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Monday, June 25, 2012

The Week Ahead

Off to Girls' Camp this afternoon. There's much to do to prepare my family for my departure that I have to tackle this morning.

Merit badge (Boy Scouts of America)
 #4 and I sat down last night and looked at his scout stuff. There was a court of honor last night, and that seemed to give us both a bit more of a vision of what he should be doing. Because I helped the girls with their Personal Progress goals, I assumed that the Warden would take on the boys and help them with their scout stuff. I think, to be fair to him, though, I'm the one that's home and has time to do these things especially with summer on.

 #4 and I got things figured out last night, and it feels so good. He has little jobs he has to do everyday this week. We created a spreadsheet on google docs and shared it with the Warden and #4's scout leaders.

 Here's a little written illustration of what it's like:
1st column - week #
2nd column - merit badge(s) to work on
3rd-9th columns - Monday through Saturday and what will be accomplished on each day.

For today, he has a letter to pick up from his principal. He emailed her last night and had a response within a half hour that she would write a letter for him and have it for him first thing in the morning. I was SO impressed by this. He has a 250 to 300 word paper to write and needs to contact his scout leader about some fitness tests they did at one of their scout meetings. I'm pretty sure he probably should have had these things already written down, but hmm.... Anyway, it feels good to be getting on top of this.

I have goodies I need to purchase for camp "mail." I need to make sure all of our cameras are fully charged and ready. Oh, and I have to pack. That might be important, huh? I haven't even started yet. YIKES! I'm hoping this day passes rather slowly.

I think for the job I've been assigned this year, this is probably the best year to do it. We're going to a new camp, which is really being hailed as a "resort." At the last minute, they had to change camps, so they took what they could get. The thing is it has cabins that, from what I've heard, each have electricity. I'm going as camp historian and will work with the girls who will create the slideshow that will be shown to the girls after camp. Should be very fun!

I've never gone in this capacity before. It will be interesting to not really belong in any one place or with any one group (other than my three girls who will be taking pictures all over the place).

Well, I'm off to get the laundry going and get some packing done.
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Making Medicine Not So Yucky

In an attempt to avoid red dye, #6 is currently taking cephalexin (an antibiotic for strep throat) in capsule form. Only, because he can't swallow the capsules, I have to open them and stir the powder into applesauce. It smells like the rubber from tires. Coming from a woman who spent part of her childhood in a Firestone shop, believe me, I'm well acquainted with the smell of tires.

As I stir, I shake my head that I'm putting this putrid stuff into my child's mouth. The one consolation...it's working. He's looking and feeling much better, and we don't have the lousy side-effects of Red 40.

In this process, also, we've discovered a new trick....Chocolate!

I taught #6 that most of his taste buds are on the front of his tongue, so in order to avoid them, we put the spoon far into his mouth, so that the medicine lands on the farther portion. He swallows quickly, takes a drink of water, and then puts a Hershey's kiss on his tongue. The chocolate coats his tongue and covers up the retread taste.

He now doesn't complain about the medicine any more. This morning, he actually reminded me that I needed to give it to him.
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Single Mom in the Summer

February 2011
#2's been gone on a scout high adventure for the past week. I've missed him. He's a TOTAL crack up, and I miss his joking around. He's also a huge help around here. Watching him interact with the younger kids is one of my favorite things. He has a special bond with them.

The Warden went to join him on Thursday. I don't sleep well when he's gone, but I think I've finally gotten the single mom thing down to a science. I can do it for a few days, but I can't imagine doing it long term. My hat is off to women who do.

We took a little drive into Tigard yesterday. The Festival of Balloons is on, and I was so hopeful that a few of the balloons had taken off. Sadly, they hadn't. To console us, we drove into Sherwood and stopped in at Sweet Story. I sent #s 3 and 4 in with some money with the instructions to bring back something breakfast worthy....I had woken them and told them to get dressed and hop in the car. They didn't know where we were going. Thus the great disappointment over the lack of balloons.

We got the house cleaned up. #1 made dinner--veggie burgers (not my fave, but I kept reassuring myself that I was becoming more "healthy." We sent the younger kids to bed and watched a movie.

