Simple Sunday – Scatting

Allow me to tell you a few things I recently learned about wombat scat from my eight year old son.

Wombats communicate with each other by way of their droppings, or scat.

A single wombat can leave over one hundred droppings in a night (they sure have a lot to say!).

Cube like in shape so it won’t roll off rocks, a wombat’s scat tells many tales.

This weekend Cody created a wombat diorama that he will present to his class and that will be on display this Thursday, the night of his class’s Australian play.  He carefully labeled the various parts of the wombat habitat, making sure that the dark colored, cube like scat was front and center and clearly labeled.

Wombat Scat

Carter, who was an active observer during the diorama making, disappeared as the project was wrapping up.

Then I heard his voice from down the hallway.

carter:  Momma!!  Momma, I am scatting!!

Yup, he was in the bathroom…

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Waking Up Six

He has kept a running countdown for a couple weeks.  He talks about the cake and the friends and the presents and the ice cream but that is not why he is so eager.

Carter has been counting down to the night when he goes to bed 5 and wakes up 6.  Last night was the night.  And so this morning he awoke, six.

carter:  Momma?  Good morning, Momma?  Momma, do you know I am six now?  I woke up six!

I looked down at the foot of my bed and there stood a six year old.  His blond curls sticking up at odd angles on one side of his head, while on the other side they lay plastered to his temple, pillow creases on his cheeks evidence of a solid nights sleep.

And that is how my baby got another year older.  One night he simply went to bed five and the next morning, poof, he woke up six.


Today we had our family celebration with a breakfast of his choice, a trip to his favorite ice cream shop after lunch, a picnic dinner in our living room while we watched his new movie Despicable Me 2, and ending with carrot cake topped with 6 candles.  Next weekend he will have his party with friends.  Today was just for us to celebrate Carter waking up 6.

While Carter’s birth story was not as scary or as involved as Cody’s, he was also born premature – weighting in at 4 pounds 4 ounces – and had to stay at the NICU for about three weeks before he could come home.  I reposted his birth story last year and I will provide you with a link to it this year.

Happy birthday.  Thank you for waking up 6, my sweetheart.

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From There to Now

The ball drops.  It bounces halfheartedly in an attempt to guilt the faltering hands that juggle the remaining balls, balls that are moving so fast they are a liquid blur in the air, to reach for it and scoop it back up again.

It does not work.  The ball rolls dejectedly towards and then under a dark and solid piece of nondescript furniture in the corner of the room.  There it settles, collecting dust in the dim shadows.  All but forgotten.

I have dropped that ball, that blogging ball, that even now whispers to me, its throat dry and parched from lack of language and attention.  It has been three weeks since my last post and oh so much has happened.

We are moving back to Phoenix.


I got a teaching job!

It all started over spring break.  Every year we fly down to Tucson and spend time with family and friends.  Every year when we board the plane to head home we feel like we are in actuality leaving home.  Husband and I have had the “should we move back” conversation for about seven years now.  This time, this conversational go around, it was different, more detailed.

When we got back from our visit, I did a random search and discovered that there was a job fair taking place in Phoenix in about a weeks time.  We looked at each other, cashed in all our frequent flyer miles, and nervously smiled.  Lets just see what happens…Why not…We are not getting any younger..

So I flew out alone on Friday and attended the job fair on Saturday.  I had prepared, researching the districts I wanted to talk to, writing a page or more of notes for each one on my yellow legal notepad along with questions to ask them.  Then I memorized those pages and quizzed myself until I could keep all the information straight.

Two hours into the job fair, with three interviews behind me, I was offered a letter of intent.  It was not just for any job, for it was in a district I had targeted and at a grade level I coveted.

I took it.

I will be a second grade teacher in Phoenix, AZ this coming school year and I can’t be more excited about it.  I clicked with the principal and even got a personal tour of the school after the job fair.

