Cookies at the Creek

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Last night we went to a before school event at Gwen’s school. We were able to find her classroom and meet her teacher.

Gwen is rarely nervous about things. She would have figured out where her classroom was if she had to. I was terrified on her behalf. When they passed out jobs in heaven, I chose worrier. And I am good at my job! Going to the school event helped me feel better. Gwen loved it because she met her teacher and saw that a friend from church is in her class.

It’s kind of a big deal that this friend is in the class because she’s the only third grader at church. There are no third graders that we know of! No third graders on our street. One girl is but she goes to a private school. And no third graders at church except for Savannah. So it’s a big deal that these girls are together. Gwen could not be more thrilled.

The teacher is a first year teacher. Gwen’s kindergarten teacher never said she was a first year teacher but I think she was. She was super enthusiastic and such a fun teacher. Gwen loved her. This teacher also seems young, vibrant, and just as enthusiastic to be teaching in her own classroom for the first time.

Tables were set up in the common area outside. Every table was asking for volunteers for one school project or another. My next door neighbor said it made her feel overwhelmed. I have just learned to say no. Heath did volunteer to teach Junior Achievement to the third graders. Now that he works from home full time and is nowhere near his team, it will be harder for him to do volunteer work with them. This is the perfect opportunity for him to teach (something he loves) a program the bank loves. That will be fun for him.

I don’t know if I want to volunteer this year. Before we even decided to move I told him I was burned out on the reading program I was doing as a parent volunteer. We talked about how I wanted to take a year off from tutoring. He suggested I take an online writing class from BYU. That would be cool and I still may do it.

In the meantime, I may talk to Gwen’s teacher about being a reading volunteer. I could do another reading program. Although I hated the last reading program I trained on. I would rather not volunteer in this way because I’m burned out on lame reading programs, but it is one way I would feel comfortable volunteering my time.

Really what I want to do is come in and read out loud to the class. I love reading to kids. When I student taught for a 6th grade class, Stephanie (my cooperating teacher and later mentor) asked me to read from the novel she started with her class. I had so much fun with it she asked me to do it every day. Ideally that would be my favorite way to volunteer my time in a classroom.

Gwen was able to turn in the school supplies we bought for the class. Last weekend we spent an outrageous amount of money, to the tune of several hundred dollars, on school supplies for our three kids. I always loved the ease and convenience of the fundraiser our last elementary school did. We paid the money to have the supplies in the classroom for the first day of school. Loved it! I learned over time that the students would get the supplies regardless of parents “donating” to the fundraiser. I always did because I liked that fundraiser. It made sense.

It was painful buying supplies to accommodate three separate supply lists. The biggest expense was new backpacks. Gavin’s was thrashed after another school year with no lockers. I love that there are lockers here! Parker and Gwen’s backpacks were a couple years old and in need of being replaced. We chucked all three on the last day of school.

Also last weekend we had our Ward Campout that we were going to make a cameo appearance to. Instead we decided to beat the heat in an air conditioned mall buying new school clothes. The best part of the night was when we walked into Justice to look at clothes for Gwen. She said, “Justice is mine!” That was funny. Seeing her womanly hips in trendy skinny jeans was not that funny. Nor was the bra section that we were able to avoid looking at this time. She is turning into a young lady which is killing her dad.

We learned that we had to order Gavin’s jeans online. He wears a size that is as rare as finding gold in the bottom of a cereal box. He wears 29×32. Heath wears a 32 inseam! Gavin is a tall drink of water.

By Monday all our online orders for Gwen’s boots, and the exact pair of shoes Parker wants, Gavin’s pants, rain jackets for everyone, and a partridge in a pear tree will be delivered. I think we will be finished bleeding money for a new school year at that point. I think.

Gwen is so excited to start school. I’m excited for her. The boys are a little apprehensive but I think they will quickly adjust and enjoy middle school here. Yay for a new school year. Last night we celebrated with an Oreo cookie at the Cookies at the Creek event.

Just for Kicks

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Gwen has been participating in a free soccer clinic this week. One of the boys up the street has organized it for his Eagle Scout Project. Gwen has really enjoyed it.

On Monday she was very excited and woke up early to get herself all ready. By Tuesday she still wanted to go but I had to remind her to get dressed first. Actually on Monday the boys had to be ready on time as well. They were going to their friends’ house with one of the moms after she dropped off her daughter for the soccer clinic.

Gwen has been good to prepare early by putting her water bottle in the fridge ahead of time for nice cold water. She grabs her own snack before we walk out the door. Today she chose a Hostess brownie. I told her to grab something else.

“You should take something sort of healthy when you are working out with your friends.”

She reluctantly traded the brownie for a Fiber One bar. Clearly exercise is not a priority in our family. The Fiber One bar at least helped her look the part. Half the kids show up looking like they are ready for a game with cleats and everything. Gwen wears shorts and a t-shirt but she looks quite fancy compared to the other kids! That’s my girl.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow being the last day. It’s so hard getting dressed and ready by 10:00 am. I have to get out of bed, shower, get dressed, and do full hair and makeup. All before 10:00. Oh, and Gwen has to have her hair done too. It’s becoming a chore.

