I mentioned in my post a couple of days ago that school deadlines are coming up. Would you pray for our decision-making on this?
We visited a school yesterday – GIbbs International Studies Magnet School. It was fantastic:
-Great teachers who focused on teaching children how to think and find answers instead of teaching them what to think.
-A focus country for each classroom to study that year.
-Only two classrooms per grade level to keep it small.
-Great diversity of student population.
-Neat, clean, organized, great international decorations – a marketplace, post office, art from students in other countries (a trade), studies about folktales, folk art, etc.
-Fun music, art, gym, and theatre classes.
-Not in our neighborhood, but it only took us about 7 minutes driving.
It’s a lottery system to see who gets in, so I don’t really know what the chances are. We’ll visit another magnet school tomorrow – Williams Magnet.
The deadline for the magnet form is tomorrow, so I think we’ll turn it in and then have time to visit our local neighborhood school. So far, we have not heard a good word about it, but yesterday’s school visit gave me hope that there ARE good public schools here (despite what people say). Thanks for your prayers….
In a few days, we’ll have internet at home (I hope!), and I’ll be able to give a more thorough update.
- In the meantime, here are a few disjointed notes about the past week or so. Yesterday marked one week of life in Little Rock!
- Our Reba community friend Barb had mercy on us at the last moment – the night before our drive from Evanston to Little Rock – and decided to ride with the kids and me. She planned to stay a couple of days; but, once we had two down to the stomach flu (Jedi & Josh), she changed her train ticket and stayed on as a nonanxious presence and wonderful helping hand until Friday night. What an unexpected gift!
- Another community friend Gus rode with Josh in the truck and helped a great deal with unloading the truck on this end. He also tuned and cleaned our piano and filled our house with Reba praise songs. It was a house blessing of sorts!
- My dad was out front to greet us the moment we drove up with our giant, yellow Penske truck and trusty, white van. He even had sparkling grape juice to celebrate! We have been thankful for his additional presence here on several days – helping unload the truck, buying us groceries, bringing us family furniture from storage, and generally brightening the spirits of the children.
- Many people from our block and the nearby Methodist church have brought us sweets to welcome us. Sweet breads (banana, strawberry, zucchini) seem to be the custom. 🙂
- The kids, Barb, and I stayed in the garage apartment several nights while the moving in, initial unpacking, and sickness swirled around. We were thankful to have a quiet, warm space away from the action.
- We’ve also been thankful that the space is big enough that we do not feel cramped or overwhelmed as we organize and unpack.
- There are many projects still before us, but I’ll give you a few that we’ve done (we rejoice in each small task completed!):
- Painting the laundry room, dining room (walls & ceiling), and beginning on the office.
- Washer and dryer purchased and installed! No more visits to the “Funmart Laundromat.”
- Drip in kitchen faucet fixed and new (mold-free) hardware installed.
- Drip in bathroom faucet fixed.
- Kitchen cabinet drawers and doors put on (after being painted earlier in January).
- New car license plates, and an Arkansas drivers license for me! (Josh’s still pending…)
- New Arkansas bank account.
- Bed for Lilia painted and set up (thanks to my mom who came to help on Saturday). She and Lilia also painted several other pieces of her furniture lavendar to match her bed.
- I’m sure there’s more, but I might be boring you by now…
- Our next-door neighbor invited us to church on Sunday. It’s a 9000-member black church 2 or 3 blocks from our house. We all went and had a great time. The preacher was amazing (Josh was thrilled because he quoted Nouwen). The choir moved us to tears. Our neighbor insisted we meet the pastor. No decision yet about what our home church will be, but we really enjoyed going to this one.
- Our next-door neighbors on the other side invited us to a Superbowl party at their place. The kids were jumping-up-and-down excited (mostly because they had hamburgers & all I’d made for dinner was chicken noodle soup). Still, we all liked the neighbors and their friends and family at the party. Simeon made friends with their two-year-old granddaughter (who lives one more house down our block).
- We started homeschooling yesterday. We’re continuing with their regular school routines for math, writing, and spelling. We’re also focusing on our watershed (learning the bodies of water, animals, insects, plants, history, etc. in our specific ecological area). Our watershed is called Coleman Creek, and we’ve already done an expedition to find the creek. We’ve visited two different parts of it today and yesterday.
- We’ve also been participating in lots of activities at the Hillary Clinton Children’s LIbrary that is just blocks from our house – Garden club, cooking classes, martial arts classes – all free and amazing! http://www.cals.lib.ar.us/about/locations/childrens-library.aspx
- And today we went to the fantastic zoo in our neighborhood – chimpanzees, lemurs, cheetahs, oh my! We got to see them feed the ringtails, and the one named “Reba” came right up to the window. Thanks to my Memaw for the zoo membership, we’re gonna LOVE it!
