Nov 28, 2017

Big Week!

This is a big week for my athletes.
After just over two weeks of practice, the boys are ready to head to their first competitions this week. The first match and meet is Thursday.
Unfortunately, Matt and I won't be able to see the boys compete because we have a previous engagement at CenturyLink Field to watch the Sounders close the book on the Western Conference Championships and head to the MLS Cup Finals!!
Although I'll miss the first day of competition, I was so excited to have the chance to watch Gabe compete in a "Take Down" meet tonight.
If a record were playing, this is the moment where the needle would scratch across the record making that horrible sound that everyone cringes at when it meets their ears.
Take Down competition is a total and complete nightmare.
Instead of having wrestlers complete with the normal rules of wrestling matches every. single. wrestler. from all five wrestlers in the district all gathered in one giant gym to "wrestle" for two minutes.  Points are given for take-downs only.  Sounds innocent enough, but you have to trust me it was not.
1 million wrestlers packed into the gym with two mats.  The two mats were divided into three wrestling spaces.  Then wrestlers were matched up and called to compete in these little two minute drills.
THREE referees were blowing whistles, three buzzers were indicating time, three sets of coaches were yelling instructions to their teams and one guy was yelling into the microphone the names of the next 1000 people who were next to wrestle.
Because this was taking forever and a day about 1.5 hours into the disaster, the organizers decided three mats wasn't enough and so they taped off the two giant mats to make SIX take down spaces all running at one time.
I am not kidding, I spent 3 hours listening to this chaos, sitting on the uncomfortable bleachers and waiting impatiently for Gabe's chance to compete.  I am pretty sure the experience gave me the flu.

Gabe wrestled during the very last minute of the marathon competition.
Please Lord, make the rest of the matches way shorter, with less whistles.

Nov 14, 2017

Little Shack on the Beach

This past weekend two of my friends left their cozy warm houses and flew to Seattle for our annual girls weekend.  They willingly left the comforts of home to stay with me in an off-grid cabin on the beach on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  
This shack has the most amazing view.  There were cliffs behind, a rocky beach just off the deck and a beautiful expanse of ocean that lay ahead.  In the distance we could see an outline of Vancouver Island that sits just across the strait. 
At night the darkness that covered the entire area was simply amazing.  Since none of the cabins on the beach had electricity, and there were no stores or buildings for miles, the darkness of the ocean and sky lay like a heavy blanket on us.  The darkness was almost paralyzing in the cabin but outside it was so dark on the beach that the number of stars visible overhead was amazing.  There were so many stars that each constellation seemed to run into the next.  I've seen stars before but this sight was almost magical.
The cabin/shack was equipped with a little kitchen, bathroom, one bedroom, and a small living space.    There were three comfortable beds and the entire front of the cabin was lined with windows, so that you can enjoy the views from the comforts of the cabin.
Heat for the water and the cabin itself was provided by a large wood burning stove.  I'm not exactly sure how I thought the cabin would be heated, but I didn't envision the amount of work that would go in to keeping us warm!  There was wood chopping, firing building, and hour after hour of adding wood.  Thankfully, the ladies I was with are camping rockstars because I am not sure I would have ever got a fire started if left to deal with it on my own.  My lovely friends each got up in the middle of the night once or twice and added wood to the fire so we didn't freeze to death.
The stove and fridge were propane, so we were able to keep things cold, although just sitting the ice chest outside proved to keep things colder than the fridge, and the stove provided us with the ever important means for boiling water to make coffee.  Making coffee takes forever when you have to boil the water and then pour it in the press and then wait for the coffee magic to happen.
The whole weekend was awesome and I would definitely return to the little cabin on the beach, however, I am incredibly grateful that I didn't grow up where this was the norm and my touch of the button coffee this morning was just about the best cup I've had in a long time.

Nov 13, 2017

Scars are Awesome!

A few years ago, Eli had a suspicious mole cut off of his back.  When the doctor was talking with him about whether or not it needed cut off he mentioned that if it is cut off it would probably leave scar.  Eli was incredibly excited with talk of a scar.  He said "a scar would be awesome!"

I belly flopped on the sidewalk a few months ago.  I ripped my jeans, broke my coffee mug and skinned up my knee.  Every once in a while when I am putting lotion on my legs or doing something that involves me seeing that knee, I see a dark purple mark just below my kneecap and remember that great moment when I defied gravity for all of 2 seconds before coming back down to earth.  That scar makes me laugh.  That scar is awesome.

14 years ago I spent way more time than I wanted to in and out of doctor's offices trying to figure out why I had low platelets.  There were numerous consultations and gallons of blood tests that were inconclusive.  After a few months the doctor decided the only way to really know what was going on was for me to have a bone marrow biopsy.  A giant needle was shoved into my hip, a hole bored into my bone, and a little chunk of bone marrow extracted.  This procedure was incredibly painful.  Not only was there physical pain, it was an incredibly emotional experience for me.
Matt was deployed.  I needed a ride home from the doctor because they said I shouldn't drive, I needed someone to watch Eli because he couldn't come with me to the procedure and I really need someone to tell me everything was going to be ok.  If Matt was home, he would have dropped me at the clinic and taken care of Eli while he waited and then driven us all home.  But he wasn't.  And I needed a village.  As I lay face down on the exam table waiting for the procedure to begin I started to simply weep.  The doctor thought I was scared, which I was, but I was really crying about the weight of the whole thing.  For the first time in that deployment I just really needed Matt and he wasn't there.
The procedure was completed and I hobbled out to the waiting room to wait for my ride.  It should have been easy, get in the car, and ride home.  But there was a tornado watch and my friend charged with giving me a ride home thought it would be better for me to drive than leave my car parked in the clinic lot while the skies opened up. So I did.  I lowered myself in to the car and drove myself home, then picked up Eli from the neighbor, and parked my butt in a chair, away from windows and waited out the storm.
There is a scar on my hip where the bone marrow was extracted.  It is awesome but for different reasons. I had to rely on a village and I had to learn to be strong in difficult circumstances.  The emotions that I faced that day with the biopsy would be nothing compared to things that lay ahead.  It was kind of a training day for future trials.  When I feel that tiny scar, I remember the pain of the day, and coming out stronger.

Scars not only remind us of the injury or the pain, but they also remind us of the healing.  In road races you get a sweet medal to wear around your neck when you run victoriously across the finish line.  In life, you get a scar.  Whether emotional or physical that scar is a reminder of the pain and the triumph.  Scars are awesome.

Nov 7, 2017

New Shoes and Jammers

For some reason both of my boys decided at the very last minute that they wanted to participate in winter sports.  I spent today scheduling walk-in sports physicals, taking them to the appointments, filling out a thousand pages in registration packets and watching my entire paycheck fly out the window.
In addition to paying for the registration fees and the sports physical fees, we had to make a trip to my local sports store for equipment.  Gabe has decided to join the wrestling team at his school and Eli is joining the diving team at his.  Equipment involves very tight clothing for both, goggles, headgear, and who knows what other accessories will find their way into a gym bag over the coming days.
When the boys started baseball they marched around the house in their cool new hats and jerseys.  When they started basketball they bounced basketballs off everything.  
Getting gear for diving and wrestling isn't nearly as glamorous.  Eli tried on his jammers (really tight swim shorts) and was jumping around the house.  It was weird.  At one point he actually jumped off the stairs.
And Gabe didn't get his uniform yet so he opted to walk around the house in his wrestling shoes and practice outfit.
I'd like to point out that Gabe has never even watched a wrestling match and Eli hasn't seen anyone dive.  Both of them decided to try a new sport because they were looking for something new to do and more importantly, friends are in these sports.
The excitement from both of them was a little bit adorable.  I'm hoping that they learn a lot and at least enjoy themselves for the next few months.
If you need me, I'll be washing tiny garments, and praying away the germs that can be contracted from rolling around on a sweaty mat and inhaling chlorinated humidified air.

Nov 3, 2017

I woke up this morning and pulled out my phone to check the weather.  
Around here the weather can change dramatically from day to day or even from hour to hour.  Yesterday started off looking like a typical fall day, by noon the sky opened up the rain came down with serious force, by 4pm the rain had stopped and the sky cleared but the temperature dropped about 20 degrees.
Weather apps are vital to my morning routine.  I rely heavily on the morning report to determine how to clothe myself.  It is really less about fashion and more about not wearing suede shoes in the rain or a heavy sweater on a sunny afternoon.
So, this morning I begrudgingly rolled out of bed, checked the weather app and was confused.
Snow?  That doesn't make sense.  It is November 3.
I was confident that the app was wrong so I trekked over to the window to see for myself.  And yes, it was snowing.  Not only was it coming down snow, it was actually sticking!
My first thought was "oh so pretty".
My second thought was "we are going to be in school until July"

If fall is dropping snow, what are we in for this winter?

