Sep 28, 2015

About six months ago I was in the middle of my "lent walks".
That sounds weird.  
What I mean is that I had committed to praying while walking each day for the 40ish days of Lent.

Today I was on that same trail that I logged so many miles on last Spring.  I still try to spend some of my time during runs/walks praying.  It is a good time for me to think, and thinking often leads to praying.  I had already listened to some music, reflected on my day, and was just settling in to some prayer time.
I was on the path just past the park bench and not quite yet to the pond.
Suddenly I was overwhelmed.
My mind flashed to being on this path about six months ago, praying, praying for my Grandma.
This was long before we had any reason to think she was living the last months of her life.
I was praying for her trip.  I remember praying specifically that God would work out the details of her travels and praying for my parents as they were originally the ones who where going to be driving her around on a tour d' Washington during the month of June.  I remember praying one day for her health.  That she would enjoy her trip and the journey and that she would not be stressed out or too exhausted from the trip.
And my heart broke.
I stopped at the pond and cried.

Part of me is still broken over her death.
A sadness that she is gone.
And a little traumatized from sitting with her in the weeks before she died.
It was painful to see this once active woman, full of energy and never short of words, suddenly transformed.
It was hard to watch my parents and other family members linger at her bedside wishing for the inevitable to come, but not quite ready to say goodbye.
It shook me to see her pain and struggle.

My memories of those last days, weeks, are vivid.  They are in full color and sound.  I remember her words, her touch, everything.  The last time I fed her, the last time she responded to me, the last moment that she breathed.
I have replayed those days over and over.
Each time causing pain, but still not ready for the memories to fade.

While I wouldn't change those weeks, it was one of the most challenging experiences of my life.

As I stood in front of the pond wiping my tears away I noticed that the pond wasn't really even a pond anymore.  It was completely covered in grass.
To someone who had never been on the path before, it would appear that this area was a wide open field.

I decided that I was standing in this particular spot for a reason.  I was crying over my grandma and standing in front of a pond that was disguised as a field.
Surely there was some deeper meaning to this pond.  I just needed to listen.  There must be some answer or comfort hidden in there.
But there wasn't.
I didn't walk away with any deep meaning of the grass covered pond.
And I don't have any revelation as to why my grandma's last months of her life played out the way they did.
Maybe there is a pond lesson, maybe I am supposed to gain some great wisdom from my grandma's death, but right now it is just a pond covered in grass and a granddaughter sad that her grandma died.

Sep 27, 2015

Sometimes I consider myself a planner.
But then I meet a PLANNER and I realize I'm actually not as much of a planner as I thought.
I'm a planner in the sense that I know way in advance where I'm going to be on holiday weekends.  But I am not a planner in the sense that I know exactly what I will be doing at what time while on the holiday getaway.
Maybe I'm just a plan aheader.
I also don't tend to dream about what I want to do and where I want to go in the future.  Just the other day Matt asked what I dreamed I would do when the boys get older.  My answer "I never imagined them getting older".
I, of course realize that they will get older, but my imagination never went there.
They are my boys and they need me like it or not and I just never imagine a time when they don't.
I think the realist in me, and maybe denial, stifles my dreaming capabilities.
Or perhaps, up to this point in my life, my reality is already more than I could have ever dreamed, so I don't worry about dreaming.
So being that I don't plan small details of my life and I don't have big dreams it follows that I have never made a bucket list.
There has never been anything that I am so passionate about doing that I feel I simply must complete the thing before I die.
I did make a list of cities that the budget airline Ryan Air serviced and tried to tick off all of them while we lived in Germany.  Less about being a bucket list of places I had dreamed of going and more about the fact that I need a good bargain so I wanted to visit all the cities I could on the bargain plan.

Now, for the first time that I can recall, I have a bucket list.
Is it a list if there is only one thing on it?

1.  I want to witness a flashmob in person.

I see videos all the time of some amazing flashmob to welcome someone home, or ask someone to get married, or sing some awesome christmas carol in the middle of a mall.
I want a flashmob.
That's my bucket list item.

