Friday, April 20, 2018

Grateful Friday

A list:

I'm grateful that today is Dillon's wedding and since it is practically in our backyard (Mt. Timpanogos  temple) we get to go.  I'm excited to see Stephanie--OK, the whole family.

I'm grateful for spring weather.  (For real spring weather, not the snowy kind.)  I want to set up the deck furniture tomorrow and let the evenings out there commence.

I'm grateful for creative projects that make me happy.

I'm grateful to Emma for teaching me how to use Snapchat and then sending me snaps.  Is that how we say that?

I'm grateful Emma has extra money on her meal card so we can all join her for family dinners from time to time.  Even though "The Canc" as Emma calls it is not as good as it was in the Pax Thelma, I like family dinners there.  We're the only ones sitting around laughing too loud.  It reminds me of when I was a freshman and laughing with Adam and Robbie and Erin and Rachel.  Adam is still making me laugh, but now we have these witty kids too.

I'm grateful for Braeden's and Mark's relationship.  They are straight up friends where they used to be big brother and little brother.

I'm grateful the semester is almost over and we will 24/7 be together for awhile.  I'm bracing myself for the noise/laundry/dishes/groceries.  Totally worth it.

I'm grateful I get to volunteer and tutor.  When kids have that I get it now look in their eye it is one of the best feelings in the world.

I'm grateful for book club (we had it last night).  One of my book club friends told me about some books she read set in Seattle.  She said, "I thought of you.  You might like them."

I'm grateful there are SO many books I haven't read yet.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Little heroes

A lot of the children I work with when I volunteer are Hispanic.  (And super cute, but that's beside the point.)

I was working with a little boy a few weeks ago.  He is on the high end, skill-wise, of the students.  I was working with him on sentence sequencing which is leaps and bounds ahead of the kids who are struggling with vowel sounds.

He excitedly told me about the Box Top Contest in the school.  He told me the first grade classes were winning.  I told him that was great.  I asked him if he'd brought some box tops.  He said, "No.  My mom speaks Spanish so I don't know what a box top is."

At once my heart was broken and I was filled with admiration.  Also, my usual response to these cuties:  I just wanted to make him cookies.

I asked him if he spoke Spanish and I acknowledged how impressive it was that he spoke two languages.  I am teaching him sentence sequencing, but in his second language.  It kind of blows me away.

I am no star when it comes to reading all the communications from my children's schools.  So many emails.  Blah blah blah.

But I can read them.

If it's something that matters, I can find out about it.  I can send an email or make a phone call or walk into the school to talk to someone to advocate for my kids when necessary.

When I think of these tiny first graders navigating everything in a foreign language that their parents don't speak, it just astounds me.  They are little heroes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bearing mention

1.  The weather

But then about an hour later the sky was blue and the snow was melting fast.

Life in the Intermountain West.

2.  Mark

He broke his texting silence yesterday by texting us that he had "the actual worst PE sub."  He was still grousing about it after school.  Her big crime?  She reneged on a promise that they would play dodge ball (one of Mark's favorite things in the world).  They lifted weights for awhile then they were supposed to go to the other gym for dodge ball but instead she left for a few minutes and came back with another teacher who started a video for them.

"The video was The 100 Best NFL Players.  I'm sure it's a fine movie, but..."

"You wanted to play dodge ball?"


(To me watching a video, even one about the 100 Best NFL players would feel like a stay of execution compared to dodge ball but I'm not Mark.)

Apparently all the boys let their but we thought we were going to play dodge ball feelings known.  At the end of the class, the sub told them they were "the worst class ever" and that thanks to them, she was having a "craptastic" day.

Mark said, "I didn't say anything, but I was thinking, well lady, you're the worst sub ever."

Sometimes I think Mark is the most curmudgeonly 15 year old boy alive.

3.  The first graders.

Yesterday I was working with three little girls who, for the life of them, can't keep d, b, p, and q straight.  I don't blame them.  They look alike.

We were getting settled at our table out in the hall and one of them walked up close to me.

"Does chicken count as gummy stuff you can't eat?"


"I have a spacer, see?"  She opened her mouth wide and we all took a look because what else were we going to do?  "And I can't eat gummy bears and stuff like that and I am wondering if chicken nuggets count."

She unclenched her fist where she was holding a very mauled and compressed chicken nugget that had been in her hand for an indeterminate period of time.  I in no way thought she should eat it, but I had to honestly tell her that it was probably fine with the spacer.  "Just go wash your hands," I said.

While we were working, I saw a little boy in a way too big sweatshirt, from a different first grade class, talking to his teacher (a teacher who is awesome, by the way).  Her class was heading out to the computer lab. She had the little boy stand at the doorway and she said, "He is moving, today is his last day.  On your way out the door, I want you to give him a high five."  I looked at the little boy with slumping shoulders and felt sad for him.  Moving is hard and when you're moving your family a month and a half before the school year is over, it is because you don't have a choice.

My little charges were doing a worksheet, coloring each cupcake a different color depending on whether it had a d, b, p, or q on it, so I watched the other first grade class.  Some of them gave an enthusiastic high five.  Some gave a sad but friendly smile and said they'd miss him.  A few of them stopped to give him a hug.

I don't know, but it seemed like by the time the last student had passed, he was standing a little taller.

I just hope that the next class is as kind.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Relief Society

For a lot of my adult life I've been out of Relief Society on Sunday (I've been in either Primary or Young Women class).  Any place is a good place to be (I like some more than others) but I really love Relief Society.

The following happened last Sunday:

I was handed an invitation for a baby shower for a young unwed mother.  Everyone wishes things hadn't turned out that way but that will not hold back the love and support and baby gifts.  It won't.