Now for the sticking point(s):  We have a house to sell, a house and a life to pack up and move.  We need to find a place to live, a school for our kids to attend (if they don’t go to mine), and then there is the ever crucial medical piece most specifically for Cody.  Husband has contacts and still has his current job but he needs to find one in Arizona.  The list goes on.  And the first day of school for me, a new hire, is July 16th.  The students arrive July 30th.

No pressure.

And so the ball has been dropped, that blogging ball that I have so lovingly kept a soar for all these years.  I am not sure I can pick it up again, juggle it again, in any relative form of consistency.

We are moving, I have a job, and life is good.  I will blog from time to time amidst the boxes and flutter of chaos.  I can’t wait to share with you my classroom, my very first classroom.  It is mind blowing to me that I have made it.  I am a teacher, if only on paper for now, with my own classroom.

As I sat in the plane heading home I peered out the window at the mosaic landscape of housing developments that makes up Phoenix and the surrounding area.  I could not stop thinking that down there, somewhere in that population, were twenty-five or so children that will soon be my very first students.

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Birthday Marbles

We drank coffee while the birthday boy, feeling very mature at age eight, opened his presents.  He got a couple science kits and a movie.  Then Carter ran out of the room and returned with his bag of peacock marbles.  He had purchased them yesterday at the zoo with his own money.  They were shiny with swirls of blue and green.  “Happy Birthday Cody!” he said and thrust the marbles into Cody’s hands.

We are out of town visiting relatives in the warmth and sunshine of Arizona.  As it happens, just like the year before and the one before that, Cody’s birthday falls during our spring break and coincides with our trip to Tucson.

I started to retell the story of Cody’s day of birth.  He was born three months early and came into the world weighting just over two pounds.  He was very small but his story is very big.  When I got to the part of the story where I told of the incubator in which he lived for two months, his eyes became wet with unshed tears.  “There were strange blue things floating everywhere, momma.”

I read somewhere that children cannot remember details or events from their very early childhood, that the brain chemistry changes and those memories are not able to be retained.  I do not know if what he remembers is real or not, but who am I to take those away.  And so I simply nodded and told him that there were a lot of strange things floating around during that time.

I wrote about his birth here.  I find myself gravitating back to that post several times a year.  Give it a read if you wish.

And a very happy birthday to my sweet Cody.

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Simple Sunday – Seizures, Student Teaching, and Searching

Tomorrow I start my last week of full time student teaching.  I can’t believe how quickly it has gone by.  I am trying not to panic as I job search, fill out very time consuming on-line applications to districts without any current open positions in hopes of being ready when they do open.

Last Wednesday during last recess I got a call on the phone in my classroom that Cody was in the health room at his school.  He had a seizure in his classroom.  He was still non-responsive when they called me.  It had been over 2 minutes – no one was exactly sure of the time that had passed.  I fault no one for this as I know that when I am caught in that space where my son is turning blue, can not talk to me, and is somewhere else and I don’t know when he will be back, that time is elusive.  It is not easy to make concrete – it fades in and out and sometimes it ceases to exist at all.  I have tried to describe this feeling many times before but I simply cannot – it is petrifying.

I Love You Cody

My mentor teacher was in the room so when I dropped everything, panic clawing at my throat so I could hardly speak, she tried to stop me for a moment to get me to pause, to breath, to be ok to drive.  I could not pause – there was no time for even a slight catch of breath.  I have anti-seizure meds in my purse.  I ran.  I am a seven minute drive away – even with the red light.

Cody is fine.  He spend the day with Husband the following day.  I had a meeting with my principal that I did not feel I could cancel (I had canceled on her the previous week due to Carter throwing up in class).  I barely made it through that day and I have to confess that I was far from a great teacher on that particular day.

Tomorrow I turn 40.  A large populous of people in our small town are aware of this due to the fact that Carter felt the need to pronounce to the whole of Costco and Albertson’s in his loud and proud 5 year old voice that his momma would be 40 tomorrow.  Sigh.  I don’t want to feel old.  I don’t want to feel tired.  But today I do.  Maybe tomorrow I will feel better.

