Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Thursday, December 1, 2016
It was expected but it still is surreal and heart-wrenching. It is amazing the hole that seems to be created when someone dies. I know they live on, but it just feels empty and quiet suddenly. I mourn the loss of his knowledge and experiences. I wish I could have listened to more of his stories. You know what is the saddest realization? I didn't get to sit down and ask him about being a teacher and what it was like for him. I am sure I could have gained a lot from him.
I am happy that I was able to spend more time with him during my teenage years once we moved nearer one another. He liked to take me clothes shopping when I came to visit. I felt so special when he would tell me to choose what I wanted and he would buy it for me. And I will never forget how much he liked Blake from the first time he met him. He told me at my High School graduation that he approved of Blake because he could see the way Blake looked at me.
I think my favorite memory is when I visited right before Collin turned 2. He sat on Grandpa's lap and they both just giggled and laughed as they played the Talking Gina and Talking Tom. I have it on video and it warms my heart every time I watch it. Collin loves that Grandpa Bruce was a soldier. Grandpa even gave Collin his Army pin. Collin wears it every Veteran's Day. I had a chance to have some great long phone conversations with him in recent years. He was always so certain that Blake and I would make the right choices and be successful. I had the blessing of visiting with him in January this year. It was just me, mom and dad, grandma and grandpa. There was no rush. There was no one else to share him with. We just spent time together. We just talked. I held his hand. He told me how proud of me he was. It was just what you would want your last visit to be. I will miss you Grandpa. I love you.
The last 10 days have been challenging. And I am certainly earning my Mother's Days.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving Collin was coming down his bunk bed ladder to find me because he wasn't feeling well when he threw up, all over the floor (which I remind you is brand new carpet). He unfortunately had eaten blackberries for dinner which regurgitated as bright red and did a number on the carpet. Mom duty time. Blake got the kiddos settled while I began the clean up process. It took a long time. We stayed home from church and he threw up a few more times, but we were ready this time and clean up was minimal. We bought ourselves an early Christmas present though. A Rug Doctor carpet cleaner.
Monday and Tuesday I took sick days and stayed home with Collin. I had some major stomach cramping while the bug made its way through my system. One of the most challenging things about taking sick days as a teacher is that staying home seems like so much more work than just going to work. Creating sub plans is hard, especially several days in a row. And especially because I teach 2 alternative HS program classes. Those kids do not respond well to unexpected change. It is stressful to be gone.
Our good friends planning to visit for Thanksgiving understandably canceled and I would have done the same, but it was sorely disappointing. It was a good move on their part though. That very evening they canceled, Collin threw up again. I thought after 3 days we were in the clear so I had put him back in his top bunk. That was a very unfortunate decision. Especially for poor Avind who resides in the bottom bunk. Collin did not want to mess his bed up with vomit or get it on his Georgie (Curious George Doll), so he leaned over his bunk instead and let it fly to the bottom bunk, much to Avind's middle-of-the-night horror. Once again, I spent some late hours cleaning. I especially enjoyed spraying blankets off with the hose in 15 degrees.
Despite all that,we had a lovely week together! It was good, close family time. We took walks and played hide and seek, and cuddled up for family movie parties. We were mostly confined to home in fear of spreading our illness.
While home I put up outdoor Christmas lights and decorated. It is nice and cozy in our home. And I went out Christmas shopping on Saturday and helped haul a new trampoline for the boy's present (shhhhhhhhh! Don't tell them!) into our little car's backseat.
This was all apparently a little too much because on Monday morning while adjusting in my sleep, I heard the awful sound of my neck popping out of place. Ug. Not again. It is very debilitating. My head is so heavy! I was pretty miserable through the morning and was able to get in to the chiropractor, thank goodness. Would you believe that that very evening Blake strained his hamstring while walking on the treadmill. He said, "That is just pathetic. I hurt myself walking. It doesn't get any lazier than that. Well, actually I guess you got hurt sleeping so, you win that award." Nice.
And now, I am home again tomorrow. With a little poop machine. Poor kid. If he yells "poop!" I have about 3 seconds to get him on a toilet. But it is all worth it when these two little boys cuddle up to me and cling to me with all their love and energy.
I suppose sleep would be good. I finally got my sub plans typed up and have some teachers on hand to help out the sub if needed. I bet grandpa would understand.
Love you Grandpa!
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
I have to start my post tonight with my favorite moment of the day. Collin and Avind were cuddling in Avi’s bed as I finished reading to them and Avind hooked his arm around Collin’s neck to cuddle closer and said, “It’s fun having a brother.” 🤗
Gosh, I love it when they take that moment to love each other. Of course at times they fight and antagonize one another, but they are also very, very good to each other. What a treasure indeed to have my two boys.
