Saturday, August 6, 2011

Finding the perfect pair of shoes in Cuba

In my closet, I have 21 pairs of shoes, but I have been thinking about getting a new pair of cowboy boots, which would bring the number up to 22. Here in Austin, I would guess that I am a bit below average as far as the size of my shoe collection.

This summer I had the opportunity to participate with three other women from Covenant and many from the church in Luyanรณ with their vacation Bible school; it was an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience. As I think about the trip, I am overwhelmed in all the amazing works God performed in Cuba; deciding on a story to share has been difficult

I considered writing about Georgina, who in spite of her arthritis, and other life challenges sews purses and tapestries for those at church, and presented me with an embroidered hand towel upon our first meeting. Or sweet Roy, a fifteen year old kid who, in spite of a difficult family life and a lack of financial resources shows up every time the church opens it doors and has been doing so, on his own since he was four years old. I could share about Sylvia, who in spite of a kitchen that most of us would completely gut if we were asked to cook in it daily, created delicious meals for us each day and accepted with great enthusiasm and gratitude the most basic kitchen materials we brought. Or maybe I should share the shear joy and delight of the children when presented with a bag of balloons. Or about Poopi and the other young adults who gave of their time and talents to help out with vacation Bible school and found the church to be a great place to hang out and talk. I could also share about seeing my Austin sisters-in-Christ give so selflessly of their time and talents. I could write about Rosita and Begonia who extended such hospitality to us, nourishing not just our bodies but our spirits as well? All of these people displayed God’s love and faithfulness to me while I was in Cuba.

But the shoes, I keep coming back to the shoes…. Of my 21 pair of shoes, I brought 3 pairs to Cuba – my super cool brand new Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers that I scored for a great deal at Marshalls at the beginning of the summer, a pair of flip-flops and another pair of shoes to wear at the beach. I wore the sneakers most of the week. As I said before, they are cool and comfortable, functional and fashionable. I love these shoes. On the last day of vacation Bible school, Poopi, who spoke English very well, brought his young cousin to me. Poopi explained that Franklin’s shoes needed to be repaired. He showed me the entire sole of the shoe had come loose and was barely hanging on. Poopi was confident that I could solve this problem. He mentioned glue, thinking perhaps I might have some. We had indeed brought a hot-glue gun and I thought this could solve the problem. I ran up to our room and got the glue gun. I sat down with Poopi and Franklin and got right to work. But the glue wouldn’t stick. The shoe was beyond repair. To be honest, if this was my shoe I would have immediately thrown it in the trash, put on another pair and gone out to get a new pair (and maybe two, if I found a sale.) Clearly, this was not an option for Franklin. Poopi explained that shoes are very expensive in Cuba and difficult to come by. I looked down; I noticed that my shoes were about the same size as Franklin’s. Another feature of these fabulous shoes is that they are just as cool for a 10-year-old boy as they are for a grown-up lady. I took off my shoes and Franklin tried them on. They were a perfect fit. The solution may seem fairly obvious – but these were my brand new shoes. My favorite shoes. My good for every occasion shoes. Poopi and Franklin were tentative, but I insisted. Franklin smiled. Pleased with his new shoes, he ran off to join his friends. Barefooted, I went to our room and grabbed my flip-flops. I wore my flip-flops for the rest of our trip. I gave away one pair of shoes – about $25 worth of manufactured goods. But the lesson was invaluable.

I often wonder how I can serve God. I think about how to best use my time, my talents and my resources. Before heading to Cuba, I pondered what God wanted me to do while I was there. I don’t speak Spanish. I am not a gifted singer or a compelling speaker. I am not particularly outgoing and I don’t dance or craft. I often wish I had more. More talent. More time. More money. More shoes. But in Cuba, I realized I have enough. More than enough, I have been richly blessed. I have plenty of shoes (and time and talents) – enough to share.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fight Gone Bad

Nathan convinced the whole family to do a crossfit work-out this morning. We were up and in the back yard doing, "Fight Gone Bad" training. 5 minutes of air squats - 1 minute rest - 5 minutes of jumping Jacks

1 minute of rest and ending with

5 minutes of dumb bell swings. Jack kept up the whole time and even did the macho man no shirt thing, just like his dad.
Saturday morning at 9:08 and I can check exercise off my list.
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Science at home.

Jack and Nathan are figuring out a cool science experiment - a salt garden.

