Teammates

*In honor of Black History month, I am going to highlight some of my favorite books.  As my pastor says, “Black history is all our history!”

Earlier this winter, I finally saw the movie 42 that chronicles Jackie Robinson and his journey to play Major League Baseball.  I am a sports person, a ‘jock’ if you will.  Some people argue that the world puts too much emphasis on sport, and to an extent, I understand their argument. However, sports have the ability to transcend so much more than just a winner and a loser. Sports can empower and inspire, they can teach us about ourselves, and they can put into perspective what really matters in life.

The story of Jackie Robinson  is one of those stories where, if it weren’t for sport, would such an impact have been made in this country? It makes me sick to see that he was spit at, excluded, threatened and more, just because of the color of his skin. I think about the deception it takes for a grown adult to yell at a person they’ve never met, to their face, and think it’s okay. Just sickening!

The Civil Rights Movement is an amazing part of our nation’s history. Sad, so very sad, but remarkable to think of the courage it took for those to stand against it. These moments in history are so important to teach to our kids. Even though things are ‘better’ today, we are all familiar with that famous quote; “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana).  

Teammates by Peter Golenbock is the nonfiction account of the friendship between Jackie Robinson and teammate Pee Wee Reese. teammates

As a teacher, it is a great book for upper elementary kids to not only introduce the content of Civil Rights or highlight biographies, but to teach Cause and Effect.

  • Because Jackie was black, people didn’t want him to play baseball.
  • Because Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Dodgers, thought segregation was unfair, he wanted to give everyone a fair chance to play baseball.
  • Because Pee Wee put his arm around Jackie, the world saw that they were teammates.

I love this story for so many reasons. One, the character of Jackie Robinson is truly heroic. Two,it’s proof that athletes have the power to impact more than just a scoreboard. Three, it takes courage to be a friend! 

I am a fan of Teammates. I’m sure you will be too!  If you’ve read it, let me know what you think!

XO-Erica

I’m Married to a Pretty Cool Guy!

It’s true. I married a good one.

us then

Then

Here are 31 reasons why I know he’s pretty cool:

  1. My husband plays the guitar (I know, ladies, I could stop there couldn’t I?!).
  2. His ears wiggle when he eats.
  3. He can find any movie or TV show online.
  4. Speaking of movies and shows… he watches weird ones.  Zombies? Yes! Spaceships? Yes! People locked in jail? Yes! Will Smith? Yes!
  5. He never misses a wrestling match or a tickle fight with two little monkeys.
  6. Yup, still a hunk- six pack and all!

    At the pool

    He may kill me for this…

  7. He’s a risk taker.
  8. He is frugal (which I’ve grown to appreciate!).
  9. I picked out a light purple dress shirt, and he wears it.
  10. Daddy’s pancakes are a fan favorite!
  11. He wakes up early
  12. and falls asleep on the couch before 9 pm.asleep on the couch
  13. He has a stand-up comedy routine dating back to 2006.
  14. I know when he says, “yeah,” that he’s not really listening.
  15. He packs his lunch and eats the same thing just about every day.
  16. I’m not a cook… he eats the food I make anyway.
  17. He tells bedtime stories.reading to daddy
  18. He has high expectations for himself.
  19. He sets goals.
  20. He talks to God, and keeps me accountable.
  21. He ignores ALL my messes.
  22. If he can’t hang out with you, it’s because he is with his family.  I never have to remind him of his priorities.

    daddy and boys at the track meet

    The boys’ first track meet

  23. Lebron James is the best basketball player of all-time! (Just ask him!).
  24. He’s a really good dancer… it’s been awhile.
  25. Buying gifts for him is extremely challenging!
  26. There are several things on my “Honey-Do List.”  He’ll get to them…
  27. He and coffee have a love/hate relationship.  (Currently, they’re in love).
  28. He encourages me
  29. and supports me.

    80s party!

    Willingly dressed in skinny jeans for my 80′s themed party!

