Back to School

Tucker and Elizabeth ready to go!

Tucker and Mrs. Melton at the school field trip.

Elizabeth in front of her classroom. She is in the Rainbow class.

Tucker at his table on the first day of school.

Tucker and Elizabeth on the first day of school.

School this year is well underway and somehow I have not had much time to reflect on how much I love what this school year has brought to our lives.

Tucker is loving Kindergarten and is learning so much so fast that I can hardly keep up. He is reading everything he can find. The labels on the food at the grocery store, every street sign, the words that come across the TV when I am trying to watch the news, my grocery list, my to do list and of course the readers he is reading for school. As one could imagine, this has put some parts of my life in slow motion. It is really hard to "run" into Wal-mart for pesto sauce when there are SO MANY WORDS in Wal-mart! Kindergarten has also brought Mrs. Melton into our lives. Mrs. Melton is Tucker's kindergarten teacher and God's personal gift to me! She has inspired Tucker and he loves being in her classroom. She truly loves children and it shows.

Elizabeth is loving preschool this year. She proudly waltzes right into her classroom and takes over. She is extremely well behaved at school and saves all of her less than attractive moods for home:) She loves her teachers and everything about being there. Her first question every day is, "do I get to go to school today?" and her second question is "can I have cereal for breakfast?" She has been seen on the playground giving a few "directives" and she is often so busy there that she can't possibly get her lunch eaten. She usually asks for her chocolate snack right when she gets in the car at 2:30. Then I always remind her that we won't be having a chocolate snack, to which she always replies, "oh, I forgot."

This school year has also put me back in the classroom! I am teaching preschool P.E. two mornings a week and I love it. It took me a few weeks to get used to my busier schedule and having to be out the door every morning, but now it is smooth sailing. I love being there at the school and getting to do things like watch the kids while they are on playground and visit with their teachers in the hall. This school year is the perfect reminder that God's grace provides more than we could ever deserve. I am daily aware that He has provided me the perfect job at the perfect time. I even get to teach both of my kids every Wednesday. Elizabeth and I go to school on Wed./Fri. and those days are so much fun. It is rare that a person gets to work in a place where the boss understands that you are a mom first and where family responsibilities are given the highest priorities. Thank you God for your unfailing devotion to me and the little details in my life!
Fielder Road ECC still gives me this "at home" warm feeling when I am there. What a wonderful beginning to Tucker and Elizabeth's education. I am confident they will have a great year.


100 New Recipes

I recently read a book in which a girl was trying to complete a "to do" list by a certain birthday. (This is a very simplified version of the novel). The novel was not necessarily a Pulitzer, I wouldn't even say that it was well written. However, I have not been able to get it out of my mind.

Sometimes I feel like I am surviving each day instead of living each day. The book inspired me to set goals and reach towards many of the things I "have always wanted to do." I also want my children to see that I can set a goal and reach it. I have always wanted to be a great cook and I am going to start reaching that goal by 1.) practicing and 2.) trying lots of new things. So here it goes....

One of the things on my "list" is to try 100 new recipes before my next birthday. I am so excited about this new goal. I love cooking, baking, and just being in the kitchen. I have always wanted to be a good cook and although I have mastered a few recipes (previously mentioned chocolate chip cookies) I would have to admit that my cooking is limited to a few tried and true dishes that I am often tired of making. I have always thought that deciding what to cook was as difficult as actually doing the cooking.

I have already started and I am loving it!


My Mushy Brain

The other day the kids and I went up to the Farmer's office to take him a few things and visit him while he was working. He was putting in a few extra hours over the weekend to get ready for teacher in-service and the new school year. The kids and I were so excited to go that we baked cookies for all of the staff putting in extra hours along side him. We arrived just after nap time with a tray of "fresh out of the oven" cookies.

As I looked around and he showed me many of things he had been working on, I was overwhelmed by all of the creative ideas and interesting projects going on around me. I loved everything he did in preparation for the teacher training and was so impressed by all that progress the schools have made under his leadership. One of his co-workers sat down with us for a few minutes and she shared some creative ideas she had been working on and we all began to brainstorm together....and in that moment I realized how far removed I am from the career I once had. The room was getting larger and I was getting smaller. She thanked me for the cookies and I wanted to say, "That's not all I do you know....I went to mall yesterday and got three new outfits for Elizabeth for under 20$". I might have also added, "I did extensive research on getting the best nap mat for your money and I believe I purchased the very best one.."

My brain felt mushy and my resume bleak.....don't get me wrong....I love being a "stay at home mom" and I am entirely grateful for the last five years with my children. I just felt so disconnected to this whole other part of me. I have been out of the work place entirely for the past three years and I can't help but wonder if my mind will be ready when it is time to go back. Right now I spend much of my time settling an argument between two preschool children over who can jump the farthest. I knew those arguments were trying my patience, but are they also stunting my intellectual growth?

