Simple Sunday – Home

This morning as I woke up in my bed in the apartment we are currently calling home, a black lab slyly licking my left foot that was poking out of the sheets and a small black cat purring happily on my chest, the word “home” would not stop rolling around my head.

Home is the three and a half acres and the small yellow house on Whidbey Island, Washington in which I grew up and where my mom still resides.

Home is Phoenix, Arizona in my twenties – bus passes, dance clubs, a string of apartments, college and finding the man who has been my husband now for over twelve years.

Home is the small town where we lived when our children were born, secluded, slow-paced, shadowed by trees and lined by the Puget Sound.  Salt water air.

home laughing

Home is this small, vertical apartment in the heart of Phoenix in which we now find ourselves.  For Husband and I it is very much a return from whence we have come.  We have returned, eleven years older and with the life experience of being parents and being married for over a decade.  Things have changed.  We have changed.

home my classroom

Yesterday we took the boys to the Desert Botanical Gardens.  It was a special evening event, self guided by flashlight.  We found snakes, toads, lizards, constellations…

home desert botanical at night

We found the brick lined alcove, overhung by a stout, crooked-branched mesquite tree.  The place we exchanged our vows all those years ago.

Home.  I have collected several along my journeys.  This one, this dry and hot desert home, has called to me for a long time now.

home Phoenix Market Sign

I am glad to be home.

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Four Plates on the Table

This morning I was the first one up.  I started the coffee and tended to the needs of Haley and Delilah, our dog and cat.  I took my favorite coffee mug down from the cupboard and stood in the kitchen waiting.

The morning was mild and slightly moist, a feel to the air  more than actual rain or drizzle, so I decided to take my coffee out on the back deck.  There I sat drinking coffee and playing Wordament on my phone, an old addiction of mine that has returned as of late.

It was Haley and her keen ear that alerted me to the fact that Cody and Carter were up.  She gets so excited when her boys wake up, smothering them with kisses and dancing around them in circles, her body wiggling and twisting and her black tail fanning in a wide and persistent arc.

Carter came out first, gave Haley some scritchings and then climbed up onto my lap.  I put my phone away and moved my coffee over to the arm of the other Adirondack chair.  After awhile this snippet of conversation occurred, giving me pause and causing me to snuggle him to me just a bit closer.

carter:  Momma, how many more days until Grandma comes?

I should interject here that Husband and I have created a three phase plan for The Great Move to Arizona.  Phase I involves my mom picking up the boys and taking them to her house for a week (the longest she has ever had them, the longest I have ever been away from them, simply the longest).  During this week, Husband and I shall load up all things we have deemed necessary for our six month stay in the apartment, a temporary place to call home while we look for a house to buy, and all my classroom stuff.  With a moving truck containing a grumpy little black cat, and a car towed behind us, we shall drive the 1500 miles to Phoenix.  Once there we will unload said items and check out the schools we are interested in for Cody and Carter before Husband flies home leaving me with the grumpy black cat and an apartment in chaos to start my first day of work the following day.

Husband, the boys, and Haley (sweet Haley, who just happens to get carsick on long rides), will meet up with me in Phoenix in a weeks time after finishing up the rest of what has to happen at our house in Washington.  This is Phase II and it is the murkiest phase by far.  Phase III has two parts and hinges on if we are selling our Washington house or renting it out – a story for another day.

Ok, back to my current story…

me:  Well, today is Saturday so – ( I count them off on my fingers) Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – four more days until you get to go to Grandma’s house. 

carter: And then we will be at Grandma’s house for a week!

me:  Yup, you get to stay there a whole week!  (I say this with enthusiasm that I don’t feel, the stress of being apart and of all that needs to happen is creeping into what started out as a laid back morning).

carter:  After giving all this some thought.  We have four days and then a week and then we will be with Poppa and then we drive, drive, drive.  And then we will have four plates on the table again.

Oh.  Oh, my.  Four plates on the table.  I have never thought of measuring time by plates on the table but it is perfect for how I am feeling.

me:  Yes baby, and then we will have four plates on the table again.

We have four more days of four plates on the table, then a whole lot of days with fewer plates, until we once again have four.

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Marvelous Monday Moments

Monday – Husband went to work and I stayed home with the boys with plans of packing.  On the surface it does not sound like a great day, but it turned out to be just that.