  30. He laughs a lot and has the best smile- hands down!
  31. He never wavers. When my family needed a steady hand, he made the hard phone calls, he picked up extra responsibilities, he said, “I’ll take care of it.”

I’m so grateful he has chosen to be everything he is. I’m blessed to call him mine!

us now

Now

Happy 31st Babe. Love you!

XOXO- Erica

Henry’s Freedom Box

*In honor of Black History month, I am going to highlight some of my favorite books.  As my pastor says, “Black history is all our history!”

As kids, we all learned the story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. An amazing and fascinating story. But there are a lot of heroic tales of brave souls who risked it all for freedom.

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine is one such story.

Henry's Freedom Box

I love how the story expresses the ugliness of slavery so simply to children: no birthday, no last name, no family. Themes of Freedom and Courage jump off the pages. Why would you risk your life for something you believe in? That question is easy to understand when reading this story.

This story was a favorite of my fourth graders. After reading, several students would research more on Henry Brown, slavery, and/or the underground railroad. I love when books can make history real, even for young kids. Henry’s Freedom Box does that.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy. It is a must have!

I’d love to hear your favorite Black History book! Please comment below or on my Facebook page.

Enter to win this book on my Facebook Page.

Timeout

No, Mom!  Why would you do that?

Why would you make him do something by himself?

You know he’ll protest.

You know he’ll scream and cry.

First he will stomp his feet, and holler,

“I DON’T WANT TO!”

And you, Mom, will ignore him.

(Even though that has never worked!).

He will get even more mad because you, Mom, are not helping.

So he will scream louder.

He will bang his feet.

He will find something hard.

Maybe a broom.

Maybe a shoe.

Maybe that really breakable thing in the corner.

And he will start swinging.

Bang! The door.

Bang! The oven.

Bang! The floor.

And you, Mom will walk in and take away

the broom.

The shoe.

That really breakable thing that used to be in the corner.

Then he will scream LOUDER!

He will stand up and run in place while SCREAMING!

That’s when he will start throwing.

Could be a dish rag.

Could be a shoe.

But most likely, it’s that really breakable thing you put up on the counter.

And that Mom, is when you’ve had enough.

You walk in.

Pick him up,

(Or try because he has gone wet noodle by this point)

and you drag him, unwillingly,

to the corner,

to ‘sit’ in TIMEOUT.

And then, Mom, you leave him alone, again.

He grunts.

He growls.

He gets crazy ideas.

And while you, Mom, are not looking,

while he all of a sudden gets quiet, and stops

grunting and growling,

is when I end up here…

timeout rug

 

All rolled up.

At the top of the stairs.

Sure, now he’s quiet.

Now he’s sorry.

Now he’s ready to do what you asked twenty minutes ago.

But I’m stuck up here,

for the fourth time this week.

And I don’t think I did anything wrong.

Please tell me, Mom,

When does he turn four?!

Sincerely,

The Disgruntled Timeout Rug

“Get back in the fight and keep moving forward.”

“Love u man. We will get through this. I will be calling and have some laughs along with the rough times.”

golf tees remembering dad

A tee is our reminder of my dad.

No one writes a manual on how to live without your father.  The person who, regardless of how rough the time was, would know just what to say.  Someone described living in the absence of a loved one like living without a limb.  You adjust and adapt, but it is never the same.  I have never lost a limb, but my life hasn’t been the same since before this date in 2013.

The above message was a text my dad sent to his friend (also named Steve) upon learning of his friend’s cancer.  Positive and to the point.  Just like dad.  I am copying the email sent to my mom from my dad’s friend.  It is a reminder to all of us that loved my dad, and to all of us in a position of adjusting and adapting to a new way of life, to keep moving forward.  This week it has been so easy to focus on the emptiness of loss.  His email was just what I needed.  Maybe his reminder will speak to you too. XO- Erica

Notice in the note above that Steve sent me, it doesn’t say you’ll get through this, he said WE”LL get through this.  That is what I passing on to you K’Lynn;  love you and we’ll get through this.  I cant’ be there to offer personal support, but you have Sandy and my support from afar.  
 
