Monday, October 13, 2014

Adventures in subbing: Episode Two Flash Back First Grade

A reflection of one of my recent sub jobs.  Every day is a new adventure! 

Today as I was heading to my sub job in Room 5C, Liberty Elementary School.  I was not prepared for the rush of emotion as I walked to the front of the school today.  This very school, flashback 1984. Opening day of a brand new school.

First Day of 1st Grade, anxiety rushed over me.  Timid child wondering where I should go.  As I made my way into the front doors I was greeted by a smile ,a tall man with broad shoulders built like my father offered me his hand to walk me to class.  Although he was missing fingers I didn’t hesitate and took his hand as he guided me to my classroom and introduced me to my teacher.

Memories continue to flood from that year.  His name was Mr. Freezen, he lost his fingers in and accident which he later shared with our class as he came to read stories as we sat on the carpet.  We gathered in awe that you could survive with out fingers.  How on earth did he write?  Questions that linger in a six year old mind.

More memories… a few months later I was home on Christmas break, snowy winter.  Curtains drawn on the picture window in our living room, blinding winter light with dust dancing in its rays. Light warming the room despite the several inches of snow on the other side the window. Mom vacuuming with a peaceful hum.

All of a sudden a slush of words shattered the day.  It must have been the phone ringing.

Bus crash, snowy roads, Mr. Freezen. Dead.

My little first grader mind processing the news. My principal who was so kind, even with missing fingers, was now dead.

Amazing what can flow to your mind when you visit an old space.

Flash back 5th grade Room 5A. two doors down from today’s sub job.  Another whirlwind memory.

I sat next to “Kelly”, a boy with dark brown hair.  A boy who was mildly popular and well liked among others.

One day Kelly went missing for a few days.  Eventually he returned with a bandaged hand with blood oozing through the bandages.  I believe it was his left hand, what ever the case, it was the hand I had to sit next to.  He loved to tease and torment me with his bloody stump.

The story was he was climbing a ladder and lost his footing catching his thumb, ripping, tearing.  Panic struck and amidst the bloody panic, a cat snatched and ran off with his thumb, making recovery efforts difficult.

Yes, a gross memory of missing digits and it happened mere feet from where I taught today. Just one more story.

Last Day.  Today a student was having his last day.  He is moving to Las Vegas over the weekend and I couldn’t help but remember the last time I stepped foot in this very school where I was subbing.

1988 Another cold, blustery winter day.  No sunshine this time.  Misty, dark and grey. We had had an all day field trip/choir concert at an old folks home and the mall, singing holiday tunes.  I wore my best friend Amy’s dark blue denim skirt with a wide black elastic waistband.  She has let me borrow it for our concert.

We returned to the school late in the day and school had already let out.  Empty and dark I gathered my last items from my desk.  With my parents divorce and losing our house, we were forced to move across town.  New house, new school.

I walked home one last time, alone, with my legs exposed to the cold.  Freezing. When I got home, I was met with a locked door.  The first time ever in all my childhood I have come home and the door was locked.  I peeked into the windows of the only house I knew as a home.  We had already packed up and moved out.  The only contents were a giant mountain of stuff we left in the middle of the dining room floor.  Things left for a thrift store.

The cold made my eyes sting with tears.  I wasn’t sure if it was my emotions surfacing or if it was just that cold. Sadness and gloom lingered as I waited to be picked up and taken to my new home. 

Amazing what visiting an old space will bring to your mind.

Even  though it has been 30 years from the first time I walked the halls of my elementary school, I had no idea of the vivid memories that would fill my day. It brought a sleeping past to life once again. I am sad to say the vivid memories are not he happiest memories. I suppose some of the fears of my past were put in my face.

Happy memories at the school. I love, loved my first grade teacher with her coffee breath. She was warm and caring and took the edge of my fears.

The school carnival on the play ground, getting a cheap necklace with my earned tickets.

Friday $.25 popcorn day.  I am happy to report they still only charge $.25 and the popcorn machine sits i the same exact place.

They still have one piece of the original playground equipment. I was happy to see that there. I loved running and playing on the play ground.

Another great memory was school skate parties.  I loved going to the local skate rink and skating my heart out!

Oh so much fun to visit an old space!

Let me leave you with our school fight song.

This song mingled in my head all day, over and over.... it went something like this...

We're the Liberty Eagles, yeah, yeah. 
And we'll fly real high, yeah, yeah.
We're the Liberty Eagles, yeah, yeah.
Fly right out of the sky, yeah ,yeah

Oh yes we know we got the spirit to fly right out of the sky, yeah yeah.

Today's sub notes and a few of the activities.

Thanks for flashing back with me! 

