Doctor Whom

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Parker is obsessed with BBC’s Doctor Who. So much so that I found him one afternoon in his suit with plastic glasses frames on researching Doctor Who on the computer.

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It may be hard to tell but he also borrowed a bowtie from his large penguin. When this boy decides he is into something he dives in head first.

Our new rule is the kids have to earn screen time by completing chores. I wasn’t sure if it would really work. We have had a couple hiccups along the way. For the most part the kids are extremely motivated to earn that screen time every day. My house has never been cleaner!

Parker works hard to earn screen time before Heath comes home from work. That way he can watch Doctor Who before Dad takes over the TV making us watch basketball games or something. Science fiction synthesizer sounds seem to always be floating through the house.

Not only does Parker enjoy watching the shows, he’s turned it into a competition. Because, hello, it’s Parker! Every day I hear the same question.

Parker: Dad, what doctor are you on? I’m almost caught up to you!

Apparently the doctor is the same guy but the show has been on for the last ten million years, so of course the actor changes. He’s been numbered in our house. The 8th doctor, the 10th doctor, the original doctor, etc.

It feels like everything is starting to revolve around this iconic TV show. Parker loses his mind every time he notices something Doctor Who related in the world. One day at church he spotted a car with a family of vinyl Daleks on the back window. A couple weeks later we found out the car belongs to our home teacher who got into Doctor Who because his wife loves the show!

kid-happenings-008No surprise that Parker made his Pinewood Derby car a Tardis. The Pinewood Derby came out of nowhere this year. His scout leaders gave us a late heads up and I don’t know why they never gave us a car. It’s possible Parker told them we already had one at home. I was ready to wash my hands of the whole thing. It’s just another dumb Pinewood Derby. Who gives a flying fig, right?

A sudden wave of nostalgia crashed over Heath. He said this is the second to last car we get to make. So his creative juices started figuring out how to turn a block of wood with wheels into a Tardis.

We don’t do regular cars in our family. Be creative or go home! That’s our motto. So Heath and Parker have been laboring with love to create the coolest Tardis Pinewood Derby car. Gavin’s scout leader is also a Doctor Who nerd. When he heard about the car he said that Parker will win every time. It’s a time machine!

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At Parker’s last den meeting the boys were supposed to bring a shoe box to decorate. The Pinewood Derby cars should be displayed in these shoe box dioramas on Friday.

Gwen worships her brothers and has to do whatever they are doing. We had to buy another Pinewood Derby block of wood after the first one became a practice mess. Heath bought a Dremel tool and fine tuned his techniques on that first block of wood. Well Gwen insisted on keeping it for her own Pinewood Derby car. She colored it red with crayons and claims it is also a Tardis.

In order to be different from Parker she calls it Doctor Hoe since Doctor Who was already taken. Heath told her that Dr. Hoe is not an appropriate name. So she calls it Doctor Whom. That girl is crazy.

This afternoon I think Parker wished he actually was Doctor Who and could go back in time. He got his grade back for his MLK Jr. speech. It’s not what you think.

A week ago Parker was given the speech assignment. He didn’t do anything with it. We talked about ideas one night at dinner but that was as far as any speech writing went. I saw the paper and reminded Parker he needed to work on his speech. He rode his bike and played instead.

We discussed ideas again. We spent a lot of time discussing ideas because it was crunch time. The assignment was almost due. Somehow the weekend passed by and all that really got done was the Tardis. No speech was written.

I reminded Parker on Sunday that he probably should work on his speech. He got upset and told me that he would not work on homework on Sunday. I appreciated his efforts to keep the Sabbath Day holy but at the same time he was making a bad situation worse. He assured me he could do it on Monday. The speech was due on Tuesday. Not just the written speech but the speech presentation was due on Tuesday. Yesterday.

Much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth occurred on Monday. Heath deserves a gold star for his parenting. I walked away from Parker. The fighting hadn’t solved anything and I wasn’t going to write it for him. Heath patiently worked with him, encouraging more thoughtful work until a good speech was produced.

Tuesday morning, in the twenty minutes before we left for school, Parker transferred his speech to note cards. He presented that day. He was disappointed saying the class didn’t seem to really be paying attention and they didn’t seem to like it.

The grade came back today. Just as I suspected he got a perfect score. It’s nice that his teacher thinks he walks on water … but … I kind of needed him to have some consequences to his choices. In fact, his speech talked a lot about responsibility. And she gushed over it.

I just asked if it was his best work. He hung his head and said no. I told him it was great that no one knows he waited until the night before to prepare his speech. But he better not do it again. He seemed to understand. If only he were Doctor Who and could go back in time to fix this mistake. Personally, I’m counting on him learning from the mistake.

Last Chance to be Unique

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A good friend has returned to visit. He came last night and will be staying the week. All three kids are so excited to have him back.

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You’re never too old to make Franklin dance!

Gwen is thrilled to be Unique of the Week. It’s a little sad for me to realize this is the last time for our family. Franklin has watched our kids grow up. A 4 year old Parker kept him company when Gavin was at school. They fought over him at night! Two years later Gwen kept him company while Parker was away and I’m sure they fought over him at night.