I received notes from Steve, from time to time during my treatment that were encouraging and telling me he was proud of my efforts and to keep strong in the battle.  That is what I want you to hear now, keep strong, be positive and keep moving forward.  Steve would never want to be the reason for your sadness.  I’d like you to imagine what Steve would be telling you or anyone else in your situation at this time.   He’d say, ” life is about living, helping friends & family, and moving forward”.  When he was let go at ISU, I remember him saying he’ll never say anything bad about the university.  As pissed off as he was about the lack of leadership, he moved on.  He knew that his life would not be defined by the loss of his title. He moved forward, slowly, but he kept moving.
 
I want to keep the flame alive for Steve’s life and how he lived it.  Please smile when you read this and remember that your husband would have a thing or two to say about anyone in your current position.  He’d be supportive, he’d always offer guidance, but he’d also say to get back into the fight and keep moving forward. – Steve 

Baby Play Bins

My daughter is 10 months now, and no offense, but she is probably way cuter than your baby.  I know, I have just a little bias, but I am also a very honest person.

santa brooklynn

See what I mean? She’s darling!

Well, this 10 month old darling is walking and very curious.  Lately, she loves to reach her hand in my bowl of popcorn and grab, crunch and shake it EVERYWHERE.  She also does this with the water in the bathtub, and toilet when she is too quick for me!  If there is a drawer, basket, or cupboard, she will open it, and proceed to empty it.  It is, indeed, a very FUN game.

So, this got me thinking about her toys.  She obviously wants to play with things that feel cool, and are fun to grab, shake, and throw.  My sons in preschool and Kindergarten have sensory stations, where they play with things such as sand, water, rice, play dough, ribbon, etc.  Kids are very sensory.  They learn through touching and, as babies, tasting.  Therefore, I decided to make her some sensory play bins.

My baby is too young to play with a lot of those preschool items, as she would most likely eat them!  I had to find toys that were safe for her.  I tried to mix a combination of hard/soft, large/small, smooth/textured.  Here are some of the things I used:

  • Easter Eggs
  • Long string of beads (Christmas decor)
  • Baby stacking toys
  • Milk caps
  • Wood beads
  • Tassels (they are actually mine from graduation!)

sensory play bins

To store the toys, I put them in 4 gallon size baggies.  I empty one in the bin and she plays, chews, and dumps.  It keeps her happy and entertained… for at least ten minutes!  Just enough time to brush my teeth!

What are some things your baby enjoyed playing with?

Join the discussion on Facebook.

XO- Erica

Follow Me

I’ve found it difficult to write lately.  My writers block is a defense mechanism.  Shielding me from the feelings that stream through my fingertips as I write.  The new year.  The snow.  The cold.  They all paint a picture of a moment that is etched into my life, yet one I would so desperately like to keep frozen.  It is a cold memory.  I don’t like the cold.

It’s amazing how life goes in circles.  How time can appear to be at a standstill, yet disappear before you can grasp it.  How can it be that I’ve lived a year without my dad?  Without his help?  Without his texts?  His visits?  His hugs?  When I close my eyes and remember, I can hear him.  I can see him.  But when I open them, I realize I haven’t heard him in a long time.  I haven’t touched him in a long time.  It’s not fair.

I’ve got a lot of good memories.  Great, wonderful, happy memories.  I cherish them.  Honestly, I really do.  But right now, I hate memories.  I hate that when I have to speak of my dad now, it is always in the past.  Nothing is new.  Nothing changes.  He’s just a story.  A great, wonderful, happy story.  But still.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about Heaven.  As a kid, I pictured golden gates, rainbows, and flying white horses.  So unoriginal, yet so pure.  The older I grew, though, the darker the gates of Heaven grew. heaven list I judged myself with a checklist.  Did I say my prayers? Check!  Did I say please and thank you? Check!  Was I nice to my brother? Crap!

