The Veteran’s Day Velociraptor

So the kids here at APA (American Prep Academy) are having a contest for Veteran’s Day; they have to submit an essay, whether they like it or not.

If you’re like me, this is pretty much a Disneyland assignment. But if you’re like my sweet, autistic 6th grade Rexy boy, this is a veritable nightmare.

For some reason Rex has it in his head that I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to school or writing or writing in school. So what if I spend all day teaching secondary Literature and Composition, it apparently doesn’t give me the know-how to help my sixth grader with a five paragraph essay.

BLAHHH!! GAHHH!!! These are the sounds I make after a writing session with Rex.

“Hey,” his teacher said a few days ago, popping by my classroom after school. “I just wanted to remind you that Rex really needs to work on that Veteran’s Day paper, he’s got a graphic organizer and the deadline is coming right up.”

I looked over at Rex who was staring at the tip of his pencil with forced intensity. This was not new news.

“Rex,” I said, “Did you hear that?”

“Oh, uh, I’m just working on something over here right now,” he said.

“You need to listen, Rex, you have to start on that essay…” and then I launched into all the different Veterans in our family he could find out and write about. He might as well have been holding his breath underwater for all the good it did.

After his teacher left I pulled a desk next to my table and forced Rex (who was panicking) to join me for a work session.

“So,” I asked, “What is a Veteran?”

“I don’t know! All I know is the Veteran’s Day Velociraptor!”

Wait, What?

“What?”

“Yes! I saw it in a magazine, and it’s on Uncle Grandpa…the Veteran’s Day Velociraptor!”

“No,” I said, “This is not a paper about a dinosaur, it’s a paper about a Veteran…”

And then we spent twenty minutes watching short videos for kids on “What is a Veteran?” and “Fun Facts About Veteran’s Day” and “How to Force Your Stubborn Child to Understand Patriotism.”  Did any of it sink in?

“So,” I asked after the fifth time he had watched a ten second clip of the definition of a Veteran. “One more time, what’s a Veteran, Rex?”

“It’s…America! I don’t care about this! It’s not my thing!”

The whole “it’s not my thing” is Rex’s favorite excuse for anything he doesn’t want to do.

“Look Rex–”

“All I know is the Veteran’s Day Velociraptor!”

Great. And we were full circle once again. “Tell you what,” I said, looking at his paper. “You need a good ‘hook,’ something to get the reader’s attention, let’s just go with it. ‘Have you ever heard of the Veteran’s Day Velociraptor?’ That would make a perfect hook.”

And just like that his pencil started to move.

I can’t tell you how delightful it is to see a student find their muse. I’ve been teaching this unit for the past few weeks, helping my older kids find someone who inspires them and explaining why it’s so important.

I guess with Rex I was just looking at the wrong species.

Naked ladies at Costco

And time marches on…I’ll get back to that.

So last night we took the kids to Costco for dinner.

Last week I started teaching/training for a new job, secondary English here in Vegas at American Preparatory Academy, and it’s rocked my world in the most fun and exhausting way ever. Direct Instruction, it’s the real deal. Suffice it to say, Mama hasn’t done much cooking this week.

We were browsing the Costco aisles and sniffing for samples when my girls pulled me aside. June is nine now and Georgia is seven (what?!) and they are quite the little biddies. As in, hanging out with them is like hanging out with a couple of old ladies. Full of chatter and propriety.

“Mom,” Georgia said, “They have a magazine back there that is really inappropriate.” Anyone who knows us knows that “inappropriate” is my favorite parenting word ever. It is, in fact, the most versatile word in the English language; perfect for describing everything from bad television to eating after 8 pm at night.

“Really,” I said, not thinking too much of it. I mean come on, it’s Costco. Super Family Shopping.

“Yeah,” June piped in, “It has a naked lady on the cover of it!”

I raised my eyebrows at this, and poked around for clarification. “You mean a picture with a girl in a tiny swimsuit?”

“No!” Georgia said, then was quickly trumped by June who added, “She had NOTHING on and is just covering her private parts, like this.” The girls then posed for a demonstration…oh mercy.