When I got home I ventured in to the boys' rooms to pick up their laundry and Eli had a pair of shorts on the floor.  I asked "what are these from?"  He responded "ya, those were a bad idea".  Someone didn't check their weather app this morning and ended up freezing his knees off.

Snow in the first days of November.  Here we go.

Oct 29, 2017

A few years ago E wanted to buy something that cost $5.50.  He opened his wallet and pulled out his money and then was disappointed and told me he couldn't buy it.  When I asked why?  his response was "I have no cents".
I responded by laughing hysterically.  No truer words had ever been spoken.
He had plenty of money to make the purchase but didn't have any coins.  He was old enough to know that he could get change but in that moment he was lacking cents and sense.
I think I have to take the blame for that child's occasional lack of logic. I have definitely had my moments.
One area that I'm regularly lacking sense is navigation.  Once I have travelled somewhere I can typically find my way around, but plop me in uncharted territory and I'll flounder.  This is especially true when trees are involved.  The biggest reason that I don't like to hike alone is that I'm afraid I'll be that one who manages to get lost 250 feet from my car and I'll end up sleeping curled up in a ball in the forest losing my fingers to frost bite when all I really would have needed to do is turn around and walk to my car.
Yesterday, I didn't have enough time to hike on any of the trails I have used before so I ventured off to a new, short hike not far from the house.  I arrived at the parking lot for the trail head and did the most responsible thing I could have ever done, I took a picture of the map of the trail system.  I was immediately nervous because the "trail" around the lake was actually 20 different trails linked together.  Armed with my photo of the area I headed out.
At each possible intersection I looked at my map and made the logical choice to head to the lake.  After about 25 minutes of hiking with no hint of a lake anywhere, I started to get a feeling that I was not on track to make this lake loop.  In the distance I saw a vision of what every hiker (who is directionally challenged) welcomes, the distinct silhouette of an informational sign.
Yes!! The magical words I needed "you are here" was just a few feet away.
Much to my surprise and serious disappointment, that sign was the least helpful "informational" sign in the world.

Both sides of the sign were equally helpful.

There was no information.
I decided to press on, give up on the lake and just hike a few more minutes out before turning around and retracing my steps.  
As I continued along the path a little bit of fear started to set in.  Suddenly all the old tree trunks that had rotted out looked like bears, the absence of color in the distance was surely a wild animal lurking, the lack of typical forest sounds was haunting.
Nothing I was seeing was scary.  It was the voids that incited fear.
There was no reason for me to fear a bear.  Aren't they hibernating anyway?  There was no reason to fear that I was lost, and yet my heart pounded.

So is life.

It is the unknown, the absence of color that somehow causes me stress and unnecessary sleepless nights.  It is in the silence that strange, unsettling thoughts set in.

What stops the fear?  Fill the void.

When I reached my turn-around point on my hike I pulled out my phone and turned on some music. I started looking at the things I COULD see: the fall colors, the tall trees, the sunshine breaking through the canopy.  I followed the path that I knew would lead me home and ignored all the others that tempted to lead me astray. 

I made it back to the car and vowed to return and find that elusive lake.

Oct 25, 2017

Dentist Love

With every move comes some dreaded tasks.  I'm not talking about the stressful things like: moving out of the former home, logistics to the new home, finding a place to live at the new duty station or adjusting to the new environment, I'm talking about the findings.  Some findings are fun, such as finding new favorite restaurants and coffee shops and finding new friends and places to explore.  Other findings are not fun.  They are dreaded and painful.  My most dreaded searches are for  the following:
  • church
  • mechanic
  • hair stylist
  • dentist
The Army just assigned us to a doctor, so that's why it didn't make the list.  But all the others are a nightmare for me.  I could write a book on church shopping, but I'll spare you that information.  Hair stylist is challenging but you can usually tell after one visit if you found a good one.  The last two are lumped into the same category in my book of shady, non-trustworthy individuals.
Why? Simple.  Both do work in mysterious places.  I don't know what my 02 sensor reading told you, I just believe you when you said that the print-out proves my car needs immediate attention.  And when you tell me that my old janky filling needs replaced or else I'll need a root canal and fake teeth, I believe you.  The problem is, sometimes those tricky dentists and mechanics do crap work and they lie about what actually needs done.  
I've been burned by mechanics and dentists in the past, just in case you couldn't tell.

When we arrived in Washington I knew I was well overdue for a good dental cleaning.  Since I didn't have any friends here at the time I couldn't really ask anyone who they recommend for all my dental needs and we were only the second family to move in to our neighborhood so for months I didn't have a neighbor to ask.  So I did what every smart human in this decade does, I Yelped it.  No kidding I searched dentists on Yelp, cross referenced a good one with my insurance list and blammo, I found my dentist.

My dentist was good.  He was kind, he paid attention, he had good chair side manners and he didn't push me to have any procedures done on myself or the boys that were unnecessary.  The downside to that Yelp thing is EVERYONE in the area seemed to like the dentist.  In was incredibly hard to get an appointment and if you had to cancel the one you booked six months out, no chance you will get back in.  Because I liked him, when we moved out of town I didn't bother to look for another dentist.  I figured it would be easy enough just to go back down for cleanings and check ups.  It worked, until the great tooth breaking of 2016.

When G broke his tooth off we needed a local dentist.  Not only did we need someone who could see us right away, but the whole process was going to require multiple visits and a trip down to Olympia was not practical.  I don't know how Matt found the new dentist but it was pretty much equivalent to discovering gold.

Yes.  I love my dentist.  And I love the people who work with him.  And the office is really close to my house and they don't require a six year wait for an appointment.

My dentist is truly awesome.  I guess it is a small practice.  He knows my kids and Matt, he talks about them when he sees me and knows what we all do for work and fun.  I would invite him to Christmas dinner.  I really would.  The dude is educational, thorough, a perfectionist, funny and he seems like a great guy to work for.  Sitting in one of the chairs waiting on treatment is truly entertaining because I can hear him talking to other patients and his staff.

Today, I walked in to the office and the receptionist was feeding a patient's baby a bottle and three toddlers were roaming through the office.  Why?  Because the dad has 5 kids.  One in the chair, one in the lobby getting a bottle and the other three roaming about.  This office made the dad feel comfortable enough to bring his brood along and take care of some dental business.

My dentist office has a therapy dog named Gus.
I love Gus.
Patients can request Gus to come sit with them while they have treatment.  I request that Gus comes and sits with me in the waiting area.  I claimed dentist offices make me nervous and I needed Gus to calm me.  Then the front office manager told me I didn't have to pretend I was nervous, I could just come get Gus.

It's just a dentist.  Does it really matter that he has a therapy dog and he's funny?  Does it matter that he encouraged me to get second opinions from another dentist to make sure I'm happy with his office?  Does it matter that a receptionist will feed a baby with one hand and answer phone calls with another?

Yes.  It does.  If only all office experiences were so pleasant.  I honestly leave that dentist office feeling better than when I went in and it isn't because there was some pain relieving treatment administered.
I'm afraid to give my dentist 5 Stars on Yelp because then other people might encroach on my time with Gus and the ease of getting appointments. find a mechanic with a therapy dog and an honest disposition.

Oct 24, 2017


This past weekend E stayed the night at a friend's house.  A few hours after he arrived I called to interrogate him about where the Jimmy John's cup and sandwich wrapper came from.

He used his own money to have it delivered.
I'm just going to hang out right here for a second and talk about how absurd this is.  JJ is the most ridiculously over-priced sandwich in the history of the world.  Then to add to the crime, they charge a delivery fee.  He paid close to $20 for the JJ guy to bring an over-priced sandwich and a soda one mile up the hill.  This kid.  He's not so wise when it comes to finances and he hasn't figured out that if he would have thrown away his trash I would have never known he had the multi-million dollar sandwich delivered.  Instead, he left it right on the counter.  Rookie.

So I called and got the run-down on the sandwich and right before I hung up the phone I heard him whisper "mom wait".

What is this?  I wonder.  Does my baby miss me?  Is something scandalous going on and he needs me to come get him?  Is he scared?

"What Eli?  Is everything ok?"

