Saturday, December 23, 2017

Reliving my biggest disappointment

Sarah told me that she is her class's representative at the upcoming spelling bee.  I was shocked, because despite eight years of frustrating teaching, this kid never learned to spell.  I couldn't imagine how she could have qualified for the bee.  Back in my day, you had to win your classroom bee in order to qualify for the all-school bee.  Then if you won the all-school bee, you advanced to the regional, then the national.  So I was asking her what some of her words were that she spelled correctly, and she told me there was no class bee; they just asked who was willing to represent the class, and she was the only one.  I'm very proud of her courage and willingness to stand up in front of lots of people and do something that doesn't come easily for her. Maybe some of my love of spelling somehow rubbed off on her; hopefully some of her bravery will rub off on me.

Thinking about spelling bees caused me to go into a full blown flashback of the most disappointing moment of the first 25 years of my life.  I can clearly see it, like a video playing back in my head.  I'm in 8th grade. Having won my class bee and school bee, it's my last chance to win the regional bee. It's being broadcast on TV, and my friends and family are watching.  I've been studying the word list for months, and I nailed my word ("conniving") in the practice round.  Round one should be easy.  It is.  I get an easy word: judgeship.  A stupid, simple word, but I don't know if it has an "e" or not.  Panic sets in on the inside, but I appear calm on the outside as I ask for a definition.  Then I ask for it to be used in a sentence.  All stalling techniques exhausted, I now have to spell it.  I can see myself standing there with my hideous 80s perm and ugly plaid wool skirt.  I say, "j-u-d-g..." and then I bite my lower lip, racking my brain, reasoning that "judgment" doesn't have an "e", so hopefully this one doesn't either.  "...s-h-i-p." The horrible ding of that bell that indicates failure, the obligatory applause of pity, and the walk of shame back to my seat. Then I had to sit there for hours and listen to the rest of the agonizing bee until someone finally won.  To add insult to injury, I knew how to spell every single word.  It seems like such a minor thing, but for some reason, I was despondent about it, and it remained for many years the worst day of my life.  In fact, the only thing that knocked it out for the top spot was the whole ordeal of infertility and the death of my baby daughter.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The great adventure

"At any moment an unsatisfying life may become once more a grand adventure, if we will surrender it to God.  The adventure of faith is exciting, difficult and exacting, but full of new discoveries, fresh turns and sudden surprises." - Paul Tournier    

A friend sent me that quote recently, and it describes my few days in San Diego, except I would omit the word "unsatisfying".  My life is not unsatisfying, but it is rather routine.  Last week I got to tag along with Mike to San Diego for his work conference.   I used to go with him on all his business trips before we had kids.  I would spend all day discovering the city, doing whatever I wanted.  We took the kids on his trips several times too, which was nice, but it was not the same as being free and easy in a city by myself.  This is the first trip we've taken alone together since we had kids, so it's been over 15 years.  

I had no agenda.  I surrendered the whole thing to God and asked Him to lead me to the experiences He wanted me to have and the people He wanted me to encounter.  There's an air of expectancy when you do that.  Right away, unexpected things started happening.  Our first flight out was delayed almost four hours.  I wondered what God had in mind.  I looked around and saw a young mom with two little boys, also delayed.  I struck up a conversation with the four-year-old just to give the mom a break from the constant questions, but it turned out to be fun for me.  He was hilarious and inquisitive, and it's been awhile since I've had a conversation with a four-year-old.  I was pointing out to him the birds outside the window.  I mentioned that birds are amazing and that we don't have to eat them, because I wish someone would have told me that when I was young.  

The next unexpected event was that Mike and I got put on separate flights in Minneapolis for the long flight to San Diego.  I wondered what God was doing.  After a sprint through the airport, barely making my flight, I ended up in the last row next to the bathroom.  Soon into the flight, a woman was running for bathroom yelling that she was going to puke.  The flight attendant asked me if I would switch seats with her so she could be close to the bathroom.  I wasn't excited about going to her germ-infested seat, and it was a middle seat right over the wing, so I was pressed up against people on either side and couldn't see anything but wing.  
By the time Mike and I finally got to the hotel and were together again, our only day that we had together was gone.  Just enough time left to make our way to the bay and watch the sunset, then see the supermoon before we went to bed.

