Friday, May 22, 2009

Telling It Like It Is

Today was my first day off in two weeks. I got some housework done then spent the afternoon with a friend. We chatted away in the beautiful sunshine. It was the perfect beginning to a much needed long holiday weekend. I thought I’d been handling my work schedule well, but evidently I’ve failed to conceal my exhaustion.

Me: (rubbing my eyes and struggling to remain upright on Natalie’s bed) "… come on girls, right now! Let’s get this mess cleaned up. It’s time for bed and we need to say prayers. I can’t remember the last time I was this tired."

Alyssa: (sincerely attempting to aid her mother’s failing memory) "Yesterday?"

Is it that obvious? I guess it is. If I think about it, Natalie does ask me on a daily basis if I’m “exhausted.” It’s a big word for a little girl. Wonder where she’s heard it? Sometimes she likes to substitute “exhausted” for “pooped” just to hear the other kids snicker.

Here’s to three sleep-in days in a row!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Alive, NOT Kicking

No, definitely not kicking. I've got my legs propped up on the couch with a cozy throw blanket keeping my feet warm and the two extra strength Tylenol should be taking effect any minute now. I'm normally an anti-medicine kind of girl but I don't remember the last time my legs ached like this.

6:00 am--Run four miles

7:00 am--Quick shower

7:20 am--Get the kids up for school

7:30 am--Get the kids and myself ready

7:45 am--Make lunches

8:00 am--Run out the door after a quick family prayer

8:10 am--Quickly read sub plans

8:30 am--Welcome 32 fifth graders to school

8:40 am--Take students to library, make copies and try again to decipher sub plans.

9:25 am--Teach math--fractions, decimals and percentages

10:20 am--Teach science--learned and instinctive animal behavior

11:30 am--Lunch

12:25 pm--Teach writing

1:40 pm--Recess (breathe)

1:55 pm--Teach Social Studies--Civil Rights Movement

3:10 pm--Dismiss students and write a report for the teacher.

3:40 pm--Leave school and drive to the gym

3:55 pm--Make a super quick change of clothes

4:00 pm--Coach gymnastics

4:55 pm--First class ends, wash yucky hands. (I'm not normally a germaphobe but spotting little bodies which involves touching feet and sweating armpits just grosses me out!)

5:00 pm--Second gym class starts

6:00 pm--Break, wash hands again. Use some hand sanitizer. Eat a quick snack

6:15 pm--Back to work

7:00 pm--Finish second class. Wash hands, more hand sanitizer.

7:20 pm--Arrive home. Kids are there, Dad is away at church meetings. Neighbor keeping an eye on kids.

7:30 pm--Eat ravenously

8:00 pm--Get kids in bed

9:00 pm--Take two Tylenol and plop on the couch

I don't plan to move until my hubby gets home and helps me up to bed.

Tomorrow I'll take it easy and have lunch with my friends.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The One About the Ice Maker

Whenever my eye catches the oil splatter stain on the ceiling of my kitchen, I wish I’d documented the sesame seed story. It involved a hot explosion in a pan, a few burns on my skin and a kitchen entirely covered in grease and miniscule seeds. After a different kind of incident a couple of weeks ago, our kitchen now has multiple new stains. This is the story of the ice maker.

It was late in the evening and we’d just gotten home. Jon was away at church meetings and after pulling into the garage, I told the kids to get inside and get their pajamas on. I was involved in a fairly intense phone conversation with my employer so I remained in the car for some privacy. A few minutes later, the kids came to the garage wildly waving their arms above their heads to get my attention. I shooed them away with a wave of my own.

When my phone call ended, I came into the house physically exhausted from work and emotionally drained by life in general. Before I could order the kids to bed, they all at once started telling me about our dirty ice and water. They showed me their collection of water-filled cups, each with floating black specks. I could tell that it wasn’t dirt but couldn’t identify the substance. I went to the refrigerator and found the same black stains on the water and ice dispensers. It was ink.

I have long kept my pens/pencils/scissors container on top of the frig. The intent was to keep them out of the reach of children but with our children being the monkeys that they are, the location has never been what one could consider “out of reach.” Our pen-holding container has small holes on all sides. It appeared a black ballpoint pen must have slipped out of the holder and made its way into our ice maker. When the pen got caught in the metal ice-crushing mechanism, its ink was spilled into our ice.

After discovering the mess, I wanted to leave it be and pretend it wasn’t there. I still needed to get the kids into bed and really just wanted to fall into bed myself. But I knew I needed to tend to it. I mean, we probably shouldn’t drink little ink specks, right?

I removed the ice bin from the freezer and dumped the ice into the sink. The cap of the pen was the only foreign object I found. I then bleached the bin as best I could but had very little luck with the large ink splotches. I deemed it as good as it was going to get and fell on the couch to put my feet up.

This was as clean as I could get it with the bleach.