The kids were so busy playing with Franklin last night that they didn’t do their chores until just before bed. The best part was they decided to do chores all on their own. They marched Franklin around singing the clean up song. It was pretty cute.

Gwen came down a few minutes after going to bed. She was holding Parker’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Rafael, and claimed she couldn’t sleep. I thought it was strange she wasn’t holding Franklin. Apparently it was a turtle slumber party in Gwen’s room. I just told her that they could play for five more minutes and then it was time to go to sleep. She read a Franklin book to all the turtles and we never heard from them again that night.

This morning Gwen asked me to play the Franklin game with her when we got home. I didn’t realize she meant as soon as we dropped Parker off at school. My shower was put on hold while I played the game with Gwen and Franklin. Then she asked me to watch Franklin while she was at school. I’m afraid I wasn’t very good company. I did put him in a chair with Rafael. They shared secrets with each other while I did my own thing.

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This afternoon Gwen decided to take Franklin on a bike ride. She zipped him up in her front pack, patted her helmet down, and off they went. If you listened carefully you could hear a tiny little “Whee!” coming from her bike as she zoomed around the circle.

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I think Franklin enjoyed the ride.

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The kids pulled out a blanket for a picnic.

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The turtle family lounged in the afternoon sun while Gwen and Parker chased Gavin around on their scooters. That sounds weird. Gavin was riding my bike and the other two were trying to see if they could catch up to him. He was too fast.

The turtles also found their way into the tree for a family photo. Rafael is the dad. Philip is the baby turtle. What a cute family.

Tomorrow Gwen has her share day. Thursday is the Estimation Jar Day. We found stretchy frogs that are fun to flip like rubber bands. Mrs. M doesn’t do Unique of the Week lunches anymore. She does monthly lunches for birthdays. So Gwen has that to look forward to in a couple weeks.

We get Franklin until Monday. I love that Gwen can read the books he comes with. It’s fun to listen to her read to her toys. She’s always pretending to be a teacher.

Oh, Franklin we will miss you but you will always be in our hearts.

If I had $500 I’d stop paying for birthday gifts

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In the game of Life each player is charged $500 every time another player has a baby. I used to think that was excessive. I couldn’t think of anyone in real life I loved enough to send $500 worth of gifts to for successfully reproducing. That and I was a child.

The smallest amount of money in the game came in pale yellow bills with the number 500 printed all over them. That was more money than I had ever seen at that age. For all I knew, large amounts of cash did come in a rainbow of pastel colors. I still wouldn’t know. My pockets hold a lot of lint.

Time passed by and I grew up. I still wouldn’t spend $500 celebrating a child’s entrance into this world. But what the game of Life didn’t explain was that $500 is not for the babies. It’s not a lump sum paid to the parents, no matter how much you’re indebted to them. That money is actually a small percentage of what parents pay other parents over the course of a child’s life in birthday parties.

Last year we threw our last birthday party. I have expensive taste and have a tendency to go over the top with my planning. I was tired of shelling out a couple hundred in decorations, party favors, and food. More than anything I was tired of spoiling my daughter this way. It didn’t seem fair to her brothers that they were born in the summer and had never had a successful guest list for a party.

After putting so much into planning these parties, and getting through all the noise, we were left with a mountain of toys. More toys than any child needs in a lifetime, much less for one birthday. So I have decided we’re done with parties.

The problem is my kids’ friends are not finished with parties. I can control what comes into my house but I cannot control the obligatory gifts going out. Unless I boycott birthday parties altogether. Which, believe me, I am seriously thinking of doing. I just haven’t figured out how to RSVP that I’m sick of the social obligation otherwise known as birthday parties.

Every other day an invitation comes home from school, shows up in my inbox, or is taped to the front door. Three kids with a myriad of friends. You do the math.

The nice part about the birthday parties for school friends is a large percentage of them are on Sunday. My kids don’t even bat an eye. They hand me the invitation and say, “It’s on Sunday so I’m not going.” Somehow I always expected it to be more of a fight to have friends not of our religious faith. So far it’s not an issue at all.

The problem is the parties held on Saturday. For best friends. Or church friends. It’s too hard to say no. So off to the store we trot for another gift. Another Saturday is shot with a middle of the day birthday party. Don’t people realize that Saturday is the only day my family is home together? Saturdays are sacred!

Next Saturday I don’t get to see my family. Gavin has a Scout activity in the morning. As soon as that’s over Gwen has a birthday party. Before that’s over Parker has a birthday party. I have a baptism to attend that afternoon before Parker is done with his party. Ugh. When does it end?

I’m starting to wish real life was more like the game of Life. I would happily hand over $500 for every child born. Get it over with all at once.

Congratulations! Here’s a small gift. Don’t spend it all in one place. If we hang out over the course of your child’s life, great. If not, you can still enjoy the cash.

Sandwiches, Sunshine, and Mr. Exercise

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As promised, the weather was beautiful today. There was supposed to be a slow warming trend from the middle of the week to the weekend. Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be in the mid 70’s and gorgeous.

Yesterday was not warm. The sun never really came out which made the day feel extra chilly. Today the sun came out right away making for a perfect early spring day. It’s the kind of day where you can’t help but want to go outside and play. So we did.

