Monday, April 8, 2013

A Birthday Post

It was a great birthday for me.  Too bad about Ben's birthday in November.  Oh well, whatcha gonna do?  I've had a lame birthday or two in my day.  It's just the way things go. 

Spring Break is a great time to have a birthday.  It gives me time to think up weird things to do with my kids.  I channeled my dad and bought all the kids shoes for my birthday.  Not to worry, I got myself some hiking sandals.  And Ben got me a scarf from the Australian Store in Leavenworth while we were visiting last weekend--I've had my eye on those cool babies for a while.  ;)

The kids and I are fans of not going to school for a week.  It was so nice to have a week of no work.  I still think of myself as a stay-at-home mom but the reality is that I spend most days working (perhaps no medical benefits keeps me in the SAHM mind-set). I had a long-term job teaching 2nd grade in March while Mrs. E. was recovering from a concussion.  It started as a one-day job.  When I found out she was out with a concussion I immediately thought of two things.  First, that Mrs. E. shouldn't be thinking about school while her brain is trying to recover.  And second, this could turn into a long-term job depending on what her doctor recommends.  I corrected tests for her so she wouldn't have to read over them during her recovery.  And sure enough, her doctor told her to stay home until after Spring Break.  It was different getting to know kids' names and grading papers, but it was definitely more time-consuming to have those papers to grade and lessons to plan.  I got a phone call from Mrs. E. yesterday thanking me for the extra effort.  I told her honestly that having lived through last spring and summer with RO recovering from his concussion, it was the least I could do for her.  I just couldn't let her grade all those tests and papers!  An added blessing: I may have found myself a co-teaching partner a few years down the road.  Mrs. E. has severe rheumatoid arthritis that will prevent her from teaching full-time in a few years.  A shared classroom would be perfect!  I will miss those 2nd graders.  Mrs. E. has a great group, one of the girls is in our ward and is a smarty.  We all had a bit of Easter fun the last period Friday:

It would have been easier to have the 2nd grade job if it wasn't for PTO.  I don't know how/why, but I let myself be nominated.  I told myself it was partly because when I was in elementary school, my mom was PTA president (and she had 6 kids--including a newborn).  If my mom can do it with 6 kids, I reasoned, I could do it, too.  Funny story:  I was telling my mom about getting myself roped into the PTO and she just laughed.  No, she told me, she did NOT throw her hat into the ring voluntarily.  The real story about my mom is that my dad went to a PTA meeting and they were nominating officers.  He nominated her!  Isn't that a great story?  I love that my dad had the confidence in his wife that she could contribute to her kids' school like that.  I don't know if my mom loved it.  Oh, yes, I do know.  She was shocked.  But she did it and did it well.  I remember her organizing a major school carnival including boxes of Oriental Trading Company prizes that my sisters and I spent hours drooling over.  Oh the rubber bracelets--the ones you'd twist through each other and run up your arms!  I don't do major events.  Nothing makes me quite as frazzled as putting together a school-wide event (like, say, a district-wide PTO Easter Egg Hunt that I wasn't at all in charge of).  But I am happy to say we voted to spend funds this year on implementing a reading program for grades 1 though 5.  Sixth graders (and older) already have the reading program and it is what turned JO into a voracious reader OF BOOKS!  I don't think of PTO as vehicle for school events.  My goal this year was to impact the instruction and encourage academic excellence.

It's high time I mentioned one more birthday present I got.  On April 2nd Ben accepted a job with the ITD and starts with them the end of this month.  This is a huge blessing because, although it means a 30 minute commute, it also means an end to three years of threats of fall layoffs.  Ben also accepted a calling that same evening which shall remain nameless until it's official.  Change is good.  Change is good.  Change is good. 

