Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 2012 on FB

June 1: I am Utah-bound today with my 4 boys and no nusband for 4 days...Adventure Time!!!

June 8: One week of summer already gone! I have loved every minute of it!!! My faves from the past week: rollerskating, swimming, assembling new furniture, sanding the deck, swinging in the hammock, and laying on the grass in the sun!

June 13: I used the final onion from last year's garden in tonight's dinner. And for the first time in almost a year, we had to buy onions and potatoes at the store. I truly love eating home-grown food, and I can't wait to start eating food from this year's garden...hurry up radishes!

June 15: the 2nd week of summer has gone. It was filled with kids' soccer games, staining the deck & fences, working for the golf course, house chores, evening walks, eating desserts, playing on the green grass, and water gun fights. I'm still so happy that summer is here!

June 17: I love random rendezvous' in my yard during the summer! Mostly, we have kids and family show up...but sometimes I'm lucky to have friends stop by, too!

June 22: 3rd week of summer gone...still loving life for the most part (sometimes the whiny boys cloud my happy rays). This week in a nutshell: We hosted a fabulously fun family reunion last weekend with 100 people in our backyard, I was shocked to discover I was getting released from teaching sunday school at church on sunday, I took the boys to 3 awesome days of art in the park, and we had a young woman move in with us for the summer.

June 28: Took my boys to see Madagascar 3 in the theater yesterday, and we all absolutely loved it! I think it's the best Madagascar one yet!!!

June 29: 4th week of summer gone all too quickly! And what a fun one it was! The 3 younger boys finished their soccer season, Ammon golfed at a tournament in American Falls, we went swimming at the awesome Ross Park Pool, visited Massacre Rocks state park, we hosted an EQ dinner party and ate prime rib, the boys played with cousins in our backyard and had friend sleepovers, and we saw Madagascar 3 in the theater.

Friday, June 29, 2012

love is in the air

On a Saturday afternoon in May, Josh and I attended his cousin Rachel's wedding at the Shoshone Falls in southern Idaho, and we went to their reception afterwards in Twin Falls.

It was a sunny, but very windy, day. The wedding took place on a grassy hill located just south of the falls. We waited an hour for the wedding to begin because the best man was late, so we chatted with other family members to pass the time.

And I took photos as I waited (of course)! Of the gorgeous falls:

of the bridesmaid Josie's shoes (high, high heels with bling--love Josie's style!):

and of my super[hot]man:

I'm so much in love with that man! I truly enjoy attending weddings where you can feel the love in the air, and since it was SO windy (as evidence by my wind-swept hair), the love was REALLY spreading! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Showered with Flowers

Mother's Day was a treat for me this year. Josh and the boys went to Father/Son campout the Friday night before Mother's Day, and I had the house to myself. I kept trying to find somebody to go out with, but almost all of my friends were out of town for the weekend or had other plans and couldn't. So, I spent Friday night alone watching movies and reading, and it was so peaceful! On Saturday, the boys came home and worked all afternoon on my gifts. On Sunday, we had a nice day at church and a BBQ after. It was such a great weekend, and I felt happy; I was spoiled by my husband, boys, mother, and I even got things for myself!

My Mother-in-Law Kathy gave me this beautiful corsage to wear to church on Sunday, and I received so many compliments for it! I especially loved the good-smelling white lily in it:

Josh and the boys got flowers for me and planted them all around the yard in places that needed them. They planted some by one of Josh's new rock walkway.
This side of the house was always boring before, with its gray wall and no windows, and just grass bordering the house. Now I like how there's color and texture because of the walkway and the various colored flowers.

They also planted flowers in the pots that line the front of the house. Last year there was only one pot in front, and I felt that the area needed more diversity (there's so much gravel out front because of the way that our driveway runs parallel with the home) so I bought 4 more and I think the area is much more warm and inviting now. 
I also bought a new and colorful welcome mat to match the pots and flowers. I think it adds a nice touch to the entrance.
 I love all the different flowers and colors that the boys planted in the pots! I love driving home and seeing them to welcome me!

They also planted flowers on the terrace. It is a 4-step terrace that is on the hill adjacent to our driveway. It is 100+ years old, and was built with local rocks. Our property is just covered in rocks! Josh planted ground bushes on the top level a few years ago, and he planted various bushes and grasses on the 3rd step. We plan on putting poppys on the 2nd step (they are growing in a small indoor greenhouse right now), and on the 1st step he and the boys planted more flowers for me.
 Josh weeded the area, and he had the boys help him plant the flowers, and then he covered the ground surrounding the flowers in bark.
I think it is so beautiful now! I just love how Josh makes our yard and garden and home such a wonderful and peaceful and gorgeous place to be! I just love my flower gifts from Josh and the boys!

