Run For It!

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Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to run. Run for money, run for fun, run for the t-shirt. Just run. Eat, sleep, run, repeat.

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Gavin worked his butt off to earn a t-shirt. He ran every school day this month and all he got was a lousy t-shirt. Oh but he earned it. He loved every second of earning that shirt and now that shirt means something. He ran more than 20 miles this month because of Track. Some days he ran nearly five miles between Mile March Madness and Track. That is impressive. I still can’t run so Gavin is my hero.

Many kids started but few finished the race. Gavin would tell us almost daily that more and more kids dropped out. We don’t know how many kids actually finished and earned the shirt. He guesses about 100. This was an activity offered to the entire school. All 6th, 7th, and 8th graders could participate in their respective gym classes. My boy was one of the 100 or so that actually endured to the end! It’s pretty cool.

I think it was Wednesday night we were talking about how lots of kids had dropped out of the race. We joked that at that point it would be stupid to not just finish. Who can’t run for two more days? I said something about how Gavin better have some horrible disease if he wanted to quit two days before it was over.

Gavin: Don’t jinx it Mom!

It got in my head. I was driving somewhere and imagined some freak accident on the road to nowhere that prevented me from getting the kids to school. Luckily nothing like that happened. Gavin was up until 11:00 last night finishing homework. Yeah I sent a concerned note to his teacher. She got the second draft because I was much nicer then. And poor Gavin had to talk to her at lunch. I feel bad about that but this woman is insane with the busywork she assigns claiming the kids will get class time to finish it and then the sub never gives class time. Anyway, it’s a whole piquant thing. Gavin was up late but he managed to drag himself out of bed for one last day of school.

Parker was up till 9:30 finishing homework. He led me to believe he had all his work done so he could go to basketball with his dad last night. When he got home he realized he still had to study for a science test and type something up. I’m not happy. There will be consequences. Please let there be basketball games during Spring Break! It would be the perfect love and logic consequence to have to miss those games. On school nights he can only stay till 8:30. Basically one game. If there is no school on Friday he can stay for all the games and come home sometime between 10:30 and 11:00 pm. But not when he forgets homework.

Gwen wasn’t up any later than usual. She likes to let me know when she can’t sleep by coming out of her room and announcing she can’t sleep. She comes up with crazy excuses and wild stories. It’s been extra hard for her lately because it’s been so hot. Her room gets really stuffy and since she’s a girl in the front of the house she will never be allowed to open her window at night. I put a fan in her room last night that helped stir up the air.

Heath always comes home late on basketball nights all sweaty and tired. He works from home every Friday because when he wakes up he whines that his eyelashes hurt. Having him home for the day and knowing the kids didn’t get enough sleep makes me really not want to get out of bed. But we did it. I feel like I have earned Spring Break.

Oh but the kids are champs. Gwen and Parker had their Fun Run today. The forecast was sunny and hot. Parker ran at 8:40 this morning. It was already 60 degrees. I did a drive by after dropping off Gwen at 9:00. Parker saw me and pointed it out to his teacher. See, I care! The kids looked like they were at the end of their run time. They were dragging themselves around the track. Poor kids.

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They had fun. This is Parker’s class. The room mom sent this picture to everyone. Parker is on the top row third from the left. I forgot that the parents were giving the kids mustaches too. Because every kid wants to run laps for a fundraiser while they have a fake mustache on their face! Parker didn’t get the purple hairspray in his hair even though I told him he could. He has a partial face sticker because he picked most of it off throughout the day. His classmates kept giving him sunglasses so he has four pair of cheap plastic purple sunglasses. Gwen is so jealous. I think he can share with her.

I really don’t understand this fundraiser. It sparks a lot of jealousy among my children because each class has their own way of adding to their assigned color to show school spirit. It’s kind of weird. We never ask anyone to donate money if our kids run. But the kids still have to run regardless. The 4th graders were going to take their earnings and use it for Outdoor Ed next year. I don’t believe in Outdoor Ed so I don’t feel bad that we didn’t help raise any money.

Gwen’s teacher sent an email saying that her class earned over $1000 today. There must be a lot of oldest siblings in that first grade class. The families aren’t burned out on fundraisers yet! Over $1000 in one first grade class despite the Grinchy Westover family. Color me impressed.

Last year Gwen was so excited about the Fun Run. Then she realized it’s running around a tiny roped off square in the grass over and over again for 20 minutes. She was less than thrilled this morning to run.

Me: Bye Gwen, love you, have a good day!
Gwen: Oh I won’t but thanks for the ride anyway.

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I think she had fun anyway. Silly girl. It’s like my kids have been hanging around me too much. They’re becoming quite piquant.

