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Things I Have Survived

20 Sep

My First Summer Working Since Having Kids

I got a job. Have I mentioned that? I’ve been working for nearly a year at a small family-owned plumbing company. I do office stuff & it’s perfect. Super flexible, great co-workers, and it’s interesting. I had thought working during summer vacation would be a drag but it really wasn’t. I left for work each morning by 8:30 and was home by lunch time. That meant the kids had 3 hours to not do their morning chores and scramble to get them done before I got home so we could go about our day. I was still able to take our long family vacation but this time, when we got home, I got to escape all the togetherness for a few hours.

Summer Vacation

This year we headed west. J~ has been working on our Yellowstone trip since January and it showed. We had great campsites, interesting hikes, fun activities, and great weather. We hauled my dad’s new house on wheels. Having grown up with camper envy, Β we traveled all over with a decrepit pop-up, it was strange to pull in to the campgrounds with one of the nicest campers rather than one of the worst. My favorite campsite was Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming. I’d love to go back there and explore some more. Such interesting topography and great trails. I’d highly recommend a stop there if you’re ever in southern Wyoming.

A Breast Reduction

I’ve been dreaming of this for a solid decade. I finally did it. The only regret I have is waiting so long. Surgery went well. Recovery was relatively easy. The worst part was and will always be finding bras to fit my freakishly small ribcage. At least now my cup size is in the first third of the alphabet rather than the middle third.

E~’s First Car Accident

Picture it: J~ is out of town, I am volunteering for a band function, E~ was left in charge of taking G~ to his percussion lesson. Around the time I’m expecting E~ to show up at band, I get a panicked call, complete with yelling and crying, that he was in an accident.

Just typing that I can still feel the panic and fear.

He was fine. Gavin was fine. The other driver was fine. E~ was on a very busy road, a mere 3 blocks from our house and didn’t leave himself enough room to react to a driver who stopped short. He rear ended the car in front of him. He wasn’t on his phone. He wasn’t speeding. He was just too close. The car he hit will need a new bumper. E~’s car was totaled. He was devastated.

In the end though, there was much good found in this accident. The driver he hit was super calm and kind. She even hugged E~ before she drove off. Because the accident happened in our neighborhood our village showed up. A friend was a few cars behind E~ and saw the boys and pulled in to the first driveway and stayed with the kids till I got there. Another neighbor saw the accident and came up to stay with the boys too. Our car guy neighbor came and helped get the car home to our house. Both E~ and I were getting texts all night long from friends who had seen the accident aftermath and wanted to check to make sure we were all fine. We ended up replacing E~’s car with the same type of Saab, just a year older. While we were working all that out, I was driving a rental and thoroughly enjoying driving an updated vehicle. I felt it was unfair E~ kept getting nicer cars than my van while I was driving my annoyingly fine minivan. There was nothing wrong with it, it was just old and clunky and loud and annoyingly fit to drive. So J~ and I decided to explore trading in the ol’ Trusty Toyota and getting something new.

Car Shopping

I had my heart set on a Volvo XC90. Used obviously. I’m all about safety now. Volvo’s are always first in safety and their older vehicles have features newer cars are just getting. The XC90 seats 7, so it would fit all of us and a couple of friends. And then we drove a couple. Not a fan. I really, really wanted to like it but driving them, they felt squishy. Plus for some reason, the only safety feature not standard in the models we were looking at were back-up cameras. We also looked at a couple of Subaru’s. We kept coming back to the Outback. It has some punch to it (helpful when getting on the highway after work. The road my office is on joins the 4-lane highway just after a corner. More than once I’ve felt like I was going to be eaten by a truck in the minivan), it was roomy, it wasn’t squishy feeling, it sits surprisingly high, and I could get the features I wanted in a price I could afford. The downside is it only seats 5. Since we figured we’re just about out of the family hauling business anyway, seating 7 wasn’t a deal breaker. If we’re all going somewhere long distance, we usually take J~’s truck, the extra kids I usually haul moved north, and if we have any vacations with the 5 of us, we can rent a bigger vehicle. So we bought an Outback and I love it!