My final Mother's Day gift was one that I actually purchased for myself: a hammock swing. I hung it from one of the large Ash trees in the backyard. I love sitting on it in the afternoon or evenings. And since it swivels, I can turn while sitting in it and see the boys wherever they're at in the yard. The boys all love it too, and so does Josh, so I ordered one for him for a Father's Day gift as well!

I love living where I do, we live in such a beautiful place! I enjoy seeing the result of yard beautification projects, especially when they are given as gifts! Sitting on my hammock swing and looking around at my yard and the flowers and the ditch fill me with such peace and joy. I have truly appreciated the gifts I was given for Mother's Day this year!

Friday, June 22, 2012

My Emotional Cycle

**WARNING: This is a long and personal post (can't say I didn't warn you).

Last night, I was reading some old blog posts from 2 and 3 years ago. I liked my writing style back then. I almost always included personal thoughts on each blog post. Lately, it feels like my blog writing style is more of a narrative nature. I tell you about things that happened, instead of how I feel about what happened. It's a less personal approach to writing about my life...but writing in this way also feels like less of a connection between me and my life. In my defense, I feel like I don't even have deep thoughts or feelings anymore, though, so writing in the narrative style is all I am able to do. I go through this certain emotional phase, I know because this has happened before and I've learned to recognize what's happening. This particular emotional cycle goes like this (if I could draw a circle with arrows and write words about the arrows on here, I would):

1. feel happy and love life, make emotional connections to everyone and everything, feel and think deeply, invest time in relationships with others.

2. feel overrun with life, separate myself from connections, overthink others' actions and words, remove myself from relationships with others.

3. feel apart from life, not interested in making connections, focus on self and day-to-day functions, spend time with just self and family.

4. feel sad with choices in life, reach out to connect with others, turn my thoughts over to God, renew my hope in having relationships with others.

Right now I am in step 3 of the emotional phase. The entire cycle isn't a fast, repetitive one, it's slow and gradual. The last time I was in this specific state was 3 years ago. This time, though, it feels different. I don't know if it's my mind or my age, but I'm perfectly content to not do things with friends anymore or to invest my time in relationships that will ultimately not last forever. I'm tired of opening up myself and completely trusting someone just to be hurt and my heart broken and my trust shattered. It takes so long for me to get over being deeply hurt.

I was in step 1 for a very long time--about a year and a half. Last fall, I began entering step 2. I felt overwhelmed and stressed with lack of time, and too many things that needed to be done. So, I started cutting myself off from activities and people so that I could focus and remian afloat. On the last day of the school before Christmas Break, I had a meltdown. That was the turning point into step 3.

That morning was the Kindergarten Christmas Program. This was the first Kindergarten Christmas Program I'd directed, because the previous year I started the job in February, so Christmas had passed before I was hired. I had an idea at the beginning of the school year of what I wanted to do: a program all about stars. I wanted the kids to sing songs all about stars, and have a story told about the stars in sky, the Christmas star, the star on the top of the Christmas tree, and the sharing star we pass around class. I found a book that was perfect to use as the narration. It told the story of the littlest star in the sky, and about a rumor that a king would soon be born on earth and the brightest star would get to shine on him. The other stars made fun of the little star for being so small, and the little star thought it was not good enough to do anything. The big stars all prepared themselves for the big day, and dusted and twinkled themselves. But then the night the baby was born, none of the other stars would shine so bright because they didn't believe it was the king, so the little shar shined brighter than any of them, and ended up burning itself out. So to remember the star every year for the gift it gave to the baby king, we put a star on the top of the Christmas tree. After every page or two of the narration, we sang a song that correlated with the story: "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", "I am like a star", "Beneath the Christmas Star", "Do you see what I see", and so on. There were 10 songs all about stars, and some of them I changed the lyrics to so that it would work with the story. I worked for 2 months on it, and I was so proud of my creation. I edited the story so that it was less religious, and the focus was on the star. I sent a copy of the program to my music supervisor, the principal, and the superintendent to make sure that it would be alright according to religion vs. state laws. They all said it was fine. So I proceeded with teaching the Kindergarten students the star songs beginning in October.

