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Friday, December 26, 2008

SISU


Us making our shackles at the ALT 2 Retreat


In 2001, I was privileged enough to be apart of a class. A class that changed my life. Eight years later, I still glean from the lessons that I learned over that four month period. The class was was called ALT 2 (Advanced Leadership Training) part 2. Yes, there was a part 1, and I did complete it, but it was part 2 that left the deepest engraving upon my life. We did a lot of extreme things during that process, and one was a shackle that we wore on our ankle. At the end of the class, we (my youth pastor, a friend and myself) stood alongside a road up highway 14 and threw our shackles down a steep cliff. The shackles had beads that spelled out the word SISU. SISU, this single simple word means never giving up, tenacity of purpose, steadfastness against all odds, and courage even in the face of death. We purposed that we no longer needed the shackle as a reminder of SISU but that it had become the very essence of who we were, the very breath that we breathed.

Only eight years later, I find myself in a place of mediocrity. I have been sitting at a crossroads waiting, wondering, agonizing over which path to walk down. Either choice changes life’s course. It has consequences. Risk. I am afraid to move. I am afraid to feel, to risk to lose. I am paralyzed by the intense fear. I walk down one path only to walk right back to where I started. I walk down the other testing to see how that path feels. If maybe, perhaps, there will be some great big clue, some mystery revealed in the surroundings. Only, I am reminded of something my youth pastor once said. Yes, even at nearly 30 years old, I will always consider him my youth pastor. He said, "True leadership begins where tyrannical, oppressive domination of your self-absorption ends. Where passion, courage, and self-discipline crush the weakness in your mind. Where commitment, honor, and tenacity of purpose enforce direction upon your will. Courage must conquer your desire for comfort, and control the fear that seeks to rule your life." The quote rings loud in my ears. A slap in my face for having known better. I have lost my passion (my vision), even though it has been in front of me the entire time. I just had not unveiled my eyes to see it. It is very comfortable sitting at my crossroads. Only, I have been there too long. And now the path is crystal clear. There is fear where I am called to go. I am scared. But I am even more scared to not go. To waste more time just sitting letting life go by. I know that this may not make any sense to some readers, but my blog is a life journal of the things that I go through. This is just me. Working out my faith in a real way. Writing it down, makes it real for me. It organizes my thoughts and gives me peace. And I share with you, because I want you to see me for who I am, flaws and all.

After some rather lengthy discussions with Mark about truth, about fear, about life. We decided that when the weather clears, I will go back to the spot where I threw my shackle over the cliff 8 years ago(even though I can't recall where exactly that was) and throw over that cliff a representation of what has bound me, what has paralyzed me, what has kept me from fully embracing the vision, the plan that God has been calling out of me. And once again, I will reclaim SISU for my life. Whatever It Takes.

Two Shepherds




Luke and Grace were shepherds in the churches Christmas program. Unfortunately due to weather Luke did not get to perform in his role as the sheep in his school play. They are too cute for words. They had a great Christmas and got everything and more. We really had a nice day and it will be a Christmas that I remember for a long time. It was a Christmas where I didn't expect anything because of the new wedding ring that Mark gave me. He surprised me yet again with a beautiful pendant that matches the earrings that he got me for our anniversary last year. Then my crazy, yet wonderful mother bought me a Coach purse. It is very nice. So I was spoiled yet again, or maybe more like blessed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Mom, what are you thankful for?"



Sweet Luke. He has discovered the age old child tradition of writing on a tablet. Dare you tell him "Luke do you want your notebook." I am quickly corrected, "Mom, it is called a TABLET". He says the word TABLET slow to emphasis the meaning and my mistake. He loves to write words and it does keep him quite occupied in the car. However, after awhile I do get tired of spelling words, over and over again. Especially when they are words like, "person" and "Stephanie" and "Dr. Wilson". What ever happened to starting with "cat" and "dog"? Anyway, he has been asking everyone what they are thankful for and then asking them to spell it so he can write it down on his tablet.

