Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Heath suggested we walk around for the fun of it. We found a cute Sesame Street purse for Gwen with keys, cell phone (Gwen is playing with the cell phone in the above picture), pretend comb, lipstick, change purse. Heath spoils Gwen because when I said I wanted her to have a purse he bought it. Then as we stood in line the kids were playing with the sunglasses. Heath grabbed a pair for Gwen. I told him that he had to get the boys some too if he was going to get some for Gwen or there would be jealous fighting. So all the kids have sunglasses that they love.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Since nobody has ever gone blind from looking at the bright side of things, I thought I would share some positive experiences.
How I dealt with homework today was I set the timer for 30 minutes. This teacher says that she expects the kids to do 20-30 minutes of homework a day. I thought the rule was 10 minutes times the grade your child is in but whatever! Anyway, I set the timer and told Gavin that when it went off he was done. He finished 2.5 pages. But based on what Heath, Dawn, and Sherron said about homework I'm only turning in the 2.5 pages. If she gives me crap about it I will throw her own words back in her face. She has said many times (when it's convenient for her) that kindergarten is not a mandated grade.
Gavin chose to go outside to play after homework. This is a big deal because this is the kid I could never pay enough to go outside. I used to push him out the door and lock it so he had to be out there for a few minutes. He came in all excited about something. He wanted me to go out to see. He had found a ladybug! It was crawling all over his hands and arms. He was so excited. He had seen one at school that was yellow. He told me all about it and we both were in awe that ladybugs would come in any color other than red. But the one at our house was red. He liked that. He wanted me to get a jar so we could keep it as a pet. I didn't want to. I don't have any jars for one thing and I didn't know how we would keep it alive. So I told him that it needed to stay outside and protect the plants from bad bugs. He accepted that excuse after hoping we could keep it as a pet in the garage!
A little while later he came in all sad. He had the cutest frowny face! I knew it was about the ladybug. I asked what happened and he said that he lost the ladybug. This was my favorite part. He said that he was trying to feed it aphids but he didn't even know what aphids looked like and he lost the ladybug. I love that he had a real experience rather than filling in the blanks, counting poor copies of animals you can't even recognize, and cutting and pasting. He learned about ladybugs in school. Yes, my son has learned things in school and I do need to recognize the positive things about this year. Seeing a real ladybug and trying to feed it aphids . . . priceless.
Dawn had mentioned the alphabet sharing. Gavin is awesome. He came up with today's sharing all by himself. Usually he has some ideas and it helps us all think of something really cool. But when I asked him what we should do for T or U he said jokingly, "I will stand up and say My name is Gavin. Today I brought Tuesday because it begins with T. It is special because it's my sharing day!" Then he laughed hysterically. Heath and I laughed and said that was the best idea. So that's what he shared. I had to tell him that he was very creative. Gavin knows you have to be smart to be creative. I love this kid! But there was no reaction at school. Bummer. I thought it was a stellar idea!
As far as how much longer we will endure this year, Heath and I agree that we're blowing off most of the last week. It looks like Monday is a regular day, Tuesday is a field trip to the library. Heath is planning on driving Gavin to that. (For those of you who don't know, there are no school buses where we live.) Then we're bagging the rest of the week because really, what's the point? Gavin may be disappointed if the activities get talked up enough and if so we may change our mind for his sake but I'm done with all this.
Gavin's goal for this school year was to learn how to read. That kid is awesome. I already mentioned how well he read his talk in Primary a couple weeks ago. We decided to start a new family tradition. We decided to start reading the scriptures together as a family. I don't know if we will do this more often than weekly right now because Parker and Gwen are so little and easily distracted. But we made Gavin read a couple of verses. He followed along really well. The numbers helped. When it was his turn he read more than I thought he would. He also has a great memory so when I told him what a word was he remembered it when he saw it again. His reading comprehension blows me away. Until he gets good at reading I think our problem will be him telling the story more than reading the words on the page. It wasn't as much of a problem with the scriptures as it has been with other things he reads. But I love his reading comprehension. With the scriptures, Heath was trying to give background knowledge about the story before we started reading so the kids had an idea of what was going on. Heath held up a picture of Lehi preaching in Jerusalem and Gavin wouldn't shut up. He started telling the whole story!
