Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Husband of the Year 2008

You may be partial to yours, but this is why my husband should win this prize:

We had a date yesterday. We dropped off the kids at my parents' at dinnertime and then went to have sushi. After that, my husband willingly went to two different malls so that we could see Twilight (I told him to go to the wrong theater the first time, thereby missing the earlier showtime) and walked around the Macy's home store looking at cookware and furniture. And he even appeared to be having fun while he did it.

Today, he let me lay in bed and read all day. ALL DAY. Until it was time to go get the kids. He even brought me food in bed.

He'd better watch it! I could get spoiled and begin to expect such unselfishness all the time!

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy birthday to you...

First, I hope you had a blessed Christmas and enjoyed your time with family and friends.

Ours was GREAT! We had a nice, relaxing day beginning with church at 10:00, followed by some play-time at home and a FABULOUS dinner at my parents' house.

Bedtime, however, was rather unpleasant. This was largely due to the fact that Caleb hasn't napped in two days and has slept very little because he has been so amped about Christmas. OR it could be that his diet has been ridiculously devoid of nutrition for two days. Regardless, I am happy to report that currently in my house, the only sounds I hear are snoring and the tapping of the keys on my laptop. Ahhhh...

I'll leave you with my current favorite Christmas verse:

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." -John 1:14

Happy birthday, Jesus!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the night before Christmas...

It's 8:30 and Caleb is in the tub. Nikki finally remembered that she didn't have gifts for any of us, so she's in her room madly working on something homemade. Scott is in the garage assembling Caleb's "big surprise" (his request from Santa this year). And I have five minutes' peace, which is the best gift EVER. Well, almost.

We had a good time at Scott's parents' house tonight with all the cousins. They have a family tradition of giving the kids an airplane every year in their stockings. This year, the airplanes were sitting out waiting for them, so the kids went outside and flew airplanes around while we waited for the towtruck to come with Scott's brother's car (long story). In spite of the piles of gifts that come home from Christmas Eve, the airplanes are always the favorite.

And I had better get busy if I want to get to bed before midnight. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hysteria

Heard from downstairs:

Caleb: I CAN'T DO IT!
Scott: Do what??
Caleb: I CAN'T wait for Jesus birthday!!!!!! (followed by helpless whimpering)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Strategery

I was assigned to jury duty on December 10. I decided to exercise my option to do it two weeks after my assigned date because I didn't want to miss a day in the classroom. I decided to go today, thinking that nobody would possibly be doing jury selection three days before Christmas.

Guess what?? I WAS RIGHT!!! Not about the jury selection. They were actually trying to do that today, but there weren't enough potential jurors so they let us go!! I walked in at 8:00 and walked out at 8:15. Then I went shopping. It was GREAT!

SO, if you ever are assigned jury duty around a major holiday, I highly recommend my strategy.

George Bush would be so proud. ;)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Comma

There is something quite satisfying about locking down my classroom for Winter Break, shooing out the kids, and saying, "See you next year!" It doesn't change the fact that I'm taking home a bin full of essays to grade, or that I still need to order the AP Psych study guides, or that there is a full month of school in January before the end of the semester. No, it doesn't change that. But somehow, the idea that we've successfully survived the fall (not to mention the rest of the year) makes it seem like we will come back to a new start.

For my students, it will be the beginning of the year in which they will graduate from high school, their single most impressive accomplishment thus far in their lives, and the first step in their journey to independence.

For Caleb, the new year means a new school and new services that will help him continue to catch up at an unbelievable pace.

And for me, the new year brings a birthday (the last one in my thirties-YIKES!), new challenges (how DOES one grade an FRQ for AP Psych??), and new opportunities to explore (will there be a mission trip in my future?).

One of the best things about teaching is living a life with punctuation. I'm grateful for the commas in winter and spring, and the period in June. I need those opportunities to stop and reflect before gearing up for my next chapter, wherever it may lead.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Milestone

Tonight was Nikki's first junior high dance. She only got to go for an hour because I made her go to her confirmation group's Christmas party first. In the hour she was there, she danced with two boys, one of which she refers to as "my crush."

Oh my.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The [Too Many] Days of Christmas

The other day I decided to wrap some presents, primarily because Caleb has a bad habit of snooping and one of them was for him. That way, I figured I'd put it under the tree and it would just blend in with the other presents. Instead, I caused Caleb to find himself in his own personal hell. Unfortunately, and without my knowledge, Caleb has learned to recognize his name. And therefore, he now knows that one present is for him.

We've had this conversation ABOUT every five minutes since my wrapping spree on Saturday.

Caleb: Oh look! A present for me! [huge grin]
Me: Yes, it's a present for you.
Caleb: It's Christmastime [hint, hint].
Me: Yes, it's Christmastime but it's not Christmas Day.
Caleb: Yes! It's Christmas! I want to open my present [which is now pronounced kwezent since we've been working on the /k/ sound in speech]!!
Me: Caleb, the rule is that we don't open presents until Jesus' birthday. Look, there are [insert number] more angels to put up on the Advent calendar. We have to wait [insert number] more days.

At this point, great whining and gnashing of teeth ensues.

From now on, I'm labeling all of his gifts "Boo." Who taught that kid to read his name, anyway?? %$#@ school. >(

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Maybe...

We are frequently frustrated by our small house. Not because it's too small for US, mind you. It's just too small for us to, say, have guests or host parties with more than five people. Of course, we don't NEED to be able to do those things, but it's really nice to be able to offer when the staff or students want to have a get-together. Or when someone needs a place to stay. We considered moving a couple years ago, but decided we couldn't afford it. THANK GOODNESS! We would currently be upside down on our mortgage if we had! After making the decision to stay, we began to consider remodeling. We've been considering it, sometimes more seriously than others, for awhile.

We already know what we want to do and who the contractor will be, but we've been holding off. However, I played bunco with our contractor's wife on Friday and she said work is VERY SLOW right now. Coinciding with the time we had tentatively looked at to start, he has nothing to do.

So right now, we are really looking at the possibility of having a guest room and enough space to entertain without people sitting on each others' laps. It's an interesting proposition. We'll pray on it and see what God has in store for us...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why??

Caleb is REALLY excited about Christmas this year. I mean REALLY EXCITED!!! One of the things we do NOT have in our house is a manger scene, primarily because I can't find one that isn't either too expensive or too ugly. So I decided that Caleb needed one that he could play with, and I ordered this one from Big Idea, which came yesterday.

Caleb was really excited with his new Baby Jesus, but as I was taking it out of the box, horror of horrors, this hideous whining began seeping out of the box. Scott, panicked, stepped out of the kitchen and asked, "Is that the cat?"

Oh, no. Like every other mass-marketed toy, this one had batteries that enabled Laura the Carrot to "sing" a ghastly version of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" that was enough to make our hair stand up.

The toy no longer has batteries, and peace has been restored to our house. I just don't know WHY everything has to have batteries???

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More Holiday Spirit

I know it's cliche to say, "In case you're too wrapped up in holiday preparations to focus on the true spirit of the season," but I have a good reason for doing it.

Just in case you are, go read Tami's post. And then tell her how awesome it is.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Spirit :)

Our church had our annual "Carols Around the Table" gathering last night (and Rachel, if you're reading this, I hope you feel guilty for missing it!!), and there's nothing like belting out Christmas carols with dear friends/family to put us right in the holiday spirit! We got home too late to act on our holiday cheer last night, but tonight Caleb couldn't wait one more minute! I thought I'd share:



Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Obsession Continues

On Friday night, I went to see Twilight (the movie) with three students, Nikki, and one of her Girl Scout buddies. On Saturday, I re-read the book because I was confused about what was or wasn't actually in the book, and the girls confused me even more. On Saturday night, I found the latest book, written from Edward's perspective ONLINE and read that. Reading a PDF is actually pretty cool, because my laptop provides its own book light.

But now, really, I am over it. I have essays to grade!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Giving Notice

Today we give notice at Caleb's preschool. He will be moving to one in our town in January so that he can receive services. It's very sad for us because one or both of our kids have been at this school since 1998. We'll miss the wonderful teachers who have helped us raise our kids to love God. However, it's very hard to pass up all the services offered in Caleb's IEP that would require nothing from us (Children's requires transportation, costs $7 a visit for co-pay and parking, only happens once a week for a half hour, etc.).

Change is so, so hard.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Driving Home

Caleb: Mom! It's Christmastime!
Me: Yes, it is!
Caleb: It's not Jesus' birthday.
Me: Well, not today. But Christmas is Jesus' birthday. That's why we celebrate it.
Caleb: No! It's my birthday. Not Owin's (cousin). Not Jesus.
Me: Actually, your birthday is in May. Christmas is Jesus' birthday.
Caleb: No it's not! My teacher said no!

Now, I don't believe for one second that his Catholic teacher from his Catholic preschool said no. The disturbing thing is that now I have two children who think their teachers are the ultimate authorities on any topic. You might think that the fact that I, too, am a teacher would give me some authority in their eyes. But then you would be wrong.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Addicted!