Will We Survive:

J~’s Master’s Finish? We’ll know by Dec. 1.

Stay Tuned!





Lamenting the Passage of Time

27 Jan

Recently, J~ & I took E~ to the high school for an informational meeting on freshman registration. So many big feelings about this. I kept looking at him thinking “how are we here already?!?”

This kid is now 14. He can legally drive in our state (due to archaic rules that won’t ever be changed because RURAL RULES! How will we survive if our pubescent children can’t drive big, heavy, people-killing machines to school while texting friends they will see in a few short minutes if they happen to arrive at school safely??). Where was I? Getting older.

Do you remember the long days with your littles? The days that weighed so heavily on your hands? The days when you couldn’t wait for nap time. The days when all you seemed to do was clean up messes, feed little people who made more messes, & try to find enjoyment in those messes? Do you remember wiping yet another butt & long for the day when no one will need you to wipe them? Do you remember teaching your kid to ride a two-wheel bike? The first day of preschool? How much you cried on the first day of Kindergarten?

And now here we are. Preschool & Kindergarten are long gone. The two-wheeled bike sits in the garage barely used because it’s cooler to walk. Butts get wiped by their owner & occasionally even get clothed in fresh undies. Messes still get made but now they clean them up on their own, unless you count the prompting πŸ˜‰ Days rush by between school & activities & lessons & homework. Now we rejoice when we can all eat supper together more than 3 nights a week.

I find myself aching with nostalgia for those long days of littles. But more than that, I find myself grasping at the current days, wishing they’d stay just a little longer. High School will be over in a blink of an eye. Way before we’re ready, our house will be empty. Go ahead, roll your eyes because my oldest is only 14. Or you can take this as your warning! Your kiddo will be 14 soon enough & you’ll find yourself fighting the urge to grab that mom in Target with her cartload of littles, & tell her to enjoy it because *sob* before she knows it, they’ll be in high school.

I’m going to be a mess on the first day of high school & pretty much all days after that.


Puppy, Work, School, Track, Scouts, Mayo, Running, Soccer, Chess, Art…

14 Apr

Now you’re all caught up on the last month!


Kenai is growing & growing & growing. He weighs in at 42lbs at not quite 4 months. He gets snipped in 11 days & I am excited he gets to stay at the vet’s overnight!

It’s actually not going too badly. Puppies are a lot of work, something I knew, but now I KNOW it. He’ll be worth it, someday πŸ˜‰ Kenai loves to snuggle up on a lap, he is enthusiastic about everything, he loves a good nap, & he’s a lot less mouthy than he was a week ago. We are just about done with Puppy Preschool. Pretty sure he’s going to fail. He does ‘sit’ & ‘down’ just fine but he’s not great on a leash & is indifferent about coming when he’s called. We’ve been working hard this week on those two things & maybe he’ll surprise me. Some weeks he does great in class, other weeks, not so much. Probably the biggest hurdle with the dog is his constant diarrhea. We’re on our second round of antibiotics & things are firming up nicely. Hopefully it’ll stay that way…


I started my seasonal job at J~’s office right after we got the dog. I’ve only been able to do a few hours at a time because of the dog & my other commitments but that’s worked okay. This year I’m not filling seed, I’m putting them away. I thought I would hate it, but I actually really enjoy it. Putting the planting packets away is like a humongous puzzle. It’s nice & mindless.


The weather is above 20 most mornings so we are now walking to school. It’s really nice to have a dog in tow again. He cries when the kids cross to the school & we turn around and head home. The kids are all doing well. G~ is in the middle of his huge State Fest project. He’s very excited because his state is Alaska. T~ is plugging along & E~ is doing fine too. Although Track just started so I fully expect his schoolwork to come crashing down on him at some point. Which brings us to


I am not a fan. I love the events but the meets take FOREVER!! His very first meet was 3+ hours. 3!!! And he only ran 3 races, none of which I actually saw because I arrived late (Running Club) & had to leave early (Puppy Preschool). He has a meet tomorrow & I’m hoping to make all the races. My sister loaned me a book so I’ll have something to do.