Today they return. I think tonight will be date night. I have a thing for old, greasy spoon, burger joints. I have found THE BEST in the area, and maybe, the best I've ever had. The Warden hasn't been there. I haven't told him anything about it. Maybe it's time.

On our way home from decorating Rose Festival Floats, we stopped in (#2, a friend, and me) just to try it out. We've passed it SO many times. My curiosity finally got to me. The burgers were AMAZING, and we bought an "Elvis"--a vanilla milkshake with bananas, peanut butter and....get this...bacon. My curiosity, again, overcame me. It was SO GOOD! Really. It was. The only disconcerting thing was spooning the bacon out of the remains of milkshake at the bottom of the cup after the shake was all drunk.

Yup. I think the Warden will love the Canyon Grill!
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Peeking Out from Under My Rock

A friend texted me the other day telling me that she'd booked a speaker for the American Mothers conference that's coming up in September. She told me who the woman was, and I, who live under a rock a good part of the time, responded with, "Who is that?" I assured her of the fact that I am an under-rock dweller and so am probably the only person in the world who doesn't know who she is.

I decided today,  though, that #7's probably right there along with me. When I was working on setting up the cash envelopes this afternoon, she grabbed a $5 bill and was thrilled to find "Jesus" pictured there. YIKES! I'm glad to say I'm not that bad off.

Anyway, back to the story at hand....I decided to do some research and was thrilled with what I found. I looked up "Connie Sokol" on Google and found her website. I'm loving what I'm seeing there. She has a thing called "Back to the Basics." I read over it last night and decided to go to tip #1. Wow! Just what I needed!

Here's a link for you....Tip #1.

This is just what I needed. As you may have noticed, my blog posts have had a bit of a negative edge to them lately. This is what happens when I let "tip #1" slide in my life. Last night, after perusing this, I recommitted myself to studying and praying harder. Today, I read this:

"Yea, in the strength of the Lord did we go forth to battle against the Lamanites; for I and my people did cry mightily to the Lord that he would deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, for we were awakened to a remembrance of the deliverance of our fathers" (Mosiah 9:17).

Now, I need to get something clear here. I don't feel that I have enemies whose hands I need to be delivered from. If anything, I am my own worst enemy. It was just the fact that if I want to be all that I can be, I know that this scripture holds the key--"cry mightily to the Lord."

Sometimes people will say, "How do you do it all?" I can assure you I don't "do it all," but I will admit I do quite a bit, but I will also admit that the only times I am able to do more than average is when I'm relying on the strength of the Lord. He makes me more than I am. The only reason I can raise seven children is when he's helping me.

There, now you know all of my deep secrets. I truly believe that anybody, if they're willing to follow "tip #1" can start off on being more than they once were and making more out of their lives. I would also like to state that these behaviors are what I know assures me happiness even in the hardest of times. It helps to get my perspective back on track.

Like I said, lately, I've been a slacker. I had become too busy for these important things in my life, and thus, it has led me to become more unsure. I've stopped blogging as much because, to be honest, I let myself become overwhelmed by life. This is a guaranteed side-effect of spiritual slackerhood. That's where I've been. I haven't had much of a positive nature to share, so I've chosen to become quiet. Not good. If you ever see me quiet again, you'll know what's up. If you catch on, give me a nudge back in the right direction, would you?

I'm grateful for these little messages that come my way. I'm grateful for a text message about a person who lives above the rock who shares great things for people like me to read to buoy us up and get us back on the right path.

I can now say that I have a little more of a clue of who Connie Sokol is, and I can also say that I'm PSYCHED to hear what she'll have to share here in Portland in September!

Envelope System: Month 7

Little by little we're gathering it all back together. After taking the blow of the stolen purse in March, things are still having to be fine tuned. I think, though, as of today, it's all back in order.

We, in our previous account, had some scheduled transfers that went from one account to another to be held until we had to pay our yearly payments, but for some reason, although we were assured that everything would be restored to what it has been, our accounts weren't set up so that we could transfer between them. The crazy thing was that the credit union had somehow come up with my in-laws' account and set that up for us to transfer into. How did they even know that we were related? That was kind of an interesting reality. One that didn't make me very happy. I was shocked that they would take liberties like that. It wasn't something we asked them to do as we didn't even know what their account number was.