Sep 23, 2015

Princess Dethroned

I have waited a few weeks to discuss the momentous events surrounding the loss of her crown, out of respect for my husband, but the time has finally come to make a public statement about the dethroning of Pretty Pretty Princess.
There comes a time in every reign where a Princess is shaken.  Naked tabloid photos, scandalous dealings with the charity's expense accounts, a poorly chosen outfit for the naming of a ship ceremony, the list can go on and on.
Pretty Pretty Princess was on display in the Southern gardens when Matt bolted out of the garage in my van.  Suddenly the world stopped spinning and everything was i  n   s   l   o  w  m  o  t  i  o  n.  I screamed "Maaaaaaaaaattttt".
He looked at me like I was a crazy person.
Then he looked back at what I was freaking out about.
The old beater silver mini-van was introduced, rather abruptly and in quite a scandalous manner, to the Pretty Pretty Princess.
It was at that moment that the stability of her crown was first tested, and it was jolted off a bit.
There was a little paint transfer on the Princess and perhaps a minor dent, but it was mostly undetectable.  Of course it is always the commoners that get the real brunt of a scandal such as this.  Traces of the princess mar the rear end of the van.

I was horrified.  More about how much more could have been damaged than the actual damage.
I actually saved the world that day.
Those fancy side mirrors cost a dang fortune but thankfully my quick thinking and high pitched fit saved the mirror.
No longer pristine.  She had been violated. Image tainted. The Princess was suddenly not quite as Pretty.

Just when the dust was starting to settle in the great BackingUpGate of 2015 another blast was about to rock the kingdom.

A big truck aggressively encroached on Princess' kingdom boundaries and her royal highness became another statistic in the world of Pretty Princesses moving from the pages of People Magazine to US Weekly.  She can't seem to stay out of trouble these days.

The damage done this time was not exactly the kind that one could ignore.  Legal advisors were brought in and damage control was estimated at $4000 not to include the cost of a substitute Princess and other incidentals.

The Princess has lost her crown.

I will no longer park her out in the boondocks to prevent her from being banged up by wild paparazzi.  She loses royal treatment.  She's just another one-time pretty girl who dreamed of a place in a palace.

Out of respect for those closely affiliated with her, she can be called Dutchess but she has no crown and no curtsies are required.

Sep 21, 2015

Update:  Gabe's birthday shindig was a complete success.  Three buddies joined us.  Everyone had a great time and walked away with only minor injuries.
I'm not sure who invented paintball, but I am way more fond of a Nerf war.  What is wrong with a nice nerf gun fight in the woods?  What good can come of firing balls of paint 100mph out of an air-powered semi-automatic weapon?
I played.
I said I wasn't going to play but I did.
When we pulled up to the field nobody else was there. So it was just going to be Matt, Eli and the four 10 year olds.  I thought I was safe.  So I signed up, paid the fee, and got my weapon issued.  No going back.
Then a heavily armored tactical Toyota Civic rolled up with 4 of Tacoma's most revered backyard militiamen.  They had their own gear: weapons with multiple barrels and sights and extra ammo packs.  I was scared.
And off we ran into the woods.
The firing started, I was running through trees and over ant hills, around trucks and fake buildings to get to safety.  I peek my head out....nothing.  I start to maneuver around the building and whoosh. Paintball blast to the finger.  Yep.  A single finger absorbed the entire blast of a point blank shot of purple and green paint.
As I was making my way to the dead box, Gabe saw the pain on my face, the blood on my hand and he said "mommy, mommy, my precious are you ok?".  Or maybe he laughed in my face and said "ha what happened to you?"  Aden happened.  That innocent 10 year old shot me in my finger.  Gabe looked at his friend and said "dude look what you did to my mom" then the friend ever so politely and geuninely looked at me and apologized profusely.
And that was about 45 seconds into the first of many many rounds that ended in me being shot by some boy or man who saw me as the weakest link or baby antelope in the pack.  The easy kill.
I would like to say that one time I actually captured the flag and won the whole game.  Heck ya.  With just nine working digits I rocked that game, captured the flag and pretty much secured world peace.  You're welcome.
Gabe and his friends played hard, enjoyed snacks, played some more, had more snacks, and then played more, and ended the day with cupcakes.  We had enough cupcakes to share with the paint ninjas of death that played with us all day and they were kind enough to join in and sing a rowdy rendition of Happy Birthday for Gabe.
The friends said this was "the best birthday party ever".  That means a lot to me considering all of them had welts, some were actually bleeding, and one might have a minor head injury.

In unrelated news: I did some follow up on why this one kid was planning to be at church from sunrise to sunset.  Turns out his dad is the pastor and after church each Sunday they have Korean school where they teach Korean language and other cultural stuff.  I decided that was perfectly acceptable.