We quickly made a 180 and marched back to the supposedly naked lady gracing the Costco shelves. To my abject horror, there was, in fact, a fully not clad, birthday-suit-wearing, naked lady on this month’s cover of Women’s Health. Thank you Photoshop. To be honest, I didn’t even notice last night who it was because all you could see was how totally naked she is.

So my girls and I took a copy of the naked Ms. Vergara and trooped off to the customer service desk. My heart was pounding by this point and my inner lioness was doing warm-up pilates, readying for a serious showdown. I was going to roar big time on this one, my 12 and 14-year-old boys had been looking at the magazines with the girls and both been totally exposed to this. It was a 7-up-in-my-veins kind of moment.

But as we got to the front of the line I abruptly changed tactics. “Girls,” I said, “I want you to explain to the ladies what happened.” They nodded importantly and stepped to the counter. Bright faces, green eyes, the picture of appropriate. The two gals at customer service smiled at them warmly.

“Excuse me,” June began.

“We were looking at the magazines–” Georgia

“With our brothers–” June

“They’re 12 and 14–” Georgia

“And we saw this one on the bottom of the shelf–” June

“It was VERY inappropriate–” Georgia

“So we brought it up here to show you,” June finished and with a flourish I turned the magazine over.

Both the women behind the counter gasped. Hey, a naked lady is a naked lady, and Costco is no place for naked ladies.

They were absolutely appalled. “Oh my goodness,” the one helping us said, “Would you wait here? I’d like to get a manager.”

A moment later, Doug sauntered over. Picture your typical Costco dude, late 40’s, going gray and bald, faded jeans, red vest, and a name tag.

He came up with a pasted smile on his face. “How can I help you?” Doug said.

And then, in perfect synchronicity, my daughters told him the story at the exact same time, with one voice. It sounded extremely coached and scripted (it wasn’t, we’re just natural performers here, people) and his smile moved from plastic to patronizing. I could see his mind working it out, two kids, coached by mom, etc.

As they finished the story I held up the magazine. “Sir,” I said, “Does this look like pornography to you?” he bristled.

“That is not for me to decide,” Doug said, ” And I would never say that,” oh please, “But if it offends you, I will happily take it down, just for you.”

“Just for me?” I said. “Sir, what about all the other children who–”

“Ma’am,” yes he ma’amed me, “You are the only person who has complained about this, but if it will make you feel better, I will remove them.” And with that he turned on his heel and walked away from us.

Not very satisfactory, but at least they were coming down.

The girls and I gave him a ten step head start and followed behind. He got to the magazine rack and reached down to pull the hefty stack from the lower shelf. As he turned with an armload of Women’s Health, the breeze caught him and suddenly, the entire slippery mass spilled from his arms, blanketing  the main aisle at Costco.

Naked. Ladies. Everywhere.

Let’s just say looked a bit more uncomfortable. And flustered. Hard as he tried, he couldn’t seem to corral those slick little Sophia Vergara’s, they just kept getting away from him, the coy little devils.

“Oh!” my sweet girls quickly said, “Here, we’ll help you!” They rushed over and started helping him stack the porn into a nice neat pile.

“No!” he said, “Please…uh…I’ve got it…just…go with your mother…”

Can I just say, it ended up being a most satisfactory end to our confrontation. Eyes out this month for Women’s Health, mother’s and father’s beware.

 

 

 

Best teenage kid fit ever

Harrison absolutely kills me. He’s almost 14 and he has these moments of fantastic maturity and sweetness. Like, he will totally give me hugs at school in front of all his friends and say that I’m his favorite teacher. Win! But somehow he manages to balance these delightful bouts of nice guy with totally unhinged teenage rottenness.

This morning Georgia cried before school. Actually, every morning Georgia cries before school. I get it, it’s annoying. But she’s only six and this has been a tough year for her with teacher and friends. As annoying as that is, it is kind of her reality right now.

I was in a gentle mood this morning and 10 minutes before we left I lovingly encouraged Harrison to fix his hair. He’s so handsome when his hair is done, I love him better that way. When his hair is flattened on his forehead it makes me grumpy. Five minutes before we left I begged him to please, please just put a little gel in it. One minute before leaving I told him he wasn’t getting in my car without fixed hair.

We piled in (late) and waited for Georgia. She came out frustrated without socks and climbed in barefoot.