I have been wanting to write and update about my kiddos and our family adventures, but it never seems like the right moment. I almost don’t feel like I can do it justice. We are in the throws of the business of life, and I don’t want to miss anything. But as I wait for the perfect time to sit down, time quickly disappears. I was thinking about the lyrics to “Row, row, row your boat” the other day. Have you ever actually listened to what you are singing? “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” It is pretty profound! Life is but a dream. And we just row our boat along, day in and day out. And time goes so swiftly. Like a dream.
I have to talk about Avind first. Because he is so delightfully 3 year old. I have decided that Avind is very much like Curious George. Don’t leave him alone for too long…that is for sure! A few of my favorites as of late:
Alright, it is older brother’s turn! By the way, did you know that Collin is just a fabulously, wonderful person? He is so…considerate. He once saw Blake give me the last bite of something and Blake explained, “It’s what you do when you love someone.” Ever since then, Collin has always offered Blake and I the last of anything he eats. That there just describes him perfectly. He is so perseptive. And responsive. Ah, makes my heart swell and my eyes water. He is a good boy. Gosh, I love these two.
Alright! So, there you have it. There is so much much much more to the story of our lives. But at least now we have preserved a snapshot. We have put away a few more treasure moments so that we might have something to remember about this dream.
Last thing to briefly remember: it has been a beautiful autumn. We found a place just out of my dreams last week. I was in heaven. I felt like running and dancing and skipping. In fact, I may have done all of those. I mentioned that I felt like a dog running free so Blake decided I reminded him of a golden retriever. They'd boys decided that they will call me golden mommy. Then Avind yelled, "mom! Pick me up then and run like a dog!" 😆 and so I did. And it was wonderful.
Until next time!
Thursday, July 7, 2016
In my mind, Bozeman was like any little 40,000 in population town. On the smaller side and with lower cost of living. I didn't worry too much that we hadn't found housing. And when I interviewed over the phone for the one teaching position that happened to be open at the high school, I exuded confidence. Of course they would hire me! There probably wasn't anyone else applying for the job in a town like this.
Little by little we started to realize what we were getting into. Bozeman, come to find out, is a coveted place, a gem of Montana, and a whole lot of people want to live here. Cost of living is really high, housing is a premium, and teaching jobs, especially at the high school, are nearly impossible to come by.
It was a whirlwind. Blake traveled ahead to Bozeman while the kiddos and I were cared for by our darling friends, the Sissons, in South Dakota. Every day I scoured Craigslist for a place to live. I sent Blake to several "Open houses." There was such demand for housing that a posting would go up and they would receive dozens of calls in just a few hours. People had to attend an open house with everyone and apply to live there. Nothing was coming together. I started to worry a little. Having cats really limited our already short list of options. I would see a posting in the morning, and it would be gone by the afternoon. It was going fast!
Meanwhile, Blake went to his first day of work and within a couple of hours was asked to interview for a full time job. And on the same day I was offered not the teaching job, but a long term sub for someone on maternity leave for 3 months. I was happy about it. I could help us get our feet under us, but I could resume stay-at-home mom status by Christmas.
Meanwhile, I was still frantically looking for a place to live. I finally turned off the "allows pets" filter and called every place available. I figured I would attempt to charm people into letting us bring our cats. I finally found a condo that was promising. Blake was going to meet them the next day. At the same time, I got a phone call from the high school asking me if I could indeed take the teaching position because the first person they accepted was unable to get a work visa in time. I can't believe this, now knowing what I know, but I turned down the position. Blake had full time work so I figured I wouldn't need to. They called me back the next day and asked me to please come and take the spot for at least until Christmas and then I could consider if I wanted to keep working. I accepted. And it is a good thing I did! Phew! That was a blessing they were persistent!
Blake sold the idea of us to the owners of the Condo (even with cats) and we finally had a place to live. But interestingly enough, the previous tenant wouldn't be leaving until the beginning of September. After two days of driving by myself with the kids across SD and MT, I made it. And we moved into the condo with a roommate. For 2 weeks he lived downstairs and we living upstairs and shared the kitchen. The kids shared our room and we all slept on the floor. It was a unique experience.
Due to the fact that the unit was still occupied, it never was deep cleaned before we came in. Once Ian (our roommate) moved out, I went to work not only organizing all our stuff (that came in just 2 days before school started), but cleaning as well. That was in addition to suddenly being a teaching after a 4 year hiatus. That, I assure you, was quite terrifying! I felt a little rusty. The first day of school I shook as I put together a cup tower for an activity. Who knew it would turn into long term teaching and that I would discover that I thrive on teaching and mothering.