The next day (Monday), Mike went to his meeting, and I loaded up my backpack and my pockets and headed out for a day of unknown adventure.  I took:
  • granola bars for homeless people
  • cat treats for any cats I might encounter
  • bird food 
  • water
  • camera
  • map
  • phone 
  • credit card, ID, and a little cash
The weather was absolutely perfect.  Sunny, no wind, warm but not hot.  I wandered, got a little lost, checked out Chinatown, visited the cats at a cat cafe, interacted with some homeless people, spent some time lying under a palm tree just thanking God for the opportunity to be in that place, 

then out for a long, meandering walk with a vague destination in mind, but with many twists and turns on the way.  I walked up the steepest hill I've ever encountered,

 sat down on the sidewalk next to a cat named Mo (according to his tag)

 and had a nice chat with him, went through a very bad part of town, witnessed a pretty big street fight with Mexicans yelling at each other in Spanish, saw someone get arrested right in front of me, observed a guy have a heated argument with himself, stepped over a homeless guy sleeping on the sidewalk (left a granola bar by his hand), listened to traffic and sirens whizzing by me, and finally reached my destination (Balboa Park) as the sun was getting low in the sky.  My legs and feet were aching, so I flopped down under a huge, interesting tree for a few minutes

 and watched the planes flying low overhead

 before I forced myself to start walking again so I could get back before dark.  

And that's where I made the one really stupid move of the whole trip.   I saw this inviting looking path

 and decided to take it instead of the street route the map told me to take.  I can't resist a good trail.  So the sun was setting, I was on this trail that leads I-didn't-know-where, there was absolutely nobody around, and the trail was getting thinner as the terrain got thicker.  Then I noticed a creepy guy following me about 50 yards back.  He was the only other person I'd seen since I got on the trail.  It was the only time I felt scared. (In the very bad area I had walked through earlier, I had felt nervous enough to slip my camera into my waistband in the hopes that it would look like a gun, but I wasn't really scared.)  So when the trail took a sharp curve, I hid in a thick bush and waited for the guy to pass.  After he did, I quietly slipped back on the path and went the opposite direction until I got back to the streets.  It was a long walk back to the hotel, and my legs and feet refused to walk anymore.  I was barely shuffling by the time I got back to the hotel.

Tuesday morning, I told my protesting body that yes, we were going out again.  Daily visit to my cat friends 

and my bird friends, 

then a relatively short (compared to yesterday's) walk to a touristy place called Seaport Village, where I did some souvenir shopping for the kids and people at home who were giving them rides while we were gone.  Shopping exhausts me on a good day, and on this day, it utterly did me in.  I went back to the hotel in the afternoon, put on my pajamas, and curled up in bed.  When Mike got back, we went to the Gaslamp Quarter to eat.  We decided on The Spaghetti Factory.  Mike was very happy with his browned butter chicken spaghetti, and I got spaghetti with a vegan sauce.  I boxed up half and handed it to a homeless guy on the way back to the hotel.  He seemed thankful.

On Wednesday, my plan was to buy an all day pass on public transportation and go to La Jolla.  Figuring out public transportation in a strange city is always a challenge for me.  This one was particularly difficult, and by the time the trolley arrived, I hadn't figure out how to get the day pass.  I decided I would get on the trolley and buy a pass at the main station, which was seven stops away.  After three stops, police boarded the trolley for a random ticket check.  I was stumbling and stuttering, trying to explain why I didn't have one.  The cop took my ID and said he'd be back.  After discussing with another cop and threatening to fine me, he decided to escort me off the trolley and help me buy a pass.  Thank God he did.  Then I had to wait twenty minutes for the next trolley, ride four stops, get off, and transfer to a bus. While I was walking between trolley and bus stations, a guy approached me and said he was a disabled veteran and asked me for money for a bus ticket.  I bought him a ticket, and soon another guy was telling me he needed $9.  I didn't have $9, and I didn't get a good feeling from this guy, so I didn't give him anything. While I was searching for my bus, I ran into the first guy again, and he helped me find my bus. 

