Where’s the Superglue?

Tags

,

Another miracle occurred the other day. I don’t know exactly what happened or how or why but I consider it another Post-it Note from Heaven. When there are five Sundays in a month the Bishopric plans a special meeting for the adults. I love these combined meetings because I get to enjoy them with Heath.

Now that I’m in Primary I don’t get the opportunity to attend anymore. The different auxiliaries will usually try to make arrangements for the teachers to be able to attend these combined meetings. But someone always has to sacrifice in order for the Primary children and the Youth to be taken care of.

The Primary rearranged the schedule to allow the teachers to attend this meeting. I sent out the reminder email about it. The next day I saw an email from the Relief Society President. Every week she sends out an email of announcements and she also gives a recap of the lesson. It is particularly nice for those women who serve outside of the Relief Society and can’t attend the lessons. At the end of the recap she will say who is teaching the following Sunday and will include a link for the lesson. Sometimes the teachers have questions for the women to ponder prior to the lesson.

This time the email ended by saying that a Sister would be teaching a lesson. I was so confused. There was no mention of the fifth Sunday combined meeting. I reread the paragraph several times trying to be sure I read it correctly. Then I emailed the Primary President about this new turn of events. As a Presidency we agreed to stay with our course of action. I let the teachers know that the Bishop’s meeting had been canceled and that they were welcome to attend the other lessons if they wanted to.

The lesson was on Elder Holland’s Conference address Like a Broken Vessel. It was supposed to be a discussion on depression. I really wanted to go. The title of the talk caught my attention first. Lately I feel so completely broken and overwhelmed because I can’t fix it. I know the Lord can through the Atonement but even then my faith has been tested.

If it had been a normal Sunday I would have never dreamed of asking for permission to attend the lesson. Given the sudden change in plans I took the opportunity to ask. The Primary President sweetly told me to go. I know that the world doesn’t revolve around me and that there were many other women who needed this lesson at this time. Still, I felt like the Lord once again had His hand all over the events in my life, timing things just so.

It was interesting that I ran into the teacher at the grocery store Saturday night. She said it was her idea to teach that lesson and she was starting to think maybe next time she should ignore those promptings. She was mostly joking but Heath and I said at the same time, “NO! Don’t do that!” Then I told her I needed this lesson at this time.

I wish the lesson would have been a little different than it was. Although I don’t know what I was expecting considering how Elder Holland’s talk was on real depression. Not just sadness from a life experience but real depression. The kind that goes on longer than normal. The kind that shuts people down inside and they can’t snap out of it.

I shared an experience in answer to a question. The very act of speaking out loud at this time in my fragile state of mind made me cry. I didn’t want to cry about that experience. I just want to talk out my feelings about what’s going on in my life now. I just want someone to listen. My current challenges never fit into the lesson so I didn’t bring it up. Ironically I have been depressed ever since.

School has been a welcome break from my own mind. Today it became apparent that I’m not done mourning. I really need to have myself a good cry. Just get it all out and then move on to my daily responsibilities.

I am very grateful I was able to take a break from my job as Primary Secretary for one hour. I sat next to the two friends that not only know my current trials but know my battles with anxiety. Just before the meeting started I ran into my friend Carole. She used to be one of my visiting teachers. I love her. I don’t know why sometimes I think about telling someone my dad died but never say anything and why other times the words come out before I think. I told her. It really affected her as if I had knocked the wind out of her.

I don’t know why I act so matter of fact with people. I talked to her as if I was reading a newspaper. That’s how I am at church. I am so happy to be there and feel some spiritual rejuvenation that when someone asks how I’m doing I genuinely feel like I’m fine. Only later do I start having conversations with them in my head of all the things I should have said.

I should have never said anything out loud in that lesson! Something snapped inside and I can’t stop crying now. It’s the only feeling I have. Everything else I regard as blah. I don’t want to do anything or care or anything. I feel blah. Blah with unstoppable tears.

It was very nice to be able to go to a Relief Society lesson even if it didn’t fulfill my expectations. My expectations were a little too high considering the content. I miss sitting in full lessons. As the secretary I have to miss the end of the Sharing Time lessons to knock on doors letting the teachers know they have five minutes left. It was nice being in a room full of women who were also crying for their own reasons. We gain strength from one another just being together.

At the end of the lesson the teacher pulled out a broken bowl. Her mother in law kept the pieces expecting to fix it one day. After she passed away the teacher’s husband took the bowl and pieces expecting to fix it but he also packed it away. She said that it could be restored but there were some pieces that were tiny slivers of glass. There is no way to put those pieces back. Then she said that the Lord knows us. He knows our trials and limitations. He also knows where every tiny sliver is and where it belongs. He can fix anything that is broken.

That was helpful for me to hear. For weeks I kept seeing finely ground cookie crumbs in my mind as I feel so broken and shattered by my family’s experiences. I don’t know how that cookie will get put back together but I have faith that somehow it will.

Tis the Season

Tags

, , ,

Can you feel it? That tingling in the air? The distant roar of fans? The smell of grass and sweat? It’s football season baby!

I love football season. If I have to send my kids back to school at least it means football season starts. I love carefully selecting my spirit wear each week. I love screaming at the TV with Heath. I love the pizza on game days. Which is a little weird since I hate pizza! But I love the tradition. I love football.

The first BYU game was really fun to watch. It’s always fun to win but I’m impressed that after struggling most of the game, UConn didn’t go down without a fight. Good effort boys! May you have a successful season. And of course props to my BYU boys. I have enjoyed watching your games since 2001. Keep up the good work. I love being a BYU fan. I love football!

