May 30, 2013

The Best Algebra Equation Ever

If A brings B to C's house, then A+B+C = Family.
When A and B and C are together and D joins in the sum = Family.
Sometimes A, B, C, and D are together and D invites E and F and then B invites G.  Altogether A+B+C+D+E+F+G= Family.

This is my circle and I love it.
My family accepts my friends as family.
My family's friends accept me as family.
My friends accept my family as family.
My friends accept my family's friends as family.

Got it?
I hope you do.
If you get it, it is likely because you are encircled by this same alphabetical equation too.

May 29, 2013

Ode to Technology

Tonight I started a Facebook group chat and invited 10 people.
I intended to invite these 10 people to an event next month and maybe get some responses such as "I'm in" or "I'll bring the pie".
What I got....was a whole lot more!
Over 600 messages and 2:45 minutes later we all said goodnight.
We were not all online at the same time or the whole time, but throughout the night everyone popped on and off multiple times reading and commenting as their schedule allowed.
I'm pretty sure I speak for almost all of us, it was a rather fun way to spend an evening!

People often bash technology, talking about how people turn their focus inward instead of enjoying the people around them.  I agree.  It often does.
But sometimes it draws you closer and makes you forget that miles and miles separate you.
You find yourself laughing as if you are in the same room as those people you are texting or messaging.
You find yourself smiling as you sit alone with your phone, or computer.
It is those moments that you are using technology the way it should be used: to shrink the distance between people.

Times like tonight that I'm so thankful for my hand-held computer and the opportunity it provides me to connect to the people that I love so much.

May 28, 2013

Giving is Getting

I don't think I have ever really blown Matt away with a gift before.  Until this weekend.
He always guesses what he is getting or he is too darn difficult to shop for and ends up getting gift cards or cash.  But not this time!
Matt's best friend reminded me that Matt would like golf clubs.
Man!  Why didn't I think of that on my own?  I know this.  I just somehow let it slip my mind.
So, I go to Costco and don't ya know they have a set of good beginner golf clubs and a golf bag.  I was able to pick up a tri-tip, pirate's booty, a golf bag and clubs all in one place!  Love it.
So I brought them home, wrapped it up, hid it all under the guest bed and left it there until Friday night.
Friday he took his last final so I had grand plans of an ice cream cake, balloons and his gift.  But then he didn't come home until 1am with his dad so around 10pm I had to stash everything away again until Saturday morning.
The golf stuff was in the living room with balloons and all the appropriate decor.  I called Matt in and his face lit up instantly.
Apparently, he knows what a box of golf clubs look like.
He opened the box and saw the brand and quality of the clubs (we're not talking fancy here but they also were not a walmart special) and he was pretty floored.
As luck would have it, he had a tee time with his dad that day.  Instead of renting clubs he was able to load up his new clubs and head to the links.
Finally, I got to have the blessing of just blowing his mind with a gift that he has wanted for years and just never took the leap to purchase.
The greatest joy for me this weekend was watching Matt so incredibly happy not just with his new clubs, but spending time with his boys, his dad, and doing things he loves like golfing and bowling, watching hours and hours of sports on tv with a man buddy to enjoy it with, eating sushi and heading to a baseball game.
Sometimes getting is fabulous, but other times giving is the best "gift" ever.

May 26, 2013

Let me check my calendar.....