The other good news I wanted to share is I was looking on the district's website trying to find a homework policy. I couldn't find anything. But I did look at the summer school program information. It looks like Gavin did get in to the drama and art class because they said they were accepting late applications on a first come first served basis except for the full classes. Gavin's class was not listed as a full class. I have also heard of two other kids in our ward who signed up for the same class. How cool would it be if he could be in the class with them? I don't know how many different teachers teach the same class since this is a district program but I thought that was cool that there are at least 3 kids from our ward taking the same class.
School can take a flying leap off a short pier! I am so sick of school. I am sick of the drama. I am sick of feeling like a tattle tale every time I tell the principal something. He's awesome and appreciates any input I give him. He's also helping us the best he can considering there's nothing anyone can do.
Today there was more drama. Of course. Heath told me he was thinking of getting the superintendent involved but he didn't want to get the principal in trouble. I don't either. I like the principal. I just wish this teacher wasn't retiring in a few days. For that very reason the only thing that has happened to her is a slap on the hand.
I'm sick of caring. I'm sick of homework. Twelve worksheets for this week. Front and back. Twelve. She gives more homework on the short weeks. How much more of this insanity do I really have to deal with? I kept my kid in school. I kept all the authorities happy by doing that. Can I say "Shove the homework in your ear!" since I don't care anymore? I'm tired of playing the game. I'm tired of doing the right thing. Who gives a flying fig? Certainly not me!!!
I have stayed in close contact with the principal through several emails a day. He even sent me a few over the long weekend. Today I wanted to call him and tell him to stick a fork in me because I'm done. But his response to my latest concerned email was not a suggestion to take my kid out for the rest of the year. He just reassured me that next year will be better. I have no doubt it will be but I'm done with this year.
I want to be good enough to have the support of the principal and the counselor so it's sad that all I can think of to passive aggressively get back at "the man" is to keep Gavin home the last day of school. Honestly, do you think anyone, principal included, would blame me for not wanting to watch 19 other students and families cry their eyes out that this teacher is retiring? I'm not sorry she's done. I'm not sad to see the school year end. My other plan is to take all the pictures she has given me, all the newsletters she's sent home, all the stupid behavior reports, and any other crap that is taking over my office and have myself a little bonfire. When I ended a 4 year long friendship with someone because our difference of opinion was detrimental to the relationship, my sister helped me burn a picture he had given me. It actually was therapeutic.
I have saved so many stupid things over the last year thinking that one day I would scrapbook all of it as Gavin's kindergarten year. I think I'd rather burn it. I never want to remember this year. I have emails and blog posts and my memory. I don't need pictures.
I don't need any of this crap. I certainly don't need 12 sheets of busy work for the week. School shmool. I'm done.
Monday, May 25, 2009
In honor of my happy blogiversary, I decided to list my top 10 favorite blog posts from the last 2 years. My friend, Mindi listed her top 10 favorite blog posts and I thought that was a fun idea. So thanks Mindi!
These are mine in no particular order.
- Drama Queen
- Out of the Mouths of Babes
- Everyday Dialogue this is by far still one of the most popular posts on my site!
- Meant to Be
- More fun than you should be allowed to have in a minivan!
- Hard Questions
- Moove over Angel!
- Place Value
- Recipe For Disaster
I chose most of these for the memories rather than anything else. If you have a favorite post you've ever read of mine, feel free to mention it in a comment.
Posted by The Piquant Storyteller at 1:24 PM
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The stats I'm talking about are not the I'm 5'6" tall, weigh more than I should for my height, am happily married, and enjoy long walks on the beach! No, I'm talking about my blogging stats.