It was also scary to put the kids in daycare. I never had to do that before. I was thrilled to find out there was a YMCA run day care in the high school. I could be near the kids! But they did not have room for Avind. I had a mentor teacher that pushed and we found a way to get him in. It was such a relief. There was space for Collin, but we had an angel of a person, Amanda Stewart, offer to watch for the first month so their son would have someone to play with since his older sister would now be in kindergarten.
It is amazing. I can't believe how things came together for us here in MT. It was so hard. But we did it. We made it work. Our little family came together and made a new life for us here. This little condo was certainly a blessing. It is a beautiful little home with a lot of charm and character. We have laughed and cried and prayed and survived in this home. Our boys have grown up so much in 2 years. I love our master bedroom "suite" on the 3rd floor and the windows that look out to the trees. I have loved walking to school with Avind in the stroller, especially on snowy days when driving looks awful. I love the skylights that bring in so much light. I loved watching it snow from our 3rd floor window fall on the huge sentinel spruce trees. I love hearing the sound of little feet climbing the stairs to find us. I will miss our climbing tree down the road and our walking loop covered in trees.
Little Mountain condo, you have been good to us. We will always remember you with fondness. You became more than a condo, you became a home.
Today we close on our new house. We will be moving to Belgrade. It is an interesting move. We will be in bozeman almost everyday so many things are staying the same. But we will have our own home. And our own yard! Yay! and we hope and pray, neighborhood kids for our kids to play with and grow up with. We are ready to be done neighboring next to collage kids.
I am so excited that I woke up with the sun and couldn't go back to sleep. It is going to be wonderful. But I will always have a piece of my heart here in our condo. Just like a piece of my heart that is in our Chesapeake "Cozy Backyard" home, our Williamsburg "Condo in the Treetops", our DC dorm room, and our Provo "Honeymoon Cottage".
Here we go! On to a new adventure
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
I am thoroughly frustrated. In the last year Blake or I or both have:
1. Answered phone calls
2. Cleaned a vacation home
3. Sold items from our home
4. Painted fingernails
5. Cleaned a Montessori School/4 times a year
6. Organized a youth Saturday soccer group
7. Worked full time, including 8 days of my summer vacation that was unpaid
8. Traveled around the entire state
9. Written two books
10. Created our own marriage blog
11. Created a consulting website
All these in an attempt to scrap together money enough. We have budgeted diligently and have finally saved enough to buy a house.
I am very grateful and very excited for said house.
But this is where the frustration begins:
You see, I am getting the baby bug. I would really love to think about baby 3. But how would we even afford that? All my sick days are used up...since I have kids that get sick. The 12 weeks is unpaid if you take them. Then there is day care costs: Two kids in daycare will cost $1500/month.
Then, the medical costs to have the baby: 25% of the hospital stay. Don't forget the diapers. That is a hole.
So, stay home you say...well, actually Blake's income is not enough so that can't work. And I want to keep working. I am a better mom. Maybe that is something I shouldn't admit, but me working is good for our family. I do wish I could do it part time...but then there is that darned money issue.
Additionally, I would really love to get a master's degree...it makes a huge difference in my pay scale over time...but that is $10,000. Not sure where that would come from. Needs to be done in the next 5 years because I need to have 6 credits in the next year to renew my license. Then the clock starts ticking.
Goodness, we are working so hard. I am not sure what else to do. Not sure where else to earn the money.
First world problems, I know. But they are still problems. And they still make me cry...because I shouldn't have to pour over the budget before thinking of whether a baby would cause us to be in the red.
Why is there no paid maternity in this country yet? Why do I have to base my decision to have a baby on whether we could live during the time I would be out? Why must I rush back into work if we do have a baby before I have had time to actually get any sleep? Why do we do this? What is wrong with our society that we don't support mothers who work? And fathers for that matter? You think maybe that might be important? Time with a new baby?
Why, with a 3.91 College GPA should I need to pay for my Master's Degree? I have worked hard. I should be eligible for some scholarship? Or a discount? A teacher who is committing so much of my energy to these kids?
Stuck. I feel stuck. Stuck stuck stuck stuck stuck. Stuck as a duck in the muck. That's a good kiddo book by the way. You should read it sometime. :)
Thursday, April 21, 2016
The night before his birthday I was holding him and as we cuddled I got sentimental and said to him, "Oh, my Avi! You are growing up so big! I will be so sad when you are all grown up and have to leave me."
So, this morning, 3 days later, I was carrying him as we got to school. He kind of whimpered for a moment so I asked him what was wrong. He squeezed tight into my arms and told me, "I don't want to grow up and leave you! I want to stay in this little world forever!" Melt my heart. Oh Avi! How I want you to stay in this little world forever, too!
