Monday, February 23, 2009

My New Job

That is right people, I am now among the employed in the world. The news is starting to spread like wildfire so let me get it out there.

I taught for ten years before I finally had to concede that I could not be a good teacher and a good mother with four kids. It was juggling the three kids that convinced me that I had reached the limit of my abilities. So with a heavy heart and much faith, I resigned from my position and made the move to being a stay-at-home mom. Although I fully recognize this as a blessing to be able to spend so much time with my young children, part of me always missed the classroom. Which is why I never fully left it. For the last five years, I have volunteered like crazy in my daughters' classrooms, helped wherever and however I could with the PTO, and attended district meetings. All of it made me want more. But the schedules of running four children around has kept me from doing anything about it.

Last year I started substitute teaching. Both big girls were in Tiny Tots and through the generous help of my mother-in-law Diane and many, many friends, I was able to work about ten days a month. Even though I enjoyed being in the classroom, the stress of not knowing what I was going to encounter that day AND the coordination of how I would gather the girls at the end of the day made it less than enjoyable.

At the end of last school year, I knew I would not be able to be a sub this year. Aside from the difficultly of the girls both being in two different half-day programs, with two different drop-offs and pick-ups, it was impossible to coordinate everything. I approached this year knowing that I just had to endure this year. Endure having almost three hours a day of sitting around doing nothing four days a week. Of course, I filled those three hours a day with volunteering in the classrooms and my new church responsibilities in the Relief Society. But part of me felt useless and in some sort of mental prison. I had three hours a day to do something, anything! I called up several friends and lamented my dilemma. I felt so frustrated. Thank goodness for blogging and facebook where at least I could express myself and connect with so many friends. So I have been trudging along, trying to feel useful. Busy? Always. But useful and productive? It was hard to pretend to be.

Then last week I got an email from a friend, followed by a phone call, and a few more phone calls and a couple more emails and an interview and voila! Here we are. I am teaching two boys out of their home. The parents wanted a fully credentialed teacher to teach their children in their home and they were totally willing to put up with my running around picking up my children and even bringing them over for part of the day. It is a district-approved program so I have a few perks. But the best part is that I get paid AND I am finally using my education, experience, and background to contribute to society. Woo Hoo. Oh yeah, and I don't have to sacrifice one little itty-bitty moment with my girls.

Talk about a win-win.

On second thought, it is a win-win-win. Now all of you who are sick of my whining can be relieved of that as well.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Perfect Weekend

Here is my idea of a perfect weekend.

The girls get both Friday and Monday off so I have four days in a row to play.

On Friday morning we get up early and go for a swim. I love swimming with my girls. All four are now really good swimmers which means, even though I am still the lifeguard, I don't have to hover or hold. Unless I want to.

We would then go to some sort of fun festival, like maybe the Date Festival. We would go and look at the livestock and watch the ostrich races. We would go see the exhibits and try to see if we knew anyone that won a prize. We would eat yummy things and take fun pictures. We would bask in the sunshine and people watch. We would run into a dozen people that we knew.

Then we would come home and start making some cute matching pajamas. We would make red velvet cupcakes and strawberry whoopie pies and chocolate sugar cookies in heart shapes. I would have to do a lot of dishes, but that goes with the territory.

That night, Ryan and I would go out with friends to Castelli's Italian Restaurant and have the most wonderful food imaginable. Best garlic bread ever. Lovely pasta. Perfectly cooked meats. Incredibly fresh salad and vegetables. And, of course, scrumptious desserts. McKayla would babysit so we would not have to do any arranging or pay for one.

Saturday morning we would get up and prep for my mom, sister Karen, and niece Layne to visit. We would also babysit the two adorable Wilson children. When everyone was here, we would go swimming again.

We would all go out to eat at Fisherman's restaurant. We love their fresh fish. We would all order our favorites and have my mother generously pick up the tab.

We we get home, we would frost all of our cupcakes and cookies. The little ones would use a lot of sprinkles and artistry and I would not even care about the mess they made because they were having a good time and I own a vacuum.

The next day we would go to church as a family. Then we would come home and take naps. Then we would have a lovely dinner and play board games afterwards like Sorry and Cranium.

We would watch Masterpiece Classic Oliver Twist while sitting eating popcorn and cuddling with our blankies and each other.