Heath has been binging on football games nearly every night eagerly anticipating BYU’s first game. I never think I’m interested in watching anything but BYU’s games. Somehow I get sucked into a lot of the games. I cheer for whoever has the ball. I get exasperated with the refs and yell out my warnings to the boys to calm down. I love football season. Go Cougars!

Who Complained?

Tags

,

As if it wasn’t inconvenient enough to have Gwen get out of school 45 minutes before Parker for the first three weeks of school, we are reaching new levels of insanity. There are new mandatory pickup procedures. That’s just craziness right there. When my boys were in first grade the final bell rang and the kids scattered. They knew where to meet me in the back of the school and we went on our merry little way.

When I was in first grade I walked to and from school with my fifth grade brother. By third grade I was the oldest family member in the school and was responsible for my sister in kindergarten. Times have changed.

I thought it was a little odd that Gwen’s teacher told the parents on the first day that she would walk the students to the front of the school at the end of the day. Who complained? You know some parent made a big deal out of the fact that first graders were unsupervised after school. So now the teachers have to escort them out of the classroom. *eye roll*

I was able to intercept Gwen on the first day. The second day was a little strange. She stayed late for some reading assessments. I wasn’t sure if the back gates would be open but I figured I could drive around to the front if I had to. The back gates were unlocked. Her backpack was still hanging up by her classroom so I waited at the picnic tables. Somehow I missed her teacher escorting the assessment kids to the front. She went out another door that I forgot about.

The yard duty lady called out to a little girl wandering around. “Where are you supposed to be? Why are you getting out so late?” I watched the scene for a couple seconds before I stood up to find my own little girl. Gwen’s teacher walked back far enough to call out to the lost girl, “You didn’t stay with me! You’re supposed to be in the front to wait for your mom!” I walked to the front of the school.

Black bars separated me and Gwen. I couldn’t get out and she couldn’t get in. Luckily a mom told me to go through the office. She said they prefer people doing that than asking for someone to unlock the gate. So I walked through the office. The secretaries didn’t seem bothered by me wandering through without a visitor sticker. I went out the front to Gwen. Then we realized we needed to get into the schoolyard in order to get to the van. The gate was still locked so we had to walk through the office again.

At Back to School Night we learned that the back gates will be locked at 2:15 and all parents are required to pick up their children in the front of the school. My friend was not happy. She lives less than a block away from the school. In the back. So she is required to either walk a mile to get to the front of the school or drive to the already congested parking lot.

Wednesdays are the best because the school starts and ends at the same time for everyone regardless of early or late staggered schedules. Gwen and Parker found each other after school and walked down the path to me. Today I left my house early to get to the school early to pick up Gwen. I arrived 15 minutes early and took the second to last parking spot. Then I had to stand by the office in the only shaded spot in the front of the school sweating with 500 other parents.

The drop off zone was filled with idling cars. It’s too hot to turn cars off and wait. I’m not a save the planet kind of person. I’m more of a “to hell with the planet save yourself” kind of person. Mostly because I had a t-shirt in high school that said that and the sentiment still makes me laugh. However I can’t help but think of the planet when it comes to school. No school buses whatsoever so parents are required to drive. And the people in the nearby neighborhoods drive too. Some days it’s too hard to get out of the house on time to walk a few blocks. *eye roll*

The parking lot was full of cars baking in the sun. Those parents were all huddled together in every conceivable piece of shade, of which there aren’t many as I already said. Some parents had umbrellas for their own portable shade.

There is only one opening in the gate. So every child in the first and second grade must come through that one spot and find their parent. This staggered schedule used to affect third grade as well but now that Parker finished this stupid schedule last year they have decided third graders can read well enough to stay at school all day long.

Gwen’s teacher told a parent that things will calm down in the front. Give it time. Yeah, two more weeks. She sent out an email today saying that there were only five kids in her class who requested the late start schedule. I think that is a sure sign Gwen is on the late start. My happy star next to my request for late start was unnecessary! I cannot wait until Gwen can finally get out at 3:00 with Parker.

I hate the broken up morning but it’s much better than wasting time in the afternoon. Dropping off kids is so much faster than picking them up. I actually have enough time to go home in between in the morning. That’s when I shower. Then I get dressed and take the late start kid to school and drop them off. Right now my afternoons consist of me leaving the house before 2:00 and getting home around 3:20 ish. And there is no time to go home in between.

I blame the staggered reading schedule on the bigwigs in the district office who come up with these wild haired ideas that end up creating more problems than they solve. I blame the gate issue on all the attention starved students who insist on carrying out school shootings that have been encouraging copycat acts of violence for nearly 20 years.

We don’t need gun control. We need parents to actually care about their children. The problem starts at home. I’m so glad I get to endure these ridiculous procedures because some parent couldn’t see their kid needed psychiatric help. They also didn’t notice when their kid planned grisly stuff online and somehow got their hands on automatic weapons that they smuggled to school.

After all these terrible school tragedies the rest of the parents are freaked out. Schools are locked up like prisons now. It’s really sad actually. The more people complain about lax security at school the more trouble they cause everyone else.

School, Illness, and Other Fairly Ridiculous Tales

Tags

, ,

Three days into the school year. Parker was very nervous again this morning. He couldn’t figure out why. I know he will be fine. He just needs to trust himself. I got to watch Gavin walk to the bus stop this morning. He needs to leave before us on late start Wednesdays. He was so cute! He saw the bus coming so he started to run for the stop. The bus still needed to turn around in the circle so he had plenty of time.

