Jun 8, 2018

It is amazing to me how different our boys are.  From the moment Gabe was born there were stark differences in their looks and temperament.  Eli was born with a big ol bald head, he loved being swaddled tight and left alone to sleep, he was friendly and generally very cheerful.  He was an early riser and was easy to put to bed at night.  He hated naps from the beginning and loved being with people, punishments that involved time alone were torturous for him.  Eli loves to be active outside and is so tough.  The kid would ride, swim, throw, kick and jump for hours often resulting in skinned knees and cuts but I wouldn't find out about them until I did laundry and noticed bloodied socks and pants.  He also has the most beautiful soul when it comes to his interactions with vulnerable people.  He has a softness for old people, people with disabilities, young kids, and even me or Gabe when he senses that we need more than the world is offering at a particular moment.
Gabe had a full head of hair and an angry old man furrowed brow.  Gabe hated new people, wanted to be held all the time and loved to sleep.  We joked that he might be narcoleptic because he had the most amazing ability to fall asleep anywhere.  When we flew to Germany he fell asleep before the flight even took off and I had to wake him up upon landing.  He used to cry when I told him to take a 1 hour nap.  He would whine "but I want a TWO hour nap".  Gabe loved being sent to his room.  At some points I wondered if he was being naughty just so I would send him off on his own to create and dream and explore all the magical things in his head.  Gabe is a dreamer, a talker, a writer and creator.  He loves his mom.  Both boys do, but Gabe is the only one who admits it.
Both boys required teacher conferences.  Eli for talking too much and being too bossy in class.  Gabe for being mean.  They hate different foods:  Gabe won't eat hot dogs, twinkies, butter, or ketchup.  Eli won't eat enchiladas, jelly, artichokes or mustard.  When Eli was sassy I could give him vinegar as a punishment but not hot sauce - because he called it salsa and asked for more.  Gabe liked the vinegar so he had hot sauce.  Gabe is accepting of any punishment and does a fair share of adding his own guild and shame onto a situation.  Eli will battle and try to justify his actions and weasel out of consequences.
One thing that was clear very early on was that we couldn't parent the boys the same.  Nothing was more surprising to me as a parent than this simple fact.  I don't recall the parenting books telling me that the master plan I worked out with one of my kids would have zero effectiveness with the other.  It also didn't tell me that what worked for a year or two could suddenly become null and void, sending me into a spin trying to figure out what to try next.
The boys are both teenagers and this job of learning how to parent each of them differently is just as tough as it was in the beginning, or harder given that the consequences of their actions carry heavier weight.  Everything from how often I check on their grades and attendance to how trustworthy they are when hanging around with friends is different.  There are some areas that I can be "hands off" with Gabe and have to be an ever annoying presence for Eli and other areas where it is the reverse.
As I wrap up a challenging week, one thing I know for certain is my job isn't done yet.  I often thought that going I would work full time once the kids were both in school because they wouldn't need my continual presence.  I was so wrong.
My job is not done and neither are my boys.  They are still growing into the men that they will one day be, and in the meantime I have shaping, modeling and a lot of praying to do.

Jun 5, 2018

Hurricane Angus

Every year, long before the storm season begins, the National Weather Service selects names for the coming tropical storms and hurricanes.  They are always the names of people and names are never repeated.
In response to the past four days, I decided I need to make my own list of names in order to properly label our family storms.  The first storms of the season will be Angus, Betsy, Chevre, and Deb-orah.  Is it wishful thinking that I'll only need four this year?  I'll probably need to come up with the rest at a later date.