A few days before his ITD job interview he had another interview downtown.  Parking is impossible there so, after talking to a former co-worker who works at the office where Ben was interviewing, he decided to drive to a Park-n-Ride then take a bus into the downtown area.  He got dressed in a suit and tie and left early, tucking a bus schedule he'd printed from the bus company's website in his portfolio.  I got a call from him 30 minutes before his interview.  He was on the wrong bus!  More specifically, he was on the wrong nonstop bus heading west out of town.  We live about 15 minutes east of downtown so not only was he trapped, but he was travelling away from both his interview and his rescue ride (me!).  I was supposed to be at school teaching CO's kindergarten class and would be late to my job if I went to pick him up and take him downtown.  I had my phone to my ear and was gearing up to make a mad dash out of the house when Ben said; "Hold on."  Then I heard what sounded like loud voices and running.  I said/yelled into the phone; "Ben, what do you want me to do?" He replied "Pray.  I'll call you back." and he hung up. 

He hung up!! 

I felt helpless thinking of Ben on a bus, the minutes ticking away as he headed farther away from where he needed to be.  I don't do a lot of interviewing, but have heard that if you're late to an interview, you might as well not show up.  I was frazzled at the prospect of having the kids get themselves ready for school on class picture day, getting myself ready in under a minute, and driving down the freeway to an unfamiliar town to find Ben on the side of the road and take him downtown.  I called all the kids into the living room and I said a prayer.  It was an emotional prayer and the kids and I were all worried and waiting for Ben to call back.  I left to drop RO off at school (my spoiled seventh grader gets a ride because he starts an hour and a half before K-6) and waited for the phone to ring.  I had a feeling he didn't need me to drive to get him anymore, but decided to call him and find out what the voices and running were all about.  He told me that instead of being stuck waiting for a bus, his bus had pulled in just as the east-bound bus he needed to catch was pulling out.  What a blessing!  So Ben was getting off the wrong bus and running to the second bus just as he had ended his call with me.  He ended up downtown in the reception area at the office joking around with his former co-worker a full 15 minutes early to his interview!  He insists, and I believe him (I do!), that the website's bus schedule was wrong.  I wished him well and told the kids that their daddy made it to the interview and then I waited for my heart rate to return to normal.  It eventually did.  Ben got a second interview and still hasn't heard back about an official decision.  That doesn't really matter anymore because he was fortunate enough to get this other job, one that doesn't require public transportation.  He will be a great asset to his new company.  Our Heavenly Father is watching over us and answers our prayers and gives us life experiences that make us grow. . . and laugh.

It was also a big birthday  weekend for Mister JO, who turned 12 on Saturday.  I have pictures of JO and his birthday tra-bam-poline fun on my new smart iPhone, but haven't had time to upload them.  It's true that smartphones are for dumb people.  Ha ha ha!  As soon as someone invents an automatic grocery shopping app, I'll have time to figure out the uploading part!  Going shopping is so lame.  Buying groceries is truly one of my least favorite things to do.  I always think EVERYTHING is overpriced.  Ben says my mind is storing prices from a decade ago.  He may be right.  Hrumph!  Off I go. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Not the Worst Birthday We've Celebrated!

I took pictures off the camera today to make room for pictures of our kindergartner singing tonight in the school concert.  I came across a particularly sad photo I must share of Ben's big birthday bash.  It was not the worst birthday we've celebrated (the year of the broken bones tops that--my foot on Ben's birthday and RO's arm on my birthday).  But it was a sad, sorry excuse for a birthday.  
If you read my last post I mentioned being sick.  I was sick!  Knocked out for 2 1/2 weeks.  I imagine I've been exposed to quite a few germs this year taking over for sick teachers.  Just as I was finally getting over my coughing, Ben called from work to say "I think I'm coming down with what you had!"  Poor guy was knocked out for 1 1/2 weeks.  He says he wasn't sick for as many weeks as I was because he's stronger than I am. 
That might be true but he suffered more.  Ben spent his 42nd birthday sick in bed. I didn't make it much better by not baking a cake (he wasn't hungry for sweets) or buying him any presents (I was too low on energy from being sick to go shopping). 
All Ben got was homemade fried rice and Panda Express for dinner:
The kids did give their dad some drawings and a few fun size candy bars left over from Halloween.  That's all.  Ben pointed out that even though we spent the whole month of November sick, at least we weren't sick at the same time.  Pretty cool to be married to a guy who looks past an uber-lame birthday to focus on the blessing of staggered illnesses. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Subbing and Staying Home. . . and Halloween!