He doesn’t seem to mind taking the bus. Two days in a row he was the only person on the bus going to school. There are a few kids that take it after school. He seems to have adjusted well to this way of getting to and from school. I was nervous yesterday since he had to get himself off to school and I had no way of knowing how that went. All three of us rushed to the door to greet him when we got home. Parker and Gwen were just excited to see him and I was relieved knowing for sure he had survived on his own. I assumed he was fine when the school never called wondering where he was. But seeing him, and seeing him happy, made me feel better.

Gwen is loving first grade. She has PE on Tuesdays and Wednesdays which means no dresses or skirts. If she wears shorts underneath (which I insist on anyway) and she wears sturdy sneakers then it’s not a big deal. She couldn’t find her shorts on Monday. I could have helped her but she was already dressed in a cute new outfit so we didn’t bother with the dress. Then two more days in a row with no dress. It’s agony for her! My girly girl.

We’re starting to get used to our old morning routines. It takes a minute to get back into the swing of things. The homework routine in the afternoon has been a work in progress for years. The hardest part for me so far this year is giving each child the attention they need and deserve. There are three of them and only one of me! I want them each to have my undivided attention. It’s early yet and we’ll settle into a routine. Gavin’s homework will soon become actual homework rather than signing that I saw the teacher’s expectations. Oh and writing checks for each teacher!

I can’t beat myself up for not starting to read the Book of Mormon with Gwen yet. We’ll get there. I am proud of myself for having the house ready for them to come home and being ready to just listen. That’s the most important thing right now. The rest will fit in eventually. I have decided that my family is much more important than school. I am in charge. Not the school. Homework is important but not to the detriment of my family and our relationships.

Heath and I went to Back to School Night last night. We are very impressed with both elementary school teachers. They have kids close in age to our kids so they get that life doesn’t revolve around school. Parker’s teacher is not the former principal. She seems like a really fun teacher. She has innovative ways of teaching that I was impressed with. Gwen’s teacher is still awesome as ever. I’m so excited to repeat some of these first grade traditions.

I’m also very excited for the Common Core standards. *gasp* I know. Don’t hate me! There is so much controversy swirling around right now about the Common Core. What I like about it is knowing that California has to scale back on their expectations of students. The California standards have been pushing kids way too hard for far too long. I feel like the Common Core is bringing those expectations back to an age appropriate area. I also like how it’s writing based. The students have to show how they know something rather than memorizing facts to pass a test. So far I like it. Sue me! Although I will say that the middle school teachers have given plenty of evidence that they are still teaching to a test. *eye roll* Whatever happened to the joy of learning?

It was interesting to hear Parker’s teacher talk about the math though. Everyone is freaking out about the math! She said at first she didn’t like how it was teaching multiple ways to solve a problem but she’s warming up to it now. I just wanted to scream. My kids have been taught math this way all along. How is this any different? I hated it then and I hate it now. My problem with teaching multiple ways to solve a problem is that so far my kids have been expected to master every single technique. When they get stuck I tell them that it’s just another way to do what they already know how to do another way. But they’re still tested on it! It’s ridiculous.

In other fairly ridiculous news … Gavin brought home a list of school supplies on the first day of school. We quickly had dinner and ran off to do our shopping. Office Staples Depot Max looked like a toy store on Christmas Eve. The parking lot was completely full. There were a lot of people inside milling around. The checkout line stretched from the front of the store where the registers were, to the copy center in the very back. I just wondered why that supply list couldn’t be passed out at Walk Thru Registration.

I will say the office supply store handled it well. Even the customers were polite and made for a nice experience. The line went much faster than I expected. I have stood in shorter lines at the craft store that have taken twice as long to get through. I couldn’t really complain about our first day of school at the office supply store evening. It could have been worse. It’s just funny that nobody could avoid that shopping experience since the schools waited till the first day to tell anyone what they needed to have.

Before school started we went to get the school supply items that we were aware of. We bought Gavin a scientific calculator. The cashier offered us a warranty on the calculator for $5. Heath just laughed at the guy. He said, “The calculator costs $10! I normally don’t buy warranties unless it will hurt to replace the item. I’m not paying a $5 warranty on a $10 calculator!” That was a funny day.

I’m not laughing that I have had to alert Primary parents about two extremely contagious illnesses. On Sunday the mom called me saying that she couldn’t get in touch with any other Presidency member. But she just found that her child has lice. Could I let the parents know without mentioning names? That was an awkward email. Two of the three parents who were quite concerned had children in that class.

Then this morning as I was standing in line with Gwen I decided to check my email. The Primary President asked me to inform the parents and teachers in Gwen’s Primary class about a child in there who was diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease on Monday. Holy cow! Both kids are in Gwen’s class. I wasn’t worried about the lice thing and haven’t noticed anything suspicious anyway. But she is really good friends with this little boy who is quarantined with his family after being diagnosed on Monday.

We are now into the throes of school and all the communicable illnesses that entails. All I can do is take things one day at a time. Where is the Diet Coke?

Still Trending

Tags

, ,

Heath: Why did you wake up this morning?
Me: Because my blood sugar was low.
Heath: Did you feel the earthquake at 3:20 this morning?
Me: No. I didn’t wake up until 5:48. I was low so I got up.
Heath: Well there was a 6.0 earthquake in Napa that caused significant damage.

We listened to the news the rest of the morning as we got ready for church. It was so sad to see how devastating the earthquake was. Practically every news anchor was reporting details of the story from various places. There were weekend reporters, evening reporters, weekday morning reporters, and two weather reporters on hand. It was a big story.

At church some people talked about feeling the earthquake. One lady I talked to said she woke up to shaking but decided she was too tired to care. She rolled over and went back to sleep. We live in California. Earthquakes come with the territory. Heath talked to a group of guys. One said that he didn’t feel a thing. He claimed it was a result of sleeping on a Tempur-Pedic bed! That’s what Heath and I sleep on and we had no idea anything had happened. Maybe there’s something there.

