10 Ways to be Wonderful: Happy Birthday Kip!

The greatest learning experiences of my life have never been on mountaintops. They have almost always been in closets, in holes, and in the mud. Today, my incredible husband, Kip turns another year older. (Note: I began this draft on his birthday in November. Just finished today.) I want to write a post of inspiration and encouragement dedicated to him because he is a safe haven for me. He gets me to sit still when I won't. He helps me understand why I do what I do. He is my perfect match not perfect because he's perfect but perfect because we love each other even though we are imperfect.

As we enter the holiday season, I'm using examples from his life to show what I think helps us all live “a wonderful life.”

1 – Put love last and you put it first
Kip makes sure the last thing he says to each of us when departing or going to bed is “I love you.” I like to do this too because if something should ever happen, I want each person I love to know that I love them with all my heart. Love transcends crabby moments and petty disagreements.We don't have to be alike to love each other.

When do you say I love you to those you love? Is it often enough?

2 – Know that hard times give you the chance to be a hero
One of the things that totally won my heart was when I was expecting each of our three children. I was not a blushing expectant Mom. I was literally, physically sick 6-7 times a day so that the mere mention of the word “chicken” or certain colors would send me running for the ladies room.

My husband took care of me. Cooked dinner. Brought dinner and never complained once for 9 months x 3 children. He was there. Because of his service, loyalty and total selflessness in those months as well as many other times when I was just having a hard time I totally adore him. He was there for me when I wasn't attractive and not even pleasant to be around. He loved me unconditionally. Such love is rare. So many people want to have the enduring love but don't want to endure when times get tough. Kip is a modern hero in my book because he saved me during some very dark days for me with his kindness and love.

When you have rough times, think of how that person will feel when you make it through that time and stayed loyal no matter what.

Are you willing to go through hard times with those you love? Everyone has them.

3- Have your priorities straight.

Do you know your priorities? Are they good priorities?

My husband does: Creator, Companion, Children, Calling, Church. In that order. He tells us that and he lives it. Many men talk such things. To live with a man who lives it every day is a dream come true.


4 – Set your morning routine for greatness
Kip has a morning routine. He doesn't like mornings so it isn't my get up at 5 am routine but it is still a routine that fits with his priorities. Shower. He wakes up every kid in the house and keeps them on time. When he is out of town we miss him because he keeps us all in order. He sits on the edge of the bed after getting dressed, reads his daily devotional, checks the kids grades for email, checks Facebook for some inspirational pages he follows, and heads to breakfast where he reads his daily news on his ipad2. He heads out after knocking on everyone's door to say goodbye and “I love you.” His morning routine is a stabilizing force in our household because he is so incredibly consistent.

What is your morning routine?

We saw this snail/slug in the mountains and
Kip stopped to explain how they move. Their body chemistry.
And wouldn't let the kids touch him as he crawled across
our path one day on our annual trip to the mountains.

5 – Be trustworthy
When my husband says he will be somewhere, he is. He is there. I can count on his word. He keeps his promises no matter what. I need to be more like him as my concept of time is not as good as his and I lollygag sometimes. I've seen him keep his promises even when he realized he made a mistake.

Do you keep your promises?

6 – Never ever quit
I told part of our story of never quitting back in 2007 in Happy Anniversary CoolCat Husband. I was washing the dishes two weeks a go listening to Brian Tracy's book The 21 Success Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires where Tracy says that his research shows that the average millionaire loses everything 3.2 times. I called up Kip and we laughed together, “Well we only have .2 to go, don't we.” We've had layoffs, pecan groves go under water, and me become a stay at home Mom all of which had dire consequences to our checkbook and had us searching the house for quarters to buy milk. Now, we have me staying home to help with tutoring one of our children and not speaking as much this year. These are the struggles of life. It is OK, it is part of life and we will not quit. He has never quit.

Do you persist?

7 – Always move onwards and upwards
When Kip was laid off the Monday before Thanksgiving 8 years a go he could have thought the world was over. He applied and applied and went for the jobs he felt called to go for. He kept us in this small town even though it was hard to find an engineering job here. He took an entry level job as an engineer at a local plant even though in some ways it was a step backwards. He is now Engineering manager for the entire plant with over 1/3 of the people in the plant reporting to him.

A few years back, he was faced with having to lay off some people around the holidays. He did everything he could to keep as many of them employed and worked hard for transitioning others. Happily, he's been able to hire most of them back. He had been there and used that experience to help others who had to travel that hard path.

He could have had a pity party but he chose to move on and see it as an opportunity. Because he didn't get stuck in a pity party, he can now have a victory party. Yes, it took time and a whole heck of a lot of very very hard work and still does.

Do you let yourself get stuck in a rut or are you willing to move onwards and upwards?