A few favorites about Avi Bug:
- One of my all time Avi favorites is that he refers to day time as "Happy Time." He will get up in the morning and see that the sun is up and say, "Oh, yay! It is happy time!" Or when you try to get him down for a nap, "But I don't want to go to sleep! It is happy time!"
- He was beyond excited for his combined birthday party with his best buddy from school Toby. As each of his little friends showed up to the park he would bursting with joy and do almost a little happy dance. Each of them could hardly contain their excitement. And then it was so cute in a sad way to watch him experience, "post-party depression." "But I don't want my party to be over!"
- He is cruising on his balance bike! I am so pleased to see him get it. We went on a family walk on Tuesday and both boys rode their bikes the whole time. Blake got him some lightning McQueen knee and elbow pads and racing gloves. He was adorable racing around with them on riding his bike.
- Avind's cake choice this year was a Woody cake...up until I was working on it when he decided he actually wanted a lightning cake. Too bad kiddo! Woody it was. He thought it was pretty cool, although he was a bit miffed that I did a headless Woody. I do what I can, ya know?
- He still clings to me every day that I drop him off at his school. He likes to grab my scarf in a death grip to force me to stay. I don't like leaving him, but I know he loves school. He has a great little troop of boys in his class that all get along well.
- Collin loves school. He just loves it. Makes me happy because I love school, too. When I step into his kindergarten class it just makes me feel deeply happy. I had a conference with his teacher, Mrs. Stuckman today and she was very complimentary. He is confident and excited about learning. I hope we can keep it that way! I know there is some criticism out there about public schools, and I am sure it depends a lot on where you live, but I am so pleased with Collin's experience this year. He is reading so well and he loves math, and he takes ownership in his artwork. He says PE is his favorite. The other day when I asked him what he learned he told me all about oviparous and viviparous animals and which were which. I teach biology and I didn't even remember all that. I also see how good it is for him to deal with some disappointments and challenges that come with school. He is learning how to get over them and move forward. He is also playing a lot of soccer! And often with bigger kids. It is good to have the challenge. I always tell him that I loved school so much that I never left. And that is why I am a teacher. He thought about that for a minute and said, "Well then maybe I will be a teacher, too." :)
- Collin's Lego skill has made it to a whole new level. He loves all things Star Wars, especially Lego star wars. He builds transporters, and tie fighters and x wings and pods and all sorts of things. And there are constant light saber battles in our home (Avind loves Darth Vador and runs around in his mask and cape saying, "No, I am your father!"
- Collin loves reading. We are still reading our Little House Books together. We also read several Star Wars books from his school library. He likes to find the words on the page that he recognizes.
- We got Collin some new cowboy boots a few weeks back and he is just delighted. That is the first time we went out and bought him new, real boots. He runs out each morning to see if it is wet and muddy to determine if he should wear his new pair or his old boots. He loves to wear his red button up shirt, his cowboy hat (Thanks Papa!) and his boots. He and Hank have cowboy day at least once a week where they both show up at school in their full get up.
- Collin is a good boy and a great brother. He is sensitive to our feelings. A couple months back I had an awful day at school and I just couldn't stop crying. When we got home I sat down and started crying again and Collin came to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Do you need something Mom? What can I get for you?" He gave me a hug and said, "Do you need something to eat?" I laughed and said, "Yes. Cookies!" He laughed and said, "Well, we can probably figure that out." :) It is a beautiful thing to hear your child repeat the good things that you say to them. He often gives up something of his to Avi when he notices that it makes Avi sad not to have it. The most amazing thing is now starting to see Avind do the same thing.
- Collin saved up his money and bought a rock mining kit the other day and was just giddy to have daddy help him chip away to find his gem stones. He was just fascinated with it. What a fun thing to buy.
- One night I cuddled with my boys and told them funny stories of when they were babies. Oh, how we laughed together!
We miss having Blake at home all the time. He travels across the State regularly for his job and we feel his absence. But when he is home, he is home. He contributes in so many ways so I don't feel like I am doing the house and parent thing all by myself. And he always always catches up on the dishes for me. Besides, he loves what he is doing. And he is good at it. He has his own personal consulting website up and going now, too. You can check it out at montanastrategicconsulting.com
We also bought a house! And our hobby is spending hours every Saturday checking out the progress and walking around our soon to be neighborhood. I just can hardly wait to be in our own home. I love love love seeing the boys dig in the dirt, light saber cut the tall prairie grasses, make mud ball, and their favorite, find rock crystals for their collections. It is so beautiful out there! We saw at least 4 dozen pheasants just down the road the other day and have seen several bald eagles. And the mountains are incredible.
Last thing for the day, I have been rehired for next year. Yay! We can live! And I wish we could stay in this little world forever.