The two weather reporters kept showing maps. The earthquake was most intense in a small circle around Napa and nearby cities. The rest of the map looked light blue indicating the shaking was much less noticeable. Even though we were not too many miles away we didn’t feel a thing. A lady at church said she felt like she was missing out on something because she didn’t feel it either. That’s a good way to describe it. The largest earthquake in 25 years, we were right here and didn’t feel a thing. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake was a 6.9 and this one was a 6.0. I do feel like I missed out on something.

A couple days later and the news is still full of stories and updates of this event. News anchors say the story is still trending on social media. My heart goes out to those people affected by the earthquake.

On Sunday a hospital spokesperson said a baby was born about five minutes before the quake. The joke among the staff is that Mom pushed too hard! I have seen stories of skateboarders who are using the cracks and upheaval in the roads in front of their houses as a skate park. A couple guys did their own take on the popular ice bucket challenge. They dumped damaged bottles of wine on themselves.

I think a sense of humor and looking on the bright side is the best way to get through a difficult situation. I’m praying for the people affected by this life changing event.

Time Marches On

Tags

, ,

Yesterday felt like Christmas Eve. It was long and the kids were bouncing off the walls. At every opportunity Gwen was telling people that her dad was going to give her a blessing and that the Backpack Fairy was going to visit. The kids were so excited to start school.

We took Gavin on a little drive to show him where to pick up the bus and how it would take him to school. We showed him where he would get dropped off at school and where to catch the bus home. We drove home on the same route the bus would take. There is only so much we could prepare him for with taking the bus. I wanted him to understand as much as he could before we put him on that bus in the morning and left it all up to him.

I took Gwen and Parker to school this morning while Heath walked Gavin to the bus stop. Heath has been going on all day about how he felt putting Gavin on that bus. Gavin was the only person on the bus. The bus stop by our house is in the middle of the route. We don’t know if there will be more kids later, as if the parents drive their kids the first day or what.

Every time I have mentioned to friends that Gavin was going to take the bus, they gasped as if it was only a matter of time before I was hauled off to jail for neglect and child endangerment. I’m not kidding. The bus is not a popular choice for getting kids to school apparently. Which makes me even more adamant that Gavin have this experience. There are no school buses, as I have mentioned many times before. The city buses have school routes though. So it will cost us $60 a month for a bus pass but I think the education is worth it. The first few weeks of school are free.

I guess people are opposed to buses because they think the scum of the earth ride the bus. It’s a school route so it’s only other students! I don’t know what the problem is really. I just think that Gavin is so much better off learning a bit of independence. He won’t be like the other middle schoolers who rely on Mommy and Daddy to get them to and from school. Heaven forbid anyone walk around here! I would make my kids walk to school if we lived closer. Gavin laughs every time I talk about his peers relying on Mommy and Daddy. It is funny. At some point parents need to cut the apron strings already. I am raising adults and not children.

Reality has set in for Heath that Gavin is in middle school. Nobody could help him navigate this day. He is on his own. It doesn’t bother me as much because when I said goodbye to Gavin this morning I knew his dad was there to make sure he made it to the bus stop on time. Tomorrow will be another story. I will leave him home alone to lock the door and get himself off to the bus on his own. But I know he can do it. I told him last night that I was a latchkey kid. I was probably Parker’s age, or younger, when my mom hung a key around my neck and expected me to get myself home. By the time I was in high school I was taking the city bus to school since I had special permission to attend a school I was not in the boundaries for. I survived. Gavin will too.

back-to-school-2014-032back-to-school-2014-038

What bothers me about Gavin growing up is that next year he will be 12, receive the priesthood and be ordained to the office of deacon. That is not okay with me! What happened to my little boy? I love how he looks like he’s leaning in these pictures. It doesn’t help that his backpack is really heavy. First day of school and already he’s hefting around a lot of weight! He has lunch, a binder, and his laptop. It all adds up. We told him to be nice to the bus driver because when you’re nice to people they are nice back. It is entirely possible that the bus driver will start dropping him off at our house if he/she/it gets to know him.

back-to-school-2014-021back-to-school-2014-027

It’s Parker that I’m not okay with growing up. He is in the fourth grade now. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

I taught fourth grade. Parker is not allowed to be a fourth grader! Honestly, my biggest problem with the fourth grade is that was the year I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I struggled with that when Gavin was in fourth grade and now it’s here in my face again. Parker is the one kid I worry about the most developing Type 1 diabetes. He has already scared me a couple times into thinking something was going on. His blood sugar has been fine but what if he follows in my footsteps? I will freely admit I am superstitious. This is hard on me.

first-day-2014-004

It also doesn’t seem right that Parker, my baby boy, is now in upper elementary. He is one of the big kids at school now. No more staggered reading schedule for him since he’s all grown up now … at the tender age of 9. I see his baby face smiling back at me. I miss my babies!

back-to-school-2014-008back-to-school-2014-010back-to-school-2014-014

Then there’s Gwen. My first grader! It doesn’t bother me that she’s in first grade. I’m happy for her to be at this stage of life. I just don’t think I want her to get any older. She cannot go to second grade!

first-day-2014-002

Watching these two go up the path together was hard. I could vividly remember pushing Gwen in a stroller up that path to drop off and pick up Gavin when he was in first grade. This part of the morning was hard on me the same way it was hard on Heath to put Gavin on that bus.