It took me most of the morning to get to La Jolla, which would have been about a 20 minute taxi ride, but there's no adventure in that, and it was five times more expensive than the day pass. The minute I got off the bus, a dog greeted me with a toy in his mouth.  

I stopped and played with him for a few minutes while trying to determine how to get to the beach.  When I finally got!  

It was breathtaking.  So beautiful.  The deep blue water, the seagulls, the waves splashing up and sounding like thunder when they break against the cliffs.  Completely different than the Florida beaches I've seen.  I just stood and stared and praised God for a long time.  Then I decided to follow my map up to La Jolla Point and La Jolla Cove just beyond that.  It was north, and I wanted to go south to the tide pools, but I felt drawn to investigate the point and cove.  I am so glad I did!

Sea lions and seals.  Lots of them and so close to me!  I've never seen them in the wild before, and they were beautiful and entertaining.  I sat there for hours just watching them. Finally I tore myself away because I was hungry and had a long trip back. (I gave up on the tide pools). I found my way (had to stop for directions once) to a bonafide vegan restaurant. It was so wonderful to be able to browse the entire menu and know that I could have anything on it.  I've been vegan for a year and a half, and this is the first time I've been to a vegan restaurant.  There were lots of people there, and they all understood me. It was powerful.  I had a delicious "cheeseburger" and fries and ate it on the rooftop with a view of San Clemente Island.  Sadly, I walked to the bus stop.  It was so hard to leave La Jolla.  I wish I could have spent another week there.  When the bus came, I fantasized about not getting on it, but while my mind stayed on the bench, my body got on the bus. 

Back to the hotel to meet up with Mike for another trip to the Gaslamp Quarter so he could find food.  I asked a homeless guy if he was hungry, and he smiled and thanked me even before I gave him any food.  After I gave him a granola bar, he thanked me and said, "God bless you. It's the little things that make a big difference."  I sat with Mike at an outdoor restaurant, where he was going to order an expensive steak.  We waited 20 minutes, during which a big sewer rat ran right by my foot on his way to the sewer, but the waiter never took Mike's order, so we left.  Instead of his expensive steak, he ended up getting a $4 slice of pizza that he ate while walking.  He said it was really good.

Thursday we had to leave.  I'm still too sad to write much about that day, but I have to relay this story from the dreaded Minneapolis airport, which I hope never to see again. We got off our plane from San Diego and had 40 minutes to make our connecting flight to Peoria.  We were walking top speed and making good time.  According to the pedometer app on my phone, it was over one mile to our gate.  We had a good 1/4 mile to go when we heard an announcement on the loudspeaker calling out our flight number...then our names...then this horror: "Final boarding call".  We started sprinting.  Some lady (I still don't know if she was a fellow traveler, airline worker, or angel) yelled out, "What are you looking for?" and we yelled back "B8!" while never breaking stride.  She continued yelling out directions as we ran, and I could only respond with a wave behind me.  Down an escalator, running, up an escalator, running...finally arrived at the gate, doubled over, unable to speak.  The airline person told us that the airport was having power problems so they were trying to get our flight out early before they had to shut the whole airport down.  We boarded the plane and spent the next 25 minutes on the ground, lined up with all the other planes trying to get out of there. Finally got home around 10:30 p.m. 

My first visit to California was amazing, and I really hope to go there again!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Appreciation from Sarah!

I was driving Sarah home from her gymnastics Christmas party last night.  As we were pulling into the driveway, someone pulled into the neighbors' driveway to drop off a neighbor kid.  There is a constant stream of people in and out of there, picking up and dropping off their kids, because the parents both work. Their kids have the best of everything: expensive name brand clothes and the latest toys and electronics.  Sarah noticed and said, "I'm glad to have this time with you.  I'd rather have more time with you than have the nicest stuff."  I was shocked to hear her say it, and it meant a lot to me.

Monday, November 20, 2017

I committed an omission.

I was grading Noah's school work.  I circled a couple things and wrote "omit" next to them.  When he went to correct his work, he saw my note and said, "I can't read what you wrote. It looks like o-m-i-t.  What is that?"  Is it possible that he's been alive almost 16 years and doesn't know the meaning of a fairly simple word like "omit"?  If that's true, then Sarah probably doesn't know either.  Time to get teaching!