What is a vivid elementary school memory you have?

Practicing Love and Patience for Children With Special Needs

Sunday’s are the hardest..  It is a day like no other where the schedule is different and we go to church where the kids are expected to sit through a long church service with out being to disruptive and possibly get something out of it.

I have a hard time putting my heart to words at times, especially when it comes to the welfare of my children.  Bean, my second child who will be four years old in a few weeks is the sweetest boy, but some day’s he challenges me to my wits end. 

I have found myself too often on Sunday’s asking, Why?  Why does this sweet little boy who was in such a hurry to get to this earth, 20 month younger than his older sister and born 6 weeks early…. Why is he so challenging?  Why did Heavenly Father entrust me with this sweet spirit who is full of energy, enthusiasm and with a busy body and determined soul? And how on earth am I going to teach him? Teach him to communicate. Teach him to treat others with respect and kindness. Teach him to be safe with out hurting himself or others.

Sunday’s are hard because there is a lot of running, when there is supposed to be sitting.  Lots of jabbering, when it is supposed to be quiet.  Lots of climbing and yanking on clothing while my little one tries to escape, by crawling under benches so he can be closer to others, shouting “Hi” to friends on other rows as he grabs at their ankles.  You always want the best for your children, and wanting the best makes me turn in asking more “why” questions.

Many Sunday’s consist of the hubs walking our little guy in the halls of the church or taking him outside to run.  Occasionally you can hear a thump, thump, thump running in the hallway above the chapel during our Sacrament Meeting, and yes that would be my sweet little busy buddy. 

Today I took all three kids to church solo, as the hubs is away at a job interview in another city. Always an adventure that doesn’t disappoint.

I have been self conscious long enough and now I am trying to be accepting of the circumstances.  In my process of embracing and loving my son and his challenges, there comes doubt, fear and yes, some tears.  This manifests itself mostly on Sunday’s where I have hope that there might be a peaceful Sunday of no running, climbing or shouting out, but reality always shows up differently.

Like on Mother’s day of this year, I was worn and weary and just wanted to get out of the church and go home and crash.  A day where you are supposed to feel honored, feels more like torture. (I could really relate to the recent movie, Mom’s Night Out). Just about to exit to the parking lot we were in the foyer and before I could stop Bean, he had ripped a tulip right out of a fellow mom’s hand breaking the stem. 

We had received the flowers as a Mother’s Day gift from our kids.  This mom had a look of horror on her face.  It was quite the site really.  I was on my knees, just barely caught up with my son, stopping him from more destruction of her frail flower, with my arms around my son I looked up to the woman and said, “I am so sorry”.  It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if she had not been so shocked by my son’s actions.  I am sure she didn’t mean to give me such a horrid look, but it just pushed me over the edge.  I dusted myself off and attempted to turn away before I burst into tears with my kids in tow. Another woman saw the emotion in my face and tried to consol her friend with the broken flower, “It’s okay, he didn’t mean to.”

Sometimes life can be hard.

Before I go on, I must say there has been improvement.  Great improvement.  I need to acknowledge where we have come from.  The busy behavior used to be constant, so constant I was numb and could easily write off….. saying he is a two year old with some delays. He is now getting to big for that reasoning.  He just acts like a two year old in a big body.

I don’t speak of his delays often on my blog.  Mostly because I want to protect my child from this crazy world. Although I feel alone in this journey with a child with special needs, I am not alone.  There are many who struggle with children with challenges.  I am just getting to the point where I can no longer write off his two year old behavior. I am not sure why it tugs at my heart so much at church, maybe it is because I have hopes of him being able to participate with the other kids with out being a disruption and having to leave his class or the group of children.  He used to have a special helper that would accompany him to his primary class on Sunday’s. This summer she moved out of the country with her family, and oh how I miss her.
My sweet boy looking so handsome and ready for church.

Several times a year the children at church (ages 3-11) participate in our Sunday Sacrament Meeting where they get up and sing songs to the congregation.  Once a year they have a special program where they have speaking parts and intermittent songs.  The children beam as they show what they have learned.  Lil’Miss waves and says, “Hi Mom!!” from the stand at least a half dozen times, making a mom’s heart melt with her smile and enthusiasm.

Today was that special program.  The children have been preparing for the past several of weeks rehearsing their speaking parts and preparing their songs.  Bean missed out on the first rehearsal due to being a little to active and wanting to climb all over the kids and chat and get in their faces. They pulled me out of my class, dumfounded in what to do with him.  I attempted to sit with him, and that wasn’t going to work out, so we went to the hallway and I gave him the Ipad (which he is attached to if we allow it) and he sat quietly watching play dough videos on You Tube. The second rehearsal we kept him home due to illness.