Gavin had the day off from school while the “little kids” had to go. I figure it’s a good makeup call for the Friday he had to go when they had it off. Those dang teachers and their work days.

We walked to our favorite sandwich shop. One mile up and one mile back. Take that Fitbit! Gavin talked about random things and was never interrupted by anyone. We ate in silence mostly. The food was too good to spoil with conversation.

After lunch we watched a couple Brain Games episodes. I was falling asleep in the second one. So I strongly suggested we do something else. We turned off the TV and rode our bikes through the park. First Gavin did 30 sit ups. He says he does 50 every night before bed. He has suddenly become Mr. Exercise. If you’re blessed with natural swimmer’s abs you may as well work to keep them looking their best!

Gavin has not turned his Santa cash into a bike yet. Have I told this story yet? We have looked around at different sporting goods stores and cheap retailers that sell bikes. The boys have gotten tall. There aren’t many bikes to choose from in their size. The prices jump drastically with the increase in size too. That’s why Heath has been cursing Santa for only leaving $100 for each boy. That’s not enough! It’s hard to want to drop $400 on a bike when we know Gavin isn’t finished growing yet.

Parker found the perfect bike at Toys R Us. It was the largest child bike available. The next size up that Gavin needs was twice as much. Who knew two inches were an extra $100?

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Parker expected to have change left over after his bike purchase. We told him not to count on it. He was pretty well satisfied that his bike cost $99.99. Under budget! And for now, we haven’t found anything for Gavin.

He has ridden my bike. It makes him nervous because his toes barely touch the ground. I can appreciate his apprehension. A year ago he didn’t even know how to ride. Today I told him to ride Parker’s bike. I just wanted him to get used to riding so he would actually be excited to get his own bike. His feet rest comfortably on the ground when he sits on Parker’s bike. The smaller bike was just the confidence boost he needed to ride.

I have tried teaching my kids to ride their bikes in our circle. I don’t like it because living at the bottom of a U shaped circle means it’s hard to see when cars are coming. There isn’t a lot of traffic on our circle. The kids can be in the street. Until that one car comes while they are finally getting the hang of things in the middle of the street. The park has been the best place to teach bike riding.

The park is closed to traffic during the winter months. Excellent bike riding conditions! These warm days are the best. Gwen and Parker both learned last year at the park around this time of year. Gavin found success at the park today.

We rode around the bottom parking lot several times. I took off way ahead of Gavin knowing it wasn’t a big deal. He could see me the whole way around our makeshift track. Apparently he came around the corner and fell into a thorny bush. He was so nonchalant about it that it took me a while to piece together what happened. He was fine and undeterred. So off we went.

After a few more laps I suggested we ride up to the gates that close off most of the park to traffic. We rode along minding our own business and having fun. As we neared the gates I decided to turn around in a parking lot. A city landscaping truck was about to come onto the road we were on. So we circled the parking lot to get back on the road after the truck.

We were pedaling along the middle of the road with the wind in our faces and not a care in the world. I heard a car coming. It’s on the neighborhood street I thought and kept going. The sound was getting closer. It didn’t sound like it was on the road to nowhere but behind us on the park road we were riding in the middle of.

I looked behind me and saw a gray truck. City trucks are white. This was not a city truck. The guy was right behind us. We moved over to the right since he was trying to pass us on the left. Gavin nearly ran into me but we narrowly avoided disaster. As the guy passed Gavin said in an accusing tone, “I thought you said the park was closed!” I thought so too.

How that guy got through I will never know. The gates were still closed when we went to pick up the other kids from school. We looked. Where he went is also beyond me. There is only one way to drive through the park and he never turned around. He wasn’t parked anywhere that I saw. It’s like he was some gray ghost cruising down the park scaring unsuspecting bikers.

Gavin didn’t seem rattled. He seemed to still be enjoying the ride but he did take the lead. He went to the back parking lot and up onto the sidewalk that takes us straight home. We had about 20 minutes before we had to pick up kids. So I made him some orange soda.

All three kids are outside racing scooters right now. Gwen biffed it yesterday and apparently fell again today. She’s pretty mad. Parker patched her up with bandages yesterday. Today she carefully placed one over her skinned knee. She’s a little hurt but more mad that she fell. Nothing seems to stop her. She put on a pair of shorts since she hates having anything touch her boo-boos. Now she’s back out there tearing it up with her boys.

It’s been a wonderful day off. I’m glad we were able to take advantage of the nice weather and play outside all day. My Fitbit appreciates me finally getting off my duff. I just wish I remembered to take it off my bra and put it in my pocket for the bike ride. It doesn’t recognize pedaling very well.

The difference a little change can make

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“I’m the second fastest in my class!”

This is a pretty powerful statement. It feels like another small miracle when I think about how we got to this point.

Who knew that all it took was a change in venue, a change of scenery, to find success? It shouldn’t be surprising. After all, how many high school students apply to schools far from home just for the chance to reinvent themselves? I know because I was one of them.