While we were on vacation, I thought it might be fun to take a book. I haven't really read anything for fun in a long time, what with the MA and the two new English preps last year, and the fact that I kept falling asleep when I read because I needed glasses. Then, when school started this year, I became one with my AP Psych textbook, which isn't all that uncomfortable when serving as a pillow. So a fun book, a mindless book, an easy book written AFTER 2000, sounded like fun.

And it was. Too much fun.

On our vacation, I became hopelessly addicted to the Twilight series. I know, I know. Vampires?! But it was really GOOD! So good that I read the first book in two days. We then went to four different bookstores to find book two, which only lasted two more days. Then we were in DC, where we visited two more bookstores in search of book three. And, you guessed it, two days later we were back at the bookstore in Williamsburg looking for book four. I finished as we boarded the plane home Sunday night. Nikki and I are going to see the movie on Friday.

So now I am back to my psych book and a new round of papers to grade. It was fun while it lasted. *sigh*

Sunday, November 30, 2008

THANKFUL!!

We are back from our extended trip. Why was it extended? Because we missed our connecting flight in Atlanta, and apparently AirTran only flies from Atlanta to San Diego once every 24 hours. So we got to spend the night in the Hilton for $50, visit the High Museum (which required a ride on Marta-another new experience), and got to see a favorite alumna and her new boyfriend!

All fun, but bed is looking really good right now. Especially since we have to be at school tomorrow morning at 7:15!

Yeah, home!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Random Thoughts from DC

Did you know that gas is only $1.50/gallon out here?

We rented a GPS, but it only works when it feel like it. Which is sometimes when we are halfway in the wrong direction to where we wanted to go. It's very helpful.

Yesterday we saw the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, WW II Memorial, Korean Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, White House, and a couple of statues in three hours. We were tired.

Today we are planning to visit the capital (-ol?? I can never get that right!) building and Arlington National Cemetery.

Caleb is back in VA with my parents. He went swimming in the indoor pool yesterday and cried when it was time to get out (after two hours!).

It is VERY VERY COLD out here!! It's not a good place to have a hairstyle that requires leaving the house with a wet head. It's really just not a good place to have to go outside. I am learning to appreciate beanies, scarves, and gloves.

I am addicted to the Twilight series. I have visited many bookstores trying to find the right book (first the second, then the third). There doesn't seem to be any shortage of the fourth book, which is only available in hardback, and I now know all the bookstores in Williamsburg. It's a harsh irony that the only time I have to read is when I am far, far away from my library. I'm sure the bookstores appreciate it, however.

We have no Internet in our VA hotel, and we have to walk five minutes to the lodge to use theirs. So I probably won't be posting much for the rest of this trip, either.

Done with disjointed, random post.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sad but True

I am SO EXCITED that gas prices are getting back to normal!!!

I tried to take a picture of the independent station that is offering gas for $1.99/gallon on the way to work, but the camera phone doesn't zoom enough to get it at 25 mph.

Last night, we filled up our Corrolla for $19.

It's almost like old times again. Yippee!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And one more thing...

This article is about my school.

Empty Threats

Caleb's threat, usually directed at his bike (because he just fell off), his chair (because it won't scoot properly), or tonight Daddy's "buddy" because his daddy is there instead of here:

"The firefighters are going to take you away!"

???

Inconclusive

We went to see the geneticist today. She was very nice and very thorough and had no idea what could be causing Caleb's stubby fingers and toes, ear pits, hearing loss, etc... She's going to consult her "smart friends" and see if they can come up with anything.

The good news is that, even if Caleb does have some sort of genetic thing going on, it's certainly not affecting his cognition, growth, or coordination.

Caleb was a great patient, but was really more interested in what the doctor had to say about his boo-boo on his elbow (he fell off of his bike yesterday). That's the cool part about being four. In his mind, all of this is just irrelevant.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Just Tired

My school is in the process of trying to go charter, and it's WEARING ME OUT! I'm so tired of the drama, the he-said-she-said between the district, the union, the charter group, etc. I'm tired of the dysfunctional state of our school. I'm tired of feeling guilty every time I say to my students, "Next year ___," because there may not BE a next year. And I'm tired of the stress of not knowing where I'll be working this time next year. I'm just tired.

We get a WHOLE WEEK off for Thanksgiving, and I am so THANKFUL for that!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Something to Pray On

My church is doing a mission trip next year, and I am really feeling excited about it. They're going to Ecuador, and I'm fluent in Spanish. I don't think anyone else who's going on the trip is fluent, although our senior pastor tries. Also, they're going to For His Children orphanage. Obviously, as an adoptive parent, I have a soft spot in my heart for orphaned children. I feel like this would be a fantastic opportunity to serve the Lord in a new way. My heart wants to go!

There are a couple of challenges to this trip, however. It takes place in October, which means I would miss at least a week of work, perhaps a couple days more than that. And it costs $1500. And I'd have to leave my family behind. My brain isn't so sure.

Prayers for guidance would be greatly appreciated. Earthly advice is also helpful. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Budding Musicians

Nikki started band again after a six-month hiatus. At her old school, band was only once a week. She's VERY excited that she'll have it four days a week now! In fact, she was so excited that she actually came home and practiced last night. In the two years that Nikki has been playing, we've actually seen the clarinet maybe three times? Caleb was quite intrigued by her music-making and insisted that he had to participate, as well. Nikki pulled out her recorder and gave it to him.

Since then, we have been serenaded by a monotonous version of "Pink Panther." He played all the way to school today, and was quite upset when I picked him up, since I didn't have the recorder or the music. But he and his instrument were reunited when we got home, and they've been together ever since.

Is it possible to be a hearing-impaired musician??

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Back to Normal?

We all went to school today for the first time in five days. And it was a LONG first day back. It looked like this:

6:30 Leave, get gas
7:00 Arrive at school
7:10 Kids walk in the door
12:00 Lunchtime, Peer Helping Meeting, Staff Meeting (at which I was a presenter)
2:30 Pick up Caleb from preschool
3:00 Pick up Nikki from a friend's house
3:15 Snack at our Christian Coffee House
3:30 Library
4:45 Realize there is no time to go home and get pajamas, rush to Grandparents' house
5:15 Dinner with grandparents
6:30 Get cash, head to bunco (kids stayed with Grandpa)
7:00 Bunco
9:15 Go back to Grandparents' house for kids
9:45 Head for home
10:10 Arrive at home, throw kids into pajamas (no bath), collapse

It's a good thing I'm feeling better!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Today is the long-awaited, strangely-placed day off that we have waited for all fall. It's our first holiday of the school year. The stretch has been particularly long this year since we haven't had fires raging through our county to provide us with a week off in October (thank God).

When I first heard that the veterans insisted on observing this holiday on the ACTUAL DAY, I have to admit I was annoyed. But then, this day is theirs, and they have certainly earned the right to make us pay attention to WHY we're getting this day off.

While I was lying in bed this morning (it was a LONG night with my nasty virus and I'm still recovering), I heard a band playing the national anthem! There must be some nifty ceremony at the ball fields across the street. Also from bed, I began to hear all the retired warplanes flying overhead. They've been flying out of the neighboring airfield ever since. On the local news, they interviewed a veteran who works with the Midway, our decommissioned aircraft carrier/museum.

I guess my point is GOOD FOR YOU, VETERANS, for forcing the government to observe this holiday in the middle of the week. It's an important day, especially knowing that there are soldiers all over the world right now risking their lives to save others'. I myself am taking a little more time to say some prayers of gratitude today. I hope others are, as well.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ugh

Nikki and I are BOTH home today trying not to puke.

On the bright side, I got to see live footage of the Obamas arriving at the White House. :)

I've been up for five minutes, so I guess it's time to go back to bed. May you and yours avoid this virus. It's NASTY!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Disqualified Already

I wanted to participate in NaBloPoMo, and I signed up, and I was posting every day! But then I went camping. I asked my husband to post for me, but he had no idea what I meant and chose to focus instead on the barfing boy (we had a recurrence of vomiting right after I abandoned them for the weekend).

So I'm already disqualified. And it's not even the 10th. How sad.

The good news is that the girls had a GREAT time! And now I am going to watch the Chargers beat the Chiefs for as long as I can before exhaustion takes over. I'm guessing that will be about five minutes?

Friday, November 7, 2008

A camping we will go...

I'm off to the mountains with Nikki's Girl Scout troop. And two stacks of essays to read. And six letters of recommendation to write. Which I'm sure will ALL get done in the luxurious free time awaiting me. :)

Happy weekend!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recovering

I went to bed around 11:00 last night, which is my usual bedtime. Caleb had decided to start out in our bed last night (he usually wanders in in the wee hours of the morning), which was fine because it has been COLD at night!