When I mentioned this to Heath last night he just looked at me. Kind of the same look you have on your face right now. That perplexed look wondering if I’m serious. I’m sorry, but the sarcasm font still doesn’t work! I was joking and he knew it. He did take the open opportunity to make fun of me though.

“I can’t believe you have to get yourself ready by 10:00 am! That’s three hours after my first meeting! I’m so sorry for you. Your life is so hard.”

Yep. School is going to come as quite a shock to me too. Although I did read a blog post recently where the mom was proud of herself for actually wearing a bra to walk her kid to the bus stop. I took that to mean that bras are great but not necessary. Good to know.

And just to further prove how pathetic I am, the soccer clinic is held in the grassy field right next to my house. I don’t even have to drive anywhere. Or walk very far. Do you know how long my street is? It’s not that long until I had to chase Gwen all the way up the street last night to let her know dinner was ready. She was on her scooter with a friend and even though I yelled out her name she was barely far enough out of earshot. Or she chose not to hear me. Either way I power walked up the whole street. She finally noticed me when she turned around on the play structure at the park. I think she needs a pager.

I may be a lame mom. Well, not lame as much as lazy. At least Gwen is having fun playing in the neighborhood. I can see the soccer clinic from my window. She looks like she knows what she’s doing with the ball. Even when she’s just goofing off kicking the ball before they start. She also knows all the words. I’m impressed with how well he has done with his Eagle project. Meanwhile I think I need a nap. I had to be ready by 10:00 this morning.

Registration vs. Orientation

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Getting kids ready for school is a painful process. I imagine it is harder now than it has ever been. Before junior high, I don’t remember having to go to school to stand in line after line to pay for the privilege of attending a free public school. Now that I have children of my own, I have learned that this extortion is a yearly ritual.

For the last eight years, I have known the registration process as Walk Thru Registration. Every year since Gavin was in kindergarten, I have shown proof of residency. I have signed my name multiple times on forms that all say the same thing. I have paid for this that and the other. Every year it is the same dance. These are the hoops parents jump through for their child to be assigned to a classroom. It’s how public education works.

The good news is that public education works the same way in Washington as it did in California. There is still an annual registration process. The bad news is they don’t call it Registration. They call it Orientation.

I was so excited when I saw that there were two orientation dates for my boys. Parker was scheduled to go on Monday (yesterday) while Gavin was scheduled for Tuesday (today). Great! They could get some assistance with navigating a new school.

Then I heard that everyone goes to Orientation. When I turned in the forms to the middle school office secretary, she told me about the Orientation dates. I asked if I needed to stay with my boys or simply drop them off. You know, because I was thinking of the Oxford Dictionary definition for the word.

  1. o·ri·en·ta·tion
    [ˌôrēənˈtāSH(ə)n]

    NOUN

    1. the determination of the relative position of something or someone (especially oneself):
      “the child’s surroundings provide clues to help in orientation”

    The secretary was nice enough to not give me a strange look or laugh in my face. She simply and sweetly told me to stay with the boys because that was when I would pay for things like their student planners, PE clothes, and ID cards.

    It all hit me. Orientation meant Registration.

    The word has been bugging me ever since. It doesn’t make sense to call what I just spent two days doing orientation. Especially for returning students. They aren’t being oriented on anything. They are paying their dues and their right to a free public education. We’ll leave the free part of it all alone for now. That’s a piquant post I’m sure I have written many times over.

    Parker’s Orientation process was easy. I paid everything online so I could skip the massive line to pay in person. I was actually amazed by the number of parents who didn’t pay online. Maybe it’s a new development here. It has been an option in our old schools for at least two years now. Paying online and printing a receipt is a godsend. I find it ridiculous that parents are still required to take time out of their busy lives to go to the school, stand in line, and present that receipt. But whatever.

    At least with Parker I was able to show my receipt and get his planner and PE clothes. There was a point to my being there. That is not the case in elementary school. The upper grade students get planners but they don’t pass them out at Walk Thru Registration. They are carefully placed on the students’ desks for the first day of school! Basically parents were presenting receipts to get a schedule. Something that could be mailed to the students. Just saying.

    I did like that the middle school here had a much simpler process. Less lines and no wandering around the school looking for signatures. And certainly no need to stand in line twice the same day for two separate students. Although I did have to go back today for Gavin. I was fine with that though. If we weren’t new I would have tried to do it all at the same time.

    What was most interesting to me was that they started the Orientation block with a general gathering in the Commons (otherwise known as the lunchroom). The principal explained how the Orientation lines worked in the gym. That was the entire purpose of gathering everyone together. It looks like they do it for the incoming 6th grade students and new students. I went to it twice but I don’t mind. I thought it was nice that they would go out of their way to explain things to the parents thus avoiding confusion and frustration.

    Our last schools did no such service. It was a complicated mess and I will always be grateful for Erin S. who happened to be there the same time I was every single year and could help me figure things out.

    As I said, Parker was easy. I picked up the items I paid for. We stood in line to get his schedule. He could have waited in line while I picked up his items but he wanted me by his side. I would have been the same way so I was fine being his moral support. Then we got his picture taken. ID cards were immediately printed so I know how cute his smile will be when the pictures are ready! Then we headed back to the gym for a tour of the school.