I’m just glad we have two more dated Fun Run shirts to eventually add to the ever growing collection of pajama shirts. We now have two purple shirts and two green shirts. We have at least three white shirts, one orange, and one yellow. None of my kids have been assigned red yet. The tie dyed shirts look more pink than red. Either way, Heath is glad we don’t have any red shirts. He’s morally opposed to the color since it represents the University of Utah – BYU’s archenemies.

Gavin’s coach didn’t really give any specific exercise instructions to the Track students. He just said to be active for at least 60 minutes a day and to try to run a mile a day. I told Gavin he can run through the park. It’s 2.45 miles around the long way. He loves running so much he will be thrilled to race through the park every day this Spring Break. I am looking forward to sleeping in and getting back into bad habits that will make it hard to start school again later. Gotta keep your eye on the prize. Even if the prize is extreme laziness.

Keep running my friends. My only running will be to the fridge for another Diet Coke. They were on sale!

Possible Explanations

bottles

Maybe there are 25 empty bottles because I had a wild party with 24 friends. Or maybe it was just one friend and we enable each other’s drinking problem.

Maybe it’s not my fault he was out of town on business recently and I needed something to get me through the week. Maybe it’s not my fault he has been working from home a lot lately. When he does we go through two or three bottles apiece. It’s our tradition. Then there’s weekends … Maybe it’s just what it looks like. I have issues, don’t judge me.

And maybe I could have quit but Gwen’s teacher asked me to save bottles for a class art project. We just won’t think about how quickly I was able to save 25 bottles for her. I filled a Men’s Wearhouse bag with the bottles and handed them to her today. She told me she loved me! I appreciated her preserving my last shred of self esteem. Because the picture effectively murders it.

Gwen had Pizza with the Principal yesterday. She won because her name was drawn. When the kids get a Lifeskills card they turn it in for a drawing. The Lifeskills cards are when a teacher or adult recognizes the student for some sort of good behavior or good choice. Parker has had this privilege too. Gavin never did get Pizza with the Principal but Parker says he got Ice Cream with the Principal. Gavin never went. It was all very confusing. There was no written notification and Gavin wasn’t sure it was even his name that was called at the Flag Salute. Which is entirely possible given the fact that there is another blonde boy his same age named Gavin Wa… They have been in the same class many times.

At least when a kid gets Pizza with the Principal they are given an invitation. It explains what day they can get their special lunch and how they can have either a pepperoni slice or a cheese slice and choice of soda. They can bring fruit or a dessert to supplement the meal if they choose to. Gwen took apple slices.

Gwen: I know why Pizza with the Principal is on Wednesdays! It’s because Tuesday is pizza day and they just give the kids the leftover pizza on Wednesday!

All I could think was let’s hope that’s not true. It’s probably Little Caesar’s Pizza because it’s cheap and nearby. Gwen said she drank juice. I asked her why when she was looking forward to soda. She said that all the soda was gone. Huh. Nice false advertising there Mrs. Principal. Gwen wasn’t the only kid being rewarded yesterday but still. How do you run out of soda?

You know I didn’t drink all the soda. I can’t imagine Diet Coke being an option and that’s about all I drink. Plus I don’t like soda in cans or two liter bottles. It just doesn’t taste as good to me. Maybe the teachers were in desperate need of a little pick-me-up in the middle of the last week before Spring Break. I don’t know what happened. That’s just weird. But Gwen had a good time so I guess that’s all that really mattered.

Change

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The story is that Churchill came up with the song after they a bad experience with music people. They were told their music was awesome. Their sound was what the music people wanted. Blah blah blah. Then they were told that in order for their music to be played they had to change their look, their style, their sound, their music, basically everything they were had to change in order to get the fame. And they were mad so they came up with the song.

That’s the story I heard when I first saw this video and heard the song. Other people think the song is more relationshippy than that. Either way, I like it. Especially the lyrics

You take no chances and you give no other choice
You fill your pockets and you empty out my voice
You use the shallow and old, trade the heart for the gold
You sell the song for the noise

Anyway, I love Churchill and I wish they still were a band and I really wish you could buy actual CD’s of theirs for less than a million dollars and my soul. We did buy a bunch of their songs individually as a digital version on Amazon. I also love illustrating my posts with music. As if my life has a soundtrack.

This morning I woke up to emails of change. I can’t count on anything to just be what it was advertised to be. Everything has to change. Nobody really likes change but I feel extra bothered by it sometimes. I just want to go about my everyday life knowing that the different activities I have signed on for won’t change. Those activities should be the only change in my regular routine.

