"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." Albert Einstein

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ryan Talking Out Loud

"I am sure glad that I am not a machine. I would get so bored waiting for people to come push my buttons."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Made It

Today was the last day of school. I made it. It was a hard day filled with a lot of emotions. Gratitude. For a long time I really didn't think I was going to make it. May seemed so far away. Then I just crawled into survival mode and kept it together. I am so grateful for the blessings from heaven. I know me and I would not have made it through this year without divine help. Thank you to all who have been a part of those blessings. I can never thank you enough.

Saying goodbye today was hard. I always get so attached and I have never been good at goodbyes. Yet most of my mothering experiences have required goodbyes. Foster parenting, Ryan's visitation and now, teaching. I worry about these kids. Will someone continue to encourage U.'s love of space and dream to be an astronaut? Will someone listen to L. read and keep encouraging her? She is so smart and has had to move so many times just this year. Will someone see past J.'s emotional outbursts and see the wonderful, smart, hurting little boy inside who wants things to go right. Will someone continue to help J. learn to read and speak Spanish so she can talk to her mom? Who will listen to C.'s daily updates of his reading of Harry Potter and help him get money math problems? How long will it take the new teacher to see that my other C. is super energetic, sitting is torture for him, and love him anyway? Will someone see my little E. and see how hard she tries and find the help she needs? I could name them all. I probably will tonight in my journal. You see, the Lord knew that my heart needed all the hugs, notes, silly moments & funny comments this year. He knew I needed these kids. All the times they told me I was the best when I didn't feel like the best. All the times I realized how much I have by seeing how little they have. They have given me much more than I could ever give them.

I needed this year to be over. I need the break, the opportunity to catch my breath, wash my laundry, find the bottom of my kitchen sink, scour my tub, sleep more than 5 hours a night and have time to cook & freeze some decent meals. I need some time to plan some quality lessons now that I have a clue what I am doing so I didn't feel like a complete failure everyday. I need some time to be a mother & enjoy every moment with my growing kiddo. But I really was not ready to say goodbye to these kids. I wish I could spend the summer playing with them & Ryan. Take them all to the pool. Take them to the zoo with me. Take them to museums & for walks up at the lake & to the ballpark. I wish I could have fun with them without the pressure of my curriculum map or the next test. I bought them Popsicles last night and then I forgot them at home in the rush to get out the door. The day was chaotic with a capital C. I felt like I didn't really get to say goodbye. Hopefully, what I said during the year will be enough. If they didn't learn anything this year, I hope that they learned 3 things:

1. I love them.
2. Believe in themselves. They can do hard things and they will do great things.
3. Always, always FINISH STRONG. Do not give up. Always do your best.

Anyway, I am tired with an ache in my heart, but I feel very thankful. A bit teary-eyed but thankful I got to know them. That someone (many someones) trusted me, of all people, with them. Thankful that I made it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Money Saving Tip

Need glasses? Kids need glasses? Then Zenni Optical is the place for you. I haven't ordered from them, but they come highly recommended. I will be ordering from them soon. I may even be able to afford prescription sunglasses! I have never had that luxury before!

If this one doesn't work for you, try asking for the kid package at Target. You pay for the frame ($79.00) and everything else is free. Gotta love that price. And rumor has it that Walmart has a back to school special on frames in Aug or Sept. for $10.00 each. Worth checking out.

Gathered In

50 lbs. Wheat
50 lbs. Rolled Oats
25 lbs. black beans
1 case potato pearls
1 monster case of TP

Next week I tackle rotating & finding homes for everything.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Karma

The other night Ryan was in the kitchen when I heard him turn on the water and then I heard water hitting the floor. I asked him to clean it up which he did. A while later the same thing happened. I didn't think too much of it because the sink was full of dishes. About an hour later I went into the kitchen to do the dishes and noticed that there was a rubber band around the spray nozzle and it was pointed toward the front of the sink. I said, "Nice try!" and laughingly started taking off the rubber band. Ryan was quite chagrined that I saw it before turning on the water as he had forgotten that he had put it on and got soaked twice. TWICE! Baaahhhaaa! You gotta love karma.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