He said "oh ya everything is fine but you would HATE it here.
"This house is so dirty.  There is dog hair everywhere.  It is nasty"

The whole time he was talking I was hushing him!  You can't stand in someone's home and tell her mom how nasty it is!

He assured me it was ok because he was somewhere where nobody could hear him.  He proceeded to continue with details about how dirty the house was until finally I cut him off and said "do you need me to come get you?"

He said "no" and I hung up the phone.

A little part of me felt good.  
Surely, he will never come out and say "thanks mom for making us keep our house clean" but in this little moment of the weird conversation, I felt like that was what he was saying.

You're welcome E.

Oct 23, 2017

Driver's Ed

Eli is taking a driving course.
I know, it is completely shocking to me too.
How can he be old enough?
It was just days ago that he was sitting naked on a toddler toilet with the "potty" cars that aunty bought him to encourage him to poo, flying them through the air making car noises.  And now he is learning to drive real live cars?

Eli attends class three days a week for two hours and then has an hour a week of driving with an instructor.  In addition to all that, he has homework.  So far, the homework has consisted of him sitting in a parked vehicle pointing out what all the buttons and instruments are.  Soon the homework will include more challenging things, like driving with us.  Gasp!

I read his homework for this week.  Most things seemed reasonable until I came to the instruction for him to change the tire on one of our vehicles.

Me: you have to change a tire?
Eli: yes
Me: for real or just pretend?
Eli: for real, on one of our cars
Me: why?  We have roadside assistance.
Eli: so I know how to do it.
Me: thats absurd.  I'm 40 years old and have never changed a tire.
Eli: I don't know, we just need to learn how to do it.
Me: well you pull off the road, pick up a phone and call USAA.  There, lesson over.
Eli: moooooom
Me: can we lie?

Why would I want to take a perfectly good tire off my car and replace it with a donut?  This seems dangerous, actually more like reckless.  I think the school should have a model car that students can take the tires off an such.
What's next?  Change my oil?  Replace the brakes?
Eli doesn't remember to close the lid on the toilet, put the lid on his toothpaste or take his belt and wallet out of his pants before he puts them in the laundry.  I really don't think anyone wants their car serviced by this kid.

Maybe we can take him to a junk yard?

Oct 18, 2017

Things you didn't think you would ever say working at a high school:

"Why are you carrying around a fire extinguisher?  Put it back!  DO NOT put that hose in your mouth!"

Followed by things you don't expect to hear other teachers say in a high school:

"I had to confiscate the noose that he brought to school today".

Today, school was 100% drama.  Start to finish, drama.

Three students were wearing onesie character jammies complete with face paint for no apparent reason, one student was painting her entire hand and arm in black paint, a girl refused to do any work because she was busy growing pot on an app on her phone, a kid was napping on the floor of the office...  I could really go on and on.

The day ended when a guest speaker for the staff meeting introduced herself to me by showing me the name tag on her lanyard that indicated her name and what pronoun she prefers in reference to herself.  Name (she/her).  She explained that she would be speaking to us today about how to be mindful of using these type of name tags in order to show respect to others.

It was really the perfectly comical ending to the day.

This is life.
We have students doing absolutely no work at school, will likely not graduate and don't appear to be remotely interested in becoming contributing members of society, but our pressing issue for a staff meeting is how to be mindful of what pronoun to use when referencing gender confused/reassigned/transitioning student?
I get it, we need to be respectful of student's choices but really, if a student is mature enough to make the huge decision to make a gender transition I just feel like they should also be mature enough to understand if people in society don't innately know what pronoun to use when someone looks like they could be male or female.

I had to slip out to pick Matt up from the airport so I missed the presentation. But I did grab a staff meeting scone on my way out the door.

I look back on the day, picturing the faces of the students who drive me crazy by the fact that they are squandering an opportunity that is being handed to them, and I blink, and they are gone.  I will not carry the burden of these students to my home, I will not lay awake stressing about what I can do to help them graduate.  Nope.  I will give them my 100% when I am there and hope that in some way I encourage them to work, teach them something new or at the minimum show them I care, and then I walk away and start it all again the next day.

Oct 15, 2017

One sunny day in the SacramentoValley I was swimming at a friend's house.  I can't recall who all was there or many details of the day.  I don't remember the season, I don't actually even remember swimming, but I do remember sitting on a pool lounger with a towel wrapped around my waist.

One of my friends that was there that day came up to me and sat next to me on the lounger.  He looked at me and asked a simple, but direct question.

"Are you embarrassed of your legs?"

I remember being taken aback for a moment, thinking what kind of question is that?  Finding no good answer to the question except a truthful one, my answer was as simple as the question.


There were no follow-on questions or airy pep talks.  He simply accepted my answer and moved on.

That small moment in time, the simple question, lingered longer than my 16 year old self expected it would.  Over 20 years later I remember that moment and the lesson I learned in it.

I was embarrassed of the thickness of my thighs.  Looking back I would love to trade my current thigh thickness for the 16 year old thigh thickness, I'm sure thats the case for many people.  I didn't necessarily think of myself as fat, but I remember hating being in a swimsuit without shorts or a skirt as a cover for that region from my knees up.

My embarrassment of my body didn't keep me from swimming.  Thankfully, it didn't bother me enough to keep me from participating in typical teen activities, but I would never just stroll around in a swimsuit.  I always found a towel to cover up with.

Sitting on that lounger that day, wrapped in a towel on a day that was too warm to be bundled, and facing the most honest question I can recall some guy asking me, I realized that my attempt to hide my imperfections was actually making them more noticeable.

My attempt to hide my imperfections was drawing more attention to myself.  Over the years have found this to be true with many types of imperfections in myself and in others.  People are more understanding and honestly care less about my imperfections than they are tolerant of me trying to hide them.

Oct 14, 2017

I have lived a mere 5 miles from the base of a local hike called Poo Poo Point for over a year now. The hike heads up through a forest for about 3.5 miles and ends at a point that was cleared by a lumber company decades ago.  The cleared area is now a launch point for hang gliders.  On a clear day you can see the launch point from my house, and it is common to see a dozen gliders a day during the summer.
I have looked up at that clearing at least a hundred times and thought to myself "one day".
The hike is a reasonable distance with a medium elevation gain.  It is do-able.  Despite my best efforts I have been unable to convince any of my family members to hike it with me.
Today I woke up to a chilly, partly sunny day, and I decided today was the day I would take on the Poo.  I tried bribing my children to come with me but it didn't work.  Matt is out of town but he called the boys and tried bribing them to go with me too, it also was ineffective.
I was faced with a decision, bail on the hike or go it alone.
I was nervous about hiking alone because there are actual bears and bobcats up there.  And what if I fell down a cliff and nobody found me and I had to spend the night in the frigid forest with the aforementioned bears?  And Matt is out of town so the boys would be left alone and I would be lost in the forest with bears gathered around me having a picnic!
Or I could just go on the hike, enjoy myself and come home feeling victorious.
I opted for the victorious thing.
The hike started off fine, although old broken stumps in a shadowing forest do resemble bears or at least what I think a bear would look like in a forest.  About 1/2 way up it got really steep.  The pain in my calves was real and for a few moments I thought about turning around.  I sipped water, took breaks, and was invigorated to press on each time I came across another hiker.
1.5 hours into the hike I broke out of the trees and stepped on to that glider launchpad that I have been seeing at a distance for the past year and a half.  It was beautiful!
Not just a beautiful vision, but a beautiful feeling to have overcome my fears of hiking alone and just going, taking it on and putting my life in the hands of fellow hikers.  Not really, but kind of.  This trail is well travelled and I knew that I wouldn't be alone on the path.
Once on the peak I sat down with my snack and took a rest for a few minutes before heading down the hill.
Down proved to be a different type of challenge.  All that hill climbing that killed by legs and butt on the way up was now a battle between me and gravity.  Loose rocks, tree stumps, slippery slopes...they tried to literally kill me.  I tripped a few times and recovered well, but just before I reached the end of the steep part I ate it.  My feet came right from under me and I kind of started sledding down the hill, on my butt without the benefit of snow being under me.
I tried to catch myself and the result was a very awkward attempt that resulted in the most ridiculous hiking injury in the history of all time.  I did something to my thumb.  Who hurts their thumb hiking?
Ice / heat / ibuprofen... still super sore and I have lost the ability to do anything with my right hand that can't be done with my hand in the form of a Barbie Doll.
There is a weird clicking in my wrist when I move my elbow....this can't be good.  Hoping a few more days will bring healing because I really really don't want to go to a germ infested doctor's office.  Or worse....a doc in the box. (gasp)

Oct 13, 2017

Citrus Heights, 1990's

I was laying out on a towel in the backyard of our home.  We used to have an above-ground pool in the backyard.  I'm not sure who I was with or if I had been swimming, all I remember about this particular day was that my mom came out back and headed over to the pool.  I don't think she was going swimming, but I'm not sure what she was doing. She reached the pool and started climbing the ladder.  She climbed up the 4 or 5 steps to the top of the ladder and when she reached the top step, just before the little platform, something happened that before this day I thought only happened in cartoons.
There she was on the top step and it split right in the middle and the feet that had been on the top step were now suddenly a step lower, and in an unbelievable moment of rot meets gravity, when she reached that next step IT ALSO BROKE and once again she fell through the step and was down to the next one.  The next broke and the whole thing replayed.
I don't know how my mom ended up back on solid ground because I was laughing so hard my eyes wouldn't open and were likely filled with tears.  It was a moment I still giggle about when I replay it in my head.
I think she lost all the skin on her shins by the time the great ladder incident was over.  I swear it was straight out of an episode of the Looney Toons except she had wounds and the cartoon guys are unharmed.
I laughed.  It never crossed my mind she could have broke something, it was simply too funny to think beyond the visual.

