Halloween 2015

Paul and I made brains while everyone else napped.DSC01817

The food coloring really looked like blood.DSC01823

Thanks for the decorations Cara.DSC01852

Before dinner we carved pumpkinsDSC01846

on the kitchen floor.DSC01844

We had to wait for the sun to go down for the full effect. They are in oldest from left to right. Olivine wanted a baby pumpkin.DSC01877

After dinner walked the neighborhood for an hour trick or treating. My favorite costume was this skull.DSC01866

Our festive dessert waiting for us chilled:DSC01826

While the kids enjoyed candy before brushing teeth.DSC01875

Who knew Princesses were so fashionably comfortable?DSC01870

Joe saw a girl dressed like Wayne (from Wayne’s World). I am particularly sentimental because Wayne’s World was the first movie we watched together as teenagers. He said “Party on Wayne” and without missing a beat she said “Party on Darth.”DSC01872

May the Force Be with You!


And don’t forget to turn your clocks back. Extra sleep is the best.

Henry People

The author Shauna Niequist has a devotional I love called Savor. Yesterday’s was about her son Henry and getting into the Halloween spirit because of him. She used a phrase I am borrowing in agreement. My family is “Henry People” more than Halloween people. DSC01792

So when he came home today begging for a second round at decorating the doors with his art, how could I refuse.DSC01793

My kids are continuing to shape me into a new person. My identity is never fixed. It is responding and engaging to the people I hold dearest.DSC01795

His artwork is magical and the excitement is infectious.


Some mornings I am running out to the laundry room, grading papers in the living room, washing dishes, and Olivine feels like a circle that is spinning near me. Every once in awhile we come together but we are also content to be apart. Another growing sign of her independence and a household without any babies.


This morning while I moved around the house she sat at the kitchen table grunting and talking to herself. “Puzzles are hard” I heard her mutter. Yet she didn’t ask for help and she didn’t give up. Maybe she’s learning “grit.”


Then I listened while she role played near me (a peek into her world at the child development center). I hear how the teachers talk, because her tone definitely changes along with volume. She whispered to each one. She redirected one baby a few times, reminding her that she needed to lay down even if she didn’t close her eyes.DSC01787

I remember all those moments of role playing the teacher with my dolls. They would be propped behind lunchpail desks and I would do read alouds. I would give out stickers and compliments. Strange to see my younger self reflected back at me.DSC01791

Oh and I can’t forget the tea she insisted on having served in a coffee cup. She saw Paul drinking tea at breakfast for a minor sore throat. She reminded me all the way home from school that she would like tea with milk as well. Once it cooled off I know you can see that sparkle in her eyes. She was tickled pink.

My Hero

This guy works hard. He sat at this kitchen table Sunday for many hours. We ran in and out of the house. He took breaks, we ran out of the house, in the house, took naps, and just worked around him.DSC01743

I love to see him busy in a new way. He is always thinking of new ideas, his mind is going a mile a minute. He wakes up early, (still goes to bed late) keeps an organizer, packs a lunch, and has devoted himself to managing his time. Hopefully my experience has given me the perspective to be patient and not forget what it is like to juggle all the responsibilities of a classroom. We still make a big deal of eating dinner together but some nights I am in class. Luckily, he seamlessly transitions from the classroom back into the home and all the juggling of dinner, homework, and bathtime.

We talk a lot about his parents. We can’t help imagine what his parents would say. His father would have all kinds of advice about managing the adults in Joe’s classroom. We are confident his experience as a truck driver and a mover would come in to play. We can almost hear his voice telling Joe to remember to “lift with his legs” when he is moving students in and out of wheelchairs.

His mother on the other hand would have lots to ask and explain with the tube feedings, seizures, medication, and needs of his students. Her experience as a respiratory therapist and working in ER would inform so much of what she would say.

We miss these two voices in our life. But like I tell Joe all the time. If they were here, they would impressed and blown away by his perseverance. He persists when others would give up. My kids are lucky to have him as their role model.


Part of the fun in cleaning out the storage unit is that my children make discoveries of treasures from my classroom. On this afternoon it was the clipboards.


Olivine was napping and these two wanted to go outside with paper, pencil, and their blue clipboard (I used in centers, and they were a hit in the classroom as well because it signifies some sort of official-ness, plus it makes writing on the go-easy).


They wrote long descriptive lists of what they observed.


I saw mini scientists recording their surroundings


under a big blue sky


Henry started begging to decorate the house for Halloween on October 1st. But we had a birthday for Grammy to plan and a new car to distract us. Slowly over the past week, I have been giving in.


As long as it is easy to put up and affordable, I am in.


We did some webs outside with spiders stuck in them (first time ever).


I also like crafty and colorful.

DSC01697Garlands are fun and so are dangling decorations.


This is one of Olivine’s favorite books right now featuring candy corn


which inspired these cupcakes that Mimi was willing to bake and share (our oven is temporarily out of service). A dozen each is plenty!


My friend Cara has a super crafty momma who sent over a tub for my family. It is supposedly comprised of items she has “just laying around that were tossed together” and I love it!


i highjacked the spider crown from he tub because it fit me the best. Don’t be upset when I confess I will wear it to my college class on Thursday and bring candy to pass out to my students in a plastic pumpkin. Or that I have class on Saturday for myself and may just dress up as my Star Wars character.


This is what happens. I blame it on my kids. They really provoke that holiday spirit in me. It’s contagious. Plus, as a teacher, cheesy all the way is part of our reputation. At least I don’t own any sweaters that feature holiday decor from the Goodwill.