So his sweet innocent question got me thinking. What am I thankful for? Thankful for beyond the typical family. I very thankful for my family, but what is beyond that. So I started formulating a list in my head the past couple of weeks. I am thankful for our home and all the wonderful things that are contained within, like appliances and cable TV. I am thankful for cars that run and are reliable. I am thankful for my husband that loves me beyond what I can fully comprehend. I am thankful for his spiritual role in our home and his willingness to fully embrace that role. I am thankful for his wisdom and his ability to speak straight into my being. For his kindness with our children, and his masculinity that at times makes me get goose bumps. The way he looks at me from across a room or the things he whispers in my ear during church. For him I am truly thankful. After nearly 10 years of marriage I marvel at how God knew exactly the perfect partner in marriage for me. I am thankful for pink sunsets, and unexpected blessings. I am thankful for good books that come along right when you need them most and for the ability to laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. I am thankful for good friends, who with their intuition, can sense when you need a visit and come to encourage you on your quest. I am also thankful to people at church who don't revel in fear, but speak to you what the Lord is telling them to say, and how those moments stick with you for many months after they happen and provide comfort, strength and encouragement. But, when Luke asks me that question "Mom, what are you thankful for?" I always reply "You, Luke." It makes him smile and he practices writing his name (which is needed). But the answer, the simple answer, is so very, very true. There were times in my life where I thought I would never, ever be a mother. I cried and sobbed to the Lord more than once for a child. He was a fulfillment of a promise. He was a long, long labor. A labor of love. 13 months he lived with us until the wonderful day he was adopted. 13 months I took him every week down for visits with his biological parents who were convinced he was coming home. I remember feeling physically ill, when I neared the department, and after having taken him so many times, I have a reaction of an upset stomach even though it is years later (learned behavior). I watched as they took "my" baby, and lavished him with their affection. I listen each week as he sometimes would scream in the visitation room. I held him later as his stomach would be upset and he would have diarrhea because they gave a 1 year old red kool-aid. And then after the visit was over, I would carry Luke out to the car while they watched my every move, and I would put myself in their shoes and my heart would break. Later, the Lord would provide an opportunity for a relationship with them that has been a very positive thing. So yes Luke, I am thankful for you and Grace too. I will save her story for another post :)

My Motley Crew

My job never ceases to surprise me. I have collected quite an assortment of varied souls. I know I don't speak very much of my job mainly because it is difficult to put into words what it is really like working with 16-20 special needs children on a daily basis (varied special needs). I will do my best to give it some form of words.

I have collected quite the little crew over the last four months. Of course, for confidentiality sake, I cannot mention any names. About half of my classes are children on the autism spectrum. It is the number one common myth about my job is that I work only with children with autism. Not true. Some students attending have communication disorders, other health impairments, adhd, but most are just classified under developmental delay, because the law doesn't require an identified disability until they are age 8. Did I mention I have all boys and one girl for both my classes? Yes, all boys. I have been praying, hoping and pleading with the MDT (multi-disciplinary team) for another girl. Last week my wish was granted. They came down to my room and announced that a new student "a girl" would be coming after the break. An extremely medically fragile child that has a brain disease that is progressive and will eventually take her life. How do you deal with that? How do you fall in love with this little person knowing what is going to happen? Why was I chosen for this (there are five other teachers)?

Before special education my students walked in lines, used the bathroom by themselves and could read. Now, I walk down the hall in one massive clump as my students are ready to push each other to hold my hand. It is not uncommon for me to be holding hands with three students while a fourth is clinging to my leg as we walk down to the gym all while singing, "we are walking, we are walking, to the gym, to the gym. "so-in-so" is the leader, so-in-so is the leader to the gym, to the gym." On the way down the hall, I desperately try and grab the hand of a little sweet boy who is fascinated with the bathrooms and the water that spins when you flush the toilets. For some reason he thinks the girls bathroom is way more interesting than the boys. I reach for him to intercept a girls bathroom field trip, while another highly-energetic boy is screeching at the top of his lungs because he has discovered or remembered that there is an echo in the hallway. I try and calm him down, while my little escape artist lets go of my hand and sprints down the hall while I yell behind me for one of my aides to grab "so-in-so they are on the loose, AGAIN." We laugh as we pass each other. I get excited about certain things that would seem weird to an outsider. For example, when one of my guys on the spectrum ate spaghetti for the first time without spitting it or flinging it across the classroom. Or when a non-verbal student learns to communicate through picture exchange. I rejoice when we make it through a day without bodily fluids presenting themselves or being bit or hit or pinched or kicked. Many would not attempt what I do. But, there are some of us that love this weird job with all the paperwork. I love to watch them progress to grow and adjust. That is merely a snapshot of one aspect of my day, but it gives you a glimpse.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Break

Yeah! I made it to Thanksgiving Break. That was the first big milestone in my job. I feel good about accomplishing this big task. Next big goal is Christmas Vacation. My class is going well. It is just very, very busy and a lot of times stressful.