Breakfast – Cody requested fried eggs with bacon and honey toast (fireweed honey please, momma.  Yup, we are raising a honey snob and I am o.k. with that).  Carter wanted Cheerios with milk and brown sugar – keepin’ it simple.  We dined with the lights out, our meal lit by a pale purple flower-shaped candle floating in a small glass dish (a find from our packing yesterday).

Water Play – It was to be a warm day and the morning was already pleasant, the sunshine filtered by the trees surrounding our house made the backyard very inviting.  I brought around the wading pool and sprinkler and surprised the boys with super soakers I had purchased on mega clearance last year.  The boys have insisted on sleeping in nothing but their underwear, perhaps in preparation for the heat of Arizona, and so they were still dressed in only their skivvies as they ran out the door ready for some water play.  I did manage to slather them with sunscreen and plop sunhats on their heads though.  They were so much fun to watch and I took lots of great pictures.  Due to their lack of attire, you get these cute close-ups.

Water Play Collage

Packing – I left the door open so I could hear the goings on in the backyard and started in on the many boxes in our garage that needed sorting and repacking.  I found several shoe boxes stuffed full of letters, mostly from my mom, that were sent to me during the years of my early twenties.  I found daily planners from my undergraduate college days.  I found my old stamp collection from elementary school.  I found (and threw away) the many books and binders given to us by the hospital Cody was born in.  They all related to how to care for your preemie baby, complications to be aware of and milestones that your child most likely will not meet in the “normal” timeframe.  I will not be weighed down by these a moment longer.  And I found these super cute pig shaped post-it notes from the mid-eighties.  Have I told you that I love post-it notes?

Pig Post It Notes

Bath & Lunch – About the time I was getting tired of packing, the boys had worn themselves out.  They came in, chests stained with the juices of sticky plums and raspberry popsicles, bits of grass and dirt clinging to shiny sun screened skin.  While they took a bath I made lunch.  For dessert we had chocolate and vanilla ice cream sundaes topped with caramel sauce and crushed Oreo and graham crackers.

Park – After a quick visit from Cody’s old occupational therapist, a visit to say goodbye and to pass off to her some toys and puzzles I thought she could use, we went to the city park.  The park recently had a complete makeover and it was fun to see the new play area.  The boys played for over an hour.  Just as we were about to leave, Husband came sauntering across the field.  I had texted him a picture of our park outing and he decided to surprise us.

City Park Play

Milkshakes – Husband had one more surprise.  I drove home with the boys while Husband stopped by a local burger shop and picked up a couple chocolate milkshakes.  Mmmmm Monday Milkshakes.

Watermelon – While I made dinner the boys played in the front yard, riding their bikes and playing in their Lilac Tree Fort.  They took a break to inhale 1/4 of a watermelon (it was one of those small personal ones, so hopefully no tummy aches tonight).

Watermelon Face Stuffing

Time for Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey by Mini Gray (we love us some Traction Man around here) –  And now the boys are getting ready for bed and for their bedtime stories.

The day is almost over; it went by fast, filled with amazing little moments.  Perhaps I should have packed a bit more, but there is tomorrow; I can pack then – between the moments.

Traction Man

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Carterisms: Condoms and Naptimes

Recent Carterism #1:  Earlier this week Carter spent one on one time with his Grandma. I promised my mom that before we left the state, she would get some one on one time with each grandson.  When I went to do the kid swap, exchanging Cody for Carter, it came up in conversation that, according to my mom, Carter has said the word “condom” distinctly and at multiple times for no apparent reason while at the playground.  She played the Grandma Card and decided to pretend she had not heard it.

My first reaction was one of shock as I wondered where and from whom he would have learned that word.  I am not at all opposed to him knowing about condoms and I fully plan on being that mom who leaves a bowl of them in a discrete place in the bathroom when the boys are older (note: I say this now, but when the time comes I reserve the right to change my mind).  But he is six and if he is going to learn about the birds and the bees and how to keep them safely separated, it should really be from me or Husband.

All of these things flashed through my mind and then I looked across the room at him.  He was singing and dancing, completely unaware that he was doing it.  Then I smiled and knew that he was not saying “condom” at all.

