2 moms. 3 kids. 1 amazing adventure.

Archive for July, 2011

Scrapbook Night!

Oooohhhh, I am so excited!

Tonight I get to get out of the house…alone…to do one of my favorite things.  Tonight I get to scrapbook!

My New Year’s resolution this past January was to attend a crop at the local scrapbook store once a month since I never seem to find the time to scrapbook at home.  I’m really proud of myself for sticking with this resolution.  I haven’t missed a month yet.

I usually attend with a couple of friends from work, but there have been a couple of times that no one was able to attend with me.  That’s not my cup of tea–being in a crowd alone.  Even though it’s the sort of thing that is really hard for me, I went.  Alone.  And had a grand time.  Tonight, though, I get to catch up with a friend to hear all about her recent trip to Australia.  And see her gorgeous photos.  And imagine my own dream vacation.

Scrapbooking is my therapy.  My first bachelor’s degree is in art therapy, so I have a long history of understanding that I NEED to create to figure out my inner workings and to sort out the constant flow of jumbled thoughts that run through my brain.  Scrapbooking has become that art.

My process is slow and tedious.  I think and plan and arrange and rearrange.  I ponder what will be just the right color combination or just the right embellishment.  It used to drive me crazy that I was so blasted slow.  In several hours, I’d see my friends get many, many pages done and I’d be lucky–very lucky– to finish three.  My process would be interrupted by thoughts about never getting caught up with all the photos I want to make pages for.

I worked really, REALLY hard at letting that go.  I’ve come to a place where I understand that it is what it is.  My creative process won’t change because it is exactly how my brain needs it to be.  You know, to get that other therapeutic work done, too.  I’ve learned to be happy content with the fact that my kids will have some scrapbook pages to take when I’m dead and gone and a lot of pictures to print and put into photo albums :).

My current favorite is this one that I made in May:


Time shall tell whether I arrive home at midnight tonight with a new favorite or not.  It’s hard to say.  I’m taking some great pictures with me, but this page is looking pretty hard to beat!  It’s that picture and the quote.  They melt me every time!


Wordless Wednesday {The Slushie Edition}

work…more or less

It’s nice to see you looking like your usual self again.

You’re way more relaxed than the last time we got together.

You can sure tell it’s your summer vacation!

These are the kind of statements I’ve heard at least half a dozen times in the last couple of weeks.  Wow.  I guess I was wearing my emotions a little more than I thought.

There’s no denying that this year (school year, anyway–it’s hard for teachers to think outside the September to June cycle!) has been extremely difficult.  There were a lot of work issues, most notably my unprofessional, unsupportive principal/boss.  Evenings at home were a whirlwind of making dinner, squeezing in some playtime, putting kids to bed, making lunches for the next day, trying to keep up with housework, finding a few minutes to spend with my lovely wife, and (unsuccessfully) trying to make a few minutes for myself.  I seriously underestimated the toll this was taking on me.

I had become a stressed-out mess.  I was stuck in the quicksand of negativity.  I was probably not the mom I should be and definitely not the mom I want to be.  I was not the partner I want to be.  I was not the teacher I want to be.  I was not the me I want to be.

Dawn and I spent a fair amount of time talking about making a change–about me working fewer hours.

And yet.  The status quo is, well…easier…safer…even when it’s not better or healthier.

I mean–I’ve got a job that pays a decent salary, I’m tenured, I have holidays and summers off, I have excellent benefits, I’ve been there eleven years and I know what to expect, and on and on.  It’s daunting to think about moving on.  I need to work part-time to make our budget work, but part-time teaching positions are hard to come by (my district offers none).  Finding something that pays enough to work the budget by keeping childcare costs down means working some evenings or weekend hours.  Thinking about what to do with summers when all three kids are home/in need of childcare is overwhelming.  I felt frozen…couldn’t figure out where to even start to fit the pieces of this puzzle together.

My wonderful wife, who knows that I’ve got to come to these things on my own, would hold me through my tears and simply say, “Read my arm.”  She’d hold out her arm, upon which is tattooed, “Sometimes you’ve got to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.”  Then she’d shut-up and hold me.  (She can be a real minimalist when it comes to words :)).

And then I got a postcard in the mail from my district office.  Asking for volunteers for layoff.  Thanks to a 74 MILLION dollar (typing that just makes me want to throw up) cut to the district budget for next year, about 1000 positions (hundreds of teachers) are being cut.  I called for information.  As a volunteer, I would get to keep my seniority and will be called back in one year or be given the option to resign at that time.  I thought it over and discussed it with Dawn. It gives me time to find a part-time job that works for our family, allows me to be recalled next year (my safety net) if for some reason things don’t work out, keeps a really phenomenal teacher from being excessed (having to be placed in another school due to lack of a position in ours) from my school, and keeps someone else from being involuntarily laid off.

I volunteered.  I made my leap.  Now I’m building my wings.