Heath and I may never have met if he didn’t decide to start over somewhere else after graduating college. And if we didn’t meet, Gavin would not have walked through the door this afternoon stating his accomplishment.

The second fastest runner in his gym class. Who knew? Gavin has always been smarter than he is athletic. His worst nightmare was starting middle school where gym class is held every day. When they started the running unit he thought he might die.

He never believed he could run a mile. At least not without hyperventilating and passing out. I told him to do his best. If I could run in school and live to tell the tale, so could he.

The difference between us is I never was that good at running. I did not enjoy it at all. I never wanted to enjoy it. It was just one of those requirements. A hoop to jump through to get the grade and move onto more intellectual pursuits.

Now I did take a weight training class in high school that I fell in love with. I had no idea I would love weight training so much. But it was my favorite class. One thing about weight training is that you have to do some sort of aerobic activity to make lifting weights effective. My teacher made us run around the track at the beginning of every class. Before we could even think of running for our favorite machine in the weight room, we first had to run the track.

In the beginning I hated it. I walked and talked with my friends more than I ran. Gavin says there are kids who bend down to tie their shoes a lot. I never tried that trick. It was more like run 30 paces and then bend over huffing and puffing from the side cramp. Then walk a lap and a half and try running maybe another 20 paces. Rinse, lather, repeat.

I don’t remember what the turning point was but I started running for my weight training class. I was not good at it and certainly not the second fastest in my class. But I got to a point where I was comfortable with it. I could run to get my heart rate up. And it made a difference. My abilities increased to lift weights and my stamina increased in my step aerobics class. I’m sure my step aerobics class helped me run without dying.

All I ever wanted for Gavin was just to appreciate his ability to run. I never expected him to discover a hidden talent for it. He never expected that either. Yet somehow his times keep improving. He can run an eight minute mile! I was more around the ten to eleven minute range. I was happier around fifteen. Those side cramps hurt less around fifteen minutes!

I don’t know what’s normal for an 11 year old boy who has never had any interest in anything physical. Eight minutes sounds pretty awesome to me. He probably should have a conversation with some family members who run. My brother found his niche on the cross country team. His wife runs marathons. They’re a happy little running family. Gavin’s cousin Garrett has gone to state on his cross country team. His sister Melina has a talent for running but not quite the burning desire to do much with it right now. She may change her mind.

The other thing that impresses me about Gavin’s running is how much it has opened up his confidence. He can play basketball really well. He can toss and catch a football better than I can. I know that’s not saying much but Gavin used to take after me when it came to sports – afraid of the ball. He has turned into this competent athlete. All because he took running the mile as a personal challenge.

I love that all it took was leaving elementary school and starting middle school. Sometimes all it takes is a change in scenery to discover greatness.

On the other side of that door

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On the other side of that door was crazy.

The safe side of the door was cozy. It was a warm, sunny day in spring. A few cars were parked at the curb. The big yellow buses waited at the front of the line. Students milled around like ants on a lollipop. In a red minivan, a mother passed the time reading a book.

Two girls crossed the street leaving behind the ghost town junior high school. The activity buses were always parked in front of the high school, conveniently located near the junior high. The girls chatted about whatever junior high age girls were interested in. They were close to the last bus in line when one girl recognized her brother and his friend walking toward a red minivan.

She waved and they waved back. A big grin spread across her face as she told her friend she had another ride home.

“Are you sure?” Sara asked.
“Yes. That’s my brother and his friend. I can just go home with them.”
“Are you sure?” Sara should have asked again.

Instead Sara waved a cheerful goodbye and boarded the yellow school bus bound for her neighborhood. There was no reason to suspect anything happening except everyone getting home quickly and peacefully.

The other girl started running toward the red minivan. Her brother was yelling something but she couldn’t hear it all. She got to the minivan half a second before the boys arrived. Proud of herself for finding front door transportation, she pulled on the handle.

There are no words to describe the look on the face of the mother in the van. Someone was at her passenger door. She closed her book never dreaming it was anyone other than her son and his friend. Suddenly a teenage girl was climbing inside.

She had never met the girl before. As far as the mother could recollect she had never seen the girl either. Who was this overly friendly person? What in the world was she thinking?

She must be lost or confused. Or some gang member. Her shirt said Obnoxious Wear. What did that mean? Was this a dare?

Who was this girl?

Gratefully for the mother, the boys climbed in behind the strange girl. They seemed to know her but the connection was still unclear to the mother. Besides dumbfounding confusion hanging in the air, the boys seemed upset with the girl.

The mother felt terrified and lost. With her heart racing, she drove as if her daily plans had not changed. She could figure it out later. At least no one got hurt!

The girl had impulsively acted. It was only when she and her brother got home that things started to sink in. Her brother pointed out how funny the situation was. Once enough time had passed, the girl realized it was worth laughing about.

This may be counted as a most embarrassing moment. For the girl it feels like one of those memories that was so awkward and bizarre, it may as well have been a bad dream. It is a strange and funny situation.

What would you do if some random kid climbed into your car and said hello?

Butterfly Farts and Other Proud Moments

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We grew closer together as a family this weekend. As only laughter, parties, happy juice, butterfly farts, and heroic acts can do for families. It’s a shame life has to go back to normal tomorrow.