Me: Sarah, do you know what the word "omit" means?
Sarah:  Yes.
Me: Oh, good. 
Noah: What does it mean?
Sarah: It means "to pay". 
Me: What? No, that's not what it means!
Noah: It must be a church word.
Me: It's not a church word.
Noah: If I don't know a word, it's usually a church word. It sounds like something old church people say.  "Omit your sins to God!"
Me: That's "admit", not "omit".
Sarah: "Omit yourself to God."
Me: No, that's "commit".  "Omit" means to leave out.  As in, "I omitted the teaching of the word 'omit' from your education."
Noah: Nobody in our generation uses that word.
Sarah: Nobody. We've never heard of it.
[A few minutes later, Mike wanders into the room.]
Noah: Hey, Dad! Do you know what "omit" means?
Mike: Doesn't it mean to leave out?

Noah and Sarah smirk at each other as if they've proven that it's a word only old people know.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Living clothes

This happened two times in two days.  First, I hung up my jammies with feet on my bed post, and they naturally fell into this position:
 They looked like they were walking away on their own.
The next day, I tossed this hoodie across the room, and it landed like it was dancing.

Kitty yoga

Sarah and I went to a kitty yoga class today to benefit the Humane Society.  We are certainly the ones who benefitted though.  We did more interacting with the cats than yoga. 
 She's begging to take the kitten home with us. 
 He crawled into my lap and held my hand.  I came very, very close to breaking my own rule, which is "no more than three cats at a time."
 The cat did more yoga than I did.

 This is Hank.  He just walked around taking over people's yoga mats.
 Sarah tried to do a little yoga with a cat in her arms.

She really liked this little tiger.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Meatloaf dip

Tonight's dinner was supposed to be this "Turkey-Free Holiday Loaf", a "feast for the whole family", proclaimed the magazine.

I was planning to serve it with roasted carrots, mashed potatoes/cauliflower, and rolls.  But then English took longer than I expected, and biology still needed to be taught, and Sarah had to be picked up after play practice.  So I left carrots and the loaf in the oven while I went to get her, and nothing else was done.  The carrots were a huge hit, devoured in less than five minutes.  But I could tell as I attempted to cut the "meatloaf" that it was going to be a terrible fail. Mike and Sarah had no interest in it, even before I realized it was a fail, but there was Noah, sitting at the table, eagerly awaiting his meal.  I've never served meatloaf in a bowl before, but that's what this one warranted. 
I set it before him and mumbled, "Sorry. I don't know what happened..."  He asked for a spoon, stirred it around, got some corn chips and ate it like a dip.  Then the wonderful kid said, "Thanks for the...uh....meatloaf, Mom.  It was really good!" and went back for more!   He's a gem. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

The best thing I've ever done...deflated

Yesterday I had to parallel park.  It's a skill that I hardly ever use and never did master.  Noah was with me, so I really tried hard to show him how it's done.  I backed into that spot perfectly on the first try. Mind you, this was no little sports car; it was a big ole minivan.  It felt good right from the start, and when I got out to check how far the van was from the curb, it was perfect.  It was also perfectly centered between the car in front of it and the car behind it.  We crossed the street to go into the building, and I couldn't resist turning around for one more look.  It was beautiful.

Today I was still thinking about it and droning on to Noah about how great it was.
Me:  I'm glad you got to witness that perfect parallel parking job yesterday.
N:  Yeah, it was good.
M:  The golden standard for parallel parking. 
N: Yep. Good job, Mom.
M:  Thanks. It's the best thing I've ever done in a car in the 30 years I've been driving.  In fact, it might be the best thing I've ever done...period!
M:   I mean it was absolutely textbook!
N:  Did you signal?
M: What?
N:  I don't recall that you turned on your turn signal before you backed into the spot.  That's in the textbook.
M:  Well, no, I guess I didn't signal, but....
N:  A driving instructor would fail you for that in a driving test.
M:  But...but...
N:  Fail.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Playing with DNA

Noah is learning about DNA in his biology class.  Last week we extracted DNA from split peas.

