Saturday, October 27, 2012

Our Haunted House

Haunted House by Alyssa

Given that Halloween is just around the corner, this seems as good a time as any to tell you that our house is haunted.

Sometimes I'll swear that I hear footsteps or rustling, but it's our ghost's love of music that has really tipped us off to his or her presence.

We've long had issues with electronics.  It's our curse, we usually say.  So it should come as no surprise that it's our iHome system that's been acting funny.  Funny, meaning it turns on at entirely random times all by itself.  I'm telling you, it comes on at different times of the day when no one is anywhere near it.  But then several days or even weeks will go by before it happens again.  Creepy, right?

So we've come to the conclusion that there's more than just the 5 of us living in our house.

Do you think the ghost in our house is as cute as this one?  Do you remember this?

Probably my favorite Halloween costume of all time!

Happy Haunting!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


You've heard of sleepwalkers.  How about sleep-showerers? Did you know there was such a thing?  Apparently it runs in the family.

"Mom, did you hear the shower last night?" Caleb asked.

"No.  I didn't hear a thing.  Why?  Did you get in the shower during the night?" I asked, already knowing where this was going.

"Yeah.  I got up, took a shower and got dressed.  When I got downstairs, I saw the clock said 12:00 a.m.," He said.

I smiled at the recollection of my own sleep-showering memories.  "Oh, Caleb.  I used to do the exact same thing when I was in high school."

It's true.  More than once I did it.  And every time, my mom--who'd been awakened by the shower--would come rushing into the bathroom to ask what I was doing.  My mom was the world's lightest sleeper.  She'd usually catch me mid-shower and tell me to go back to bed.

Jon and I slept right through Caleb's midnight showering.  But we did notice his unusually bad bedhead this morning and while we did a tandem taming of his unruly hair, we discovered that he hadn't taken a shower this morning.  We thought it was weird.

Now we know why.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Our kids don't always get straight A's. In fact, they have to work hard to get them.  They argue with each other and disobey their parents.  They often aren't as responsible as I'd like them to be and they don't always follow the rules of our household.  They don't make their beds, they leave their clothes on the floor and they have to be reminded to do chores.

I just have to put all of that out there lest the bragging that is to follow should make me sound like one of those mothers who thinks her kids can do no wrong.  Trust me, I know how annoying it can be to listen to a mother brag about her children.  (Please don't tell me about how easy your kids are or how their teetering on an A- has given you anxiety because it kind of makes me want to vomit.)  No, my kids aren't perfect.  But they are mine so I do think they are pretty great and I am awfully proud of their achievements.

On Monday, Caleb was awarded Athlete of the Week.

On Tuesday, he had his first high school choir concert.  He looked ever so handsome in his choir uniform and I found it quite adorable that he couldn't quite fully suppress his desire to move to the beat while he was singing.

Here's a short clip:


On Thursday, Jon went to the gym to watch the girls and he filmed Alyssa's new trick for me.  The gym is busy and there is a lot going on in the video, but if you look right in the middle of the clip, there's a darling little gymnast in a pink and black swirly leotard.  Keep your eye on her and you'll watch her do a pretty awesome vault called a Yurchenko. (Dad added some fun sound effects, too.)

And for some bonus footage, watch the video again and this time, watch for another darling gymnast, this one wearing turquoise and black, on the set of uneven bars just to the right of the vault runway.  Jon didn't even realize that while he was filming Alyssa's Yurchenko, he also got the second half of Natalie's bar routine.  It's coming along.

Caleb's last 5k race was yesterday.  (He has a 1.8 mile race--his last of the season--on Tuesday.)  His previous PR was 20:06 and he had a goal to come in under 20 minutes.

His race started shortly after a fierce hail storm, making it a very wet, muddy and cold course.  Our finger and toes were frozen but we were there to cheer him on in spite of it all.  And we couldn't possibly have been more cold than those poor runners in their singlets and teeny tiny shorts.

Here he is at the 1 mile mark, looking good and on pace to make his goal:

"Here comes Caleb!" I heard Jon exclaim as we waited for Caleb near the finish.  I looked at the race clock and knew he could make his goal if he finished strong.  