Heath and I tried a new restaurant on Friday for lunch. We had garlic cheese fries as an appetizer. The fries were so good. The garlic aioli was sinfully divine.  The soda tasted more like Diet Pepsi and it was served in the tiniest canning jars just short of being labeled baby food jars. But our waiter was quite attentive. He even took the jar out of Heath’s hand to refill it! My drink never got below the halfway point. I love wait staff like that!

I was nervous about eating out because my blood sugars had been cooperating quite well since I saw my nurse. Eating out is my guilty pleasure. The problem is I have to guess how many carbs I’m actually eating and then try to factor in fat and protein content. Usually I take a look at my plate, roll an imaginary set of dice, and hope for the best. Friday was a good day. The dice were kind.

Heath was a bit of a hero on Friday. When the check arrived, he stared at it like something was wrong. Then he flagged the waiter and explained that we were only charged for my food. The waiter recalculated and gave us a new check. We could have been dishonest but there is no way we should have walked out of there paying half of what we owed.

Then at Costco an elderly gentleman was putting his groceries in his car. His cart decided it was tired of waiting and slowly started to drift away. It picked up speed once it got just out of the man’s reach. Heath started trotting after the cart and the man took a couple lunge steps. They both arrived at the same time. Just inches before the cart hit a parked car. Whew, disaster averted.

When we picked up the kids from school we were sipping on our Diet Coke. The best part of socially drinking is the gas it produces. Heath had some impressive belches. That came with an intense aroma of garlic. We’re talking so strong even rolling down the windows couldn’t dispel the tears. Which is why Parker started hanging his head out the window like a dog.

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Eventually the smell disintegrated but Parker’s head stayed outside. He loved the wind on his face. He especially loved what it did to his hair once we got home. The garlic breath certainly helped glue it in place!

Gavin was over 20 minutes late getting home from school. I was a little panicked. Where in the world was I supposed to start looking for him? I called the school and the secretary told me the buses were all on time as far as she knew. She paged Gavin and said she would have him call me if he went into the office.

Heath was about to get in his car when we heard a large vehicle drive by. I raced to the front door but saw nothing in the peephole. The garage door had opened enough that Heath could see the bus. I opened the front door and saw the back of the bus about to disappear around the corner. The four of us walked toward the bus stop and intercepted Gavin a few houses from ours. Gwen and Parker gave him the biggest hugs. They had been worried to and were so happy to see him. We were supposed to look at cell phones today but we ran out of time.

Gwen went to her party and the rest of us had our own party! All my boys got their hair cut after we tried out a new sandwich shop. They are so much more handsome with short hair. On Saturday Gavin was complaining he was itchy. We told him to get out of his pajamas and shower off the tiny shards of hair stabbing his neck. He wore the same pajama shirt another night and wondered why he was itchy again! I love that kid!

It wasn’t late enough to send kids to bed once we picked up Gwen from her party. She was wired and feisty. Parker was tired and jealous. Sparks flew and I threatened to whip everyone soundly before sending them to bed early. Heath found something to watch that mesmerized everyone.

It was some blooper type show like AFV. A panel of three celebrities picked their favorite embarrassing video and eventually the host picked one to represent the most embarrassing for the week. We were laughing so hard. The kids stayed up way past bedtime but we were having the best time ever.

Saturday was productive as we worked on Parker’s pinewood derby car some more and we cleaned the house. Heath made the most amazing cob salad for dinner. All the kids tried bleu cheese crumbles. Gavin decided he didn’t like them after all. The other two were okay with it. Gwen ate that salad like she was given some special privilege. She knew it was my favorite kind of salad to eat at restaurants. She loved it. Parker was quiet about his opinions but he ate most of it.

Sunday was an exhausting day for Heath. He had his meetings in the morning and came home for a bit before we had to leave for church. He told me he would be home a little late because the Bishop had an interview right after church he needed to be in the building for. Church is over at 4:00 and Heath finally walked in the door shortly before 6:00. My timing on dinner was perfect though! It was like I was one of those housewives from the 50’s who had dinner on the table the second her man walked in the door.

At church Gwen was drawing my bracelet. It’s a bracelet my mom made for me with a different charm to represent my three kids. Gwen started with the butterfly of course. Underneath the butterfly she started to draw the bracelet. It was interesting to watch her draw it. Heath said it looked like a butterfly fart. He’s too funny.

We watched Herbie with the kids. It had been so long since we saw that movie that Gwen didn’t remember it. I think she enjoyed it more than her brothers. She is such a funny girl. She loves “boy things” while being so feminine.

The kids went to bed and Heath and I watched some romantic comedy he found on BYU TV a while ago and recorded. It was a really cute show. I liked the story. Very Hallmark in nature. But Gwen came down crying in the middle of it. Her stomach was cramping and she couldn’t sleep. After much convincing her to just sit on the toilet, a dose of children’s laxatives, and some snuggle time on my lap, she went to bed around midnight when our movie was finally over. I think I would have enjoyed the movie more without all the interruptions.