    We watched a group leave so we decided to wait for the next tour. Two tour guide students took pity on us. They didn’t make us wait ten minutes for another tour. They gave us a private tour! It was nice. They looked at Parker’s schedule and took him to every single one of his classes. Parker didn’t want to do a tour but I talked him into it. I think it will help him on the first day even if he forgets everything between now and next Wednesday.

    Gavin was a little trickier. Every time I pulled up his student account online to pay, it showed him as a 6th grader. I called the school about it. The secretary transferred me to the registrar who made a note. She claimed it was an easy fix and she would get to it in a couple hours. I logged in this morning and saw he was still listed as a 6th grader. So I prepared myself to just stand in line to pay. I talked to a secretary about it on our way into the Commons. She triumphantly exclaimed the problem had been fixed.

    The nice part of being new was that the new students gathered in the Commons 30 minutes before all returning 7th and 8th grade students were invited to Orientation. Or Registration. I still can’t get behind the misuse of the word Orientation! So the pay line was significantly shorter. Particularly the debit/credit lines, which I stood in because it seemed more convenient than writing a check.

    Gavin bravely stood in line on his own to pick up his schedule. He found me when he was finished. That schedule line was hello long yesterday with Parker but not so bad today for Gavin. As my line slowly progressed I realized there were two laptops on the table. The debit/credit line was the same thing parents should have just done at home in their pajamas at their own convenience.

    The vice principal had said that parents could even pay on their phones right then and there if they wanted to. Just show the receipt on their phone and they could skip the line. So I got on my phone and paid that way. I was next up for the computer by the time I was finished on my phone so we stepped out of line.

    I hope I paid for what I needed to since Gavin still showed up as a 6th grader! At the last second I removed the $10 fee for the art class. Gavin is taking a technology class that I think includes robotics. It’s not the same as the art class Parker is taking. But the description online seemed to be the same thing I paid for Parker. I figure I can pay whatever the course fee is later.

    We picked up his planner and PE clothes. Adult medium shirt and adult small shorts. The guy helping me suggested exactly what Heath and I had agreed to try just before Gavin and I left for the school! Then he got his picture taken and ID card printed. Great smile.

    I didn’t see any tour guides but the vice principal had given the new students a map. Gavin and I did our own tour. It’s not too tough to find things at that school. He will be fine. I’m going to make a copy of the map for Parker though.

    All three kids are registered to take the bus. It will hurt the boys a little to have to be there at 7:30. Gwen doesn’t have to be at her stop for another hour. That was an easy registration and phone call. At the grocery store today I had a blissful thought. Never again will I have to pay for my children to take the bus to school! They will get on a yellow school bus with the rest of the neighborhood kids and life will be grand.

    I won’t ever have to cut up my day to pick them up from school. I will meet them at the bus stop. The boys won’t need me to but I will a couple of times. Gwen probably won’t let me soon enough. She will have all her friends to collect on the way in the morning and to drop off at their houses on the way home. Why would she need me?

    It’s been such a strange summer. I can’t wait for school to start so we can have some sense of normalcy. I know the house will feel very empty that first day and I will feel very sad even though Heath is working in one of the back bedrooms we have turned into an office.

Dear Motorcyclists

Dear Motorcyclists,

If you want me to look for you, and not do anything that will permanently maim or kill you,

WATCH FOR ME!!!!!

Turning right on a red light directly in front of traffic moving at 55 mph is the very definition of stupid. Do you have a death wish? Normally I would be all for the consequences speaking for themselves. However, I don’t want to be involved, explaining to the police why you are nothing more than bug guts on my windshield.

You can complain all you want. You can pass out the bumper stickers. Until you start looking out for your own safety, don’t get all upset about inevitable accidents. Be grateful the two friends out for a leisurely joy ride this morning were not smeared across the road. I was barely able to stop just short of hitting the one guy’s back tire. The other guy hadn’t finished flying over to the left lane yet. Then they moseyed along a good 10-15 mph below the speed limit on a two lane highway so there was no way around them.

Believe it or not, you are not the center of the universe. There are other people in the world. I am always paying attention to the traffic around me. It would be great if all other motorists, particularly vulnerable motorcyclists, could do the same.

Sincerely,
The Piquant Storyteller

Quiet Giant

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This post has been sitting around for a while. I started it and something came up so I couldn’t finish it. Better late than never.

Gavin spoke in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, August 14. His topic was faith and he wrote the talk all on his own. He did a really good job. I was quite impressed by his insights on the topic. The only help he asked for was for us to remind him of his own personal stories with faith. Most teenagers haven’t had enough life experience to have really tested out a lot of topics they are asked to teach about. That was how he was feeling.

The first story that came to mind was a situation when he was a toddler and I taught him the power of prayer. I told him that he used to wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares. He would cry and I would go in to comfort him. None of this woke up Baby Parker. Gavin would be fine after a few minutes and I would go back to bed. Then Parker would wake up crying because he was a baby and babies do that. It didn’t wake up Gavin but I would have to go in to take care of Parker.

This would happen more than once some nights and I was thoroughly exhausted trying to comfort two kids each night. The thought occurred to me to teach Gavin to pray for comfort. This would save me some time if one kid could be more self-reliant. It was a success. While I did it more out of desperation I do remember that situation. I remember teaching Gavin that Heavenly Father would listen to him and help him. I also remember how important it was to Gavin, which really strengthened my testimony.

Gavin condensed the story well for his talk. The story touched the sister speaking after him so much that she was nearly in tears over it. She turned to her husband and said something about hoping their kids could be that amazing in ten years.

She spoke about sight – both spiritual and physical. Her friend had recently posted on her blog about her 9 month old baby being diagnosed with blindness. The mom was so positive about the devastating news. She and her husband believed that while their daughter would experience the world differently, her lack of sight would enhance her spiritual senses. Christina (the lady speaking) did a great job of integrating spiritual sight with her friend’s story. It was a powerful lesson. While she spoke she often referred to the youth speakers and points they had made in their own talks.

Then her husband got up to speak. He addressed the congregation in a very personal and powerful way. It was quite amazing to listen to him. The Spirit was very strong. He first complimented the youth in our ward for their faithfulness. He said that it is extraordinary to realize that the teenagers in the church will study an ancient gospel and be able to teach it to a group of 100-150 people, most of them strangers. “That is definitely the case for Gavin since his family just moved here!” His words regarding the youth, accompanied by the Spirit, gave me goosebumps.

He went on to talk to the parents, particularly the moms. It was a pep talk to keep doing what they were doing. To keep getting their kids to church each Sunday even though it’s hard. His words were heartfelt and inspiring. I thought of all the times I spent more time in the hall with a fussy baby than I did in class. It’s a difficult position to be in. So many times I wondered why I even bothered dressing up for church to spend all my time in the hall.

At the end of the day I was able to talk to Christina. I told her how much I enjoyed the talks that she and her husband gave. She asked my name. I said my first and last name and added on, “I’m Gavin’s mom.” She was so happy to meet me. She said that his talk really touched her. Her four year old was having trouble with nightmares. She liked being able to see into the future with Gavin. As her husband had said in front of the entire congregation, she said she hoped her own children could be just as strong and faithful in ten years. That was a special compliment for me.

Later that evening I received an email from Coach Erika. It was a group email sent to all the Cross Country parents. She mostly was sending encouragement to the students leaving middle school and entering high school.

I meant to let her know all summer that we were moving. I over thought what I would say and ended up feeling like I waited too long. Her email seemed like a great opportunity to tell her that All Good wasn’t going to be on her team anymore. She responded to me right away. As I feared, I had broken her heart. Here is her response.

“Dear Tristan,

I am sadder than I can say. I can’t imagine the coming season without All Good. He will leave a deep hole with his absence, not just in the talent pool (we really needed him to take the title) but in his quiet, steady commitment. He doesn’t say a lot but his presence is always felt. 

Worst of all, I didn’t get to say goodbye. Please, please hug him for me. He has steadily improved, always looking forward, always striving to be better. If he likes he can email me or find me on Instagram or Twitter. I’m always handy for a letter of recommendation- and I write a good one.🙂

Your son is an amazing person. I hope our paths meet again. I will never forget him. You meet a true soul- it stays with a person.

Completely bummed,

Coach Erika”

There are no words for how I feel. Gavin is my quiet giant. He is a good kid and when I’m not looking, he surprises everyone. The Cross Country program here is supposed to be really good. Coach Erika will always hold a place in our hearts. She was an amazing coach. She didn’t just teach kids how to run. She taught them self confidence and how to be a team.

I have talked to Gavin about starting over here. He has an opportunity to basically reinvent himself. No one knows who he is or what his past has been. I told him to prove to everyone how awesome he is.

Heath just got back from the youth activity with Gavin. Heath was just put in as the Young Men’s second counselor. It was a combined activity with the Young Women. They played water balloon volleyball. It was fun. I guess the best part was how a lot of the girls were crushing big time on Gavin! One girl went up to him, “Hey Gavin … what grade are you going into?” I love it!

He is a good kid. He hasn’t always fit into this world as quickly or as easily as other kids. It really is a Mom Payday to have other people see him the way I do.

Pulpit Preaching

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Heath and I spoke in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. Gavin spoke the Sunday before and I still need to finish writing that story. It was an interesting experience. Gavin’s words had touched people’s hearts. With the short notice we were given, I wasn’t sure … about anything!

We weren’t assigned topics – just to speak on our favorite scripture. That is very open ended! Barry suggested I fire up my computer and print out my last talk. The idea was very tempting. I had such a response to that talk and I loved the beginning of it. It didn’t feel right to do that unless I did it as a last resort.

I tried to mentally put ideas together on a couple different topics. I sat down to type and started over every time. I have never had so much trouble coming up with something to say in a speaking assignment.

Late Friday night Parker was struggling with insomnia again. My poor baby! I feel for him. He is stressed out and life is not normal right now and it all gets in his head so he can’t sleep. The more he can’t sleep the worse it all is. We gave him more advice on things to try to just relax. I reminded him to pray and read his scriptures. I told him he has every right to call upon the comforting power of the Holy Ghost.

It hit me. That was it! That’s what I should talk about. After some more false starts I felt like I settled on an idea. I decided I would do the typical first talk in a ward and introduce my family. I would weave the introduction into a talk. I really did not feel like it was my best idea. My head hurt from thinking so hard and I needed to be done with this assignment. I was just going to do it.

By Sunday morning I was so worried. I have never given a talk that was nothing more than personal stories loosely tied together with my own explanation of gospel principles. I felt like I had put no effort into my words. This was not the first impression I wanted to give. I had a silent prayer in my heart that my words could touch at least one person.

What is the word for humility mixed with embarrassment? That was how I felt. I was completely humbled to learn that a couple had come to church that day after 20 years of inactivity. Apparently the messages that Heath and I shared were exactly what that couple needed to hear. I spoke about peace, the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and trusting the Lord. Heath spoke about overcoming weakness. His talk was so positive and inspiring.

How ironic that I would speak on the topic of the Holy Ghost but not recognize his guidance with my talk! Several people came up to tell me they enjoyed what I said. One man, a visiting father of a ward member, said he appreciated how it was a personal illustration of the gospel in action.

I had no idea. No idea that the Lord needed me to give, what I considered an unconventional talk, in order to reach certain people in the congregation.

The lessons I learned from this experience are:

  1. practice what you preach!
  2. don’t slack on personal study because you never know when you might be called on to quickly come up with a lesson or talk.

I can’t wait to start building bookshelves with Barry and Heath because I need the books out of the boxes. Last week I wanted to tear into the boxes until I found our blog books. It would be a great visual for the lesson we substituting on the topic of family history.

I felt crippled preparing a talk without any of my regular muses. I didn’t have my Seminary scriptures that are all marked up and I know where to find everything. I can’t find things on the Internet or in the scriptures I haven’t marked up! I didn’t have access to my quote book or any of our religious literature. I had to rely on the Spirit to guide me. Next time I should trust it a little more!

Under Doctor’s Orders

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I am under doctor’s orders to post the following picture. It is quite disturbing, just so you know!

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This is earwax from Gavin’s ears. It was removed today at the end of his sports physical. The nurse was quite impressed. She said things like “You have a lot of prehistoric stuff in your ear!” I told her she would need to weigh Gavin again after she removed all the earwax. She couldn’t believe how much was coming out of one side. When she got to the other side she told me he was giving birth from his ears!

Honestly, I was bothered by the earwax coming out. It’s just gross. The doctor came back in to see if daylight was showing all through Gavin’s head after the cleaning. He told me I should take a picture for my social media sites. I was trying not to dry heave when the nurse was removing the dinosaurs. At the same time, I knew the doctor was right. It was an impressive amount of yuck and I may as well spread the nausea. You’re welcome!

It has been kind of fun taking the boys in to the doctor. I love the receptionists and the nurse and the doctor. It’s a great family clinic. I’m so glad that angel on the phone was able to connect me with them. After Gavin’s appointment I got Gwen into the system. She won’t need to be seen until after her birthday. Heath needs to add his name as well.

Gwen was a green eyed jealous monster though. Parker came home with a pad of paper and Gavin came home with a stuffed monkey. She wanted a toy too! She doesn’t seem to get that Parker has seen a doctor twice in one month. The second time he got three shots that left his arms sore and aching. Gavin has seen a doctor twice this year just for permission to keep doing what he loves – running. She has seen a doctor once. It’s just unfortunate that all she got out of the deal was stickers.

The nurse really loved Gavin. She liked Parker too. By the time Gavin came in she was in love with my children. She was cracking up with his responses to the health questions. She just really hit it off with him. It was a fun appointment.

Gavin was cleared to continue to run. Like me, the doctor can’t understand people who run. He said he can ride his bike all day but he hates running. He thinks it’s because you can’t coast and take a break when you run. Very true.

Gavin is 5’7 1/2″ and 110 lbs. A whole inch and a half taller than me! I knew he was taller. I just had no idea he was that much taller! Heath says we should stop feeding him. “He can’t get taller than me!” he said. He probably will. Garrett is taller than Heath. Garrett and Gavin look so much alike it’s crazy.

The doctor said that Gavin is in the 97th percentile for height and the 65th percentile for weight. He is a tall, slim drink of water. The doctor could only assume this is normal growth for Gavin. It is. He takes after his dad. We just keep telling Gavin to enjoy these years when he can eat anything and not gain weight. His metabolism will catch up.

I have turned in Gwen’s registration packet. That was a pain in the neck to fill out by hand! I also filled out one last form. The California DMV wants a change of address form from both Heath and me in order to give us our car titles. I have signed my name so many times in the last few days I could scream. I have filled out so many immunization forms I know the abbreviations as well as any nurse.

Tomorrow I am not touching one more pen. I will not sign my name. I will not drive. Heath keeps telling me that all this craziness will end soon. We have to deal with it because it means we bought a house! Tomorrow I will enjoy this house since I feel like I haven’t even seen it in the last two days. My kids are healthy and pumped full of required drugs. They are now enrolled in school. I may just take a bath tomorrow because I can!

Paperwork

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When I was the Primary secretary I learned that my job was to organize the same information several different ways. This person needs information on boys ages 8-12 while this person wants the same information but only for the girls ages 8-12. This person needs information on children ages 18 months to 3 years. A small number needed information on all children ages 18 months to 12 years.

This is life. Schools operate this way as do medical offices. What bugs me is that I have to fill out form after redundant form rearranging the same information one of a hundred ways (often on the same page) for someone else. As a Primary secretary I willingly rearranged information as needed for people. I was the keeper of the information. That was my job. Why can’t school secretaries and medical receptionists do the same?

Heath was nice enough to fill out school forms for the boys on his computer. I signed everything. We joked about the idiocy of the system. The health nurse wants to know a list of information so she gets her own form. The school needs a master copy of the same information so they get what feels like several forms. Can I type it all once and everyone copies and pastes from there?

I turned in some paperwork to the doctor’s office in person this morning. They wanted to request my medical records from my previous doctor. I liked turning it in in person so I could schedule an appointment for Parker to get his immunizations. I feel bad for the kid. I took all the kids in to the pediatrician before we left. Well not Gavin because it hadn’t been a year yet since he was last seen. Parker couldn’t get his immunizations though because he wasn’t 11 yet. There are a couple shots he needs in order to go to middle school.

They fit him in today. After the appointment I went back to the front desk to ask for a sports physical for Gavin. I debated over how to do this. In the end it seemed easier to just start over with a doctor here rather than try to get his last doctor to mail us the signed forms. Gavin’s appointment is tomorrow morning.

The first receptionist that helped me was teasing the other receptionist because she refused to copy and paste information. I was put into the system last week as a new patient. Parker was put in as a new patient this morning and was seen this afternoon. Gavin was put in the slow way because that receptionist liked doing it all by hand. It didn’t bother me how she chose to put Gavin into the system.

Then she handed me another packet of forms to be filled out for Gavin’s appointment tomorrow. “More paperwork for Mom!” she said. I agreed with that first receptionist. Can’t I just copy and paste? I have filled this out already. The only difference is the patient name and the birthdate. Oh well. I will give the lawyers what they want. These are the hoops we jump through to get what we need. Between school forms and medical forms I have had it with paperwork. I will work on it tonight after I have taken a break.

I am in the office typing this at my desk. That right there is a happy thing. I have had this ability for a few days but just haven’t made the switch yet. My desk is a mess. Too much paperwork. But it is so much easier to type here. I am in my happy place!

Registering the boys for school was easy. I turned in all the paperwork filled out over the weekend. The secretary made a copy of my proof of residency. It was one of the myriad of papers to do with the sale of our home. That was acceptable. One proof of residency is all that is required here. If they wanted a second I would have shown my temporary driver license that I got on Saturday. It also has my home address. More proof that we live in the house we bought!

The counselors will put together the boys’ schedules and if all goes well, they will have their schedules by the end of the month when they go back for Orientation. I saw online that there are Orientation dates. I thought that would be a great time for the boys to learn their way around. I learned today that Orientation is a weird way of saying Registration. What they do on their Orientation day is what we know as Walk Thru Registration. Now I know the words used here.

The secretary told me I can purchase needed items online. This will allow me to skip the line that day giving the boys more time to find their way around the school. We will be doing that. Last Friday I was supposed to pick up Gwen’s registration packet. Instead I got lost on the way home from Jetty Island. So we went to the elementary school today to get the packet.

I will fill it out and turn it in tomorrow. I don’t care that I have time today. Two times to the doctor’s office in one day plus one trip to each school is plenty for one day. Gwen’s registration is easy enough. Just more paperwork with all the same information that I filled out for her boys. The hard part will be doing it by hand. At least the middle school had their forms online.

Gavin will go to the doctor in the morning. We’ll come home in time for lunch. After lunch I will take Gwen with me to the school and maybe she can walk around. Or at least we can find out when she will be assigned a class and I can help her find it before the first day. They are all taking the bus to school. I will never have to make multiple daily trips to schools again! That will be a beautiful thing. I’m so glad because it’s not easy to get out of Gwen’s school. I can’t turn left out of the parking lot. So I have to go the opposite way for a bit before I can turn around to get home.

We still love it here. The weather has been hot which makes it feel like we never left California. Temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s here feel like 100’s in California. It’s a humidity thing. We’re working on an air conditioning deal so next summer will be more comfortable.

The house is still so awesome. Every day we can’t believe we live here! It’s a great house and a great community. We love our neighborhood. The people at church are great. Heath and I subbed in Gavin’s class on Sunday. That was fun. Three out of the four weeks we have gone to church here we have substituted! How crazy is that! It’s okay. We love teaching.

You can always find your way home!

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Time slowed to a crawl. I had a strange out of body experience where I watched myself respond to the question. The words were almost visible. I could faintly see them hanging in the air, a speech bubble of condensation mixed with damnation, as if I could snatch the words back and stuff them down my own throat.

Words cannot be recalled. Time doesn’t really stand still. The words were out there and I had to live with the consequences.

It should have been a fun activity. Most people would have thought so anyway. I am not so adventurous. The activity itself didn’t bother me. It was more the thought of having to drive there that had me scared. I did just move to a new state after all. And driving has never been my favorite.

I hate freeways. Especially Washington freeways that seem to always experience some level of Rush Hour. Over a decade ago I swore I would never use the freeways here. Mostly because I get lost on surface streets in broad daylight. I need to add speed to that scenario?

In one small, three letter word I had sealed my fate. I knew it the moment the word escaped my lips.

She said she would text or email me. After four days I finally found her email address. No cell phone number was listed. I asked if we were still on for Friday. Would I meet her there or could we carpool? The last few words were chosen carefully. Take the bait, I prayed. You know you have an eight passenger van. I am the only minivan driver I know who can only seat seven.

Hook, line, and sinker. She agreed to carpool! The week long gnawing feeling in my heart subsided. She would drive. That was all I needed. Jetty Island is really fun. It has been twelve years since Heath and I went with Baby Gavin. I have always wanted to go back.

Jetty Island was part of our original vacation plans, back when we thought we were only going to visit in July for Grandma Holmes’ birthday party. Then we decided to move here instead. Vacation plans took a raincheck. There were other things to spend our money and time on. No Jetty Island. At least a potential friend was offering her extra tickets to us. How could I say no?

I enjoyed several hours of genuine excitement for the upcoming day trip. One little email in the morning changed everything. A short string of words pulled the carpet from underneath me again. Tears sprang to my eyes as full fledged panic ensued. She had an errand to run afterwards. Could we drive separately? I was ready to bail on the whole thing.

Heath talked me off the ledge. He filled my van with gas and bought me a large Diet Coke from McDonald’s. Encouraging words tried to form into a pep talk. You can do this, he kept saying. He printed the side street directions and programmed Gina GPS with landmarks so she wouldn’t direct me to the freeway. She has this obsession with the freeway and will not give up trying to get her driver there.

It was a mad rush to make a picnic lunch and slap sunscreen on everyone. With my heart in my throat and a constant prayer in my heart, I climbed into the van behind my kids. Gavin was under pressure to be my navigator in case Gina went rogue again. Heath sternly told the kids to help me.

Heath: Your mom does not want to do this! She is doing this for you!
Gavin: We didn’t know that.
Heath: Well, you need to know that she does not want to do this. She is doing it for you since you guys think she doesn’t do anything fun with you.
(this was something Gavin actually said to his grandparents)

Getting there wasn’t a problem. We made good time and Gina confirmed every direction Gavin gave me. My heart calmed after the first turn. I didn’t know where I was going but we were going to get there by golly.

JI-2JI-1JI-3

Everyone had a friend. The boys were all the same age and the girls were only a year apart. The girls struggled at first to make a connection since they have different personalities. In the end they all had fun. It was a great day to play in the water, build sand castles and forts, and hang out on the beach talking in the shade of an umbrella. I was glad I had faced my fears instead of canceling.

Soon it was time to drive home. Ah the drive home. It would be tricky since we didn’t print reverse directions and Gina didn’t have reverse directions programmed. The plan was to follow the paper directions backwards. Only it took Gavin a little while to understand the concept. He kept trying to send me back to the water and I knew that wasn’t right. After turning around a couple of times I finally pulled into a random parking lot to get my bearings.

The thought did cross my mind to figure out how to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and go home from there. Go north to go south. In some ways I wished I had done that. It would have been easier. Bravado from my earlier success must have given me false confidence in my abilities to find my way home. How quickly I forget that I can’t find my way out of a paper bag in broad daylight in an area I am familiar with! Let’s just say a 40 minute drive turned into about a 90 minute drive.

Gavin and I were doing well reversing the directions. I was starting to remember landmarks. Soon all three kids were pointing out places they remembered passing the other way that morning. I kept praising them and saying that remembering was good. It meant we were on the right track.

The only time my heart really started pounding was when I was in stop and go traffic and saw a sign that the left lane goes to the freeway. I managed to move over a lane. I creeped about another car length and saw a second sign that said the two left lanes merge directly onto the freeway. Aw cwap! I got over to the right lane and was not excited to have to work my way back to the left after the freeway onramp. I did it though.

Soon I was recognizing that we were nearing home. I was remembering the back roads Heath took when we came home from the mall the first time. I was excited. Gavin told me where to turn and I thought we would be home free. Only that street didn’t seem to ever come up. The same number came up with SW in the name instead of SE. I asked a couple of times and Gavin insisted it was SE. So I didn’t take the turn. I assumed we needed to wait for the numbers to switch from west to east.

It was taking a very long time though. So long on a road I knew wasn’t correct that I finally pulled over to play my final card. Call Heath for help. I love that man. He never makes fun of me or belittles me in any way. When I am lost he finds me on his computer and gives clear and concise directions back to where I need to be.

I told him the name of the street I was on. My first clue that it was the wrong street was that it had a name and not a number! I was hoping the right street would intersect and I could finally turn. He remembered the street from way back when he first moved here as a 15 year old. I had driven so far south I was in the city I always wanted to live in. It’s not far from home but I had gone way too far south. Tears of frustration threatened to spill over.