At 2:00 am, I woke up to his whimpers, which were followed by a hideous rumbling in his stomach. Scott quickly leaped out of bed, grabbed Caleb, and carried him to the bathroom. When they returned, we sleepily established that I would be the parent staying home today. The next three hours were a cycle of getting up with Caleb, supervising (he made it every time!), and settling back in as the sickness progressed through his digestive tract. At 5:00, I wrote lesson plans and put in for a sub. We've been home ever since. Fortunately, the virus/food poisoning (??) was done with him by this morning and he's not running a fever. This morning he stuck to his BRAT diet, and this evening he's even eating pasta. We got to read some books and take a nice, long nap. I switched out the kids' summer clothes for winter clothes and did some laundry.

Throughout the day, my students and I corresponded by phone, E-mail, text message. The principal had to cover my class until the sub arrived. We were supposed to be conferring around personal statements in English, and we have a test tomorrow in psychology. The students E-mailed their essays and the psych kids reviewed on their own.

In my nearly 13 years of being a working parent, there have been very few situations like this where I had no idea that my kid was getting sick, and normally Scott and I have enough warning to strategically plan a way to cover our bases. But I have to say that this is the hardest part of trying to do both jobs. Most of the time, it's manageable, but it's just so darn impossible to be in two places at once.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes we can!

To all of you who wanted McCain to win, stop reading. You'll just be annoyed.

Still with me? GREAT! Because I can't help being EXCITED TONIGHT!!!! And there's almost nobody around me feeling it, so I get to gush here BECAUSE IT'S MY BLOG!

I am 38 years old and this is the first election in which I have been excited to vote for a presidential candidate. In the last several elections, I just wrote in somebody I thought would be better than either of the poor choices I was given. I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a Republican. But man, this Decline-to-State voter is HAPPY TONIGHT!!! I'm excited to have hope. I'm excited to have a president who wants to LISTEN to people with whom he disagrees. I'm excited that the majority of Americans were progressive enough to choose this particular man to lead us into the future, and that they turned out in record numbers to do so.

Tonight is a great night to be an American. YIPPEE!

And if you're a McCain fan, and you're still reading even though I warned you, you can move to Canada with my mom. But they have socialized medicine there, sooo....

Monday, November 3, 2008

UGH

Eight hours straight of reading/editing essays today and I'm finally done with Quarter 1 grades. I had to call in sick and camp out at the coffee house to get them done. Even better, I forgot my glasses so I had a raging headache by the time I was done.

Why is it that I wanted to be an English teacher??

The good news is that all but five of my students are passing with a C or better! They finally got it, even though it took until senior year.

Now off to prep for AP Psych and Quarter 2 of Senior English.

The fun never ends...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Minus One

We brought the kitten home last night as "foster parents" to see if it would work out with our other cat. By this morning, everyone was thoroughly attached:
This is how Scott spent all last night.

This is how Caleb spent this morning.

But it was not meant to be. We got a call from the pet store this afternoon, and this kitty actually belonged to another family, which had returned him because he was sick and was waiting for him to convalesce and return home.

We have some sad kids tonight.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Strange Math

We started out today with two people, two dogs, and a cat.

We went to a Halloween carnival and the kids won two fish.

We went to Petsmart to buy bowls for the fish and we came home with fishbowls AND a cat.

He's pretty cute, don't you think?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just Like Me

When we went to check out books from the library last week, a book I had requested this summer finally had come in. The book? My Ears, a book of few words and 70s-era pictures about hearing. It was the only thing I could find when I searched under "hearing aids" when we first found out that we would be acquiring some. So when I saw what ACTUALLY came, I was a little disappointed. Still, we sat down to read it a few nights ago.

It was uninspired. It had few words. But when we got to the page with the picture of the little boy wearing hearing aids, Caleb shouted, "Look!!! It's Caleb!!! He have hearing ears like me!" SOLD! He chose that book to read every night until it was due and we had to take it back.

I went to Amazon and purchased that book and a couple others that talk about deafness and hearing aids. Do you have any suggestions?

Also, if someone you love wears hearing aids and you like to accessorize, Caleb found these very exciting! I'll post pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mixed Feelings

I got a text message today from Caleb's birthmom saying that his bio-dad is really sick. Bio-dad was diagnosed with lymphoma several years ago and nearly died. He's been in remission for awhile now, but the disease has come back with a vengeance. Somebody, probably Bio-dad's mom, sent a text message to everyone on his cell phone saying he was back in the hospital undergoing massive chemotherapy and awaiting a stem cell bone marrow transplant.

While we have a wonderful relationship with Birthmom, Bio-dad made it clear right away that he wanted no contact with us. When he first found out about the pregnancy, he told Birthmom to have an abortion. Caleb was only born because Bio-dad thought Birthmom went through with it. He delayed the relinquishment process by playing games with the social worker over signing the papers. He broke Birthmom's heart and told the social worker that he wanted no contact with Caleb. He's never been my favorite person.

However, if it weren't for him, we wouldn't have Caleb.

About two months ago, Birthmom called saying Bio-dad was coming for a visit. We were all baffled by this, but guessed that perhaps his health was declining, as doctors made it clear that he would probably not survive his next bout with cancer. The date he gave her came and went, which was typical, but Birthmom did receive a call saying he had doctor appointments he couldn't miss. There was a mixture of relief and disappointment, as we never intended to meet this man, but he is Caleb's bio-dad. The text message today confirmed the worst.

Bio-dad has two children of his own. His son, Caleb's only bio-sibling, is only five years old. Bio-dad is only 29 himself. From what I know of him, he's not in a really good place with God.
There's got to be some good in him, because Birthmom did love him. I'm just afraid that he may never get the chance to find that goodness and fully express it. He may run out of time first.

So tonight I find myself praying for the man who was responsible for our son's existence, but who never wanted him in the first place. I'm praying for his son and his wife and her daughter. I'm praying for Birthmom, who loved our son enough to give him life, who had the wisdom to know that bio-dad would never be the father Scott is, and yet who is inextricably bound to bio-dad by her love for Caleb. I am praying for a glorious miracle of time that would allow all of us to work this out

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fun All Around

Today, my wonderful mother spent her morning off talking to our students about nursing (the career, not the form of nutrition). She arrived in time for our whole-school assembly with four of her current students from the university. She had a great PowerPoint with pictures of all the steps in a surgery (total hip, in case you're interested). The students AND staff were riveted. SUCH FUN!

In AP Psychology class, the topic was hearing. There was significant discussion in the chapter about deafness and hearing loss, and guess what?! I know a little boy who HAS some hearing aids! So Caleb went to school with one hearing aid and I took the other in, along with the earphones to help us listen to his aids to check them. I showed the kids all the parts of the aid, took it apart, and then they each got a chance to listen. They were SO EXCITED! One of the students spent an extra half hour after school so he could listen to different sounds through the aid. Who knows? Maybe one of them will grow up to become an audiologist or SLP!

Then, after school, our Girl Scout troop headed to a local dinner studio to do their cooking badge. They made (from scratch) ranch dressing to pour over lettuce wedge salad, meatballs to serve over spaghetti, bruschetta, and apple crisp for dessert. They also had the opportunity to watch the catering company that shares the space prepare an order and take it out, and they got to talk to two professional chefs. Next, they have to put their skills to work when they make dinner for Ronald McDonald House.

Am I wiped out after my busy day? YES! But it was SO much fun. :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Speech Explosion

Caleb's speech is taking off! Before hearing aids, his speech consisted primarily of phrases that he would repeat, and maybe insert a noun where necessary:
  • Where did it go, ball?
Now he is producing long, complex narratives about what happens each day:
  • The sun go down and the moon go up. We go night-night. The sun go up. We wake up. We go to school.
Sure, he doesn't differentiate his verb tenses, but considering that three months ago he had no concept of time (or at least no way to express that he did), we're impressed!

One of his IEP goals was to use pronouns. Tonight, when it was time for bath, he announced to Scott:
  • No! Not you! (looking at me and pointing at Scott) Not him! (looking back at Scott and pointing at me) Not you! HER! (at this point his arms were crossed, still pointing)
And he has adopted some terms of endearment. Last night, we dropped off Nikki for a sleepover. As he hugged her goodbye, he looked into her eyes and said, "I love you, sweetheart." AWWW!

He's singing songs. He's narrating his play. He's talking back to the people in the shows he watches. Tonight, he and Scott were watching Enchanted. During the scene where the wicked witch poisons the princess, Caleb was furious:
  • Stop it! That's not nice! (to Scott) We have to hit! We have to help her!
Okay, so the aggression is disturbing. But he did announce to Scott on the trampoline earlier, "Stop that! I don't like that!!" and it was NOT followed by hitting. There also haven't been any hitting incidents at school this year, although we get daily reports of, "[Insert friend's name] hurt me. That's not nice!"