Sep 18, 2015

This year for Gabe's birthday celebration we are taking him and some pals to play paintball.  
By "we" I mean I'm going along and taking photos while Matt and the boys all pelt each other with paintballs and get disastrously muddy and wet.
Because we are knee deep in baseball, the dates we are available to play paintball are limited to Sundays.  I wouldn't normally plan a birthday party on a Sunday but options are limited.  We picked a date and hoped for the best.
The plan is for us to pick up all the pals and then head out to the paintball fields.  Since it is a Sunday, and a Sunday during football season, I wanted to increase the chances of the kids coming by offering to give everyone a ride to the fields.
We are waiting on one more response but at this point our pick up list involves picking up 2 of the 3 kiddos at different churches in town.  I'm a little amused by this. We have the birthday party van going from church to church to pick up party goers.  
I'm also curious.... why is anyone at church at 1pm.  Geez.  What about Sunday naps and football?
One of the kids is getting picked up AND returned to church.  I need to look into this church.   People stay there all day?  Is there food?  Are they teaching and singing the whole time?  Do they get to wear comfy pants?  The last is really the biggest question.
I'm really excited for this little adventure for Gabe.  He has wanted to play paintball for a long time and has never had the chance.  I'm also excited for this "party" because it is his first real birthday party with school friends.  There are a lot of reasons behind this: a September birthday is pretty early to establish friends you want to invite over for a weekend party when you are new to the school.  Unfortunately, Gabe has started a new school just a few weeks before his birthday 3 times.  He also just isn't my really social guy.  He has friends at school but he has struggled with really accepting people for who they are, including the good, bad and ugly.  He tends to get irritated with people or easily offended and then friends are just classmates.  He doesn't have "play dates" with other kids because most of his classmates are busy, just like us.  Sports, instruments, church, whatever .... time for inviting a friend over to hang out has slipped away.
So this is a big birthday for Gabe.  I'm praying that he and his buddies have a great time.  The weather is kind to us, and some deeper relationships are built as they spend the day together outside of school.
I'm super relived that his friends could come because I really didn't want to be guilted into getting my butt beat up playing paintball.

Sep 15, 2015

It is slightly, only slightly, embarrassing to admit that the smell of coffee makes me happy.  Or at least happier.
I have started a new, responsible routine where I prep the coffee maker the night before so that all I have to do in the morning is press "start".
Time out - two things:
I realize this isn't a novel idea. I just have ever been organized enough before to do.
And I also realize that there is a timer feature that would eliminate me from pushing the "start" button and affording me the luxury to come down stairs to already brewed coffee.  I just haven't figured out how exactly to do that yet.  I can't risk coffee starting at 04:00am, waking me up, and ruining my day.
Back to the new routine....

My nightly routine looks like this: I make dinner, load the dishwasher, do the hand washing, clean the kitchen, make lunches and finally prep the coffee.
I hate cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes and I loathe lunch making.
So I'm typically grumpy and wishing I could just sit down for a minute and take a breather from all the cooking, cleaning and other business in the kitchen when it is time to take care of the coffee.
There I am, tired, grumpy, and typically mumbling indiscernible angry sounds when poof I open the air-tight coffee canister, drop the scoop in to my grind of the week, and its like a magical puff of fairy dust enters my nose and makes all my troubles go away.
I swear I look like a folgers commercial.
In slow motion I take a deep breath, take in the roasted deliciousness, consider licking the coffee scooper, and then smile.  Ahhhh coffee.

My crankiness goes away, I'm done in the kitchen and free to join my family in whatever they are doing or take on mount laundry or whatever else is on the agenda.  But that scent of coffee warms my heart and raises my spirits.

Tonight as I was enjoying the smell of a really tasty Gevalia light roast I felt so sad.  Sad, for all those people in the world who don't like coffee!  They don't get to experience the pure joy that ground up little beans can bring.

Dutch Bros makes me happy too.  Not only does the place smell like coffee (obviously) but the people there are so stinkin perky (ha!) that I can't help but smile when I go there.  Sometimes on my way to work I just look at the Dutch Hut and think happy thoughts.  Even if you don't drink coffee, you should swing by Dutch Bros once a week because those people are contagiously happy.