Right before Thanksgiving, a fellow colleague whose daughter was in Kindergarten, posted on facebook that she couldn't believe her daughter was singing religious songs that she didn't teach her. She said that whoever is teaching her daughter had no right. I replied back that I'd been teaching the Kindergarteners songs about stars for the Christmas program, and none of them had a religious message. I said that one of the songs said "the star shone bright on the night the baby king was born", and she replied back saying that was the one. She said that she would be pulling her daughter out of music class because, (and i quote) "I just don't want any overly zealous, hyped-up religious fanatics teaching my kid that they are right and the rest of the world is horrible, wrong people who they are better than… and gee… they sure are glad they’re not going to hell like everybody else who is not “like them”."  I've never once taught my students at school about religion, nor have I ever spoke about my religion. I was completely dumbfounded that she would say that publicly on facebook, and about me as a school teacher! There were several of her friends who have children that I also teach, and I was so disheartened. I felt even more upset because I had created the program entirely and I was so proud of it, and I had tried to edit out the religion aspect of it. The students never sang the word "Jesus" or "God", and only the one song mentioned the word "baby king". I thought this woman was my friend, and we used to get along great in AND out of school. I had babysat her daughter, I had substituted for her, she had taught my son, we had been friends at MOPS. I couldn't believe she would turn on me like that. It was ugly, and I was hurting. Because I knew that my program had already been approved by the music supervisor, the principal, and the superintendent, I still went ahead with it. The children had already learned 8 of 10 songs by that point, and I couldn't change it then anyways. My only choice was to either go ahead with it, or have no Christmas program whatsoever, and I wasn't about to let one parent ruin it for the other 50 kids.

Of course, it went great, and I heard rave reviews from other parents and grandparents after the performance; one of the grandparents just this week even told me how much they enjoyed the Kindergarten Christmas and Graduation programs this year. I know I made the right choice to proceed with it, but it was difficult to when I felt so hated and betrayed and wrongly accused and publicly humiliated.

The day of the Kindergarten Christmas program was crazy... That morning, I taught a class who had been naughty during their previous classtime and had to be disciplined (several of them were in a situation where they pulled the fire alarm and lied about it). I couldn't teach in my class room because parents were reserving spots and waiting for the Christmas program to begin in there, so I taught the first class of the day in a different building and a different classroom, and I had to carry all my supplies to that room. After teaching them, and disciplining them in a creative and non-harsh way, then I carried all the supplies back to my classroom, and had about 5 minutes to compose myself before introducing myself and starting the musical program. Then the program happened, and immediately following, I had to take down chairs, close the temporary wall, and move equipment while parents and the kids were eating refreshments in the back because I had more classes right after it. Well, during it all, I'd forgotten that I'd signed up to bring a soup for Jonah and Micah's class lunch party that day. I'd made it the night before and put it in the fridge, and I was going to take it into my office and put it in a crockpot and plug it in that morning, but I was running late with Kanyon and never had time to take it out of the car and plug it in before school started. So I thought I would just plug it in after the Christmas program, but then I forgot because I was rearranging my classroom for the next two classes. At about 11:00 that day, I was teaching 4th graders, and I suddenly remembered the soup in my car that needed to be ready to serve in Jonah and Micah's 2nd grade class at 11:15. I panicked. I began to bawl. It was an ugly cry, too--the kids were so unsure of what to do because they'd never seen me like that before. I knew that I was unable to do alone what I had said that I could. My classroom is about a football-field-distance from the elementary school. My classroom is in a building with no other classroom, so I am virtually alone. I never leave my students alone, but I felt this was an emergency, so I left one of the 4th graders in charge, I ran out to the car, got the soup and crock pot, ran down to the main office, and plugged it in. I was hysterical and hyperventilating by this time. I knew there was no way the soup would be warm in 15 minutes. One of the staff saw me, and started microwaving the soup until the crock pot was warmed up. My mother-in-law, the secretary at the school, also helped with keeping it turning and stirring it and making sure it was warm throughout. I ran back to the class, and tried to compose myself after making such a monumental error, but I couldn't get over it. I finished the class, and went to take my soup to Jonah and Micah's class and ate lunch with them, but I cried off and on throughout the rest of the day. I cried because I couldn't keep the locked-away emotions in any longer, I cried because I felt bad that I'd completely lost it in front of a class, I cried because I felt out of control with my emotions and my life. I know that being late with a crock pot of soup really doesn't sound like a big deal, and alone it isn't, but in a long line of stressful and emotional events, it's what put me over the edge and into Step 3 of the emotional phase.