One more example and I'll stop gushing, I promise. Today, we were reading books before nap. Curious George is one of his favorites, and in this particular book George eats too many candies in the candy factory. There is a picture where he's looking greenish and holding his stomach. I asked Caleb what was wrong with George:

Caleb: He sad.
Me: Why is he sad?
Caleb: He tummy hurt.
Me: Why does his stomach hurt:
Caleb: He eat candy.

WOW! He inferred all of that, because it's not actually said in the text.

It's so much fun getting to know this little boy whose thoughts have been trapped in his head for four years. :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why I love my husband.

He got home at 7:00 tonight after putting away the football field after a game and the volleyball gear and now he's out getting ice cream for us because I needed chocolate and couldn't find the energy to procure some myself.

It's not the only reason I love him, but it's WAY up there on the list!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fall Fun

We headed up to Julian with Caleb's godparents for some fall apple picking. Neither of my kids had ever done this before, and they had a BLAST! Here are some pictures:

Nikki thought the best part was eating her way through the orchard. She and Scott were busy comparing the flavors of the five different types of apples.

Caleb was SO EXCITED to do this. Every time he turned around he would scream, "LOOK WHAT I FOUND!" and pick another apple. Of course, most of them were full of worms (it was a pesticide-free orchard), so there was a constant cycle of him filling a bag, trading with me for an empty one, and me weeding out the wormy apples.

Scott had as much fun as the kids. :)

So if you live in San Diego, I highly recommend heading to the mountains for some fall fun. But DRESS WARMLY! We FROZE during lunch!

Happy fall!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Great Day!

Maggie did great in surgery and is resting comfortably. Nikki got a 4.0 on her progress report. AND IT'S FRIDAY! It doesn't get much better than that!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More Prayer Requests

Yep, more problems, and even dealing with ears! But this is about Maggie, our nearly-fourteen-year-old Golden Retriever. I went to pet her Tuesday night and was greeted by a large cyst in her left ear. Of course, by the time I found it it was quite late, so I took her to the vet yesterday when we got home.

The vet took one look at her and said, "It's a hematoma. She needs surgery." My first reaction was that I did not want to put my geriatric dog under general anesthesia. The doctor checked her heart and said it sounded great. I asked him what he would do, and he said to do the surgery because she is so uncomfortable. He said it's a simple surgery, but that without it she would be miserable until her ear tissue finally died and shriveled up. GREAT!

So I went home and called my mom (an OR nurse), who said I was being overly cautious and should do it. If Maggie were hers, she would do it. Then I called Ronnie, who worked in the veterinary field for years. She said the same thing. I prayed about it and God hasn't knocked me over the head saying, "DON'T DO IT!!!" (which, in case you were wondering, He generally does do when He needs to).

So tomorrow my puppy, our first baby, is having surgery. If you have time to squeeze in a prayer for a geriatric retriever, I'd really appreciate it...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Update

I cleaned my bathroom today. In case you were worried. Except the toilet. I ran out of time this morning. Maybe tonight...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Buried

I haven't cleaned my bathroom in three weeks. How disgusting is that?? But instead of cleaning my bathroom, I have done laundry and played felt friends with Caleb and done my grades and watched the Chargers game and been at Homecoming and played Freecell Solitaire. So some of my excuses are legitimate, and some, well, not so much.

I also have not yet touched the essays that need to be graded. Grades are going in without them.

I WOULD go clean it right now (really!!), but I have to prepare my lecture for AP Psych for tomorrow.

I feel like I DO deserve to have moments of fun in my life, but the bathroom is not going to clean itself!!

Oh Summer, how I miss you!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hearing Ears

We've been proud owners of hearing aids for about a month, now. Last Friday, Caleb went in for his first aided test. Two things happened that made it pretty much a waste of time.
  1. Caleb wouldn't cooperate.
  2. Caleb's left aid stopped working. And it didn't start again when we took it in.
So this week, Caleb has had only one hearing aid.

Also, on Friday, the audiologist put new tubes into the ear molds that made it harder for Caleb to pull out the tubes while removing his hearing aids. So yesterday, Caleb decided to remove his ONE aid, and guess what?? He pulled out the tube. But since we had these new, harder to remove tubes, it took a chunk of the ear mold with it. The $100 ear mold. The one we have to pay for and insurance doesn't cover. That one.

So now we have a mold with no aid and an aid with a broken mold. And I found out yesterday in my paycheck that our insurance no longer covers hearing aids AT ALL.

BUT, on the bright side, Caleb returned to speech today and his teacher noticed a HUGE improvement.

I should make a new MasterCard commercial.

Ear Molds: $200, oops I mean $300
Hearing Aids: $4,000
Aided Test: $200
Hearing Your Son Make an /f/ Sound: Priceless

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

We now return you to your regularly scheduled chaos...

I've not been very good about posting lately. Maybe it's because I've been teaching a new AP class, trying to get through four tests, two sets of essay questions, two sets of in-class essays, helping to prepare for our school's 50th anniversary celebration, working Saturdays, attending meetings and doctor appointments for Caleb, running Girl Scout meetings, and trying to stay on top of cleaning the house (at which I've not been too successful). But in between all of that, we had a big surprise for our kiddos: DISNEYLAND!!

Because we had to be at the 50th anniversary celebration until LATE on Saturday night, the kids spent the night with my parents. We picked them up right after lunch on Sunday with their bags already packed, and without telling them, drove to Anaheim. We had passes that were going to expire at the end of the month, so we just did it. We even got a free hotel room with our credit card points.

The kids were SO EXCITED about the hotel room (they had bunk beds) that Disneyland was just the icing on the cake. We went to California Adventure on Sunday evening and then Disneyland on Monday. We left the park around 7:00 and drove back for school the next day.

So now we are exhausted, but at least we've had a little fun. Back-to-school time is so hard on all of us. It was nice to break it up with a little fun.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

IEP Meeting

We had Caleb's SECOND IEP meeting today. I met the itinerant speech language pathologist (SLP) who would be working with Caleb if he attended school in our town instead of where we work. I also met the itinerant deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) teacher who would be working with Caleb if he attended school in our town. The SLP would come out monthly to test his hearing aids and work with us to make sure he continues to have some sort of amplification depending on his needs. The DHH teacher would work with his teachers to make sure they're appropriately modifying instruction so he is getting the help he needs. And his speech teacher, who we had met before, was there as well. If he attended school in our town, he would be receiving services with her, as well.

So now we are faced with a big dilemma. Do we switch his school? He LOVES his school, but I am pretty sure he is having a hard time understanding his new teacher, who is a second-language learner. For Nikki, I wouldn't have given this a second thought. But since Caleb has some strange speech patterns, I'm thinking a more apppropriate speech model might be in order. Still, he has shown great improvement in just a month, and he LOVES going to school every day.

Fortunately, there is no hurry to make this decision. For right now, the plan is to wait and see what kind of progress he makes with his speech teacher at Children's Hospital (we've been approved for 32 visits through our insurance). Still, I am struggling with how much more progress he might be making if he were in a more supportive environment. And then there's the fact that he only has one more year until he should start kindergarten. And then there's that decision to be made-do we start him at five or wait a year??

I feel so inadequate when trying to make these decisions. I wish God would just whack me on the head and say, "DO THIS!!!!!" So if you're reading this and you're a praying person, PLEASE pray for guidance for us.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back to School Night

Tonight was Back to School Night at Nikki's new public school. It was very strange to walk onto a campus with which I am totally unfamiliar and meet teachers of whom I have no knowledge. I also didn't know ONE parent. Not one.

All the teachers seemed very capable and knowledgeable. I am a little concerned that the history/language arts teacher is going out on maternity leave in February (maybe even January?), but I guess I don't get to have any say in that, either. Not that I begrudge her her initiation into motherhood, of course. It's just the downside to having been that teacher on maternity leave; I know how disruptive it can be.

I miss the little Catholic school where I know all the parents, all the kids, and all the teachers. They keep stopping to talk to me when I pick up Caleb. They all ask about Nikki and when she's coming back. I think they expected her to hate her new school, or at least miss her old school enough to want to go back. She doesn't-but I do. *sigh*

Monday, September 15, 2008

Progress

It's been two weeks and three days since Caleb got his hearing aids, and we are definitely making progress. He is comprehending SO MUCH MORE of what we say, even without any additional services!

Normally, I wouldn't ever choose to take him somewhere if I had a choice of leaving him home with Scott. Taking him somewhere always meant a meltdown that would result in me tucking him under my arm while pinning his down, and carrying him football-style to the car where I could wrestle him into his car seat. It's been fun, let me tell you. So tonight, when he wanted to go to the store with Nikki and me, I hesitated. Especially since he hadn't had REAL dinner yet (just a snack).

