Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The rest of the story ...

I've been home from El Paso an entire week now ~ it hardly seems possible that time can pass by as it does.
A week ago early Sunday morning, the children, Jesse and I drove out to Sunshine Community Church to worship together. I love worshiping with family! Jesse has to arrive more than two hours before the service begins to run sound checks and do other technical stuff with the sound equipment for their praise and worship team. So I packed my backpack full of good things to do with the children while we waited. We colored a bunch more of our Color By Dot pictures, played a rousing game of TROUBLE, walked around the church inspecting all of the interesting rooms, and then it was time to worship! After the opening worship songs, the boys went to their classrooms. Emma decided to stay in church with me, so I got her a bulletin and we followed along with the pastor's sermon notes. Emma took a pencil and copied all of my notes, sat quietly, and seemed to follow right along. She snuggled up close to me and listened carefully as the pastor taught from Luke 6. This time with Emma in church is one of my most cherished memories from the entire week!
After church, we went back to the house and spent the rest of the day doing what we had been doing the prior four days ... having fun together!
We took another walk down to the playground ...
... we climbed on all of the equipment and got all hot and sweaty ...

Isn't this a cute picture of the boys? Emma and I had been sitting exactly like this about five minutes prior and told the boys it felt like a comfortable bed ... so they had to check it out for themselves. Before we knew it, it actually WAS time for bed ... because Monday was just around the corner and Monday meant ...

Back to School:
It was so much fun to go back to school with the children Monday morning. They have to get up at 7:00 in the morning and be dressed and ready to leave by about 7:30 in order to eat breakfast at school. So that's exactly what we did! Christopher is always the first one awake of the three ... well ... usually, that is. Emma asked that I wake her up at 7:00 and then we all worked on waking Matthew up together. He decidedly does NOT like mornings ...

But look at Matthew's happy face when he was showing me his classroom! His kindergarten class is divided into two groups, but not the same two groups all of the time ~ it depends on what activities are going on as to which children are with each other and what teacher they are with as well. So at any given time, there are no more than about 8-9 children in the classroom together.

After breakfast, the children are allowed to play outside on the playground until the bell rings for them to line up and wait for their teachers to escort them into the building. I got to visit each classroom and snap just a few pictures. After hanging up their jackets and getting their desks organized, the P.A. loudly announces (via the principal) that it is time to sing the National Anthem and recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the pledge to the Texas flag (yes! The Texas Flag has its own pledge!) followed by a one minute silence. I was in Matthew's class two mornings during the singing of the anthem and the pledges. Everyone did a good job, knew all of the words, and almost everybody was even quiet for about 30 seconds of the one-minute silence!
I was able to meet the kids for lunch as well. There are three different shifts for these kiddos, so I arrived at 10:40 for Matthew's lunch, followed at 11:10 for Christopher, and then 11:30 for Emma. We had enough time to eat lunch and then go out to the playground for a short time of play.

I did learn some interesting information during lunch one day. I was sitting next to Christopher and one of his friends, Caleb. On the other side of Caleb was a little girl who leaned over to Chris and Caleb and announced with a grin that they were "girl locked." I had never heard this term before and had it explained to me. Christopher was on my right, and to my left was another little boy. Christopher told me that since I was surrounded by boys, I was presently "boy locked" just like he was "girl locked." He told me a person can also be "double locked" if, for example, there are TWO girls on the right side of you and then TWO girls on the left side of you ... DOUBLE locked ~ and Christopher informed me that you certainly DO NOT want to be double locked!
In the hallway outside Emma's room, her teacher had hung a few examples of the children's class work. I was so pleased to find Emma's hanging there!
In the afternoon, after the children are picked up school, the time really goes by quickly. There is homework to do, dinner to prepare and eat and clean up, and then ... it's practically bed time. We did manage to squeeze in another game of TROUBLE one of those nights. And of course, there was always time for a few bedtime stories!

I had told the children that when I got back to Michigan, I was going to make them a special book about our week together ~ kind of like I had done for each of them at Christmas ~ only I was only going to make ONE combined book of all of the stuff we had done. We decided we would need some blooper pictures (just for fun) as well, so for awhile on Monday night we made funny faces and took pictures of each other. But then I asked if we couldn't get each of the children to pose with me for a nice picture of us together. I asked Emma to take a few pictures. Christopher, however, didn't hear the part about these being SERIOUS pictures and made a goofy face ... oh well. YOW. Don't I look exhausted in these pictures?!!

Christopher looks a little bit mopey in this picture because he came in FOURTH in Trouble and was dubbed the "losing loser" by someone in the clan ... can you tell who came in FIRST?!!

Tuesday at School:
Tuesday morning we went through the same routine at school. I met so many darling little children ... Isaiah, Kourtney, India, Alexis, Patrick, Greg, McKenzie ... and got reacquainted with Katierra, Malachi, Rochelle, Liberty ~ and too many others to name!

Each of the children have very nice teachers. I really loved visiting school every day I could!
I think Christopher's teacher is my favorite. She is so friendly and her smile is just beautiful.
Outside for recess, the children were climbing this rock and then jumping off to see how far they could go ... I was marking their spots in the sand and it became a huge contest. This is Emma and I standing on top of the rock together after everyone got tired of playing that game.Oh! And this is a close-up of Emma's caterpillar. Her class is studying the process of metamorphosis. Each child has their own container with their very own caterpillar.

A singular experience:
After lunch on Tuesday afternoon, I walked back to the house and then decided to take a short walk and snap a few mountain pictures along the way. Jes and Di live just a few blocks from this viaduct and expressway ... and the bridge was getting in the way of the mountain, so I walked under it and was able to see the mountain a little bit better.
It was only a 5-minute walk to snap these pictures and then walk back to the house, but as I turned the corner to their street, a police car did a U-turn and pulled up next to me! The officer opened his door and stared at me and then asked: "What do you think you are doing here?" I told him I was visiting my son and his family, my grandchildren, etc. But then he asked: "What are doing with that camera?" I replied that I was taking photos of the mountains. "Why?" he asked. I told him there are NO mountains in Michigan, where I live! He then proceeded to give me a lecture about this neighborhood being part of the United States Army and that someone had called the police about my "suspicious activity." Seriously?!! I told the officer that I never once left the sidewalk (although I came really really close once because there was an interesting tree right next to a house that I wanted a close-up of ... but I resisted because ... it was right next to someone's house!) and had only snapped SIX pictures total! He was very indignant that I had taken any pictures at all, asked to see my I.D., and warned me not to take any more pictures outside. Hmmm. I had been taking pictures outside for the prior seven days and no one had complained at all! Jesse came home an hour later and was pretty furious about this incident. He thinks the officer acted out of line. Me too!

Well ... that's the story of my eight days in El Paso. Eight wonderful days. The nicest visit I've ever had there. So I have lots of good memories. Making a book about it will be a lot of fun too. And speaking of books, I'll share with you a few of our favorite books that we read ... another day!


judy and larry hand said...

Carol: The photos and narrative are great. Just love their beautiful faces and hear about the way their
school day goes. They are three
busy little bees. Must be the police
was being too careful cause of the
differing views of U.S. troop involvement cause you look the opposite of someone to be wary of to me. We really enjoy all the pictures
and narrative. Thanks so much for sharing.

Mom Jones said...

Judy and Larry ~ You are welcome! Going to school with the kids is unbelievably FUN. I can picture them there throughout my day here in Michigan and it helps me pray for them in different ways now. Very glad you enjoyed my attempts at writing our story. The children speak of you often and miss you much.

judy and larry hand said...

P.S. Glad to know never to be doublelocked and all the other neat
stuff you narrated.