The entire Christmas Break, I tried to lay low. I stayed at home a lot, and tried to regain my mental focus. It was 3 weeks of time spent with myself and my family, and I felt that I was doing better. A week after going back to school it was my good friend Amanda's birthday. Last year, we decided to do something big for everyone's birthdays. We had a 3-day Boise extravaganza for John's birthday in May, we went floating down river in August for my birthday, and we celebrated Josh's and Kevin's birthdays in November and December, too. For Amanda's birthday in January, she wanted to do a 3-day trip to Boise as well. I knew that I wasn't emotionally well enough to go, but I couldn't just back-out after we'd done everyone else's birthdays already. So I committed to going, but I didn't feel good. It was a very difficult weekend for me. I sat in the backseat the whole time, in a car that had a back door that didn't open from the inside, so I felt trapped. It was a long trip to Boise. The speakers for the stereo were right behind my head, and John and Amanda sang the whole 4 1/2 hours. I had a nasty headache by the time we arrived in Boise. We went to eat first, and the food made my stomache sick. After we arrived at the hotel, we were going to go dancing, but I told them I wanted to stay behind. My head hurt, my stomache hurt, and I was feeling depressed. But they refused to let me stay at the hotel alone, so I went. I just sat and watched them the whole time until they decided to head back to the hotel late that night. The next two days were filled with doing whatever Amanda wanted, because it was HER birthday after all! But I had zero control over anything I did or anywhere I went or anyone I was with. Whenever I pleaded to be left alone for a while, they refused. They either said they would have to stay behind with me at the hotel and not do what they wanted, or I would have go with them. I was quickly spiraling downward into an unsafe place emotionally and mentally. I needed some space, I needed to be alone for a bit to compose myself, but I was never given the opportunity, and I know that if i'd ever been given the chance to be alone on the trip, what happened next never would've happened.

A year after the twins were born, I was diagnosed as Bi-Polar from two different psychiatrists. I was put on a mirage of different medications until they could find a combination that worked for me. I visited with the psychiatrists monthly, my medications were altered monthly, and I visited with a counselor weekly. This went on for a year. My medications were finally stabilized, and Lithium seemed to be the drug for me. But then I got pregnant with Kanyon, and Lithium is not to be taken while pregnant or breastfeeding. A few months after becoming pregnant with Kanyon, I quit my full-time job at the credit union because I knew I couldn't afford daycare for 3! When I quit, I lost my insurance benefits as well, so I knew that I wouldn't be able to afford the medications or the visits to the psychiatrist anymore. So, I quit taking Lithium, I quit going to the Psychiatrist and counselor, and I quit my job. But being pregnant really stabilized my hormones and emotions, so I was doing very well. And after having Kanyon, I was still doing well. I realized that after years of being on an emotional roller coaster ride (and not a fun one, either), that if I just listened to what my mind and body needed, I could take care of myself without having to take medications or see a doctor. So, whenever I began to feel stressed, I would remove myself emotionally or physically from the people or things or activities that were causing the stress. This was an exercise to keep myself feeling in control of my emotions and my life. I have trained myself and have become very good at listening to my body and mind, and separating myself from things when feelings of being out-of-control arise inside of me  .

When I was in Boise, I could feel myself spiraling out of control. I had no say in anything, I was not feeling good emotionally or mentally or physically, and being taken out of my home and the comfort and safety of my husband and family was difficult when I was already in a weakened and frazzled state. On the morning of the 3rd day in Boise, and the day we were to come home, I told Amanda that I couldn't be her friend for a while, that I needed to separate myself emotionally from her until I was better. I wish that I wouldn't have said the truth of my feelings right then, I wish that I'd held it in until we got home, but I couldn't hold it in anymore--I needed to be heard. Nobody had listened to me that entire trip. On the ride home, it was the opposite of the ride down, it was silent and quiet and I finally felt like I could breathe and listen to what my mind and body were telling me. But for Amanda, that quiet car ride was hell--her mind was in complete turmoil. About 2 hours into the trip, she couldn't take it anymore. She stopped the car, walked around a bit and cried, got back in and began yelling at me in the backseat for the things I had said and for the hurt feelings she had. Amanda is one of the most charitable people I've ever met. She's good to the core, she never thinks of herself--only for others, she loves others with everything she has, and she has a heart of pure intentions. She was rightful in her anger towards me, because of what I'd said that morning. But I couldn't handle what she was saying, I knew that she was right, and that she deserved better, and I hated myself for what I'd done to ruin the entire weekend. I asked her to please drop me off in Stanley at Josh's aunt's house. I needed to be away from the situation, I needed to remove myself like I'd trained myself, I needed to be in a nurturing and non-intrusive environment.  I knew that I would make it home emotionally in control if I could be dropped off and have Josh pick me up. But she refused to drop me off. That's when I went crazy. Remember...I'm Bi-Polar, and I was in a dangerous situation of being out of control, and had been for weeks. Amanda and John never believed me when I told them of my diagnosis, because they didn't know me when I was on my emotional roller coaster ride or when I was on medication, they only knew me since I learned to control my exterior environments in order to control my inner emotions, so I always appeared to be okay to them. I was not okay on that car ride. We had to stop for John to use the bathroom, and I got out and started walking. It's a lonely highway stretch in the mountains. It was in the wintertime and icy and snowy, but I knew i couldn't sit in the car with them anymore, and since they wouldn't listen to me when I said I needed to be dropped off in Stanley, I had to do something. Ugh, this is painful for me to recount. Then blah blah blah happened and more things were said and done that I will forever regret, then Amanda called Josh to start driving and pick me up wherever we met on the road. And Josh did (I love that man so much), and since that fateful day in January, John said he's no longer my friend because he said I ruin everything and doing activities with me is no longer fun (and he's right), and I haven't been able to forgive myself for ruining Amanda's birthday even though it's been over 5 months since the whole ordeal. I lost my two best friends because of my actions, and life hasn't been the same since.