“Everyone just…be nice to her. She’s had a rough life.” I jumped out of the car and grabbed a pair of socks from the laundry room. When I climbed back in it was water works galore.

“He’s so mean ta me, he hates me!” she cried.

In all mean cases “he” means Harry. Rex is never mean. Ever.

“Harry,” I said, “Did you really yell at her?”

He pursed his lips, stuck his chin out and said, “Yes. Yes I did. She’s crying like a baby and I’m sick of it!”

“Harry,” I said gently, “Do you have to be that way? Just apologize to her and be the bigger kid.”

“No! I will NOT apologize! I’m sick of listening to her cry in the mornings!”

“Really? You really can’t just say–”

But before I could finish my sentence he glared over at me with ice in his eyes and then…furiously messed up his hair as badly as he possibly could.

“Wow,” I said, “Did you just…”

And then he did it again. Two hands, wildly smashing through his hair just to spite me.

It secretly made my day. Not sure what to say other than parenting is awesome.

Why fighting in front of kids is the best thing ever

 

A week or two ago we pulled into town after a very long car trip. In our ravenously hungry state, we called Cafe Rio ahead of time and decided to pick up a late dinner.

Jason went in and collected the food, came out to the car and handed it to me, then drove us home. As the boys unpacked the car, the girls and I set the food out. Two burritos, an order of enchiladas, and my big beautiful steak salad. There was napkins, plasticware, the extra pico and the…wait, where was the creamy magical salad dressing?

In a moment of hangry insanity I felt my hackles rise. Jason came in from the garage, took one look at me, and stepped back.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“They forgot my dressing. Again.” The last time we ordered from Cafe Rio and got our food to go, the same thing happened. Total dinner killer.

“Oh, I had no idea…” he said.

“Sweetie,” I said, (this is our favorite fake endearment for each other when we’re fighting) “Did you forget to check the order before you left?”

“Well…yeah…but did you check the order when I handed it to you in the car?”

Maybe it was the raging hunger in my belly, or perhaps the raging PMS coursing through my body, but before I could collect myself and offer any kind of non-contentious reply I heard my crazy face say, “No, that was your job. 100 percent your job. This is 100 percent your fault!”

Jason is humble and good and kind, but the man can only be accused so much.

“Uh,” he said, “I acknowledge that this is 99% my fault, but I think it’s fair to say that you should own at least 1% responsibility, you could have checked it yourself.”

Did I mention that our kids were sitting around the table ping-ponging their little heads back and forth as we argued?

“You guys,” Harrison said, “You sound so stupid. This is Cafe Rio’s fault.”

“Excuse me young man, we are having a conversation thank you very much!” I replied, then looked at Jason again. “100 percent you. I take no ownership here!”

This is the point where Jason quietly stomps out of the room, stops at the garage door, looks back and says, “1 percent!” then slams it and goes out to clean the car.

I was furious, I was steaming, I going to go out there and let him–

“Mommy?” Georgia said, putting her six-year-old hand on my shoulder. “You know sometimes at school I get in trouble for things that aren’t my fault. But I say sorry anyway.” Then she patted my shoulder and went back to eating her dinner.

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh or yell at her for being so irritatingly smart and humble. I held my breath, finally blew it all out, and said, “Are you saying I should apologize to Dad?”

She nodded in a very old-person way, “You know what you need to do.”

He stomped back into the room ten seconds later and I looked at him carrying all the luggage in from the car while the rest of us ate. Jason is a good man. He’s my best friend and would move mountains to make me happy. I felt instantly humbled and stupid and deflated. He was totally right, I should have checked the order.

“You’re right, I’m sorry. It was more than 1% my fault…it was like, at least 7% my fault.” I said with a smile. He smiled back at me. And I felt better.

Sometimes being right feels worse than sharing ownership of what’s wrong…if that makes any sense.

Thanks Georgia. I’ll remember this lesson.

 

Let’s yell at each other a little, shall we?

I love my man. He’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to my world at least 87% of the time. Even with all the kids and the jobs and the dumb Vegas weather we still like to be alone together. Strike that, we’d rather be together than alone any day of the week.

Except Wednesdays.