Yesterday we made models of DNA with pipe cleaners and beads.  Unfortunately, the cats were extremely interested in that process, so it took longer than it should have. 

 Shiloh carried off a chromosome in her mouth.
 I ended up making a separate chromatid with one gene on it to distract her from bothering Noah while he built his strand of DNA.
 Then I attached it to their toy, which kept them interested for a long time.

Friday, October 20, 2017


No school today, so I took the kids to Rader Farms.  On the way there, Sarah said, "Is it just going to be us, or are we going with friends?"  I said, "It's just us.  Aren't we enough?"  She said, "Sometimes you're a little too much."

Thursday, October 19, 2017

No funerals here!

I had my first parent-teacher conference this morning.  As I was getting ready, I realized I don't know what one is expected to wear in this situation.  I assumed pajamas would be inappropriate, and sweatpants were probably not a good idea either, but are jeans good enough with a nice shirt?  That soon became a moot point, because my jeans are all too tight at the moment.  Must stop eating so many chips.  Anyway, back to the drawing board.  I put on a decent pair of black capris with a forgiving waist and a black shirt.  Then I feared I might look like I'm going to a funeral.  I went to the living room and had a conversation with Sarah:

S: Is that what you're wearing?
M: Ummm...maybe? Would that be wrong?
S: Depends on the look you're going for.
M: I guess I'm going for...responsible parent?
S: Don't you have a blazer or a cardigan to dress it up a bit?
M: No. I'm not a blazer/cardigan kind of person.
S: I guess it's OK, but you look like a child.
M: Thanks.
S: What are you going to do with your hair?
M: Well, I washed it.
S:  Hmm..
M: I'm going for the clean look.
S: Why don't you go blow-dry it and then I'll curl it for you?
By the time I located the blow dryer (which I haven't used for years) and dried my hair, there was no time for curling.  I decided to go for the on-time look.

Turns out the funeral attire wasn't necessary, because every single teacher had great things to say about Sarah.  The science teacher was especially impressed and seemed to know her well and genuinely like her.  I asked him how she was doing socially, if she got along well with her peers and was making friends.  He said yes, but when I pressed him on it, he admitted, "She's a little bossy, especially with the boys, but they need that, and I think they respect her for it."  Every teacher said she was respectful and well-adjusted.  She is thriving, and I'm very proud of her!

Here's her first quarter report card:
 As for Noah, he finished his driver's ed class at the high school with a 97, and the teacher gave him a pass so he won't have to take the driving test when he gets his license.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The one that got away

Whenever my kids ask me to do something for them, I always try to show them how to do it themselves.  They can both quote this line, because I've been saying it to them since they were little:  "Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime." 

Today Noah asked me to sew a spot in his shirt that he had ripped.  I showed him how to thread a needle and make the repair.  Later he came to me with the gash ripped open again, and he said, "Our fish got away..."


I was teaching Noah about Archimedes and his famous quote: "Give me a long enough lever and a place to stand, and I can move the earth."
Noah was unimpressed.  He said, "Give me a phone and fast enough internet, and I can do anything."

Friday, October 13, 2017

Barkless and biteless

Noah was giving me parenting advice at lunch.  I can't even remember what it was now (because it wasn't good advice), but it was something involving threatening Sarah with some ridiculous consequence.  I told him that idle threats would ruin my credibility, and he said, "Well, I do it all the time.  I'm all bark and no bite.  Actually, I don't have much of a bark, and I have absolutely no bite to back it up."

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Biting the magical genie

I was making a grocery list, and Mike and Sarah were giving me their requests.  I said something like, "It must be nice to just wish for something and then when I come home from the store, it comes true.  I'm like a magical genie or something."  Sarah mumbled, "A magical genie that gets angry sometimes..." and Mike said, "Hey, don't bite the hand that feeds you!"  Sarah replied, "If I bite it, won't it just drop more food?"