So, I'm mechanically living life in Step 3 of the emotional cycle. Which is why my blog posts are more narrative instead of sharing deep thoughts or expressive emotions. Because I have trained myself so well, I don't even really experience deep thoughts or expressive emotions in Step 3; I have shut myself off to any deep feeling except for that of my husband and family. Most of the time, I like depending on just my husband and job and kids as my entire life. Sometimes, very rarely though, I wish that I had friends to do things with, but then I remember that I just ruin things for other people and I'm unpredictable and can't be in a relationship without someone getting hurt, and I remind myself that this is much safer for me and everyone around me if I stay in Step 3. That doesn't mean I will remain in Step 3 forever...but for now, I'm just trying to maintain composure, and trying to not think about what I've done. But until I can forgive myself for hurting my friends, I will never move into Step 4.

I haven't opened up about what's really been happening with me in the last 6 months until now, and I'm hoping that since talking and writing is therapeutic for me, doing this blog post will help me to be more effective in getting back my deeper thoughts and expressive feelings again. I miss my old self! It's a baby step forward!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Earth Day

I love to live on this beautiful planet Earth. Living on a ranch in Salmon, I've especially learned to appreciate the land and plants and trees and water. I love sitting out on my deck in the evening and look at the beauty I am surrounded by; it fills me with such peace. I enjoy watching the boys play in the natural setting outside and see the happiness it brings them when they play in the dirt pile, or swing and splash in the ditch, or when they climb the trees. (Sorry about the quality of these photos--they were taken with my cell phone.)

I felt like it was really important for me to do a music lesson at school about Earth Day. I found some songs in the curriculum to play, and then found a few more on YouTube to watch. The week prior to Earth Day (April 22), I talked to all the students about why we celebrate Earth Day, and asked them things that we can do to help make the Earth stay a beautiful place. And we talked about the movie Wall-E and how the consequences for not taking care of Earth could make it look like that. Then all the grades watched the "3 R's" song (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and the song "Once is Not Enough" from Sesame Street. Then we listened to the "Recycle Rap" and the "Have to Have a Habitat" song.

I had the students all make a project from "Reused" materials. Two years ago when new music textbooks were ordered, they came in long sheets of brown butcher paper, and the paper had been stored in my office. I was going to get rid of it a few months earlier, but then I decided to wait and somehow incorporate the paper into the Earth Day lesson. After each class had the Earth day discussion, and we watched/listened to Earth Day songs, then I had the students draw with old crayons their own murals on sections of the long brown paper. They created pictures that had to do with our planet Earth. Then I put all the classes Earth Day murals on display on the stage wall. It was a fun project! For the Kindergarten students, I had them do a different project. We made our own shaker instruments re-using yogurt containers and cereal boxes. I washed and saved yogurt containers for months preparing for this project. Then I cut circles out of cereal boxes to make lids for the yogurt containers. Each student chose a yogurt container, added a cup of dry beans to it, chose a cereal lid, and then I taped the lid onto the yogurt shaker. It was also a fun project, and the Kindergarteners really loved their Re-used Shakers!!! This is one of the Kindergarten classes with their shakers in front of some of the murals:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Listen & Learn

I went to my first Music Teacher's conference in the middle of April. In Idaho, it's done bi-annually and it rotates being hosted in different cities around the state . This year it was a 3-day event in Coeur d'Alene. I went with my colleague John, who teaches choir and band at the Jr. High and High School. We were able to take a district car (one used for Driver's Ed, so there's an extra brake pedal and a rearview mirror on the passenger side) that got great gas mileage.

