Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Letter I Wanted To Write.... WRITTEN 5/25/11

Tonight I had to write a letter of resignation from my job.
A job I've worked at for seven years.
A job that I've loved.
It had to be formal and impersonal.  I had to be professional.
But this is the letter I wanted to write.

Dear administrators and board,

I a writing to let you know that I am resigning from my position as art teacher.  I may be resigning, but I will never stop being a teacher.  I will never stop being an artist. 

I want to thank you for giving me my first job.  Thank you for providing me with some of my best friends.  Thank you for the students that taught me so much.  Thank you for a paycheck that bought my first house and allowed me to bring home my first son.  Thank you for an administration that never told me "no" when I had an idea, a vision, or a passion.  Thank you for pushing me to be better and challenging me to be patient.  Thank you for the years of $2 school lunches, and the snazzy plaque I got at five years of service.  Thank you for the summers off and the fall football games.  Thank you for giving me the Mac lab of my dreams.  Thank you for helping me get my MFA.  Thank you for the laughter at lunch and the personalities that I adored.  Thank you for allowing me to work under people I believed in and have ample amounts of respect for.  Thank you for shaping me into the adult I am today.  Thank you for allowing me to follow my dreams.

And thank you for denying me the 2 year leave of absense, because it will push me in new, challenging, and unpredictable directions that I would not have otherwise gone - a road I am meant to travel.

I hope that the next art teacher you hire is someone who will appreciate how awesome you are.  I hope he or she will appreciate the Mac lab and the new construction.  I hope they will appreciate their coworkers as I have.

This right here is the hardest part so far....because it isn't a "thing" - it is a part of me....a part that feels like a definite end.

Yours truly,

The art teacher in room 104.

Frustrated. WRITTEN 5/21/11

I am so bad at waiting.
I am so bad at patience.
AND I am so bad at pretending like I am equipped with the patience to wait.

They said they would email us Thursday night with an answer.
They said that they are optimistic, but there are just some logistical things that have to be worked out before they can formally offer us the position.
They emailed on Thursday to tell us they would DEFINITELY email us on Friday, because something had come up.
I emailed them to make sure it would be Friday, because I didn't think I could make it until Monday unless they prepared me for that.
They emailed me back and said it would DEFINITELY be Friday.
Guess what today is?
That's right.  No word.  It's killing me.
Now other thoughts besides just annoyance have begun racing through my head.
What if someone else applied that is better?
What if they have changed their mind?
What if all of this excitement is for nothing?

My pep talk for today:
Tiffany......it is officially out of your hands.  You have no control over the outcome from here on out.  YOU NEED TO FREAKING CALM DOWN.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Tonight I cried.... WRITTEN 5/13/11

I know there is a chance that this may not be my last year of teaching....but there is a good chance it will be.  You see, in many counties in many states I would be deemed too expensive to hire on as a new teacher - too educated, too much experience.  Right now I'm lucky to work in a district that is more concerned with your qualifications than how much they have to pay you....right now.
Tonight my students put on their awesome annual art and creative writing show.  Six years ago, I, along with a colleague started a student-run fine arts journal at our school.  For six years they have released a fine arts journal at this largely attended event.  Every year over 200 people come to see their work.  And we're not just talking parents here people....other students, former students, community members, administrators, and other faculty....they take time out of their schedule to come see students sell their artwork, to eat delicious food made by students, to listen to them read their poetry, and to listen to student musicians perform.
It is a beautiful night.
But tonight as the last musician was singing and I was devouring a delicious sugar cookie behind the food table I was brought to tears.
I don't know if my students will ever know how much they've taught me.  I don't know if they'll ever know that on nights like these my heart swells like a giant water balloon on the verge of bursting.  And I won't be able to tell them.
Because by the time I find out whether this actually may be my last year teaching, the seniors will be gone.  They will have graduated and will be thinking about much more important things than their former art teacher - like what size dorm fridge to get for their new digs...or how to spend their last precious summer together.
What they won't know is that somewhere in a nearby city their teacher is packing up her life and leaving town.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Everything has a price.... WRITTEN 5/11/11

During this process I wrote a few blogs that I never published.  This is the first of that series....