It is nice to have Heath home today but he’s had so many phone meetings that I still feel lost. I have had a kid home with me for the last 11 years. What am I supposed to do with all this time to myself? It’s going to be a very wet week. At least on my cheeks.

first-day-2014-005

Gwen was very apprehensive this morning. She is so excited to be in the first grade and she is thrilled to have the same teacher her boys had in first grade. But she was nervous. We didn’t really recognize any friends in line until just before the bell rang. Maddie is in Gwen’s class. She is Dylan’s little sister. The two girls were toddlers when they first met when Dylan and Parker were in the same kindergarten class. They didn’t get along at all when they were 2 and 3 years old. Maddie seemed to have changed quite a bit last year when we saw her occasionally after kindergarten. Maybe they can be friends now. Two little Mormon girls in the same class.

first-day-2014-006

Mrs. M was on yard duty this morning. She told Gwen that she wrote Gwenyth in two places – her name tag and her backpack hook. She said that it’s important that Gwen learn how to write her full name for legal reasons but she can go by any name she wants! It made me feel good to see Gwenyth spelled correctly! The kids signed their name on the board and found their desks.

first-day-2014-008first-day-2014-010

I blew her a kiss and walked away. Mrs. M felt like the room was too crowded with all the parents standing around in there! That made the kids laugh and it was easier for them to say goodbye to their parents. I get to pick up Gwen in about half an hour. I can’t wait to hear about everyone’s first day.

The Backpack Fairy brought books for the kids. Gavin got The Book Thief. Parker got A Wrinkle in Time. And Gwen got two Junie B. Jones books. They were excited. Gwen said she wants to read The Book of Mormon before she turns 8. She feels like she is already running out of time because she will be 7 for her next birthday! I think after homework we will read a chapter or two together until we finish the book. I’m very excited about that since Gwen and I have not had our Book of Mormon bonding time yet.

The President is in every channel!

Tags

,

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-001

This is how it felt when I realized I completely forgot to shave my legs this morning before stepping out of the shower! Scan the faces for the range of emotions I felt. Apparently thinking in the shower doesn’t always pay off! Neither the dentist nor his hygienist knew my hairy little secret. Nobody had any cavities either but I don’t think I will use a skipped shave as my good luck charm in the future.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-003

This is my other favorite family portrait. I’m ready to print this one for framing. Family portraits never capture reality. This is what we really look like with color coordinated outfits and combed hair. Without Heath the whole family falls apart.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-006

Gavin said he would smile if Uncle Charlie took the picture. Both Chris and Charlie had a camera going. This was as good as it got. At least on our camera.

Let’s finish up the last of the stories and pictures from our Northwest Trip.

After the Duck Tour we said goodbye to Aunt Chris and Uncle Charlie. Then we said goodbye to them two more times because we kept running into them on the street! It was a good thing because we bought some souvenir coins in the Space Needle gift shop while the kids were getting their caricatures drawn with Charlie. The kids chose a coin to give to their great aunt and uncle as a thank you memento. If we didn’t run into them again on the street we would’ve still had their coin!

Our Duck Tour guide mentioned several fun things to do in the city. One thing he talked about was going on a Ballard Locks Cruise. Oh how I wanted to do that! The first time Heath took me to Seattle he took me to the Locks. I fell in love and we have been back on almost every visit since then. To actually be on a boat going through the Locks would be awesome. But we decided not to do it this time. It’s a two hour tour. Dinner is included in the price but I didn’t think our kids were up for that kind of a time commitment.

I’m kind of glad that the Tillicum Village thing didn’t work out. I don’t think any of us were up for a late night knowing we still had to drive and check into a hotel. We decided to go with our original plan of visiting the Science Center and then heading out.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-144Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-146Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-147Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-150

Here are some pictures from the Spy Exhibit. The part we saw was really creepy. I wish we could have stuck around to enjoy the rest of it because when we had to leave for the bathrooms there were more and more interactive displays and less shocking plaques to read. Oh well.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-156

We moved on to the rest of the science center to play as much as we could before they closed.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-152

If you look above Parker’s head to the left you will see a big blue steel contraption. People can ride a bike around the top circle. It’s a cool balancing science lesson. Parker wanted to go on it so badly. As we walked toward the elevator to let him do it we saw the signs. They have weight requirements and Parker was too light. Probably too short too. It was meant for teens and adults. Parker was so bummed out. I felt bad for him. His frustration probably helped him aim for the targets to hit with the water though!

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-159Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-160Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-163Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-166Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-168Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-164Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-169

Of course we had to hit the butterfly house. Gwen was disappointed that nobody looked like a flower. She remembered how the butterflies loved Grandma’s shirt the last time we were there.

We bought t-shirts for the kids at various gift shops and decided we just wanted dinner before hitting the road. We were tired and ready to just start heading home.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-050

So we went to a cheap classic burger place. You can see the famous sign in the top left of the above photo. Heath has always had a desire to eat at the Seattle McDonald’s across the street from the Space Needle. Somehow McDonald’s sounded really good so we went for it. It was like eating at the San Francisco In & Out Burgers. Not nearly as special as you would think for eating in the city! The prices seemed reasonable all things considered. San Francisco’s In & Out is a good $3-$4 more just because it’s in the middle of San Francisco.

I will say the food hit the spot. It was enough food without being heavy. The kids were happy. Gwen got the cutest little mini Beanie Babies turtle. She named him Philip. We stopped off at another McDonald’s in California a few hours from home. It was convenient. She got an owl there that she named Elsa. They are really cute toys. McDonald’s is comfortably predictable and every once in a while that’s just what we need on a road trip. They sure do have the best toys out of all the chain burger joints.