I have a love-hate relationship with this organization. E~ seemed ready to quit but then he finally made some friends in his troop & now he’s working his tail off to get his ranks done. G~ is a year away from joining E~’s troop & is ready to go. He went on a campout with E~ & J~ a few weekends ago & loved it. I enjoyed it too because not only were all 3 boys gone, T~ went to a friend’s house for an overnight too. I really enjoyed the peace & quiet of my own house.


Which was sorely needed after sharing a hotel room with my sister who decided not to bring her CPAP & snored for 2 nights. Plus all the brain prodding that went on. But we’ll discuss Mayo in another post.


I’m half way through this years Running Club, which is now called Stride Club (so we can incorporate walkers). I enjoy it. I do not enjoy having to plan for all weather conditions. Last week was gorgeous. Today it snowed. Such is April…


Spring Soccer is the worst sport ever. Even worse than Track.


G~ is doing Chess Club at school & loving it. I think there are more kids in Chess Club than in Stride Club.


G~ is also doing Art Club. He’s at school late 3 days a week now. And he’s just fine with that πŸ˜‰ E~ is also taking Art this quarter. It’s his favorite Quarter Class. He’s thrilled because he gets all the make-up snow days in Art instead of in the class he initially missed because of the weather.

I think the two readers I have left are now mostly caught up. See you in May!

Or hopefully sooner πŸ˜‰



Last Night’s Visitor

12 Feb

E~ is currently taking Family & Consumer Science (FCS) or as it used to be known, Home Ec. The current unit is on infant care. Last night he brought home his Real Care Baby. Baby turned on at 5 last night & E~’s stress level went up too. The first two times Baby cried he could not get it to stop (it shuts off after 2 minutes). Turns out, the diaper had to go on a specific way. After he had his first success, E~ was a little more relaxed. Baby was pretty well behaved last night. It ate, it slept, it pottied. About the time E~ went to bed Baby started to get fussy & E~ started to panic. E~ was up until about 10 rocking & feeding Baby. Baby finally settled in until about 5. At that point, sleep was over for the both of them. I have a feeling I will have a tired teen tonight after school.K~

Time Passing

6 Dec

So it’s been a few weeks since my last post. I don’t mean to go that long, life just seems to keep happening!

Lego League competition is on Saturday & I am not going. Yay me! I have finally been able to step back – sure it’s the last week of practice, but I’ll take what I can get!

It has been a miserable experience. The whole point of LL is to learn how to program basic robots, do a cooperative project & be able to present your project to an audience. They stress team work & what they call ‘coopertition’ which means friendly competition & being good sports. The coaches this year are not doing well with the coopertition part. I thought things were bad a few weeks ago, that’s nothing compared to this week. This week the teams were supposed to present for each other & some teachers from the school. Only Team A decided that they didn’t want their team to see Team B’s presentation because they didn’t want Team A to feel bad about how poorly they’re doing. I was not there for that discussion. I wish I had been. Heads would have rolled but at least the kids would have seen what their friends had done. The kids aren’t being competitive with each other – it’s the coaches. And it makes me sad. The kids have worked really hard. They have given many hours & have worked well together & they’ve learned a lot, but a few of the coaches have sucked all the fun out of it.

I am trying to find some positives to dwell on. I was able to get to know some really neat kids. I was able to see a few of the kids challenge themselves & witness how proud they were when they accomplished something hard. I saw kids that normally don’t have much to do with each other come together as a team. If I concentrate on what the kids accomplished – it was a good year.


Speaking of crabby adults. Let’s chat about E~’s Science teacher. We’ll call her Ms. Crabbypantsshouldhaveretiredyearsago, or Ms. C for short.

