Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Times to Cry and Times to Laugh

I have officially moved into my parents' new place. I still have a few small things at my old house but the bulk of my possessions are here now. It feels very surreal especially since my parents' new house is nothing short of incredible. They don't get their stuff moved in until Tuesday so for now, it's a little like I am living here alone. Picture Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. If this were a YWAM house in Maui, I could realistically fit about 200+ people here using a lot of bunk beds. I did once live with 11 other girls in a room the size of this new house's kitchen.

There is so much change going on right now that I can't deal with it all at once. My last day at school (without the kids) was on Friday and that doesn't even seem real yet. The other third grade teachers wrote me a nice card and gave me a little engraved notebook since I am always writing notes to myself on my hand. It was very thoughtful. The last day of school for teachers always involves a lot of cleaning and accounting for things you've been given throughout the year. It is a huge pain. Most teachers try to do as much of the closing out stuff as possible during the last week of school. I did some stuff but was hindered by an extreme case of procrastination coupled with denial about leaving. Lucky for me, I have made some great friends at school this year. After all their tasks were done, four of my teacher friends helped me finish my duties. It meant a lot to me that they would stay at school longer than they had to on the last day of school.

After school, we performed our usual post-school ritual- Wingstop and then the movie theater. We had been hanging out after school about once a week and I am really going to miss that. This year was much better than last year and I think having close friends at work made a big difference.

For my whole life, I have loved having groups of friends: Quiet Spring Lane friends, church youth group friends, high school friends, college friends, Wesley friends, Camp Cho-Yeh friends, Young Life friends, work friends, etc. I consider myself blessed to have a lot of quality friends but life changes have made them disperse throughout the U.S. and Canada. This makes it hard to hang out with them all at the same time. So, I really enjoyed having a fun group of friends at work. This is one change that is starting to sink in and I am not a fan of it.

Another change I don't think I have fully dealt with is my brother leaving for Iraq. It's hard to know how to feel or how to deal with it. It won't be over for a year so being upset or worrying excessively is not a healthy option. Right now I am using a combination of prayer and denial to get through it. When he gets to his final locale, I should be able to write him. That might make me feel more proactive about the situation.

As for good changes, my parents' new house is awesome and I am looking forward to going back to Maui to do the SBFM school. I anticipate learning a lot and enjoying times with old and new friends. I am trying to focus on these good changes and appropriately deal with the not-so-good ones.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Last Day of School Full of Laughter

Today was my last day as a teacher...at least for a while. It's kind of surreal right now. It turned out to be a really fun day. I think I might get a little sad about it if I really start thinking about not seeing my students again. I am not at that point yet.

Today was the annual teacher talent show. In the past, the talent show has been an event where teachers could come out and show some sort of talent. Usually this talent involves some sort of choreographed lip sync to a song with some enthusiastic dancing. This takes some preparation. This year, my co-worker, Will and I were in charge. About a week and a half before the show, we tried to gauge the teacher's readiness and enthusiasm for the event. Based on the reactions we got, it was clear that no one was prepared for or excited about this year's event.

Based on years of Young Life and summer camp experience, I decided we should do some sort of skit extravaganza. I know a lot of really easy skits that don't need much practice. Will was in church youth group as a kid so he knew a few of his own. We decided to do three skits and then have three Young Life games that fit into a category I like to call "unwitting participant games." This means that the participants are given little or no prior notice that they will be in a skit.

I was afraid no one would volunteer to be in the skits but Will and I used a combination of guilt and encouragement to gather a decent representation of our school's teachers. We literally practiced all three skits in 30 minutes yesterday and hoped for the best today. And although I am admittedly biased, I thought it went really well. Judging from their positive comments, my co-workers agreed.