However, he insisted that he wanted to go to the library. I explained to him that the library would be the LAST place we visited, and if he had good behavior he could go, but if he had bad behavior, he would be taken home. He started freaking out because he couldn't find his shoe, and I reminded him of our deal. Normally, it would have gone something like this:

Me: What do you need to do if you want to go with us?
Caleb: ???
Me: Do you want to go with us or stay home?
Caleb: Stay home.
Me: Okay, let's go.
Caleb: NO!! I WANT TO GO WITH YOU!!! (followed by a screaming fit into the house)

Instead, it went like this:

Me: What do you need to have?
Caleb: Good behavior.
Me: !!!!!

Tonight, oh glorious night, he went to THREE STORES, we stopped for some Jamba Juice (I know, I know, this doesn't qualify as dinner), and THEN went to the library. And guess what??? HE BEHAVED THE WHOLE TIME!!!! EVEN in the library! EVEN when his turn was up on the computer!

God bless the miracles of modern technology resting behind my son's ears.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Athletic Director?

Here's something I've never blogged about: SCOTT'S job!

Scott was hired this summer to be our school's athletic director. He took over for a man who really was more interested in taking care of his own needs than the students', and he left behind what is commonly referred to as a "hot mess."

Since taking this job, Scott has had to hire an entirely new coaching staff, track down keys from former coaches, find computers and other technology that should have been in the coaching office, etc. Of course, one might expect to have to complete such tasks as athletic director. What one might NOT expect is to be up until 11:00 researching washing machines for the locker room. Which is what he is doing right now. One might also NOT expect to spend the better part of a week trying to fix improperly-burned lines on a football field, re-doing the lines in white paint, and then PAINTING OVER the burned lines with GREEN paint, in preparation for the first football game.

By the way, this is NOT a paid position. He's supposed to get a full release period to do this job (which still wouldn't be enough at this point), but instead he gets an advisory period (half of a regular period) to do it.

I'm certain that, eventually, he'll get his all straightened out. In the meantime, we're eating a lot of dinners without him. *sigh*

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

God Bless Starbucks!

Scott decided to stop at Starbucks on the way home today. Anything I order there is decaf, because I have a heart condition that is aggravated by caffeine (I wind up with nasty palpitations if I drink leaded coffee). But I think today that, even though I ordered a decaf mocha mint chip frapuccino, that they gave me the leaded version. Why?

Since I have been home I have vacuumed, spot cleaned the carpet, made dinner, cleaned the kitchen, bathed Caleb, and tidied the play room. And I didn't get home until 5:30. And I'm not even tired yet. But my heart is pounding.

WHY does caffeine have to have such a negative effect on me?? I NEED it! Or at least my family needs me to have it!

Social Butterfly

Nikki's personality is NOTHING like mine! At her age, I was shy and introverted. I still hate change. In social situations, I never approach someone I don't know and introduce myself. I'll speak to anyone willing to talk to me, but I would never initiate it.

My daughter, on the other hand, is a social butterfly. In the week she's been at her new school, she has introduced herself to a family that also walks to and from school so she has someone to walk with. She has met about seven new friends (all of whose names start with the /k/ sound?). She has been invited to a back-to-school luau this Friday. She has friends calling on the phone. She is very, very happy.

I am happy for her (REALLY!), but it's requiring some paradigm shifts on my part (have I mentioned that I hate change?). I'm going from having her across the street from me all day at a school where I not only know all the kids, but also all the parents and teachers, and have known them for at least seven years (some of them for ten!) to a school I've never even set foot on except for at evening Girl Scout leader meetings. I don't know the teachers, I don't know the kids, and I've never even met the girl hosting the party, much less her family. I had to make an awkward phone call introducing myself to her mom last night:

"Hello, I'm Nikki's mom. She's very excited to attend your daughter's party on Friday, but I'm having a nervous breakdown because I'm entrusting my child to your care and I have never even met you. Please forgive me, I'm sort of an emotional basket case."

Okay, maybe it didn't go QUITE like that. But I think New Friend's Mom could tell that I was a little uncomfortable with the whole thing. I did give her my cell, my home phone, and Scott's cell just in case.

Today, Nikki informed me that this same friend wanted her to go home with her after school.

I'm just not handling this transition well. Her anxiety may be improving, but mine is most certainly NOT!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

White Coat Syndrome?

When I took my computer in for repair last week, it was doing some crazy things when I moved the mouse (like drawing big squares on the screen and not opening what I was clicking). When I took it into Cry Wolf (finally, six months after my fiasco), it was just fine (aside from the non-functioning keys). The technician said it was "white coat syndrome"-that it would perform poorly until I took it to a professional, at which point it would be perfectly functional. Regardless, they took my beloved laptop and, joy of joys, it WORKS AGAIN WITHOUT AN EXTERNAL KEYBOARD. Of course, it cost $300 to get there, but it's fully functional once again!!

When I Googled "white coat syndrome," it said it was the opposite (that the problem only appears IN the doctor's office), but whatever happened to my computer happened to Caleb's hearing aid. As soon as I gave it to the audiologist, it worked.

So now we have a fully functioning laptop AND hearing ears. But, as predicted, the handle to the back hatch on the van broke this morning.

I'm getting the feeling that September may not be my month.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dead Hearing Ear

Caleb's hearing aid died sometime in the night. I'm not sure what went wrong. I put the battery back in and turned it on, but it didn't whistle when I closed it in my hand (my own method for checking battery function). So I changed the battery. And it still didn't whistle. So I listened with the little stethescope-looking thing they gave me, and sure enough, dead as a doornail. I checked the first battery with the battery tester and it still had juice.

So tonight I left a message for the audiologist. It's not very reassuring when a two-week-old hearing aid (which, in case I haven't mentioned it, cost TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS!) stops working.

This is so much fun!! :P

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Saturday Morning

Caleb: (lacking a tone of true panic) Help me!
Scott: (unconcerned) What's wrong?
Caleb: It's stuck!
Scott: What's stuck?
Caleb: Taleb!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Six things you never wanted to know about me...

Melissa tagged me in a "meme" (which would be called a survey on MySpace, I think), so now I have to tell you six things about me and then tag six more of YOU. Since I don't think there are six people who read my blog, that may be a challenge. So here goes...

1. I met Scott when we were in sixth grade. His best friend was in my class. I had a crush on him in 9th grade, he had a crush on me in 11th grade, but we didn't start dating until senior year.

2. Our golden retriever, Maggie, was born on our "dating" anniversary, November 17.

3. If we had had another girl, her name would have been Adelle. My grandma's name was Donna Dell. Her name was supposed to be Donna Adelle, but they messed up her birth certificate, and she didn't even change it when she got married. I guess she got used to the alliteration. Anyway, the plan was to rectify it in the next generation. I guess it wasn't meant to be rectified.

4. Everybody at school thinks I'm scary. I don't get it.

5. This year, I colored my hair for the first time, got reading glasses, gained five pounds, and my back went out on Tuesday night so that I could barely stand up for my first day of school. Apparently, my body reached some sort of critical mass at 38.

6. I am really bad at coming up with things to tell you about me. Clearly.

Okay, DONE! Now Rachel, Tami, Ronnie, Lisa, Sara, and YOU (just tell me who you are) are next!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Settling In

We're starting to settle into our school-year reality. Of course, we're only two days into life with students and Nikki's new school, but things seem to be going well so far (not that I'm trying to jinx myself or anything...).

Caleb has accepted the fact that he can no longer be with his teacher from last year (because her class is for little ones in diapers) and is happy to go to school each day. We are taking frequent breaks from his "hearing ears" (or in today's case, all day since Daddy forgot to put them on) and his behavior has been MUCH improved.

Nikki started at her new school yesterday and LOVES it. She has made a couple friends and is managing the walk to and from just fine. She found a mom and son to walk with today on the way there. She went the long way on the way home, but made it just the same. She is very excited about the minimal homework load. We're going to the library today after everyone is snacked and done with homework.

My classes are running smoothly and my students are great. The school is a hot mess, but as long as I hide in my classroom and teach my kids it affects me very little. My only concern is that we may be losing an instrumental colleague and I'm pretty sure the school will fall apart without him. It's close anyway. I'm choosing to pray about it and let God work it out.

So far, so good!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The ONLY Constant

Things that have changed for us in the last week:

• hearing aids
• crazy behavior associated with hearing aids
• going back to work
• new start time at school (7:15-which means we have to leave by 6:30!!!)
• new principal
• new dean of students
• new class to teach-AP Psychology (for which I have NO training, other than the degree)

And Tuesday, Nikki starts at HER new school.

I think crawling into a nice hole somewhere sounds like a GREAT idea. But instead I guess I'll go make dinner. *sigh*

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is this normal??

Caleb has had TERRIBLE behavior the last couple of days. Everything results in a tantrum of unprecedented proportions (well, maybe not unprecedented, but definitely not seen since Three). Last night, we had to leave our church's gathering/council meeting WITHOUT Scott and Nikki because he was screaming and hitting uncontrollably. Thankfully, our pastor lives close and was able to drive them home. Today he went to school, but we had speech afterward and he had a huge fit (the kind that requires a full-body restraint for several minutes) over practicing his sounds with me.