We have celebrated Mother's Day all week long. On Tuesday, Ry & I went with our friends Cheri & Jessica to see Ry's very first off broadway Musical - LION KING! It was amazing, wonderful, soooooo much fun. It was the perfect musical for his first professional theater experience. Then, on Thursday, my class went on their annual fieldtrip to the zoo. I teach in an inner city school and most of the kids had never been to the zoo. It was so much fun to see them light up and get so excited about every animal. The Oklahoma City Zoo is one of the best in the Nation - literally it is in the top 10. Ryan & I discussed it and decided to buy a membership and we went together yesterday. The weather was perfect and it felt so good to be out walking in the sunshine with my favorite person on the planet.

Last night we had the missionaries over for dinner. This requires a bit more work as I now feed 4 nineteen year olds but it really was worth it. I finally found the perfect dinner for missionaries. We had breakfast for dinner. I make French Toast bake w/ the yummiest homemade syrup ever, Scrambled eggs/bacon/hashbrowns medley, and fruit w/ carmel fruit dip. You know you score when the Elders comment "It smells amazing in here!" when they walk in & then proceed to have thirds! After dinner we played a few rounds of Seek! - a scripture trivia game we got for Easter that was a ton of fun and they shared a great message with us. Hands down one of the best times ever with the Elders. So much fun!

After cleaning up, Ryan gave me his Mother's Day gift. This post will never do this gift justice. First, he wrote me the most beautiful card with a letter specifically mentioning his favorite times together. Then he gave me a wrapped gift he made at school over the last month. It was a hard bound autobiography of him titled "All About Me, Myself, and I". About 6 weeks ago, his language arts teacher had me fill out a paper with 12 blank boxes on it, one for each year of his life. I had to fill each box with as many memories of Ryan for that year as I could fit into the box. It took me almost three hours to do it and then we had to send in pictures as well. Over the last month, he has taken those notes and written his autobiography & decorated each page and the cover as well. It turned out so good! I cried as I read it. It was the best Mother's Day gift I have ever received.

To top off the evening- We stayed up late and watch "Hotel for Dogs" together. It is a cute movie but it was more about having a fun time together. This morning I slept in, woke up to a clean house and relived some wonderful memories. For Easter, I splurged on me. I have always loved Willow Tree and I finally bought my first piece. I love it. I really wanted something special to mark this new life of mine and this fit perfectly. Well, enough about me. I would like to dedicate the rest of this monster post to some of the mother's in my life.

First, my former Mother in Law, Sandy. If I could only use one word to describe her it would be supportive. A second word would be encouraging. She has always been there. Even through this last year, she has reached out to me in loving ways. One of the harder things with the divorce was having to say goodbye to my in-law family. Sandy has helped me find ways to keep our relationship alive even though it is different now.

Second, my step-mom, Sandy. From personal experience, Sandy has known the devastation of divorce. Last July, she spent hours making me a quilt with my favorite scriptures printed on it and custom decorated blocks from all of my extended family. It has meant a lot to be able to wrap up in a quilt from home so many times this past year. She has also been a great cheerleader over the past year with my job. She teaches music in Washington and has sent me tons of great educational links & funnies. Thank you!

Lastly, my mom. I have been missing her a lot lately. I was looking for something today and ran across a post about my mom that I wrote on her birthday last year. I feel the same & you can read it here. I also agree with the comments my sisters added. I have a hard time talking about my mom. She was so full of life, such a character. Anything I say doesn't really do her justice. I really wish that I could have known her as an adult. I wish that we could have become close friends. I ran across this youtube video the other day and knew I wanted to post it today. It reminds me so much of my childhood. I grew up on a farm where money was tight but love was not. Some of my favorite memories are green beans in the garden, clothes on the line and barefoot kids running through the summer, riding horses, farm chores, and Dad & Jack (Dad's old Navy buddy) singing folk songs with the guitar & harmonica. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it-



Thank you to all the moms in my life. Thank you to so many of you that are examples to me. And to all of you who feel the ache of motherhood, the longing for more little ones, I love you. Remember the Lord knows us. He loves us and those blessings will be ours. Find joy in the journey and endure it well.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

A friend started a post on a discussion board I frequent with this title. Some of the ideas were great ones so I thought I would share some of the wisdom of the collective since we are all trying to stretch a dollar. The challenge was to share ideas of ways to use things we would normally throw away.