I would say I learned this lesson during the adoption process.
How much do you want to be a parent?
Okay, that is worth $ _______ if you do it this way or $_________ if you go this route.
How badly do you want to be a parent to _______ ?
Okay, that is worth $ _________.
Oh, you want a baby from that country?
That will be $_______.
I went through periods of shock and apathy.
It felt at times like they were putting a price on something that, to me, seemed unpriceable....priceless if you will.
How could a system come up with a monetary value for something that was already in my heart?  How could they cheapen this deep desire I had to be a parent?
I know now that it was necessary.  It was legit.  But it didn't hurt any less.

Tonight I sat at a table as a realtor put a price on the home we had built.  We didn't build the foundation, but we built it into our home.
I could feel the tears welling in my eyes...
So that is the cost of Miles first steps on our dining room floor, or Liam's first army crawl on the living room rug?
That is the price of the nursery I painted - each tree branch in anticipation of my child that was waiting for me across an ocean?
This is how much it will cost a family to buy the yard filled with every tree I ever planted, bush I ever pruned, and perennial I ever purchased?
The attic that holds all of my little baby boy clothes, and my artwork.
The basement we finished and threw some awesome Halloween parties in.
The wall I knocked out one day on a whim when I got home from work.
The fish pond I dug with my own two hands.
The pencil lines that mark how tall Miles and Liam were at a year.
The curtains I sewed with my grandma's machine.
The nail on the second floor that I snag every sock I own on.
The birds that sing to me every morning and evening.
The garden we dug up and filled with bountiful vegetable plants.
The cabinets we hung in the kitchen.
The fourth bedroom we were always going to finish.

Does anyone want to buy my life?  Because I feel like I just put it up for sale.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention....

Perhaps some of you are still reeling from this post.  Perhaps, most likely, some of you have better things to worry about and have completely forgotten how I wrote that cruel, elusive post almost 4 weeks ago.  I would hate me too.

However, for those of you that have waited so patiently, or not so patiently.
Are you ready?

Dun. Dun. Dun.......

We are Northern Ireland bound.  On September 18th we will pack up our family and move across the ocean for a two-year term as volunteers at a retreat center outside of Ballycastle, Northern Ireland.
That's big, right?
Scary big.
Like, I'm speechless, Big.
When I told my dearest friend for years and years that we were doing this, she was shocked...because I'm not good with change.  Which you will all have front-row seats to over then next four months.

The last few weeks have been filled with a lot of things.  I've been blogging, but not posting.  I'm going to post those things over the next few days, so that someday my sons can read them and see how this idea formulated and took shape in our minds.  How it wasn't an easy decision, but it was a decision that felt right from the very beginning.
To say that I'm excited would be an understatement.
To say that I'm terrified would also be a gross simplification of terms.
To say that I've never felt more at peace about a decision in my life?  Now that would be incredibly accurate.  

There will be many more details to follow.  Many more freak-outs, and many more tears.  I'm just warning y'all.
Buckle up, because we're about to go on an adventure.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gowe - I Wonder (Official Music Video) Ft. Erin Kim - Mother's Day 2011

Every year on Miles' birthday I write a letter to his birth mother.  I want her to know all about him as he grows up.  I'm not sure if she'll ever get the letters I send, but just on the off-chance she does.....I want them to be there. 

Then ironically on Miles' birthday Tuesday I stumbled upon this sweet music video by the artist Gowe, who was adopted when he was a baby.  It's a tribute to his birth mother which I find facinating....and sad....and emotional. 
But most of all, I find it lovely.

Gowe - I Wonder (Official Music Video) Ft. Erin Kim - Mother's Day 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Dear Miles.
Today you're three.  That's right - THREE.  I can hardly believe it.
I can hardly believe I'm so lucky to know you, to love you, and to have you in my life.
When I think of how you came to me, I can't even begin to believe how amazing of a journey it has been.
It has been a sad journey......but more than that it has been a happy, joyful, beautiful journey.
Things I love about your three-year-old-tornado-in-bermuda-shorts-self....
I love your easy way of laughing.
I love when you kiss your brother good night.
I love when you jump on your bed and laugh hysterically.
I love when you lie down on the floor and play with tractors.
I love the way you smell after a bath.
I love the way you cuddle up to me right after you've woken up.
I love that you love to "drive" my car.
I love the way you say "Honda".  It sounds more like "Hunda".
I love when you're in trouble and you decide to play peek-a-boo.
I love when you jump in mud puddles.
I love when you squeal going down hills in the car.
I love that you get so excited whenever someone comes to visit.
I love that you are so excited to see me after a long day of eating goldfish and playing cars.
Because, believe me little boy....I am oh so happy to see you.