Specifically the Wednesdays that fall right before vacations.

Take this last Wednesday for example. I had my first few days off last week and had a delightful list of Things I No Longer Have Time For, which included necessities like quilting potholders and painting my daughters’ fingernails.

Jason also had a list for me, a list of Things She No Longer Has Time For.

Let’s just say our lists had absolutely nothing in common.

By Wednesday I had accomplished everything on my personal to-do list and just about nothing on Jason’s…with the exception of a little laundry. I had, however, decorated the house inside for Christmas, risked my life to hang lights outside, reorganized two closets, sewed ten potholders and four new curtains, etc. etc. I was feeling so accomplished.

“So,” he said coming in the door late from work, “Did you get my workout clothes washed?” He started stuffing a duffel bag with clothes for the trip north.

Oops. Workout clothes, right. Top of my list of Things I Don’t Really Care About.

“Oh, yeah, you know I am so sorry about that. I was trying to hang Christmas lights…”

And we were off. He was frustrated, I was frustrated, we were in different rooms upstairs yelling counterarguments to one another, not even trying to understand each other.

Some might call our conversation a fight, it depends on where you’re standing and who’s side you’re on.

“Mommy,” Georgia finally said, coming into my bedroom and interrupting our yelling match.

“WHAT!! What do you want, Georgia?” I said.

“So, when are you gonna come downstairs and talk to the lady in the kitchen?”

Lady in the kitchen? Like on the TV? Because there couldn’t possibly be a real lady in the kitchen, listening to our marital bliss, right?

“Lady? What lady?”

“You know, the one from church who’s gonna take care of Duchess? She’s down there with her son, are you guys done yelling yet? She wants ta talk to you, she been waiting…”

And that’s how I discovered that one of the sweet sisters from our new ward–who I barely know–was sitting downstairs in the kitchen waiting for our fight to finish. I asked Harry after she left if they could hear us.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “We heard EVERYTHING.” Nice.

Laundry. It’s a dirty business, it really manages to wring the worst out of a person. Had I just put my dear husband’s needs first and washed his workout clothes, that sweet sister wouldn’t know our dirty little secret…

Sometimes we fight.

 

massacre and middle school misery

This morning I went out to the car, opened the door, and was met by an avalanche of decimated mini candy bar wrappers.The murderer had eaten them in haste and frenzy. Of the 13 recovered corpse-wrappers, all had been torn open with some crazed animal’s teeth–a well known one-handed method for binging and driving.

I really feel for the teacher/mom who was driving my car last night. She’s obviously feeling the load of the world on her shoulder pads and was seeking creature comfort in Nestle goodness. No judgements.

I’ve learned a few things about myself through this new school year. First, I was not cut out to be a substitute teacher (last year’s job). I love coming in to work everyday, I love dressing up and the smell of school carpet and seeing my little kids in uniform and white board markers and mostly, mostly, ukuleles and high schoolers.

I don’t know how I stayed home all those years. How did I not realize that once my kids were in school I’d get a j-o-b and want to go to work? Working at David O. McKay Academy feels like a direct blessing and tender mercy for giving mommyhood all those lonely years at home while my babies were growing. I’m so very, very glad I waited. It was so worth it.

It’s also exhausting.

I am asleep by 9 pm every night, or close to it. Some nights it’s more like 8:30, and when my alarm rings at 5 am I feel like a zombie who hasn’t brushed her teeth in 47 years.

And my morning scripture study is great, it keeps me going, but it’s not always a big motivating spiritual experience. This past week pulling out spiritual parallels feels like picking lint off a sweater. Sometimes my study is like a veritable buffet, but there have bee no rootbeer floats lately, lots of lint. That’s ok.

To be honest, and please don’t tell me kid I’m writing about this, my oldest child is having a very tough year. Another move, another ward, another school. He’s been diagnosed with a severe case of Sinusitis and is going in for surgery in another week and a half. In the meantime he lives with constant migraine headaches and his whole wonderful face is swollen from the frequent sinus infections. I feel helpless to help him.

Yesterday in the car he kind of broke apart and it all spilled out. He misses his friends, he misses his teachers, he misses his band program and his ward and being able to ride bikes home with his buddies everyday. He’s prayed for help, he’s tried, but he pretty much thinks he’s Job. The man/boy is miserable.