The next morning we would get up and eat fresh Panera bagels for breakfast. Then swim again for two hours before the rain started coming down (I mean it is February.) Then we would go to a friend's house where my girls are starting their own little business. Next would be lunch out as we say goodbye to company.

We would go home and clean the house thoroughly, top to bottom. (Now this is not the funnest thing I can think of, but I do like to start a week with a house that both smells and looks clean.)

That to me is an ideal weekend.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

25 Random things … This is a Facebook thing, but I am giving more complete answers here.

  1. I am way too wordy. Some people write this out as single phrases. I have to share portions of my life story for every one of these. I cannot help myself. I am frustrated when I cannot express myself. So I tend to go on and on, especially in writing. That is why I love to blog. I love to teach. I love an opportunity to “get it all out” and feel satisfied when I do.
  2. My favorite color is red. I used to think it was blue. Then, my sister-in-law Kym pointed out that I choose red in everything (my purse, backpack, wallet, flip-flops, etc.) so then I owned it. I really love all colors. In our previous home, every wall was painted in the most intense colors you can imagine. Every color of the rainbow in all the different rooms. I loved it.
  3. I used to be very picky about food. The list of what I did not like was much, much longer than what I did. I went on my mission to Taiwan. In my first city, we taught a lady who lived in a cave. For two months, she saved all her money to buy a fish to cook for us. I did not like fish. She gave me the head. With everything still on it. That is what you give the honored guest. She explained that she wanted me to have it because I came from so far away to teach her the gospel. I could not say no. I ate it all – brains, eyeballs, skin, mouth, etc. From that moment on, I was willing to eat everything. I still do not have any fears with food. I could totally go on a reality show and eat whatever they gave me. That does not mean I enjoy it. I just am not scared of it.
  4. I generally like everyone, as long as they are genuine. I do not like phoniness. People who try to have a ”public” persona and then act totally different “at home” drive me nuts. I can usually see people for what they are. I love honesty.
  5. I got my Bachelor’s degree in math. I do not like math at all. In my freshman year, a stupid calculus professor announced the first day of class that girls were not good at math and had no place in math. I got so mad that I decided to major in math that day “just to show him.” Like he cared. I have since learned not to make life-altering decisions based on trying to prove something to a random idiot that I will never see again. However, I do like the attention that the major gives me. I tell people and they immediately think I am super smart. That is nice. But not worth the four years of torture I went through getting the degree.
  6. I cannot stand when people act like they just want to “get over something” but then hold on to a grudge for the rest of their lives. They don’t want to discuss it or get over it. They say they want to pretend it never happened but then let the wound fester. It is so dysfunctional. It drives me crazy. It is fine it you really are the type that gets over things. Do not pretend. Repent and forgive. And mean it.
  7. I really love my girls. I love hanging out with them. I laugh so much when I am with them. They are so much fun. I look forward to having these girls be close friends as they get older and get married and have their own children. We are going to have so much fun hanging out on family trips.
  8. I have no idea how many relatives I have. Both my parents are converts to the church and both came from broken homes where the mothers didn’t quite understand the concept of fidelity. That is putting it as nicely as possible. Unfortunately another thing they had in common was how fertile their wombs were. Again, putting it nicely. The children of both have had their issues. The next generation (mine) gets along great, but we aren’t as close as anyone would like – everyone was just raised so differently. Every so often, I introduce a new relation to my girls and they are filled with questions. Ryan gave up trying years ago to figure out who was who and how they were related. I love them all and could write a soap opera someday because truth is stranger than fiction.
  9. I would travel the world if I could. I would hang out in the greatest museums and opera houses. I would see great architecture. I should have been born with a large trust fund and majored in art history. But alas, I do the best I can. In spite of my lack of funds and an ill-directed major (see #5) I have done a decent job traveling. I am not into things (see #11) or autographs (see #13) or shopping (see# 15) or souvenirs. I would gladly live in a two bedroom apartment with the minimum furniture and go on a marvelous vacation every year. I could care less about the hotel, don’t really care about room service; don’t need a spa or fancy restaurants. This can all be traced to my parents. We used to joke, because my parents were both teachers, that we didn’t go on vacation, we went on field trips. We had to study and read before we went places. My mom would scour the library for books and we studied. We always went to historically significant places. Ryan loves to travel this way. All the girls love to travel so hopefully, we will be back on the road as soon as the little ones can carry their own luggage. (The bridge between #9 and #11 can be summarized from this study that was just released. Here is a quote from the article in the local paper: Psychological research suggests that, in the long run, experiences make people happier than possessions.
    That's in part because the initial joy of acquiring a new object, such as a new car, fades over time as people become accustomed to seeing it every day, experts said. Experiences, on the other hand, continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event occurred.
    The most striking difference was in how participants said others around them reacted to either the purchased object or experience. Experiences led to more happiness in others than purchases did. A sense of relatedness to others -- getting closer to friends and family -- may be one of the reasons why experiences generate more happiness.)
  10. My dad was a Forest Gump type character. Not that he was crippled or dumb. But he just “happened” to be in the right place at the right time. For example, he just happened to be in Roswell, New Mexico on the night of the alien landing (while he was on his mission.) He also had an encounter with Elvis: he cooked for him during his basic training in the army. There are scads more, but you get the idea.