After his speech teacher took him to get a snack and glass of water and came back to find me in tears, I told her that his behavior has progressively worsened since getting his hearing aids. This is VERY disappointing, since I thought they would make things BETTER. Then I realized that he MAY be on sensory overload with all his new sounds. The last two days, he's worn them ALL DAY, and they were the worst days.

Does this hypothesis make any sense? Even if it doesn't, say it does. I need some hope to hold onto here!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The End is Near

We go back to work tomorrow. I suppose that means that summer is officially over. *sigh*

It's been a great summer. We got to see some fantastic places and spend lots of time with people we love. I haven't done any work-related things for at least a month. I finally finished Invisible Man (Ellison, not Wells). We watched a LOT of the Olympics. We swam, we ate entirely too much, we played games, we hung out with each other.

So now, we go back to the chaos that will be this school year. Our principal (an amazing man) left to pursue his PhD. Our Dean of Students (equally amazing) left for a more supportive environment (now that our principal is gone). New Principal (appointed by the district without teacher input) is proving to be ineffective. But we have this amazing staff that's working miracles. So now we have to pursue charter status or else we will be lumped in with all the other small schools on our complex in Fall 2009. After that, the plan is to level our school and re-build it from the ground up.

So mostly this summer I've been trying to ignore all the sad things that have happened to our school. And now I have to put my game face on and go in tomorrow ready to fight for our kids and educate them to the best of my ability.

So tonight I have mixed emotions. I am grateful for this wonderful break from my all-consuming job. I am excited to work with our amazing staff and students. I am hopeful that we'll be able to do something to save our school. And I'm sad that the district doesn't support programs that are really making an impact for the neediest kids.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Whole New World

Caleb continues to adjust to his hearing aids. We take little breaks here and there so his ears can breathe, but then they go right back on. He wore them for about five hours straight last night. He starts school on Wed., so I'm hoping he'll be acclimated by then.

Last night, we went to a church dinner which was held outside on the patio. While we were sitting there, a jet flew overhead. Caleb perked up and said, "What's that??" He'd never heard a jet before! He's seen/heard plenty of small jets/planes as they take off/land at our small local airport, but never the hum of one high up in the sky. So cool!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hurray!! Yippee!! Woohoo!!

Today is the day! Caleb got his hearing aids!! The pictures my mom took pretty much say it all.





The joy was tempered by the annoyance of having large, form-fitting pieces of putty in his ears. He wanted to scratch itches in his ears. He wanted to take them off. He pulled the tubes out of the earmolds (!). But every time he had a break from them (swimming, repairs, itches), as soon as I put them back on, he looked at me and said, "Say hello." I did, and as soon as I did, a huge smile covered his face.

So we're adjusting, but mostly it's a wonderful thing!! Yay!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Off to San Fran!

Nikki and I will be leaving in the morning for San Francisco with her Girl Scout troop. Such fun! The girls worked very hard selling cookies in hopes that this day would finally come, and it has!

I'll post pictures and stories when we get back. Until then, happy summer!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Leaps and Bounds

Have I told you lately that my son is amazing?? Well, he is. And I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom. Well, maybe I am. You be the judge.

First, I should say that we went for his well-child visit yesterday. We are also going to be seeing a geneticist who can tell us all about why Caleb has stubby fingers and toes, ear pits, fused toes, hearing loss, etc. I called today to make the appointment. They are happy to see us in November. Of course. On the other hand, his kidney ultrasound is scheduled for next week! They'd better be careful about fitting me in so quickly!! I MIGHT get used to it.

Caleb learned to swim today. We were in the pool, and he wanted to take off his floaties. So I did. And he swam. Wow. By the time we were done today, he was jumping into the deep end and swimming back to the side. All by himself.



I'm also pretty certain he is NOT, in fact, color blind. We had some quiet time together this afternoon (for perhaps the first time all summer) and we played with some crayons. He was able to find the matching crayon (red, blue, green, purple, yellow, black) EVERY TIME! By the time I was done, he was telling me most of the colors. We'll have to keep working on that.

So we went to Target and bought Candy Land (apparently, ours went away after Nikki outgrew it), and then we went to Jamba Juice for a cool treat (it's about 95 with wicked humidity today).

Caleb is also campaigning for school. He's ready to go back TODAY. When we were at Target, he picked out a backpack and wore it home. We keep counting the days until school, and I told him that there are still fourteen (we count every day on the calendar), but he's pretty sure I'm mistaken. The fact that Scott is at work every day (football practice started) isn't helping.

I can't wait to see what he'll do once he can hear. Eight more days until the hearing aids come.

I look at him and feel so inadequate. He learns all of these things in spite of the obstacles he has to overcome in order to do so. His speech is taking off even though he can't hear. Has he learned to compensate for color blindness, or was it just that he couldn't hear the words and connect them with the colors? He can count, and swim, and throw a ball like a pro pitcher. How am I supposed to keep up with all of this? Certainly, God knew what he was doing when he made me Caleb's mom, but sometimes I wonder if I'm able to live up to His expectations.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Did you miss us?

We were on vacation! We went with Caleb's godparents and their kids to Lake Tahoe. We had a BLAST!! Here are some highlights from the trip.

First, it should be noted that Goddad is French. He was actually trained as a French pastry chef, which means we had lots of yummy treats, and every meal was BEAUTIFUL. Who else make paella out of leftovers?? Also, it means that he frequently makes mistakes in his English. Mistakes that we find exceedingly funny. That said, here are some of our highlights.

We rented a house together in Tahoe. It was a big house and very nice, but there was no lake view. I picked this particular house because Godparents were moving and had no Internet access when we were making our travel plans. I think I will be relieved of that duty from now on, but we had a great time anyway. Here are some pictures of the house:





One of the most fun things about traveling with The Godparents is just hanging out with them. We had a great time playing games and visiting. However, Goddad likes to "conquer," so we did a good deal of that as well. We fished for crawdads, went river rafting, kayaking, and spent lots of time at the beach. In addition, the boys went jet skiing one day, and the girls went horseback riding. The highlight was probably river rafting.





In addition to all the fun we had, Goddad provided some humor. We were getting back on the river after a lunch break, and we were passing the oars around to the people who were paddling.

Goddad, looking at his oar: What do you call this?
Scott: An oar.
Goddad: How do you spell that?
Scott: O-A-R.
Goddad: No "h?"
Scott (laughing): No "h."
Goddad: Oh, good.

This evolved into the following:

video

You can have a LOT of fun with people who are learning English as their second language. :)

After our long week of fun, we had a LONG drive back. But we took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves along the way for fun and fellowship. One such opportunity was kayaking in June Lake. It was just beautiful! Oldest Godsister thought it was even more beautiful than Tahoe. You be the judge...



Okay, this blog is already too long and I have to put my kids to bed. More vacation stories tomorrow. Until then, keep your hoars in the boat! ;)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Officially Old (and Poor)

I went with Nikki to the optometrist today. She needed new glasses. Again. Of course. ($400) The twist: I needed them, too. For reading. That makes me officially old, I think.($100)

On the bright side, Caleb also was fitted for his ear molds today. And we have a date for the hearing aids-August 22! Did you know that hearing aids cost $2000? EACH?? (insurance covers half and the ear molds cost $200, which we paid for today)

AND the car needed new tires before our upcoming vacation. ($400) I told my friend Mich that today cost us over $1000! There are 31 days in July. We could spend $31,000 in one month and have nothing fun to show for it.

And the really BAD part about summer vacation is NO PAYCHECK. For a family of teachers, that's NO PAYCHECK X 2!! But we'll be able to see, hear, and travel. I know-priceless. But I'm really glad that, for everything else, there's MasterCard!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Caleb Update

Here's something I haven't talked about in awhile: Caleb's hearing. Or lack thereof.

We had his new, official audiogram today (the one where he doesn't have fluid in his ears) and yep, sure enough, he has a hearing loss (which we pretty much already knew). I was so impressed by how poised he was. He sat there listening for beeps, many of which he couldn't hear, completely concentrating on whether or not it was a beep, and putting pegs in a peg board each time he heard one. This went on for a good twenty minutes, and he cooperated the entire time. If we ever had concerns about his ability to attend for long periods, today put them to rest!

The audiologist, who was VERY nice, explained all of our hearing aid options and scheduled an appointment to have molds taken on Wed. We order the aids when the molds come (usually three weeks later). I found out our insurance will cover the entire expense ($2,000 to be exact). NICE! But best of all, Caleb will be able to hear by the time school starts!!

I can't wait to see his little face light up when he is able to really hear for the first time. So exciting!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

You Get What You Get

Have I mentioned that we were supposed to spend this summer in Europe? We had no idea how we would afford it, but that was the plan. Until Feb. Then our travel buddies bought a house and the exchange rate for the Euro is brutal, so we decided on the more economical Costa Rica, where our money is GOOD! Then we began to research airfare, etc., but by May we realized that we couldn't even afford Costa Rica. Which is sad, because I wanted to do SOMETHING to celebrate finishing school! AND summer, of course! So finally, we decided we would go to Lake Tahoe, which sounds VERY FUN. Not exotic, but fun nonetheless. Yeah!