Gavin has been going to Track practice for a little over a week now and every day it feels like the practice schedule changes. It’s not just the change in days he practices, I never even know when to pick him up. Practice ends sometime before or after 5:00. Roll the dice, your guess is as good as mine.

Track almost didn’t happen because they couldn’t find a coach. Then at the last minute they hired a local hero who kicked butt at the same high school Gavin will attend. He did a bunch of other wonderful things with his athletic prowess but the info is no longer on the school site. More changes. Anyway, he’s supposed to be this great guy and a perfect fit for the coaching position.

He’s also engaged to be married in May. He just graduated and is trying to find a permanent job. He’s subbing in the school district I think and coaching Track in the afternoons. So the program is struggling to take off gracefully. Meanwhile Gavin is struggling to fit piano practice in since his “days off” keep changing.

Yesterday his piano teacher wasn’t available due to a change in plans so Adam’s mom taught Gavin. That makes me feel bad because she had to quit teaching piano to go back to work full time. She happened to be home when Gavin showed up. It looks like Gavin gets Thursdays off when he doesn’t have a meet and he gets Fridays off. Fridays have got to be the worst days for piano practice! Adam is a young teenager. He has his own stuff to do too and I’m sure he would like to have Fridays free. We’ll see.

Track was the first change. The next change that is making me crazy is the baptism this Saturday. The young man in our Ward is the only child in the Stake that needs to be baptized this weekend. When that happens the Stake Primary Presidency pulls out of the equation completely and leaves everything up to the Ward. That’s fine but when it happens the planning ends up being a lot of trouble and everything changes a million times. Just tell me what I’m supposed to do and when I’m supposed to show up. That’s all I want to know.

Emails have already been sent out inviting Ward members to the baptism. After that emails started circulating that the time needed to change. This weekend begins Spring Break and the two Bishopric counselors will be out of town with their young families. The Bishop will be at the temple with a young man who is preparing to leave on his mission. The Bishop has to be at the baptism so the time had to change. It was pushed back two hours which meant the Primary President couldn’t make it. With the rest of the Presidency able to attend it didn’t matter that she had previous plans.

Now this morning she sent an email detailing what needs to happen at the baptism and who is in charge of what. She also said the time is still up in the air and she will let us all know for sure what time the baptism is when she knows. I spent most of yesterday stressed out about the details and the fact that I didn’t know anything. Today I decided it wasn’t worth another moment of thought. There is nothing I can do. I haven’t been given any assignment other than to just show up so I’m going with that. Maybe the world will end Friday night.

We got a lot of grief for requesting to have our own special baptism time for Gavin. Our families could not attend the weekend he should have been baptized with the other children in the Stake. Now I see why those single baptisms are frowned upon. We have had enough Primary kids unlucky enough to be the only child in the Stake turning 8 years old when they were. Their single baptisms are quite the logistical production. It’s amazing.

The school Fun Run is this Friday. I have already told the kids that I won’t go to watch. I don’t want to be driving back and forth to the school all day which is what I would have to do given their run times. The funny thing is Parker’s run time has changed two or three times. By only a few minutes but still. Nail down the time already if you want any parent support!

He runs at the same time I drop off Gwen. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate the staggered schedule? I could drop Gwen off and drive around to the back of the school to see the final gasping laps. Frankly I don’t feel like getting up at 5:00 am to get five people ready for the day in order to watch two kids run. I could but I won’t so don’t accuse my kids of being foster children just because their parents have jobs and better things to do! I know I should let the past be in the past but knowing that some dad accused Gwen of being a foster child last year at the Fun Run because I wasn’t there still gets under my skin.

When I pulled a load of laundry out of the dryer I found Gavin’s student ID card. You know, his ticket to eat lunch. I had to stop that load soon after starting it because there was a rock in it. The things my kids stuff in their pockets! Why don’t I remember to check? Some things don’t change.

A rock is one thing. The ID card made me mad. This is the second time I have found it all sparkly clean and dry in the dryer. What has he been eating all week? Why hasn’t he mentioned it to me? Why hasn’t he even tried to look? He wears the same pair of shorts every day. The ID card was in a pair of shorts he wore to school once since we bought them. Apparently he didn’t want to put them away so he tossed them in the laundry. Card and all.

I try to tell him to switch things up but apparently I speak some other language because my kids don’t listen to me. If a teacher at school doesn’t lecture about it they don’t care. If a teacher mentions anything I have already tried to teach my kids at home, my kids become zealots on the subject. It’s really annoying.

No teacher has had a lesson on clothing so my kids keep making the same mistakes. Rocks in their pockets, extra clean clothes because it’s easier to throw clothes in the laundry basket than it is to put them in a drawer, and really clean student ID cards. Thing that should change don’t.