But even though he is disruptive and all over the place, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want him to have an opportunity to participate.  He loves to be in front of others and is one of the friendliest kids out there.  I knew if he saw all the kids on the stand he would want to be up there too. 

Sure enough as soon as the children were invited to go up today, he jogged up to the front of the congregation faster than I could hand off my baby to a friend.  I eventually caught up with him and prompted him to sit with me behind the grand piano in one of the springy theater-like seats.  Hopefully he could sit long enough until his part.  Then we could go up to the microphone and then return to the bench seat in the congregation.

His part in the program was simple, “I love the earth because…..” (Referring to the creation).  I shortened the phrase to “ I love the earth and I love dirt”  We practiced the sentence and he repeated it several time this morning echoing back to me conversation like, “ I wuv erf. I wub erfff.  I wuvv errrff.”  I was actually surprised he repeated what I wanted him to.  Even though his part was only a few minutes and one song into the program, it felt like a very long time.  It was enough time to make it all the way across to the other side of the stand and back again, and enough time to crawl under the grand piano and back up and attempt to assist the pianist. 

Finally it was his turn to get up to the microphone at the pulpit.  I whispered into his ear, “I love the earth.” And paused as he repeated something, that didn’t resemble what we had practiced, and I then whispered to him “I love dirt.” And he continued to gaze across the audience jabbering more sounds with great expression, again sounding nothing like what we had practiced and a little more like the teacher on Charlie Brown, but he stood tall, and brave speaking with conviction. And when he was done saying what he was saying , I accompanied him back to our seat in the congregation and he sat.  The primary children began the next song singing of Jesus. He participated in his own little way singing out random phrases from songs he knows, “Woe, woe, woe the boaaatt.” Old McDonalddd had a farmmm, EIEIO!!”  So I could watch the remainder of the program, I slipped him the Ipad and let him watch his favorite videos on mute.  I do have to say, although he had a short and sweet first program début, it was a success!

Oh to be a mom of a special little guy who has struggles.  I do love him so, and he pulls my heart strings every day!

Do you have a child with special needs?  What times are most difficult for you and your child? And how do you cope?

Happily Momming Along.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

100% Debt Free Update

When we started our Debt Free Journey we owed $328,000 in real estate debt.

After 30 months of discipline and hard work we now owe:

$289,316!  In 30 months we have paid off $38,684

That is an average of $1289.46 a month.  

Not to shabby, considering all we have had going on over the past year or so and our prior unemployment.

We have done the following home improvements which took most of our $$$$:

 -New roofs and windows on Tiny & Teeny Tiny Homes
Tiny Home after paint, windows and new roof

Teeny Home Before:

Teeny Home After

-Painted the exterior of three of our homes

House #1 Faded Pink Pepto Before picture

It is now Grey with white trim and a blue accent

Teeny Homes bathroom before, down to bare bones!

-Completely remodeled Teeny Tiny Home’s Bathroom (still waiting for the bill for this one)

-Installed an AC unit at Tiny home

-Furnace, AC and a few sprinkler repairs at home’s # 1 & 2

-An eviction of a tenet who quit paying rent and left a mountain mess and damages

Mountain of Eww.
Sweet Baby Tino

Our other big expenses were paying for a pregnancy and new baby to arrive and a new set of tires for our van.

The past year we has been expensive, whew! so I am grateful that we have been able to even pay things down this much.

I wanted to write this post for a base line of entering unemployment.  Hopefully this will be a short jaunt, but if it is not, my hopes are that we can at least stay at this point our our journey and not accrue any new debt.
House #2 For Sale

The awesome loft in house #2 that I will miss so much!

We are putting home # 2 up for saleCheck it out here.  We met with a Realtor this week and it will be on the market as soon at our renters move out sometime in the next month. Anyone want a light and bright 4 bed 2 bath in Boise, Idaho???

My hopes and prayers are that we can continue onward and not dig a pit as we are unemployed at the moment.  We are frugal and will make it through this trying time, so for the moment we are just going to do our best to not acquire any new debt and hopefully once we get home #2 on the market we can get it sold (this time around, we did not have very good luck last year when we tried to sell it).

With a grateful heart we will continue plugging along!!

Happily working towards debt freedom!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Crock Pot: Loaded Cheesy Potato Soup

With the turning of the seasons, soup is on my brain!

Here is an easy Crockpot potato soup.  I needed to throw something together for a church potluck and I had these ingredients on hand so I decided to give it a try.  A simple, no fuss recipe!