Memorial Day Weekend marks our two year blog-iversary. This is the weekend we moved to CA. My first blog post ever was written on our first night in San Francisco. Starting a blog was supposed to be a way to keep in touch with friends and family as we began a new adventure. When I started this blog I think I had three readers; Heath's mom, his grandma, and my fabulous friend Becca (who I still miss living across the street from). Maybe I had more readers than that and just didn't realize it but I think for the most part those three were my original fan club.
Heath wrote a forward in our 2007 blog book we had published. He said something to the effect of us not knowing the life our family blog would take on. Very true! In the last two years I have made a lot of friends who I keep in touch with through blogging. I have also connected with perfect strangers through blogging. They are interested in my life while I am interested in theirs. If it weren't for the blogging world we might never know each other.
It's amazing to me to see how many strangers check in with my blog. My blog has been viewed in 81 countries. The top ten countries are:
I find that fascinating! In the United States the five most popular states to view my blog are:
- California (I'm amazed by how many consistent readers I have all over Southern California.)
Traffic comes to my site from three different sources. About 65% of my traffic comes from referring sites. Basically people get to my site from links on other blogs. 22% is direct traffic. People who type in my blog address to get to my blog. And 14% of my traffic is from search engines. Google search terms that result in something on my blog.
The top five search terms for my blog are:
- the westovers
- dayleen westover (She is my sister in law but I don't think I write about her often enough for that to be a number 2 search term. That one surprised me!)
- everyday dialoge (I have written several posts on the funny things my kids say but that is the one that is viewed the most often because it's a popular search term.)
- swine flu funnies (I always think it's weird when a search term perfectly matches a post title!)
- pixar sex (I knew that one would be viewed a lot which is why I wrote my statement retraction at the end instead of making a new post the next day. To date 11 people have searched this term and read my blog post as a result.)
I average 10 visitors a day. Weekdays are more like 20-30 daily visitors and weekends drop dramatically because I don't always have anything new to look at on the weekend. My most popular day was October 22, 2008 when I had 79 visitors check out my Witch's Brew post.
Nearly 26% of my visitors are new. 74% are returning visitors. Some other interesting stats are:
7,973 unique page views
1,641 unique visitors
27 views from an iPhone
3 views from an iPod
2 views from an Android OS
2 views from a Playstation 3
and 1 view from a Nintendo Wii
I didn't even know you could browse the web like that on some of those things! So there you go. We truly had no idea our family blog would take on the life it has. I love having a public blog and hope nothing happens to make me feel like I need to go private. No offense to my private friends, of course! I just love that I am open enough with my life to share it online like this. I hope someone out there finds what they are looking for by reading my blog, whether it is entertainment, sympathy, courage, or that it is possible to have a normal life while dealing with diabetes. Thank you to everyone who consistently reads my blog. I love the validation.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Today is Heath's happy birthday. We had big plans for today. Namely sleeping in, letting Gavin take a mental health day from school (we all deserved one!), and going to the beach. We threw in a play date at the park while Heath was on a conference call. After that call he was work free the rest of the day.
It took us longer than we expected to get out the door but finally we were on our way to the beach. We decided to go to the same beach at Half Moon Bay we went to with my family a couple months ago.
Thank heavens it was a lot warmer this time around. Especially since I made us turn around for sunscreen that we didn't need but I completely forgot jackets. Long sleeved shirts and jeans were good enough.
She wasn't very satisfied there. Maybe if we had remembered to bring the sand toys we had sitting in the van . . .
Then Parker learned Life Lesson #522 the hard way. I don't even know what happened. It was like a bad dream. Parker was out too far. I remember yelling his name. I was holding Gwen so I felt rooted to the spot. The waves came. The waves knocked Parker down. I yelled a naughty word. Heath ran after Parker. Parker slid further into the angry ocean. Not a lot, just enough to make my heart stop and think that I was not going home with my favorite Cuddle Bug. It felt like an eternity passed before Heath reached Parker. But it really wasn't that long considering I only said three naughty words very emphatically in the time it took Heath to get to Parker. Heath picked up a very wet and sandy Parker.