8 – Channel your energy in positive ways
When he was having a hard time after we lost the pecan grove, I came home and our entire back porch was completely knocked out and Kip was wacking away rebuilding it. After the layoff, he built the most beautiful corner cabinet I've ever seen with his bare hands. In fact, we don't have room for it now and I can't bear to let it go because it represents so much of who he is to me.

Working with wood has always been therapeutic for Kip because he says he can see the impact immediately. It also is a benefit because our children saw their father still working even though he was in the midst of a transition.

But after 3 tornadoes that hit Camilla in 2000, I saw this in action. Kip literally took over the volunteer recovery efforts. We're not really sure how it happened but he was president of the Rotary club and I was president of the chamber of commerce and he showed up at 5 am after it happened in the command trailer and poof. He received many awards for that work and many people here in Camilla know my husband for who he is. When he's upset he doesn't sit around, he does positive things.

When you are upset or anxious, do you have a positive channel for your energy?

Taken in the Smoky Mountains. Yes, we laughed.

9 – Laugh and Laugh
There are so many times when life gets completely preposterous around here that Kip and I just start laughing at the dumbest things. “What can you do?” Is a statement we often say when things get so tough we just can't imagine it could get any crazier.

The best laughs don't come from a movie (although we do love pulling out old Pink Panther, Stooges, or the Great Race movies) they usually come from circumstances. Circumstances that would make one of us angry if we let it.

Like the time in my pregnancy lack of coordination I literally almost knocked myself out with the freezer door. I ended up on the ground when I thought I grabbed the handle for the bottom fridge and hit myself in the head with the top freezer door. It hurt and left a mark. But “what could I do?” We laughed and still do to this day. We still laugh about the worst dish I ever cooked (when my oldest son was 3 – he still remembers it! I do have to admit I wish he'd forget that one!)

Do you relax enough to laugh at yourself and see the funny things in life?

South Africa at Microsoft Innovative Educators with Stacey Rainey

10 – Encourage others around you
This blog is here because Kip believed in me. The book in January is here because Kip believed in me. My husband believes in me and encourages me.

I'll never forget last year when I was debating if I should take extra personal days and have my pay docked to go to the Microsoft Innovative Educators Technology Conference in South Africa. I was talking myself into not going.

He said,

“Vicki, I know you. I know who you are. I will take care of things at home. You know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It fits with your mission of encouraging educators and loving teaching. I believe the people at Microsoft are a top notch company and they'll keep you safe. I think you'll regret it the rest of your life if you don't go. I'm your husband and I'm telling you to take the time, take the pay cut and go. If you don't, you'll have problems living with yourself. I can't let you do that.”

So, I went, and my life was changed. I found many stories I have shared here, many new friends, and I got to see one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

It was 6 years a go just about right now (my blog-birthday is next week) when I came to my husband after my morning routine and said,

“Kip, I think God has called me to blog. It is crazy. I don't really know what it is, but I have something to do with this and it is an important part of our future.”

He said,

“Vicki, I don't know what it is, but if you feel called to do it, know that you have my total support. Do it. Follow it. If you're going to do it, be the very best at it that you can be.”

I'm so grateful. By telling me to be my best and do my best – it wasn't a ticket to blindly follow some dream. It was a ticket to excel. To study it. To learn it. Some people think they are helping others follow their dreams with just blind faith. My husband always expects to see actions behind my dreams. He wants to see me live it -not just say it. (That is why I'm very careful to filter things before I take him my dreams!)

I hope that I do the same for him.

Do you support the dreams of others who are closest to you in positive ways that spur them to action?

Perfection is a lie
No, my husband isn't perfect but goodness knows I'm not either.

I'm not writing this to make you sick or jealous. I'm writing this because Kip and I have had times when we had to run through the house finding enough quarters to buy milk. We've had a time when we all bundled up in our winter clothes so we could keep our infernal heater's temperature down 5 degrees so we could save enough money for Christmas. We still have many struggles and dreams as of right now.

We've given up a lot so I could write “my books” as my family calls them. The Flat Classroom book comes out in January. The Common Core in the Cloud Collaborative Writing book (still looking for your collaborative writing stories) comes out in December of next year. Kip has sacrificed as much as I am.

Well, now it is 6:42 am and I hear Kip in the hall waking up the kids. I think I'm in the mood to go give him a hug and tell him how I'm the luckiest woman on the planet to have him in my life.

I hope you'll use this to realize that love is a great thing. It isn't always beautiful, sexy, nice, fun, glamorous where two people sit in a little cafe making moon eyes at each other. The greatest loves are often forged a midst dirty diapers, job loss, insecurities, and reaching for dreams that may or may not ever happen. These are the loves that define you and make you feel like you lived a good life on this planet. I'm grateful every day that the good Lord blessed me with Kip. I've been asking for my husband since I was a child of 10.

Happy (belated) birthday Kip, I love you.

Thank you blog readers, for letting me take a day to make a tribute to my husband and best friend. Have a great day!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere