Tuesday, January 31, 2012

a reminder

In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work.  It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.  ~Jacques Barzun

Today began with telling two students I wasn't going to change their classes for second semester.  There is no way I am allowing ANY student to drop an AP class to leave a gaping hole in a transcript.  Both want to attend college.  One conversation ended with a girl in tears.   The other conversation ended with a very mad boy.  Both agreed to stick it out.  Both are scared of failing.  Both are at a crossroad to decide how they want to tackle the academic challenges that face them.  And I am commited to do my very best to help them in the next six months.

A few hours later, another junior walked into my office to ask me to check his grades.  This is one I have been working with for over a year.  He just needed to grow up and figure it out.  After seeing a report card filled with Bs and Cs for the FIRST TIME EVER, he has clearly figured it out.  And he was so excited to share it with me.  As a teacher, there is no better feeling than seeing a student filled with pride in what they have accomplished.   Challenges remain for him but he is starting to learn that hard work pays off with success.

And the day just kept getting better.

An email popped up from a former student who is in their second year at WSU.  Just a quick check in to tell me how they are doing.  Good grades.  Healthy choices.  Learning from experiences and a story of how they were able to use their leadership experience from ASB in a situation his year.  All good.

At 2:00pm, a former student, from the class of 2006, walked into my doorway.  I couldn't even contain my excitement.  In fact, I'm about 99% sure I squealed when I saw his face.  Of all my 18 years of teaching, the class of 2006 remain my favorite class.  Why?  Because they were "my kids" during the dark days of infertility.  I couldn't have a child of my own so I made this group mine.   It wasn't like I would bring any home but oh, how I adored that group.  All of them.  Their paths would be different from one another; some would struggle, some wouldn't.  The one who walked in my door today has struggled.  Has seen his share of bad times.  I last saw him five years ago, a lost young man, moving away to start fresh.  Today, he walked in, a new man, ready to face his next chapter in life.  I spent an hour talking with him, peppering him with questions. At one point, he put his hands on his head and said, "I knew you would do this when I walked in but I had forgotten how intense you can be."  He paused.   "I forgot how much you cared.  Keep going.  It's good for me." 

Eric asked me if seeing my former student felt good because it was validation as a teacher. The thought had never crossed my mind.  My happiness had nothing to do with my valdiation.  I'm past the time in my career when I need validation.  I simply want this young man, who has seen more at the age of 24 than I have at 40, to be happy and find his own path.  It's what I have always wanted for any of my kids.

Any of them.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

who knew i could be so productive

Apparently, all it takes is a few days of being stuck at home winter wonderland to inspire me to finish tasks on my to-do list.

To-Do List
Write Alexander's thank you cards.
Write a reference for a former student
Write a letter of recommendation for a former student
Put together packages to be mailed
Send Eric to the store for cat food
Grading papers for current students
Write the leadership final test
Put laundry away
Watch Season 3 of Brothers and Sisters
Enter several blog giveaways
Stalk people on Facebook

Now that Alexander is down for his nap, guess I better get to the remaining items on my list!

Friday, January 20, 2012

let there be light!

We started the day without power and the generator ran out of gas about 7:30.  By 8am, all three of us were bundled up and clearing the driveway of branches.  We lost two trees and there were branches in all the yards around us.  One neighbor had a tree come down across his front yard and we suspect another neighbor had his truck crushed but it was hard to tell. 

We lost the lilac tree.
And the cherry tree.
Both were favorite tress and we were saddened to see them go.  However, we're very thankful nothing hit our house.  Trees can be easily replaced.  Houses take a bit more effort.
The level of freezing rain was ridiculous and made the roads really treacherous. 

When Eric ventured out to get more gas for the generator, he said the entire hill, down to IKEA was blackout!  That's a lot of people in the dark!  The freezing rain just wasn't any good around here.  We had to knock all the ice off of Umma's car (the one with 4wheel drive!)
As soon as the power came on, we all showered, I started the dishwasher, washed ALL the dishes that had been piling up, ran the load of clothes that had been sitting in the washing machine (YUCK) on hot, and flushed the toilets.  We are on a septic system.  Guess what doesn't work when you lose power? 
Yep, it's been a long couple of days!

Poor Eric didn't have his beloved computer and internet.  Surprisingly, he was good sport about it.  He decided we should clean out boxes that we had been storing in our closet for five years, clean his computer area, and we rearranged our bedroom furniture. 
Needless to say, we're needing a run to the garbage dump in the near future!

When all was said and done, we were without power for about 40 hours.
The peace and quiet was nice. 
But there is no way I'd make it as a pioneer lady.
No way.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

living in the dark

power went out for a few hours last night and then back on.

until 6am

we have been without power ever since.  tree branches have been breaking off all around our house.  the generator has been running all day.

so we spent time cleaning the closets upstairs and rearranging our bedroom furniture.  played board games.  finished a puzzle.  and watched trees fall.

right now alexander is watching toy story on my laptop and eric and i are reading.

the last time we had a storm this bad we were stuck at home with a 2 year old.

this time we are better prepared.

cell phones.  plenty of food.  a generator.

and plenty of red wine and beer.

stay warm

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

snowmaggedon 2012

The best part of today's snow day is that I am home, celebrating my son's 5th birthday with him.

The worst part of today's snow day is I haven't left our house since Sunday.

Oh wait. 
It turns out I actually don't mind Snowmaggedon (thank you, local news!) 2012 rolling in and shutting down our lives for a few days.  We're up to six inches of the fluffy stuff and it is COLD out there.  REALLY cold. 

There are toys all over our living room and playroom.  There is a pile of laundry that needs to be put away and dishes that need to be put in the dishwasher.  There are the front steps that need to be shoveled.  And I have a pile of papers that need to be graded.

Yet, I want to do is sit on my couch and watch old episodes of Brothers and Sisters.

I'll get back to the real world tomorrow.

Uh-oh, the power just started flickering!  Better go check the generator!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

check out this giveaway!

Rachel, over at If It's a Hero You Want (one of my favs), has been blogging like a fiend lately.  I love it.  I've followed her blog for about a year (or longer?) and really enjoy what she has to say.

Right now, she has a week long giveaway going. 
Click HERE to check it out!

snow days

I do love me a snow day! 
Well, I don't like driving in it.  And I barely like playing in it. 
But I really like having school canceled for the day!  
View from our living room; overlooking the neighbors house.

See, in the PNW, schools are closed just about automatically when snow threatens the area.  Last night, I went to bed with a 2 hour delay report.  Eric said it snowed all night so having the day canceled came as no surprise.  There is no better feeling than pulling up the school report list, seeing your school district closed and then rolling right back over and falling back to sleep.

My sweet husband is going to drive my dad to dialysis and help my parents today. 
I guess, that means Alexander and I will have to spend the day together, coloring, working on our GeoTrax train tracks and venturing out into the snow.

Oh, how I love a snow day!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Sweet little Tripp is pain free and at peace. 
I pray his mom finds peace as she says goodbye to her sweet boy.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

i'm all over the place

It is a rare time in my life when my emotions are running rampant and I can't reign them in.

I typically have my shit together.
No, really.  I do.

Today?  Not so much.

It started this morning.  In talking with Alexander about tomorrow's birthday party, it hit me that my sweet baby

is turning 5.
As naked as the day he was born.

What really hit hard is that no one from his preschool has RSVP'd.  Naturally, I assume the worst.  They aren't coming.  Despite knowing he will be surrounded by friends who have RSVP'd, knowing the ones he cares about the most will be in attendance, knowing he won't even notice who is in attendance, I keep wondering if that will be enough.  All my childhood angst of wanting to be liked, having grown up in a neighborhood full of kids, comes to the forefront.  What if my kid doesn't have friends?  What if he isn't well-liked?  What if he is that kid sitting in the hall, by himself? 
 Oh, my heart breaks at the very thought. 

On top of all that, we have weather reports of impending snow storms that threaten to force a cancellation of the party.  Which means Jodie isn't here for Alexander's party.  Before I get into the emotions of not having Jodie here for Alexander's birthday party, let me remind you I spent the day with Jodie, as she tried on wedding dresses.  It is highly possible I was already an emotional wreck before I had to go into final party planning without her.

Here's what I discovered when watching someone you love try on wedding dresses.  It takes you back to when you bought your dress and all the angst and excitement of that time. 
I loved my dress but it was the first one I tried on. I didn't trust anyone to give me input so I picked it out completely by myself.  Knowing where I was in that time in my life, a 25 year old with not-so-great self esteem, I'm not surprised that I had a huge veil to cover me up.  I mean, look at that thing!  I do think if I had the same confidence I feel now, I would have worn a completely different dress. Knowing that almost makes me regret the dress.  But I was a princess.  Remembering the feeling of being a princess makes the regret disappear.

Jodie found her perfect dress and the day could not have been any better. I would show you a picture but I think we'll leave that little tidbit for a surprise.  I dd try on three bridesmaid dresses today and we would have taken pictures of those lovely things but the place was anti-cameras.  Whatever.

So many emotions. Jodie not being here, on the night before Alexander's party doesn't feel right.  To not have her here making cupcakes with us, while we drink Capt  is the strangest feeling.  It's just weird.  She has ALWAYS been here the night before his birthday party.  Always. 

I knew this time would come.  I mean, she does have a life of her own.
Doesn't mean I have to like it.
I mean, who else wears kid party decor

Or frosts a better giant cupcake than that girl?

No guilt, Jo-Jo.
We're just never going to like it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

roller coaster of life

It seems like the roller coaster of life continues to throw me up and down on it's tracks.
  Or maybe I'm stuck in a loop-da-loop and the ride feels like it's never going to end.
Either way, life is feeling a bit crazy these days!
Doesn't it always seem like life has these moments? 
Moments where you find yourself just holding on until there is a lull and you can catch your breath?

Ever since winter break ended, I have been sitting in that roller coaster car and man, I haven't had a chance to stop and even think about what's been going on.

Loop #1:
First four days back and my office was filled with students who wanted to share every last detail about their winter breaks.  Normally, I don't mind these "mini-counseling" sessions.  I like to help kids and part of that is listening to their teen angst.  For some reason, their teen angst was exhausting last week!  But they vented, I listened, and thus, didn't really do anything productive for my job.  Obviously, that means I feel like I'm drowning at work.  And today, I found out a former student committed suicide over the weekend, so I suspect this week is going to be a repeat of last.

Loop #2:
After a long week at work, I found myself supervising two varsity basketball games on Friday night.  On a week where I'd rather do nothing than put my feet up, I found myself at the high school, frantically running around, trying to put together the halftime shows.  Uh, yea, organizing half time shows isn't even my job!  However, when the community asks for your help, you definitely do not want to say no.  So, there I was, organizing a halftime drawing and a half court shot competition at the last minute.  Oh well.  At least both teams won!

Loop #3:
After a morning of cleaning the house, I jumped in the shower so I could go meet Jodie for a little shopping and talk wedding plans over a few drinks.  Her wedding is in August and we had a little pow-wow about the show.  It's going to be a fantastic show.  Fantastic.
Just like the drinks we enjoyed.

Loop #4:
From there, I drove out to book club to spend time with my fabulous friends.  It was a smaller group this month and, as predicted, none of them liked the book (read my review here) I suggested.  It made me laugh and I wasn't all that surprised because it is very different.  Next book is Unbroken and after that is The Unquenchable Thirst. 
 I'm so excited to read these next two books, that I suspect I'm not going to be able to wait for the local library to get them in stock.  It was a super fun night, filled with great conversation, excellent wine, and delicious treats.  Thanks for hosting, Mari!

Loop #5:
After a late night, I was able to sleep in until 9ish.  But soon after waking up, I had to finish cleaning the house so we could host the virtual baby shower for my brother.  You can read about it here.  I couldn't have been happier to see my brother and my sister-in-law, surrounded by their loved ones.  The baby is due in four weeks and we are all over the moon to meet the little man.  After seeing my brother's giant head on our big screen, I'm even more convinced to make a trip to Florida in June, a reality for us.

Loop #6:
Today, Dad had his eighth surgery in two years.  The doctor snipped and realigned the vein in his upper arm for a better dialysis connection (that's the easiest way to describe it in non-medical terms).  And he came through with flying colors!   Mom, Kim, Auntie Joanne and I sat in the waiting room for most of the day.  He's home and resting, and hopefully, his new fistula is healing so he can begin home-dialysis in early April. I was able to answer a few work emails from the hospital but most will have to wait until tomorrow.

So, the ride keeps going and going, with all the ups and downs that life has to offer!  With wedding dress shopping, Alexander's birthday party, and family photos scheduled for this weekend, I don't see it stopping anytime soon.

Tonight, though, I'm going to sit on the couch and watch Captain America with the boys.
And a beer.

Such is the chapter in my life.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 rewind

2009 rewind here
2010 rewind here

2011 - here we go!