Parker actually handled himself really well. He was crying but considering his brush with death you would think he would be crying more or harder or something. Heath said that it was time to go home. I tried to say no, that all we had to do was change Parker's clothes and then we could grab the sand toys. But as we were walking back to the van I realized that Parker didn't have a jacket or another long sleeved shirt. I considered letting him wear mine but my poor little guy was shivering from fright as well as the cold so it made more sense just to go home.
Poor Parker was COVERED in sand. My poor baby! Of course we didn't have towels or anything useful to use to brush off wet sand. We ripped open a pull up and tried to brush him off. We poured water from a water bottle on his feet that were caked with sand. I carried him to his car seat and we headed home. On the drive home he said that when he got home he wanted to play with his toys and then he wanted to play on the computer. On the drive home we were cut off once and almost sideswiped once. All I wanted was for all of us to get home alive.
But speaking of dying . . . Gavin is obsessed with death. He is also obsessed with people being 16 and knowing how to drive. He thinks anyone who is an adult is 16 years old. It's kind of funny. So at dinner tonight Gavin was asking when he would be 16 and learn how to drive. So we were trying to figure out when that would happen and we decided he would be a junior in high school. I have no doubt the boys will thank us for letting them graduate when they are 17 but they might hate us a bit since they will have to wait to drive and date. So Heath said, "You'll probably take driver's ed your junior year." Gavin cut him off to ask, "Will I die that day?" I had to laugh really hard at that one.
Well, Heath made a fabulous tri tip dinner with his happy birthday barbecue he bought last weekend. I meant to make the potato salad but somehow I never got around to it so Heath made it this morning when we are at the park for an impromptu ward park day. Happy Birthday Heath! It was sure a memorable one!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
It has worked out for us to put our kids into a regular bed sometime before their second birthday. Gavin was about 20 months old. He helped choose the mattress from the store. He was thrilled to be a big boy in a big kid bed. It also made putting a new baby in Gavin's "old bed" (crib) a non issue. Gavin was in his new bed for 4 months before Parker joined our family.
This is the futon that used to be in her room. Now it's in our bedroom in the new sitting area!
This is just a cute picture Heath took of Gwen. She is always sitting on something like a step, a stair, the bricks in the family room, or something. She is too cute. I love that Gwen has grown up to be a toddler so fast. I love this age. I remember dreaming of what it would be like to have a 5, 3, and 1 year old. I love it! But realistically I am scared she will grow up into a teenager all too fast.
Gwen, you may get out of your crib and into your big girl bed but stay there! Don't start driving and dating! And Gavin and Parker, you're not allowed to get old enough to drive and date either! Stay my little boys forever please.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Validation can come in many different ways. But when it does come it is usually accompanied by peace.
Yesterday was an extremely difficult day for me. I could feel the anger welling up inside me every time I turned into the school parking lot. But for some reason I started to doubt everything. I felt like nothing was real anymore. Not knowing what else to do I knelt down and prayed. I poured my heart out. I didn't even know what I was asking for. I just felt so confused.
I have always been somewhat superstitious. Maybe it has a lot to do with my over analytical personality. I was so confused and frustrated yesterday but never had a lot of time to talk to Heath about it. In the middle of watching Sunday's episode of In Plain Sight, the TV started making a really weird sound. We discovered that it was the color wheel dying. So we have a new one being shipped to us and Heath will try to install it to save $600-$700. Since there was nothing else to do but watch live TV in our room (who wants to do that at 10:30 pm?), Heath asked how I was doing. With nothing being a distraction we were able to talk.
I talked about how weird I felt about things. How I was blaming myself. We talked through all of it. All of the craziness of this year and what we learned and what we would do differently if we ever encounter any of it again. I doubt we will. But if anyone refers my child to some branch of Special Education and I don't feel comfortable about it, I will NOT sign the permission to test until I sort through my feelings first. I should have known it was weird that Gavin was being referred to speech on his 4th day of school! Who does that? The year just got stranger and stranger from there. It was so nice to discuss it with Heath. We have had long conversations about things all year. Don't think we haven't. But it is so comforting to have my husband be my best friend and know me so well.
