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.

Posted in On Becoming a Teacher, Sniffles & Seizures | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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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Simple Sunday – Weekend at Kalaloch

This was the weekend.  Every year we go and when it is over, we find ourselves planning for the next time.

Kalaloch Collage 1 2014

This was Haley’s first trip to Kalaloch, and I suspect, her first trip to the ocean.  She loved running on the beach and even climbing the driftwood.

Kalalach 2014 Haley Collage

She did not appreciate the wetness of the water, however preferring to stay far away from the ocean’s edge.  Not very Black Lab of her if you ask me.

Kalalach Collage Haley 2 2014

There was lots of sand…

Kalalach 2014 Sand 2

Wave ripples in the sand…

Kalaloch 2014 Sand

We found a treasure trove of flat rocks, perfect for skipping…

Kalaloch 2014 Rocks

And the sunset.  We only got to take in one, for the sun set behind thick misting gray clouds on our second night.

Kalalach 2014 Sunset

It was amazing.  It was humbling.  It was recharging.

The ocean is my place.  I feel grounded when I stand by its shores.  My emotions are raw, my reflections deep as the view of forever presents itself before my eyes.


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Yo Ho (cough, hack, wheeze) Ho!

What is your “go to” activity when you are running a fever and have an awful cough?

My activity, if you can call it an activity, is to lay in bed and alternate between reading a book and napping.  Sometimes there is tea drinking involved and an occasional piece of toast with butter and honey.

If you happen to be a seven years old boy and your mean mom won’t let you go outside and play in the rain-soaked forest that surrounds your house, you make a pirate scroll map to pass the time.

Pirate Scroll 1

After you have made a most perfect map, complete with an “X” marks the spot and a “Dead End” path guarded by a hammerhead shark, you roll it up.  It makes a great pair of binoculars.

Pirate Scroll 2

Little brother, who is not sick but has been watching the whole scroll making process, wants to give it a go too.  And so he does, full of concentration, his little tongue peeking from his mouth, an apprentice cartographer.

Pirate Scroll 3

The end result…

Pirate Scroll 4

Watch out for the school of pirate eating fish!

So the next time you find yourself under the weather and looking for an activity to distract you from your ailments, perhaps you should consider making your very own pirate map scroll.

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Watch Out Makers of Motrin, there is a New Player in Town

Mid winter break started out with Carter’s hacking cough turning into a low grade fever.  It only stuck around for a day but that day was long enough for him to pass it on to Cody.

As some of you may remember, we tend to get overexcited, boarder lining on overprotective-helicopter-blades-whirring-parenting when Cody gets a fever.  He has been almost 14 months seizure free but with a fever, comes an elevated risk of him seizing.  While it is a bummer that he is sick, I am glad he is sick now instead of when school is back in session.

Cody is on day two of his fever.  This morning I awoke to Husband trying to corral Cody quietly past the bed and into the bathroom to give him a dose of Tylenol.  Cody is anything but quiet.  I really don’t think he fully grasps the concept of the whisper.

And so I ended up with a Tylenol medicated boy snuggled up next to me and our black lab at our feet.  Since Cody is not one for silence, we conversed.  Cody started off talking about the various medicines he is familiar with, most specifically cherry flavored Tylenol, which lasts about 4 hours, and bubble gum flavored Motrin, that lasts up to 8 hours.  He is not too keen on the flavors.


cody:  When I grow up I am going to work in a medicine making factory.  I am going to make a TEN hour ibuprofen, but I will call it iFEEprofen.  My medicine will take away fever and make your stomachache go away, and get rid of your headache, and my medicine will come in ALL sorts of flavors – peach, blueberry, strawberry, Greek yogurt.

me:  Wow!  That sounds pretty good.

cody:  He continues as if I never spoke.  He is on a roll.  My medicine will work on humans and on all wild animals too!  Except gophers.  And if you have a pet mouse it will not work either because I think mice are related to gophers.  It will work on dogs, it will work best on black furred dogs, (it is a good thing our dog is black furred) it will also come in dog treat flavor.

As I listen, I wonder what he has against gophers and their relatives.  I do not get a chance to ask him.  He is ready to move on, to start his day.  Sometimes sick children do not act all that sick.

We get up.  I find some two hour old coffee in the pot brewed earlier this morning by Husband.  I set to work making Sleepy time tea with honey and milk for Cody.

Our day has started.  Fingers crossed that Cody heals in a very boring, non-drama filled manner.

Oh, and keep Cody’s ten hour wonder drug idea under your hat, would you please?  We don’t want the makers of Motrin to steal his idea and make many undeserved millions.

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