Sep 13, 2015

We have been moving into our new classroom all week.  I don't think unpacking has ever been so dirty.  Every single thing we brought in to our classroom was covered in a layer of sheetrock type dust.  Even on the inside of boxes which is a little mysterious.  How does that happen?
While there are still a lot of disorganized shelves and cupboards, almost everything is unpacked.  There are two pesky cardboard boxes still waiting for some attention, but other than that the place finally looks like we are ready to start seeing students.
Since the classroom is new, the language arts curriculum is new, the format of the program is new and the responsibilities of our team is new, we have yet to lay claim to work areas.  In our last classroom we each had "our" table, chair, and storage area that we kept all of the curriculum and other supplies that we use regularly.  After a day or two in that room we all knew where we each keep our purse, phone, lunch, and secret stash of chocolate.  However, with all the newness going on in room 101, everyone just kind of throws stuff wherever for the time being.

This past week we were getting ready to leave and someone asked "whose keys are these?"
They were building keys, not personal keys, so everyone's keys look exactly the same.

I was across the room and responded "oooh if they have a bottle opener keychain on them they are mine".
Then I kind of buried my face a little into the cupboard I was organizing.
I just yelled that at school.

My co-worker responded "Sierra Nevada Brewing?"  

Oh dear. It gets worse.

"A brewery key chain that doubles as a bottle opener in case I have no tools around me other than my car keys and suddenly have a hankering for a brewski?  Yes. Those are mine."

Then I asked myself "really self?  Of all the freebie key chains that I have laying in that junk drawer at home, self had to grab the bottle opener from a brewery for my work keys?"

Homework assignment week 1: find a respectable key chain.  Like one with an apple. Or a little "I heart kids" written in chalk.

Sep 10, 2015

Yesterday Eli told me he liked old people.
I asked him if he could choose to spend a few hours with a 6 month old baby or an 86 year old grandparent who would he choose?
I thought for sure he would choose the baby.
He loves babies.  LOVES them.  He always wants to hold the little ones and play with the older ones.  When Mason was a baby Eli never let that boy out of his sight.  He played with him, fed him, held him when he was sad, he would pass up playing with his friends if Mason was around and wanted to play with Eli.  There was a time when Mason would go to Eli over anyone else when he was hurt, and Eli loved it.
So I was surprised when Eli said he would spend the time with an old person.
When I asked way he said "well I'd choose an old person over a baby because the old person isn't going to be around as long as the baby".
He continued to tell me that he liked old people because he liked their stories.

It made me think for a bit about what I would choose or rather what I have chosen in the past.  I have never volunteered any time to hang out with old people (with the exception of my own grandparents) but I sure love to help with babies.  I've spent hours in nurseries holding little kids but I can't think of a time that I even considered befriending some older folks.
While babies are cuter, I think Eli has a point here that I have missed.  It is the older generation that has stories to tell, life lessons to share and wisdom to offer.  And it is that generation that is quickly fading away.

Maybe I should find some older people that Eli and I can spend some time with.

Just in case you are thinking "that Eli is so awesome and sweet", let me adjust that thinking....
Eli was hungry but it was getting close to dinner time so I said "drink a big glass of water and that will help hold you over until dinner" to which he gave me the world's biggest eye roll and said "right like drinking water will help with my hunger".
I was a little shocked, isn't this tidbit of information common knowledge?
"Uh ya Eli doctors, nutritionists, like everyone says that drinking water before a meal actually helps fill you up"
He loudly huffed.  Moaned something like "why is this happening", and stormed off.
He isn't always nice.

Sep 9, 2015

First Day of school success.

We got up, ate what is considered a reasonably healthy breakfast, and got to our places of education and employment on time!

Lessons from day one.

First, I cannot use my grandma's alarm clock.
I love this clock.  It is super retro, except its not - as in it isn't something she got at Target to resemble something from ages ago, it is circa 1972 and sat on my grandma's bedside table forever.  Well, until I snatched it.  She doesn't need it anymore, no early wakeups in heaven, so I brought it home with me.  Everyone likes this clock.  The boys have each tried to snag it from me and Matt appreciates its strategic location that allows him to check the time from his side of the bed without it being so bright that you don't even need a light in the room.
However, the alarm sounds like a fire alarm and that is never a sound you want to wake up to.  Ever.
It does get you moving quickly.  But not really in the right direction.
Alarm goes off.  Eyes fly open. I drop to the floor on the side of the bed and reach my hand out to feel if any doors are hot.  Nope.  No hot doors.  All is well.  Just turn off the alarm. And quickly get to the toilet so that I don't have my own little fire suppression system go off if ya know what I mean.
Maybe this isn't exactly how it played out, but who knows.  It was 6am and the worlds scariest alarm clock just sent my brain into panic mode.  A few more seconds of that thing and I would have been tying sheets together to repel out of the bedroom window.
I prefer the much more soothing alarm of my phone called "uplift".  It gently uplifts me out of bed in a more reasonable fashion.