I am a bit ashamed to admit this, but when Psy’s Gangnam Style video went viral on YouTube, we may have watched it a time or two hundred.  We may continue to watch it from time to time.  The boys love it and mimic the dance moves.  Carter has never mastered the lyrics but instead belts out in a loud and slightly off key singing-shout “WHOOMP, WHOOMP WHOOMP, WHOOMP – WHOOP UM’ CONDOMSTYLE!”  For those of you who live under a bigger rock than I and have no idea what I am talking about – here you go.  Feel free to insert Carter’s lyrics.


Recent Carterism #2:  In celebration of receiving my State of Washington Education Certificate in the mail yesterday, we decided to go out to dinner.  It was just Husband, Carter and myself as this is the week Cody gets one on one time with his Grandma.

As we sat in the restaurant enjoying our meal, the World Cup match between the US and Germany was being replayed in the bar right next to us.  Carter was mesmerized, as he is anytime he is around a TV that is on.  The score was zero to zero and we didn’t have the heart to tell him the fate of the game was already sealed with the US being the loosing team.

On the TV, some random person was interviewing another random person and from what I could determine, the interviewee was one of the US players (can you tell I don’t watch soccer).  The heading on the top of the screen read “Halftime”.  I commented to Husband that I did not know soccer had halftime.  Carter, overhearing but misunderstanding, said “Naptimes?  They have naptimes in soccer?”

It has been a while since I have shared any Carterisms with you.  It is not because he has stopped providing me with these gems of humor and perspective, I have simply not been taking the time to write them down.  It is a shame for I find them so funny and I know these moments are quickly passing me by.  So I have captured these two for me more than you – although I hope you enjoy them.

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Dear Students

Dear Students,

Good morning and welcome to Second Grade!  This is going to be one very amazing year and I am glad that as your teacher, I get to share it with you.

I have been thinking of what to say to you on this very first day of school, thinking of what you would want to know about me.  I could tell you about my educational background – that before I went back to school to earn my teaching certificate and Master’s degree – I was a Microbiologist.  I could tell you that I am a life long learner, I love learning and will never stop.  I could tell you that I recently moved back to Phoenix from Washington State.  I moved back because I missed the desert too much; Arizona is in my soul.  I could tell you that I have been married to Mr. M, my husband, for over ten years and that we have two wonderfully sweet, kind boys, one in first grade and the other in third grade.  I could tell you about our dog and cat.

I could tell you all about those things, but during the time we are together you will get to learn about who I am as I will get to learn about you – your interests, your families, your dreams and goals.

What I want you to know about me is simple.  I want you to know that, even though I am meeting you for the very first time, I care about each and every one of you.  I believe in you and know that you are capable of great successes both at school in reading, writing, math and more, but also in life, in becoming who you want to be.  I am here to challenge you, to push you, and to cheer you on.  I am here to celebrate your successes and help you see that mistakes are learning moments to treasure, for they only make you stronger.

Oh yes, this year is going to be amazing and I don’t want to wait another moment so lets get started.  Welcome to Second Grade – I am proud to call myself your teacher.

~Mrs. M~

Sorry about my very distinct lack of blogging.  My house is filled with boxes, my brain (and several yellow legal notepads) are filled with lesson planning ideas and first days of school activities.  In thirty-five short days I will stand in a classroom filled with students, my very first class of students.  Those moments are powerful and I want them to resonate with compassion, hope, and excitement for a brand new school year.  I am composing what to say.  This is only one of many drafts floating around in my head.  I figured I would type it out and see how these words of mine look. 

I may tweak them a bit, but I must say that I think I like the look of them.

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Simple Sunday – A Perfect Fit

Cody in my Cap

After the commencement ceremony we had dinner and drinks with some friends at a local restaurant.  Cody wanted to try on my cap.  I think it is a perfect fit!

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Tomorrow I walk.

Tomorrow I don a cap, gown, and hood and will walk.

In retrospect it has been both a short and a long year.  I have learned a lot and feel, for the most part, prepared to move forward as a teacher, to take this next step in the journey of my life.

I am not particularly looking forward to walking tomorrow.  If you must know, I am playing the Master’s graduate, dressed in garb and marching to the pomp and circumstance, for only one reason – my family.  I think it is important for my boys to see the concrete progression, the achievement that comes of hard work.

So tomorrow I will awkwardly cross the stage, shake hands with someone of great importance to my college (someone who’s name I should really know?), pause for a professional photographer to capture the moment, and then descend from the stage without falling on my face.

I would rather not walk but walk I will.  And I know, in some rather small part of my heart that if I did not I would regret it.

And so tomorrow I walk.

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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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