With all four kids in school I've been working almost daily.  I didn't get a traditional teaching job like I'd wanted so I slapped on a smile and became a substitute teacher.  It really was a deliberate decision to slap on a smile.  I subbed 15 years ago and I know what subbing is like.  I know about the unwritten rule that you can get away with anything when there's a sub.  Subbing has just two things going for it: First, I like being home when my kids are home and second, I'm not trained to do anything more lucrative than teach.

I am a sub.

Like the grumpy Dr. Seuss character who discovers green eggs and ham are palatable, I discovered being a substitute teacher is something I enjoy doing.  If the teacher leaves great lesson plans, I'm a happy camper.  If they don't, well, I assume they don't mind that I take liberties and make things up as I go along.  And except for a few moments here and there, I've enjoyed my days.   One subbing surprise has been that I love teaching kindergarten.   I did my student teaching at 6th grade and am comfortable in the upper elementary grades.  It turns out subbing is the teaching job I didn't know I really wanted.

My favorite days are when I get to sub at my kids' school.  When I teach there, my kids will stop in at recess or wave in the hall.  And at the end of the day we go home together.  When I am CO's teacher my day is also filled with spontaneous hugs, kisses and declarations that I'm "the best mom ever!"

I know it's hard to top that, but as a former librarian, my tied-for-first favorite was a multi-day job at the coolest library in the world.  This job was a taste of heaven for me.  The books!  The creativity!  It was beautiful!  Of course I took pictures:


As a sub it's hard to sweep in and out of schools when the reward for teaching is making a difference in kids' lives.  Luckily I have small, rewarding moments like when the boy with cerebral palsy waves at me in the hall and continues the conversation we had when I was his sub.  He remembers that I carefully listened to him talk all about his favorite video game.  He remembers that I waited for him to type with his "device" the words he spoke that I couldn't understand.  He remembers I disapproved of his violent video game and he smiles now when I playfully wag my finger at him before he disappears into his classroom.  It's not as easy to find those moments as a sub, but they're there.

Well, the last couple of days I have been feeling sick. My 7th grader was also sick but he rested and recovered.  Smart boy.  I took the opposite approach:  total denial.  Not needing to call in sick is supposed to be a substitute's perk, but I took cold medicine and subbed Friday and Monday.  (It's hard to both admit I'm sick and turn down the automated temptress who offers me money for my time.)    When I woke up still feeling crummy today I lectured myself.  "Self?" I said.  "Please stay home today so you can get a little R&R." 

The request was so polite that I obediently answered; "Yes, Maam." 

As luck would have it, the job I turned down this morning was my utopia: teaching at my kids' school in the library!  Staying home sick is never fun but did I really have to miss out on such a cool day?!?  Since I've taken up talking to myself, I'd better tell myself I misheard the temptress and that it was really just a high school P.E job.


Speaking of boo, I think some Halloween photos will cheer me up. 

Happy Halloween 2012. 
Ben was a punk rocker.  I was a hunchback with a comb over (not pictured). RO was God's gift to women.  JO was a mummy with a mohawk.  For SO we got crafty with old pants, Smarties candies, and the glue gun.  She was a Smartie Pants.  And my girly CO was Spiderman (NOT Spidergirl or Spiderwoman). 

If mohawk crafting is in your future and you'd like to avoid sifting through the "how to" pages on the internet, I'll tell you the secret.  Working in chunks, apply egg whites to clean, dry hair (I used a round preschool paintbrush), then blow dry on low.  Use hairspray on stubborn fly-aways.  For longer or thinner hair, have your hawker tip upside down while you blow dry. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012


CO was relaying a message for me tonight.  We had just gotten home from swimming and RO jumped in the shower.  Since he is notorious for taking LONG HOT showers, I told CO to go downstairs and say "Everyone needs to take a shower, so no long showers, just rinse the chlorine off, shampoo your hair, and get out."

