his first ticket ever. It was a true cross section of America, and as I think about it now, a true picture of what salvation is like. There we all are, sinners, sitting in that court room, waiting for our punishment. We all deserve to go to jail because we broke the law (even as miniscule as speeding is, it's still against the law.) We are all equal offenders in the eyes of the law, and we all deserve the same punishment. But then Jesus comes out and gives us our yellow certificate that says we are free to go. Free to go, and we didn't even have to go through traffic school. We stand around in shock, joyfully elbowing each other and thinking, "Thank goodness I don't have to sit through another 8 hours of hell." Of course, in order to stay out of traffic school, we have to take the yellow certificate and change our driving habits for good. And there in lies the true test.

So there are my lessons from traffic school. Not thrilling, but surely life changing.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Impact of Words

I swam competitively for 13 years when I was younger. Swimming was a huge part of my life for a long time. Practice, sometimes double, everyday. Swim meets on Saturdays and Sundays. When I graduated high school, I officially "retired" from swimming. I decided that I had had enough of the chlorine and early morning workouts, and that I didn't want to wake up at 5 am anymore. (Ha! Little did I know!) I hadn't touched a pool (in the competitive sense) for over 15 years.

Until today. Today I swam for the first time in 15 years. I was extremely nervous about it, visualizing myself immediately sinking to the bottom of the pool. But I was pleasantly surprised. When I got in the water, it all kind of came back to me. As my arms pulled through the waters, I could feel them sculling as I had been taught to do so long ago. I could hear my coaches saying, "Don't tuck your chin. Keep your head up," as I sprinted 25 yards. And I could feel it was wrong when I took a breath off the wall, something we used to get penalized for in practice. It shocked me how after 15 years, my coaches' words were still so fresh in my ears, as if they were right there on the deck blowing their whistles and yelling at me.

My husband often tells me to think about what I am going to say before I say it because whatever I say, it will stay with him for a long time. I guess that's true for coaches, teachers, parents, and people in general. Funny how I hold all of those titles. I guess that means I better learn this lesson soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Imitators of Christ

The other day I caught Elizabeth playing with a napkin. She had it wadded up and was wiping her nose, similar to how her daddy does it. It was the cutest thing, especially with the sound effects she was adding. She would wipe and wipe and then blow. I have etched that moment in my mind to remember forever.

Elizabeth has been imitating us a lot lately. She likes to brush her hair when I brush my hair. She joyfully brushes her teeth when I brush my teeth. She absolutely loves putting on our shoes and walking around in them. She longs to do "big people" things, and she gets so excited when she has the opportunity to do them.

And then it got me thinking. That last sentence is the attitude Christ wants us to have. We are called to be imitators of Christ. That means we do what Christ does. We walk like He walks. We talk like He talks. We treat others the way He treats others. And we are to do all of these things with the same joy that my daughter has when putting on my shoes. So proud because we're just like mama, or in His case, Abba.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Some of a Thing is Better than None of a Thing

This morning I had a monthly prayer group scheduled with a group of women that I adore. We have been meeting for almost 7 years and have watched each other walk, stumble, stand up, and walk again with the Lord. I treasure the time that I get to spend with these girls once a month, and I look forward to hearing what the Lord is teaching them lately. Many times I feel that I learn the lesson too as they share their experiences and discoveries with the group.

This morning, however, my husband wasn't feeling well, so that meant one of two things. Either I could not attend the prayer group, or I could take my daughter with me. I chose the latter, and headed to our meeting with as best a positive attitude as I could muster up.

You know the rest of the story. My daughter was well behaved for the first hour, but after that, she was done. Nothing was pleasing her. Not Cherrios, not cheese, nothing. I ended up leaving early and feeling frustrated that my once-a-month time with my friends was cut short. And then the Lord reminded me, "Some of a thing is better than none of a thing, Robyn." This has been a saying that He has been reminding me of a lot lately, and I have to admit, it has taken me a while to get used to this idea. I've been a mom now for 14 months, and just now I'm learning that with children comes sacrifice. Actually, I've been experiencing that for the past 14 months, but I think I am now just growing accustomed to it . I have learned this lesson and am now making it part of my thought process. And as a teacher I know that that is true learning.

But it's okay because Elizabeth is worth the sacrifice. She is worth missing part of my prayer group. She is worth missing part of my cousin's wedding because she wanted to run around during the ceremony. She is worth not having been to a movie in over a year. She is worth it all to me, and as I drove away this morning, my pity party turned into a rejoicing party, thanking the Lord for the little blessing that is now fast asleep in her carseat. So today the sacrifice may have been time with my friends, but at least I got an hour with them. That's better than none.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The "C" in Robyn C. Liskey

I have always been proud of my middle initial. I make sure I include it in every signature I make, whether it's on a check, a timecard, or an important document. I love the "C" in my name because the "C" stands for "Cheryl", and that's my mom's name.