*Save butter wrappers in a ziplock in the fridge. Use them to grease a pan or glaze the top of a loaf of freshly baked bread. I first saw this when I was 10 yrs. old at my Grandma Hachtel's house. I think of her every time I get the last trace of butter off the wrapper.

*Zest oranges & lemons before eating/juicing. Save the zest in the freezer for future recipes.

*For those two bites of leftovers keep a container in the freezer. Just add to the "Soup Box" and then throw it all in when you make soup the next time.

*Cut off buttons & keep from old clothes. Make old clothes into cleaning rags. Make old Levi's into denium quilts or baby bibs. Cut off the worn out bottom of socks and keep the top part to be a covering over bandages for arms & legs (bleach first.) Check out this tutorial for the cutest recycled toddler dress.

*Soap: First, unwrap when you get new soap & let it cure (dry out in a cupboard). It will harden & last MUCH longer. Then, keep the almost gone bits of soap in an old nylon. Tie it off with a slip knot & hang in the shower. The bits will provide soap for quite a few more showers. Keep adding to it.

*Cut open toothpaste & lotion tubes when they are almost gone and get a few more "servings" out of them.

*If you have a fireplace, dryer lint makes a phenomenal fire starter.

*Old baking soda makes a great cleanser to clean sinks, tubs, etc.

*The juice from canned fruit makes awesome popsicles. Just pour it into a cheap popsicle molds & add a stick.

*Add water to soap bottles (hand, dish, laundry soap or shampoo/conditioner), swish & get another "serving or two".

*Separating bananas from their stem keeps them fresh longer. (I haven't tested this one)

*Rinse eggshells, run through the food processor or blender & pour over flower beds/gardens. It provides great nutrients to the soil.

*Cookie & brownie crumbs can be saved in the freezer for ice cream toppings.

*Cereal boxes make great magazine holders. Just cut at an angle & cover with contact paper.

*Store water in old bleach bottles. It is instantly "sanitized."

*A collection of washed tin cans looks very chic holding markers, scissors, pencils, pens, & other craft supplies. Tin cans can become amazing gift baskets as my friend Alisa demonstrates. You can also see her great idea for recycling old CDs.

*Onion skins & purple cabbage leaves make awesome natural Easter egg dyes. Here is picture of our marbled onion skin Easter eggs. My dad will laugh that I had to dye my eggs to look like farm brown eggs. You can't see the marble on these ones too much but you can tie the skins on with string & make different patterns. Here and here are some great ideas for Easter eggs.

*Use a larger scrapbook punch & create custom gift tags from old cards. Check these out. Why didn't I think of that?

*Use TP tubes as collars for short extension cords & cables. Much easier to store.

*Check out these great ideas for great recycling ideas mostly using old cereal boxes.

What are your favorite extender or cost cutting tips?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Windows of Heaven

A few months ago, I started a produce co-op with my friend Allyson. I had purchased great stuff from this restaurant wholesaler a few times and knew that it could be a great opportunity. I had told a few friends about the place, mostly talking about "Wouldn't it be great if..." but felt like I didn't have the time, resources (large enough car or garage), or a large enough group of friends to make it work. Then one day I found out they were open on Saturdays. I am off on Saturdays. Maybe I could devote the time... Then Allyson called and said, "Let's do it. I'm in! How can I help?" And so it began.

We started with 6 families and over the months have grown to about 25+. Everyone pays $20.00 & we buy as much as we can. It is work. The Friday night before co-op is spent with last minute emails & phone calls to get the final count of who is in & where we are meeting to pick-up. We all take turns buying & then meet together to sort everything. Co-op days usually take a couple of hours out of my day. But it is soooooo worth it! I love co-op days.