I called my mom on the way home to ask if she considered me to be intelligent and to make sure that some of the accomplishments I was remembering from my past really did happen. She assured me that all was well and I would be right back in the career world when the time was right, but for now.....
I can tell you that most people who have eaten my chocolate chip cookies swear they are the best they have ever had.


The Great Outdoors

We decided to take the kids camping during James' vacation a couple of weeks ago. We had to squeeze this adventure in between baseball practice and celebrating James' birthday with his family. Fortunately for us we live really close to a lake and a state park so we could have easily jumped in the car at any moment and make the 5 minute drive home.

I have to admit I have never thought of camping as much of a vacation. From the outside looking in it seemed that camping involved a whole lot of work for just a little bit of fun. However, my kids really wanted to sleep in a tent and the farmer practically grew up in tent so I figured it was worth a shot.

Much to my surpise I loved it! Yes, me, Sara Elizabeth Strader Isbell loved camping in a tent. We roasted marshmellows and made smores, we fished and caught one rope, we swam in the lake and we told lots of silly stories that kept us up much longer than we had intended. Don't get me wrong, it does involve a LARGE amount of creatures, most of which I never intended to see. However, it does NOT involve many other things.

I have made a list:

1. No cleaning bathrooms. State parks bathrooms are not bad and I was not responsible for cleaning them. (Thank you Kimberly for the tip about showering in swimsuits!)

2. No cleaning the kitchen....James took his new portable grill and in by then end of the trip I had only washed one pot.

3. No cleaning the floors. I just swept out the floor of the tent when I was done.

4. No doing laundry....see # 1 - Swimsuits clean and ready for the next day.

5. No bored children. They loved every minute of it.

6. No television, phone calls or technology of any kind.

7. No errands or going to five stores.

8. No figuring out what to cook for dinner - James took care of the cooking!

and my favorite...

9. No interuption to family time!

We had such a great time and are looking forward to doing it again...this time we will have a much larger lantern and more fans.

Ok - so it was luxury camping...electricity, running water, coffee in the morning....I am only so brave!


Garage Sales, Disability, & Ethics

I love garage sales. I love the whole idea of something that you do not want/need any more becoming someone else's newest treasure. I love meeting the local color and I love cleaning out my house and ridding it of clutter that is no longer useful. But most of all I love to bargain. The thrill of a little debate and coming away from the exchange feeling like you made the best possible deal. Secretly, I do not like to price any of the things that I put in my garage sale so that people will have to ask, "How much do you want for the star shaped chip and dip?" Thus the beginning of an entirely interesting conversation.

This past weekend we had a garage sale and I spent all week in anticipation of the great event. On Friday, the kids made signs for their lemonade stand with the intention of making enough money to make it to the Dollar Tree to get a prize. By Saturday morning all persons involved were in my driveway ready to make a deal. The coffee was good and the smell of sticky bun was in the air (as well as all over my fingers).

I must stop now to tell you that in all my excitement I did advertise on Craig's List in an overzealous way. The advertisement was so enticing that I had my driveway full of people by 6:45 am. Unfortunately we were not completely ready to go at that time and had stated that the garage sale would be open at 7:30am. James was still trying to get the old bunk beds down from Tucker's room and several other big items. Tucker and Elizabeth were helping with these items and it was a regular 3 ring circus. A man that came early was quite cranky because all of the things I advertised were not out yet. I could only offer a smile and some sticky bun as condolences, but he scolded me with a, "well then you shouldn't have advertised if you are not going to be ready!" He left. More sticky bun for me.

We met several interesting people thourghout the morning....people who buy things that will never fit them, people who buy things that they know do not work, people who buy things that they will never use, and (my favorite) people who have no intention of buying anything but just really what to see what kind of used junk you have in your front yard.

By Saturday afternoon we were hot tired and ready to quit for the day. Despite the fact that I totally enjoyed myself, most of the things that I had intended to sell were still right there in my driveway. We decided to open again on Sunday and see if we could get rid of most of this stuff.