Santa Cruz, 2009

The summer before we moved to Germany we spent about 3 weeks in California visiting family.  The plan was to allow our household goods time to get from Virginia to Germany so they would be there when we arrived, and we wanted an opportunity to spend time with people we may not see for a while.  On this great adventure we went camping with my parents and sister and her family.  Mom and dad pulled their trailer to a great little campground walking distance from the beach, and my sister and brother in-law and kids brought down some tents for everyone who didn't want to sleep in the trailer.
One night after dinner, it was just getting dark in the campground and the quiet of the night was shattered when my dad missed one of the steps coming out of the trailer and fell into the dirt.
His fall was silent.
My reaction was epic.
The distance was a mere three feet at most, but my scream "DAAAAAAAAAD?!!" made it seem like he had just plummeted 3,000 feet into a bed of hot coals.
It was apparently such a loud and convincing scream that fellow campers from other places in the campground came running to aid the man who had a little bit of dirt on his jeans.
Dad just kept trying to convince everyone he was "fine" and all he did was miss the step.  We ushered all of the heroic campers back to their sites and my dad, Matt, and I stood there looking at each other. Matt was yelling at me for being ridiculous and embarrassing my dad, my dad was crying which was kind of still panicking me, and I was crying because something had changed inside me.

About 20 years earlier, my mom's fall down the steps was hilarious, and this day my dad's fall down the steps was haunting.

Nobody could figure out why I freaked out.
In my head when I saw him fall my fear was in the question of why?  Did he have a heart attack, a stroke, is he off-balance, is he getting o-l-d?
This moment, I realized the fragility of the life of my parents.  And in this moment, my dad's fall shook me instead of fill me with laughter.

Oct 11, 2017

A few days ago my dad text me and asked if my blog was down or if I just wasn't writing.
No the blog isn't down, I just haven't been writing.
When I am busy with work, the kids are in school, and I'm driving everyone from baseball practice to after school events and friend's houses I have no time to write, but in the absence of all of those things, I have time but don't have much to write about.

I started a new job at the beginning of the school year.  I'm working with special education students with low to moderate needs at an "innovative" high school that emphasizes project based learning and internships.  I thought by now that I would be able to clearly explain who our students are and what type of student our school is designed for. However, after 5 weeks of getting to know most of our 120 students, I am less able to explain who these kids are now than I was on day 1.  It is a very different, challenging and rewarding position.

One of the assignments all of our students have to complete in order to graduate is to write an autobiography.  The students are required to write at least 10 pages during year one, twenty during year two, and by the end of the four years of high school they will have written and edited 100 pages. Part of my role is to help my students with writing their autobiography.  I sit down with students and read over sections of their writing, helping them add detail and transitions, correct spelling and punctuation errors and attempt to teach them proper grammar.
It is kind of fun to have the "job" to help people write about themselves.  You definitely get to know someone a little more when you read about the events of their life that shaped them.  It can also be challenging.  Over the past few weeks I read stories of when a student started hearing voices in his head, the first memories of type 1 diabetes symptoms and diagnosis, and this week I read a passage entitled "Goodbye Mommy" in which a freshman detailed the moment when his mom had an aneurysm that eventually led to her death.  Fishing for more details about a sporting event is completely different than trying to help a student add more to a story about his mother's death.
These 14-16 year-old kids haven't really been around that long and most don't have 100 pages worth of major events that shaped them, but they probably do have quite a few small events that made a big impact on their lives.  In order to help them brainstorm ideas, I have spent hours asking questions and poking and prodding students to think deeply about things that have added to their character and in doing so, I've started to reflect on these questions for my own life.

What is my story?  What would I include in my autobiography?

I recently decided to back-up all of our photos in an online cloud.  In doing so, I realized that nearly all of my pictures from 2016-2017 (with the exception of things posted on Facebook) are simply gone.  I have a back-up hard drive, I can't explain it, all I know is they seem to have disappeared.
I went through many emotions when I discovered that photos of birthdays, vacations, fall hikes, holidays, and everything in between are no longer accessible to me.  I was panicked, obsessed with trying to find them, was sad, and finally I just accepted that the span of time will be mostly absent from any photo essay of our lives.

Unless I make the effort to tell my story, write my autobiography of sorts, to my children and nieces and nephews or anyone who will listen, my story will fade.  It will disappear like those photos that went into the great beyond.
We all have a story of who we are, what events, words, or mere moments shaped us and if we don't tell it while we can still remember, we become a mystery to future generations.

My goal is to start telling my story here.

Jun 11, 2017

Today, I asked Eli to bring me one of the laundry baskets from my bathroom.
A few seconds later I heard the pitter-patter of something making its way down the stairs.  I looked over and found a white laundry basket settled at the base of the staircase.
"Eli.  I intended for you to bring down the white laundry basket WITH the laundry in it".
He said "you just said laundry basket, not the basket and the clothes that were in it".

This is what I'm working with here.

Jun 10, 2017

Recently a student from the Department of Defense school at Ramstein Air Force base gained attention for an amazing accomplishment.  He was accepted at three of the U.S. service academies and a handful of other highly competitive Ivy league or prestigious universities.  Getting accepted to one is a huge task, all three is crazy.  I read the article about him and was quite impressed by his accomplishment, however the only detail I remember from the article was an excerpt from his Harvard application essay.  He is an "Air Force Brat" and lived most of his life overseas. In the essay he wrote about a paradox in his life: "the curse of being a stranger everywhere, and the blessing of being a stranger nowhere”.
I was so moved by this one short description that so appropriately describes the social aspect of military life.  A stranger to everyone and no-one.  Home is everywhere and nowhere.  
Somewhere in the past month between being sick, recovering, supporting baseball players, and cleaning my car out, Matt reached his one year milestone of working at that smiley-face company.  One whole year.  Unfortunately, it went by completely unnoticed and without any appropriate celebration. Matt was actually out of town on the date and then by the time he got back, it was old news.  However, it is a big milestone for our family.
We are finding our place.  Those words "we are currently stationed at ..." have left our vocabulary.  We are not here because the Army told us to be, we are living in the green, rainy bliss of the Eastside of Seattle by choice and by God's provision.  My local Target is nestled in the valley between two mountains (they are tiny mountains but they have mountain in their name so it must be true).  I walk out of that store and see those mountains, or fill up at the gas station and see the sunset over the lake, or walk through the halls at Eli's school and catch a glimpse of the hang-gliders launching from the mountain that raises above his school football field and catch my breath... I LIVE HERE.
Last weekend I was in California for my sister-in-law's baby shower and skipped on over to my family's church for a prayer service.  At one point the pastor told everyone to pray for the church.  Within seconds my mind flipped to my church in Sammamish.  And later he asked us to pray for our schools, and "my" students that I work with at Eli's school flashed before my eyes.  Lastly, he told us to pray for our city, and the words Issaquah and Snoqualmie came to my lips.
Am I finally home?
We have known for years that we wanted to retire here in Washington but this move to the Eastside presented a lot of challenges.  Half of my heart was still in Olympia.  I wasn't fully ready to accept this city as my new home.  There are dozens of cities that we could live in that provide reasonable commutes for Matt, and we constantly question which would be best for us.  Over the past few weeks we have started seriously thinking about how we want to move forward in the coming year with regards to buying and selling homes.  So many things are pointing to us staying right here on the Eastside, along the I-90 corridor.
Who knows how long it will be for, but right now, there is no place that feels more like Home.