I took the kids to get their Christmas pictures today. They were so cute. They love to have their pictures taken. We just went to Walmart, but since their studio has gone digital their pictures are great quality. We bought Grace a new car seat and a toddler bed. I still don't plan on making the transition yet, but we have discovered that she loves the security of being in the crib tent. She always insists that it be zipped up. So, I am going to look for a princess tent to put over her toddler bed. This will hopefully make the transition to a bed her last one. Hopefully. Crossing my fingers.

Last night I went to the movies and it was fun. Since I didn't have work today, I took the opportunity to stay out late. I went by myself, but that doesn't bother me. I have seen many great movies by my self (Lord of the Rings, Chicago, The Village, etc.) Last night I saw Twilight. It was very good.

Friday my mom and I are hitting the black Friday sales. It is so much fun. I plan our route and we will head out in the wee hours of the morning. I did it last year and had so much fun.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Who wouldn't want another one of these?





I have been working on some things for our wedding/vow renewal and I came across this picture. This was two weeks after Grace was placed. This is one of my very favorite pictures. It is no big surprise to anyone that I have been bitten by the baby bug once again. I love kids! It has been nearly 3 years since we welcomed Grace home. I am just trusting God for the answer to the promise for a third child. We added ourselves to the waiting list for a foster/adopt placement and most of my family knows that I am undergoing infertility treatments (well the testing to begin the infertility treatments). Did I mention that I had to go back to the lab again for another set of blood word? Yes, after my last post I got another call that they wanted just two more things. So in my quest to find answers that is 5 lab visits and blood draws.

My family is well. My kids are happy. I had my first parent teacher conference where I was the parent and not the teacher. I was pleased. To a normal person glancing at my son's report card they would see a very low student, but to me it is the best report card in the world. He may be low, but you don't know where he has come from. To go from special education preschool to being able to keep up with private school curriculum and kids. . . I am so proud of you Luke!!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Human Pin Cushion

Ok. I was naive. I thought I had experienced enough of white coat lab workers drawing my blood in the past, that running a few tests wouldn't be a big deal. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. After a phone conference with Dr. Patton we are running some more test. I went in last week to begin. I should have known something was going on when she had all these tubes on a tray. Great. How many tubes well 8 to start with. I have never had that much blood taken at one time. I have never had any problems with them taking my blood; however, this time was a little different. After about tube 6 I started to get light headed and the room began to spin. Stars starting appearing infront of my eyes. Great. I thought for sure I was going to pass out. I fought it and was ok. Although they made me sit there for quite awhile before they wanted me to get up. I went back yesterday for the rest of the tests. If they had taken all of them at one time that would have been 11 tubes of blood. I would have passed out for certain.

What are they testing for....fertility things. In all honesty, I really can't tell you for sure. They ran a lupus pannel to let them know all sorts of things from a blood clotting disorder to an autoimmune disorder. They ran glucose and prolactin. So far all the test results I have received are normal. That is good. Still waiting on some more results to come back. My right arm may be badly bruised, but not my spirit.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What I would say


Five years ago today, I answered my cell phone to hear the words that no one can ever prepare to hear, "your dad has passed away." I think one of the hardest realities of when someone close to you dies is that you no longer can talk with them. And unfortunately you have all this time to think about the things that you want to say. So, if I could talk to my dad today this is what I would say.

Dear Dad,
This time of year is always so difficult for me since you died. I can hardly fight back my tears when I see the leaves change color, the smell of the air, or the way fall clothes feel on my skin. Everything about my world during this time reminds me only of you. Yet, somehow I love fall so much. What sense does that make? It has been five years. Five years. Where does the time go? It has been five years since I heard your voice on the other end of the phone. I still remember your phone number 600-0911. Five years since I have seen you drive your white SUV, heard about your latest home sale, or gone to dinner with you. I can’t remember the last time we had a meal together, and when were having that meal it never even crossed our minds that it would be the last time. But that is just the way life is. You never know when your last breath will be. You never know. It has been longer since I last heard you preach, or watched you play your guitar. You always supported me when I tried something. We had a way of connecting. What would you think of me now? I have children. I am a mother. You have grandbabies. And oh, you would have loved them! They are the most wonderfully things. Did you know when we bought this house that they would be living here? Did you know the history that would unfold here?