I had Heath talk to Gavin about the card. He’s less emotional so the kids respond to him better. Plus they said themselves they never see their dad so it’s easier to respect him! Not that I’m bitter or anything. Of course Gavin has been receiving the same lunches as he normally would if he had a card. They haven’t looked up his account number to see that I have paid for these lunches. He just gets whatever he needs because we live in a time when there are no consequences.

It would be illegal to let a child go hungry. In my day kids were given partial lunches when they didn’t have their lunch tickets. There was also an expectation that they pay for the free lunch they received. Now we just skip all that crap and let the kids do whatever they want. And then we wonder why children have this false sense of entitlement and they never seem to learn from their mistakes.

All this time I have been trying to raise my children to survive in the real world. I need to change my perspective. The real world coddles people and gives participation trophies to everyone. Heath was given a gold star in some training meeting he went to for work. He apparently earned the star for asking thought provoking questions. A young lady (think Millenial, who worked at a local clothing company started during the gold rush) asked where her star was. And she was serious. She also got a star put on her certificate. To shut her up mostly but she did nothing to earn it. Her participation in the training was basically showing up and knowing her own name. How am I supposed to raise adults when this is the world we live in? Perpetual childhood where no one is a winner or loser and all mistakes are forgiven. I hate this change!

You want me to change change change
You want me to change

Not all change is a good thing.

First World Problems Say What

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Gwen and I have been reading the Book of Mormon together. We read the story about how Nephi’s bow broke and his brothers had broken springs on their bows. They couldn’t hunt any food with broken bows. I explained to her how the family was basically wandering and camping in the middle of nowhere relying on whatever wild animals they could find for food. When we finished reading the chapter

Gwen: I’m hungry. But not for wild animals. Well, and I’m not hungry for sushi or fish or …
Me: It sounds like you aren’t that hungry if you have that many conditions on what you eat.

This is also the same girl who was asked to list her five favorite restaurants for homework. She listed McDonald’s, On the Border, Dad’s Kitchen, the refrigerator, and 5 Guys. Her eyes twinkled when I read Dad’s Kitchen. When I raised an eyebrow as I read the refrigerator, she laughed.

Gwen: There’s good food in there!
Me: But aren’t you the one who hates just about everything we make for dinner and you would rather go out to eat? And you can’t think of five restaurants that you like!

Dad’s Kitchen indeed! She likes the food I microwave when he’s out of town.

Yesterday for Family Home Evening we had a family council. We were discussing some areas that could use a little improvement. The discussion was getting a little heavy and we all felt guilty.

Heath: What can we do to stop arguing so much?
Gavin: Get rid of Gwen.

It’s not funny but at that tense moment it was just the comic relief we needed. Gavin is hilarious. He delivers his lines so deadpan that we can’t help but laugh.

Heath: I’m concerned that you guys don’t respect Mom.
Parker: Well, no offense Mom, but we don’t see Dad that often so it’s easier to respect him.
Me: I’ll be getting a job tomorrow!
Parker: I said no offense!

My kids are crazy. My life is crazier. I love it all.

Field Trip to Sacramento

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Parker, here, will tell you a story about his trip.

     It all started not so long ago in a school not so far away were I was reading “Charley and the Glass Elevator”, and waiting to go to SACRAMENTO!!!!! I got about one hour of sleep and it took for 4 ever to get on the bus. Once I did I sat in the back with my friends: Zane and Jake. I was in the back near the fuzzy bathroom door. I “watched”, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No good, very bad day.” I couldn’t hear it. We first went to the capitol and got to see the Governor and we saw people vote for laws. next we went to the train museum and not much happened excepted for this creepy man saying we could die in the construction of the railroad. After that we had pizza I had 7 slices. I then went back to the train museum to get a rubber duck with a conductors uniform on it. I went to the first ever Wells Fargo and then went to sutters fort  and then went home. the end

Parker forgot to mention that he shook Governor Brown’s hand. He says only a couple kids were able to shake the Governor’s hand and Parker was one of them. He also bought a lucky rabbits foot.

The not so lucky thing about the lucky rabbits foot is it broke. Parker found a string necklace to wear the large red charm on. He wore it to school where the kids were so jealous of him they told him how mean and evil he was for killing a rabbit and wearing the foot. Nice. When he got home he found a chain necklace to put the foot on. I’m not sure what happened. Everything was fine and then we parked at Costco. Parker had his head in his hands and was suddenly depressed. I got him out and that’s when he showed me how the top of the foot broke. The part that hangs on a chain broke and the whole top opens up now. I don’t know if we can glue it back together or not.