Finally it was time to say goodbye to Seattle. We were sad but definitely ready to start moving south toward home. For some reason the freeway entrances were blocked. There were no signs at the first one we tried. It was scary watching cars almost wreck as they maneuvered into a very wild right turn back onto a surface street. My fingers were dug pretty deep into the door handle and my legs were tensed for my imaginary break.

I just wanted to go home! But traffic was so crazy and we could not get on the freeway. Then we remembered. President Obama had visited Seattle and was leaving at the same time we wanted to leave. Traffic stopped for a few minutes on one road but we were able to creep far enough forward that we weren’t stopped on the overpass. Too bad. We could have seen his motorcade that had cleared the entire freeway between a couple exits just so he could pass peacefully. He was heading to Boeing Field to catch his plane to San Francisco. We actually saw his plane take off.

When I was a kid we didn’t have cable TV. There were only five channels to choose from and we had to manually change the channels. I also walked to school which was miles and miles uphill in the snow. No, my point is I remember the nights the President gave his special addresses. We had to find other things to do those nights. He was on every channel!

Trying to get onto the freeway reminded me of my childhood. The President was not interfering with my TV. He was literally in every channel of the freeway, halting life for the good people of Seattle. The pedestrians didn’t care. They were lined up with cameras on every overpass hoping to catch a glimpse of the President.

By the time we got on the freeway and saw Air Force One take off from Boeing Field, I just wanted to be on that plane with him. Heath said his limos drive right on to another plane that flies with him. I’m sure there was room for Velma. He was flying to San Francisco! If we could have hitched a ride we could have been home a whole day early. Instead we had to endure the mistiest rain on the freeways of Oregon with next to nothing visibility.

Eventually we made it home safe and sound. Duck quacking was the perfect way to pull into the driveway.

Ride the Ducks

Tags

, ,

For our last day in Washington we decided to do the tourist thing.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-137

Thank heavens our day was nothing like these fine tourists’ day! It’s a shame that a day in the city looks like this for anybody. Put the phone down and smell the rain people!

We spent the first half of the day with Aunt Chris and Uncle Charlie. Gavin could not have been more thrilled to spend more time with his best buddy.

GavinParkerGwen

Charlie saw a caricature stand and invited Gavin to have his picture drawn. In hindsight I feel bad that Heath and I had him take Parker and Gwen too. Keeping things even between my kids is always my first response to anything. The kids loved getting their own caricatures. They like to look at the caricature Heath and I had done in 2001.

Uncle Kirk played Dungeons and Dragons with Gavin, Breena, and Gwen one night. Gavin is obsessed now and has even played online with Kirk. Gavin’s caricature is his D&D character. Parker wanted to be a superhero so he’s Batman. You have to say Batman in a deep, throaty whisper. Gwen is of course a princess in front of her castle. The pictures are great. I just need Heath to help me scan and stitch the images so we can send them to Chris and Charlie. For now photos of the drawings work.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-043

Chris arranged for us all to go on a Duck Tour. When we lived in San Francisco I would see the Duck trucks all the time. I was so excited to be able to go on one of those tours.

IMG_029

I love this picture! Who knew Gavin was so tall he covers half my face! He just went to the doctor for a checkup and he is 4’11 and a quarter inches. He’s only a few inches shorter than me! Parker went to the doctor yesterday and is 4’7. I feel short.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-048Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-041
Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-058Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-047

The best part was getting duck kazoos with our tickets. The kids had a blast quacking throughout the tour. They were good and never quacked on the drive home. We told them as soon as they saw our house they could quack like crazy. It was a fun way to welcome ourselves home.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-046Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-082

The tours take place on these amphibious vehicles. They go on both land and water.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-077

Gwen was thrilled when we drove into Lake Union and started floating around.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-126

There are no windows so cruising around on the Seattle freeways was a blast. Literally a blast of air in the face. It was a little chilly but so fun.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-055

Our captain was John Zawacko. He was wacky!

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-056

He had eyes in the back of his head! Actually he changed his hat or pulled out a different prop every couple minutes. There was a mom and daughter sitting in the front row that got pictures of every single hat. After the first several shots he started posing for them in his crazy hats.

He played music loudly to enhance the tour. Usually the songs were just short snippets but when we were on the freeway he played a full song. One song to the Puget Sound and Love Shack by the B-52’s on the way back. I was singing at the top of my lungs, much to my children’s dismay! We were tourists on a big boat/truck! If you can’t have fun being a tourist what can you do?

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-052Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-053

Gavin was the only one who could get away with pretending not to know us since he sat with Charlie. Chris had to sit on her own on the other side so it was really easy for her to pretend she didn’t know the crazy lady singing all the words to Love Shack across the aisle.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-064

It was fun learning the history of Seattle. I especially liked going past the piers. I had to let out a romantic sigh when we saw the Victoria Clipper pier. Ah, memories! One day Heath and I will go back to Victoria. One day …

It’s amazing that the whole city of Seattle was basically raised above the water. It makes me really want to go on the Seattle Underground Tour.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-062Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-060Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-093Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-066

Seattle is kind of a weird place. If there weren’t stories about sex there was really weird art to look at all over the city. Not just murals or picture type art. We’re talking art larger than buildings.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-134

Or a building on its own. We lovingly refer to the EMP as the Big Booger. Seattle is very artistic and strange. Then again, have you ever people watched in San Francisco? Weird.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-116

I used to think it would be awesome to live in a house boat in Seattle. Then I went on this tour and learned that kayakers will row up close to the houses and look into the underwater master bedroom windows to see people … you know. Someone bought the Sleepless in Seattle house not knowing it was a famous house. They were “having fun” in their front room (that had no window treatments) and looked up to see a bunch of tourists snapping pictures! Now you can’t get close enough to the house to see inside. Of course if I could afford to live in a house on the water I would spring for some drapes!