I scaled myself based on the behavior of others.  She smokes, I don’t.  Point, Erica.  He swears, I don’t.  Point, Erica.  She reads her Bible…crap!  Point, her.

It’s stupid, but it’s honest.  In my quest to reach the pearly gates, I had turned Heaven more into Santa’s workshop than into what it truly is.

My dad and I didn’t talk “church.”  We didn’t debate theology.  We didn’t quote scripture.  We didn’t listen to christian music.  Dad and I talked about relationships, and people.  We discussed what is right and wrong.  We listened to sports, and watched movies.

I haven’t ever admitted this before, but one of my first thoughts when learning that we would have to drop everything and go see dad in the hospital, was fear.  Does he know about Heaven?  In my head, my Heaven checklist rolled out.  Will he get there?  Did he do enough?  I needed to make sure he did.

Immature.  Insecure.  Afraid.  That was me.  It’s embarrassing, but it’s honest.

What my family went through from January 11th to January 16th of 2013 was complete and utter hell.  To see the strongest man you’ve ever known lying in a hospital bed, helpless… I mean, how do you handle that?  How do you grasp it all?  That’s what is dark.  That is what is cold.  That part of his story is what I don’t like remembering.

What I do like, and what does need sharing, is that God was there.  I could feel Him as soon as I walked into dad’s room.  It was like a cloud of energy that hovered over him, as though Jesus was sitting with him, taking him on a journey.  I desperately wanted my dad to wake up.  To hear his voice again.  To talk with him again.  I was also, so anxious to hear where Jesus took him.  What he saw.  What Heaven looked like.  I could only imagine the journey he was on.

I never did get to hear dad share that story.

Dad loved us so much.  He looked after so many.  Whatever he saw, wherever he journeyed, I know that dad chose to stay there.  Dad needed to make sure we were all taken care of before his spirit left us.  Jesus said, “Follow me,” and Dad did.

I am proud to be his daughter.

I am humbled too.

This past Sunday, my pastor told the story of Matthew.  Matthew, a tax collector, by worldly measures was on the naughty list.  Yet Jesus said, “Follow me,” and Matthew did.  I loved this reminder.  That Jesus didn’t come for the perfect.  He didn’t come so that we could judge ourselves and condemn others.  Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13

Even though the reminders of those cold and dark January days are here, there is warmth in knowing I will see my dad again.  I’ll just have to wait a little longer than I imagined.

Today, when I picture Heaven, I see my dad, with Jesus, standing at the shiny gold gates.  There is no scroll of a checklist, just merely a question, “Have you Followed Me?”

XO, Erica

Pet Cemetery

Dear Dad,

For all those rabbits I chased around the neighborhood, cornered and caught.

For all the, “I promise to feed, clean after and take care of” vows.

For all the “Can I keep?” and “Pretty please” pleading.

For all the surprises I brought home.

For all the feeding, cleaning and taking care of that I didn’t do.

For all the creatures you had to flush, toss, and ‘bury.’

For all of that, and probably much more,

I am sorry!

Because this year, I gave into the pleading and planned a Christmas surprise of fish for my boys.

Two Fish.

One for each.

A red fish.

A blue fish.

First, the blue fish died.

Second, the red fish died.

So, on the night before Christmas, I hustled to the pet store twenty minutes before it closed.

I bought a new fish and a new bowl.

I then came home and had to flush.

A red fish.

A blue fish.

Crossing my fingers, and saying my prayers, I prayed my boys wouldn’t wake up to find a dead fish waiting for them.

A Christmas Miracle!

christmas fishThey named him Sonic.

Fortunately, I take better care of your grandkids than I do fish… payback stinks!

Wish you were here to laugh at me.

Miss you, Erica

Merry Christmas!!

Being three is hard!

being three is hardNo one understands!

Mommy doesn’t get it.

Daddy doesn’t get it.

That lady at the store that says, “That smile looks like trouble.” Yeah, she certainly doesn’t get it.

I know I’m cute.  I’ve got this “to die-for” curly mane.  My big brown eyes, I get it, you could eat them up.