I love how Parker bought lasting memories as souvenirs. I’m sorry that one of them didn’t last more than a day. He had so much fun on his trip to Sacramento. As I predicted, lots of kids blew tons of money on candy. One kid bought a bag of Jelly Belly’s that he was sharing on the way home. It was a surprise bag so lots of the beans were gross like vomit or pencil shavings. Yummy.

The rubber duck that Parker bought is twice the size of all the ducks he earned in third grade. But it fits right in with the conductor’s uniform. All those ducks have some sort of costume.

Parker’s bus was a good 10-15 minutes later than the other bus getting back to school. I was waiting at the middle school for Gavin and Heath was at the elementary school waiting for Parker. I was starting to get a little worried because both of my boys were taking so long. They both appeared shortly after 5:00. It was such a long day for everyone.

Vocab Lesson

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The word of the day is anxiety. This is an interesting word. Sometimes it means something negative like stress. Sometimes it means excitement. We can be anxious to do something and that feeling is good or bad. Everyone is different therefore everyone reacts differently to the same situation.

Parker is in Sacramento right now with the rest of his fourth grade class. Fourth graders study state history and our school district allows the students to go to the state capitol to experience state history and civics for themselves.

Yesterday Parker said he needed to have a fun day because he couldn’t wait for the day to be over so he could go on his field trip. I don’t know how fun the day was but time eventually was kind enough to roll into a new day. I got Parker up first since he needed to be at school at 7:35 this morning. His eyes popped open immediately. He jumped up and whisper shouted, “Finally! I have been awake almost all night!”

He was so excited. He has been eagerly anticipating this trip for weeks. Parker has joyful anxiety. I just have the plain old terrified kind.

Heath wanted to try to work from home so he could help me with the weird morning schedule. When he had an early morning meeting yesterday that kept him home we didn’t think it would happen today. I was willing to do what I had to do. I am the mother. I was relieved to hear his boss called yesterday announcing he was working from home on Thursday and suggested Heath do the same. Heath told him how it would be helpful for me to get everyone ready for school if he could take Parker to school early for me.

I was so nervous this morning I was extra glad Heath could take Parker to school. Fun Dad should take excited kids to school for their field trips. I’m not worried anything bad is going to happen. I just don’t like changes in routine. They make me feel nervous. I didn’t want Parker taking anything to school since everything would be left on the bus all day. But his teacher sent an email yesterday pushing the idea of a small backpack that would stay on the bus. I didn’t know what to do.

In the end we went with our original plan of sending him with his snack in a paper bag. The snacks could not be eaten on the chartered buses but would be consumed as soon as they arrived in Sacramento. Everything was easily disposable. He did take his homework binder so it could chill in his classroom while he was gone. And I put his $10 bill in a baggie to be stored in his pocket. The last stop of the day is to a gift shop and the kids were told they could bring some spending money.

Parker only had a couple bucks. I am always out of cash. Heath didn’t have anything smaller than a $10 bill. So we told Parker to try to spend less than $5 but if he had to spend more he could. That should be interesting. I can’t wait to see what he comes home with. We told him not to spend it all on candy. A lot of kids do that. Heath did say that if Parker comes home with some souvenir that cost over $5 he would be ok with it. We’re really just curious to see what Parker does with double the money he asked to take on the trip.

Parker left just before 7:30 this morning. Half an hour later Gavin left to catch the bus. I hopped in the shower and took Gwen to school at 9:00. It was a crazy morning for sure. Everything feels normal now. But soon I will go tutor and then take only Gwen home. I will be antsy while I wait for word that Parker is back. Now that I think about it I am glad all over again that Heath is home. Parker will probably return at the same time Gavin’s Track practice is over. I’m pretty amazing but it is hard to be in two places at once.

Even though I was nervous about this field trip I handled it pretty well. When Gavin went on his first campout I was crazy nervous. I was so afraid he wouldn’t have enough clothes to stay warm. Then when he went on the hike up Mt. Tamalpais I struggled to resist the urge to fill his backpack with pounds of food. This is what I do when I get nervous about activities away from home. I want to pack my entire closet so I can be ready for anything and I want to pack the whole pantry in case my blood sugar drops low.

How do other people do it? How much food does a normal 11 year old boy need on a seven mile hike? I don’t know. Pack it all! He’s always hungry! I run into the same worries with Track. Is one Nature Valley granola bar package enough? It has two crunchy bars inside. Will that one water bottle be enough water?

Tell me I didn’t freak out when I heard that some Track student in San Jose collapsed and died during Track practice on Monday. I’m sure he passed while I was at the parent Track meeting. I heard the story the next day on the news. I don’t know what happened to him. He was involved in other sports. It’s not like this was his first experience exercising in the heat of the day. But for some reason he collapsed. His coach tried to do CPR. They rushed him to the hospital and he died. I had to take a deep breath and trust that my son would be fine. It’s nerve wracking!