This is my mom. Many people have commented to me how beautiful she is. One friend told me she was "well preserved." At 62 years old, I think she looks great, and I pray that when I am her age, I will look just as good.

But for those who know my mom, they know that her outside beauty is simply a reflection of her inside beauty. My mom is one of the most giving, selfless people I know. She put aside her dreams and desires to raise my sister and I until it was convenient for her to go back to school. She is a nurse by trade, but she takes care of so much more. In addition to taking care of our family, for the past 16 years, she took care of an elderly woman, bringing her meals, taking her to doctor's appointments, sorting out her financial life, decorating her house for Christmas. You name it, my mom did it for Antoinette. Just a few months ago Antoinette passed away, and although there was a great burden lifted from my mom's shoulders, I can tell she misses the woman she has taken care of for the last 16 years. By nature, she is a caretaker.

My mom and I had a strained relationship while I was in high school. I always thought we were opposites and that's why we didn't get along. It wasn't until recently that I realized we are very much the same, and that's probably why we didn't get along. One of the best decisions my husband and I made was inviting my mom into the delivery room when Elizabeth was born. It bonded us in a new way that words cannot describe. I'm so glad she was there and that we can share in this motherhood thing together.

I could go on and on about my mom, as I'm sure so many of us could. But I'll end with this. The name Cheryl means "Beloved." I have been blessed to be hers for the past 33 years, and I hope she knows now that she is mine.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Outside of the Box

My daughter is taking her first round of swim lessons this week. I say first round because I know that this is the first of many more weeks at the pool. But of course I am taking a million pictures because I want to capture every moment so that I can scrapbook it and remember it forever. By the end of the week, I'm sure I'll have over 100 pictures from swim lessons, and I will choose 6 to remember the whole week by.

This picture, though, tells the story of the week. Everytime I say to Elizabeth, "Okay, we're going to go underwater," she vigorously shakes her head "no". (This is a new development. I'm looking forward to her learning "yes" ASAP.) Being the forceful mother that I am, I then proceed to make her go underwater, and she comes up with this expression on her face. I LOVE THIS EXPRESSION! It's like, "Oh my goodness, I didn't want to do that but it was so much fun and I'm so glad I did it but don't make me do it again!"

It made me think of how my life is often like that. I am the safe one, the one who usually doesn't take any chances in life. I got straight A's, went to college, got my credential, became a teacher, married my husband, and bought a house all like I was supposed to. I go to church on Sundays, do the shopping on Mondays, clean the house on Tuesdays, and teach school on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays. I like my life like that. It is predictable, enjoyable, and, as I said before, safe. But every now and then (usually through the prompting of my riskier husband and definitely by the design of our Heavenly Father), I am pushed outside of my box. And you know what...I LOVE THIS FEELING! I love the rush that I feel when I first step out the box. I love the nervousness I experience as I anticipate what will happen that is beyond my control. I love the thrill of coming through whatever it is and realizing that everything is all right. I love it all, but I have to remind myself that I love it all when the next opportunity comes to step outside my box again.

God knew what he was doing when He paired me with Mike, my husband. He knew that Mike would put that expression on my face and cause me to say, "Oh my goodness, I can't believe I did that but it was so much fun and I'm so glad I did it!" And at 33 years old, I'm also learning to say, "And maybe I'll do it again!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My First Blog

OK. So here I go. Upon reading a friend of mine's blog, I was inspired to create my own and share my thoughts on life with the world. At first I thought no one would care to read my writings, but if you are reading this, obviously you do.

I have always enjoyed writing. As a teacher, I think writing is the key to learning. It allows us to process our thoughts and make concrete what we are thinking inside. I wish I could give my students more time to do this in class. Unfortunately, all they currently get is a spiral-bound notebook at the beginning of the year with the instruction, "If you have free time, feel free to write in your creative writing notebook. And if you want me to read it, place it on my desk at the end of the day." Sadly, I think only one student took advantage of that last direction. But that is for another blog.

As time goes on, you will meet my family, my friends, the people who make up the life I now live. I am not ashamed to say that I love my life currently! As a stay-at-home mom/part-time teacher, I feel I have the best of both worlds. God has blessed me with this opportunity at this time in my life, and I am so thankful for it.

So there it is. My first blog. It wasn't THAT hard! Now what will I write about next???

My Life As I Know It

The Blog of Robyn C. Liskey