I just listened because there were no words of encouragement to offer. Jason and I are powerless in some ways, he’s growing up and has to figure out how to make this happen on his own. Don’t get me wrong, I dumped him off at someone’s house (much to his horror and dismay) on Saturday night for games and he wanted to strangle me. But he came home with a huge smile and had a blast because really, the Lord is answering his prayers even if he can’t see it. There are friends to be had all around him.

Things don’t ever get better overnight and they always require work. Peaks and valleys, lint and rootbeer floats. I believe they will get better for him. It doesn’t matter if your family moves every two years or if you go to the same school your entire life, Middle School is miserable.

More on that later, break is over.

pretty pretty please

So Georgia’s bedtime prayers go something like this.

“Heavenly Father, please please please pretty please with sugar and sprinkles and flowers and nice things on top don’t let me have any scary dreams. Only dreams of goodness and sweetness and puppies and candy and babies and mommies and teddy bears with cute clothes and cake and happiness, lots of happiness, and dresses and playing with nice friends and flowers and pretty stuff…or just no dreams, please please pretty PRETTY please with sprinkles on top let me have no dreams…”

She takes her praying so seriously at night, I am half tempted to secretly record one of these prayers because they are possibly the most intense prayers I have ever heard. I can’t decide if it would be sacrilegious or not, they don’t belong to me.

When I jumped on my blog this morning I was appalled to see that I haven’t written anything in over a month. Thing is, I write every single day but I’ve gone back to long-hand in a book journal. Total technological digression. Like living in 1994. I get up every single day at 5 am to read scriptures and write in my journal and I am absolutely convinced it’s the fuel that is keeping me going.

Last week Jason surprised me and asked if he could start joining me for scripture study in the mornings. Note to self: I had no idea this would be like spiritual dating. I feel like we’re getting to know each other in a totally foreign way, there is very little making-out involved during scripture study and we never discuss the budget. We sit at the table with our study stuff and talk about scriptural interpretation. It’s hot.

I am living this life that I never could have possibly foreseen a year ago. I teach four english classes, one high school drama class, and a daily elementary theater class at David O. McKay Academy. It’s like I work at EFY High. These high schoolers are the absolute light of my life, they are hilarious and fun and mostly respectful. I have about 25 kids in total. We did our little private school homecoming dance last weekend and it was phenomenal. Hey, I’ve been to plenty of high school dances. The theme was A Night in Little Italy at our principal’s house, set up the backyard and we had the dinner catered family/buffet style, then they danced to wonderful, clean music for a few hours before pitching in to clean it all up.

There was such a good spirit of joy and happiness there, it was unreal for a high school dance.

Last year I worked for CCSD and subbed at high schools. It is no exaggeration that at least once a day I would cross paths with a student that had a problem, and my hands were always tied when it came to advice. But at David O. McKay Academy? No ties.

Yesterday I had two different students throughout the day who needed a moment to stop and pray, and in both cases their prayers were answered within minutes. We were able to talk about prayer, how it works, why it works and Who is on the other side. These are girls who don’t utilize prayer at home and really need it in their lives right now.

I get to talk about that. I get to use the scriptures in my ENGLISH lessons. We read Joseph Smith’s narrative from the front of the Book of Mormon last week when we were talking about writing personal stories, he uses amazing imagery in his description of Moroni coming to his bedroom.

I have the best job ever.

Life is crazy and beyond busy and sooo full of challenges right now. Trying to fit in planning for all my students and still get laundry done and teach at the theater and stay on top of my classes at college and read to my kids at night and study my scriptures in the morning…it’s a lot. I’m planning the Europe trip for the Spring, the Harvest Festival, the German Christmas Market, helping students work on Project Based Learning, teaching ukulele to my study hall kids 6th hour…so many fingers in so many pies.

Here’s the secret, ready?

Get up everyday at 5 am and see what the Lord wants you to learn about in the scriptures. Journal it, write about it, take time for communication with the Holy Ghost first and whatever else happens during the day, no big deal. Even the crappy stuff seems to just work itself out. I’ve smashed up one of our cars this month and got our trailer stuck under a building…but problems that otherwise would be ruining my life seem to melt away when take time study and listen.