I had also sent a fax giving account numbers and asking that it made possible for us to transfer between all of the accounts. That was back on May 21st. Today, I tried to make a transfer, and still, there was no change made. Hmm....

I went in to the branch to get the cash today and explained to the teller what was going on. She set me up with one of their reps, and it is finally all ironed out. We'll just have to work it all out when those payments come due.

I also made a firm resolve today that I was going to remove my debit cards from my purse. I keep thinking that if I just held to that to begin with, the purse situation would have been so different. **sigh**. Not sure why cutting ties with the debit cards is so difficult. I guess I have a fear of not having enough cash on hand. It makes me feel a bit insecure. But, on the other hand, if I have my debit cards with me, there's the opposite fear of spending too impulsively and too much, so I guess I have to choose the lesser of two evils. I think I'd rather have too little cash than spend money I don't have.

The other thing I did this month was a tally the money in all of the envelopes. I put it on the same spreadsheet with the budget. It feels really good to be storing up for things for the winter and for everybody's birthdays. #7's birthday is next week.

Had to put this boys picture on cuz I'm missing him right now.
With birthday envelopes, I put the same amount in each person's envelope every month now, but when it started out, I had more in some envelopes than others because of how far away their birthday was. I had to make it proportional, so one month, I took a little extra of the budget and filled some envelopes more than others. I mean, if you're starting this right now, and you've decided you want to have $120 to spend on each birthday that comes around and one person in the family has a birthday this month and another has a birthday in December, you're going to put $120 in the June birthday person's envelope and spend it this month (it will be at zero in July) and put $60 in the December and then put $10 in each envelope each month thereafter. Anything you don't spend when the birthday comes around is a bonus for the next year.

Same reason as above
Here was my great victory for this past month....We signed three children up for fall soccer. I asked one of the kids to go over and get the sports envelope. The Warden was standing there watching while this was happening. I finished the registration, pulled the envelope out, withdrew the cash and handed to the Warden asking him to please deposit it into the bank on his way to work. I could tell by his face that he was very impressed. YAY!!!  We still had money left in the envelope, so when #3 announced that she wanted to try out for the high school soccer team, there was enough to pay for her summer training. No sweat!

Originally, I had a sports envelope for each season with some seasons having more money allocated than others. I decided that this was far too complicated, so I have since combined the funds and created a "sports" envelope. Once you get your envelopes going, don't be afraid to down-size (combine envelopes), but don't make it too simplistic. I still have an envelope for "sports and school photos" because that's something I never think of until the time arrives. I could combine those, but I'm fearful that I'd spend everything I'd need for photos on the sports themselves. Then, where would we be?

Tonight, I was able to go with #1 and a $50 gift card and get her a $200 set of luggage for $30. I also found #3 a pair of soccer shorts for less than $10. YAY! I'm also fully back on board with coupons. I've found that, although I've been using fabulesslyfrugal.com and have enjoyed it, I save more money by going back to what I started out with--theobsessiveshopper.net. I really can't figure out why one site is more comfortable for me than the other. Maybe it's just because I got so used to the obsessive shopper. I somehow feel more in control with it.

Anyway, I hope this is helping somebody. It sure has helped me. Somehow blogging about it each month keeps me on track.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trying to Teach My Children Not to Count

Why do we count? 1-2-3-4-5....
I've even, to mix things up a bit, gotten so I count backward...10-9-8.... You get the idea.
And then there's the "Next time you do that,..." you know, there's gonna be heck to pay. Or some such, and really, how many times do you threaten that before they actually stop doing whatever annoying or awful thing they're doing? Or how many times do they do that thing before you just give up, let them win, and stop threatening?
I think I've even gotten so I pretend something didn't happen just so I could sit on my lazy derriere and not have to do something about it.

I write this post as a mother who has gotten old and lazy. For any who have wondered, yes, this is what's happened to my children. They have a mother who counts and avoids. I even give...don't be shocked...second chances. EEK!!!  I know, run for cover!

With one child it was EASY! I was younger then and full of energy. I would see her do something that was not okay, and I'd jump up and handle it--time out, logical consequences.....Whatever seemed prudent at the time.
Yes, with one child, I was spot on a good part of the time.
People would say, "You have to choose your battles," but of course, in my mind, I already had, and I was on top of all of them.
I don't mean to sound cocky here, but I ROCKED as a mom to one. At least, I did to my one. She and I were in sync. We understood one another, and we got along swimmingly. We still do.
Then what happened?....

