Letting Him be a Man

Harrison is 14. I have decided that this age is, undoubtedly, one of life’s most cruel jokes. I teach 8th graders all day, every day. This year it’s seven periods a day of English Composition and English Literature–no Drama classes on my plate. No fear, that hasn’t stopped the drama from unfolding around me.

I recently taught my students Romeo and Juliet. One of the early lessons was on different types of love–unrequited love, romantic, friendship, and love of family honor. After going into great detail with stories of love from my own life (oh, so many stories to share; Jeremy Carter, you second grade heart breaker), my students were anxious to corner me after class and share their own painful experiences.

“Mrs. Tintle,” one particularly dewey eyed student said after getting me alone. “I think I’m experiencing unrequited love!” Little sob, dab dab, sniff sniff.

“Oh sweetheart, do you want to talk about it? That’s so hard to care for someone–”

“No no, I don’t have unrequited love, someone has it for me.”

Life is so hard when you’re in 8th grade.

9th is tougher. My son is at his third school in three years, my fault completely. He lives by the whims of his working mother; where I go, you go also. Here in Las Vegas the public school system is awful. Last year was awesome at our private school, but they moved across town and I couldn’t get the resources I needed for Rex there.

So when I found American Prep Academy it was a game changer. There is a high academic and personal standard here that all students are expected to not only adhere to, but embrace. The problem is, there is a high academic and personal standard that all students are expected to not only adhere to, but embrace. Academics. High. Hard. Standards. First year of High School. No friends. That is Harrison’s life.

I recently learned that the three most traumatic things a person can go through, in order of awfulness, are death of a child, parental divorce, and moving. We all experience one or all of these situations in life, but I sometimes forget that when my kids are miserable or acting out, there might be a reason, and I might be part of it.

This is where Jason and I have landed. Harrison is an amazing person, but the last year we have watched him withdraw from friends, family, sports, everything. He has survived this all with his nose buried in a book. All the moves and schools and new church groups and lost friends. Let’s face it, we have no idea what we’re doing here or how to fix it.

Enter brilliant family counselor. So much we don’t know and so much help available. It’s like these last few weeks we’re starting to see our kid again. He’s playing High School Lacrosse now, he’s let himself make a few friends at school, and best of all is the unexpected group of friends he has landed in our neighborhood from church.

We just…we want our kids to be happy. We all want that. Sometimes, though, we don’t have the power to fix their problems. Having older kids is my favorite part of motherhood to date, but there is so much I don’t know.

A few of my tops with Rex

It’s already practically mid-January and the days are disappearing faster than a tray of lemon tarts on Thanksgiving. We try so hard to convince our kids to not fight. Like a few weeks ago during the holidays, my Christmas mantra was, “All I want for Christmas is love, you little rats!”

We had an almost perfect shopping trip one afternoon before Christmas. I had to go to Sam’s Club because we were out of dinner food (hot dogs and chicken nuggets), and lunch food (hot dogs and chicken nuggets), and quite frankly, there was a mammoth sized laundry pile just waiting for me at home. Not ready to climb that mountain.

Miraculously, my four kids joked and laughed the entire way through the store with nary a sassy word. It is possible that this moment of joy was, in part, due to Georgia choosing to ride in the cart and play on my phone.

“Mom,” June said in the paper plate aisle, “Who’s your favorite kid?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” I said, “Definitely Rex.” This was met with a cacophony of dismay.

“What?!” Georgia said, shooting daggers at me. “Oh great. You just HATE me!”

“Wait,” Harry said, “I thought I was your favorite?”

“Stop!” Rex yelled, “Mom, please don’t say that! Just say we’re ALL your favorite kid!”

I smiled at this and looked down into June’s lovely green-eyed, freckled little smiling face, and was delighted to see that she is apparently my only child who is confident in her claim to my heart. “Yeah,” I said to her with a wink, “Definitely Rex.”

My favorite Christmas moment, though, was Christmas Eve when we got to church in Elma and ran into my brother, Steve. “Hi, Rex!” Steve said.

“Oh, ah, hi! Do I know you?”

“Rex,” I said, smiling and nudging him, “This is your Uncle Steve, my brother.”

“Oh,” Rex said to him. “So, are you a Valentine?”

“Rex!” I was feeling embarrassed at this point, “Of course! He’s my brother!”

My sweet autistic 12-year-old, who has not only met his Uncle Steve literally dozens and dozens of times, but even looks like him, looked over at me and said, “Wait, are YOU a Valentine?”

That afternoon Rex and I were up wrapping presents. “Look,” I said, “Let’s just review the family song about your aunts and uncles before the Christmas party tonight.” Years and years ago I made up a simple little ditty to help my littles learn the names of my 10 siblings. It’s worked miracles on family visits.  “Okay, I’ll start you off. First there’s Koni…”

Blank stare.

“Come on,” I said, “next it’s one of my brothers…”

“Hmm,” Rex said, “Otto?”

Otto? OTTO? “No Rex, there is no Otto in our family.” I started to sing the Mommy’s Sibling’s song as a refresher. “Koni, Bart, Bruce and Steve, Marilyn, Kerry–let’s just stop there. Okay, repeat those back to me.”

“Oh, okay. Let’s see here, ah, Koni, Bart, Chris and Steve…” Chris? Really?

“No, Rex, there’s no Chris in our family. It’s Bart and Bruce, no Otto, no Chris.”

Living away from family is tough on the little things, like name recognition. Or just names in general. Either way, in Vegas we live, and for the time being, in Vegas we shall stay. It was sure wonderful to get all those Valentine hugs, though.

 

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.