The last 26 days have been a whirlwind of activity.
At times I have felt a little like I was playing that game where you put your head on the bat and spin around a dozen times.  Then you stand up, or try to stand up, and walk a straight line.  It is a funny feeling being all disoriented and dizzy.  You are giggling a little because it is fun, but then your head feels like it is going to explode because it can't quite figure out which way is up.  Sometimes you fall and somehow that is both painful and fun.
That is my May 2013.
I kicked off the month with an official job offer and start date.  Day one of the job almost had me in tears.  It wasn't until 30 minutes before my first students arrived that I was told I had no curriculum to teach the 50+ students I would see that day.  What?  Not only do I not have any curriculum to teach the kids, I don't really even know what they are working on in class and what it is they are struggling with that deemed extra Math help necessary.  I made it through the day though!  I believe I rose to the occasion and tricked the kids into believing that I knew what I was doing.  After that things got better, and easier each day.  I started finding things for the kids to do and rapidly refreshed my memory on things like order of operation and dividing fractions.  I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the two teachers that I share the "learning center" with, and most of the kids are great too.  I just got word last week that the position I currently hold has been approved for funding for the future.  A job announcement will be posted some time soon and I will have to interview for the new position which is a "continuing position" not just a "year only".  The teacher I work with has been quite impressed by my sweet kid wrangling skills and word in my little circle of peeps is that the principal intends to hire me.  That is just rumor though, the position is open to anyone else who is interested.  The principal is observing me on Tuesday.  Is is wrong to bribe my students to do their work, not throw fits, and not cry for just that 30 minute block of time?
AWANA is over.  The kids did great this year.  They both finished their books and truly impressed me with their positive attitudes and dedication to getting their work done.
Baseball is almost over.  It has been so much fun but I'm not going to miss it. A lot of time is involved in this sport.  I think everyone had a blast this season.  Matt enjoyed helping with the team and a little sampling of coaching, Eli loved playing, I had fun watching, and Gabe probably had the best time of all playing at the ball field playgrounds with other siblings every week.  What more could an 8 year old boy ask for? He had buddies, acres of sticks, trees, dirt, and freedom to be really loud and really dirty!
My race is over.  I distinctly remember the day I signed up for it.  I just got turned down for a job and felt like my life was missing purpose.  I signed up for the race and committed to the training schedule.  I love training for a race.  It is the best way to ensure that I get my booty moving on a regular schedule.  I ran the race last Sunday morning. The weather was perfect, cool but not too cold or raining.  I trained well and was ready to make it happen.  I was nervous at the start line but then just kept telling myself "its just a Sunday morning run".  It was a very tough race.  There were two sets of hill climbs.  The first was 2 miles of climb and the second was 1 full mile of a steep climb at mile 10, it was painful and spirit crushing!  At mile 12 my feet were still moving swiftly and my body was strong, but my emotions were starting to get to me.  I couldn't believe I was almost done, that I had improved my time so much, and that all my training and hard work paid off.  I crossed the finish line with my boys and wore my finisher medal with pride.
Matt's coursework is over.  He too finished strong.  He earned his BS in Aeronautics and we celebrated with a weekend full of fun.  His dad came up Friday, the two of them spent the evening together at a local casino donating their hard earned money to our local Indian tribe, they golfed Saturday, we all watched movies and sports, went bowling, and will finish off the weekend on Memorial Day with a trip to Safeco field to watch the Padres and Mariners.
Because that just isn't quite enough for May, we have a fancy ball next Friday, and a few more baseball games this week.
I've been busy.  And in a spin around a bat kind of way, it has been tiring, fun, rewarding, and down right enjoyable.  I fell down this month too.  Sometimes the stress of all that was happening sent me into a tizzy, but thankfully I got back up and didn't let the spin get the best of me.