But seriously, people.  You don’t understand a thing!

Telling me I need to go to the bathroom is not how it works.  I will go to the bathroom, when I feel like it.  It won’t be when I’m playing.  It won’t be when I’m eating.  It certainly won’t be before we need to get in the car!  And no, it doesn’t bother me to walk around with my pants wet.  So get over it already!

Asking me to eat my lunch when it is steaming hot is just plain mean.  I don’t care if you stir it or blow on it, it is still too hot.  I also don’t care if you let it sit out on the table for half an hour, or even the whole day.  It is still too hot, so I won’t eat it.  End of story.

Buying crayons and markers and not allowing me to color wherever I please is ridiculous.  Why buy them in the first place?  You always hang my brothers pictures from school on the fridge.  I’m just trying to get a little recognition.

Don’t offer to help me zip my coat, or buckle my seatbelt, or put on my shoes- EVER!  These things I can do ALL. BY. MYSELF!  Seriously!  And if I can’t do them by myself it is entirely your fault for sitting there and not helping me.

Putting me in time out because I am not using my words is a pretty risky move.  I will hit the door.  I will throw things.  I will stomp my feet and scream louder.  If you couldn’t understand me the first time I started to get angry, then what makes you think sitting me on the timeout rug will help me clear my head?  It is your fault you can’t understand me.  I am screaming or crying or grunting for a reason, and you should know what that reason is!

So, until I forget why I am mad in the first place, this stand off will continue!

Being three is hard!

Sincerely,

Your Three-Year-Old Son whom you love to the moon and back… trust me, you do!

One Year Later

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, many friends have taken to social media to share what they are thankful for.  Personally, I am thankful for this blog, and for those who read it.  It is amazing to me the amount of my life I have been able to pour into it in just one year.  Yes, a year.  I have been The Preach Teach for one year now.  What started out as a means to “stay creative” in the words of my husband, turned into an avenue for grieving and healing.  It astounds me when I look back and see God’s purpose in the “tiny” little decisions I make. I thought I was starting a blog to talk about the complexities of kids and school… God saw it as so much more.  I’m still figuring it out.  I could still devote a lot more of my attention to making it better, into making me better.  But I’m thankful for where I’m at, and hopeful I can continue to share my life- the pretty and the painful- with you all.  Thanks for reading.

Here are some highlights  of the past year:

I asked some of my loyal family and friend followers to share their favorite post on PreachTeach.  Here are their answers:

  • My Most Viewed and Most Shared post is  More Than My Dad.  It’s not surprising as my dad was a pretty popular guy!
  • My husband and brother both liked, The Longest Car Ride, probably because they like to laugh at my expense!
  • My friend Jane’s favorite, My Someday because it inspired her.
  • My friend Jantina liked Blessed at the End of my Rope because she felt it to be authentic. “In the best day and hardest day, blessed!”
  • My sister-in-law, Linda said Dear Kindergarten Teacher, was a good reminder of what teaching should be.  She even read it to her teaching staff!
  • My mother-in-law, Trish’s all-time favorite is Does Jesus Like Pickles?   She loves to talk to my boys about Jesus, so I’m not surprised this one stuck with her!
  • My mom picked one of my favorite’s too, An Unbelievable Friend.  I’ve learned a whole heck of a lot this year.  More than I honestly wanted.  However, my dad’s death taught me something I will never forget-

That in life, it does not matter who you become at the end of it.  Rather, it matters who you touch in the midst of it.  

My dad was a friend to so many.  We should all strive to make those in our life matter!

  • Lastly, my favorite is From Last to First because it’s sad and beautiful all twisted into one.  If I’ve learned anything this year, it is that life can be ugly, and difficult, and unfair.  But even in it’s darkest of corners, the smallest of light makes it all worth while.
me and baby girl

My baby girl on her Dedication Day

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Thank you for sticking with me.  I pray you continue to read and share.  Cheers to another year!

XOXO- Erica

What has been your favorite post?  Comment or head over to Facebook page