When #2 came along, it became a little trickier, so I tried to find distractions for #1 while I was nursing #2 or changing #2's diaper. I did a lot of trouble shooting trying to anticipate just how she would respond in certain situations. That's how these ideas came to be. As each new child came along, I wanted to avoid misbehavior by the older children while I was interacting with and attempting to meet the needs of the youngest. It takes a lot of understanding of what makes each child tick to pull this off successfully. Sometimes I succeeded, and sometimes, I failed.

I found that there were many, many instances in which I couldn't just jump up and administer my usual logical consequence for a behavior. I started losing too many of the battles. Then, over time, I just decided that, yes, people were right, I DID need to choose my battles wisely. I was greatly outnumbered, and each child had a different personality and needed to be parented in his/her own way. What worked for one did not work for all. Again...running for cover!

I learned from Jim Fay years and years ago, that children are not to have second chances. You watch them screw up the first time, you get involved and straighten it out the first time. You don't warn. You don't threaten. You simply take Johnny by the hand and give him a logical consequence or redirect the behavior--teach the appropriate way something should be done. I would even go so far as to say that Jim Fay's way is not full of words, it's full of action. You don't lecture, you teach what to DO.  Even after a time out, you don't rehash what's gone wrong. You see the time out through to the end, let the child up, give him/her a kiss and a hug (they are forgiven) and they're off and running again--nothing said. If the same behavior is done again, the same reaction occurs.

Some of my children learned very quickly. #1 was a VERY fast learner. She would make a mistake only once. Others learn slower. I am convinced that this is the case because of how consistent I've been in my discipline.

Here's an example....One of the rules in our house is that you are only allowed to play in the backyard. It doesn't take much for a child to wander around to the front yard, but it is forbidden. When a child is found out on the front sidewalk, the logical consequence is that that's the end of their play time outside. They are confined to the house from that point on.

Another example....If a younger child is napping and an older child does something to wake the napper, the waker quickly becomes the napper. At our house, we call it "finishing the nap."

As you can see with either of these, it would be so much easier to just let them go and let the child return to whatever he/she was doing. I often think of discipline like teaching a child language. If I were to see the color red and every time I saw it, I called it something different (crimson, scarlet, etc.), would the child ever really know that it was really called red? I have to be consistent when I teach language. I also need to be consistent when I teach discipline. The more consistent, the faster they learn appropriate behavior, and the fewer mistakes they make.

Maybe you can see why I've become a counter after reading all of this. Numerous times, I have told a child that if found him/her out front he/she will be staying in for the day, only to turn around, while dealing with another child, to have that one sneak back out. Ugh! This just leads to further logical consequences. It's VERY tricky.

I have to say that even though I've gotten lazy, I TOTALLY believe in this one chance rule. It leaves nothing to the child's imagination. The child knows he/she can trust the parent to do what he/she says he/she's going to. It leaves little room for the child to test the parent. Most importantly, it nips bad behavior in the bud early on.

As you noticed from this previous post, we decided that the time has come to return to the one chance rule at our house. Jim Fay would propose that you not choose to make the logical consequence something that punishes you as well, but to be honest, that's difficult to do. The great thing is there are many ways to turn the logical consequence into a win for yourself. I speak of the "energy drain"--a payback that will become the topic of a future post.

So, maybe my children won't know how to count forward and backward adeptly by the time they hit two and half because I've modeled it for them daily, but they will know to play safely out back, to ride in the car and not be "gross," and to not wake the sleeping baby. I also believe that when they get into school, I would much rather have them be able to know how to behave.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Another Sickie

Last night, I baked a bunch of potatoes for a baked potato bar for dinner. The Warden walked in after work and announced that he wanted to take us to dinner, so we got in the car and headed for IHOP. At the IHOP in Hillsboro, kids eat free every night of the week, so that's where we headed.

On our way, from the back seat, we get the report that one of the kids is "being gross." The Warden and I agree that we need to crack down on this kind of behavior from this particular child and since we have to go pick up one of our cars from the shop and will thus have two cars for the evening, one of us will drive said child home--no second chances.