It has been a long week.  I have had a glass of wine with dinner and feel that it is in my best interest to not continue answering the 7 of the 9 questions I still need to complete for a job addendum – a job that closes on the 9th.

And so time steadily goes on – foot over foot over foot.

I kissed my boys on their foreheads tonight as I tucked them securely under their covers.  I told them how lucky I was having them in my life.

I am lucky.  My life is good.  There are challenges and struggles, but we all have them, have we not?

And so, once again my Simple Sunday post is not really simple.  But at least it is Sunday so I have half of it right.

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Simple Sunday – Leprechaun Update and the Turning of the Soil

As promised, here is the update on the boys’ Leprechaun trap.  The pesky little Leprechaun came.  He plucked the bait – a penny – off the double sided tape within the trap, the tape that was suppose to hold him tight.  He got away but…

He left behind a handful of gold, chocolate coins and his green shimmering shoes – stuck fast to the tape in the trap.


On a completely unrelated note – this weekend, the first official spring weekend of the year – we took a look at the sorry state of our garden bed and decided to turn the soil.  With implements of gardening, we took to the land.

Turning the soil 1

While Husband did most of the heavy labor, Carter had no shame in taking most of the credit.

Turning the soil 2

The final product – a garden bed with fluffy, aerated soil.  It is rich with earthworms and ready for the seeds and plants we have yet to decide upon.  Carter has started a list.  Cody is more interested in the placement of our friendly garden gnome.

Turning the soil 3

I am happy to once again feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and the damp and giving soil in my hands.

A great song to be stuck in my head.
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Simple Sunday – Allow me to Introduce Ken

Today started as most Sundays tend to do at our house.  Husband and I try to sleep in.  The boys get up early keeping us from sleeping in, although today early was 7:00 which I don’t really consider early.

There was coffee for the big people and computer time for the little people.  We all ate breakfast together and then while Husband and I cleaned up the kitchen the boys created a “Boy Lounging Area” consisting of their small Ikea chairs, some empty boxes used to carry our loot from Costco into our house, and Carter’s trusty old Thomas the Train blanket.  They really are easily amused.  They looked super cute so I grabbed the camera to capture the moment.  In order to get a relatively normal picture of them, I have them first give me smiles and then they get to do a silly picture.  Here they are.  Sometimes I can’t tell the “normal” picture from the “silly” one but this one, I think you can.

Lounging Collage

The rest of the day I spend doing school work.  The boys entertained themselves for a while.  When the noise level got too loud, Husband took them outside to help do yard work.  It was raining a little making the longevity of my solitude directly related to the heaviness of the rain fall.

Husband made lunch.  I did more school work.  The boys played.  Once again the noise level started to rise.  You can only expect so much sibling comradery and mellowness in one day.

This time Husband loaded up the boys and the dog and off they went for a long walk at a nearby park.  The rain was mild and we are hardy folk (or rather they are – I stayed home, dry and warm, in front of my school work.  I may have even eaten some chocolate while they were away.)

When they came home it was with an eagerness to share Ken.

This is Ken.


Ken, better known as KN to some, was found and immediately adopted by Carter on their walk around the park.  According to Carter, KN is 80 years old and was in need of a home.  KN is not to be confused with Ken our Kenmore dryer whom you can read about if you wish (an old post, but a good one as it has a cute picture of Carter and a cute picture of a picture of Cody).

And that is about it.  I have no intricate end of blog tie up to neatly fit the lounging boys to the grubby baseball that is currently lounging by the fire warming his stitches.

I have had enough of computer for one day so you get what you get, and this is it.

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Bits and Scraps – Proof of Leprechauns is All Around Us

It started earlier this week with a small, pointy white rock Carter found on the playground at his school.  He insisted it was a Leprechauns tooth.

Then it was a heart shaped sticker, its shine and sparkle marred by neglect and exposure to the Pacific Northwest weather.  Somehow the sticker was related to Leprechauns too.