Here's the thing Miles.  There is a lot to love about you.  You're easy to love.  And I promise to always love you, for many more birthdays to come...until the world runs out of birthdays.
And even beyond that.
Your mom.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Random thoughts....

One of my favorite, and most quirky things about Liam right now is his love affair with tiny plastic toys. Right now, as I type this, my son sleeps soundly in his crib clutching a rubber nemo bath toy that he insisted on taking to bed with him.  Last night it was a plastic car.  A few weeks ago it was a spoon.  He doesn't just sleep with it, he clutches it close to his heart all day long - never letting it out of his sight. 
The most popular victim is this tiny little Ernie doll playing baseball. 
 He continuously asks for "Er-ie" throughout the day.  Yesterday he took his nap with the orange guy and everytime I checked on him he was in a different position, but always holding Ernie.

I thought this was all incredibly crazy....until I found out that my husband once slept with a Christmas Ornament as a young boy.  sheesh, the poor kid is doomed.

And just because I haven't posted any pictures in awhile.....

Oh!  And one more thing.  I wanted to show off this super sweet toy box my grandpa made for Miles and Liam.  I asked him to build it at Christmas, and when he showed it to me at Easter I was stunned by how gorgeous it is.  I think it may be one of the most beautiful things I own, and I will cherish for a very long time.

Now, I need to get to bed....because when I wake up tomorrow morning I will be a mother of a three year old.  Can you believe it?  I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Being liked.

When I was younger I cared a lot more about being liked by others than I do now.  If I was honest, I would admit that I want to be liked (who doesn't?), but I'm not going to alter who I am so that I'm accepted or cool.  Like most people in their thirties I've found the friends that love me for who I am, I've ironed out my priorities, and I've allowed myself to dismiss the people who create negative energy in my wake. I guess I've grown up.
But I have one weakness that I keep finding myself faced with.  I want people to like my kids.  No, scratch that.....I want people to LOVE my kids.  I don't need them to constantly tell me how cute they are, or that they are the most amazing children in the world (because they are....duh.).  I just want them to be genuinely liked.
This is hard for me.  Because I think they're pretty amazing.  And, like I'm sure most other parents realize about their own children, my kids do all of these amazing, wonderful, loving, things when they're alone with me.
Then we go out into public.
And they hit each other.  And they fight.
And they have accidents in the church nursery on the day I forgot to pack an extra pair of pants.  (And we're talking a MAJOR accident.)
I don't expect my kids to get doted on....but don't you want everyone to know how amazing your child is?  Don't you want them to see your child for the caring, cuddly, smart, little darling they are?  As much as I hate to admit it.... I do.
But I have a feeling that I'm going to need to get over it.
Because there are going to be teachers that don't think my son is as smart as I do.
There will be teenagers that don't think my son is as cool as I think he is.
And there will probably be other parents that talk about what a trouble maker my son is.
Luckily for all of us, I have enough love exploding out of me to make up for all of that.....I just hope that it's enough for them.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What not to wear....parents should know better edition.

With all this digging around old scrapbooks for pictures lately I have been continuously reminded of the dire mistakes my parents must have made in dressing me as a child....especially when Dustin is looking over my shoulder shouting..."hey!  Look at that one!" every time I turn the page of a scrapbook.
So, as an instructional guide, I have compiled a photo essay of
What Not to Dress Your Child Who is Too Young to Know Better In......

What is this?  I wonder why they stopped making them.  It is so flattering.Even the weird animal with horns is wondering what the heck I'm wearing. 

I bet this seemed cute at the time....I wish you could see all of the pictures from this page. 
It's a wonder I wasn't mistaken for a boy 90% of the time by strangers.

One word: Seriously??!!  If there was ever any doubt who the favorite child was, let it be clarified simply by this photo and the comparative elevation of our shorts.