We get to the shop to pick up the car, all of the other kids get out, and we jump in the newly repaired van. The "gross" child doesn't even argue. Hmm....Strange. The Warden takes the child home.

I take the rest of the kids to dinner--bummer when it was the Warden's idea. We eat and go home. I order something huge, and when I order, I ask for half of it to be placed in a box to take home for the Warden. It's a rather quiet dinner with only part of our crew there.

When I get home and present the Warden with his dinner, he shares with me that the child he took home was nearly asleep in the car before they even got home. Very weird. I go upstairs, and sure enough, that child is fast asleep.

Around 10:30pm, after the other kids and I finish folding laundry, while watching our nightly episode of "The Biggest Loser" on Netflix, the child wakes complaining of being unable to swallow. I look and sure enough, the child's glands are huge as are the tonsils--to the point of crowding the uvula. Eek!

I call the advice nurse and am told to put the child in the bathroom with the shower running so there will be some steam to help bring the swollen tonsils down a bit. We make an appointment for this afternoon, but I am told that I can take the child to the nurse treatment room to get a throat culture done any time.

I opt to go the throat culture route, so at 9am, we go in. The child stands next to me as we wait to sign in and shivers--noticeably shaking. The test comes back negative for strep, but they will culture it for 24 hours. In the meantime, I go up to our pediatrician's office and speak to our doctor's assistant. She had called while we were getting the culture done, not even knowing we were there, wanting to know about faxing some physical forms for sports and scouts and when they were due. I decide to go see her and answer her questions after we're done at the lab.

We do, and next thing we know, she has us talking to an advice nurse about the sick child and the next thing we know after that, we are in an exam room with a doctor who's had some no-shows. I'm guessing it was pretty clear by the way the sick child was leaning on me that things were not okay. I express gratitude to all of them for making things work so well for our child.

Although the immediate lab test came back negative, the doctor gives me the option of administering antibiotics until we know the results of the 24 hour test. If that test comes back negative, we stop the antibiotics. If it comes back positive, we continue. If symptoms worsen within the next two or three days, I take the child back in.

I ask the doctor to prescribe medicine without red dye. She tells me to speak to the pharmacist about this, and if they have a better solution, she will change her order. After requesting that of the pharmacist, it takes a bit of time, but we come across the answer to the red dye problem--the child will have to take the medicine in capsule form. Who knew it would be so tricky to find something without Red 40 in it?

Since the tonsils are as huge as they are, I'm doubting the child will be able to get the capsules down, so we'll sprinkle them on applesauce and administer it that way. I'm remembering my mom doing that for us kids with ice cream and cold medicine that looked like sprinkles. EEW! I have never trusted sprinkles since.

Guess what....No red dye!
We stop at the store on the way home to get the applesauce in the little cups and some all fruit popsicles. As we go through the check out line, I look over at the child and there is the child standing leaning over with a cheek on the metal part that lies around the conveyor belt. Poor kid!

We get home, and the child disappears to the bedroom. This is a child who hates naps, but a nap must have been needed. I haven't seen the child since. The medicine has to be administered every twelve hours, so I am opting to start it before bedtime. I'm hoping it will achieve its desired results.

#4 is making dinner tonight. Baked potato bar it is. Glad to make things easier for him.

Hoping your summer's starting off a bit better than ours, but I'm grateful for the tender mercies that just keep coming our way.
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Begins

Wow! I am feeling so much better! Isn't modern medicine AMAZING?! The antibiotics are getting a bit easier to take and I actually woke with energy this morning. The symptoms are retreating and are pretty much gone at this point. PHEW!

#2 headed off to a scouting high adventure early this morning. Before he could go, though, I had to take him to the grocery store to get a few additional food items. He woke me at 5am. I'm so surprised at how good I felt. YAY!!!

He'll be riding his bike, camping, white water rafting, and lots of other things in eastern Oregon. They're headed to the Metolius River. My family took a trip there when I was a kid. It was a blast! I hope #2 has a great time. I'm sure he will. He's with his bubs.

#1 is nannying and is very happy in her position. She gets to work with two sweet girls and run them around to do all kinds of fun things in the area. She works for them Monday through Thursday and works her other job on Fridays. It works out so well.