Although I was just invited to a flea market in November that features Christmas decor. I am trying hard to resist the urge to start buying and hoarding such little trinkets. So far I have been so cheap, the materials don’t last and so each year we can start over.

Busy Day

Here are the highlights from a Saturday that was extremely busy.

Good Morning


An afternoon spent unloading van from our storage unit. Emptied!


An evening back at school in costumes.


Best Friends.




Good Night.

Irvine Regional Park

We tried a different pumpkin patch this year. Less carnival rides and more mellow, out near my mom’s house.


I took Paul out before lunch, when I picked up Henry. We ate lunch at Grammy’s and then headed over. No guilt. I knew this would be too crowded for the weekend. We arrived between school groups heading out, babies leaving for naps, and other children not yet out of school. Perfect!


The highlight is the train ride. Luckily, I saved the pack of tickets my mom had given me years ago. The tickets were useful for some of the pumpkin patch activities.


I love that Henry noticed the empty metal area in front of us was for disabled children, the ones in wheelchairs, like at school where daddy works.


There was a hay maze where they took turns leading one another around.


Check out their theatrical rendition of disappointment in the Dead End.


They drove mini tractors


and Olivine had to go with Paul. The ride was a minimum age of five to ride alone. We laughed hard when Paul misunderstood and thought it was bumper cars and started chasing/crashing into Henry’s tractor.


There were funny little hay horses to ride on


and signs to stick your head in.


A Skeleton family!


They each chose what to spend their last ticket on. The boys ran over to the cookie decorating booth. While Olivine decided to play throw the ring on the pumpkin stem. She had three chances. She is so small she had to stand on the ledge, but she won and her face lit up in surprise. This was her prize she picked out. A little champ this girl is!


In the same park is a small zoo we walked over to. The petting zoo had little brushes to use.


The pictures don’t show the sounds these little goats were making. If you look closely you can see how nervous my boys are because they are listening to their strange noises and wondering if these goats will kick or jump up.


Paul was fascinated by all the birds and their different sized wing spans.


The zookeeper brought out a porcupine that we learned about up close.


Confession: we didn’t purchase pumpkins at the patch. They were overpriced and my mom knew the grocery store down the street sold them for cheaper.


So the countdown has begun.


We are ready for Halloween.

New Routines

This is my personal update on my schedule at the half way point of the fall semester. I have decided to cut back some extra spending I caught myself doing because I started studying at Starbuck’s. Who knew how quick those coffee tabs could rise?

So if I sat down to analyze why I was doing this? I don’t love caffeine or corporate coffee shops with terrible music in the background. But I do like air conditioning on hot days. Even more, I love studying in an environment free of clutter. If I stay home to study that means I need to clean.

My typical routine now includes doing a quick tidy up as I try to manage a relatively small space (grateful for) with a family that likes to read, draw, and lay around. When the space is clean I feel relieved, content, focused, and generally better.

Take for example the living room this morning. I need the couch and table to be more zen like, but this is what my eyes saw:


After a few trips to the trash,  putting items where they belong, and a quick vacuum. It looked like this:DSC01616

And in case you are wondering, No- I didn’t put everything behind me, out of the frame.

My other MUST CLEAN space is the kitchen. In case I get hungry or feel like my brain is a little cluttered, this actually helps me relax. If I can just make this one small sink open. Ahhhh!


I won’t lie: a little girl singing under her breath helps motivate me.


Joe and I keep one side of the sink dirty and the other side clean, so it’s also helpful to tell my brain…move everything to the left side. I put it away later once it air dries.


As for studying, I am squeezing it in and managing it so far. Do I love this life? Yes Noel (my friend who is still working at a school and called me this week) but I know it may not last. I won’t be content with this, especially as Olivine gets more excited about school. The part where if I think how fleeting this moment and life is, helps keep me grounded. This can’t last. But I can enjoy it in the moment.

We are clearing out my storage unit this weekend. So if you need teaching supplies, I may be your girl. Paying a hundred dollars a month just doesn’t make sense to me. I also have no idea what I will do with all that stuff. I can’t hoard it. I may never go back to teaching second grade (gulp) but if it is sitting in my living room I will be forced to deal with it. Right?

Today I am working hard to clean up around here because we are off to a pumpkin patch with Grammy. Tomorrow it is Halloween party, pumpkin carving, and Henry’s soccer game (I don’t have class). Then Sunday…pass out rest for the Sabbath.


A friend named Kat gave me this word last night. I made a prayer request for myself, putting myself out there, in hope that I will sincerely find answers in this current season. But with a patient heart as well, recognizing it is a process. I want to know how much is too much? What needs to stay? What needs to be added? And what needs to go? I have yet to fully adapt to this new schedule. So I have spent some time last night and this morning doing some mini research on the kangaroo.

Interestingly enough when I came home this was the first paper I saw on the couch, from Henry’s classwork and study of the letter “K” yesterday:


I am confident that God speaks in small whispers and a loud voice, depending on our situation.

So far facts that are resonating with me are that kangaroos are herbivores, unique in their hopping everywhere, strong in their bodies, quick in speed, can carry babies in their pouches (taking care of three babies at once), and have adapted well to their environments. Kat pointed out last night, which I learned is true, that they are a species that has been known to adopt other babies as their own, uncommon for many animals.

My prayer today… I want more of the qualities of a kangaroo.