Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our New Hobby

In a family with three young children, there is rarely a dull moment.

If we are not baking up a storm,

coming up with new fashions,

or tormenting the hamster,

it is pretty safe to say we have found something else to do.

Lately, though, we have discovered yet another new hobby . . . only this one has potential to eclipse all the others.

It is our yard!

Some of you might recall that we moved in the fall, and since then we have been looking forward to the spring--when we would have the chance to really enjoy our yard.

The first sunny day we had at the beginning of April, I started on the front garden . . . which I soon discovered would take more than a full day to complete. This is a big change from our old yard--which I could weed out in an hour or so.

And our new front garden is a small fraction of what we have to work with in the backyard.

So, I think it's pretty safe to say that I can now garden to my heart's content . . . and even then some :)

The great thing, though, about our new yard is that while I work on the garden, the kids have lots to do as well (as opposed to playing on the street at our old place!).

Ben, Janae, and Alaina all love to play in our big nut tree: Can you spot all three?

Ben, especially, likes to be high up in the tree, but Alaina and Janae love to climb, too (and with all the moss, we are fortunate that someone invented Spray and Wash all those years ago!).

Our new swing has made the tree even more fun . . .

And when the little ones aren't swinging, they might be climbing the rock wall, riding their bikes, making some kind of mud/flower/grass creation, playing in their little playhouse, or riding scooters on the deck.

So I actually get a lot done!

But, I am also finding that as soon as one section is weeded, I have to go back and re-do another one . . . so I will always have something to do.

Fortunately, we also have a professional landscaper in house . . .

so our yard is well on its way to being ready for summer, at least in my opinion :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I'm Starting to Think in Decades . . .

Yesterday was the big day . . . or the day when I turned the big number. I have to say, it wasn't that bad.

A couple of days before the 13th, I started to think about why I was so unhappy about turning *0, and I realized it was mostly because I felt that I hadn't yet become the person I wanted to be.

Well, who has? A few people, I guess, but most of us feel we have room for improvement. And it wasn't as if I was going to DIE--I would still have time to make some progress after my birthday.

So, I started to think about what I'd done with my 30s, and I came up with this:

-met and married my husband

-had three kids

It doesn't sound like much, but it really was quite a bit! It's what I probably would have hoped to accomplish when I started my last decade.

Then I thought about my 20s, when I:

-got bachelor's and master's degrees
-started teaching English
-got my heart broken repeatedly

Even though my 20s were productive, I think my 30s were even better.

I was thinking we needed to fill up my birthday with activities to console me as I turned &0, but instead--thanks to my "amazing" breakthrough--I really did feel like I was able to celebrate the end of my 30s (you know you're getting old when you start thinking about your life in decades, I guess!) .

Anyway, this is what we did:

First, I took Janae to her scheduled session of Ready, Set, Learn. Since our little G will be starting kindergarten in the fall, she FINALLY got to attend this exciting event at Ben's elementary school.

Then, since it was a beautiful warm, sunny day, I worked in our garden with one of my favorite little helpers (who sang the entire time!).

Jason came home a little early and brought me a beautiful yellow lily (I'll have to look that up in my paper on Victorian flower symbolism--I think it means something like, "You're getting old and decrepit, but I still love you," but I'll have to double check.).

We had pizza for dinner and a Dairy Queen cake for dessert.

After that, it was off to a play put on by our local children's theater.

They were doing Snow White, and I finally agreed to let Janae wear a coordinating princess dress.

She ended up getting to go up onto the stage at the end (with a couple of other little Snow Whites) to meet the actress!! Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera--and Jason's BlackBerry had run too low on battery.

Alaina fell asleep on the way home, and then Ben read me a story.

There were birthday cards in the mail, and nice messages on the phone.

So, it was a good day.

And now that it's over, I guess I'd better admit it: I am 40.

Thankfully, that was the most painful part of it all ;)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Does Anyone Ever Really WANT to Turn *0?

Only 10 days from now, I will be turning *0 . . . and no matter how I try to reason myself into it, I just don’t want the day to come.

It got me thinking, though--does anyone ever really want to turn &0?

I think the last age I was actually excited about turning was 18, and that was a long time ago. I’ve heard of people looking forward to their 21st, 30th, and even 60th birthdays, but I’ve never heard anyone say they can’t wait to be #0. Not ever! (I can’t even type the number.).

Trying to be optimistic, though, I have searched for something good about this upcoming change, and I think I have found one thing.

Turning %0 will (obviously) put me into a new category when it comes to age--and I might appear a little more favorably when it comes to any kind of comparison or judgment.

For example, I certainly don’t look good for 20, but for &0? I might look alright. And any pressure to have contemporary fashion sense or knowledge of popular culture (which I’ve always kind of lacked) will diminish--people just don’t expect those kinds of things of people in their #0s.

In fact, anything I may be good at might become more impressive.

So, hopefully this next chapter of my life won’t be so bad.

Not too convincing, is it?

And the actual day is also a Friday the 13th.

Maybe if I can make it through the day I’ll be able to get through the year :) Wish me luck. . . .

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Medal . . . and a Hamster . . . for Ben

A couple of months ago, Ben brought home a notice telling us that his school would once again be hosting the winter Reading Olympics.

During February, the students read as much as they can, recording their minutes on a worksheet that eventually gets handed in to their teacher.

Students need to read a minimum number of minutes to receive a gold, silver, or bronze medal in their classrooms.

Ben has always read enough to qualify for a gold, but--still--he has not been satisfied.

This is because the three readers with the highest number of minutes in each class are also recognized in a special awards ceremony. And while Ben has had his gold medals, he hasn't ever been one of the top three.

This year, though, when Ben came home with his notice about the Reading Olympics, he was on FIRE. He sat down with a book and started reading right away, declaring that this year he would win his class's gold medal.

Ben read, and was read to, all through February. He needed 500 minutes for a gold medal in his classroom, and he had already achieved this by February 5. By the end of the month, he'd read over 3000 minutes.

We handed in Ben's log and--not knowing how much the other kids had read--crossed our fingers that he'd done enough to get one of the special medals.

When spring break came and we still hadn't heard anything, I assumed someone else--or at least three others--had read even more than Ben.

After the holiday, though, we had a little note in Ben's planner, saying he'd got one of the top scores. We waited all week for the awards ceremony . . . then waited all through the student of the month assembly to hear Ben's results.

Finally it was time to recognize the winners of the Reading Olympics. And Ben's name came first--he'd read more minutes than anyone else in his class!!!

Ben also got another nice surprise--a $10 gift card for the book fair that will be coming up at his school next week.

You must be wondering now about the hamster.

Well. This week was also an exciting one for Ben because it was the last few days of his extra reading and math program, which he's been attending four mornings a week at another school since January.

Ben had been asking lately if he could have a hamster (Another girl in his class has one, and they'd been talking about it. They'd also read a story about a pet hamster).

I told Ben maybe for his birthday.

As Ben's program ended, though, I thought a hamster might be a nice prize for him, since he'd had such a difficult time getting through. Jason had promised to take Ben to play minigolf to celebrate, but since we'd just been to Disneyland and all, I asked Ben if he'd rather have a hamster, and he said YES.

So now we have Fluffy :)

It has been great to see Ben make these accomplishments at school, and to talk with his teachers about how positive and hard working he has been in class. He definitely struggles, but I can really see the progress he has made. I can't help but be proud of my little guy!

THREE THOUSAND MINUTES! Can you believe it??