Friday, October 23, 2009

At least it's not J. Max

Sunlight filtered through our open car windows while a brisk breeze swooped crimson and golden leaves in merry-go-round circles on the asphalt. The day's brilliant conditions ushered in excitement for the emergence of Fall.
But all was not quite so sunny in our car as we sat parked in front of our church last Friday afternoon. We spoke with our pastor briefly as he informed my guitar-laden sons that Mark, their guitar teacher, was out of town.
Still, the sun shone and cars whizzed past and all seemed right with the world until the car doors slammed shut. Because at that moment, when I turned the ignition, shifted my suburban into gear, and headed out of the parking lot headed west instead of east, my oldest gasped, "Wait, we're going home, right?"
He made it to a crouched defensive position before I could say, "Well, the girls and I were going to run a couple of er -"
"Aghhhhhhhhhh! Errraaaannndddsss!"
Somehow this nearly ten-year-old giant of a boy managed to squish his five-foot frame into the floorboard of the front seat, twisting and turning and slithering, as if somehow his body language could push the inevitable errand-running into oblivion.
No chance.
You know, you hate to see your child struggling. I mean, so paralyzed that they're unable to form complete sentences... I put the car in park, turned sideways in my seat, and turned my full attention to the performance taking place in the adjacent seat.
Squirming, turning, twisting, with facial contortions and jagged contractions, Bran continued his display of distress with the upcoming errand-running.
"Wheeeerrrrree are we going? What errraaaannndddsss?!"
Well, first I have to go by Julie Nelson's -"
"Julie Neellllssonnn's!!!"
"Yes - Julie Neslon's - she hemmed Daddy's pants like five months ago and I need to pick them up. You don't even have to get out of the car, she has them hanging on her front door for me."
(Weakly) "Ok, Julie Neslson's. What else?"
After Julie's, we'll be right by the Plant Shed, and I need to get a couple of plants and pumpkins. It won't take long."
"Do you promise me we won't look at flowers? Do you PROMISE?"
(Laughing) "No, I don't promise, but I don't intend to look at flowers. And after that we might go to Ross. For you, for new boxers."
(Whispered) "Ross." Sigh.
Slumped in his seat having accepted defeat, Bran looked out of the corner of his eye at me and said, "Don't laugh at me."
"What? Why would I not laugh at you?! You are hilarious! This is one of the funniest things I've seen - and it's even a free show."
About that time the phone rang, Papa on the line. I passed the phone to Bran to talk to his Daddy's Daddy:
"Hey Pop. Yes, we're ok, except we're running ERRANDS. And we might have to go to Ross. But at least we don't have to go to J. Max..."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Kitten and Ducks

(from Hudson) I wrote this story today:

One late afternoon a mother duck's eggs hatched and a kitten got mixed in with the baby ducks. When it was time for the baby ducks to eat their first piece of corn the kitten ate with then. After that, it was time for them to take ther first swim. After the ducks jumped in it was the kitten's turn. At first the kitten did not like this idea but he did it to stay with the ducks. While they were swimming the baby ducks and the kitten followed their mother duck across the pond. After they were across the pond ther was a garden and the kitten saw a garden mouse and chaced it and then the baby ducks wanted to chace it but the mouther duck said no.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bragging... again

Check out my big brother, Trey... he's amazing! Can you tell I'm a little proud?!

James Listed Among Top 100 Most Influential in Accounting Industry

ALPHARETTA, GA, October 2009— Xcentric, LLC’s president and CEO Trey James was recently recognized as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the Accounting Industry by Accounting Today magazine, one of the leading news vehicles for the tax and accounting community.

Accounting Today highlights James’ contributions to the accounting industry, including Gray Matter, Xcentric’s fully hosted network solution, which allows firms to focus on their core competencies instead of on technology.

Candidates for this award were nominated by the Accounting Today readership, as well as by the magazine editors. The finalists were then selected based the editors’ judgment of the candidates’ impact on the profession over the past few years and in the immediate future, as well as on their knowledge of the profession as a whole.

“With their Gray Matter service, James and his company let more and more accountants focus on their work not their network, by hosting and deploying entire IT systems in the ‘cloud’”, as excerpted from Accounting Today magazine.

“I am honored to be chosen and thankful for the team at Xcentric that joins me in serving the accounting industry through technology specifically designed for CPAs, “ says Trey James, Xcentric president and CEO.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Six weeks in...

We're in week six of school, and I'm thankful to be here and not at week one. I feel like we're past the nervous anticipation of unfamiliar schedules and routines, and are slowly jelling with this new pattern of what learning looks like in our home.
Without question, the primary challenge has been attitudes and acceptance of our new roles and routines. More than a few days of our first month found one boy or the other in tears, in a fetal position on the carpet, crying that "we don't do it like that at school." The worst was when an "I can't" dissolved into "I just wish I were at school, I don't like homeschool!" - especially when it came just minutes after a proclamation that homeschooling was better than they expected. What drove me crazy was that when one boy faltered, the other's attitude remained upbeat and cooperative. Then the next day, without warning, they might switch. What in the world?!
But even the most frustrating episodes ended in contrite cooperation. This message scribbled on the dry erase board welcomed me one morning:

Enter Corbin with some positive reinforcement. Armed with bags of candy - good candy, expensive candy - he filled a glass jar and perched it on a shelf in the sunroom, a visible reward for good attitudes. Just one piece a day has been enough to get them in line.
Even more than the candy, though, time has smoothed out the wrinkles of unfamiliarity and anxiety. The boys know a little more what to expect, they are learning their new routines, and I think they are feeling some success in learning and even enjoying the new way we do it at home.

So enough about the kids, a few things that school at home has meant for me:
- Endearing me to my oldest. Branson caught on to the "pros" of homeschooling early on, and he has surprised me by jumping in with both feet. He wakes early and is a self-starter, and would have all of his work completed by 9:00 a.m. if I'd let him. I treasure his consistent up-beat attitude, his courage to jump in and try something new, and his amazing aptitude. (See all the pink post-it-notes on his folders - Bran scrawled "done" scrawled across each one to show me he'd completed his work... I think this photo was snapped before breakfast.)

- Laughing with my boys. We have laughed a lot - they are really funny! Bran is even funnier when he's trying not to be. Nothing beats genuine laughter with these boys.
- Having Bran and Hud to myself. The girls go to school three days a week, and Basden is LOVING her kindergarten class. I love that she's learning songs and poems and jingles - and not from me. I also love that she's getting a classroom experience with these sweet teachers and kiddos. Needless to say, Essie is happy as a lark to be with friends several days a week.

- Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. We're staying up a bit later and sleeping a bit later. I still can't get over afternoons and evening with no homework (!!!). I feel like the pulse of our home is a little more relaxed than it's been in awhile - the sabbatical from school deadlines has been a tremendous gift.
- Tuesdays with the Alexanders. Our kids LOVE Tuesdays, can't wait for the weekly trek to Arlington to be with this sweet family and some other friends. Emily is amazing in opening her home, Moody is amazing with science experiments and teaching, and Senora Mary Lynn is adorable teaching Spanish. And best of all - hot pizzas delivered between classes. So thankful for our Tuesday lunches and learning!

So far, our weeks have been a gift. That's the way I've been trying to anticipate this school year - a treasure. My mind's eye envisions a rusty old treasure chest filled with shimmering gold and bright gems and sparkly things that I don't even know the value of. I don't know what our treasures will be, or when we'll uncover them, but I'm counting on the fact that the Lord has something beautiful in store for us. One day at a time, one day at a time, one day at a time...