Who needs dress-up clothes?  When you can simply wear your mom's slip and some crazy matching stocking hat from the closet.

I love this photo because it shows my early artist-self in action...unfortunately the suspenders were not only worn for painting.

I like to picture my mom picking this up in a department store and saying to herself...."This would be so cute on Tiffany."

And simply to counteract the above photo....  I've never been able to wear blue eye shadow since.

And one last gem....the one I can't technically blame on my parents....
Because I'm 80% sure I wore those watermelon shorts to every game and definitely knotted my shirt on my own - my own sporty flare if you will.  Who said you can't play sports and look good at the same time?
Maybe I'm being too hard on my parents.  I was growing up in the 80's, and I'd venture to bet that most of you had similar clothing....I hope not, but I wouldn't doubt it. 
And the truth of the matter is....things do seem way cuter to you when you're the adult dressing the little person, and I'm sure my sons can someday look back on our pictures and make fun of their mama.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lessons from my mom...

On this, my third Mother's Day as a mom and as a blogger, I've decided to record the top ten most valuable things my mother has passed on to me.

My mom and me at the lake....perhaps my favorite picture of her.

1.  Don't leave the house without mascara on....The older I get, the more I follow this rule.  In fact, one day I didn't wear any to run to the grocery store and saw someone I know, only to have them proceed to tell me how tired and awful I looked.  But it isn't just about looking good....its more about confidence.  Do you feel confident going to the mall in your sweats and no makeup?  If so, you're a better person than I. 
2.  Always wear your nicest outfit on the airplane.  I never understood this before.  Others would be wearing basketball shorts and flipflops on the plane and we'd be dressed in our nicest vacationing outfit.  I guess it sort of makes sense.  I mean, what if you are upgraded and are seated next to Mark Wahlberg.  Nobody wants Marky Mark to see them in shapeless soccer shorts (and no mascara). Or what if you're getting off the plane behind Nicole Kidman and end up as the background in some Tabloid magazine?  These are the most reasonable things I can come up with to this day....yet I still follow the rule.
3.  Suck it up and go to school.  It doesn't matter if you were embarrassed to the highest degree yesterday or if your heart got broken two hours ago.  You're friends all turned on you yesterday with some backstabbing note they passed around?  You will go to school and you will look like you're having the time of your life.  Looking back, and as a mother now, I wonder how my mom had the strength to ship me off to school when I clearly was in agony.  It would have been so much less heartbreaking and easier to let me stay home.  But, then would I ever really bounce back?  Would I be as strong as I am today?  I have a dear friend from those days that just told me recently that she wishes her mother would have done the same for her. 
4.  It's just "stuff."  When my parents moved to Brazil I went home for one last weekend.  I pulled into the driveway to see my mom selling what seemed like everything they owned in a garage sale.  I was in shock.  I went through everything saying "Are you sure you want to get rid of this?" over and over again.  I couldn't believe she was selling vases from her wedding and plates I had eaten off of growing up.  That, on top of the fact that she was walking away from the house my dad and her built right before I was born.  It was more than my 20-something heart could take.  She just kept telling me "It's just stuff."
5.  Dress for the job your want.  It took me 1.5 years to get a teaching job after college.  I worked at a daycare in the meantime.  I was fed up with my situation and afraid of never getting the job I wanted.  One day my mom saw what I wore to work.  It wasn't nice, or professional...it basically looked like how I felt about my job.  That was the end of that. 
6.  Smile with your eyes.  The secret to perfect pictures....a rule I'm still trying to figure out.  I found myself saying it to a student just the other day.  She looked at me the same way I'm guessing I looked at my mom when I was that age and she was shouting that at me from behind the camera. 
7.   Eat the chili.  One time when we were little we went to my aunt and uncle's house for Sunday lunch.  My aunt had made chili in the crock pot and had somehow burnt it.  I remember we could smell it as soon as we walked in.  As we were waiting to eat my mom swept us three older kids into one of the back bedrooms and told us up front.  1.  The chili is burnt.  2.  You are going to take a little bit.  3.  You are going to eat it.  4.  You will not complain.  There are a lot of things in life that could be classified as "burnt chili" and I think that this tiny little moment was such an important one in my development as a little person.
8.  Invite everyone.  I had a Halloween party in 8th grade.  It was my first boy/girl party.  My mom told me if I did it that I had to invite everyone.  I thought that was incredibly awesome.....except that she really meant EVERYONE.  Not a single eighth grader and seventh grader (my brother was only a year behind me) from our middle school was invitationless.  I even invited what classified as the "mean girls" and "losers" and "derelicts".  And you know what? It ended up being awesome.
9.  You are never too good for anyone else.  I was not allowed to think this even for a minute.  And I think it is one of the most valuable things my mother taught me. 
10.  Find the thing you love to do more than anything in the world.....and turn it into a career.  When I told my mom I wanted to be an Art Major she never asked what I can do for a living.  When I switched to Photojournalism she never reminded me that I would be working nights and weekends my whole life.  When I switched to art education I could hear an audible sigh of relief on the other end.....like she knew that was what I was made for....she just wanted me to be sure. 