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Disciplined students.  Anything from emergency expulsions to lunchtime detentions.  When I taught PE, I rarely had to discipline kids.  They just knew better.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
When the school year started in August, I decided I wasn't going to spend my time at home on my work email or working on projects.  I would say, for the most part, I have kept that resolution.

As for this year's resolution, read here what I plan to do in 2012.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
At 40, Eric and I are kinda moving out of the baby phase in life.  However, a camp family addition was born in August to Patrick and Andrea.  And I'm REALLY looking forward to meeting Baby Braillard, Baby Rankin, and Baby S in 2012!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no.

5. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
More confidence in myself at my job.  It's year two in the position and I'd love to be at a point where I stop questioning my abilities and skills.

6. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
When we were in Disneyland, I was in line for the monorail to enter Disneyland with Alexander and my in-laws.  My phone rang and my mom told me that she was on the way to the hospital with my dad, who had had a heart attack.  Eric was mid-flight, my son was bouncing up and down to get into Disneyland, and I was crying.  I was torn between my role as a daughter, my role as a wife, and my role as a mother.  I felt helpless.

Celebrating my 40th birthday in Vegas with all my loved ones.   Laying in the sun.  Jello shots and drinks for days.  Gambling with Eric and Jen until 5am.  Floating the lazy river while Jodie told me she was getting married.  I felt joy.

Two memories on two ends of the emotional spectrum.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finishing year one of a job that challenged and pushed me

8. What was your biggest failure?
Many times, I put work before my family.  I don't think that has happened as much since August but I know I was very guilty of it all last school year.

9. What was the best thing you bought?
My 40th birthday trip to Vegas

10. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Eric.  He encouraged me to take a new job and supported me as I bounced all over the place with the experience.  He was my partner as we worked on our marriage this past summer.  He worked the 17 day diet with me so we could be healthy parents.  Every single day, he puts himself aside and takes care of our son. 

11. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
A co-worker who's energy will not taint me in 2012.  I will not allow it.

12. Where did most of your money go?
My personal allowance to feed my shopping habit!  A girl has to look good at work, right?

13. What did you get really excited about?
When my brother said, "I'm going to have a son."  I cried.  I cheered.  And then I cried again.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Family Dance Party - "Dynamite"

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Happier.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner.
– richer or poorer? Financially poorer but infinitely richer for all I have around me (same answer as 2009!)

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Running and working out

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Attacking Eric

18. What was your favorite TV program?

19. What was the best book you read?
Oh, that's tough!  The Kitchen House.  Cutting for Stone.  And the fourth book of the Eragon series.  SO GOOD.

20. What did you want and get?
Personal validation that I am good at my job and having nothing to prove to anyone.

21. What did you want and not get?
The fire marshal signing off on our house so we could move forward with the remodel.

22. What was your favorite film of this year?
We don't see many movies in the theater but the one that we did see and I loved was Fast Five.  OMG.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
We went to Vegas for my 40th birthday and were joined by 20 wonderful people!  Memories to last a lifetime!

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Setting a goal to exercise (i.e. a half marathon) that would have kept me focused during the school year. 

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Long cardigans.  Boots.  Skinny jeans.  Sweater/tunic dresses or skirtts with leggings. 

26. What kept you sane?
My husband. And the captain.
this answer will never change.

27. Who did you miss?

28. Who was the best new person you met? Zarah.  I work with her, she joined us in Vegas and bought Jello shots for the group for breakfast.  Anyone who buys me Jello shots for breakfast is going to be the best new person.  Duh

29.  Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Everyone has a love language.  When those closest to you know how to read that language, it feeds your soul.  And brings pure joy to your life.

Monday, January 2, 2012

high hopes for this movie

I literally squealed with delight when I saw a commercial for this movie.  
Are you kidding me?
I'm giddy with anticipation.

Rarely do I have any interest in watching a movie that was adapted from a book.  I refused to see Water for Elephants because I loved the book so much.  I haven't watched any of the Twilight or Girl with a Dragon Tattoo movies because I enjoyed the books so much.  I just can't do it.

However, I'm definitely making an exception for this one because the book was SO visual. 
Remember my review

I want to see this book on the big screen.  I want to see the visuals as written by the author come to life.
Oh, and I kinda love, love, love Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, who play Oskar's parents.

Thomas Horn plays Oskar. 
Better known as the kid who won Teen Jeopardy by betting $12K on the final question.
That's totally something Oskar would do.