E~ is making progress in his organization. He’s still scattered but he has a system & it works for him, most of the time. E~ definitely has a bent towards procrastination, but he comes by that honestly πŸ˜‰ Anyway, on Monday, Ms. C gave her 7th grade science class a project. There were 2 options. Option 1 involved reading from the text & doing some worksheets & taking a test. Option 2 involved reading from the text & choosing 3 other parts & putting together a presentation. She’s giving them ample class time to get it all done. E~ chose Option 2. He originally said it was because he didn’t think we would let him choose the ‘easy’ option but after a bit he admitted that it was because he thought Option 1 was boring. Anyway, yesterday I had an email from Ms. C saying that E~ hadn’t accomplished much during the week & she would like him to switch to Option 1 because she didn’t think he could manage the less structured Option 2. I half agreed with her – E~ does work better with boundaries & guidelines BUT he wanted to do this & his reasons for doing it were sound so I told her No, E~ would do Option 2. Then I sat down with E~ & we worked up a plan for how to get the project done.

All the time, I was wondering why Ms. C didn’t do that. All it would have taken was 5 minutes for her to walk through the parts of Option 2 with E~ & help him draw up a schedule. It wasn’t hard. He’d obviously done a lot of reading before I talked to him so he hadn’t spent the week in class doing nothing. Instead of telling him he couldn’t handle the work, why not help him figure out a way to handle the work? I’m not asking her to change her expectations but it would be okay to help him find a way to succeed.

Apparently, when she presented the project, she told the class almost no one picks Option 2 because it is too hard. My question is then why have that option? It’s not worth more points. If you don’t really want kids to do it, then don’t give it as an option. Or why not incorporate some components of Option 2 into Option 1? There are so many ways around this ‘problem’ that don’t include telling your class ‘you can’t handle it so don’t even try’. When I looked at the rubric & the options for this unit, what struck me was that with the Options, she is not teaching this unit. The kids are reading about it & doing busy work. That is the extent of instruction for geology.

Gah. I’m tired of complaining. Let’s find something else…

Have you seen Frozen? I went last week with my sister & T~ & my nephews. Super cute movie. So cute that we’re going again today! T~ turns 7 today & we’re going to take her friend El~ with us to the movie. Should be fun! I bought treats to stick in my purse so I don’t have to take out a loan for snacks. Good thing I’ve upgraded to a larger purse πŸ˜‰

Other potential news, Puerto Rico might be on the calendar for January. We weren’t going to go but now it’s an option & while it would make financial sense for me not to go, all reason flies out the window when I remember sitting here:



Being Honest About E~

23 Oct

We’ll go oldest to youngest.

E~ is a wonderful kid. I really enjoy him. He has a sneaky, dry sense of humor. He gets sarcasm. He’s a good friend. He’s able to show true empathy. He’s taking ownership of his faith. He’s growing & changing & it’s really neat to watch.

E~ has struggled with ADD in the past. He was on meds for a few years but they really affected his appetite. At the end of 6th grade, he went off his meds altogether. I was sick of fighting the daily battle. How could I tell him his lack of appetite was the price he had to pay for being marginally organized? The kid was 12.5 & weighed 74lbs. He was barely on the chart for weight. Going off the meds wasn’t a hard choice. He normally took a vacation from them during the summer. The school year was going to be a challenge though. Not only was he taking a notoriously difficult math class, he was starting after-school athletics. He seemed to be rising to the challenge though. He loved cross country. He wasn’t struggling too much with math. He was eating (he hit 80lbs on vacation this summer. He no longer looked like Montgomery Burns.)

And then the wheels came off the bus. We began getting emails from teachers about missing work. I was at his school & was being cornered by teachers about his tardies & his late/missing work. And then the math grades started rolling in. Let’s just say, things were not going well for E~.

We quickly went into triage mode & became the strictest, meanest parents ever. Organization became priority number one. It was no longer good enough to have finished math homework at school – it had to come home so we could check for understanding because his teacher was not (another blog post). Missing work was found or redone. Privileges were revoked. It has not been a pleasant few weeks for E~.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Only one class is still missing work. I am confident the math test at the end of the week will go better than the previous tests. He’s not losing as many papers & he’s made it to all of his classes on time for over a week.