But I watched a House Hunters once where the guy wanted a house boat in Seattle. Typically there is no laundry in the houses. You have to have your laundry sent out to a service. What’s worse? Having some creepy kayaker see me walk around in my underwear or having some laundry service wash and fold my underwear? I’m thinking I’ll stick to the houses on land. I could live in some house in the Northwest surrounded by trees where someone would have to come into my yard to see my exhibitionism. But again, I would have drapes so it wouldn’t be much of a show! There were an alarming number of sex stories on this little tour. It was pretty crazy. I understand the Underground Tour details the history of more than just the sewers.

Seattle-Trip-and-Family-Portraits-057

It was a magical day. I loved riding the ducks.

Electrical Storm

Tags

, ,

It was a cold, gray morning. The trees rustled in the breeze. Highs are only expected to reach 79 today. You would never know it’s the last week of summer vacation. If history is any indication, next week will be sweltering hot with highs around 100. The first few weeks of school are always miserably hot.

I have not been in our pool at all in two weeks. Maybe just once. The kids have only played in the pool a couple more times than me. It hasn’t been warm enough or I haven’t wanted to be out there. The first time I announced they could play even though I wasn’t going in the pool, they were bummed. I was surprised. It’s not like I play with them. I just float around, usually in their way! But they claimed it’s no fun without me.

It should make me feel good to know my kids love me so much. It does. I love being around my kids. I love summer because I get them all to myself. Secretly I need a break from them. Normally I don’t start locking myself in rooms or hiding from my kids at the end of summer. We all sense the need for a change and eagerly anticipate a new school year. But I don’t normally dread going to bed knowing it means I have to wake up early again in the morning to push through another long scheduled day.

The closer we get to the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year, the more my kids are driving me crazy! I half expected thunderstorms this morning. It wasn’t a humid morning with sullen clouds looking like they may spit out a few sprinkles. It was just an unseasonably cool morning with clouds that didn’t burn off most of the morning. But there is electricity in the air. Trust me. The anticipation is palpable around my house.

All three kids are finally registered for school. It was a long and tedious process for Gavin. After an hour and a half, a good twenty minutes of which were spent circling the parking lot praying for a spot to open up, we were finally done. It took me 45 minutes from the time I left my house till the time I walked back inside to complete registration for Gwen and Parker. I was impressed. We even walked around a little afterwards to look for classrooms and where to line up.

Walk Thru Registration feels like a rat maze. The cheese at the end is the coveted class schedule. The school controls parents because there is no other way to get that schedule. I even had to purchase Gavin’s PE clothes, sight unseen, before getting his schedule. Another mom talked me into getting the sweats. She said if he has first period gym he will want the sweats because it’s cold in the mornings around here. I hadn’t thought of that. Luckily Gavin has first period gym!

I bought Gavin a school t-shirt so it seemed like he had school spirit. He walked next to me like he was numb. This morning he had his 6th grade orientation so I think he feels much more confident about things. He has found friends, or at least people he knows, at every school event in the last week. He knows he has a class with one friend. He will be fine. I’m thrilled for him to move on to middle school.

The boys stayed home to play video games while I took Gwen to Walk Thru Registration yesterday. I bought her a school t-shirt because they have a really cute girl design. When I got home I asked Parker if he told me not to get him a t-shirt because he had one. He said, “No, I said I didn’t have a school t-shirt!” Oh. Oops. Gwen has four or five now it feels like. Between hand me downs and the one we bought last year for her and her Fun Run shirt she has a lot. Parker has one. The one we bought when he was in kindergarten. We bought it big so he could grow into it. It still fits. The shirt I bought for Gavin last year only fits Gwen. Awesome.

Gwen has our favorite first grade teacher! We’re so excited. Parker has a teacher whose name I don’t recognize. Gavin’s fourth grade teacher retired in the spring so I know she needs to be replaced. We saw her at Walk Thru Registration. She was one of the volunteers. She remembered Gavin and was asking about him and said how she loves the way his mind works. I thought that was cool. My guess is Parker’s teacher is the new replacement.

This morning a mom was speculating that the teacher may be a former principal. That principal moved back east for “family reasons.” I vaguely remember an email saying she was coming back as a teacher. My friend said that the name I don’t recognize may be her new name. She apparently has a baby now too. “Family reasons” probably meant she moved back east to get married and have a baby before returning to the education system here as a teacher. I liked her as a principal so it will be interesting to see if she’s really Parker’s teacher and how I like her in that role.

We are slowly gathering the things we need for school to start. As we do, the kids are slowly starting to lose their minds. Heath keeps reminding me they are nervous and excited. Definitely. Gwen had a complete meltdown this morning. We picked up Gavin from his orientation thing and went straight to a friend’s house for visiting teaching. Only she wasn’t there. If Gwen could have stopped acting her own age for a second I could have come up with a better plan of action. Instead I gathered my melted puddle of a daughter who had been anticipating a playdate all morning, and my confused sons and we drove home. After a few minutes I cooled down enough to call my friend to see if she was home. She was so the boys opted to stay home while I took Gwen back.

Yesterday I kept the kids busy with various activities for much of the day. They scampered off to play and I was left to hear the voices in my head again. After about five minutes I heard the weeping and wailing of cranky kids fighting. My go to activity when I get stressed out is to clean. So I cleaned Gwen’s room. She helped. She picked up a few toys here and there. I didn’t even care. Her room was so irritatingly messy I had to do it my way.