Special friends

Carol was probably at least 50 years older than I was, but we always liked each other.  We had similar interests, and I appreciated her gentle, fun personality.  She died a few years ago, and her daughter was left with the daunting task of sorting through years of Carol's collections.  Among her possessions was a box with my name on it, and her daughter gave it to me recently.  Inside were lots of letters I had written to Carol over many years.  The first one I found was written in my ten-year-old-just-learned-how-to-write-in-cursive writing.  I wrote letters from summer camp, college, and my first home as a newlywed, and she kept them all.  She was always faithful to write back too, but I didn't keep her letters.  Also in the box were newspaper clippings from when I made the honor roll, my college graduation invitation, and pictures from my wedding.  I sure loved Carol.  She and my grandma were both rare treasures, and I look forward to seeing them again someday.

Here's an excerpt from a six-page letter I wrote to Carol on October 5, 1997:
     We do get some sun on our house, but we have a couple big shade trees. Unfortunately, they're messy trees that spit walnuts all over the yard and the neighbors' yard, which doesn't make them happy.  We're thinking of having them removed (the trees, not the neighbors), but I think I would miss the squirrels that scurry around in those trees in the winter.
     I hope you can come over for lunch on the 20th.  You can get to know Mike better.  He's a wonderful person, and the more I find out about him, the more I like and admire him.  I'm now writing with one hand pinned down by a sleeping, purring cat.  Doesn't having a peaceful cat on your lap just make you so happy?  We have one cat that purrs at the mere anticipation of being petted.  They're so easy to please.  I can't imagine why everyone doesn't own at least one cat.  The world would be a happier place.  That's my theory anyway.  You can see why I'm not running for President!  My whole campaign platform would be "a cat in every lap!"

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


It's only 9:30 a.m., and I already need a do-over on this day.  It started early, fighting with Sarah before school.  While Noah was at driver's ed, I had a couple errands to run.  I drove to Dollar Tree and parked before I remembered it doesn't open until 9:00.  So I drove to Kroger, parked, went to get my purse...realized it's in the other car.  I scrounged up all the loose change and emergency bills I could find, and counted a little more than five dollars.  Can't buy much with that, but I went in to see what I could do.  I ended up with enough marked-down items from the produce section that I could turn them into lunch: kale, mushrooms, and beets.  I had to put the apples back because I couldn't afford them.  I was too ashamed to go to the regular checkout lane with all my pennies and dimes, so I went to the U-Scan and fed them into the machine, which took a long time. 

After Noah's class, I decided to make zucchini muffins for breakfast while he started on his English lesson.  I poured hot water into a cookie sheet and put the muffin tin on top of that.  My plan was to bake the crud off the cookie sheet and also to keep the muffins moist while they baked.  I stupidly didn't open the oven door before I got to it with a pan that was stupidly too full of hot water.  I needed Noah to open the oven door but didn't want to disturb his adverb lesson, so I tried to balance the pan and do it myself.  I dropped it and spilled hot water all over myself and the floor.  After I cleaned all that up, the muffins were ready to go in the oven. The recipe said to bake them for 10 minutes.  After 30 minutes, they still weren't firming up, so I scooped them into bowls and told Noah we were having warm zucchini pudding for breakfast. 

The day is still young, so I'm hoping I can start doing things right and redeem the rest of it.

Monday, August 21, 2017


I arrived at the school ten minutes early, like I always do, to pick up Sarah.  I left home in a rush, wearing a big tshirt, flip flops, and shabby black pants covered in cat hair.  My hair was a disheveled mess, and I didn't smell great because I hadn't had a chance to take a shower yet.  I thought, "Good thing I won't see anyone."  You know already that this isn't going to go well, don't you?

The bell rang, and kids started flooding out the doors. I looked at each kid, but I didn't see mine.  After ten minutes, no more kids were emerging.  At first I was annoyed, because it was less than two hours till I had to drive her to gymnastics, and I still had to make dinner.  A few minutes later, all the kids had cleared out, and Sarah was nowhere in sight.  I knew they kept the doors locked and I wouldn't be able to get in and look for her.