Jun 9, 2017

I did not succumb to the great illness of 2017.
It was pointed out to me that my last post on here alluded to the fact that I may not pull through, however I did fully recover and returned to the land of the living.
My apologies to those who were waiting for an invitation to my memorial service.
I'm alive and I'm doing quite well!

It is Friday, so that is a good thing, and my vehicle is clean.
This is a big deal.
Every year baseball season threatens to completely destroy my vehicle. This baseball season was the rainiest season since that time Noah's mockers were trying to launch their Drought League at the same time that God rained down his fury in the great flood. This made things particularly rough for my poor truck-van.  After one particularly ridiculous game we threw the easy-up awning and all the umbrellas, raincoats, and other gear in the cargo area, and by the time we got home an actual lake formed in the back from all the water dripping off the gear.  It was rough.  Between muddy feet, turf beads, and random acts of snack spillage, the vehicle looked 6 years old instead of 6 months.  Today the sun was shining (for a few minutes) and I took advantage of the moment to pull out all the Washington Floormats (rubber ones built to catch all the water), vacuum TWICE, and then cleanse all the plastic and leather surfaces.  I'm so pleased to announce, it appears the Toyota beat Baseball this season!  I am victorious.

Today is also a fabulous day because G is making dinner.  This isn't a new thing.  He typically makes dinner three times a week.  I am particularly excited about him cooking tonight because he is using one of our HelloFresh meals.  I wish I were getting paid by the afore mentioned company to tell you how pleased I am with it, but I'm not.  I'm sharing this good news for free. Hello Fresh is a grocery delivery program that has revolutionized my life.  We pick three meals for four people and have them delivered on Mondays.  Each meal comes with almost everything you need to cook it and fabulous instructions that include pictures.  If you are still stumped, you can log on to their app and watch little videos.  It is true that if you break down the per person cost for the delivery it is dramatically more expensive than if I went to the grocery store and bought the ingredients, however, the cost is totally worth it for me because: Gabe cooks all the Hello Fresh meals and we try new recipes every time which broadens our palates.  It is a win for everyone except our bank account.  I am so happy that I don't have to worry about meals 3 days a week and I'm raising a dude that will be confident in the kitchen.

Lastly, today is a good day because we are a mere 7 days from the end of the school year and my kids have rocked it.  There were days, oh there were DAYS, but in the end they have pulled it all together and Team H is almost ready to pack away another school year.

We are blessed in the good times and bad, today just happens to be a good one.

Apr 14, 2017

Fallen Ill

I have fallen ill.
I spent Sunday recovering from a traumatic pasta event from the day before and by Monday morning my stomach was happy again, but I was in full swing chest cold mode.
Not the way I wanted to spend Spring Break.
I have had more naps, cups of tea with honey, sleepless nights, and pure fogginess in the past 5 days than my entire life up to now.  I think, but then again I'm hopped up on meds and I don't know if my math skills are sharp.
It isn't a snotty nose, stuffed up cold, it is a my chest feels like its being sat on by an elephant cold.  At one point last night while I lay on the couch coughing violently I was sure I had lung cancer or black lung.  I sifted through 40 years of memories trying to recall if I had ever been exposed to coal dust or other carcinogens that might cause a sudden onset of broken lungs.
This morning I pulled myself out of bed or off the couch, I can't remember where I was, and rallied enough energy to take the Toyota in for its first check up.  Following that, I was feeling enough of a burst of energy that I went to the nail salon to repair the disaster that appeared on my 3 week old manicure.
Around 1pm, that is ONE O'CLOCK in the afternoon, I got a text from my oldest child asking where I was.  To which I replied "you just now realized I was missing?".  And he in turn replied with "I just figured you were still sleeping".
That is the kind of week it has been.  If I am not hacking and coughing on the couch, I'm passed out in bed, or at a baseball game.  This morning was the first time I wasn't doing any of the three.  Instead I was doing my best not to infect all those poor people at Toyota service center or the nail salon with this toxic lung thing I have going on.
On my way home from my adventures I stopped by my local grocery store to find some more drugs.  I decided that my issues are not getting better because I am using a generic form of Musinex instead of the real deal.  So today I bought all brand name, high potency drugs, and more tea, and I was looking for that vapor rub stuff that my mom used to put on my chest but I couldn't find it.  I think it is probably illegal now, because the truth is, the only reason why that stuff worked is because your chest flesh was smoldering and so you forgot that you couldn't breathe properly.  It is probably for the best that I couldn't find it because on the way home from the store I got in such a coughing fit that my nose started bleeding.  A sensitive nose mixed with that jar of menthal-magic is probably not a good combination.

PEOPLE, do you understand how bad it must be when you cough so hard your nose bleeds?

The family is taking great care of me, the boys are obviously "letting me sleep" and Matt is making sure I don't concoct some toxic mixture of theraflu and fake musinex.

Apr 6, 2017

Pretty Pretty Princess also known as P3 was officially downgraded a few years ago due to some traumatic parking lot incidents. Today she has fallen from grace.
P3 is now Bad Luck Chuck, or Chuck if you don't have time to say all those words.
Another parking accident. Someone slammed in to Chuck's front bumper, and drove away without so much as a note.
Chuck is a magnet for parking drama.
Is there some prize for the most accidents while at a dead stop?

Apr 5, 2017

Tonight Eli was reading the high school regulations for behavior at a school sponsored dance and Matt and I spent a solid 10 minutes entertaining ourselves as a result.

I suppose I should give some context to this.

Today at work I caught a kid with chew in his mouth in the classroom.  True story.  He walked in to class with a big wad of chew in his mouth and spit into the trashcan as I was walking by.  I could spend a few hours dissecting that part of the story but we'll save that for another day.
The kid took a nice walk of shame down to the dean's office and then came back to class a bit later, minus the mass of mouth cancer.  I was surprised to see him back.  So you can just chew tobacco on campus, in CLASS these days with no concern or consequence from the administration?

I was curious what the school policy was on the use of tobacco while writing an essay in school, so I asked Eli to look it up.  He didn't locate a specific rule about tobacco but he did find out that drive-by shootings, murder, and unauthorized use of laser pen-lights are prohibited.  He also found a section on the types of behavior that is prohibited at dances.

As Eli read each prohibited act Matt and I provided a demonstration.

Any inappropriate backside dancing (ankle/knee grabbing, bending over more than 90 degrees, etc.)
Inappropriate touching, fondling, excessive displays of affection.
Removal of shirts, pants or necessary articles of clothing
No on the floor dancing or lap dancing
No front to front dancing with legs up or legs intertwined 
No violent, “mosh pit” style dancing 

We couldn't properly demonstrate the front-to-front dancing with my legs up around his waist because he has a bad back right now and that would have probably laid him out.  We did have a wicked rendition of ankle grabbing while bending over 90 degrees - could also be called "tying my shoe to music".  I had no idea that was a thing until today.

As Matt and I were dancing fools in the kitchen we could hear Eli grumbling about how dumb we were, but we noticed a huge smile on his face and the fact that he kept reading off more and more dance moves for us to act out.  Ha!  

It was probably the most entertaining part of our night.  Closely followed by forcing all the boys we brought home from church (four) to sing along to the B-I-B-L-E song, This Little Light of Mine and our favorite, a Veggie Tale Classic, Cebu.

Just a regular Wednesday in the Hernandez house.

Mar 29, 2017

The boys got in a little kerfuffle tonight.
I'll spare you the detailed play-by-play.
In a nutshell, someone grabbed, the other punched, there was running, screaming and slamming.

It is Wednesday and we should have been in the car on the way to youth group by this point, but instead I'm hashing out the things we learned in Kindergarten "ask nicely", "keep our hands to ourselves", and "no running in the house" among other things.

After a lengthy chat with each of them pointing out the choices they could have made to avoid the drama, I gave them an opportunity to redeem the night.

"Write three things you like about your brother or things you enjoy doing with your brother and you can go to youth group.  If you choose not to write three things you can spend the evening in your room with no electronics".

One chose to write, the other chose to be stubborn.

The little angel that started the drama to begin with wrote this:

Things I like about my brother
1. playing games together
2. learning from you
3. "accidentally" breaking the rules together

Though he wore a scowl on his face, I read each statement to the stubborn brother.  I read them slowly so they could sink in, or just to annoy him, not sure which.
Then I told that stubborn one that one day when I'm dying the boys are going to be responsible for deciding what to do with my stone cold body and I hoped that they could do it without fighting.