In the meantime, we have had a very quiet summer. Days consist of rising around 7:00 (normally the time we would have to be at work), eating a leisurely breakfast and doing chores, greeting my cousin's son around 9:00 when he arrives to spend the morning with us, and then a fun activity (usually involving water) until lunch. After lunch, we often have some social gathering, or go to the library, or just hang out and play. The evenings have consisted of trips to Sea World, the pool, and visits with friends. I admit that there HAS been some work going on, sprinkled between trips to the pool and visits with friends, but it's been relaxed (even though our school is falling apart-but that's a story for another day).

The moral? We plan; God laughs. And today, as we enjoyed the whole day with Scott's brother and his family, we reflected on how differently the summer has turned out, and what a blessing that has been. How nice that we're not REALLY in charge. We could have ruined a perfectly wonderful summer.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cute Caleb Quote of the Day

Scott: Okay Caleb, let's go to the store.
Caleb: Ohay. Bye, Mommy!
Me: Bye, Boo!
Caleb: (walking downstairs to leave) Bye Mommy!
Scott: Say, "See ya later, alligator."
Caleb: See... Hey! She not a alligator. What you talkin' 'bout, Dad?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Alphabet Obsession

Caleb is obsessed with the letter O.

Nikki: C-A-L-E-B. That spells Caleb!
Caleb: NO!
Nikki: Yes. That's your name. C-A-L-E-B. Caleb.
Caleb: No! O-O-O.
Nikki: There's no O in your name.
Caleb: Yes!! I have a O!
Nikki: blink, blink

We have a similar experience when the "super letters" appear in "Super Why" (his new favorite show. Thank goodness, no more "Curious George!").

Wyatt (character on show): Can you find the Super Letters? (as they float around in front of him)
Me: F-L-P
Caleb: O-O-O
Wyatt: That's right! F, L, and P!
Caleb: NO!! O!
Me: sigh

So if anybody can think of a creative spelling of Caleb that involves an "O," he'd really appreciate it if you'd post it here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

12-Year-Old Bliss

Have I mentioned that I'm Nikki's Girl Scout leader? Well, I am. By default, really. If I hadn't taken over the troop 18 months ago, it would have dissolved. But I'm not really qualified or GOOD at being a leader, so sometimes I wonder what the girls think.

Last night, we had our SECOND back yard camp out. I mention that it's our SECOND because I really thought we'd just do one (which we did, last year), and then we'd move on to places, well, not on our property. So I mentioned to the girls that I am now OUTDOOR CERTIFIED and we can camp wherever we want, but they wanted another campout in my back yard. So that's what we did.

Because we didn't have time to have a planning meeting between the girls' camps and vacations, and because I felt like it was time for them to push themselves a little, I called my good friend Richard and told him we were ready for another hike. After joining us for dinner al fresco, he took us on a BEAUTIFUL hike by moonlight. We got back around 10:00, made s'mores in my wonderful neighbor's fire pit (THANKS, TAMI!), and the girls finally pooped out around midnight. This morning, we cooked on the camp stove on the deck (french toast, bagels, bacon) and tie died shirts. Breakfast was great, but the shirts started out beautiful and then faded when we washed them. I'll be researching tie-dying tips before our next meeting (and if you have any, please post them!).

Before the girls left, I asked them do do a "Plus-Delta," where they talk about what they liked and what they would change about their experience.

Pluses: s'mores, hiking, playing "dare or dare" (a modified version of truth or dare), cooking on the camp stove, setting up the tent

Deltas: not getting up at 2:00 am so they could jump on the trampoline in their underwear (???)

In my self-centered brain, I really though that whether or not they had fun had something to do with me. Clearly, that's not the case. So I guess they're not ready to fire me yet. Yeah! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

We now return you to your regularly scheduled, uh, blogging?

It's been TEN DAYS since I last blogged! Wow! Why? We've had a little chaos going on around here!

Apparently, some bugs decided to move in and start eating our house. The nice man who came out and found them (LOTS of them) informed us that the only way we could get rid of them was to tent our house. So we did.

Let me just say that if you have a CHOICE and you can either tent your house or move, you should MOVE. Sadly, we didn't have that choice. So this past week was spent moving all of the food out of the house to a shed that wouldn't be tented. Then we packed up the rest of the food that couldn't stay in the shed and drove ourselves and our three pets to our WONDERFUL friends' house where we stayed for two days.

We really enjoy these friends, and they were so tolerant of our digging dog, hissing cat, and screaming preschooler. They had a GREAT room that housed all of us for our two nights in exile. We went to the beach, played games, went to a cool garden, and the kids jumped and swam themselves to exhaustion. It was a great preview to our vacation in August, when we'll be traveling with this family to Lake Tahoe. What a blessing to have friends who would put up with all of us descending on their house!

But today we returned to our smelly house where we proceeded to move all the food BACK to the cupboards and refrigerator, clean the dirty floors and counters (dust and dirty footprints from the fans and termite people), wash every possible item because I am terrified that my kids will get sick, and wash the dishes for the same reason. Oh, and we had to wait for the gas company to come back and light the pilot, so we had no hot water.

So now we are settling back into our termite-free house (which is hosting a variety of flies that got in while we were trying to air it out) and trying to resume our lives. This should happen quickly since we're hosting Nikki's Girl Scout troop tomorrow for back yard campout and Scott has to report for a summer league football game. *sigh*

Oh, the dryer is stopping. Time to get back to work!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nostalgia? Overrated!

I mentioned in my last post that we would be watching the original Pink Panther cartoons. In case that sounded like a good idea to you, DON'T DO IT!!!

While Caleb loved the music and found them to be hysterically funny, I was disturbed for several reasons.

One: The Pink Panther smokes. The opening credits show a picture of him with a cigarette and he partakes in this particular vice in almost every cartoon.

Two: In every cartoon the little man eventually tries to solve the conflict by pulling out his shotgun.

Three: In every other episode, the little man gets drunk.

Not the wholesome family viewing I remembered. AND the DVD lasted 2 HOURS and 40 MINUTES! We eventually figured out that we'd better just turn it off and go to bed.

So much for nostalgia!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Making lemonade.

Not literally. That would require some domestic talent and effort.

No, figuratively.

Nikki asked what we were doing today, and Caleb replied, "We going Sea World!" We all looked at each other with "yes" written all over our faces. So Nikki called some friends, we packed up the car, the kids dressed in swim suits under their clothes, and we headed for cooler ground.

When we got there, we saw a sign announcing that it was a "blackout day" for our particular type of passes. NOT GOOD. Not only were our children going to be VERY disappointed, but so were the other two who DIDN'T belong to us.

Luckily, only a few minutes away, there is an old-fashioned, boardwalk-type area right on the beach. We went over and let the kids ride the roller coaster and Tilt-and-Hurl (Caleb opted for the boats and carousel instead) and then took them over to play at the beach.

Tonight, it's original Pink Panther cartoons before bed (thanks to Netflix and the interest piqued by Scott's continuous playing of the instrumental on his iPod).

So we didn't make it to Sea World, but we had a good time anyway.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What were we thinking??

Scott and I had an anniversary this weekend, and so we conspired to have a date. At first, we were going to go on Saturday night (our anniversary was Sunday), but Scott told Nikki our plans (which involved her spending the night at Grammy's) and she burst into tears at the thought of not getting to spend one of her two nights with us. I concurred (although I didn't actually cry), and so my mom was kind enough to reschedule for Tuesday night, when Nikki was away at camp.

Yesterday afternoon, I took Caleb to my mom's where he walked in the door, turned around and said, "Bye Mom." I actually walked in, greeted my parents, and dropped off his stuff before I left, but he clearly wasn't upset about it.

We went out, had a delicious dinner at Ruth's Chris, and had a great time just the two of us. We slept intermittently until 9:30 (note-this NEVER happens) this morning. I say intermittently because we still had the animals (mainly Nikki's cat) waking us up frequently, but we just fell right back to sleep. As soon as we got up, the phone rang. It was my mom. I'm not clear on the details, but she sounded like Caleb had had an accident every hour since he got there. I dropped everything, got in the car, and got him.

Since he's been home, he's been dry and used the potty on his own.

So instead of having a romantic sushi lunch, we're eating leftovers with Caleb. And so it goes.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Missing Nikki

Nikki is off to her SECOND week of sleep-away camp. Last week, she was a confirmation camp all week with church. This week, she's at horse camp. She was only home for two days between. And I miss her.

That is all.

Friday, June 27, 2008

All Grown Up

When Nikki got back from church camp today, she walked in to find her little brother skating around the house in roller blades (HER roller blades, actually). He has also been accident-free for about 36 hours. She gave him a huge hug and told him to stop growing up.