The next day, I told Jon of our ink pen mess. He did some research and discovered that nail polish remover can be used on ink stains. It did remove some of the splotches but in other cases, it only spread the mess around. And the fumes of all that acetone made breathing a chore.

It never did come completely clean. So is drinking ink-stained ice hazardous to your health? I’m kidding, really, because the ice seems to be coming out clear.

But this story isn’t over.

Sometime after we gave up on restoring the ice bin to its original white, Jon turned the garbage disposal on. It made that terrible grinding noise that lets you know something’s stuck inside. I reached my hand in the disposal (always freaks me out) and felt an object resembling the shape of a ballpoint pen. It was jammed vertically and could not be removed. Jon had to get out some pliers and muscle it out. It must have ended up in the disposal after I dumped the whole ice bin in the sink. And looking at the color, you can see why it wasn’t easily detected among the ice cubes.

What a headache—all because of a silly pen!

Monday, May 4, 2009

State Meet

The results from the Level 4 Washington State meet are in. There were six sessions in all and we were able to see the scores at the USAGWA site. Out of 451 Level 4 gymnasts, Alyssa finished 31st!

We're so proud of her. Look out Level 5, here we come!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

New 'Do

Super short and super cute!

Friday, May 1, 2009

One Giant Leap

I cried when he left and cried when he got home. I’m not ashamed. That’s what any mom does when her child makes a big step in life.

It wasn’t entirely without incident, but we’re calling Caleb’s Camp Auburn experience a success. It’s a big step for any fifth grader to leave his family for four days, but for Caleb it’s more like one giant leap. Can you tell I’ve been thinking about the famous Neil Armstrong quote? I’m not trying to say that Fifth Grade Camp is like walking on the moon, but for us, this accomplishment is a pretty big deal.

Caleb really didn’t want to go to camp. New situations are always challenging for him so we weren’t surprised by his anxiety. He knew his teacher would accompany his class and he’d get to choose a cabin buddy, but being 45 minutes away from home without any other members of his family was very unsettling. There would be new rules, new people and unfamiliar surroundings. He’d be thrown into a social fire with very few comfort zones to protect him.

We decided for him that this was an opportunity he needed to experience. I also had selfish desires; I wanted affirmation of my belief that Caleb is capable of being successful in anything that is expected of other children his age.

Once he found out that he was going to be in cabin #5—his lucky number—he started to exhibit the most subtle signs of excitement. Or, at least his statements of displeasure began to seem much less adamant. The closer we got to departure, the more he accepted that he would be going.
We assembled packages for camp mail that would be distributed to him daily and carefully packed this bedding and clothes. I gave him a thorough tutorial of his luggage, explaining that all dirty and/or wet clothes should be placed in one of two garbage bags I’d labeled for him. When I asked him what he should do with the dirty clothes bag when it came time to pack up he said, “Throw them in the garbage?” Oh dear. No wonder I cried tears of worry as I waved good-bye Tuesday morning.

Wednesday morning Jon got a call. I was subbing at the school (that’s another story) so I didn’t get to speak with Caleb or the teacher but as I understand it, my boy was sobbing, begging to come home. The details of the breakdown remain a bit sketchy but it had something to do with having trouble sitting at the breakfast table. His counselor had him talk to his teacher and I’m guessing the worry of feeling like he was in trouble was enough to send his anxiety over the top. His teacher is known to overreact which certainly doesn’t help in tense situations. But, the happy ending of this story is that he pulled himself together and went on with his day. I spoke with the principal, who was going to camp that evening, and asked him to check up on Caleb. I also had a teacher that was planning a camp visit serve as my spy. Both the principal and teacher later delivered reports that Caleb seemed just fine.

I couldn’t wait for him to get home. His return would mean I could worry a whole lot less, but it would also mean that the void in my heart and home would be filled. That may sound overly dramatic but his absence was deeply felt.

This afternoon, a crowd of anxious parents gathered in front of the school to wait for the school busses to arrive. Some even held “welcome home” signs. Before the first bus could pull into the parking lot, the crowd pressed closer to the curb, unable to contain their excitement to have their children back. Caleb came off the bus and into my arms. I couldn’t hold him tight enough. I was relieved to have my baby home and overjoyed that we could call this a success. He made it the whole week away from home.

There was so much I wanted to ask, but I’ve tried to spread my questions out. We’ve heard about the bruised pinky, headache and stomachache—each resulting in trips to the nurse, and saw his autograph book in which he refused all signatures. But we’ve also heard about the skit, kickball, pickleball, canoes and other recreation. He also shared that he really liked his counselor.
Going away to camp is a big deal for any 10 year old, but for our dear boy who battles social-skill challenges every day of his life, this is a magnificent achievement. He proved he can do it. He can overcome obstacles in his path.

And every misstep on his path can be made up for with giant leaps like this.