She was so excited about her clean room she was inspired to play in it. The boys were still occupied in their own room. I went downstairs to stuff my face since my blood sugar had dropped low cleaning. As soon as I turned on the TV to waste the last bit of afternoon before Heath came home, there were the kids. Slowly, one by one, they came down and silently sat down to watch with me!

Oh how I love my babies, but they are wound so tight right now! How many more days till school starts? By next week I will be sad. I will be officially obsolete and I will miss my kids. Especially Gwen. She has been my lunch date for years and my favorite shopping partner. Right now I need a break from her. There is only enough room for one high strung emotional mess in this house!

Knock, knock, who’s there?

Tags

,

Big huge box!

Ok, so that’s not very funny but when I saw the gigantic box standing upright at my door I secretly wondered if the box knocked on the door. Maybe that’s why I didn’t hear the knock on the door. Heath came home from work and said, “So are you just going to leave that box out there all night?”

I had no idea it had even arrived. I don’t know how that happened since I had quarantined myself in the house all day. As soon as Heath saw that the box was estimated to weigh 120 lbs. I wanted to be sure to answer the door as soon as it arrived. Maybe ask the delivery guy to put it just inside the door for me. That way I could open the box and take the pieces upstairs one at a time. But somehow I missed the delivery. It’s possible the guy never knocked because we were yelling! Cleaning time tends to be noisy time around here.

box

As Heath came in through the garage I went to the front door where I was greeted by a box big enough to hold a small adult. It was a little surprising. I tipped the box onto its side and slid it over the threshold. I got Gavin registered for school today. That’s all his stuff sitting on top of the box. Another story for another time.

There was a pleasant subtle perfumy kind of smell to the packing peanuts. Once I unearthed a piece of the furniture and took it upstairs I knew why. My dad. It’s amazing how his scent has permeated so deeply into his things. I picked up a couple books from his house and started to read one. As I turned the pages I could very faintly smell him. That spicy cinnamon smell unique to him.

The scent was so intense I could smell him on the furniture before I even ripped open the plastic that each piece was wrapped in. While the smell is not offensive it is strong. I have already thoroughly sprayed the furniture three times with Febreze and I can still smell him. Not from a distance anymore. Just when I lean in close to the fabric and inhale. With the first dose of Febreze I said, “I love you Dad but this smell is too strong.” As long as the smell stays subtle I don’t mind. It would be too much if I could smell it as soon as I walked into my bedroom.

sofa

This is it! A gorgeous piece of furniture I fell in love with the first time I walked through my dad’s house.

This is how I know things happen for a reason. I loved this bench, sofa, fainting couch, whatever this thing is! Even though we drove there was no way we would have the space for this in our van for the drive home. As it was I had to buckle up a table I chose from his house in the only spare seat we had in the van! Tyson knew I wanted it so he took it to his house before inviting our aunts and uncles over to take their memories from the house.

When I went to visit the second time I was expecting to see it in my dad’s house and would decide then if I really even wanted it. I couldn’t remember exactly what it looked like and I was afraid it may not be quite my style. So much of my dad’s stuff was beautiful but not quite me. In that case it made more sense to buy my own where I live and not worry about the shipping costs. Who knew how much it would cost to ship anyway? Clearly it wasn’t coming home with me on the plane!

As it was I didn’t get a chance to see it. I could have asked to see it but when I learned how my brother had so lovingly saved it out for me I made the decision to keep it at any cost. We didn’t have the time to check on shipping costs while I was there so Deanna said she would look into it for me. I figured anything less than $300 would be worth it. It cost $250 to have it shipped. And I am in love! Buying my own would cost at least $500 and I didn’t even know where to start looking for something like that. So for $250 I have the perfect piece of furniture to sit at the end of my bed.

I am so glad that I wasn’t able to see it when I last visited. I know I would have talked myself out of it. It felt like such a hassle to get it out to me that if I would have seen it I know I would have backed out altogether.

stuff

Here is the stack of things I crammed into my luggage to get home. By the time I got home I didn’t even want to see any of it anymore. You have to understand that in his house I did want these things for various reasons (mostly for my kids). By the time I left I had buyers remorse big time. I had to force myself, with much encouragement from Heath, to bring it all home. I knew eventually I would be grateful I did.

The CD’s are wonderful and I have been enjoying them. The clocks are gorgeous and I love them. Parker loved the blanket and the fact that it has his name on it. I love that I named my son Parker, completely forgetting that my dad ever worked for a company by the same name!

shoeschess-set

The shoes are perfect for Gavin. They’re actually a little big so he has time to grow into them. The chess set is really nice even though it comes in a cheap aluminum box. The plan is to have the chess set displayed somewhere in my bedroom.

tabletop

The kids loved the stuff I brought home and since most of it was gathered with them in mind that’s a good thing. I’m thawing towards the stuff. This table and the sofa bench that just arrived are my favorite items from my dad. Hands down. The first picture of the table is really fuzzy. But I love that table. It’s turned into a bit of a shrine with all the fairies, wizards and dragons displayed around it!

peanuts

Now the question is what do I do with all these packing peanuts? You can see the boys helped me fill two garbage bags full of peanuts. This was necessary since I couldn’t find the bag of screws needed to put the sofa back together. My arm already went swimming in the box swishing around peanuts trying to feel for a baggie of screws. The boys helped me and after filling two bags we hadn’t made a visible dent in the volume of peanuts. Our garbage can was going to be full of peanut bags and we just had garbage day! This was not a viable solution. We made enough headway that when I dove back into the box I found the baggie. The sofa was put together and now I’m happy.

sofa

Except for the fact that we need a new bedspread. The silver doesn’t match at all.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 164 other followers