Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up

This week wrapped up our long-anticipated, giant field trip to Atlanta's Shakespeare Tavern. I've been planning this trip to see Macbeth for my two high school English classes since mid-August. It takes a lot of preparation and organization to get 32 students from Knoxville to Atlanta for a 10 a.m. show. We had to find a place to stay overnight, because there was no way we were leaving at 4 a.m. to get there in time!

And this is just one advantage of going to a small, private college: you make lifetime connections. One of my professors—and also a former pastor of mine— in college now lives in Atlanta, and he cheerfully agreed to let us stay in his church overnight.
Our host in Atlanta, Dr. Jim Street

That was one big hurdle out of the way. Next I had to get parents to chaperone who were willing to drive, spend the night on the floor of a church, navigate Atlanta traffic, and keep track of 34 teenagers. I have the most awesome parents ever. And then there was the buying of tickets, ordering lunches, figuring out Atlanta's public transit system (MARTA), and planning a couple free things to do in Atlanta. 

The kids waiting for the MARTA train.

On the train. At least a couple of kids declared this the highlight of the trip.

I've gotta admit, I've been stressing about this trip. But it all came together beautifully.

These are the best kids in the world. I mean, really. The were fun, flexible, and had great attitudes. We ended up being 25 minutes late for the show, but the Shakespeare Tavern folks were kind enough to understand Atlanta traffic and hold the show for us. The play itself was great. We've been studying Macbeth for a few weeks now, so the kids all really knew the play.

After the play we took in a couple of Atlanta must-see sights: The Varsity Grill and Centennial Olympic Park. 

And then it was time to head back for the 4-hour drive home. As soon as we got back, I started hearing, "When can we do this again, Mrs. Small?"

I took an entire day to recuperate—I think we all did. And yep, I'd do it again.

Bur for now, it's back to business as usual.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up

Ah, October. All we really want to do in October is be outside. Summer's are hot and mosquito-laden around here. The real outdoor time is fall.

But this year October is also all about college and senior year. And rain. Lots of rain. Last week we visited the last college on Laurel's list, Lipscomb University in Nashville. It rained the whole way there and most of the time we were there.

Laurel thought she could check this one off her list and that her decision would be easy, with a different college winning out. But she loved it. I loved it, too. So did one of her best friends, although she is a junior and has another year to decide.

Lipscomb's prospective student day was top-notch—I was really impressed. I came away from the day without anything, anything negative to say about it. Well, except for the rain. But that wasn't the college's fault.

Now she's back to filling out college applications and writing essays, as well as studying for the ACT. And then, of course, she has to study for the two college classes she's taking this semester and her regular high school classes. She's kind of mentally exhausted.

Fortunately, there is a little time for fun.

Our support group has such an awesome teen group with around 250 kids ages 13-up. Laurel is on the student council, so she helps plan activities. Here she is at the back-to-school dance with her boyfriend and her best friends. You know. The ones she's been with since she was a teeny little girl. But we're not talking about that right now.

Duncan opted not to go, although, at 13, he could have. Dancing did not sound appealing to him.

Boy Scouts is much more appealing to him. He'd rather tie knots and hike right now, and I'm OK with that. Here he is getting his Life rank in Boy Scouts. If you're not schooled in Scouting, that means he has finished all his ranks but one. All he has left to earn now is his Eagle Scout. We're not in a hurry for that, since he's not quite 14; but I expect he'll have it around age 15.

And speaking of Scouts, we are also busy planning Laurel's American Heritage Girls Stars and Stripes ceremony, which is coming up in November. This is the picture I snapped for her invitations.

And speaking of snapping pictures, Laurel's senior picture photo shoot is coming up this weekend. We're super excited about that! I'm so happy for my sweet girl and all these good things in her life.

Oh, I should talk about school too. Actually, we took fall break all of last week. Or rather, Duncan and I took fall break. Laurel only had one day off from her college classes, and that was the day we went to Lipscomb. It was hard to get back into the swing of things this week. Because, well, we're back where we started: all we really want to do is be outside. And so, Duncan does geometry and then heads outside for a while. Or, while I'm in the shower, leaves me a note like this:

Both the kids are reading Macbeth in my literature classes. I'm taking both my 9th/10th and 11th/12th grade classes to Atlanta to the Shakespeare Tavern at the end of this month to see Macbeth. This is going to be a crazy trip, but lots of fun! I hope it will be a fabulous memory for all of us.

And that's about all that is happening in our small world.

Oh, except for this.

The tarantula molted.


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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to do life

Sometimes there is a sky so perfectly blue that I just want to wrap up in it, or drink it.

Sometimes the light hits the mountains in such a way that the trees glow, and I think about dreams and fairies and poetry and when my children were little and how sometimes I want to lose myself in those mountains.

Sometimes I walk the graveyard of an old church and think about all those broken hearts and those long lives and the really short ones, and I wish my mother would stop talking about where their burial plots are, and at the same time I'm glad she doesn't mind talking about it.

Because these two.


These two are my link to everything, my past and my future and my now. And every single time I make room for a day like this, I am simultaneously filled with joy and filled with dread, because this could be the last day like this with them. 

And how will that ever work? How will I navigate a world without being able to reach out and hold my mother's sweet, crooked hand and smooth down her beautifully soft hair? And how will I ever, ever, ever go the rest of my life without my father's gentle smile and his freckled knees?

I can't help but think of these things, even on a day like this—or maybe I think of things like this precisely because of a day like this, when my mother sighs a deep, deep sigh of joy and says, "I will always remember this perfect day, even if I don't have long to remember it."