I'm not sure why I  threw that in at the end but I went with it.

They love each other, they just don't realize it sometimes.

Mar 28, 2017

I was in the Amazon brick and mortar bookstore in Seattle this past December with a friend.  We roamed around for a bit, marveling at the sight of an actual bookstore.  Neither of us could remember when we had been in one last.  I have borrowed or purchased all my books online for the past few years, so I really have no idea when I last flipped through the pages of pretty books on shelves.
I felt compelled to purchase something, I mean I was there after all!  Upon the recommendation of my friend I bought a book of devotions based on Psalms.  I'll spare you the title because last time I suggested a daily devotional, things went wonky in my life for a bit.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Each day's reading includes at least 3-4 verses from a Psalm, sometimes more, a brief commentary and a prayer.  I have a history with the author of this book so I had a feeling I would love it, and I do.  I also really appreciate that the actual verses are there and not just a reference and that it is a significant chunk of verses not just five words.

A few days ago I read Psalm 39:1-13.  It s kind of a complaint letter of sorts.  We've all been there right?  Except my complaint letters or prayers are never quite as eloquent as King David's.

The commentary from this particular day struck me.
"God not only allows his creatures to complain to him he actually records those ills in his word."
Mind blown.
If you believe, as I do, that the scriptures included in what we call the Bible are ordained by God himself then you must realize that God was the big editor-in-chief of the manuscript.  He got to decide what was included and what was not.  He totally could have left out these passages where his people are pretty mad at him and giving him a piece of their mind.
This is the little tidbit that blew my mind.  God allowed these complaints to be recorded in scripture for all humanity to read.  Derek Kidner writes "The very presence of such prayers in Scripture is a witness to His understanding.  He knows how men speak when they are desperate."

God wants a relationship with us, not just when we are happy, or scared, when we need direction or we are thankful for his blessings, he wants to hear from us when we are mad at him too.  The inclusion of people's anger is like a permission slip for us to vent to God as well.  So cry out in your despair.  Its Biblical.

And here's an unrelated gem for you today 
"I halt in pace - yet I creep to the throne of grace" George Herbert.

Mar 27, 2017


If you have been to either of my homes here in Washington you were greeted by a slew of Hs.
That is intended to be plural H, as in multiple wall decor that depicts the letter H.
How do you type that? Hes looks wrong, Hs looks wrong, H's is wrong because the H isn't possessive.  Anyway, there are a lot of that letter in my entryway.
A few of those H items were purchased by myself while on vacation somewhere, a few from around town, and some were gifted to me.  I'm always on the look-out for an interesting H to add to my collection.

Today, I got the most interesting H of all time.

I went to Costco, bought three things and came out spending $3000.  Or maybe it was 10 things and $100.  What difference does it make really?  The point is that place sucks the money right out of my wallet.

I purchased ribs for dinner tonight, a few loaves of their delicious country style fresh baked bread and an assortment of things I probably didn't need.

Tonight I was heating up the ribs and sliced in to that bread to also heat up.
I could serve the ribs and bread cold, but by heating them up it makes it appear that I care about my family and what they eat for dinner.

That's when it happened.  The H was delivered.

I am not entirely ok with this.

Mar 22, 2017

In The Storm

Last summer my girlfriends and I were spending the day in Asheville, NC.
We roamed around the shops, sampled some sweet treats, and just enjoyed a lazy day discovering the city.  Late in the afternoon the skies started to get dark and thunder could be heard in the distance. 
We started to make our way to the car attempting to avoid getting drenched.
A few seconds of rain and the sky opened up and dumped on the square block we were standing in.  The streets quickly became swift moving creeks as the downpour of water was exceeding the capacity of the city drainage systems and all hell was breaking loose in the sky.  Lightening and thunder lit the sky and shook the earth.
We didn't quite make it to the car!
Lucky for us, we happened upon an awning the hung over the front door of a jewelry shop.  After a few minutes of giggling under the awning, the shop owner came to the door and let us in.  We were soaked, and soaking his very fancy marble floors.  He disregarded the inconvenience of opening up the store, and allowing us to make a muddy mess in the doorway to give us sanctuary.

Yesterday I was flipping through some pictures and came across one that I took of the 7 of us ladies huddled together in that jewelry store and three things jumped out at me:

1. There is joy when you are waiting out a storm.  None of us wanted to be standing there, freezing cold, dripping wet, in this poor man's shop.  But we were together.  We laughed, told stories, and marveled at the chaos going on outside.
We will have storms in our life.  They too, can be less inconvenient if we wait them out with awesome, supportive, encouraging, fun people.

2. Know when to leave.  It wasn't going to stop raining for a while.  While we appreciated the jewelry store owner's hospitality, we could stay there in the shelter forever.  Two of us borrowed the man's umbrella and headed out to get the car, to bring back to retrieve the others.
We can't stay in our figurative shelter forever.  We have to enjoy the break, gather the tools and head out.

3. There is time to get to know the jeweler in the storm.  As we stood in the entryway of a jeweler store under construction we had a lot of dead time on our hands.  We used that time to get to know the one who gave us shelter.  He told us the history of the store and celebrated the success it had in the town.  We all walked away with an appreciation for the family business and the man's willingness to rescue us.
When you are in a storm, get to know the One who gives you shelter.

Mar 21, 2017

Next Stop: MONTANA!!

I'm super excited for our family's big move to Montana!  Rolling hills, raging rivers, mountains in the distance and the big open sky.
I have a growing to-do list before the big move.  I'll list them here in order of importance.

1. Find a job in Montana.
2. Convince Matt that he wants to move to Montana too.
3. Figure out what cities are in Montana. (Maybe that should be moved up in the order of importance? I should probably know what cities are there so I know where to find Matt a job)
4. Learn to fish and/or hunt.  (I think that's a requirement in Montana.)
5. Buy a house.
6. Take a self-help class to try to stop loving: the ocean and going to MLB and MLS games
7.  Re-consider Montana

I had a bad day today. 
I've been at the high school for almost 3 weeks now and I think it is just a little too much for me.  The kids there...I honestly have no words to describe the complete disrespect they have for teachers, each other and the fact that they have been handed a free education. A free education.  Free books, free instruction, and resources galore and they squander what has been given to them.
I should clarify that I only work with a select group of students who have been designated to have some form of learning disability.  So they are probably not an accurate representation of all the students at the school, but when you have a so much negative surrounding you all day for 3 weeks, it is easy to feel like "everyone" is horrible.  
I walked through the office today and saw a student sitting with her service animal.  It was a pit bull.  A PIT BULL.  To top of the odd sight of a pit bull with a service animal vest on, the pit bull had on a metal muzzle.  The kind kujo wears.  
The world it crazy.

Its time to move to Montana.
Maybe in Montana high school kids don't sit back on their phones all day doing nothing in school.  Maybe there isn't adequate enough cell reception for them to be on their phones.  Maybe there isn't a task force that busts a drug ring at the high school, maybe kids don't talk openly in front of adults about getting high, and maybe they are thankful for their education and actually use the brains they were given to try a little.

Or maybe not.

But at least it doesn't rain for a million days straight in Montana.  
I am done with the rain, 
and done with the high school kids.  
Someone give me a baby to hold and a sunny day or this woman is going to lose her mind.

Mar 14, 2017

Say "Uncle"

I'm super ticklish.
Despite my very best efforts to exert all my mental energy to resist squirming and flailing around when tickled, I simply cannot.
I remember when I was little people would be relentless with the tickling.
Now that I'm 5'10" and took that "Women's Self-Defense" class in college, I'm a little better at fighting off my attackers, and only the brave come at me with tickle fingers.

The frustrating part of being tickled is getting people to understand when you have really had enough.  Saying "no, stop" doesn't really help because I typically say those words right from the get-go.

Remember when people would say "Uncle"?  That was like the key word that you really mean it now.  No more joking around, you need them to stop, you give up.
I suppose that worked for me for awhile, but I remember "I have to pee" tended to work best.

I was listening to an old friend's sermon yesterday morning and he was talking about a particular time in his life when he was going through a difficult time.  In his case, in a matter of a few months he lost three people that were very dear to him.

He asked himself if there was a key word he could say to end all the sorrow.  "Can I cry Uncle?"

I have been there too.  I remember the final weeks of my Grandma's life when she was withering away in my mom's living room.  Going through tough times with Matt, or my kids, or work, or when there is pain in sickness and loss.  There are times when you just want to scream out that key word that makes everyone say "oh wait, she's serious now, this is enough".