Oh and when he didn’t text me that practice was over yesterday as early as he had on Monday I was starting to pace. Practice probably will end closer to 5:00 on a regular basis but I didn’t know. I was expecting to get him at 4:45. Then when he told me about his workout yesterday. Yeah, my legs felt like jelly just listening to him!

This is what it means to be a mother. I carry my heart in my throat or wear it on my sleeve and I let my kids go out in the world anyway. They are so happy and excited. They don’t have the life experiences I do yet to worry. That’s my job. Of course worrying has always been my job. I have always been negatively anxious about everything. For as long as I can remember I have been like this. I remember waking up in the middle of my tonsillectomy and freaking out because I couldn’t remember what was happening. The nurses and doctors tied me to the operating table and then I was screaming because I was so mad. I was 8 years old. I have always been a worrier.

My kids are going to come home from their adventures today with so many stories to tell. I will be grateful I suspended my natural instincts and let them go. Life is meant to be enjoyed after all. Oh but it doesn’t mean I don’t eagerly anticipate their return!

Lucky Say What

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A local radio station was playing popular hits. Daft Punk’s Get Lucky song came on.

“We’re up all night for good fun …
We’re up all night to get lucky …”

Gavin: They play that song at casinos.

He doesn’t know that. He just assumes it’s true because he knows luck is the name of the gambling game. He does not understand the euphemisms in the song! I am lucky that while my son gets a lot more dirty jokes on TV, he still doesn’t get them all. I don’t get St. Patrick’s Day but I am wearing a green t-shirt for good luck. Kiss me, I’m not Irish!

Participation Trophies and Other School News

This video has nothing to do with anything other than I love it. I love the song. I really love the video. I got a little stuck in my head over the last several days so this song really speaks to my soul.

We got feedback on Parker’s science fair project. Which is better than what happened with Gavin last year. I never saw anything but a stupid button that said, “I was brave enough to enter the science fair!” Bravery, coercion, yeah that’s the same.

This year we were handed a Sharpie and told to write all sorts of identifying information on the back of Parker’s poster. Maybe that’s what happened last year. Gavin’s small handwritten first and last name was not enough. Who knows? I hate science fairs!

Anyway I’m just glad that Parker brought home an interview form with a participation ribbon stapled to the front. The parent interviewing Parker loved the project. He was quite impressed. I just love that Parker ordered a glass of milk at our favorite Mexican restaurant. He loves the salsa and learned in his science fair project experiments that milk takes the heat away quickly and completely. As long as the kid learned something.

Last week the kids had some minimum days for at risk parent teacher conferences. I have had bad experiences with these at risk only conferences. Gavin was always considered at risk so I never got a break! I am so glad he’s done with elementary school and whatever garbage was written in his cum folder never followed him to middle school.

Unfortunately Parker found himself in this at risk category. Even as a student of a teacher who thinks he walks on water. She had sent some emails to me a couple weeks ago saying that Parker’s test scores were slipping and she was concerned. Heath talked to Parker about it. Parker admitted he was rushing through his homework, forgetting to bring it home half the time, and not studying for the tests. So I told the teacher we would try some study skills at home. Two weeks wasn’t enough time though and I had to go in and talk to her anyway for the at risk conferences.

I was really annoyed that I had to go in at all. I was in an extra bad mood that day after having several meltdowns over unrelated issues. Thursday was a really bad day. I’m actually quite grateful to his teacher for talking too long to the family ahead of us. It gave me time to push the angry tears back down. I was in no mood to talk to her about her pet Parker and his fall from grace.

For some reason it really bugs me that this teacher loves Parker as much as she does. It should be a good thing but she is so overly positive about him and his “new” faults that I feel angry. Give the kid some consequences already! I’m trying to prepare my children for the real world! She talked for at least half an hour. All positive comments about the boy who walks on water in her eyes.

I looked at his report card when I got home and was irritated. His grades have gone down in pretty much every subject. Technically she addressed every subject but she did it in such a way that I thought he was fine and I questioned why she sent me such concerned emails earlier. Until I actually looked at the report card. Being positive is nice but the truth works too.

She just says that Common Core requires so much more of students and these kids aren’t used to it. She moved his desk closer to hers so he can discreetly let her know he needs help. She said she knows he doesn’t want to stand out (read lose his popularity among his peers) so she will help him on the down low. I don’t know why it makes me mad. It just does.