Still, after these five years, not one day goes by that I don't think of you, that I am not reminded of you. I wish I could ask for your help on how to get a good price on new carpet for our family room. I know you could work a deal. Or advice on buying and selling a home, or hearing your latest story about someone or something interesting. I'm certain if you were here you would be spoiling my kids with funny things like watches and jumbo sized stuffed animals. Only your not. Your somewhere better where things like "war", "recession" and "cancer" don't exisit. You don't worry or feel pain. You are not stressed or limited physically in any way. You are free, in every way that a person can be free. Your spirit of compassion and giving lives on inside of me. You taught me those things about caring for the needy and giving to those who really need it. I mentor families like the ones you fed at our churches food bank. I teach special needs children. I am glad that before you "moved" on you knew that we were in the process of becoming foster parents. I am glad for this house that we live in, and I am more glad that you found it for us. We repainted the living room and bought some new furniture. After five years, and 13 foster kids, things need to be replaced. I miss you dad and love you even more than I miss you.
Me

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Patch & More Fall. . .






Mimi, the kids and I went to the pumpkin patch. It was a beautiful day. We had fun walking through the corn mazes, climbing on the hay and in the teepee. The kids picked out some pumpkins and apples. We had a really nice day.

When I was kid, I remembered making a pumpkin brownie every year. So this year, I called up my mom and asked her for the recipe. Here is our first attempt at the pumpkin brownie. They had fun and it was really good!

Grandparent's Day





Two weeks ago the kiddos had Grandparent's day at school. It was very cute. Luke sang very loudly and happened to be front and center. Grace played her bells very well during her performance; however, she did not sing one word :) My mom came and so did Mark's parents. They really enjoyed it. Here are a few pictures:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Autumn Leaves are Falling...

Fun Fall Pictures of the last 3 years
(Grace 18 months:2006)

(Grace: 18 months/Luke 3 years: 2006)

(Luke 2 years/Gabe 1 year: 2005)


Luke (4), Grace (2) and Sophie (1)

Fall 2007

I love this time of year. My home and my classroom are all decorated for fall. I love exposing my students to new aspects of fall. Today it was Indian corn. We talked about the texture and felt how "bumpy" it was, and made ears of corn with popcorn kernels. Last weekend, my kids and I did fun fall activities. They made foam shaped pumpkins, carmel apples with sprinkles and pumpkin shaped sugar cookies. I can't wait to go to the pumpkin patch in the coming weeks.

Our 10th Anniversary


Last Saturday I had fun picking out our cake and flowers for our 10th anniversary. The cute lady helping me kept asking if my mom or sisters were going to join me. I explained that it was for my 10th anniversary and not my wedding. She said I was too young to be celebrating my 10th anniversary :)
Our cake is going to be three tiers and be all ivory with ivory and gold design. Around the bottom is a decorative edging in black. I think I will use some sort of fresh flowers for the top or look for a topper. The one we used at our wedding doesn't really go with the theme. I also ordered all the flowers. I am excited about them. Grace is just beside herself that she gets to carry a basket with flowers and ribbon. I ordered cocktail napkins to match the ones that I had from our wedding. In fact, I have nearly 100 black napkins left from our wedding. I ordered 100 ivory napkins that have our 10 year anniversary on them. So I plan on mixing them together. So, if you look closely you might see the difference.

I have been designing our invitations and they are almost finished except for the printing, so expect yours in the coming weeks. I have showed a few people one of the video montages that I have made for our celebration. I had good reviews. I am really looking forward to this event and milestone in our lives.

Monday, September 29, 2008

September 29, 2002


Zachary Ryan was born too soon 6 years ago today at 11 weeks, 3 days. I was looking beyond the trees outside during our recess and I could see the tops of Southwest Washington Medical Center. It is a date that marks many things to which I measure myself. It began my infertility. It awoke in me a strong desire to be a mother. It left me a complete mess. I grieved so hard for losing a baby. I was entered into a world that now included the term "miscarriage". I also began documenting my experiences becoming a mother. Little did I realize how long I would be documenting.

