Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday Wonder - Michelle Helton

I met Michelle last September. She is arguably one of Essie's favorite people, which makes her one of my favorite people. Michelle dances with Esther, cleans her chubby little fingers from paint and food, and even changes her punctual 10:00 am dirty diapers twice a week. This smiling (and mischievous) woman welcomes my baby girl into her arms each Monday and Wednesday morning, waiting at the open dutch door of Esther's little preschool class.
If you're a mom, you know the value and sanctity of your little ones' teachers, especially preschool teachers. And I especially admire Michelle. She's four years younger than me, but about a year ahead in terms of life stages. All of her kids are one year older than mine: Michelle is mommy to Victoria (9), Rebecca (7), Joshua (6 - pictured here) and Emily (3), and she has been married to Paul for twelve years.

I think what caught my admiration of Michelle was learning that our families are so similar, and she's JOYFULLY serving twice a week in our fabulous preschool program, happily keeping up with nine 18-month olds (yikes) and doing it all with a convincing grin that she wants to be there loving our kiddos.
Did I say she's mischievous? Something about her smile communicates that this seasoned mom knows how to both enjoy and keep her sanity in balancing her own family and these active little ones at school.
I think Esther gives Michelle a run for her money. Standing up in her crib and screeching during nap times (SO GRATEFUL the screeching phase is over - I've not experienced any thing like that before...), one glance from Michelle would remind Esther who's boss and who needs to lay down and rest. Love it. And I love that Michelle embraces and appreciates Esther's vibrant, (tornado-ish) laughing personality.
One day last Fall I picked Esther up early, and the elaborate Thanksgiving crafts weren't quite ready. Michelle insisted the darling hand-printed placemat make it home for our Thanksgiving dinner and scurried around the church, laminating and completing Esther's little creation for us to take with us. Michelle's a bundle of energy and makes school "fun with boundaries" for little Essie, something this mommy appreciates deeply.

Oh, and did I mention that Michelle's husband Paul is a night-duty police officer? He currently works 11-7 am. Michelle has a paralegal degree but is currently in school and one year away from completing a degree in criminal justice. Balance, balance, balance. Her favorite hobby (if she were to have such a thing as free time) is quilting. She's created quilts for each child and dreams of finishing three-year-old Emily's.
When asked about a life verse, Michelle said one of her favorites, something she's teaching her boys is 1 Samuel 16:7. But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Michelle, you are appreciated, and truly a WONDER in my life...and Esther's... and all those families you touch. Blessings to you, friend!

** Look for my Wednesday Wonder posts (most weeks!) - please forgive the cheesy name - as I highlight inspiring friends and people in my life... enjoy! **