I hate that Gwen is still bothered by constipation. Heath gets frustrated because there is nothing we can do about it. We can’t convince her to just go. It’s up to her. I talked to her pediatrician about it a year or so ago. He acted like she was doing it as a power struggle. I don’t know. This girl was born this way. I have blog posts from when she was brand new and not pooping for days. I feel bad for her. She delivered her “baby” this afternoon and feels much better. Actually she’s pretty funny about it. I shouldn’t repeat some of the gems she said. But it was funny.

Even though I went to bed late I woke up early. I should have started on my reading sooner because I ended up reading half the day. Heath just laughs at me. He knows reading is my weakness. I didn’t expect to read more than an hour but the story got too interesting. I couldn’t put the book down until I was finished.

Edenbrooke was a fun, shameless romance novel. It reminded me of how dense I was when Heath and I started dating. I kept thinking of the day I met my brother at work all worried that Heath might propose. Tyson basically laughed at me sweetly and said that everyone expected it but me. He said they wondered when not if. It was a good talk. I loved Heath. It just took me a little longer to realize it than everyone else. If our story was a novel, readers would be yelling that I was an idiot. Because I kind of was.

The pinewood derby car is coming along nicely. We may have solved our leaky bathtub issue. I still feel bad that we yelled at the boys thinking it was their fault. Maybe we should trust our kids a little more! My hallway bulletin board for Primary is shaping up nicely. It’s still not ready yet. I was hoping I could put it up today but when things stopped working as expected it was time to take a break. The President hasn’t asked why I haven’t decorated yet. I think I still have some time for it to all come together as planned.

Gwen’s teacher is collecting soda caps. I wish she had sent the email earlier in the week. I had just recycled a whole bunch of soda bottles. That’s all right. It gave us an excuse to drink this weekend! I love my Diet Coke. I especially love drinking it with Heath. I introduced him to my happy juice and he enables me by buying it all the time. Don’t worry Mrs. M! We will singlehandedly get you all the caps you need for your project!

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To miss the joy is to miss it all. Sign your name on every page with the sample pens and enjoy those moments in time that bring your family closer. Mundane responsibility comes soon enough.

I can see clearly now the fog is gone

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No matter how often I blink the world is still smudged. This is my worst nightmare. Going blind. Sometimes in my dreams I have to drive a car and I can’t see. My glasses seem to have a greasy film on them that will not rub off. If I dream that I’m wearing contacts I feel like they are glued to my eyes the way they do after I have slept in them. The recurring message of my dreams is I can’t see. It’s a terrible feeling.

Who knows what that really means? I don’t know how to interpret my dreams. They are vivid and very strange. While I haven’t had any smeared dreams lately I thought about it this morning.

Fog is a symptom of winter around here. Some years we have many foggy mornings. Other years the fog rolls in occasionally. When Gavin was in kindergarten I woke up to fog and had a mini panic attack wondering how I would drive in it. A friend who lived a couple streets away called that morning and asked if she could take Gavin to school. I don’t remember why. But I was relieved to not have to drive in the fog.

Over the years I have avoided most foggy days carpooling with my neighbor. Somehow the worst foggy days landed on her day to drive. Dumb luck I guess. If I had to drive in the fog I quickly learned that it was densest along the road to nowhere. Once I got to the main road visibility was much greater. Then I would turn into the neighborhood by the school and the fog hung in the air like a thick blanket.

More often than not when I wake up to fog it dissipates by the time I have to drive kids to school. This week has been interesting. There have been foggy mornings and clear mornings where the sun was so bright it was blinding. Either way it has been difficult to see as I make my twice daily pilgrimage to the school in the mornings.

I remember only a handful of foggy days when I was a kid. I loved those days. It was like walking through a cloud all the way to school. One year the fog was really thick over the field. My friends and I walked into the center of the field hoping to see what it was like to be in a cloud. I remember being disappointed that I could always see several feet around me. The only consolation was that we couldn’t see the school after a certain point. When we walked back and the school was in view, a ball of white cotton candy showed where we had been.

That disappointment I felt reminded me of when I was very young. I told my mom that I wanted to go into an airplane and open the window to capture a cloud in a jar. She told me it wasn’t possible. My heart broke. How can it be impossible to catch a cloud? It’s the one force of nature I have always been jealous of.

I love watching clouds wrapped around mountain tops like some sort of bearded disguise. My favorite scene is when the sun starts to burn through the fluffy layer of fog hovering just above the grass in the park.

Fog is really quite beautiful. Until you have to drive in it. I could barely see anything as I drove up the road to nowhere this morning. Gwen kept saying that the parked cars seemed to jump out of nowhere. It was a little more subtle than that. More like trying to read without glasses. The closer I move toward the text the sharper the image becomes.

Normally I have a sense of peace and anonymity when I’m in fog. Today it was too uncomfortable. I really wanted to rub my eyes hoping to clear up my vision. It felt like I was living my worst nightmare. When I finally made it to the main road my visibility was still very limited. Headlights would shine through like fireflies until the surrounding car finally emerged into sight.

Traffic was slow and grouped into tight packs. Whether driving to or from school I have to move over a couple lanes into the left lane. It was difficult to work my way through the close knit pack of cars.