(Luke only one day old)



What I didn't know then what I know now, is Luke is the same age that Zachary would be. Zachary was due April 10, 2003. Luke was born March 22, 2003. Every time I look at Luke I am comforted by the thought that sometimes the Lord truly does give and take away.

September 29, 2003


Lucy was born too soon 5 years ago today at 6 weeks 6 days. I am fortunate to have one photograph of her that a sweet ultrasound tech gave to me years later, when I finally had enough courage to ask. Mark and I were packing for our trip to Hawaii (paid in full with cash, by the way) when I began to cramp and spot. I had an appointment for an ultrasound so that we could go on our trip with no worries. Well, the ultrasound reveled that the baby had stopped developing and was dead. Dr. Bishop saw me and gave me the run down on why miscarriages happen. Not new information to me. He told Mark and I that he did not want me flying anywhere until the baby had passed or I underwent the d&c. Either option grounded me passed when were going to fly out. Trip to Hawaii off. After a year of trying to conceive, all of my efforts were in vain (or so I thought). No baby. Great. Little did I know that God, the master of all plans was already at work. My dad was sick. Very sick. In fact he would live only a month more in the year of 2003. There also was a little boy named Luke that was 6 months old that would soon become a piece of my soul.

(Luke in Nov. 2003 after my dad died)



When I think about Lucy, I think about the camping trip Mark and I took when we knew that I was pregnant. We spent hours by the camp fire dreaming about our baby. I think about how difficult and how hard I tried to finally achieve pregnancy only to be disappointed. I think about the clomid I took to ovulate the vein sticks I had when my blood was drawn repeatedly, the phone calls, nerves and cycle disappointments. I realize that I never really grieved solely for Lucy because my brain never had a chance to process the information because my dad was so sick and died so shortly after. The two losses are in a way tied together in my mind and when I grieve for one I grieve for both.



Psalm 139: "your eyes saw my unformed body"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This is How I Spent My Weekend


I knew it was bound to happen but I didn't think so soon. I got sick, really sick. I came down with it on Friday evening. Then I ended up in urgent care Saturday, and spent the rest of the day feeling like I was going to die. I told my mom I hadn't been this sick in years. I ended up with the worst sore throat ever, like I couldn't even swallow. My nose and my ears, plugged up. Then Saturday afternoon I was running to the bathroom every couple of minutes with a stomach bug. I don't know if I have had two different things, but it was horrible. I was prescribed Augmentin and it has made a difference right away. My stomach is better, but I am still queasy at times. It is so difficult to parent when you are so sick. My kids basically ran the house yesterday when daddy was at work.

The Toyota is OURS!!!!!!!

We are very excited to report that the 2005 Toyota Corolla is officially OURS!!! We paid it off around the first of September and the title arrived last week. I can't believe that we did it. It is the first big step in getting out of debt and such a confidence booster. We now have all the titles to our vehicles including the motorbikes and quad except for the van. We are now making double payments on the van so it shouldn't be too much longer. Yeah for paying off debt!!!!!

Luke's Whisper Wish


I will never forget the day (about six months ago) when Luke and I were laying on his bunk bed before he went to sleep, and we would play a game where I would whisper in his ear and then he would whisper back. So I whispered, "Luke, I love you." And without missing a beat Luke whispered back, "I want dad to buy me a quad." I thought for sure he would say, "I love you too," but alas, he is a boy after his dad's heart. So about six months later Luke got his "whisper wish." If some of you don't know black is Luke's favorite color. So, he is very, very happy with his new black quad. Now all I hear about is wanting riding boots. It is never going to end is it?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11

It is difficult to believe that 9.11 was seven years ago. I have been reflecting on what I was doing that day. My dad and I spent the day together. I was at my parents house and my dad and watched TV all day sitting in the blue reclining chairs. I remember watching the footage for the first time and thinking it had to be fake because it was so horrific. I had started a practicum placement in the 3rd grade and it was interesting to see how the teachers handled it and how the dynamics of the classroom changed after 9.11. It was also interesting that for the month following 9.11 they had a moment of silence at the beginning of the day over the P.A. system. The silence was deafening following the weeks of 9.11 with no air traffic. I was working at Knowledge Beginnings and you could see the flight traffic flying in and out of PDX. There was nothing for weeks. I loved how everyone was more friendly to each other and everyone showed pride in our country. Flags adorned most houses and people were kind to each other. It was a moment that I wished could have lasted forever, but alas, we have returned to our selfish, ignorant ways. I find it mostly disheartening that we have to have days like today to remind us of times that our country pulled together and stood together as one. It should be like that all the time, not just when horrific things happen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The First Days...