  11. I am not into having a lot of stuff or into name brands. Six months after we were married, the Northridge earthquake destroyed many beautiful wedding gifts: Oh well. What do you do? I am totally fine with the Kirkland brands at Costco. Quality is one thing. But just having something that has a designer name just so people think you have a lot of money? Pretty insecure. I do covet everything I see in the Pottery Barn catalog, but when it actually comes down to purchasing it, I have to really evaluate it. Someday I will have a beautiful Pottery Barn living room set (we are waiting for our kids to stop soiling every surface with bodily fluids … we are ALMOST there.)
  12. If Ryan could change one thing about me, he would make me more confrontational. I do not like to make phone calls. I do not like “getting after” people. He is always asking me to call someone like the bank to check on something and I hate it. I wish he would just do it because he is good at it. He wants me to develop this trait and it is a cause of stress for me.
  13. I grew up in an area where there were lots of chance encounters with people in the entertainment industry. Many people in our church worked in the “industry” and a casual trip to the grocery store or the gas station frequently resulted in a “star sighting.” I had my fill of famous people. The majority are completely self-absorbed. The rest are just normal folk.
  14. I have been sky diving. I love roller coasters. I love being on a boat during out of control waves. I usually do not get motion sickness. Twice I have felt a little queasy. Once on a bus with my parents that resulted in an incident which I cannot receive forgiveness in this lifetime. The other was at Epcot’s space ride. I think I would have been fine except for the fact that they kept warning us over and over and over and over. By the time I got on, my brain was demented and it took me a while to recover.
  15. I despise shopping. I always have. I love online shopping because it does not waste my time and I can buy at my convenience ... like at 11:00 pm. I don't like clerks who hover. I would totally hire a personal shopper if I could.
  16. I have more stories of vomiting then I could or should or would ever share. I used to have a very sensitive stomach. I can vomit at will without any fingers down the throat. I think it is because, as a child, my mother told me that we were not sick unless we were throwing up or bleeding. So I would just throw up. I can just mentally get myself in that frame of mind and I can hurl. I really am quite good at it. Too bad there are not a lot of honors, gold medals, or financial prizes for it. Figures. My talent is completely unappreciated.
  17. I have a hard time saying no. Ryan threatens me all the time and has nightmares of me giving-away-the-farm. I do not tell him most of the stuff I do or make or volunteer for. It is good that I am married to him. We balance each out. I am not good at collecting money. I do not like to feel I cheated anyone. Ryan is the killer negotiator.
  18. I love big cities and have serious issues with small towns. I think Napoleon Dynamite is an accurate portrayal of life in a small town. I love choices. I love to have thirty different places I could go on any different evening. I love being close to an airport that can take me anywhere in the world. I love being able to get anything I need whenever I want to and not just when I travel there or use online. I love diversity.
  19. I love America. I love to study the history. If I could have lived in any other era, it would have been in the days of the Revolution. I would have been happy to be a servant to James Madison or Alexander Hamilton. I love them both; and not just intellectually, if you know what I mean.
  20. I truly love soccer season. I would rather watch my girls play than go to a professional sporting competition. The season does not seem too long to me and I love spending the whole day at the park going from game to game. I get to talk to all the other soccer parents. My girls get to eat nachos. I cannot get enough and I look forward to each new season.
  21. I have issues with rodents. Bugs, spiders, snakes don’t creep me out in the least. A tiny mouse sets me off. I once waged war on a tiny mouse. He won the battle: I had second degree burns on my thumb and hand. But I won the war. Ryan was satisfied with throwing him in a dumpster. I wanted him cremated.
  22. My mom taught me that everyone will have issues with one (or set of) family member(s). Each person will struggle with either their parents, their spouse, their child, or someone else that they cannot avoid. It is all part of loving those who are difficult to love. It is a spiritual developmental challenge. How we deal with it is the true test of our character. I have seen this happen in many people’s lives. I would rather have my “person to struggle with” than have to struggle with anyone else I love.
  23. I have an acute sense of honesty. I’m not saying I am always 100% completely honest. But I do try to always be 100% honest. For example, one time Ryan and I were in a Fridays and we saw a set of missionaries eating. I asked the waiter if we could secretly pay their bill. No problem. We paid and they had no idea who had paid for it. I love doing fun things like that. When we got our credit card bill a month later, I saw two charges for the exact same amount on the same day in the same restaurant. I had forgotten about the missionaries. I called the company to inquire about it and they immediately removed the charge saying that is happened all the time but normally they catch it. They apologized and took the charge off. Months and months passed and I was sharing the story with some one when all of the sudden I realized why there was the double charge! I still feel bad about that one.
  24. I can solve the Rubic’s Cube. A sadistic math professor assigned it as our final and I retained the knowledge. My fastest time ever is a minute thirty seconds, but I am very out of practice. Now it would probably take two to five minutes.
  25. I am allergic to perfumes. I also cannot handle those plug in things. I love the smell, but after a few minutes, I get a piercing headache right in the middle of my forehead. I think it has something to do with artificial smells, natural smells have no affect on me. There are three perfumes that I found that don’t give me a headache: all three cost about five hundred dollars an ounce. Coincidently, they used natural scents.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sarah's Bat Mitzvah