May 12, 2013

Integrity

Matt has been filling in for the head coach of Eli's Little League team.
It has been stressful for me.
I feel the eyes of all the parents on Matt.  With this group, I know they are eyes of judgement.  Every call he makes, every line up and every batting order, is under scrutiny from the parents.  I suppose that is how it always is but I don't like it.
Then there are the eyes of the head coach on Matt.  He is not one to sit back and really let go of the team.  He had neck surgery on a Wednesday and sure enough he showed up on Saturday in a neck brace hollering on the sidelines.  A few times he actually yelled to Matt from the sidelines telling him what to do.  Matt stuck to his plan and played it out, but he has been a little frustrated with the task of coaching a team that isn't his to coach and trying to balance coaching the way he wants to and the way the coach would want him to.
To add to the stress of this little team, there was some serious drama during a game last week.  Matt put in a courtesy runner on first ( the guy on first took a casual walk to first base and Matt wanted someone who was going to run to be in the game).  This is normal for the big leagues but apparently not so much for little league.  The opposing team's coach said that was fine only if the guy being replaced on first was going to be catcher.  Matt didn't really think this could be a rule but agreed.  Once the player was back in the dugout, Matt told him to get on the catcher gear and the player announced he didn't have a cup on.  Problemo!  No cup.  No catching.  So he didn't play the guy as catcher and the other coach got really really mad.  Matt said "show me the rule" the coach said "I can't find it but when I do I'll file a protest".  Bla bla bla, bla bla bla.  I'll spare you the rest of the details.
So a meeting was called between Matt, the head coach, the coach of the other team and the league president.  Prior to the meeting Matt had a very strong feeling that the head coach would like him to say that he replaced the runner because he thought he was hurt.  Matt tossed and turned the night before the meeting.  It wasn't an option.  He was not going to lie.
Meeting day came, Matt spoke the truth.  Matt listened to the other coach blow a lot of hot air and then he finally interrupted him and said "did it really matter? the courtesy runner got out at 2nd.  It made no difference in the outcome, this is baseball for kids, lets move on".  Apparently, the other coach felt like it did matter (his team lost) and the president of the league agreed.  The head coach of our team was all fired up and Matt was just done with the whole thing.
A few hours after the meeting (sorry it took me so long but this is the point of this whole rambling) the head coach of our team called Matt.  He did something that I think is kind of rare.  He apologized to Matt.  He knew he was putting pressure on Matt to cloud the truth, and after all was said and done that night the head coach realized his error.  He called to tell Matt that honesty was the right call and apologized for hinting that he should be anything other than a man of integrity.
Most of  the time you make a stand for something and nobody calls to say "well done" but every once in a while they do.  I think Matt's integrity spoke volumes to the head coach and I'm really proud of him for doing the right thing when doing the wrong would have been so much easier.  And I'm also very impressed that our coach had the humility to call and apologize.
Matt's short tenure as coach has given him a great opportunity to show the kids, the family members, and the opposing team that baseball is hard work, but is supposed to be fun, you want to play to win, but not at all costs, and that above all, at the end of the day you decide what actions you will be remembered by.  I do believe that the parents and team will remember Matt in a very positive way.


May 11, 2013

Available for a Limited time Only

Disney has a new marketing campaign.
It is quite brilliant.
Check out this one:

There is a whole series.
And this one made me cry:


And I can't believe I'm actually saying this but . . . kudos to the president of Disney marketing.  
We are taking the boys to Disneyland this summer.

Because my sweet moments with these little boys are available for a limited time only.


May 9, 2013

Little Boy Blues

Gabriel has been anxiously awaiting results from his TAG testing.  The director emailed last week and said that he would be mailing out the results Monday.  Gabriel checked the mail Monday and Tuesday and found no letters from the TAG program.  Today when I got home from work he was jumping up and down at the door waiting to be released to go check the mail.  I had already grabbed the mail.  There were two letters from the District: the first said Eli needs a shot in order to go to school next year, the second said although Gabriel's test scores a high enough to be admitted into the TAG program he is on a waiting list pending availability.  In other words, he scored high enough to be admitted, but at least 27 other kids scored higher.
All throughout this journey we have prayed that God would put Gabriel right where he needs to be next year.  The letter said that the testing results would be forwarded to his school so that they could address his future academic needs.  I'm pretty sure that won't happen.  They may forward the results but so far, not even his best teachers have been able to keep up with giving him more challenging work or even holding him to a higher standard. It is really so much to ask of a teacher with a room full of 28 kids.  I get it.
I wanted Gabe to be challenged and to have the opportunity to get excited about learning instead of being completely bored and turning that boredom into chatting and irritating his classmates and teacher. I have to believe that TAG wasn't the right fit for Gabe and he will succeed elsewhere.
I read Gabe the denial letter and explained to him what it meant.  He started to cry.  Way more than I expected.  I knew he would be sad, but I didn't expect tears.
It didn't help that Gabe had a rough day from the get go.
I asked him why he was so upset he didn't get in and he said "because I wanted to be in TAG".  Truth is, he really doesn't understand TAG, but he understands it is something special, and therefore is disappointed that he didn't make it in.
Matt suggested that we go to ice cream to celebrate Gabe's TAG denial.  I obliged.
I told the boys we were going to ice cream to celebrate the fact that God has something BETTER in store for Gabe.
What does Gabe do?  Throw a fit that he has to turn off the TV and get his shoes on.
I'm telling you it was a really rough day.
After ice cream and dinner, in that order, we headed off to the AWANA awards night for Sparks.  The AWANA program is so big that they break up the awards nights into two.  Gabe's was tonight, and Eli's is next week.
Gabriel earned the Sparks award which is a plaque for completing all three Sparks books.  Its a big deal in Sparkie world.  Beaming with great joy (finally for the first time today) he runs in the house to show dad his award and Eli decided to point out to Gabe that the plaque is gold colored plastic, not gold.
Thank you Eli, you little punk.  To make matters worse, I tried to get a smudge off the plaque by wiping it on my pants...apparently defiling the prestigious award and sending Gabe into another fit.
Despite the ice cream, pep talks, and great amount of praise the little boy is still blue.
Sometimes you just have a really bad day.  For Gabe, that was today.