The talk is that we'll drop her at school over Labor Day weekend. The actual move-in day, from what I understand, is September 6th, but since the younger kids start school on the 4th (#3's birthday), it seems strange to up and run away the day after they begin. We need to discuss it with her apartment managers to see if that's kosher, but I'm thinking it'll be great for all the kids to see where their big sister is going to be.

I'm getting really excited about this new chapter in her life and ours. Thank you to everyone who has helped employ her so she can earn the money she needs to get her safely to Idaho and in school come September!

#5 is sick, so we're sticking close to home today. The original plan was to get to the library and sign up for summer reading--I'm still reading the Harry Potter series with #5. We're halfway through with book #5 as of last night. We won't have finished the entire series by the end of the summer (if I'm calculating correctly), but our goal is to read a chapter a day. We started in on our summer tradition of Summer Bridge workbooks this morning as well.

Everybody's got their goals for the summer.  Here's how they stand right now....
#1 - earn $$ for school (This is her ONLY goal. That's how important it is).
#2 - finish Eagle Scout award, run 400 miles, Portland to Coast
#3 - earn $100, get on one of the high school soccer teams. She also has her own "bucket list."
#4 - swim, advance in scouting
#5 - swim, read everyday
#6 - learn to tie shoes, ride a 2-wheeler
#7 - potty training - FUN! FUN! FUN! (I haven't ever been forced into this one before, but if she's going to be ready for preschool in September, it's got to be done. YIKES!)

My goals for the summer are listed above. I mean, seriously, is there really any room for me to focus on anything else right now? Once school starts, I'll be able to work on my own stuff. For now, my goal is to help my kids have good memories and to feel successful about the summer of 2012. So glad to be getting some health and energy back in order to get some things accomplished.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On to Something

K, so check it out....

I went to the doctor today, right? Before I went, I got to thinking over all the signs I've had of this infection. Like the blood test I had run a WAY long time ago that showed that my white blood cells were quite elevated. The doctor mentioned that I had an infection, and we both just shrugged our shoulders and moved on. I can't even tell you how long ago that was.  I mean, a SUPER long time ago. This has been percolating in my system for a very long time.

Today, I asked if the heart and dizziness stuff could stem from this, and she said she thought I was "on to something." It is very likely.

So, I'm now on antibiotics--the nasty, cruel kind, but very happy to be so if it means the other stuff will stop. Typically, a person will be on them for five days, but lucky me, I get them for seven because I was too pig-headed to get this checked out before now.

Hoping for the best!

In the Eye of the Storm

The day has just begun. I'm awake. Everyone else....still asleep. This is a great way to start the summer. I feel a sense of urgency to start the summer off on the right foot. I feel like the next two and a half months all hinge on how today progresses.

Here's the bad thing....I have some kind of infection that I believe has taken over part of my body. Eek! A lot of the issues I've been having seem like they could all be a result of this--heart, dizziness, etc. I think I'll be visiting a doctor today. I've been trying to take care of it myself, but it doesn't seem to be getting any better. Not good.

For the past number of days, I've been a bit baffled. Yesterday, I was awakened by a phone call from a teacher at the Warden's school. She shared that there had been some graffiti painted on the school that defamed "a teacher." It ended up that it was the Warden that was being memorialized, but they spelled his name wrong. Really?! How hard is it to spell "H-E-S-S?"

#1's car was left out on the curb in front of our house a few nights ago with the top off. Someone nabbed a piece of the middle console. Yesterday, when we got home and went into the garage, where the car now is, there was a strong smell of sulfur emanating from it. Hmm....

 The other day, I allowed a woman, who was coming from the opposite direction, into the school parking lot before me. I sat and waited patiently for her to come to the understanding that I was letting her go first. She, and her probably 5th grade daughter, shot me the dirtiest looks. Honestly, I think they were one step away from expressing their love with a hand gesture that included a lot fewer fingers than the traditional wave. Are they not used to people being nice to them? Baffling.

Yesterday, #3 climbed into the car after school and shared that her yearbook had been lost. She'd given it to a kid to sign. It was never returned. About an hour after we'd arrived home, the receptionist at the school called. The book had been found by one of the crossing guards blocks away from the school. It "wasn't in the best of shape," but it has all of the autographs in it. We'll go pick it up today. Today is also the day we get to go pay the money for the trumpet.