Gwen kept saying, “Grandma would be home playing with Play-Do today.” Dawn grew up in California’s Central Valley where the fog could be so thick the schools had fog days. Schools closed when you couldn’t see across the street. As bad as this fog was – the worst I had ever seen – it was nothing compared to what Grandma grew up with. Heath served his church mission in the Simi Valley area. He said the fog would be so bad you couldn’t see the traffic light on the other side of the intersection. This was nothing. I hated it but it was nothing.

The good news is tomorrow I don’t have to drive! Heath has taken the day off and promised he would chauffer the kids to school. Wahoo! Between the blinding sun right in the middle of the windshield on clear days and the crazy foggy days, I’m done driving. For a few days anyway.

They say anticipation is often better than the prize. I’m not sure that’s true. This week has been long as I impatiently wait for Friday. Monday I tutored and forgot Gavin had piano lessons. Tuesday I saw my pump nurse and carpooled to Cub Scouts. Wednesday I had a Primary Presidency Meeting and did the Siouxsie Homemaker thing all day. Today I tutored again. And finally … finally Friday is upon us.

I don’t care if we go to Timbuktu or stay in all day. I won’t hear any phone meetings. We can do whatever we want (or do nothing) all day while the kids are in school. Then we get to hang out with the boys all evening while Gwen goes to another birthday party. Federal Holiday on Monday which means no school and no work. Ahh … can life get any better?

Why do you do what you do …

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when you know what you know?

Lucky me, I just got to admit to my CDE nurse that my diabetes management is out of control because I stopped caring. Always a fun fact to admit to people.

It’s hard enough having to condense my life into numbers to be analyzed by medical professionals. It’s hard enough having to talk about what I eat. It’s hard enough having my blood drawn and seeing doctors and nurses. It’s hard enough wondering if stress or illness is messing up my blood sugar readings. It’s hard enough carrying a glucometer and snacks while wearing a pager sized insulin pump on my hip. Changing sites frequently and counting carbs or making up the numbers as I go. That’s already hard enough.

It’s as if I’m a celebrity without any of the prestige. Everything I do or don’t do is scrutinized. Yet I don’t get paid for it.

All of those things are hard enough. Then you have to factor in how real life affects diabetes. The variables are limitless and I don’t always want to talk about it. Admitting that I let life take precedence to my own care is always daunting.

My endocrinologist and my nurse were both very supportive and understanding. My nurse asked a couple questions and I wondered if I was sharing too much information with her. Some people like to spin my reaction to my dad’s death for their own sick satisfaction. I always want to scream at those people, “This is actually my life! Stop acting like my life is more entertaining than the tabloids!”

She wasn’t like that though.

I don’t think I overshared. She recognized how difficult it is to lose a parent, that it was a shocking situation, and that depression is a perfectly logical response. I appreciated her reaction to the news. She is one of the few diabetes team members I have worked with over the years who actually sees me as a human being. Some people get so mad that I don’t take better care of myself. They don’t have diabetes and they can’t even fathom what it must be like to live with it.

At one point she said something like asking a diabetic to be in the 140 range after eating is like asking them to not be diabetic! I just felt bad that she couldn’t work with my data. We changed one basal rate and changed the sensitivity at night so I don’t need as much insulin to correct a high. But there wasn’t much more she could really do.

My problem is I stopped caring about what I eat a long time ago. I have gotten into really bad habits of bolusing after I eat, which means I sometimes forget altogether. When I do bolus for food I guess how many carbs I’m eating. Usually I’m wrong. I don’t allow my blood sugar to come down before I eat another high carb meal. It’s like the numbers on my glucometer don’t matter to me.

At the end of the appointment she asked if I wanted to schedule another appointment or just call her. If I don’t go in I don’t talk to her or care. I hate going in for the principle of the thing. She always acts like it would be easier on both of us if I just call. But I forget. So I asked if I could email her. Written communication is always my favorite. My phone will also remind me in two weeks to do it. This is important. Otherwise I will forget and go back to my old habits and generally not care anymore. It’s time to start caring.

I know what I know and now I need to act accordingly. We all do things even though we know better. Numbers may not be my forte but I understand enough numbers to manage my diabetes better than I have been lately. And prettier numbers mean less questions about my personal life.

Adventures in Knowledge

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Gavin did well in the Geography Bee. He said he got two answers right and two wrong. I guess they had to miss two before they got out. The questions were on World Geography and not just US Geography. The Bee included students from 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. I wish his teacher would have given us some information to prepare. Given that he didn’t study anything I think he did great. Maybe he can do it again next year.

The 4th graders found out last minute that an author would be in town doing book signings. Parker was so excited to go. I was extremely wary. Earlier in the year his teacher sent home all sorts of information about an author coming to the school. She was going to talk about the writing process and then sign books. Parker pulled out the puppy dog eyes and we quickly gave in. Who wouldn’t want a book signed by the author? The activity sounded really cool.

One year Brad Wilcox came to the school I was teaching at. He talked about the writing process and how he came up with the idea for Hip Hip Hooray for Annie McCray. He also talked about the message of the book – that kids need to believe in themselves and not have their self-esteem wrapped up in others. It was a great assembly and the bonus was the teachers got an autographed copy of the book. My kids have grown up on that book and we all love it.