Will and I were the emcees and we didn't really prepare anything in advance and spoke off the cuff. I don't remember exactly what I said but I don't think I said anything inappropriate. The first skit was the doctor's office. A patient goes into the doctor's office and sits down in the waiting room. Then, another patient arrives with some sort of ailment. In this particular version, Ms. F scratched her butt every few seconds. The kids went wild! Then the first patient, Mr. B, starts scratching his butt too. After that, Ms. N came in and kept jerking her head to one side. Mr. B starts doing that in addition to coughing and scratching his butt. Then, Ms. V comes in and starts spontaneously dancing every few seconds. Mr. B starts coughing, scratching his butt, jerking his head and dancing every few seconds. It was pretty hilarious to me even though I knew what was coming. I actually laughed so hard that tears started rolling down my cheeks. The teachers did such a great job of hamming it up. Then Ms. S came in looking like she was pregnant and Mr. B runs offstage screaming.

After that we did the good ole' Young Life banana eating contest. We called three staff members up who didn't know what they were in for. We purposely picked people we thought would be good sports. We told them they were having a blindfolded banana eating contest. They started eating the bananas and then we took the blindfold off of two of the contestants. This left our vice principal blindfolded shoving bananas in her mouth as fast as she could...all alone onstage. I guess she realized she couldn't hear anyone else, because she started reaching around next to her. Then we pulled off her blindfold. She was a great sport about it all.

Then we had a skit about gum. One person is chewing gum and they put it under a park bench. Then other people come along and interact with the gum. One person gets it in their hair, another steps on it and then someone blows their nose and wipes it on it. In the end the first person comes back and eats the gum to the disgust and amusement of the audience.

After that we called up four teachers who we'd told in advance that they were going to play charades. We told the kids that the teachers were going to act out what the teachers did when they found out our school won the rank of Exemplary. We told the teachers to act out the following scenarios: seeing a UFO, throwing up, seeing a mouse and riding a roller coaster. They too did a great job hamming it up. The kids enjoyed it though I don't think they all got the joke.

Then we had the most popular skit. It's called Pass It Down. A couple goes on a date to the movies but the only two seats left are four people apart. They sit down at opposite ends. The boy, being a gentleman, tries to share his Junior Mints with his lady friend. But as they are being passed down, the other moviegoers partake in the candy with the last one dramatically finishing whatever's left before it gets to the girl. This happens again with the popcorn and the drink, which the last guy pours all over his face. The dating guy makes a last ditch effort and kisses the person next to him, asking them to pass it on. This is awkwardly passed down until the last guy who has eaten everything, kisses the girl on the date. She flips out and slaps him in the face, ending the skit. The teachers did such a great job on this one. The kids couldn't stop talking about it. Seeing my co-workers' funny creative sides makes me miss them more. Too bad the whole school year couldn't be that light-hearted.

The finale of the show was another unsuspecting teacher contest. We tried to choose the participants carefully but we were a bit nervous. I chose my friend, Erin believing she wouldn't get too mad at what was about to happen, but being willing to talk it out with her if she was. We told the teachers they were going to be in a blindfolded sit-up competition and we needed the most physically fit teachers. We blindfolded them and they began to do sit-ups. While they were doing sit-ups, they each got a surprise pie to the face. Nothing amuses kids more, or adults for that matter, than pies. It was hilarious. All the people that got pied were super good sports about it including my friend.

It was such a fun way to end the year. I really don't think it could have gone any better. I will miss some of these situations you only really get in as a teacher. How many other jobs have talent shows? Maybe I can start one at YWAM Maui. :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tour de Hood

Today I rode in a bizarre bike ride. It was the first annual Tour de Hood. It was started by a man who wants to promote bike riding and general exercise in a low-income primarily black area of town. I have been on about a dozen organized bike rides in my life. This one was very different. The website said it would start at 7am but it didn't start until after 8 am. Apparently part of the reason for this is because the founder was hit by a car last night as he was putting up the signs for the ride. He showed up with bloody knuckles and a big white bandage covering his entire head. It was hard to get mad at the guy for the late start.

On most of the rides I've been on, there's been mainly hard-core riders with all the gear. This ride only had about 25% hard-core riders and 75% novices. It was a strange combo. They even had bikes for people to borrow that did not have their own. The founder told everyone to please bring the bikes back. It sounded like they could just borrow them without any I.D. or deposit. Strange.