My friend's message reminded me of something I just needed to hear.  Not for any particular reason, just a reminder.  We don't have to yell "I have to pee" or "Uncle".  We have something far more effective, far more powerful, we get to cry "Jesus".

I wasn't there but my mom told me that in my Grandfather's last hours on earth he simply uttered the word "Jesus" over and over again.  I give up, take this from me.

There is power in the name of Jesus.  The challenge is not to wait until we no longer have breathe to utter the words.  To call on that name in the midst of our trials and allow him to bring us out of our despair.

Mar 13, 2017

I do not like the Monday following Springing Forward.
There is not Springing in my step.
My body is confused.
It is dark again when I leave for work which makes me want to crawl back into bed, even if I wasn't tired.

Yesterday afternoon I was tired from having Sprung Forward so I took a nap, then drank some coffee to wake up from said nap, and then couldn't get to sleep until late because my body was jacked up.  I always say "the best way to start my day is to get good sleep the night before".
Not really, but thats just truth right there.

Following a rough night of not sleep, this morning I hopped out of bed, late, because I hit snooze, woke up the kiddo who also resisted the early morning alarm clock and went downstairs.
I was welcomed by the joyous scent of coffee.  Matt programed the coffee pot.  Yay Matt!!

I pull out my favorite travel mug and pour the deliciousness in it only to hear a crazy popping sound. Yikes!  The mug was cracking in my hand.  Thankfully, the sleepiness in me didn't prevent my ninja fast response and I was able to pour the coffee from the exploding mug into a new, far inferior, drinking chalice.

I spent about a minute mourning the loss of the only travel coffee mug I use.  I hate plastic mugs.  I have issues, I know.  I want to drink my coffee out of a ceramic mug.  No plastic lids, just a nice ceramic mug that fits in the cup holder and doesn't spill.  Usually.

Following the tragic loss I skipped out to the car to take Eli to school.  He can ride a bus but sometimes I'm nice and if it is raining, which has been for the past 1000 days, or if he has a bunch of stuff to haul with him, like all his baseball gear, I will drive him to school.  Today, despite the fact that I was frazzled by my mysterious mug destruction, I loaded him up and headed off to school.

On the way home I noticed something odd on my windshield.
A CRACK?!  Are you kidding me?
Was there and earthquake last night that only damaged my coffee mug and my car windshield?
When I got home I sat in the car, gazing out upon my once perfectly clear windshield and watched the rain fall on the crack that so conveniently is traveling straight up the center of the windshield for about 4 inches before turning toward the driver's side.

I came back in the house.
Defeated by the morning cracks.
I started to ask myself "what else can crack today?"  then I thought better of throwing that out there.

Mar 10, 2017

It is possible I could write an entire blog on texts between me and my elder child.

The highlight of today:

"can I have two of your sounders tickets?"

"Why?  You hate soccer"

"I know but can I give them to K as bday presant"

*For authenticity I have typed the message he sent exactly as he texted it to me, complete with grammatical errors. Sometimes I refuse to answer a text until it is spelled correctly with proper use of ending marks and such.  Today I was so caught off guard by the ridiculousness of his inquiry, I let it go.  And I was slightly proud that he used the proper spelling of "your".

There was a long pause before I responded, so he must have figured out he was going to have some more explaining to do.  This was actually a bad thing for him because his explanation was as ridiculous as his request.

"Cause if I liked them some ticket would be mine can I give like two to K"

Sometimes I wonder if English is his second language and he has an entirely different one in his head that he can actually use properly.

My response:

"That's going to be a no."

I took a screen shot of the conversation and sent it to Matt.  Matt's response was perfect.  He said "that dude is crazy.  Like actually crazy"

Just to clarify:  the kid thinks that because he may have been invited to go to one or two Sounders' matches he should be entitled to take the tickets he isn't going to use (because he doesn't actually like the sport) and give these tickets to a friend.

There are so many absurdities here I'm not quite sure where to start.

I want to appreciate that he wants to give his friend a gift, but I'm just not there.  I mean really, wouldn't everyone give each other amazing gifts if you didn't have to use your own money to pay for them?
Why in the world does he think he has some ownership of our two season tickets?
I don't think he was being rude.  I honestly just think he's clueless.  I'm not sure which is worse.

"Ok I'm that case can you grab a like amazon gift card or something for me for him"

I didn't respond.
I feigned an inability to understand this giberish.

Mar 9, 2017

About Not Posting

Sometimes there are just so many things to say you don't know where to start, maybe you stutter through in fragmented phrases or maybe it is just easier not to say anything at all.

Not posting anything on this blog probably speaks more than anything I could have written over the past month.

February had 28 days.
It seems simply impossible that so many things took place in my life on that one small page on a calendar.

February was like that tube at a fair where you step in and money is blowing all around and you have one minute to grab as much as you can.

I grabbed some good things.  I spent some great quality time with my mom, my niece, a sweet friend and a fabulous week in the UK with Matt.  I had some peaceful alone time on snowy walks in the neighborhood and on the cobblestone streets of Cambridge.  I saw some great shows, ate some good food, and had lovely days snuggled with my younger kid, hanging out with our UK family, meeting people Matt works with and rooting for my older one as he tried out for the HS baseball team.

I got rich in February.

Then the air in that tube stopped blasting and all those other bills started falling.  There has been a lot of arguing with the boys, frustration causing all parties to nearly burst.  It's hard sometimes to figure out which battles to fight and which ones to let go.

At the end of the game I guess you just hang on to the bills you caught and try not to think about all the others that got away.

Taking a deep breath as we are now over a week into March, with tons of travel plans for Matt and the boys knee-deep in baseball.
With both ids playing this year I'm definitely putting some miles on the new ride and a lot of wear and tear on my rain-boots.

Jan 31, 2017

This past weekend I discovered that my oldest child lied to us about where he had been with some friends last weekend.
In the grand scheme of life, it isn't a big deal, and quite honestly it isn't far off from anything Matt and I may or may not have done when we were his age.  The sad truth for Eli is that if he had asked permission, we would have granted it.  The biggest issue of the whole situation is that the kiddo took a giant stab at the trust we had placed in him.  And trust is something that we speak about often in our home.  We have expressed to the boys that we want to trust them, but our trust in them is dependent on their actions.  Do they show me I can trust them or do they show me that our trust would be misplaced?
I think there is probably a time in most parents' lives when their child flips the switch from being totally trusted to having his every move and claim scrutinized.  My other child flipped that switch at like 4 years old.  He's a shady one.  This guy was the one I relied on to tell me the truth, good or bad.  I know he hasn't always been honest with me, but he also isn't characterized by lying.
So now we enter this chapter of our lives where we have to work really hard to balance giving the kids the chance to have fun, be with friends, and grow into themselves with guarding them from putting themselves in difficult situations.  In a nutshell my job just got more difficult.  Though I haven't been turning a blind-eye up to this point, I have been more trusting than I feel I can be in the coming weeks, months, years, decades....
Parenting teenagers is hard.  Thankfully, I have a few things working for me, and them.
1. We have given them a solid foundation of strong moral values.  They know right from wrong,  I don't have to tell them.  This doesn't mean they will make the right choice, but there is no doubt in my mind that they know when they are making a poor choice.
2. We have a crowd of witnesses praying over them.  Before my kids were born my peeps became their peeps.  They were prayed over, they are being prayed over, and will continue to be prayed over until the end of time.
3.  The power of the Holy Spirit trounces their ability to hide things from me.  I'm not suggesting that God will reveal every little thing they do wrong to me, but I do know that I found out about these shenanigans because something inside me told me to unfold a simple bit of paper I found on the ground.  I pray that the stirring down inside of me will help me bust the kids when they need to be found out!

Jan 30, 2017

I was reading a blurb in a travel magazine the other day and came across these words
"getting lost is often a precursor to uncovering great things"

The words were so sweet to my soul.

I think I've read something similar before.
Worded differently, it is probably hand-painted on some wood sign and sold on Easy for $30.
I know I've also written something about it before as well, probably often because I get lost a lot.

Those who know me, know that I love to travel.  I love to find new places and experience new things.  Sometimes those places are right in my area code, other times they are far more amazing places and require a passport.

As I read those words about getting lost suddenly a swath of memories rushed over me.  I remembered the many, many times that I have been lost while exploring a new city.  Turns out the times that I was lost, and the times that things didn't work out just as I planned are often the times that I remember most fondly.  I learned things in those moments I didn't expect, I was challenged and overcame obstacles that I didn't plan to encounter, I saw things I would have never seen if I had never ventured off course.