John and I left Salmon before school got out on Wednesday, April 18. It's a 6-hour drive to Coeur d'Alene. I drove the first 3 hours to Missoula, Montana. We stopped and ate at Fuddrucker's, then John took the second half of the drive that night. And it took FOREVER! We didn't arrive to Couer d'Alene until 10:00. He was driving so slowly through the rainy mountain passes that I thought we'd never make it! After I checked us into the hotel, I went and visited my friend Celyn who lives in CDA. It was a nice visit and I was glad for a chance to see her and her family!

The Music Teacher's conference was very...full. On Thursday morning, we were to be to registration by 7:30, then there was a class, then a motivational speaker, then performances of musical groups from Idaho High Schools and Colleges, then there was a lunch, then two more classes, then more performances...  It felt like a marathon of classes and performances. Thursday evening was the only break from it, and we had about a 2-hour window open to do whatever we wanted. I got a few recommendations from locals about where to eat, and John & I decided to have dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant in downton CDA.

I don't even remember now exactly what we ate, but it was all very good! Appetizer:
 Main Course:
 and Dessert:

After dinner, we walked and drove around the city for a little bit looking at different sites:

Then we headed to the campus of North Idaho College to the concert hall for a long Jazz concert. I heard more Jazz music in 2 days than I've heard my entire life! Thursday morning began at 7:30, and we didn't get back to our hotel room until 10:30 that night. I was exhausted!

Friday was another marathon day of classes and performances. Friday night was a nice banquet dinner at the hotel for all who'd attended the conference, with a few more musical performances at it. After the dinner, I took a nice soak in the hotel hot tub. My feet, butt, and head were sore from all the walking/sitting/listening we'd done in the past two days. Thankfully, the hotel bed was actually really comfy, too, and I fell right to sleep on the 2nd night.

On Saturday morning, we had our final class. There are 6-7 classes offered during each class time so that whatever you teach, there's something to go to that appeals to you. I always went to the Elementary Music classes, but there was also conducting ones, band instrument ones, string classes, choir notation ones, and so on. I saw lots of the same people attend the classes I went to, so I got to talk to and meet others like me around the state. I only went to one class the same as John, so I usually just saw him and sat by him when we went to see the performances. After the last class, we went to see the last "concert hour" (what they called all the performances between the classes). John and I skipped out before the concluding speaker. There was also the All-State Choir, Band, and Orchestra concerts on Saturday afternoon, but we didn't want to stay to see them.

My Grandpa P. lives in Spokane, just a half hour west of Coeur d'Alene, so we drove over to Spokane to visit him. Because we'd left the conference earlier than planned, we arrived in Spokane earlier than the time I told Grandpa we'd be there, so we had 2 extra hours to do whatever we wanted. I took John to the Riverfront Park in downtown. We walked over the bridges, and saw a wedding party taking photos, and I rode down the handle of the world's largest wagon.

Then we took a Gondola Ride that passes by the falls. I'd never seen the falls in the spring. They were so full! I couldn't get over the amount of water that was splashing down! It was amazing to behold!

After the Gondola Ride, we walked across the street to the mall to get some Ben & Jerry's ice cream. There was some kind of Japanese festival happening that day, and there were some Japanese girls putting on a concert at the front of the mall. I was SOO done with musical performances, so we went straight up the escalator to the 3rd level for the ice cream. The ice cream was super delicious, and as we ate, we walked around a Bonsai display. It was very interesting and beautiful!

Then we went and visited my Grandpa. We ate lunch together, he showed me pictures that he converted from old slides onto his computer, and he told us stories. It was a nice, but short, visit. I was glad to see my Grandpa again! I hadn't seen him since last spring. I'm taking our boys to go visit him again this summer, and for longer than just 2 hours!

The drive home was pretty good. I drove from Spokane to Missoula, where we stopped and ate dinner at the Iron Horse. John took the last leg from Missoula to Salmon. It took a little longer because we couldn't find a gas station that would accept the gas card. We stopped at 4 gas stations! Finally, at the 5th, I just used my own card and filled it up.

I was glad to finally arrive home! I was gone for 3 1/2 days; the longest I'd ever been gone without Josh or the boys with me. I learned a lot  in the 8 different classes I attended, and a few really benefited me a LOT. I was able to start implementing things into my own classroom that I learned while there. I also really enjoyed listening to most of the bands and orchestras and choirs, but 8+ hours of listening was a lot to cram into just 2 days! I wish there had been more orchestras and choirs, because the majority of the performances consisted of jazz bands. I learned a lot, listened a lot, and saw a lot, but I was so happy to be back where I belonged!