Today was a little easier. Heath talked me into posting yesterday's thoughts because it's part of our story and we have people praying for us who would want an update. My prayers were answered when I picked up Gavin today.
One of the school counselors (the one we have been working with all year after Gavin didn't qualify for Speech!) pulled me aside from the other parents. She apologized again for the year we have been through. She said that it was good I was keeping Gavin in school because taking him out would send the wrong message to him. (When the thought of pulling him out occurred to me I thought I was just mad. But then two more people had the same reaction without me saying anything to them! That made me feel better!) She said that she didn't think things were so bad that she would recommend taking Gavin out. She said she would tell me if she thought that. I believe her. She has always been honest with us and I trust her, which is why she has been involved all along.
She said that she is good friends with the other counselor outside of school. (Gavin has been going to a friendship class with 3 other boys in his class with this other counselor.) Anyway, the other counselor had said that Gavin is very sweet and really enjoys the class. He is starting to talk more as he feels more comfortable with her. That's my Gavin! He's just like me. As soon as he feels comfortable around someone you can't shut him up!
She also said some other things that I felt were an answer to my prayers. It was a great conversation with the counselor and while she didn't say much, professionally she can't, she said enough to ease any doubt, any stress that this issue was not being taken care of, etc. I came home and got my kids some lunch so I could hide out in my room for a minute or two. My blood sugar was low and dropping but I had to cry from relief. Then I had to thank my Heavenly Father for answering my prayers.
Sometimes the Lord pushes me further than I think I can go. I try to do my best with the trials He wants me to grow from. But when I hit that wall and am only moving forward on sheer faith, somehow He rescues me. It's always in a way beyond my wildest dreams. But I think because it is so unexpected I realize just how much He loves each of his children. He knows His children as individuals. He knows what we are going through. He wants us to be successful and to find happiness. He will always provide a way.
It's not over. There are still 16 school days left. But today I feel lighter than I have felt in a very long time. Today I feel like we will live to see the end of this.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm the problem. Maybe I'm the one who has the personality conflict with the teacher and have projected these feelings onto Gavin. He's very sensitive and can pick up on other people's feelings even though nobody says anything. So maybe this whole year has been my fault.
After my letter to the principal (I sent the 5th or 6th revision because by then it was finally fact without judgmental statements), he replied that he was sorry, he assured me he would talk to the teacher and they would make sure the last days of school would be less stressful, he asked me to give him a daily report of Gavin's behavior and how his day went. I wasn't super thrilled with the response. It felt like a cop out and didn't really even address things I had talked about in my letter to him. Heath replied this morning to the principal that we were concerned about the stress Gavin seems to be under. We agreed to the daily report on our end but asked that the teacher give us a daily report as well. He asked again if someone could possibly observe in the classroom to see what could be the problem - is it other students, the teacher, the work or another factor.
I guess we'll see what happens. I am so tired of everything. I want to throw up my hands and say I give up. But I know that is inappropriate and I'm a bigger person than that. I go back and forth between blaming myself, blaming the teacher, wondering if all this could have happened regardless of the teacher because Gavin is who he is. Then I think back to what counselors say about victims of abuse and my own personal experience with that topic and I see correlations. This is not a new revelation. I have had these thoughts many times throughout this year. There is a pattern. It's unpredictable (which is the same as my experience) but there is definitely a pattern of bliss, occasional issues, waiting for the bomb to drop, then dealing with the aftermath of the bomb. I've seen it all before. I figured out that pattern as a child and was not surprised to learn about it at a Convocations lecture at Southern Utah University.
I'm not making any of this up. You can't make up the stories from this school year. It's too ridiculous but it's our reality. Never in a million years would I have ever guessed this year could happen to anyone. Not in a school setting. Not in these modern and "enlightened" times!