First, it helps so many people. Most of the families share their "share" with other family, friends, or neighbors so while 31 families are on the books, many more are helped. Second, the wholesaler named our account "The Church Ladies" which I love, especially since we are from different faiths. This started as a group of friends from my church & has grown to include neighbors, friends, co-workers, baseball team families, etc. Third, co-op day is like Christmas - you never know what goodies you are going to find in your box. I had my first fresh mango two weeks ago. I learned that I need a tutorial in how to eat one. Quite comical! I have never had so many kiwi, avacados, incredible strawberries, or other fresh fruit. Fourth, I love seeing everyone show up to get their stuff. The teamwork & good will. I always have such a great feeling to see a TON of work get done in less than 20 mins. It is a spiritual high. And lastly, I have learned that when you take a leap of faith, the Lord provides the means. I still don't have a big enough car or a garage, but we have been able to make it work. This weekend I was praying over some of the needs of the co-op and the Lord has been providing. I love being close enough to see it happening.

Last Saturday was co-op day. And this is what my $20.00 bought:

A huge bag of grapes, 2 awesome heads of romaine, tons of apples (Gala), oranges, bananas, 4 kiwi, 2 yams, 12 of the largest, sweetest carrots on the planet, a bunch of celery, 2 large crowns of brocoli, a bowl of button mushrooms, & a bowl of roma tomatoes. And a partridge in a pear tree. :) Allyson figured out our costs -

apples - .31/each
carrots - .25/pound
oranges - .25/each
romaine lettuce - .73/each
celery - .66/each
bananas - .51/pound
kiwi - .08/each
broccoli crowns $1.07/each
broccoli florettes $1.44/pound
grapes - $2.19/bag
tomatoes - .11/each

I came home & washed, sliced & diced and had a hard time finding room for all the good things to eat. What is that scripture? "And there shall not be room enough to receive it."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Miscellaneous Bits of Sunshine & Rain

I haven't written for a while. I have been torn between being honest and being positive and result has been a silent stalemate. I am not sure that I have found an answer, but at least I am going to try to write again - here are some miscellaneous bits from the last few weeks.

*We lost our first three baseball games.

*During one game, I held a one month old sleeping babe the entire game. She was BEAUTIFUL. It was such a bittersweet ache to hold her. I cherished every selfish minute yet ached to know that she is without a home right now (she is in the system & will be adopted out.)

*We sat through 50 degree windy drizzle at Friday night's game but WE WON. Finally, we have arrived in the win bracket. It was quite cold, but I was prepared & had a great time visiting with friends.

*Ryan had his Choir concert this past month. He did a great job! He is on the top left. He got to be the curtain opener, had two speaking parts & played the recorder as well as sang all the songs. Tons of fun! (sorry about the photo - that is as zoom in as far as my little point & shoot can go.)

*It has rained for days here. Water is standing in most yards. I feel like I am back home in Oregon - gray skies, muddy tracks by the front door, always taking a rain coat. Yesterday was produce co-op day (another post on that) and so I made stew. STEW! It is supposed to be Spring! It was quite yummy & definitely fit the weather.

*Things are getting better at my job. The light at the end of the tunnel is SUNSHINE!!!!! I really like having a tidy house and I have had a hard time letting that go this last year. I was so excited the day I finally had my act together to get my bed made before school that I had to take a picture of it. It hasn't been made since, but I have seen the glimmer & I know I can do it. (and yes, those are bucket of food storage.)

*Ryan & I went to see his school's musical - "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown". It was fun, the kids did a fabulous job (especially our friend Savanna). It was so much fun to go together.
*I attended my second Single Adults Activity. This deserves its own post & I will let you decide if it is sunshine or rain.

*Ry & I spent last Saturday working at the temple. A group of us leveled the flower beds, remade the retaining walls & prepared the soil for the millions of flowers that should have been planted this week. I am excited to see them this afternoon.


* And last but not least, I found these on my door knob on May Day. THANK YOU! So much fun. I remember making May Day baskets in school and wondered why no one did them at my school. I am going to have my kids make them next year.