Here is the salt garden - about the only type of garden we seem to be able to keep growing.
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Jack counting his money to see if he can get some new Yugi-Oh 5DS cards.
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

A new family in our neighborhood

Look what we found outside our window this afternoon - cardinal eggs. I spotted the momma out there - she was not happy when I got the camera to take some photos of her little ones. She flew to a tree limb a little ways off and started squaking at me. She was not happy at all. Now she is back on her perch minding her little ones keeping her eyes on us.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spending a day off

Shortly after we returned from the Children's Musuem and lunch at Torchy's. Jack talked me into watching "Jake and the neverland pirates" and then said, "Mom, I am tired - I am going to play with my guys" .... boy brings out his bucket, lays in the middle of the floor and procedes to rage battles with Apocolypse against Toad and Blue Crystal Girl against Defender. Clearly, he is not hapy about being captured on camera.

Here is the day off list: Dueling was accomplished this morning right after breakfast. Torchy's was our lunch -Daddy joined us. We are waiting for our trip to the pool -since the pool doesn't open until 4:00 pm. We may need to call the cousins for this one.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Taking a day off.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of celebrating graduation with several wonderful and intelligent folks. While at lunch, my former advisor mentioned that he had taken his daughters out of school for a fun day at town lake. Another professor, who may be one of the best reading teachers in the country suggested that he should have asked them to write a persuasive essay before agreeing to a day off from school, he countered that he didn't want to be "that dad". She persisted and suggested that each child write a list of ideas about how to spend the day.
She added that one of the biggest problems with most of the writing done in schools is that it isn't authentic. She added that children needed more meaningful writing opportunities were the purpose for writing was authentic. I was inspired. Today when Jack came home from school, I told him if he could write down 5 ideas about how to spend the day we could take a day off from school this week. Here is his list.
1. go to the pool
2. dool (duel- this is our favorite Yugi-oh card game).
3. go to tochees (Torchy's - a local taco place).
4. go to peese prc (go to Pease Park).
5. do art
6. slep late (sleep late)
7. go.... (Mom, can I just put those three dots to mean go to Target and get a luncheable?).
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Saturday, May 21, 2011


Jack and I visited the library today. The last few times we have been I can let Jack spend some time looking for books on his own - our usual strategy is that I find a few books which I think he might enjoy (that I will like reading to him), then I look at books for myself and he does some searching on his own (or looks at the computers they have there), then we meet and I read him the books we have found (or a chapter from a longer book) and he decides if he wants to check the book out. Today we found several great books.

Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH by Robert O'brian - I remember my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Benedict read this book to us. I think I check this book out of the library trying to read ahead and figure out what happened. This was a Newberry book back in 1971 - we'll see how it goes with Jack.

The extraordinary adventures of ordinary Basil by Wiley Miller - This book is the perfect mix of text and pictures and captured Jack's attention from the first sentence. So far this book is my pick for best book of the summer.

Addition by Sheila Cato - This was the book Jack found. This was the book Jack selected to read in the car on the way home from the library. It is filled with math facts and Jack was very impressed with my ability to answer several addition problems. 5+6+9 was the most difficult one - he thought it was hilarious when I suggested that the answer was 569 - this lead to a long and silly ride in the car.

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea - I hate to include a spoiler but in spite of being victorious over adult conversation and leaf piles dinosaur does not defeat bedtime. Jack thought this book was great.

Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCauhrean - Jack has been reading this book with his dad. It is pretty good, Jack like it enough to renew the book and finish reading it.

I also snuck these books into the stack while Jack wasn't looking.

Diego: Bigger than life by Carmen Bernier-Grand - a lovely book of poetry about Diego Rivera. I hope Jack will let me read some of the poems to him.

Built to last by David Macaulay - I love David Macaulay he is an amazing illustrator, I think this is his latest book. It shows how a castle, a cathedral and a mosque are built.

Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen - I love her writing another great story which I hope Jack will enjoy.

This is one of the books I put in for me:

Cheap: The high cost of discount culture by Ellen Shell- I have been interested lately in issues related to consumerism. I wonder and worry about how much stuff we have in our lives and how this impacts the quality of our life.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Finishing strong

Today is my last class for the spring semester. I am finishing my first year as a teacher of teachers. I have enjoyed this year - but already I find myself thinking and planning about how to improve next time around.

I want to read more. I want to write more. I want to waste less time. I want to listen more and talk less. I want the time I spend with students to be meaningful and productive. I want the readings I assign to help students think about their practice and their philosophy of teaching.

Rather than feeling tired, I feel energized and excited about what lies ahead.