"Go, Caleb! Go!  You're gonna make it!  You're gonna make it! Go, Buddy!  All the way to the finish! Gooo!" I shouted at him.

I didn't have full view of the clock in the distance but I could see that it hadn't yet turned to 20 minutes when he crossed the finish line.  At that point I was jumping up and down with both hands above my head cheering, "He did it!  He did it!"

Official finish time: 19:51.3

Just look at the mud that was kicked up by those fast feet.

Nat wasn't into having her picture taken, but she was into holding that umbrella, which the rest of us found disconcerting due to the spokes protruding from both sides.  Every time she turned around one of us was having to dodge her weapon.

Here's Caleb with teammate, Armando.  Caleb's been trying to chase down Armando all season (it took him several weeks just to get within Armando's pace).  He finished just 3 seconds behind him yesterday and they were the two fastest freshmen on their team.

Grandma was there to support Caleb and she bought him a race shirt.  There were several color options but he chose this ultra-bright orange.

I'm so sad to see this cross country season come to an end.  It's been a wonderful experience and we're sure proud of the progress Caleb's made.

Alright, that is quite enough bragging.  I'll stop for now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Super Duper

My kids have always been pretty independent.  Except for Caleb's exceptionally rocky nursery years, all three of them have easily--if not eagerly--left my protective wing and each of them have almost always preferred to do things for themselves.  

Long before they were tall enough (let's face it, two of them still aren't tall enough) to reach the cupboards, they'd scale the counters to get their own drinking cup, or the pantry shelves to reach a snack. 

There was only one time when this sort of independence bothered me.  It was a Saturday morning, many years ago, when Jon and I woke to the crash of the bottom pantry shelf collapsing under the weight of our two oldest's feet, sending all of our canned goods tumbling to the floor.  Yeah, we weren't very happy about that.  But most of the time, I celebrate their independent spirits, even if it means they climb on the countertops to serve themselves.

This past summer, all three of them delighted in a newfound independence called, "going to the store without an adult to spend our own money."  As often as their schedules and finances would allow, they'd take themselves for lunch or a treat.  Isn't that great?  It reminded me of when I used to love to do the same thing. (Somehow going to the store to spend my own money just doesn't excite me anymore.)

Riding off on a brother-sister lunch date

My kids go to Walgreens, Subway or the latest cool spot, Cherry De Pon--a self-serve yogurt shop.  For me, it was a grocery store called Super Duper.

I'd go with my siblings, or a friend, or both the back way to the store.  The back way was actually the longer way, but our route kept us away from the busy road, making it the safer way.  We'd go one block north to the edge of the elementary school, two blocks east and then one block south til we came to the back door of the laundromat that was in a small strip mall which was attached to Super Duper.

The laundromat provided a humid, detergent-scented shortcut.  Just outside the laundromat's front door we'd find Super Duper on the left and the neighborhood ladies setting their perms under dryers in the beauty salon to the right.

Ten enormous, pastel-colored diamonds stretched the length of Super Duper's roofline, each holding a black block letter to spell out the store's name.  A circus elephant mascot completed the signage.  Just inside the entrance I recall stacked pallets of glass bottles that once held red or orange sodas but had been returned for refunds.  It was a cool grocery store, you know?  Or was it just cool because I got to go alone?  Probably the latter.

Then one day, a new Roadrunner mini mart opened across the street.  For whatever reason, it became our go-to place for Runts, Fun Dip, candy necklaces or Big League Chew.  It was inside that Roadrunner where I once rebelled against what my mother had taught me and bought a package of candy cigarettes.  Going to Roadrunner also required walking further from home and crossing a busy street, thus adding to the adventure of it all.

Soon enough, Smitty's gas station opened kitty-corner from Roadrunner and just like that, we had a store on every corner beckoning for our pocket change.

Walgreens isn't particularly exciting to me but for my kids, it's their Super Duper.  I get it.  And all summer long I got an immense amount of joy out of watching them take off together, building fond childhood memories while feeling so grown up.

I thought Caleb especially clever the day he invited Alyssa on a lunch date.  Caleb was plum out of spending money but he remembered Alyssa's Subway gift card that she was given for being a 5th grade helper at school last year.  He realized that if she used her card to buy herself a sandwich, he could use my "buy one 6 inch, get one 6 inch free" coupon and manage himself a free lunch.  Perfect!  