Agnus made landfall as a Category 2 Hurricane around 6pm on Friday June 1st.
The boys and I arrived at the Olympia house to find that our next door neighbor's house was just put on the market and our house was surface-cleaned but in desperate need of deep cleaning in the bathrooms and kitchen.
I started to panic when I saw the realtor sign in the neighbor's yard.  Two houses for sale right next door to each other is probably not going to be good for one of us.  I had been keeping an eye on houses for sale in our neighborhood for two years now, this one somehow slipped by and caught me off guard.
Since I expected that I would need to do some cleaning,  I wasn't thrown off my game at the sight of the fridge and toilets.  I started assigning the kids jobs and equipping them with specific instructions and I set off to tackle whatever spilled in the fridge and was never cleaned out.
As we were starting our tasks the hurricane force winds kicked up and trouble began.  The light-bulb saga was in full swing.  When Matt checked out the house at the end of April he noticed that the place was really dark.  About half of the lights in the house were burned out.  Aware of this in advance I was able to purchase a bunch of nice bright LED bulbs for the house.  As soon as Gabe climbed up the ladder and unscrewed the first fixture I knew we were in deep trouble.  The entire house was outfitted with twist and lock bulbs not the standard screw in bulbs.  Somehow we didn't change any of these bulbs the entire time we lived in the house, so I was unaware that none of the bulbs I purchased would work.  Twist and lock bulbs are $7-$8 each.  I have 44 bulbs in the house.  IF we would be lucky enough to find twist and lock bulbs it was going to cost over $300 to replace them all.  That is a lot of money in bulbs.
Knee deep in fridge gunk, a lack of bulbs, money flying out the window and one of my kids not doing as good of a job as I hoped, I received news that the people driving four hours to come down and help me were just in a car accident.
We worked until midnight that first night, I didn't sleep well, and we were back at it on Saturday.  Slowly we chipped away at what seemed like a never ending list.  Each time we knocked a few things off, we had to put a few more on.  Each trip to a home improvement store was followed by another with returns and new purchases.  Somehow, by 9:30 that night we pulled in to my favorite Oly Mexican food joint and sat down for dinner. 
It seemed that the storm had passed.
Apparently, we were just in the part of the storm where everything calms down before all hell breaks loose again.
Sunday we had a few hours to relax then we were off to baseball for Eli's double-header and before you know it I was driving back down to Oly.  I worked a little more that night and again went to bed way too late and slept not nearly well enough. 
Monday the carpet cleaners came, I had lunch with a friend who is moving across the country and the home stagers arrived.  And then it all hit me: exhaustion, stress and realization that this is it, we are actually getting rid of my beautiful, amazing awesome house and the chances of finding anything remotely as clean and shiny up here in the Seattle area is slim to none. I started to cry, I was frustrated, angry and sad.  I finally got out of town and arrived back in Issaquah around 8pm.  I walked in the house to find Gabe was just starting dinner and Matt was engaged in some serious conversation regarding one of the boys.
Without a moment to catch my breath, the figurative flood waters rose and all the storminess of the previous days seemed like nothing compared to this wave.
As if the house prep and listing wasn't stressful enough we now have kid drama to work through.
I'm praying that the rain is stopped and the waters are receding so can begin clean-up mode.

May 29, 2018

T-7 Days

In the next 7 days my renters will be vacating our Oly home, my team of cleaner-prepper-sprucers (free labor) will convene on the property and work some magic, the carpets will be cleaned, the fake furniture will be placed and the for sale sign will go up.
One week!!
It is hard to believe we have owned the house for 6 years, and equally hard to believe we signed a one year lease with these renters and 1 year and 11 months later they are finally moving out!
I joke that they are never going to leave, but the truth is, we are so glad they stayed as long as they did.  We feel really good about the timing of putting the house on the market.  They stayed long enough for home values to increase but not so long that the house requires repairs and updating.
Hopefully, the house will sell quickly!  If not, I'll either get sick of making trips down to Oly to keep the house and yard looking fabulous or I'll remember how much I love it down there and change my mind on selling it!

May 22, 2018

T W E N T Y Days

There are twenty days left of school. 
About a month.
I can do this.

I am paid for 182 days of work.
Somehow the first 150 seemed to fly by, but this last haul is dragging by ever so slowly.
I admit that much of this snail pace has to do with my perspective.

During the first 100ish I was still hopeful that my students were making progress and I had a great purpose here. Then things started to creep a little for another 50 when kids were working less and less. And here we are in the last 20.  Most of my students are stuck in neutral or maybe 1st gear on a good day.
It is abundantly clear which students will not make it.  While traditional schools advance you based on the years attended, you move through the grade level whether you technically pass all your classes or not, the school I work at labels your level by your accomplishments.  Students who don't meet all the requirements for a "freshman" do not become sophomores until they do. In short, most of my students are not moving on to their next level.
It is frustrating that even with additional help and lowered expectations, these kids will not meet their requirements, it is even more frustrating to see them doing absolutely nothing at school when they are so far behind.
To add to this whole drama of students being unsuccessful, there is some grimy relational stuff going on with a coworker.  Not horrible, insurmountable or ugly, just gritty.  Like when you have once little fleck of sand or a crumb on the bottom of your foot and it is annoying.

20 more days.  Not all of them are full days.
And then Summer!!! 

I can't wait.