Today I came home from school to find some bits of mismatched yarn balled up and sitting right in the center of Carter’s placemat.  Little grains of dirt had shaken loose from it and seemed to drift over the table top like the dust cloud Schulz’s character Pig-Pen was forever living in.  So proud of himself, Carter explained that he found it on the playground at school.  It was part of a Leprechauns sweater.  Along with the sweater remains lay an unidentifiable, jagged piece of white plastic which, evidently, is a Leprechauns comb.  They need to brush their hair somehow too, I guess.  And really, who am I to say otherwise?

I washed out a yogurt container and offered it up to Carter to store his Leprechaun items in.  He went off happily down the hall with his mismatched collection while I quietly and quickly sanitized the table and laid out new placemats.  Dirt is one thing, but tattered remnants of Leprechaun sweater on my table, well that is another thing altogether.  Who knows the hygiene practices of the Leprechaun that wore that multicolored grubby garment?

Those of you that were around last year may remember The Leprechaun Trap of 2013 that Cody and Carter made which almost caught them a crafty, green loving fellow.

This year is the year.  The boys have been plotting traps for some time now and they have a new strategy, a new design.  One that involves lots of tape.  I will say no more but will instead wait and share with you the finished product.

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Is it Past Your Bedtime Yet…How ‘Bout Now?

We spend the better part of yesterday evening in the Emergency Room at Children’s Hospital.

Cody had been complaining of a headache that would disappear when he laid down but would come back in full force when he would stand up or walk around.  On top of that he had no qualms about being told to lay down and rest.  And when he actually fell asleep in the late afternoon and slept for a good hour and a half – something he would never normally do – I knew where we were headed.  I was expecting the worst.

Cody has a VP shunt.  He has not had a shunt failure, unless you count the several that occurred before he even left the hospital after he was born.  Shunts have a greater than 95% fail rate and some of the signs of a shunt malfunction are headaches and lethargy.  Typical ailments for the most of us…

After waffling and being noncommittal, I asked the question, “How many warning signs do we need before we know, before we get in that car and drive the hour drive to the hospital?”  The truth is that we don’t know and I guess if it was very apparent, and we actually did know, then we would not even take the time to pack an overnight bag just in case.

So we went.  Cody was tired in the car but perked up after a while.  By the time we got there he was acting perfectly normal.  But still…  We didn’t know.

There was much time spent answering questions, hooking up machines that beeped and blinked – all very reminiscent of his first three months of life.  There were CT scans and X-rays and those voices in my head reminded me of the research that children that get routine X-rays are at a higher risk for all sorts of cancers.

Husband went in with Cody to the CT and X-rays while I wandered the halls with Carter.  One hallway had all the planets decorating the floor and so we made a game of it.  Can you tiptoe to Pluto (yes, yes, yes, I know that Pluto is not really a planet anymore…)?  Can you count the stars – and don’t forget that the sun is a star?  A nice nurse gave Carter some stickers.  He really held up very well considering the majority of the attention was not on him and we were there for hours.

Near the end of the visit, I made a comment to Husband that not only did we blow way past the boys’ bedtimes but we were rapidly encroaching on my bedtime.  Carter’s ears perked up.

carter:  Momma.  When do you go to bed?

me:  Oh, shortly after you and Cody do.

carter:  But when momma?  Is it your bedtime now?

me:  Not too much longer after you and Cody go to bed.  It is not quite my bedtime yet – but soon.

carter:  How ‘bout now momma?  Is it your bedtime now?

me:  No, not yet.

It went on like this until he started to pry out of me exactly how many minutes it would be until my bedtime.  I am not sure why the fascination but it was strong.  It did not stop until I had proclaimed that it was indeed past my bedtime.