At E~’s conferences, the resounding theme was ‘He’s a great kid. He’s nice. He’s polite. He’s smart. He knows the material (except in math. Seriously, that teacher is the one they’re talking about in articles on ‘bad teachers’). He is just incredibly disorganized. Most of his teachers were positive that he would survive the hole he was busy digging & were more than happy to help him out.

I keep hoping one of these years we won’t have to endure the cycle of “E~’s digs hole. E~ hits bottom. E~ gets help to climb out of hole. E~ becomes moderately more responsible.” Rinse. Repeat. One of these years, he’s just going to skip the hole digging.

I hope…

In the meantime, I’d love to share a few positive things about E~. He celebrated a big birthday recently. E~ is now a teenager. E~’s a really neat teenager. He even suggested recreating a baby picture.

Ethan 04-06-02IMG_9238

I couldn’t convince him to wear just a diaper for the recreation, but then, you can’t have everything πŸ˜‰

He also is a nice friend. For his birthday he invited 6 friends over for pizza & s’mores. E~ has nice friends, but most of them are either oldests or only’s. All the alpha males can make for a long night of arguing. I figured we could suffer through it for a couple of hours. E~ struggled with inviting one of his friends, Amos. Amos is on the autism spectrum. Amos is a nice kid but he can be a little deep – one of the conversations he started after practice was what if the Earth had no gravity but if people were their own gravity. That’s a normal conversation starter from Amos. Amos was in our cross country carpool & E~ was hoping to invite all of them to his party. But he wasn’t sure about Amos. When pressed, he said not all of his friends liked Amos. I countered that it didn’t really matter if his friends liked Amos, if E~ liked Amos, then that should be good enough for E~’s friends. E~ invited Amos. Amos was very excited, which confirmed for E~ that he had done the right thing. His party rolled around & the first guest to arrive is Moe. I was putting some things together in the kitchen & overheard Moe grilling E~ about who else was coming. Moe was not thrilled by 2 of the guests, one of which was Amos. I was so proud of E~ when he stood up to Moe & told him that if he didn’t like Amos, that was fine, but if he thought he couldn’t be nice to Amos, than Moe was welcome to leave*. Moe stayed & a good time was had by all.

One last thing. E~ really enjoyed cross country. So much so that he decided to run at the state meet even though none of his friends were running. It meant more practice & an early morning drive to Capital City, but he was excited to go. I’m so glad he did. It was a great course – very reminiscent of Princeton (for the two of you who ran for my high school, you will immediately visualize the woods & the sandy/muddy trail & the tight, tight course). The course was narrow, through the woods & up & down some great hills. It was perfect running weather too. Cloudy & cool. E~ had a great race. I’m not sure if it was his PR or not, but he looked comfortable & he had a great sprint into the chute.


A leisurely race through the prairie

I am going to miss cross country. E~ is already looking forward to track.


*not E~’s exact words, but you get the gist of the conversation.

Cross Country

22 Sep

Cross Country is about half over :-/

I’m so enjoying E~’s meets. His first meet was at his school against one other team (it’s a new meet & most teams have been going to another meet for years). It was a nice way to introduce the kids to the cut-throat nature of a Cross Country start line. E~ wasn’t spiked, but he was a little offended by all the shoving & pushing & jockeying for position.


E~ is the blonde kid in the black uniform behind the red kid on the far right.

His next meet was held at a local park. It was a flat, fast course & it was hot, hot, hot. E~ didn’t really enjoy this race. I think he didn’t hydrate well before the race & they were late getting to the meet because of a busing issue. Plus, I’m sure he felt bad because I was dying of bronchitis πŸ˜‰


This past Friday, E~’s meet was at a golf course in a hillier part of the state.

Crazy Hill #1 of 4

Crazy Hill #1 of 4

E~ reallyΒ  liked this course. All week, we’ve been talking about how to use hills to your psychological advantage. He is so blessed to have so much coaching πŸ˜‰


He’s so fast, he’s blurry!

E~’s time wasn’t the greatest, but he looked better, & he really enjoyed conquering a hard course.

IΒ  love this sport!