She relayed most the message perfectly.  CO said; "Okay, guys, listen to me now.  This is a very important message from Mom:  No long showers.  Just rinse the caffeine off and get out!"  Kids make me smile.

RO reported after his shower that she added her own directive: "And if you don't get out right now Mom's going to ground you." She might be the youngest, but she's no pushover.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Have You Ever Had So Much To Write About That You Just Don't Write Anything?

Here's some of what I haven't blogged about yet: our vacation to Hawaii, a trip to Utah, a trip to Leavenworth, why dogs baffle me, JO's PEP fair a.k.a. his obsession with Pele, the Pinewood Derby, teaching primary children who eat too many jelly beans, my grandma, why I didn't have fun at Parent-Teacher Conferences, chalkboard paint, smart children, and three springtime birthdays.

Instead of feeling so far behind I'll never catch up, I thought I'd tell you about something that hasn't happened yet.  My eight year-old daughter has decided to be baptized.  For local readers, we will meet together for her baptism at the stake center this Saturday, April 14th, at 3:00pm.  We'd love to see you there.

I'll catch up a little now with a picture I like from our vacation:
Haleiwa next to Surf and Sea

Monday, January 23, 2012

Eye Eye Eye!

CO goes to the opthamologist a lot. Her first visit was when she was five days old. She was born with a polar interior cataract the size of a pin prick in her left eye. Even though the cataract doesn't affect her vision, we figured it was a matter of time before we found out she needed glasses because of her genetics and her frequent visits to the eye doctor. Sure enough, CO got glasses few weeks after her fourth birthday.

We went to see the eye doctor again this winter and discovered something we hadn't seen coming:  Her left eye was developing amblioplia, or lazy eye. This means her brain ignores the images sent from her left eye and is starting to rely solely on her right eye. Without intervention, her brain could cause vision failure in her left eye. To which we say; "Silly brain, CO wants to use both eyes!"

Now every morning for two hours CO wears a patch over her "good" eye. This reteaches her brain to rely on her left eye.  She goes back to the eye doctor in March and has been very accomodating considering it's tough to see things "all blurry." We are counting our blessings because her cataract (and the resulting frequent visits to the eye doctor)  helped us catch the pre-amblioplia before it got any worse. The other blessing is that her eye doctor says there's no reason she shouldn't eventually have 20/20 vision! Such a good girl. She has been so good about wearing her patch every morning. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Formal Apology to My Kitchen

I was rude to my kitchen a few posts ago. So I would like to take this opportunity to extend my deepest and most sincere apology to my kitchen.  Ahem. 

Kitchen?  I'm sorry. 

There, I said it.  I had no reason to be so rude.  I didn't know that underneath all that linoleum, formica, and general lameness was the potential for such awesomeness. 

Exhibit A:

 Exhibit B:

This is pretty much what our kitchen looks like! Under-cabinet lighting is not pictured. But it's there! The cabinets are natural hickory. You can see we chose to have the sink in the corner instead of under the window. I'm happy with that decision--the whole triangle of happiness is also happy. We still have some work to do: Countertops will be concrete. We'll have a new faucet after countertop is installed. The old light fixture above the micro/range is gone. We haven't made any back splash decisions yet. And the raised peninsula on the right side of the kitchen (designed by me, built by Josh from TBC) will be painted with chalkboard paint.  I'll have to post more pictures when it's done, done, but getting this far has been a major undertaking and I choose to pause and take it in!

P.S.  By way of announcement, except for a car built by a kid's grandpa, JO's pinewood derby car was undefeated last night.  It was a tie for first place with a run-off to decide first and second place.  Throughout the derby, Grandpa beat JO a total of three times, and JO beat grandpa's car twice.  I didn't upload a photo of his car.  But I did upload this impressive shot of Mr. Almost-Undefeated.  (Yes, he IS that handsome in real life.  But, sorry girls, he's only ten.) 

Creative use of cinnamon-flavored gummy Santas, my boy.  Well done!