He also once convinced his youngest sister to pool her greater sum with his meager amount but then equally share the purchase of one Gatorade and a package of Jolly Ranchers.  She's not old enough to go without him as her guide so I guess it's all fair in the end.

Super Duper is now a bingo hall and many things have changed (though the laundromat and beauty salon are still there) since those olden days.  But I've decided that one of the best things about being a mother is getting to relive some of your childhood memories as you watch your children create their own.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Day in the City

Last Friday was a day off from school and since Aunt Maureen was in town for a visit, we decided to spend a day in the city.  Maureen happened to arrive on the very day our unseasonable summer-like weather departed, but the cloudy skies withheld their raindrops just for us, I'm sure.

First we decided to go for a ride on the new Seattle Great Wheel.  

Jon was making his usual dorky picture face while Nat's uneasiness is evident in hers.

The cozy capsule provided some great views of the skyline and gave the sensation that we might dive right into the Puget Sound.  But not in a scary kind of way.  It really was cool.  We all (even Nat who had been nervous) wished we could ride again.

Next we made our way to the garden terrace of Jon's building.  It has some great city views as well.

We stopped at the Starbucks in the lobby for some warm steamers before walking across the street to see the new City Target where Jon buys his lunchtime groceries. We thought that it was cool that the carts have their very own escalator.

Then we made our way to the market.

Maureen bought some fresh donuts and Alyssa got a gluten-free pumpkin cookie.

We stopped to see the fish throwers, too.

Before leaving Pike Place, we stopped by the gum wall since Jon and I had never been.  It's gross but in a cool sort of way.  We each contributed our gum to the display.

I made sure that my finger touched only my piece.

Caleb didn't mind whose gum he touched.  Ewww.

Some people even leave messages.  We liked this one:

Finally, we paid a visit to the grumpy old troll living under the Aurora Bridge.

It was a great outing.  I love my city!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

On Being a Substitute Teacher

The interesting thing about being a sub is that I don't have an identity.  "Who are you?" I get asked every day by the other staff members.  (which is just another way of saying, "For whom are you subbing?") I'm Mrs. Hatch, a teacher in my own right, but substitute teachers are just posing as someone else every day.  The interesting thing about being a sub is that I don't have an identity.

The interesting thing about being a sub is that the ducks are never in a row. (No matter how much I wish they were.)  When the plans call for a math test to be administered but no test can be found among the materials left for me, I'm left scrambling.  Even the plans of the most organized of teachers inevitably have a few wandering ducks.  The interesting thing about being a sub is that the ducks are never in a row.

The interesting thing about being a sub is learning to be spontaneous. (Even though it goes against my nature.)  There are twenty minutes to read the entire day's plan before welcoming the students.  Learn how to use all the latest technology, find all of the necessary materials and master the procedures of the classroom.  Then learn over twenty new faces and names and do it quick!  The interesting thing about being a sub is learning to be spontaneous.

The interesting thing about being a sub is that I am an outsider.  The other teachers (most of them) are professional, helpful and friendly, but that doesn't make you one of them.  They have lunch together and make after-school plans.  And no matter how much the students love me, I'm never as adored as their regular teacher.  The interesting thing about being a sub is that I am an outsider.

The interesting thing about being a sub is that I am a jack of all trades (or curriculums), but a master of none.  One day I'm doing the months-of-the-year Macarena and the next I'm teaching imperative vs. declarative sentences.  Today I might teach P.E. in heels (because the primary grades teach their own P.E. and it never fails that I wear heels on their P.E. days) and tomorrow I'll build tin foil boats for a science experiment.  The interesting thing about being a sub is that I am a jack of all trades (or curriculums), but a master of none.

The interesting thing about being a sub is that I get to walk away at the end of the day.  There are no plans to write, no report cards to fill, no parents to conference with or challenging students to worry about.  Oh, and I can take any day off.  The interesting thing about being a sub is that I get to walk away at the end of the day.

*Inspired by "The Important Book" which I read one day as a third grade substitute.