I appreciate what she’s doing. It’s actually really nice that she would go to so much effort to protect him from failure. I told him he better take advantage of it because most teachers don’t act like that. This is a kid with so much charisma. Everyone loves him. I do too, he’s awesome! But he gets away with everything. Home, school, church, it doesn’t matter. He manages to escape all sorts of unpleasantness with his winning smile and his ability to work the loopholes. Every teacher loves him. He’s a great kid but I always think of the number of times I was called to pick him up because the teachers thought he was sick. His face was red from playing so hard at recess but the teachers thought he was on his deathbed. And I got to pay $20 for a doctor to tell me my kid was just fine.

Heath said that he would talk to Parker again when he got home from his business trip to Salt Lake last week. We didn’t get around to it over the busy weekend so now I get to wage World War III on my own. No, the gauntlet has already been thrown. Parker knows he can’t just ride his bike after school like he used to. He has a tendency to whine all the way home from school saying he has so much homework. Then we get home and suddenly he realizes he left it all at school. He gets a big smile on his face and says, “All I have to do is read!” Which he does in his room with the door closed. He likes to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid on his Kindle. I don’t know whatever happened to real books. I’m ready to take the Kindle away until grades improve.

I do love Parker. I told his teacher that he’s the easiest of my three kids because he’s either on or off. He’s not as motivated by power struggles as the other two are. He still has his moments. He’s the one I can always count on to help out. He loves to help. He can be very responsible and of course he is comic relief. Even if he’s mad he cracks me up and usually when that happens it’s not long before he chills out and is laughing too. I’m probably just jealous that he’s one of those kids who spends more time creatively getting out of boring work than just doing the work. He’s too smart for his own good and always has been. I’m a people pleaser which can get really tedious.

Gavin starts Track this afternoon. I took him to the doctor on Friday after Heath got home. The doctor was more no nonsense than usual. The kids love him and lovingly refer to him as the crazy doctor because he’s so funny. He sat down and started listing all the yeses I marked on the questionnaire saying, “I can’t approve you for sports for that!”

The biggest problem was the yes on chest pain during exercise. I knew I should have marked no. But as much as I thought Gavin just didn’t understand the question, I worried that something might be wrong and I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. Luckily the three of us were able to talk it through and agreed that Gavin doesn’t know his chest from his abdomen. What he considered chest pain was more likely cramps from not breathing correctly.

The doctor could have sent us to see a cardiologist but he was nice enough to work with us. He did tell Gavin in no uncertain terms that if he felt any chest pain (pointing directly to his body to illustrate) he better alert the teacher and go straight to the hospital. He also talked about the pain starting in the chest and moving down the left arm. “That’s a heart attack! If you feel any chest pain you tell the teacher and you tell Mom!”

I think he has been properly scared straight. It’s a huge deal to me given all the heart problems in my family – my grandma had a stroke at a fairly young age, my great grandma had tons of heart problems as a kid, my dad died of a heart attack at age 60, his half brother died of a heart attack at age 40. Yeah, it’s a big deal to me. Now all my kids need to have cholesterol screenings because they have had the misfortune of being born into this family!

But the kid can run! He was approved for sports. We took the paperwork to the school right after leaving the doctor’s office. The secretary counted the pages and said he was approved and could run on Monday.

My favorite part of going to see a doctor is finding out how big my kids are. Gavin is 5’2! He is one foot shorter than his dad and only four inches shorter than me! I guess these kids grow up.

There are the maddening moments of parenting but there are plenty of good times too. I can’t wait for Spring Break. Two weeks and counting. I finally found another mom who gets how I feel about my kids. She is adjusting to life as an empty nester. I feel so bad for her because it’s really hard on her. I told her about how people would ask me what I was going to do with my free time when Gwen went to school all day. She answered that my plans were to cry before I could say it! Because that’s how we both feel about our kids. We would so much rather have them home with us even though we know they have to go out in the world to learn.

Moving Heaven and Earth

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I have never had such a hard time getting my family’s teeth cleaned! We had the perfect appointment. It was on a Friday when the kids were out of school. I love those appointments. So far that is how we’ve met with our dentist. Every six months we find a day when the kids don’t have to be in school. Heath works from home and boom, we get the whole family squeaky clean.

This time didn’t work out quite so nicely. There were bugs in the system. Gwen got her teeth all clean before the bugs so we rescheduled everyone else. The new appointment was for this morning. I didn’t like the idea of the boys missing half a day of school for a dental appointment but what else could I do? You know, other than pick a better day? It was hard to think with the sudden change in plans.

The appointment stood for a couple days before I realized it would not work. Gavin is doing his March Mile Madness this month in PE. He has agreed to run the mile every single school day without fail. In exchange he gets a free t-shirt. He’s not doing it for the shirt though. He’s doing it because he has discovered a passion for running. Why not join this special club? The catch is he has to be there every day. No being late, no forgetting clothes, no being sick, no whining, no nothing. Just show up and run. Oh, and have fun too!