All these people together made for a strange ride. My dad was almost taken out by a ten year old boy on a light pink loaner bike. It was pretty funny. I am not sure where the kid's parents were. On most rides you all start together and then everyone rides at their own pace. On this ride, we kept having to stop so that people could catch up. This was annoying since I have clip on pedals that I have to clip out of to stop. We went about 8 miles in two hours. Normally I do about 12-14 miles an hour.

Another purpose of the ride was to learn about the history of the six wards (or areas) of inner-city Houston. We didn't get to hear too much since my dad and I quit after about 8 miles. It was too frustrating to start and stop and the ride seemed to be taking forever. We did get some really cool "Tour de Hood" t-shirts. The experience made me want to go on another organized ride- maybe one that was more orthodox.

After the ride, we visited my parents' good friend, Vic in the hospital. He had been in a bad biking accident. Apparently he fell in a hole at a construction site. He was briefly paralyzed but seems to be doing okay now. He's getting a bit stir-crazy in the hospital so pray for a quick release.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Contemplating Change

As usual, I should be doing school stuff on a Sunday night but I am not. I just spent a little time laying on my porch swing and contempleating all that's going on in my life. This is one of those times of change, where it seems like there is significant change in almost every area of my life. I don't think it's felt this intense since Spring/Summer 2003 when I broke up with a boyfriend, my parents moved out of my childhood home, my best friend got married, I graduated from college and left Austin and was getting ready to go to Maui for the first time.

The first big thing that has happened recently is my brother deploying to Iraq. This is his second time there but it's different now that he has a baby. It feels like there is more at stake. I haven't really dealt with my emotions about him being in Iraq for a year. I know I need to deal with them and I can feel them bubbling up inside me but I have been unable to let them out. I am running on denial right now, which I know is unhealthy in the long run but easier to deal with now. I'm trying to pray and remind myself that his life is in God's hands but even that is tinged with a large dose of denial. I know I will have to break down and have a good cry about it but right now it's like my emotions are clogged inside of me and not coming out yet.

The other big changes are impending. My parents are very close to owning an incredible house in the Heights. I mean, this place is just awesome! This is a change that does not bother me one bit. In fact, I am pretty excited about it. Their current home is the townhome they bought after moving out of my childhood home. I was never especially attached to it. In fact, my second parents growing up, the Harnlys, have sold their home and that feels far more traumatic than my parents current move. I went to the Harnlys today and despite knowing they'd sold their house, I felt my heart drop when I saw the SOLD sign in their front yard. So, I am excited about my parents move because the house is just awesome. I am pumped about living there this Summer.

I am moving out of my current house at the end of the month. You would barely know it if you came in my house since I have been a master procrastinator about packing. I have a feeling that most of it will be left until the last minute in my usual style. It's a bit overwhelming since I have to have my classroom cleaned and packed up by almost the exact same date. I haven't made that much progress in that department either. I feel somewhat relieved to be leaving my school with all its politics and drama but I will deeply miss my students and the friends I have grown close to there.

I am still planning to complete another YWAM school in Maui in the Fall though I don't know officially whether I have gotten in or not. The school runs from September through December. After that I plan on coming home for Christmas so my poor mom has at least one of her children. Then, my plans are a little less solid. This is starting to make me feel uneasy since I like to know what comes next. I am hoping to stay in Maui and work on the English teaching curriculum for the China project but I am not 100% sure that's what God has in store for me. I also have hopes of going to China for a year or more after Andrew gets back from Iraq but that doesn't feel for sure yet. It's like I have a feeling deep down that things will turn out very differently than the way I see them in my mind right now. And to be honest, despite an unwavering faith that God has good in store for me, my overall uncertainty about my future is quite scary. So, I know as I have had to do in other times of great change, I need to cling to God, the only thing in life that is guaranteed not to change, and ride this thing out.
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