I'm not proposing that we are victims of abuse here but something is going on and we all can feel it. Sadly, I feel like my only evidence of any of the feelings my family has been through this school year is the emails I sent to Heath the day something happened, and the occasional blog post when I allowed myself to share part of the story online. So it makes me feel like maybe all of this is just in my head. All I know is that I sent my son to kindergarten as a normal, intelligent, confident person. He has regressed in behavior to the maturity level of a much younger child (and I'm not only talking about Thursday's accident). He's not the same person. I didn't think he would be but I assumed the changes would be positive. See what you get when you assume!
Monday, May 18, 2009
This was our dining room before. This room has always been wasted space. We have used it as a formal dining room less than a handful of times. When we first moved in we had so much packing paper from each and every box. We knew we weren't going to use the formal dining room any time soon so that's where we put all the empty boxes and paper. The room was full of paper as tall as me (over 5 feet but much less than 6 feet!) and the boys would dive into the paper like you would dive into waves.
The room sat completely empty for over a year. Then my friend, Abigail, said her parents were giving away a dining table. She asked if we wanted it. Yes we did! So her husband and dad moved it into our house. It is pictured above. With the two leaves out it's a huge table. After the boys got Hot Wheels for Christmas we kept the table open and put the track on it. The track got put in the hall closet for each blogging class I taught. The power point slide shows were projected on the wall between the dining room and the living room. The last time the track was taken down was for filming Gavin's sea anemone video. (Dawn, one day I promise Heath will make a public version to be put on the blog. He just has to take out the name of our library and we'll be good to go. Maybe we'll just burn a new copy for you and mail it!) The lamp you see on the table was from the filming of the video.
The table is now extra scrapbooking space. I have my two chests of drawers full of scrapbooking paper and supplies on the table. That was when we thought we could trust our kids in our office. Hahaha! And there is tons of stuff stored under the table which you can only see when the leaf is up.
We tried to believe that at some point kids need to be taught to respect things. I still believe that kids can be taught to respect property. We don't buy our furniture used just because we have kids. We have a lot of nice things that our kids know not to touch. We have never had a cabinet for our DVD player, receiver, large capacity CD changer, etc. And with each kid we have gone through a period of having to tell them not to touch things and then we put back half the CD's that were emptied in the half second our backs were turned! But they learn.
The office was a different story. We didn't have the patience for one thing. Yes, I can put the wireless mouse further back so Gwen doesn't swipe it and we have to hunt for it every time we want to use the computer! But there's too much important paper that can't be put out of reach. We tried. And books and software on the bookshelves and on and on. This room has always been safe behind a baby gate. We got rid of a lot of vertical storage when we chose not to use the hutch downstairs. So we had to buy a gate or lose our minds.
I just had no idea my kids would love it as much as they do. They all stop and stare at it reverently every time they come down the stairs in the morning. For Gwen it's pretty much every time she sees it she will point and whisper. So it's good I didn't toss the whole thing like I wanted to a few times. Together is our favorite place to be.
Now I better get Gavin to do some homework since we are going to keep him in school for the rest of the year. More on that later. These before and after posts have been waiting for a while to be posted.
Little FYI: I will have several of these before and after posts. Hopefully today.
A couple of weeks ago Heath announced that we needed to make some decorating changes. He suggested that we move our office out of our bedroom. I was all for it because the move would affect 3 rooms in our house. Our bedroom, dining room, and Gwen's room. The idea sounded fabulous so that weekend we went for it.
For anyone who has not personally been to our house, the master bedroom is ginormous! Biggest master I have ever seen and we used to look at model homes just for the fun of it! Anyway, our bedroom could possibly be divided to make a fourth bedroom in our house. The fourth bedroom would definitely be a tiny sardine can but if one wanted to they could make the division.
The above picture is the middle of the room. The separation between the bedroom and the office. It was totally cluttery and it's kind of embarrassing to show this picture.
This is the same spot now. It's more cluttery than I would like just because of all the network cables. They were covered by our bed before. Maybe one day we can figure out how to put the cables into a box or something. I did the best I could. I found a basket for all the Wii games and remotes. But you have to admit, that looks so much better.This was our bedroom before. There's not much to say about this. Our bedroom was not an oasis for us.