Sunday morning.... much of the initial excitement was gone and I dragged myself out of bed. No sticky bun.... no time to make coffee. However, Sunday turned out to be a much better day in terms of financial gain. Most of the big furniture sold and I was ready to haul the rest to goodwill when an older woman and her disability check hobbled up the drive. I was already packing up the unsold clothes and James was ready to take down the tables. She asked for a chair, a glass of water and some help looking through the pile of clothes that was at least 3 sizes too small for her. (She told me "she needed something to look forward to"). An hour and a half later we were loading up most of the things I had left into her car when she spotted the train table for sale. I had marked the train table kind of high b/c I was a little emotional about Tucker's train phase. It had all of the wooden tracks and trains and I loved watching him sit there and play with it all. She said that she thought she would have a new grandchild soon and she just needed that table. I tried to talk her out of it...but she insisted. I tried to give it all to her free, but I think that insulted her. I had already marked all of the clothes down to a quarter each. She handed me what had to have been a large chunk of her disability check and told me she would be back in 30 minutes to get the train table. I hated taking her money.... but she would not take no for an answer. She drove away and I waited and waited and waited. She never came back. I still have the train table.

All of this to say.....

Lady - please come get your money ...or the train table.... or just let me know that you were able to feed yourself despite your spending at my garage sale....geez.


my "little" boy

My little boy, Tucker James Isbell is growing up. In the Fall he will start Kindergarten and I feel this urgency to suck up every second of time with him this summer before he goes away! Not only is he growing physically (and eating a ton) his little mind is going places I am not sure that I am ready for.

Big Boy Indicator # 1

Tucker has decided that he should be taking showers ALONE from now on. He relieved James and I of our nightly bath duty and explained that he didn't really need any help. This has not been easy on me. I keep wanting to be in there checking on him. He loves soap and water and it is all over the bathroom....but he is very clean when he is done.

Elizabeth asked if she could take a big boy shower too. I quickly bathed her in a bubble bath, wrapped her up in a hooded towel, put baby lotion all over her, put on the pull-up and rocked her while I sang. How much can a mom take in one night????

Big Boy Indicator # 2

Tucker is ready for a big boy room. He politely told me that while the decorations on his wall were cute and he did not want to complain.....that they were ...welll...kind of babyish. WHAT! I looked at the pictures of cars and trucks he had had in his room since he moved from the crib. He was right. Baseball big boy room is in progress.

Big Boy Indicator # 3

Tucker asked me who he was going to marry. That's right I said MARRY??? What???? I calmly told him he did not have to worry about that. I would pick out a girl for him when he got older.

To which he replied, "Oh thank you momma, thank you!"

Then we hugged.



During my life I have lost many things..... grandparents, friends, babies, a father and a little of my ability to avoid being caught up in the fear of loosing more.

I guess living with the reality that we are not in control can be a frightening and just when I think that my heart is safe from castrophe I am reminded that nothing is certain outside of God's love and salvation.

Lately, I have been remembering a close college friend who passed away in a car accident years ago. What I do have and hope to have forever are some amazing memories that bring me much comfort....

I remember Erin and Joy getting me ready for my first college date freshman year.

I remember Erin and Joy finding me at the library to take pictures before Sigma Alpha pinning.

I remember watching her sit up late at night to finish her quiet time before she went to bed.

I remember her giving me a "date" for my birthday.

I remember feeling like someone knew me for exactly who I was and loving me for it.

One of God's greatest gifts is true friendship. Recently I had the opportunity to spend time with Joy (my college roommate) and Erin's two sisters. Thanks for a great weekend and for the real friendship that transcends time and circumstance. Love you all.


New Year

There is something about a new year that brings out the desire to "take down and put up" as Thomas Jefferson would put it. When I take down all of the Christmas decorations, things always look a little sad to me. I am on a mission to brighten up a spot or two around my house. (The farmer is always a little worried about what this mission will entail, but he is very endulging.)

For my next project, I am determined to refinish a cedar chest that used to be in my Memaw's house. It is beautiful and belonged to her mother many years ago. I can't wait to make it my newest treasure. It looks good in my study and provides much needed storage space. I also like that I think of my Memaw every time I look at it.

James moved all of the furniture around in our bedroom and now I am determined to paint my room. I am very indecisive when it comes to picking out paint colors, so I must head to the paint store and decide before the Farmer is ready to paint. Taking something that is little and imagining it big is not my one of my strengths.



Today I woke up with the lyrics of an old hymn stuck in my head.

"When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing it will be

When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory"

The image those words conjures up includes Faye Dodson on the piano, a line of men waiting to serve communion, Dr. Temple sitting on his bench looking to be in prayer, and my Memaw sitting on the second pew of the church with her entire family standing - no towering around her. The church always seemed a little stuffy but I always felt very at home and secure standing behind her. Every Sunday was exactly the same. We were always a little late to church and Memaw was already in her place when we got there.

I am so grateful for.....
the last few times I got to see her before she died

the way I felt important when I was with her

her wisdom

her stories and her laughter

her constant commitment to serve the Lord

the stability she brought to my life

her generosity

her love

The song that I can't keep from singing this morning brings new meaning.
...what a day of rejoicing it will be!