Friday is a minimum day for all the kids. Gwen and Parker have a minimum day on Thursday too. That’s another story. Gavin showed me the rules for March Mile Madness. This Friday has a special time. He needs to be at the school ready to run at 8:20. That’s when the bus arrives at the school. I wanted to be upset about the crazy timing. The more I thought about it the more I realized it wasn’t worth the negative feelings. I can make it happen. I am the mom after all.

While I don’t quite understand why the time is the way it is, it doesn’t matter. I will drive Gavin to school on Friday. If I drop him off first I can still get the other two to school on time. And that early in the morning the traffic shouldn’t be too crazy at the middle school. We can do this. I can move heaven and earth for my kid.

It was soon after all that drama that I realized the dentist appointment wouldn’t work. So I called and left a message. I hoped for Friday afternoon since it’s a minimum day. Luckily Heath was home to take the call from the dentist. I was out visiting teaching. Anyway, Friday didn’t work for the dentist  so we were scheduled for this afternoon. I’m just glad we got it all worked out. And no one has any cavities! Yay!

Gavin also wants to be on the track team. It looks like there weren’t enough coaches or something. The school website had TBA in place of dates and times for quite a while. There are still quite a few TBA’s. But Gavin heard that Track would be starting soon so he picked up an athletic packet. Tell me I wasn’t mad at myself for not having the doctor sign a paper in the summer saying Gavin can play sports! Oh well. I had to fill out a couple pages and then have the doctor sign something. Not a big deal.

I took the packet to the doctor’s office today and dropped off what he needs to sign. They will call me in 3-5 business days when it’s ready for pickup. There shouldn’t be any issues. I did have to answer yes on a couple questions, like some of the heart questions. Dang genetics! I guess we’ll see what happens. Hopefully we get it by the end of the week since the first practice is on Monday after school. Then there is a mandatory parent meeting that night at 5:00.

I will do whatever it takes to let Gavin run. That’s all he cares about. It feels like every other day he walks in the door telling me he knocked off a couple seconds from his time again. I think he can run a mile in 7:50 now. That is so much faster than my 15 minute miles I “ran” in junior high. When I compare the times I can’t help but think my kid is as fast as the Flash. He has plans to run around the park in the summer. I have plans for him to join the Cross Country team in the fall. I think he may like it better than Track. That seems to be a family thing. My brother, Gavin’s dad, and Gavin’s cousin all prefer Cross Country to Track.

I pride myself on not being a helicopter mom. I love that my kids work for what they want to do. I have learned that there are times when I still have to move heaven and earth for my kids. I’m willing to do it because I love them. I will be drinking a Diet Coke now to celebrate my mom awesomeness because the fluoride time is up. I can swallow again!

Scripture Reading Rewards

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It’s important for families to be in the habit of daily scripture reading. Primary is really good at measuring scripture reading success. Our Primary just started a new daily reading program.

scripture reading chart

I found this printable online for the kids to color in as they read daily. There are 30 blocks to color. We sent these charts home about a month ago so it’s no surprise they started coming in all colored last week.

Unfortunately there was a bit of a miscommunication on the reward system. I’m kind of glad for the turn of events because it gave me a chance to come up with a great reward system.

scripture reading keychain 001

This is what I came up with. Every 30 days of reading earns one foot. Lots of school classes have running clubs where the kids earn feet for every mile they run. I liked the idea. I found the foot charms on the Fitness Finders website. Actually, one of the counselors found the site and I was thrilled. The charms were exactly what I was looking for. They tie in perfectly with our Primary bulletin board. The kids each wrote on a footprint one way they can follow Jesus. Reading scriptures is a great way to follow Jesus.

The tag was made from Ink Jet Shrink Film. You can print your own images, cut them out, and bake them like Shrinky Dink. I used a 2” circle punch and a small flower punch to thread the chain through. It takes some muscles to punch through the shrink film but the tags look awesome! The kids can write their name on the blank side of the tag. Then proudly display the keychains on their scriptures, backpacks, or somewhere in their home.

Last week we had five kids turn in their completed reading chart. I had extra keychains ready if any more kids turned in their charts yesterday. We ran out of keychains with the special tag. Looks like it’s time to make more!

I hope this inspires kids to want to read. We used to give out a Hershey’s kiss to kids for reading. They would say how many days they read in the week and we would mark it on a poster and they took the kiss. My daughter would lie just to get the kiss. Food isn’t always the best motivator, in my opinion. She wants a foot so badly that she is now disciplined to read every day. That’s a win in my book!

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