Monday, June 18, 2012

K is for...


Kanyon has been looking forward to going to Kindergarten for months. This spring, he began informing me and Josh that his teacher told him he doesn't even have to go to Kindergarten, he can skip ahead and go straight to first grade because he is so smart. He has loved his preschool teachers, Geri and Cathy. They have really enjoyed him as well, and at Parent-Teacher conference showed me all his impressive work and they remarked about how far he's come socially and intellectually and behaviorally since beginning there at the age of 3. I asked them about his comment at Parent-Teacher conference, and told them that he truly believed what they said about not having to go to Kindergarten. After that, he started commenting that when he's "5 1/2", he'd be going to Kindergarten. Then he decided that he WAS "already 5 1/2", so he'd be "going to Kindergarten in 6 days when it was his birthday". No matter the day, he stuck to that same new story, and supposedly his birthday was going to be in 6 days from whenever he said that. Kanyon's birthday is in February, so he won't even be 5 1/2 until August, (let alone even close to turning 6!) but try telling him that!

In April, the elementary school did a Kindergarten Registration for all incoming Kindergarten students next fall. I took the afternoon off from teaching, picked him up at pre-school, and then took him to the school. There are several different stations that the future student goes to in the gym while the parent fills out forms and watches from the sidelines. There's a blocks & colors sorting/organizing station, an eye doctor test, a speech pathologist with a hearing test, a letter recognition station, a coloring spot, and a name writing & shape drawing desk. After the future student does all the stations, then they get to eat a snack and talk to the library lady and take home a free book and bag while the parent goes over the results with an administrator. Kanyon aced all his tests except the name-writing one. He knows how to and can write his name, and he did, but he has frustrations gripping the pencil correctly (we've been working on it).

Kanyon was so happy at the Kindergarten Registration! He thought he was actually going to be in Kindergarten as of that day, and it was life-changing for him! He smiled at everybody he saw, spoke happily to every child he saw, waved at me and smiled from every station he was at. He was beaming! I've truly never seen him so happy as he was during the Registration!
It made my heart glad to see him so excited and so happy to be starting Kindergarten! After his round of stations was complete, and I talked to the administrator, it was time for me to take him back to preschool. That was the end of the beaming. "I don't go to preschool anymore" he kept telling me, "I go to Kindergarten now". I kept trying to explain to him that he wouldn't be a Kindergartener until after the summer...and that there were still 2 months left of preschool before summer. But no matter how I tried to explain it: in months, weeks, or days, he wasn't understanding the concept that Kindergarten wasn't starting TODAY!

One thing is for sure, though: he's ready! He was ready days, weeks, and months ago! And as soon as he's 5 1/2, he will still be ready, except then he will finally be going to Kindergarten at the "big kid"school! And what a happy/sad day that will be!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Always, I want to be with you

On April 10, Josh and I celebrated our 14th anniversary. We have not had the easiest marriage, and several times (especially in the first few years), one or both of us wanted to call it quits. This past year was the first full year of marriage that something big or bad didn't happen, and it's been my favorite year of marriage yet (I don't even remember fighting once in the last year). Let me explain: something major happened every single other year of our marriage that was life-altering or relationship-changing. Some of them were mostly good things: like the years that the children were born or the year we moved into our house...but that only totals 4 out of the previous 13. So there seemed to be more negative than positive major things happening to us, and it was difficult to keep it together at times.

I have never been more in love with my husband. It amazes me how each year my love has grown for this man that I chose to spend my life and eternity with. He is exactly the right man for me and I cannot imagine my life without him. My happiest moments are with him, my best memories include him, my life revolves around him. He creates calm in my chaotic world, he listens and takes care of me, his common sense helps me with my crazy mind, he supports me in my endeavors, he works hard and creates beauty around our home. I love him for who he is. I've even grown fond of some of his imperfections, like: the way he lays his clothes and shoes all around the house, for the way he fills up the countertops with mail and papers and then can't find his checkbook, for the way he wheezes when he sleeps, or when he honks the horn to tell me it's time to go to church. I love him for all the good things he does with our family too, like: watering the garden and pumpkin patch without being asked, for playing with the boys and jumping on the tramp when they ask him, for making dinner if I'm going to be late, for buying groceries and always knowing what we need, for giving service to others so freely. I love looking at his face, and I love aging with him and growing old together. I love it when he puts his arms around me, or when he lets me cuddle with him, or when he rubs my back. Just being with him brings me comfort and peace. When he or I are gone on separate trips, I miss laying next to him at night and being in his presence during the day. I am so much in love with Joshua Tolman, and I'm glad that I get to be with him and have his last name for the rest of forever.