I'm an educated person, but as I sat there staring at the locked-up building, I just couldn't think of what to do.  No ideas at all came into my head (in hindsight, I have several).  So I called Mike and said something intelligent like, "I can't find Sarah. What should I do?"  While he was still questioning me, a man in a suit came out of the school.  He looked important.  I hung up on Mike and lunged at Suit Man with my big shirt and cat hair pants flapping in the breeze.  I said something inspired like, "My daughter didn't come out. Can you help me?"  He asked me her name, and when I told him, he said, "I think I remember her being called to the library after school."  He took me to the library, and there she was.  The school had been having trouble getting her ipad set up for the past two days, so she had been called to the library to get it fixed.  She told me that Suit Man is the principal.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Day in the Life

6:23 a.m.--Alarms start going off.  People are getting up, eating breakfast, getting ready for school.
7:30 a.m.--Leaving for school. Praying a blessing over each student in the car.
7:40 a.m.--Dropping off Sarah at the junior high.  She gets out, steps boldly in front of the car in the other lane, and puts her hand up like a traffic cop.  The mom in the other car stops, and we smile at each other about Sarah.
7:45 a.m.--Dropping Noah off at the high school for driver's ed.
8:00 a.m.--Quick trip to Kroger, then settle into my parking spot by the driver's ed door.  I do my morning devotions in the car now.
8:50 a.m.--Noah comes out, and we go to We Care, Inc. to load canned vegetables onto a trailer to take to Community Harvest Food Pantry. 
 10:00 a.m.--Home to work on math, English, biology, Korean, and history.
10:05 a.m.--Noah's friend's dad offered Noah a job at 1:00 today.  He will be helping tear out old flooring and install new hardwood floors.  It's a good opportunity to gain real life skills and earn some money, so I adjust the schedule.  Now we're going to get math and English done before a long P.E. class at 1:00.  Biology, Korean, and history are going on the back burner for now.
I read somewhere that burning bay leaves increases the mental ability to focus.  This is certainly a time when we need to focus on math and English, so we burn a few.  Noah said, "I don't think this is going to help me focus.  It just makes me want to play with the fire."  But I notice that he attacks his math with more focus than usual.
Marty comes along after awhile and eats the charred bay leaves.  Then she sprawls on Noah's math book, so he switches to English (thus learning compassion and adaptability).  He stays focused on it and does a great job. We go over the corrections together, and then he goes back to math, because Marty has moved to the floor.

12:15 p.m.  Lunch break.  Vegan quesadillas, cherries, vegan cookie dough dip.

12:50 p.m.  Taking Noah to his job site.
1:00 p.m.  Scurrying around starting dinner and doing a bunch of little chores that nobody will ever notice: emptying and reloading the dishwasher, emptying the vacuum, cleaning up cat puke, going through the mail, watering the garden, etc.

2:45 p.m.  Time to pick up Sarah, quiz her about her day, and listen to her stories.  Her favorite subjects (for today at least) are science, art, and lunch. 

3:15 p.m.  Homework with Sarah. Petting Shiloh on my lap.

4:00 p.m.  Continuing dinner preparations.  Veggie and rice stir-fry after Mike gets home and before gymnastics.

5:10 p.m.  Taking Sarah to gymnastics.

7:30 p.m.  Home.  Time to relax and all be together.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hiking at Mathiessen State Park

We hiked with friends today.  Mike is on vacation this week, so he got to go too!
 We started at the upper dells.  Noah quickly realized that he didn't wear the right shoes for this treacherous terrain.

 He ended up carrying his shoes and hiking in his socks.

 We stopped near here to have our picnic lunch.
 After lunch, we hiked to the lower dells.
 The kids climbed this slippery rock face and slid down the waterfall.

 Too old for climbing and sliding, we just enjoyed watching the kids and the beautiful scenery.
 Sarah slipped on the slippery rock and cut her chin and inner lip. For some reason, I happened to have a little fist aid kit, so I was able to mop up the blood, disinfect the wound, and bandage it. She washed her shirt when we got home and was glad the blood came out of it.
 I crawled through a cave to take a picture of Noah and Liza in the water.
 The whole gang.
 Sarah and Liza, joined at the elbow, hiking back to the parking lot after a fun day.
I was the only one who brought a change of clothes, and Sarah needed it more than I did, so there she is, dressed like me!