 So, hmm....What's up? Why are we all feeling so mean and ornery? Or are we? Am I just existing in this little bubble of meanness? With all of this going on, it makes me somewhat embarrassed to say I'm part of the human race.

Many of these incidences aren't even a response to someone else's mean act. These are self-motivated. It just doesn't make sense. Why are we all so angry? I would also venture to say that I've never even held a conversation with those who've done these acts. Random and anonymous? Mean just for meanness's sake?

As I begin summer vacation this morning, I have one thing to say to those who've done these things....thank you. All of this makes me want to redouble my efforts at being civilized and kind. I feel like I have the responsibility to make up for what seems to be lacking in this world right now. Thank you for providing the examples of what not to do. I'm ready to share these with my children and discuss with them the mean things that happen everyday that are really not necessary. Thank you for encouraging me and my family to be more kind and loving toward others.

One more reason why the next two and a half months (and longer) DO hinge on today.

Just a reminder....Be kind. Everyone you meet has some battle he's fighting.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Just for the Record

Every year at church, they include write-ups about the graduating seniors. Yesterday, #1 was one of these for this year. As I sat next to her as she read the info about herself, I asked her if I got it all right. She pointed out three errors. There was also a typo, but I'm happy to say, that wasn't me. Phew! Anyway, here's the write-up about #1. The original only had the first photo. I added more just because I can.

Photo courtesy of: Julia Shinkle Photography

#1 was born in Salem, Oregon, on 11/11 at 2:22pm. The Hess family lived in Monmouth, Oregon for the earliest years of her life. In July of 1998, they moved to Aloha.
#1 is a sweet, gentle, calm, but remarkably strong  person who loves people. She is always quick to laugh and ready to forgive. #1 is very non-judgmental and accepts people for who they are where they are. She thrives in her role as the oldest of seven children.

In first grade, #1 started playing soccer. She played for the next ten years. In high school, she played as a sweeper on the soccer team, ran on the cross country team and was a sprinter and a hurdler on the track team. She received the coach’s award for her hard work and leadership on the soccer team. By nature, she is honest, hardworking, and trustworthy. #1 has a strong moral compass and doesn’t believe in following the crowd.
Her greatest love is books. She was voted by her graduating class as the class “bookworm.” It could be that she received this “honor” because, there were a few times, #1 would get in trouble for reading the book she had  hidden on her lap under her desk during boring class lectures. Her favorite book as a teen was Maximum Ride by James Patterson. Her new favorite is The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
#1 is very self-motivated. Even when taking zero period classes, she never had to be awakened for school. Seminary has been #1’s favorite class. During her senior year, she had the opportunity to be her youngest brother’s “big buddy” at Little Warriors Preschool.

This past year, #1 decided to develop her talent for singing. She tried out and was accepted into the Aloha High School Concert Choir.  She also auditioned and received the opportunity to sing in the LDS regional Encore choir. Prior to these, her musical experiences had been instrumental—flute, bass clarinet and piano. In eighth grade, she played bass clarinet in the Beaverton School District Honor Band.

Her family feels that a day would not be complete without hearing #1 at the piano playing tunes from the Broadway shows she loves—Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables Wicked, and many others. This past year, as a graduation gift, some family friends bought her a ticket to Wicked when it came to town. Nothing could have made her happier.

During the summer of 2011, #1 went to Japan to serve the people and help clean up from the tsunami. It was astonishing how quickly #1 adapted to the culture. She particularly loved the people, their sense of community, and their care and concern for each other.

Most recently, #1 had the opportunity to go to outdoor school as a counselor. She cared for six girls from the Klamath Falls area and taught all of the kids everything there is to know about the beach. She says she’s had enough of the beach to last her a year. We’ll see how she feels after being in Idaho for an extended period of time.

#1 likes mac and cheese, cookie dough and broccoli. She earned her Young Women’s medallion by completing the Personal Progress program. She collects quotes and enjoys poetry. She also enjoys public speaking and will always include a poem or two in what she shares. She would like to serve a mission when the time comes. More than any place, she would love to go to Italy.

#1 is going to be greatly missed by her family this coming year as she heads to BYU-Idaho in the fall. She plans to study music.
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