May 5, 2013

Running on Empty

My 1/2 Marathon training schedule had me running 12 miles this weekend.  A lot of training schedules only run up to 10 miles before the race day, but I wanted to run 12 miles before the race mainly to convince myself that I can in fact do it!
I usually run on Saturday but I was busy yesterday morning with Gabriel and then Eli had a baseball game last night, so I decided to bump the run to Sunday.  Since the forecast called for perfectly, clear sunny skies and temperatures around 85, I thought running Sunday evening when it cools down would be best.  It was a good plan.
I wish I had stuck to that plan, I'm regretting that I didn't.
After church this morning I was feeling all energized and perky and I decided not to wait until this evening to run.  Knowing I would be up against heat that I am not used to, I had Matt send the boys out to specific points at certain times to give me water.  I would get water at 6 miles, 8 miles, and if I needed it, I would just carry the water bottle from mile 8 to the finish.  That all went as planned.
What I failed to plan for was the fact that I was running on empty.  For breakfast this morning I had a cup of light yogurt, a cup of black coffee, and a Heavenly Donut.  When I came home from church, I intended to grab a peanut butter sandwich and a protein bar, but didn't.  I just stretched and raced out the door.
5 miles into my run I was dominating!  I was a machine!  Well, that is what I was telling myself.  My pace was what I hoped and I was pretty sure I would meet my goal of finishing 12 miles in 114 minutes.  I've been running an average of a 9:30 mile to date, and it looked like I would have no problem with that today.  My times for the first 5 miles were 9:25, 9:34, 9:18, 9:25 and 9:28.
I turned the corner at mile 5 to a decent hill climb and blazing sunshine.  I was running along the road at high noon and there was no respite from the sun.  I was really hot and very thirsty.
By the time I reached the boys at 6 miles I thought I was dying of thirst.  Mile 6 took me 10: 04. I took a few swigs of precious cool water and told Eli to meet me at the next point in 20 minutes.  This is where things started to get ugly.
I ran the next mile pretty slow, and actually switched to a walk when I hit a shady patch twice.  I got on the shaded trail that would lead me to more water and decided I couldn't do it.  I was too hot, too tired, and too thirsty to press on.
I started to cry.  I have never walked during a training run before and I've never not finished the distance I was aiming for.
I tried to recite a scripture from Isaiah "run and not grow weary, walk and not faint, soar, eagles, trust". My brain wasn't even working properly.
Mind won the battle, I decided I couldn't run one more step and I walked briskly to my water stop.  I took the bottle from Eli.  I was trying to decide if I wanted to grab the water and walk the .25 miles back to the house or grab the water and try to finish.  I opted for the latter.  I decided run, walk, or crawl I needed to press on.
Miles 9-12 were the most difficult miles of my life.  My times ranged from 11:36-12:18.  I walked about as much as I ran, I guzzled the rest of the water, and I think I was actually talking to myself in an audible voice saying "you can do this", "just finish" "don't give up", "if you pass out one of the other runners out here today will find you and drag you to safety".
I walked into the house 2:06 after I started.  My face was beat red from the sun and my eyes were filled with tears.  I finished 12 minutes later than I wanted to.  That in itself was not so bad.  The part that was so frustrating for me was that it was so hard.  So much harder than it has ever been.  I have never walked before.  I have never felt so spent.
Apparently, the 500 calories that I consumed this morning for breakfast wasn't enough to keep me strong enough to cover the 1400 calories I burned during the run.
The point is I didn't have to run on empty, I could have taken 5 minutes to eat something before I headed out and most likely I would have done a whole lot better.  I have a kitchen filled with food that would have been the perfect source of energy to fully equip me for the run, but I chose not to use what I had right in front of me.
How many times have I taken off for my day without taking 5 minutes to take from the source of wisdom, peace, love, encouragement, endurance and understanding?  How many times have I found myself exhausted halfway through a difficult situation because I was running on empty?
Not only did my failure to properly prepare for my run today cause frustration and pain for today, but it has caused a cloud of doubt to enter my mind as to whether or not I can finish the race in a few weeks.
I think this is true in life as well.  I allow my challenging day one day to cast doubt on what I can handle the next.