After the memories of that time in Spain and near disaster in Switzerland faded to gray, I thought about a deeper, less literal meaning to the words.

How often have I discovered great things when I "got lost" or found myself on a different path in my life?  Even now there are areas where I feel completely lost.  I need to remind myself that perhaps in this season of roaming around lost I might just uncover some great things.

Jan 28, 2017

I just completed the last full week at the school I've been working at since the end of October.  I thought I would be relieved when the position ended, perhaps excited to have the chance to be picky again about when I work and when I stay home, meet up with friends, or binge watch trashy shows.  However, it turns out I am incredibly sad.  Over the past three months I have learned so much about the 60 students I work with each day and have grown to love them and the teacher I work with.
To make matters worse, they share the same sentiment toward me.  The teacher I work for actually tried to work something out so that I could continue to work with her instead of the person I've been filling in for.  She and I are a great team, we balance each other well and I keep her on track because she's a bit scattered at times.  I've tried to be encouraging to her about the return of her regular assistant and suggest that the person's focus will be different now that she has moved through the difficult circumstances she was in earlier in the year.  I don't think she's buying what I'm selling.
We've kept my final date quiet, as it really isn't relevant to the students until the time comes for me to leave, however, yesterday in passing a few of the students learned that my last day would be Tuesday.  Each of the students that heard I was leaving expressed sweet messages of sadness to me. A few said they would miss me, but the rest were more focussed on the question of why I had to leave.  Somewhere along the line these silly kids forgot that I was only there temporarily.  I think we all forgot that this was a temporary situation.  We let ourselves get attached and ignored the fact that our time together was limited.
I don't know if I was placed in this position to help open the door for a job in the future, to teach me some lessons along this journey, or if it was simply for me to have a positive impact on the lives that I touched in the the time that I was there.  Whatever it may be, Tuesday will be a tough one for me.

Jan 13, 2017

The Better Plan

I have a relatively new iPhone. This phone was the first phone in a very long time  that was purchased for me brand spankin new. Almost all of the phones I have ever used have been Matt's hand-me-downs. So receiving this phone was a big deal. I kept it super clean and shiny, protected it like a precious newborn baby, until last summer when I was at the lake in North Carolina and my hydroflask's lid popped open and baptized my phone.
The following 24 hours were touch and go.
Miraculously, after a running through a series of ailments, the phone was fully functional two days after the incident.
Everything was going well with the phone until I updated to a newer operation system and the battery decided it only wanted to function though 50%.
I turned into a wall-hugger. Always plugged in.

Lucky for me Apple just issued a recall on the battery for my phone.
I took it in, hopeful that they would replace the battery for free and life would return to normal.

Unfortunately, upon initial inspection they discovered my phone "may" have had water damage. The tech advised me that if they opened the phone and found damage in the guts of it then they wouldn't be able to change the battery. I would either take my phone back as it is or pay for a new one.

I had to wait two hours to get the results.
I prayed. Yes I prayed for my phone.
I prayed that God would hide the water damage or dry it up so that the would replace the battery for free.
Although, I knew the water incident probably shortened the life of my phone, I didn't want to buy a new one since it was still working.
Upon my arrival back at the store I was notified that yes instead my phone must have endured water damage at some point. The very hip and kind 12 year old tech guru asked if I wanted to take my old phone back or buy a new one.
Frazzled and frustrated I finally agreed to pay for a new phone.
I guess God isn't handing out two miracles for this phone.

As the tech genius began the transaction to replace my phone, she looked confused. I sat there wondering how she can take apart a phone but not figure out how to run my credit card.
Then she looked up at me completely confused and said "well this is your lucky day, for some reason the system is giving you a new phone for free".

I snatched that new phone and ran out the door like I stole it!

On the drive home I thought to myself, isn't that just like me.....
My goal was to have a fully functional phone at no cost to me.
I wanted to settle for a water-logged phone with a new battery.
The better plan was a whole new phone for free.

Maybe you are frustrated because the help you think you need isn't coming, but just hang on because God's plan might just be better than you imagined.

Jan 5, 2017

Geriatric Gym

I joined a gym.
Not any of the big named ones that come with a big price tag, I'm too cheap for that.
I have joined a real gym before and had great results come from working out there, but that was way back when I didn't have a job and I could take advantage of all the gym amenities while the kids were in school/preschool.
I joined a Community Center that just happens to have a "fitness room".  It was a mere $50 for three months.
What a deal!

I need to lose weight and I'm not talking like "oh look at this extra 5 little pounds I need to shed".  I'm talking this girl might need to buy new jeans.  Jeans are expensive.  More than the cost of those 3 months at the "fitness room".  So, I decided it is time to get serious.

I thought I could just power through the frigid temperatures and get my booty out for a run to burn some calories. Yes I could.  And I tried.  But I would like to express that it is extremely difficult to run on icy/snow when it is 22 degrees outside.  I think I probably burned as many calories shivering as I did jogging.

After nearly face planting a few times and the fact that my snot was frozen to my upper lip.  I decided it wast time to pay up, get inside and run off this blubber in the comforts of a world class fitness center.

By world class, I mean "economy".

The equipment is perfect for my needs.  There are 5-6 treadmills, a few elliptical, stationary bikes, spin bikes, all those complicated looking weigh lifting machines, and there are some hand weights and exercise balls and such as well.  The whole fitness area is quite small but so far in the few days I've been there, there has been plenty of room to get in, get on a machine and work off that baby fat.  Fine, my "look I'm 40" fat.

The best part of the community center fitness room is it is conveniently located about 2 miles from my house and the fitness room itself overlooks the pickle ball courts.

Yes.  Pickle ball.

This should have been a clue to me about the age group of the users of the fitness room.

So far, everyone that I have seen in the fitness room is old enough to be my parents or grandparents.  I was running on the treadmill Wednesday morning when I heard a strange sound over the blaring music in my earbuds.
What is that noise?
Oh just two ladies working out on the indoor track moving along with their walkers.  No kidding.

I'm not complaining.  I feel really great about myself when I run 4.5 miles in the same amount of time it took the walkers to knock out .5 miles.  It is, however, quite comical.

I could have purchased a membership to the local rest home and had the same crowd working out with me.  They are probably wondering what in the world I'm doing there.  Most of them wear full on track suits, like the velour or swishy kind, and some wear jeans.  I showed up today in my hot pink capri running tights and a hoodie.  I'm listening to music on my bluetooth earbuds that are magically connected to my iPhone, while they have newspapers and novels to read while walking on the treadmill.  My favorite sight yesterday was watching the guy next to me step off of the treadmill every time he turned the page in his newspaper.

If you are ever in town and want to join me at the geriatric gym feel free.  They have day passes.

Jan 4, 2017

Tonight on our way to church the boys engaged in an epic battle. There was name calling, face making, tongue sticking outing, and crossing over the imaginary seat line. It was pure crazy. At one point I gave up telling them to stop fighting and I broke out in a full-on evangelical prayer. I asked God to change their hearts and heal the wounds that were causing the argument.
As I was at a stop light praying the Holy Spirit to bring on down some fire, G was in the back seat telling me to stop praying for him and Eli was acting out my prayer in ridiculous gestures.
I threw them out of the car at church and yelled "I'm not coming back for you until you find Jesus".
Ok so I I didn't actually do that, but I wanted to.
I sent Eli in to church and had a long talk with Gabe. I'm pretty sure his brain was filled with words of hate and frustration and he didn't hear a word I said even though he was looking straight at me.

I came back to get them, despite my internal threat to leave them there forever.

I received a text from Gabe that said "mom could you please text me when you get here? Thanks"
What?? This from the same kid who threw a pair of gloves at me last night and nailed me in the face. A please and thank you? I'll take it.

When he arrived at the car he was skipping and had a huge smile on his face.
Matt said "what's up with that attitude change?"

He had tears rolling down his face when we dropped him off.
I suggested he was so perky because he probably ate a dozen cookies.

He got in the car and Matt asked how many cookies he ate. He said "2".
Hmm that seams reasonable.

Then he hit us with the bombshell.
He said "I'm soooo excited. I know what I want to spend my Christmas and allowance money on".

Matt and I looked at each other.

He said he wanted to pay for his friend to go to winter camp.

Sometimes God grabs hold of you and turns your mourning into dancing.
He left the car frustrated with his brother, and returned excited at the thought of spending his own money to pay for a friend to go to camp.

I should have joined him in church tonight because I could use a dose of whatever they were teaching!