Someone talked about how another woman had "saved her life" one Sunday when her life was falling apart and no one at church knew.  This older sister waited for the younger one in the hall and looked her in the eye and asked, "Are you OK?"

The younger sister said, "No, I'm really not."  Then, when she was telling us the story, she said, "I told her what was happening and she gave me her wisdom.  And we became dear friends after that."


Every week lately, the teacher gives a challenge at the end of the lesson.  A few weeks ago, as I mentioned before, the lesson had been about being able to do hard things.  The question was asked, "Did anyone have an opportunity to apply their faith to doing something hard?"

Someone talked about how her husband and mother-in-law had needed surgery on the same day.

Someone else talked about coming home from spring break to a flooded basement.

A few more sisters talked about hard things that had happened.

Someone else raised her hand and said, "It sounds like a lot of people had a hard week.  Can I make a suggestion that we don't have any more lessons about hard things?

It makes me happy to be there.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Making my heart sing

Three things I'm happy about this morning:


Emma gave me some nail polish for my birthday and this blue gray shade is the perfect color my soul has been craving.

I was so happy with it I took a picture to text Emma.


Adam and I ran errands together this weekend a few times and it makes me unreasonably happy to run errands with Adam.  Errands by myself is kind of the worst and errands with Adam is one of my favorite things to do.


The text messages.

From Emma:


And then there's this from Adam:

(Emma always has the good replies)

Braeden sent this:

And just this morning, this came in:

If you're wondering why Mark seldom chimes in on these conversations it is because he has blocked the Fam-A-Lam conversations.

On the one hand, I don't blame him and on the other hand, I do point out from time to time what he is missing so he can get caught up.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Grateful Friday

Emma to the rescue.  Mark had rehearsal during his registration time for 10th (!) grade.  I remembered the high intensity, high stakes time Emma used to have doing that and I was nervous.  Also, looking over the list of possible classes and teachers caused my eyes to glaze over.  Mark mostly just wanted PE and to be in classes with his friends.  I asked Emma what she was doing at 3:30 on Thursday and she said she could come over and help me.

Daughters were a brilliant invention.

On Sunday when Braeden and Emma were over, we pored over the schedule and they made their teacher recommendations.  Braeden didn't have experience with as many teachers, but he gave Mark a stirring lecture on taking hard math classes in high school (something he hadn't done) and I appreciated that.

Mark inherited his underachieving inclination from me and his stubbornness from Emma (does it work that way?), so it's nice to have Braeden chime in.  He has infinitely more clout than I do.

We were examining the list of English teachers and they range from no to definitely-no to over-my-dead-body-no.   The one English teacher at the high school who my children haven't had but who I've heard good things about was only teaching Honors English.  "How about Honors English?" I asked Mark.

"No," he said.  "I don't like English so why would I want to do harder English?"

"Do you have to take a test or anything to get into Honors English?" I asked Emma.

"No," she said.  Then she added quietly, "Let's just put him in it."

"Don't tell him," I whispered.  But I didn't need to whisper because Mark wasn't paying a bit of attention.

Soon Emma and I dismissed the boys altogether.  They just kept talking about other things and we needed to focus.

I kept rewriting the list of possible class combinations and Emma said, "Mom, stop writing.  That isn't doing any good."

"It's helping me feel less anxious," I said.

Then Emma banished the boys further.  "You literally walked 5 feet away and we can still hear you and you're bothering us," she said.

And so the boys went into the other room.  They may tower over their sister but when she says jump, they ask how high.

Then Emma took over the writing.  She created two alternate schedules.

I admired her work but asked, "But what will we do if that class doesn't work?  Everything will change."

"Then we'll adjust," Emma said confidently.


Yesterday, the fated afternoon for registration, Mark ended up not having rehearsal after all.

Adam came home early and he walked in to see us surrounding the computer, getting ready.

"I thought Emma was coming because Mark had rehearsal," he said.

"Mark ended up not having it," I said.  "Ninth graders were excused for registration."

"Then why is Emma here?" Adam asked.

"Competence,"  Emma said, jokingly.

It was absolutely 100% true though.  She was there to be the competent one.  We all knew it.

She listed the teachers in order of priority.  She noted the period and semester for each one.  She was Ready.  At exactly the stroke of 3:30 PM, (Mark did a countdown) she refreshed the page and her little fingers started flying.  She typed and clicked and added at a dizzying pace.  In under two minutes, Mark was registered for every class he wanted (or more accurately the classes Emma and I wanted for him).

What do people without an Emma do?

Mark told her thank you thank you thank you.  "You're the best sister in the world," he said.

Later, I broke the news to him that we'd signed him up for Honors English.


"Emma and I decided," I told him.  And what could he say to that?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The most interesting thing about me

After my first day of volunteering with first graders, I realized I needed paper.  For one thing, when they get to write with my pen, they feel like they won the lottery.  For another thing, you just need paper.  I think and explain and show with pen and paper.

I grabbed an old cast off composition book from a bookshelf and stashed it in my bag and I take it with me to the school.

You have no idea how fascinating this notebook is to every single child.

They run their fingers over it.  They ask me questions.

"Where did you get this notebook?"

"It's used to be my son's," I tell them.  Then, because they usually give me a sideways look, like they're wondering if they're dealing with a kleptomaniac here, I add,  "He didn't need it anymore.".

"You have a son?"

"Who colored it?"

"What did he color it with?"

"But where did you buy it?"

"Why is it colored like that?"

"How did it get like that?"

The same questions over and over and over because I work with different children all the time.

I never thought an old notebook that Braeden colored one time probably out of sheer boredom would be the most interesting thing about me.

Maybe I should bring Braeden to the school with me and they can climb all over him like an interactive museum exhibit.  The man behind the notebook.


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