So for my mother....Happy Mother's Day.  I am reminded today of my friends who have lost their mothers too soon.  I just want to remind you that I have a lot more to learn from you...so please stick around.  You are my lifeline.
I love you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Celebration of Sorts...

Happy Children's Day!  This year we invited a few of our favorite big and little people to celebrate children - a traditional May 5th holiday in South Korea  (and Cinco De Mayo for the adults).  So over BeeBimBop and Margaritas we celebrated our children and each other.
Egg rolls - Korean style...for those BOF fans - Jun Pyo's fave. :)
BeeBimBop and Chapchae - my fave.

And of course Beef Enchiladas for those looking for a little Mexican flair.

Ellie opting for some green beans from home.

Liam so happy to finally eat!

Kiddy chopsticks

Caleb sneaking some food from Uncle Ben

Aedan fishing for some prizes.

Our youngest participant...Josie Jane.

The spoils...

All the kids together with a cake.  It isn't turned the right way, but it says Happy Children's Day in Hangul....at least I hope that's what it says. :)  Poor Ellie was not excited about the picture. :(

The party got a little wild when the pants came off.

The lonely party animal left by himself after the guests all went home.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tighty Whities

This was going to be a Wordless Wednesday photo, but I just couldn't go without writing about it as well.  
This photo reminded me this morning of how much my little boy is growing.  
How the baby I brought home from Korea is getting so big so fast. 
How much he makes me laugh.
How he always keeps me on my toes.
How he is constantly observing, soaking everything in.
How I can't imagine a life without him.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hurry up and wait...

A few weeks ago I decided to do something and even got my sometimes-hard-to-convince-husband on board right away.
Before I did this I prayed.  I prayed that I would release my fate to God's will.  I prayed that I would make decisions based on what God wanted for my life.  And I prayed that I would be okay with it.
And I was.
When we were only three days in.
It was so easy to say....God's will be done when the idea and decision were fresh.  If it worked out, great.... if it didn't, fine..... it was God's will.
So we put ourselves out there.  We took steps that were out of our comfort zone.  We did it quickly because we were told we needed to hurry.
And now we're waiting.
And I'm singing a different tune.
I still recite to myself that I am subject to God's will. But I'm failing.  Because now I check my email incessantly....like every 2 minutes. 
And it takes me back....boy, does it take me back.  To all of the paperwork.  All of the waiting.  All of the praying.
These last few days, (and I'm not kidding, we're only talking about a few days here people) I have been reminded of how bad I am at waiting.  How much I struggle to submit to a timeline put in place by someone much greater than myself.
But I'm also reminded that the best things in my life have come to me through waiting... the most beautiful things in my life were never just handed to me as soon as I wanted them.
I had to wait for my husband to figure out that I was the perfect girl to fall in love with.
I had to wait for my oldest son to come home.
I had to wait to get pregnant.
I had to wait until a teaching job was ready for me.
And now I have to wait again.

I can't doubt for a minute that this waiting is going to end in something beautiful. 

You would think I would get it, that I would be a seasoned pro by now. 
Perhaps what I really need to be praying for right now is patience.  Because I'm going to need it.

{Don't get excited people. If I told you what it was you would be disappointed at the insignificance of it.  And for those that already have the gears cranking in your head, it has nothing to do with babies. :) }