Gone Visiting

I just sent Olivia off for a week at Grandma’s house–two states away.  Both she and my mom have begged to do this since the summer Olivia turned five.  The first summer, I knew she wasn’t ready.  The next summer, I was pretty sure she was ready for a couple of days, but not a whole week.  With an eight-hour drive each way, going for a couple of days just didn’t seem worthwhile.  Last summer, I knew she was ready.  Turns out I wasn’t.  BUT.  I promised her I’d make myself ready by this summer.  And here it is.

They are both so excited and giddy!  My mom has painstakingly planned out all sorts of fun for the two of them.  She’s got an agenda and an alternate agenda for weather that’s too hot and an alternate agenda for weather that’s rainy and a blank agenda for when they decide on something completely different!  For Olivia’s part, she woke at the crack of dawn, dressed in a flash, and practically glued herself to the window.  My mom drove up late last night and stayed in a hotel to get some rest.  She headed over mid-morning to visit for a bit and to fetch her sweet-pea.

I’m absolutely certain that they will have a wonderful time…and I know she is in excellent hands.  Will she get spoiled with way too much junk food and screen time?  Yes.  But that’s one thing a Grandma is for, right?  Besides, the memories and the relationship-building and the one-on-one attention will make up for that a thousand fold.

Have fun, my growing-up-too-fast little girl!

A reading quandry

I love this picture of Olivia.  It sums up a huge piece of “her” so well.  Olivia is a reader.  A read anything, anywhere reader.   She figured out the “code” early and she hasn’t stopped.  She reads constantly–we went to the library on Thursday afternoon and by Saturday afternoon three of the chapter books she checked out were finished.   We have a problem, though.

She’s going into the 3rd grade.  But this isn’t the problem.  She reads at a 7th grade level.  But this isn’t the problem, either.  Put the two together and then we have our problem.

So much of the material that matches her reading level is full of completely inappropriate content for a 3rd grader.  Personally, I think a lot of it is completely inappropriate for a middle-schooler, for that matter.  We still manage to find plenty for her to read, but most of it is historical fiction, (some) fantasy or non-fiction.  And as she says, “Sometimes, I just want to read a good book about friendships and fun.”  Most of the fiction at her reading level is all about middle school angst and back-stabbing friends and finding boyfriends.  Completely beyond her developmental level and not at all what I care to be exposing her to.  Middle school is rough enough when you’re in middle school.

For now, we’re managing.  She brings any books she’s considering to me for perusal before we check out at the library.  I’m doing a ton of online research to find a few series’ that meet her needs.  When she needs that “friendship fix” she re-reads an old favorite.  But she reads so quickly and voraciously that I need to find that perfect cache of books–and fast!

I find it interesting that there are TONS of books out there that are geared for below-level readers.  Books where the content matches age-appropriateness, but the reading level is two to three years below that.  Obviously there is a need there, and I’m grateful those books are available.  I use many in my own classroom, in fact.  But in conversations with many other teachers, literacy specialists, and librarians no one has been able to find evidence of books that meet the opposite need.  And Olivia is proof that there is a need there, too.  Anyone up for a writing challenge?

Wordless Wednesday {Jam Session}

Sheets and Clothespins to the Rescue

Today was a day…a very rough day.   Three overly tired kids made for many, many meltdowns.  I should’ve known what I was in for when Owen, awake for maybe five minutes had a rolling on the floor, sobbing fit because his chair was pushed in crooked at the table….and then a few minutes later when I poured him too much cereal–“I wanted five less O’s, Mom!”…and then a few minutes later when I asked him if he wanted to brush his hair or teeth first.  And that was just a 10 minute snapshot of one of three kids throwing fits!

We struggled through the morning and lunch.  I knew Amelia would nap and be better.  I silently prayed that Owen would fall asleep in his bedroom at quiet time.  He’s apparently a mind-reader because just as the thought resounded in my head, he screamed at me, “And I’m NOT TIRED and I’m NOT going to fall asleep!”  And he didn’t.

After quiet time I knew I needed to pull out the big guns.  So I grabbed some sheets, pillowcases, and clothespins.  We built a fort in the living room.  I don’t know what it is about building a tent, but it’s magic for my guys.  Tears and grudges held over from the morning instantly fell away once the roof was on.   There was actual giggling–peals of laughter–by the time we had the pillowcases pinned in place for doorways. We tucked ourselves inside our fortress for a little snack and all was well with the world.

I stepped out for a few minutes and when I came back there had been some redecorating:

me:  What’s up with the stacks of boxes and books in front of the door?

olivia:  It’s to keep people out.

me:  Who?

olivia:  Governor Weasel (the nickname they’ve given our swarmy, union-busting governor) and people who don’t understand that love is what makes a family.

owen (calling out from inside the tent): And giant squid!

olivia:  Besides, everybody knows that friends should just come to the back door. [I think I should paint this on a little sign and hang it on the outside of the front door.]

So I went in the back door…and found Owen trying to pin a pillowcase to the “ceiling” with clothespins.

me:  Do you need some help, Buddy?

owen:  Yes, please.  I’m trying to be a good daddy and need to make a hammock so I can rock my baby to sleep.  [Oh, melt my heart!]

  And that’s just what he did.



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