Parker’s love for reading is still fairly new so I wanted to encourage him by buying him a book the author could sign. A week or so after we sent in the money we received notice that the author was very ill and had canceled her visit. I must have sent in cash because I have no evidence of writing a check. The teacher said she would send the money back. She may have and she may not have. It’s cash! There isn’t much of a paper trail with cash.

So I wasn’t too eager to pay for another book signing. Bless Parker’s heart, he didn’t even expect me to pay. He already planned on earning the money. There wasn’t much time to sign the permission slip for the field trip to the high school and send in the money for a book. Parker wiped down blinds to earn the money.

The last minute planning should have made me feel better. It was less likely she would cancel like the other author. I still had my doubts. I also wasn’t too thrilled that the event would take place at the local high school and involve who knows how many 4th graders. What if it wasn’t just limited to 4th graders? Everything about it sounded like it was more trouble than it was worth.

Then the teacher emailed the parents explaining the rules for having your own copy signed by the author. Good heavens this activity was complicated. Apparently the author was scribbling her name in each book and that was it. The books would be sent to the schools later when she was finished. Actually, the books would be signed and the bookstore would distribute copies to the schools. Checks were supposed to be made out to the bookstore. That seemed strange too.

I may not have been on board with the field trip but Parker could not wait. He’s excited to get the book later. He claims he can read it in 30 minutes. Hopefully it was worth the $10 he earned cleaning blinds.

He loved the field trip. His class sat on the second row. Close enough he could smell her sweat. Only he didn’t say that! She signed a couple of books before she started her presentation. Parker is convinced he saw his friend’s book in that pile. How he knows that is beyond me. Maybe that friend already owned a copy of the book and sent it in to be signed.

She talked about her inspiration for her book The One and Only Ivan. That’s the book Parker ordered. It’s based on a true story about a gorilla named Ivan. She showed gorilla videos. Then she talked about other animals because a lot of her stories involve animals. Parker was star struck and can’t wait to get his book. We’ll see how long it takes. 

Gwen went to her friend’s birthday party on Saturday. She had a blast and I just need to start taking her to that dance studio for lessons. It’s just up the street from us and almost directly underneath our dentist. The location can’t be beat. The prices seem reasonable for this area. The first lesson is a free trial so there’s really nothing to lose.

The girls learned and performed a dance in the middle of the party. We were busy working on Parker’s pinewood derby car. That’s a whole other story. Based on what Gwen remembers of the dance there wasn’t much to it. But it was a birthday party and the girls needed time to be crazy, play games, and eat cake too.

bookmark-004

This is what we came up with for a bookmark to go with the Junie B. Jones books Gwen was giving. I spent quite a lot of time on Friday trying to come up with a simple yet cool bookmark. I’m pretty proud of it.

The flower took the most time. I wanted a 3D flower of some kind made of paper. I found flower ideas on Cricut.com but no instructions. I thought that was pretty lame. Heath wanted me to buy cartridges to make the flower. But none of the cartridges had the type of flower I wanted. The flower ideas I liked supposedly came from random cartridges like a cupcake liner cartridge. I could have bought that but I thought it would be a waste of money if all I used was one font from it.

The lady’s flowers looked like they were heart shapes stacked together. So I tried some things with hearts. Then I found a simple flower shape that was free. I resized it several times and layered them all together with a cute brad in the middle. The results were what I was looking for. We used Gwen’s scrapbook paper for everything. She chose black and white polka dot paper for the card. It needed to be dressed up somehow so I gave her my first flower. I love it. I hope Lauren loves it too. 

Speaking of reading, I tutored this afternoon. I like tutoring and I don’t like it all at the same time. It’s hard for me to end my day an hour earlier because it’s all about me! I’m selfish that way. Today I managed to get most of my cleaning done before I had to go.

Lately we haven’t been able to get through as much material. Edward is a sweetheart but he is easily distracted. The last couple times have been very painful trying to get through the lessons. All the tutors have mentioned the same thing in their notes.

His Friday tutor said they couldn’t finish one lesson but he/she/it never bothered to say what page they stopped on. So I redid the entire lesson. We finished the lesson but the bell rang before he finished reading the “book.” Normally we get through two lessons and I send him back to class for the last ten minutes.

He loves to look at word patterns. He tells me which words rhyme or he points out the similar spellings of words. He’s on task while not focusing on the actual lesson at all. I love his thinking though. I love seeing him make connections all on his own. He is learning, just not the way the program expects him to.

The primary purpose of the tutors for this program, is to devote the one on one attention the teachers can’t give these students. While he’s not following directions as given or staying focused he is learning. In his own way. I tutor him two days a week. The least I can do is let him learn his own way. I just hope the program director never finds out.

If he wants to close his eyes while he visualizes the spelling of sight words, who am I to tell him he has to use his finger to point and that’s all there is to it! If he wants to dissect each word or count the number of times “th” shows up on the list, so be it.

When I pray about him I pray that we can work together so he can learn how to read. Reading is powerful. The world is opened up when one can read.

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