Second, keep the kiddo's crap contained.  (Whoa accidental alliteration there!)  Gabe is a hot mess.  The kid would not be able to keep track of his arms and legs if they were not attached.  He loads up in the car for the short ride to the bus stop and he sprawls out like he's going on a six hour road trip.  He got out of the car to get in the bus and after the bus pulls away I notice he left a book, a paper, and his water bottle in the car.  A 30 second car ride.  Thankfully, the bus is going to pick him up in front of our house from now on but still I probably need to ensure all items required for the day's journey are duct taped to his person.

Third, husband doesn't use logic unless instructed to do so.  I made a quick dinner (shortly after our first day of school stop at Dairy Queen - yum) and then headed out the door to take Eli to church.  Gabe was staying home with Matt.  I leave at 6:30 and Matt and Gabe were eating dinner.
I come home at 8:30 and the rest of dinner is still on the stove and the child is still downstairs watching tv.  School night?  That little thing ring a bell?  Apparently the fact that I was no longer in the building didn't kickstart any paternal instincts to put the leftovers away and maybe ask the kid to brush his teeth and get ready for bed before the time is 30 minutes passed.

Other than these minor issues, the first day was fine.  Both boys had a "great" day.  And I didn't really do anything so there isn't much to complain about.

One more thing.  I did not wear white pants today.  I have worn white pants the first day for the past two years, however I got a text from my boss last night that said "don't wear anything nice tomorrow, the building is a mess".  Boo.  Our school is about halfway through a major construction project and it is a dusty nasty place.  So, I wore closed toe shoes, not adorable yet uncomfortable sandals and no white pants.

Sep 8, 2015

You're welcome.

Biscoff cookie magic laced with Belgian chocolate.
This is a biscuit that could motivate me to get to work on time.

Sep 7, 2015

Dress rehearsal

The first day of school is Wednesday.
I'll spare you and myself the pain of reviewing all the things I didn't accomplish this summer.
Since Wednesday is the first day of the school that makes tomorrow dress rehearsal.  We are all going to bed at a reasonable hour tonight and then getting up tomorrow as if it is the real deal.
On a good day I make the next day's lunches and figure out what I'm wearing before I go bed.
Some days I don't bother with this and then frantically throw on whatever I can get my hands on, change twice, wake Gabe up late, and then put some granola bars in a bag and call it "lunch".
I'm either not taking the dress rehearsal very serious this year or I am trying to challenge myself. I did not make lunches, or ensure there is even groceries in the house for breakfast and lunch, and I have no idea what I am going to wear tomorrow that doesn't involve comfy pants (fine they were jammie's and I wore them all day today).
I set my alarm.
That is pretty much the only thing I did to prepare for tomorrow.
If I were analyzing myself, I would suggest this lackadaisical attitude toward dress rehearsal is a reflection of my attitude toward my job this year. I don't care what I wear or how late I get to work because my job is dumb.
Or maybe that is just the two-year old tantrum I'm throwing because I don't like a lot of what is going on with my job and it is easier to throw a fit than work hard to power through the changes. 
10pm has come and gone.
I guess I should at least get to bed so I can valiantly face tomorrow's challenge of the unprepared mom vs the day.

Sep 2, 2015

Yesterday Eli turned 13.
So now he knows everything.

His grandma called today to wish him a "happy birthday" but he was at baseball practice at the time so I told her he would call back later.
We got home from practice and after he showered to decided to call her.

"I have to use your phone to call Grandma"
"Because mine is dying, I only have 17% battery"
"So, plug it in to the charger"
(enter sarcastic tone and eye roll)
"Like I can talk on the phone while it is plugged in to the wall!!"
"..........(waiting for a lightbulb to come on)......"
"Oh I guess I can."

Talking on a phone that is connected to a wall?
Shocking idea.