He surprised me this year with an edible bouquet delivered to my school for our anniversary. All of my students who saw it wanted to partake of it, and when I brought it home, my boys were so excited and couldn't wait to rip into it! It was such a fun surprise and a real treat, and I'm still eating (slowly savoring) some of the chocolate bars. Thanks, honey! ITLY!

Friday, June 15, 2012


This was the first time ever that we've celebrated Easter at a place other than our home or Grandma Perkins' home, and there were several differences that changed our annual traditions.

It was the first time that my children woke up on Easter morning with their cousins! They've never seen what others got on Easter morning and visually compared it to what they received.

Traditionally, every year the boys dye their own Easter eggs, and then the eggs are hidden on Sunday morning by the Easter Bunny for them to find. This year, the hard-boiled eggs weren't hidden until Sunday afternoon, and Ammon took it upon himself to hide them.

We almost always do our annual Easter egg hunt for adults and kids on Sunday afternoon after church. This year, we did it on Saturday night instead because we knew we'd be busy on Sunday trying to clean out the house and pack the cars and check-out of the Lodge.

But even though there were differences, there was still much of the same...we still did the dying of the eggs on Saturday, received buckets of goodies from the Easter Bunny on Sunday morning, went to church with family on Sunday, and ate our traditional Easter dinner all together. And despite the differences in our annual traditions, this Easter was one of my favorites ever!

Saturday evening

Sunday morning

Thursday, June 14, 2012

PFR 2012 - Day 3

The final day of the Perkins Family Reunion 2012 was Easter Sunday. When the children awoke, they discovered their Easter baskets in the bunk room. And how lucky is this--each of the grandkids all received a chocolate bunny (along with various other things). Malcolm and Quinn also got cash, the Perkins girls got new dresses and flip flops, and the Tolman boys received velcro-ball toys and flashlights, and they all got lots of candy.

Once again, we could smell breakfast cooking, and it definitely didn't disappoint. Tawna, Tabbi, and Trina cooked up some egg/hashbrown/cheese casserole, cinnamon roll waffle bites, pancakes with strawberries & whipped cream, and sausage patties. It was super scrumptious!

After breakfast was done, we all started getting ready for church. There was a churchhouse not far from the Three Peaks Lodge; we could see its steeple from our front door. And since it was Easter Sunday, we decided to attend the local congregation's Sacrament Meeting. Some got ready faster than others, and played the wii while they waited for everyone else...

When we were finally all ready, I snapped a couple photos of all the grandkids dressed in their Easter clothes before heading out the door to church.

One of the speakers at church talked about the atonement, and how the Savior suffered greatly prior to his death and subsequent resurrection. His atonement was a true gift for all mankind. The speaker compared it to being pregnant, all the suffering that you go through to receive a joyous gift at the end. And since Jen was SOOO pregnant at the time, I thought it was a very good analogy ;)

After church, we came back and changed our clothes, and my mom finished preparing our traditional Easter meal: ham, potatoes au gratin, rolls, corn, and salads. We sang "Bill Grogan's Goat" until everyone arrived in the kitchen, and my mom announced to us that since the kids were always first in line, just this once, the adults would eat first!

It was monumental seeing my mom be the first one in line because she's always the last!
The Easter meal is my very favorite meal ever! I would choose to eat it every day, I love it so much! And when my mom makes it, it's even better! It was a very good meal.

After lunch, we began cleaning up, boxing up, packing up, and heading out! It was such a beautiful and warm day, so the kids took a break from playing inside and played outside instead.

And while the kids played on the swingest, Ammon decided to hide all the decorated and dyed hard-boiled eggs outside for them to find. It was the perfect activity to do on Easter, but also, it kept the kids entertained and busy and out of the adults way while they were cleaning out the house. Each of the kids had to find and pick up only the ones they had decorated, and it took some time, but they found them all! When all the eggs had been accounted for, the boys did an inventory and the eggs that were already cracked or semi-ruined, they loved crushing them outside!

When the food was all boxed up, the clothes were all packed up, the cars were stuffed, the rooms were all put back together, the garbage taken out, and all the kitchen and dining surfaces wiped down, it was time to leave.

We all gathered together to say a prayer before we headed in our own directions again. We hugged each other and said our goodbyes, and we were sad to leave the Reunion Home.

We had a terrific time. It was unbelievable that we spent 2 nights and 3 days all together without anyone arguing or crying or getting mad. I tell you what, that house is magical. And every penny spent on it was well worth it! Thanks mom for your contributions! It was one of my favorite reunions ever!