Loaded Cheesy Potato Soup

1 Tbs butter
4 medium potatoes, cooked, cubed
1 small onion, minced
1 (10 ½ oz) can cheddar cheese soup
1 (10 ½ oz) can cream of celery soup
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
Garnish: shredded cheese, green onions and bacon bits

Melt butter in sauce pan, add onions and sauté. In slow cooker, combine all ingredients (except for garnish).  Cover.  Cook on low heat 2 ½ to 3 hours.  Makes 4-6 servings.  Serve with shredded cheese, green onions and bacon bits.

Busy Woman’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, McFall & Burgett

Happy Fall!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Walking Into the Darkness with Faith... Unemployment Report

Feeling like we have done a 360 and we are back where we started.  Two years ago the hubs lost his job, somewhat unexpectedly.  We have recently returned into the unemployment pool, and I talked about it a bit on this post and this post.

One thing that is different this time around is we have prepared for it.  Since we are on our 100% Debt Free Journey, we have been slaving away at trying to pay off the real estate debts we have.  I am going to do an update post next week on our progress, but here is my last post I wrote several months ago.

It is never pleasant and can be scary to lose a job, whether being fired, laid-off or thing’s just closing up shop. It just isn’t something you want to go through.  When the hubs lost his job two years ago, it was scary and hard.  We were just starting our debt free journey and it felt like a major road block.  It is kind of important to have a pay check when you are trying to pay off debt! J

Although tension has been higher than normal around here the hubs and I both agree, that this time around we are calmer and feel confident that the future holds great things.

Our monthly expenses are minimal, because we have scaled back so much.  We do have a small rental income and I do have the opportunity to substitute teach here and there.  I guess what I am trying to say is that we have done what ever we can to prepare for this.  Despite not wanting it a part of our lives, our preparation is making things a bit less stressful.

Over the past year we have been aggressively job searching, knowing his former job was not the right fit anyhow.  We have not landed a job yet, but there are great things on the horizon.  I can feel it in my bones.  We have networked and have made some great connections.  We believe one of these connections is will lead us to a new job and possibly a new home and city!

We have many new places on the radar.  We listed 12 cities right now (4 of which are still in Idaho) that we have a possibility of a job.  The remainder of the jobs are in: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California.  The hubs has an interview this week with one our top picks. 

We are welcoming all good thoughts and any prayers you can throw our way!!

Thank You!

Happily Hoping for New Employment.

P-S- if you have any leads in Public Accounting please let me know!

Apple Pork Tenderloin

In celebration of Fall this week I am sharing some delicious apple recipes. 

Today it is yummy…

Apple Pork Tenderloin

2 lbs pork tenderloin trimmed

For the Glaze:

1 tsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion finely chopped (about ¾ cup)
½ unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
½ cup apple cider
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F.  To prepare glaze, in a small nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and onion; sauté until softened about 4 minutes

Place onion mixture in a medium bowl.  Stir in apple sauce, apple cider, ginger and pepper.  Mix well.

Place tenderloin in a shallow baking dish.  Brush some glaze over tenderloin.  Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted in the middle of the meat reads 170 F, about 1 hour.  Baste meat every 15 minutes with remaining glaze.

Transfer tenderloin to a carving board; let stand for 10 minutes.  Slice and place on serving plates.  Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: Healthy Meals in Minutes Recipe Card

Happy Cooking! and Happy Apple Week!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Delicious Curried Pumpkin-Apple Soup

Fall is teasing us here in Idaho.  Last week we had beautiful mild days in the 60’s it was perfect pre-fall weather.  Today we hit the high 90’s.  Much too warm for my liking.  But in celebration of fall around the corner, another delicious savory soup with a tinge of sweetness.  Just delicious!

Curried Pumpkin-Apple Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups solidly packed pumpkin mash or canned pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 whole bay leaf
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 to 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
Sour cream and chives, for garnish (optional)

Melt the butter in a medium-size soup pot. Stir in the onion, celery, and apple. Partially cover the pot and sauté the ingredients over medium-high heat until the onion is clear, about 8 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and sauté the mixture for another minute. Stir in 1 cup of chicken broth and cook it for 1 minute more.

Pour the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor, add the pumpkin, and puree the soup until it's smooth.

Pour it all back into the pot, then stir in the remaining chicken broth, the salt, and the bay leaf. Set the soup over medium-high heat and bring it to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

After 5 minutes, stir in the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of honey. Taste the soup, adding more salt or honey if necessary to get the desired balance of sweet and savory. Simmer it for 2 minutes more, remove the soup from the heat, and serve it hot. For a pretty -- and tasty -- touch, garnish each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives. Makes 6 servings.

Recipe originally found at (link no longer available)

Happily Awaiting Fall around the Corner!