If only it was that easy.

I have to admit it was a little sad packing up all the cloth diapering gear, rearranging the furniture since we no longer need a changing pad, etc. NOT because I enjoy diapering, but because this is the last baby I will ever have. And he's not a baby anymore.

I am so happy for him, and he is really proud of himself. But as a mom, I have to take a little time to grieve the passing of his babyhood.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mistaken Identity

A new development in the SSN fiasco. Today, Juan from the courthouse called to tell me that my forged document is now official. I thanked him for his time and told him I'd be down to pick it up next week, even though I now no longer need it.

This reminded me of a little detail from Monday. When the clerk changed all of Caleb's information (finally), she gave it to me to review before finalizing it. On the paperwork, it says that Caleb is "Hispanic" (and I promise not to go off on a tangent about this term).

Now, we are a very white family. I actually have enough Cherokee in me to qualify for something if my dad could find our reservation numbers, and Nikki too, but really, we are white. Caleb, however, is even WHITER than us! Not one of his birthparents' relatives was anything but Northern European. He gets sunburned through windows. He is LILY WHITE.

So when I noticed this little tidbit, I pointed it out to the clerk. She said there was nothing she could do about his ethnicity, that she had no authority to change it.

Hmmm... If the government says Caleb is Hispanic, and nobody has the authority to change it, does that mean he qualifies for scholarships??

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Potty Progress & Chaos

Since I know you were wondering, we are still moving forward with potty training. We were gone all day today, and Caleb did MOSTLY well. He did poop in his trainer at dinner tonight. He does REALLY well when he's not wearing anything. Undies are less great, but the trainer, I think, is an open invitation for disaster (although it's a GREAT product for overnight!). Tomorrow we'll be home all day, so things should be good (and naked).

At work, things are going crazy. Our principal is leaving. He has basically allowed our staff to run with things at the school, and as a result, we have done amazing things. The staff asked to be given the authority to choose our new principal in a private meeting with our school board member. She basically told us we would get what we would get. And we did. Even though our current dean is CLEARLY more qualified for the position. So now she's thinking of leaving. And our principal is leaving. And bad things are looming in the near future for our school. So now the staff is banding together to explore the idea of going charter. This could be a scary move for those of us who have a lot of seniority (like me-and my husband). But if we don't do it, we may lose our dean and the school itself (it would be re-absorbed into the larger school within a year, thus undoing all our hard work). We are praying hard about this. And meeting. Which is really cutting into the whole feeling of "summer vacation."

So there you have it! We're just sitting around the pool eating bon bons, because that's what teachers do over summer break. :P

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NO MORE DIAPERS!!!!

I think it is safe to say that Caleb is potty trained. Why? He woke up DRY this morning!!! He didn't have one accident yesterday. He just gets up and goes whenever he needs to, and even takes care of emptying his own potty chair. Last night, he looked up at me and said, "Uh oh, Mommy. Poo poo." Then he got up and ran to the bathroom. No accidents!!

There really is a lot to be said for waiting until they're ready. Even if it takes four years and a month. :)

I'm washing my last load of diapers right now. Anybody need some slightly stretched-out Happy Heiny's (size large)? ;)

YEAH!!!!!!!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

An exercise in frustration...

Today was the most frustrating day I can remember in a VERY long time. What could be more frustrating than dealing with the health care system? Dealing with the GOVERNMENT.

I set out this morning with a list of tasks:
• Enroll Nikki in the local school district (I know, I'll explain later)
• Renew my credential/add English credential
• FAX Caleb's IEP to his speech teacher at Children's
• Return my defective tent (bad zipper)
• Change Caleb's legal name for his social security number (I know it's been 3 years, let's not judge here)
• Meeting at 12:30 for work

WELL enrolling Nikki was problem free, even though I couldn't find her current immunization card (or Caleb's-hmmm). And that was the end of my problem-free day.

I went to the Social Security Administration with all my documents (I had called ahead to see what I needed) and proceeded to sit for over an hour listening to drunk people swear and watching other people beating their children. When I was finally called, the girl took about fifteen minutes to decide she couldn't help me. I was sent back to my seat to wait for someone who COULD help me. At this point, I was already very late for my meeting, so I texted a couple teachers but, alas, no response. Then I was called again. This lady stared at my paperwork and went through manuals for about fifteen minutes before she told me I had the wrong paperwork. I had the adoption APPLICATION but I needed the adoption ORDER. She also wanted a document with Caleb's birth name AND his adoptive name, even though I had BOTH BIRTH CERTIFICATES showing his names. She gave me three numbers to try so that I could get the ORDER and a pass to go to the front of the line. So, after two hours, I went away empty-handed.

Annoyed but willing to move on, I went to the meeting location and did not find my colleagues' cars in the parking lot. Since there was no parking, I went down the hill to school, where I hoped to catch up with them and FAX Caleb's IEP. The office was locked, but I found our principal hiding out and got in. I opened the folder to FAX the document, but alas-no IEP. All the paperwork that came WITH the IEP was there, but not the IEP. I FAXed what I had and left, at which point I got a call saying I had missed the meeting. Of course.

Oh well, off to the Education Center to renew my credential. No parking. I parked illegally, and found person to help me with my credential. I had E-mailed him previously to find out what I would need to complete ALL of my steps (renew, add, register my MA for my raise). But, of course, he failed to mention that I would need a SECOND CASHIER'S CHECK for $55. I only had one. Great. Now I have to go back to the SS A AND the Ed Center.

At this point, I figured why not sign up for more frustration? So I headed for Juvenile Court to obtain Caleb's Adoption ORDER. Things seemed to be going well, I paid the $16 for the order, the clerk got me a certified copy, but then I read it and noticed that this did not have Caleb's birth name EITHER. PROBLEM. The clerk told me I needed to fill out a form to amend the adoption so it would show both names. GREAT! Except the form required the signatures of BOTH PARENTS and guess what? I'M JUST ONE! I told the very nice clerk that I would just take it out to the car and have my husband sign it, went into the hallway and forged his signature, used the restroom, and went back and turned the form in. I'm sure he knew I was lying, but to his credit, he took the form.

I started to head home at this point. I hadn't eaten all day and I was a little on edge after all the frustration. But as I drove into our suburb, I had a burst of inspiration and decided to go back to the SSA. And guess what? THIS TIME IT WORKED! YEAH!!! Now my dad doesn't have to yell at me about changing Caleb's name the next time I do taxes!! :)

Then I returned my defective tent. Then I came home to my wonderful son, who has not had ONE ACCIDENT and just pooped in the potty again!

So in the end, I still have to find the kids' immunization records (???) and Caleb's IEP (??????) and add my English credential. But all of those are jobs for another day. Right now, I need some chocolate.

*sigh*

Good things come to those who wait!

Today is Potty Boot Camp Round II.

It's much warmer than the last time we tried this, so Caleb has nothing on from the waist down. He's acting like he's done this his whole life.

He's had no accidents since 8:00 am, he pooped in the toilet without anyone's knowledge or help, and he's peed in his potty three times.

I don't want to get overexcited here, but this seems to be going really well...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Photo Follow-Up #2

I know you've been dying to see pictures of my graduation. Not so much? Well, too bad...

Here's me after getting my fake degree (it was just a letter).



This is my friend Angela who was one of my strongest advocates throughout the program.



And here I am with my wonderful family, who sacrificed so much so I could enjoy this day. Also with them, alum Jackie (Valedictorian 2007), who got up at 7:00 on a Sunday morning to be there.



I'm so blessed. :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Crash & Burn

It's time for the annual post-school-year crash-and-burn. I have tried THREE TIMES to read the same two pages of Invisible Man (Ellison, not Wells) to no avail. I keep falling asleep.

Tomorrow, I have to learn how to tent camp with Girl Scouts. There's got to be SOMETHING they'll teach me that I don't already know. For example, I had to take a "pre-course" before the training, and I didn't know I was supposed to strain the food out of the gray water used for washing dishes before tossing it. So now I'm feeling guilty about the little bits of food that went out with the water in San Clemente. Oh well. I hope the skunk that visited our camp site at 3:00 am and tried to eat our trash found the food bits.

In other news, Caleb had his speech eval through Children's yesterday. He has a "moderate to severe" speech delay. Apparently, there will be no hearing aids until his next audiogram, which is scheduled for late July. They've put him on the waiting list in case of cancellation. In the meantime, we're supposed to teach him to use pronouns. She wants him to say "I" instead of referring to himself in the third person, and she wants him to learn the pronoun "she" (he currently only uses "he" regardless of the person's gender). I really feel like this would be easier if he could UNDERSTAND WHAT WE'RE SAYING, but we'll give it our best shot.

Oh, and the pump went out on our washer today, but my AWESOME HUSBAND fixed it for only $65 (price of a new pump).

I'm falling asleep again. Gotta go...