But really, someone should move that trailer. It’s kind of an eye sore.

 

*I’m no longer on FB, if you want my rather infrequent updates please put your email into the subscribe box to your right and they will occasionally trickle into your inbox. I’m busy, but I do love this virtual space to unload a little of my life.

Not buying a farm

Today we bought the non-farm.

It looks like this desert is going to be more than a stopping point in our journey. I have the feeling everyone around us has seen this move to Vegas as more than a temporary stop over for my family, we’ve been pretty clueless. It’s looking very semi-permanent…as in today we bought a non-farm. It’s a house, it’s here in the wilderness, and it’s really lovely.

I didn’t know they made lovely houses here, it took us nearly six months to find one. Short sale, long story, I haven’t had the energy to write all summer because I couldn’t stand to document my real estate frustration. It’s been very hot here and very busy with six college credits in eight weeks (I’m super old and rusty), and I was really hoping we would have closed on this house deal a month ago. Thank goodness we didn’t, I would have procrastinated school and packed my house up instead. The deal didn’t go through until after my summer term finals, a real miracle. A real frustrating miracle.

And so this morning Jason and I went and became honest Nevada residents. I now have a lovely big house that backs up to the mesa, it has a beautiful pool and lots of room with tile that isn’t white. The kitchen is divine, I can unpack the 30% of my household that’s crammed into our little garage here, and if I’m being really honest, this is a house we could live in for a long time.

That’s scary. The most terrifying part is how irritatingly happy I am these days. Jason keeps wondering when the other shoe is going to drop, he keeps saying I’m just like that girl he married back in 1999. I try to comfort him with reminders that this happy glow has nothing to do with pregnancy and is probably a convenient symptom of my summer anti-anxiety pills.

Thing is, I am happy darn it. I’m so glad my kids are all older because I’m the kind of person that really likes having a j-o-b. I will be writing and running the drama program for both the new David O. McKay (DOMA) campus’ this fall and I feel like I’m about to start work at my own kind of Disneyland. Between Hollywood Kids Academy (I’ll handle costuming and still direct one night a week there, doing Mulan this fall) and DOMA I am embarking on my dream job(s). I love the theater, I love teaching, I love kids, and I love teaching theater to kids. My kids are in all the HKA classes I’m teaching, plus going to school with them all. Add in 11 credits this fall to my jammed schedule and wowsa.

I’m certifiable, I know. Makes me super happy.

I’ve had lots of little miracles lately and feel like a heel for not documenting them and giving credit to Heavenly Father for knowing me so much better than I know myself. I wasn’t ready to live here two years ago. I wasn’t even open to the possibility. A big thank you to God who knew it would take me two years to stop whining. Living here is a far cry from the green hills of The Great Northwest but somehow this wasteland is bursting with opportunities I doubt I’d find anywhere else.

My blog feels more and more personal and less like a public forum, and true to character it makes me less prone to writing. I’m an absolute and complete sucker for an audience but I’m not willing to do any of the necessary things right now to put my writing out there. And so this will remain my safe space, my happy space, my little record of life as it concerns me and mine.

Move in starts Friday. Carpet goes in next week. Classes all start after Labor Day. Sink or swim, I’m in it now.

Back to school

Crazy crazy whirlwind week.

One year ago I was a stay-at-home mom with no actual plans for a future outside of my laundry room. I’m serious, I really hadn’t thought past putting Georgia into school. Somewhere in my mind I knew I would come up with something for My Life but I really didn’t foresee anything solid. My ideas flowed like spilled milk. They’d spill out, I’d recognize them as a mess and mop them up.

On Monday I met with the principal and head administrator for David O. McKay Academy here in Henderson opening this fall. By Wednesday I was sending in my application to enroll in graduate school and nailing down a program that will help me get my Nevada ARL–Alternative Route to Licensure–by August, a program that will let me teach while getting my masters degree.

As of now, I’ve been accepted into Sierra Nevada College’s Masters in the Art of Teaching (MAT) program, I’m registered for classes starting May 31st, and I have a job lined up to teach High School at DOMA this fall.

That’s a really busy week.