My cousin Basha's daughter Sarah had her Bat Mitzvah today. We had so much fun.

First there was the religious ceremony. It was deeply moving as Sarah read the story of Miriam. Their Cantor has the most amazing voice. It was an hour and a half but the time went very quickly. Sarah was incredibly poised. We danced and sang and chanted. We listened to her speech and her parents' tribute. Their Rabbi is a woman and she is really good. (We heard her and the Cantor at her brother Josh's Bar Mitzvah two years ago.)

After the ceremony, we headed to the hall for the celebration. They had Hummer Stretch limos for all the kids. On the following Monday, the Jews celebrate a New year of the trees. The theme of the Bat Mitzvah was the cherry blossoms to signify the new buds of new life. Everything was done in pinks and Japanese styles.

My cousin Basha knows how to throw a party! The details are amazing and my girls rocked out with their favorite tunes on the dance floor. They loves the pina coladas and the candy bar. Dancing the Hora and eating with chopsticks. Visiting with family and laughing like crazy.

My mother's family is made up of people with many different experiences and backgrounds. My Aunt Marilyn converted to Judaism when she met and married a Jewish man. Their children were then raised with all the beautiful traditions. We always loved exchanging holidays with them.

I love being able to expose the girls to different religions. The ceremony was so touching that I don't know how anyone could harbor antisemitic feelings. Exposure and tolerance and education achieve far more than sitting around listening to media interpretations.

One of the things that impressed me ( and I remember from the last one as well) is the reverence placed on the scriptures: the Torah. They honor and handle the scrolls with such gratitude. It is quite touching.

Basha's devotion to her children is also touching. We count ourselves as privileges to know them and share commonalities regardless of differences.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Monterey's First Talk

Monterey gave her first talk today in Primary. She did a marvelous job. You never know what you are going to get with this kid. Although she is incredibly loud and obnoxious at home, she tends to be quite shy surrounded by others. I wasn't sure if she would say anything. She was very excited and held onto her pictures every minute from the time they were ready until she finished her talk. She also insisted that Ryan go up and help her. Here is what she said:

Joseph Smith talked to Heavenly Father and Jesus. Because of him, we learned many things about our Heavenly Father.I get my eyes from my mommy.I get my freckles from my daddy. I get my mouth from my grandma.But my spirit is from my Heavenly Father. He taught my spirit about the plan and about love.He sent me to earth to get a body and learn many things.If I follow His commandments and learn what I need, I can live with Him again.