He asked if I had passed 164th. Yes, that was the last traffic light I went through! He gave me the unbelievably good news that if I got on that street it would turn into the name of the road that goes behind our house. No joke. I was thrilled. For as far out of the way as I had gone, it was an easy fix to get home.

Gina still wanted me to get on the freeway at that intersection. I knew better. I stayed straight. She recalculated and told me the number of miles until I would see home on the right. I doubted for a second when I saw the name of the road I was looking for intersecting the road I was on. But I stayed true. Heath told me I wouldn’t turn or anything until I recognized our neighborhood. Gwen was singing Follow the Father!

The kids were relieved when they recognized the boys bus stop and realized we had turned into our neighborhood. I was relieved too. Somehow by the grace of God I had made it home safely. I was ready to kiss the ground!

I learned that SW and SE weren’t as critical as I thought. If I had turned on that street I would have had an ah-ha moment because I would have recognized where I was. *sigh*

Much like the helicopter tour in Hawaii, Jetty Island was a fun adventure I hope to never have again! Maybe I will be interested in another twelve years. Until then, I will watch my words carefully. If someone invites me on another adventure I think I will be honest. I’m new here. I hate driving and I suffer from anxiety. Not today, maybe tomorrow.

Scripture Olympics

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Our Primary had their annual summer activity this morning. It was Scripture Olympics. They had cute handouts with the Olympic rings for the kids to invite their friends. Gwen invited two of her friends but neither one could make it. I told her the important part was that she tried.

I had to wake up Gwen and Parker this morning. Gwen was easier to wake up. All I had to do was tell her we were leaving for the Primary activity in one hour. Parker was another story. He acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about. The activity has been heavily advertised since we started attending this ward. I know they talked about it in Primary on Sunday because Heath and I were subbing again. This time we stayed for Sharing Time. The week before we went to the special fifth Sunday lesson directed by the Bishop.

Parker stormed around the kitchen getting his breakfast ready. I couldn’t understand what his problem was. I tried telling him his friends would be at the activity. He still didn’t want to go. Heath talked to him and promised a surprise if he didn’t have fun.

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I hung around for moral support until they were ready to start. I had to take this picture. You can see the church building at the bottom and it’s obviously a parking lot. But can you believe the trees? I love the trees here. This is why I wanted to move to the Northwest. Between the trees and how green everything is, Washington is gorgeous! Sometimes I can’t believe I live here.

Barry rode shotgun two weeks ago. Heath was driving his car and I was following behind in Velma. We were driving from his parents house to our new house. Since I don’t do freeways unless I absolutely have to, we were driving along a highway that seemed to run through the middle of the forest. There were so many trees. The freeways are pretty too. You usually can’t see the other side because of the forests in the median.

Barry commented on the trees. I told him that I love how everything is tucked behind the trees. You typically don’t see buildings and rarely do you see a house from the street. It looks so neat and tidy to me. I really love it here!

Back to the Primary activity. Gwen joined the group of kids drawing with sidewalk chalk. Parker stood next to me. He said there were two kids from his class there but he never made a move to say hi. The one kid he wanted to show up didn’t ever come. I was hoping to see the mom since she invited us to Jetty Island with them on Friday. She said she would text me or email me and I haven’t seen anything yet.

The sidewalk chalk kids started out as a small group of young kids. Older girls started to join. I don’t know who came up with the idea but soon we noticed that they had drawn long lines from the curb out to almost the back of the parking lot. They were running races along the lines. Gwen was running too. One of the Primary leaders pointed out that they had come up with their own game. I said that they didn’t need to plan as much!

Eventually they were ready to start. The kids were grouped into four groups. I just told Parker that I wanted him to help the little kids in his group have fun. If he could do that then he would have fun. He agreed.

I had this conversation with Gavin.
Me: Parker isn’t very happy with me.
Gavin: Why not?
Me: Because I made him go to the Primary activity when he didn’t want to. I told him his friends would be there and they aren’t.
Gavin: Well, Eleven year old boys don’t like going to Primary activities, Mom.
Me: I’m starting to notice that!

When I came back Parker admitted he had fun. “Don’t tell Dad! I want to see what the surprise is!” Gwen was licking a blue popsicle with one hand and holding a red balloon creation in the other. She obviously had had fun too.

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This is most of the kids posing in front of Goliath.

The four activities were:

One: using a slingshot to shoot marshmallows at Goliath.
Two: something about the sword of truth cutting through marshmallows.
Three: throwing balloons at Samuel the Lamanite standing on the wall. Samuel had visited the Primary on Sunday and was there again for the activity.
Four: a tug of war with Moses to part the Red Sea.

Parker said his team won the tug of war and he got a girl his age all wet when she fell into the kiddie pool! He said that when they have tug of war activities in Primary no one teaches any strategy. He learned a lot of great techniques from his PE teacher and apparently they worked really well.

Everyone earned a medal. Gwen and Parker were happy to learn that the medals were chocolate. After Gwen ate hers she was sad because I didn’t want her saving the wrapper. I know. I’m such a killjoy.

It was a really cute activity. I may not make Parker go to anymore though. Gavin is right. The older boys don’t like going to Primary activities.