Today I pulled up the test prep for the Praxis, a big ugly test I have to take before I can get my temporary license. The English and reading sections aren’t a problem. It’s the math.

Math.

I hate math.

I don’t even trust myself to substitute teach 6th graders working on fractions. Fractions might be my nemesis, closely followed by algebra, geometry and the mother of all horrors, statistics.

I hate statistics.

I got a D in my upper level statistics course in college and had to get a special waiver just to graduate because even with tutors and the help lab, statistics is like a ball of yarn leftover from a cat birthday party. It can’t be unraveled, all knots.

Today I sat in class working on my Praxis math prep work and kept needing to use bathroom because it’s giving me a stomach ache (this could also be due to my diet and the mass quantities of water I’m consuming). Good thing I’ve got Jason who thinks fractions and percentages and graphs are the funnest thing to do on a Friday night. Every night will be date night for the next two months, it’s like trying to prime a desert pump in here.

I guess the reason I feel like I can do all this is that my kids and I will all be at the same school together, on the same schedule, and I’ll be available to them despite all the crazy that’s about to become my life. That’s my first priority, finding ways to be a working/schooling mother–mother being the key word here.

Bye bye home cooked dinner and mopping in general. We’re going to hit survival mode hard core.

Maybe we can find a house to move to before everything kicks into gear, something with better floors.

Old-fashioned rail journey?

Do you ever look around you at your life and think, “How in the world did I get here? This wasn’t the plan, I don’t love this. And why can’t we go to Disneyland more often?”

Here’s the thing. Our ticket out of Las Vegas is almost non-existent. Jason, in his awesomeness, has specialized himself right into a career corner. There aren’t very many people who do what he does, so there aren’t very many places for those people to move.

We’ve had this Big Dream of moving home to Washington for a really long time. Five years ago we literally bought the farm and every once in a while we make a trip back there so we can drive out onto our beautiful dream property and envision a life of rainy days and chicken coops and horses and grandma only six minutes away.

It sounds too good to be true. It feels like it as well.

There’s this quote by Gordon B. Hinckley, one of our dearly departed Mormon prophets. I really detest this quote and when I was a young 18-year-old and first heard it I thought it was bunk. Not because I didn’t believe it but because I couldn’t bear the thought that it was true. Rose colored glasses, right here. He quoted this in a talk to young single adults (worth the read, it’s an amazing talk).

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.

“[The fact is] most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. …

“Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.

“The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

This rubbed me wrong. It was 1997, I was young, I still had 7 Up running through my veins, I was sure life was going to be all vistas, all romance, all thrilling high adventure.

I’ve been humbled over the years. All our high adventures in Europe were 80% delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, and the vistas went by so quickly sometimes I missed them.

In hindsight we laugh about the time Harry ran into a post in Marseilles and almost broke his nose, or the time Jason split his head open the night before we were supposed to board a cruise ship. Now we think it was funny that our tire blew out on the side of a mountain and we missed half our scheduled day trip to Konigssee waiting for a tow truck, or that we spent our week in London racing from WC to WC because everyone had a stomach bug.

But even so, there were vistas. I miss them. I’ve been feeling like I don’t have very many these days. Cinders and jolts, life has ceased to be very fun.

On Tuesdays I take Rex to Sport Social, a recreation center for Autistic kids. He’s adamant that the girls don’t ride with us and has claimed it as his “time with Mom.” We make the 15 minute car ride while he tells me all the details about his week, about school, about art and PE and music class.

I had been thinking about cinders and lack of joy when he got in the car.

“Mom, today we got to sing a song about birds in music class,” he started to tell me. “I got chosen to be one of the birds! There were four birds and we flew around the room while the class sang.”

This made me smile. Rex loves birds. Loves them like he’s memorized all the state birds and can recite to you which bird goes to which state and why. Last night at FHE he did a bird game and we had to guess the bird.

“Rex,” I said, “I bet you loved that. Did you fly?”

“Oh…oh yes,” he said, “I flapped my wings nice…and…slowly.”

The happy hit me really hard when he said that. Boom. Vista. Right there. My 15 minutes in the car with Rex every week is a built-in vista.

From now on we’re taking the back road and leaving a little earlier on Tuesdays.