Today I did not go into my classroom.  I did not student teach.  Moments before we left for the hospital last night, I emailed my mentor teacher two days worth of lesson plans because I just did not know what we were dealing with.  It was not that she needed the plans – she has been teaching for 19 years and I think she could easily wing it – it was because I needed to let her know that I was ready, I was prepared and that I was not taking the decision to step away lightly.  This morning I could not bring myself to send Cody off to school.  Not yet.  Husband had a meeting he did not want to miss, but in all fairness, had I even pushed a little, had I not volunteered to stay home, he would have called in.  But I needed to stay home with Cody, I did.  For me.

Cody was fine.  He ate, he rested (begrudgingly), he helped me clean.  I made him do math and read stories to me.  We made strawberry smoothies and snuggled with the dog.

Tonight the boys went to bed at their normal bedtime but they did not sleep.  I kept hearing them talking, laughing.  I let it go on longer than I would usually do.  Finally I got up and went it.  I turned on my stern mommy voice, popped open the door and firmly stated that it was past their bedtime, that it was almost past mine, and that I needed them to turn their voices off and get some rest.

There was silence in the dim nightlight lit room.  Then two little voices piped up from the bottom bunk – sorry momma.  Yeah, sorry momma.

It gave me pause and it took me a moment to realize that Carter and climbed down his ladder and was snuggled up in bed with Cody.  I have never seen him do this before.

And then Carter asked me, Momma, is it past your bedtime?

It wasn’t then – now it almost is.

This time the CT and the X-rays showed no change in Cody’s ventricles – no swelling.  There was nothing abnormal in the images of his shunt.  This time everything was okay.

There is a new day ahead.  It is time to try and put those worries behind and move forward.

It is indeed my bedtime.

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Simple Sunday – Workspaces

This weekend was a weekend of writing lesson plans.  Not the fun and exciting lesson plans that I worked on last weekend for Dr. Seuss Day:

  • Lacing ten beads (or “Truffula seeds”) onto a pipe cleaner with a colorful pom-pom hot glued on the top (better known as Truffula trees) and then skip counting by tens.
  • Writing something the Lorax would say in his speech bubble and then puffy painting the Lorax with a mixture of shaving cream and glue tinted orange (adding tufts of yellow yarn to make a handsome mustache.
  • Creating a new addition to your McGrew Zoo by drawing a picture of it, naming it, and writing two interesting details about your creature
  • Writing in alternating colors of red and white on a Seuss hat rhyming words and then water coloring, in red paint, the strips where the white crayon was used to watch the words “pop” out at you.
  • Using random recyclable items, create a creature that lives in our classroom, and name it Wocket-in-my-Pocket-style, writing its name on a name tag.

No, this weekend was spent writing lesson plans for the edTPA.  I will keep my opinion of this assessment that I “get” to do to myself but if you want to learn more you can read about it here or here.  Regardless of what I think about it, the edTPA is a very large, high stakes portfolio of sorts to “prove” that I am qualified to become a teacher in the state of Washington.  I must past it to get certified.

The people who will be grading my edTPA care not for Truffula trees or the Lug and the Wug and the Zug that happen to live under our classroom rug.  They look for a central focus, academic language, discourse, differentiated instruction, student engagement, learning targets, student reflection – the list goes on and on and is assessed using 18 handy rubrics.

Part of the weekend Husband took the kids out of the house so I could work.  The rest of the time, I created crafts to keep them busy.

Today they worked creating crazy Seuss hats (their school celebrates Dr. Seuss Day tomorrow), their workspace cluttered with fun bobbles and whatnots.

Workspace of the Boys

Today I worked creating non-crazy lesson plans, my workspace cluttered with papers, an amazing amount of electrical cords, and a random Seuss inspired bracelet Carter made for me.

Workspace of mine

I do not have an office, nor a desk.  I use my mom’s old sewing machine table which is tucked in the corner of our living room.  It used to suffice for my computing needs but I find that I am rapidly outgrowing this workspace of mine.  It is cozy and I make it work.

I can not tell you with certainty the level of quality of my lesson plans, the first solid drafts of these five all important lesson plans.

As for the Seuss hats, they turned out wonderfully.

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