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."


May 3, 2013

Two Men on a Corner

A few days ago I drove through a busy intersection in Olympia.  The intersection is really busy because it has major consumer shops on every corner, connects the freeway to the mall, and connects the rest of Olympia to the auto mall.  It's a big intersection.
The corner regularly has guys holding signs reading "anything helps", "traveling broke", and one that made me look twice said "my wife got her wings now help me bury her".  That was a new one.
The other day there were two guys on one corner!  I was curious how that was playing out until I saw that one guy was holding a sign asking for money and the other was holding a sign advertising $5 pizza at Little Caesar.
The minimum wage in Washington State is $9.19.  Lets just assume the pizza guy works 3 hours.  That is $27.57 before taxes.  I'm guessing if you only make $27.57 you don't pay taxes.

The point to my little word problem is this: who makes more on the corner?  The guy simply begging or the guy working?

I'd like to think the guy working but I'm really not sure.

I'd like to think that the beggar would rather be a worker but I'm not sure about that either.

I'd also like to think that it is possible for the beggar to be the worker but I'm not sure about that either.  After filling out my own job applications and volunteer applications, I can see how challenging it may be for someone who doesn't have any references or maybe even a home address to try and get a job somewhere.

Things I think about when I drive.

May 1, 2013

The Fine Print

I was finally officially offered the job!  I got the call yesterday and should start tomorrow!
Today I went into HR to turn in a bunch of paperwork and sign a hundred pages.  One page in particular stood out.  It was entitled "Payroll".

I read through the details and found one nice little tidbit: the job only requires a High School Diploma or GED and the salary listed in the job announcement is based on someone at that education level, however, there is a salary scale based on years of experience and education.  Nice little surprise. This girl has zero official years of experience, but I have my BA so I max out the pay scale for zero experience with a degree.  This means my purse will be filled with a whole $1.25 more per hour.  That should earn me at least a few cups o Starbucks a week!

Oh but wait....there was another little tidbit that the HR associate kindly pointed out: although I will only be employed and working for the district for 6 weeks (31 days to be exact) the pay is prorated over 4 months.  So basically, I will get paid for 1.5 weeks a work per month from the end of May until the end of August. Don't laugh too hard now.

Between my pay being prorated, taxes, union fees, fingerprinting and background fees, and whatever else, I'm guessing I won't get my Starbucks coffee until the end of June...after I've actually finished working!

I am enormously thankful that our family wasn't counting on me making any money this year at all!  I can't imagine if this income was imperative for our existence.  I suppose someone who has worked for a school before or has more knowledge than I do, would know that pay is prorated from September to August.  But I had no idea, and I thought I would work a month, get paid that month, and pay off Matt's college debt for this semester.  Silly me.

Since today is my last day as a stay-at-home mom for the next six weeks, I'm filling my day with meal planning, grocery shopping, folding laundry and I may just take a nap, because I can.