- The kids and I also went to a kid-friendly yoga class for caregivers – catered to the needs of bodies that are frequently lifting and serving. The group meets at the Quaker Meeting House and has a discussion on the issues of social justice and how it relates to parenting – especially in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. It was a great time, and I even got to do a little bodywork on one mom’s sore shoulder.
- Josh continues to spend his mornings looking for work. Please pray for that process and end result!
- Also, there are deadlines for applications for schools for the kids for the Fall (due in this Friday). We have two school visits scheduled for this week. We really want a public school in the neighborhood – that feels important to us. Yet, no one says good things about really any of the schools. PLUS, last week a vote passed for the government to take over the schools, due to 6 schools with insufficient progress. It’s a tumultuous time for the Little Rock schools. We’d appreciate your prayers in navigating this situation.
Okay. I’m impressed if you made it this far. Subsequent updates will be shorter and include more pictures…:)
Oh my. This Fall has felt heavy with decisions to make and new ventures to plan. It has been busy, but busy is really not the right word to describe it all. It’s the meaning and weight behind it all that has made it feel all-encompassing. And, truly, it is only good and exciting stuff! No tragedy or trauma. And woven throughout it all, our daily lives have been quite sweet and almost…normal. Still, I had a hard time finding the energy to bring our stories to this space. I hope to regain momentum for this in the coming weeks, as our lives begin their drastic change. Documenting the change and sharing our experience with loved ones seems like it will be a comforting practice during this time. But, no more dancing around it all, here’s what’s been brewing…
- I have been dedicating a good chunk of time to launching my business: Sweet Water Offering. I have been seeing many bodywork clients, as well as a few health coaching clients. I even taught a local class this Fall – a series on taking processed sugar out of your diet. It was a new challenge, but one I’ve found fun and invigorating. I’ve also been working on my website and strategizing for an online presence with my friend and business partner Katie Palmer. Here’s our site, if you haven’t seen it, yet: http://sweetwateroffering.com/.
- We’ve been adjusting to TWO kids in school. They’ve both had a great year, but it’s been a new form of juggling for us to keep their school routines on track and organized and to make time for hearing about their experiences and helping them cope with new struggles (like organization at school and interpersonal situations). So far, I actually really enjoy having school-aged children, but it is a different experience than being a mom to littles. Also, Simeon has been adjusting to being an only child for 7 hours each day. He doesn’t like it very much. He likes having other kids around and usually goes in search of friends in out building!
- Josh and I did a very intensive “anti-racism training” this Fall. It was a great experience that will surely effect our future approach to life and community. We were given a lot to think about and take to heart, as well as the opportunity to move forward in new ways.
- Finally, most of our energy the Fall was directed toward our hopes of starting a new Christian community in Little Rock, Arkansas. We are covenant members of Reba Place here in Evanston, which means that we share our money and decision-making in common with our community. We committed to be here “until God calls us elsewhere,” with the understanding that we felt called to start a community someday. Well, “someday” is here! And, we have discerned a plan and received an unfathomable gift of support and sending in a unanimous vote from the 50 or so other covenant members. A large part of that discernment was deciding to buy a house in Little Rock that seems right for hospitality and is in the neighborhood we selected through prayer and conversation and meeting neighbors and walking around. Our community here is helping us to make this happen in a unique and creative way – just the sort of thing they are best at. And we are deeply grateful.
- SO, recent weeks have been spent making an offer on a house, making plans for renovations, and setting up a transition plan for our family over the coming months. We plan to move at the end of January. There are a million other things I could say about the process and the unknowns and the hopes and the dreams and the people who are dreaming with us. But, this is enough for now.
Really, it all just feel so epic I have a hard time putting it into words: a new business doing things that I love, a chance to live near my family again for the first time since summer breaks in college, a location to call home, the promise of new community and new manifestation of God’s work in the world. The sadness and brokenness of the world swirls around us constantly, and I know it is bigger than I can fathom. Still, I feel a peace that we are walking on the path God has laid before us. And, in this moment, I feel excited about offering the simple gifts we have to others. Please pray for our family during this time. We know that excitement will give way to long days and lost routine and hard work and missing friends and wishing for familiar things. Recently, Jedidiah said that he wished he had more real adventure in his life. So, we’re all trying to look at this as a real adventure. Pray that we would be able to remember that perspective on the hard days.
And one more epic thing…I got my long hair cut off!