Well, the first days have come and gone and what a really stressful time this has been. It hasn't been an easy transition. Of course most of you all know that I have been working. I mainly worked this year to pay off our bills.
Luke's first few days of kindergarten got off to a rocky start. The work has been challenging for him and he has often asked for Miss Kristan from his preschool class. I thought about moving him to public school or keeping him home, but after much thought and talking with Mark we decided to leave him for now to see how he does. He has had some better days so hopefully he will adjust to a new routine. Next year I plan on schooling him as he will not be ready for full days of school yet. Sometimes it is very difficult to make the important decisions for your kids.
(Luke's first day of school pose)
Kindergarten 9-2-08

Luke in his Kindergarten class the first day.

Grace loves school! We have had her signed up for three days a week but we have moved her down to two. Three days was a little much for me. She loves her school and friends. Although she has yet to tell me about her teacher.

Grace's First day of Preschool 9-3-08

My first day of school was great. Right now I have 7 kiddos in the am class and 7 kiddos in the pm class. They are all great kids and I enjoy having them. It is nothing like the last experience. Anyway I am enjoying things, but of course I miss my kids terribly.

My desk and area on the first day of kids for me

9-4-08

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

News...From Room 5

So, I have had some requests about what my classroom looks like. I have included a few pictures of what has been done so far. I still have some more work to do. But, if you had seen what I started out with, this is a vast improvement. I have Room 5 in our school. It is a large room that faces towards southwest washington medical center. Lots of windows and open space.

This is a play area. I am currently in process of organizing the books into categories. I bought the car rug at IKEA for 14.99.



This is a work space. I have most of the items I need in the shelves to work on IEP goals and collect data.


This is a work in progress. The tree is going to change with the seasons. And all our current books for the months theme are going to be in the book display cases in front of the tree. The rug area is "circle" area. It is not complete, but you get the general idea.


This is looking toward the back of the classroom. The tables that have chairs stacked are the ones the kids eat and do table and art projects at. There is a housekeeping area that you cannot see and sensory tables. This is just a basic idea of how my class is looking. I will have to post more pictures when I am finished.

Going to the Lodge...Going to the Lodge...

So this past week we took our family "staycation" to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington. It was great it was an indoor water park because it rained the entire time we were gone. I couldn't believe how massive the lodge really was.


This is daddy with the kiddos eating in the water park.


My silly girl with her brothers goggles. Grace was fearless when it came to the water. She even went down the water slides with us and loved the wave pool.




Luke and Grace had their own beds in a cabin inside of our room. It was called a "Kid Cabin". The walls inside the room were painted and they had their own TV.


This is Grace 2 minutes after we went into our room. You will notice that she is still wearing her raincoat. She crawled right in "her" bed and covered herself up. You can see some of the mural work up above her.


Me and Mark. Our talented son took our picture.


Me and Gracie.

It was a nice time. The kids had an absolute blast. It is definitely designed for the child. It is not a place to go as a couple (it would frustrate you).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

2031 Polk Street

I just spent a week in new educator's training, and it was a really great time. I don't know if it was all of the reflection on learning and cultural diversity that made me begin reminiscing about my own cultural experiences, or if it is just that I miss San Fran, but I began thinking about ways other cultures have helped shape me into the person I am today. I am proud of the fact that my parents tried very hard to give my brother and I a "global view". We were exposed to many different people and cultures. The first memories I have of different cultures is of my all time favorite Chinese/Hunan/Mandarin restaurant "Tai Chi".

(Here it is in the early 1980's. This is the Tai Chi that I remember.)
My parents would take David and I, and we would, if we were privileged enough, get to sit with the adults at the largest round table I could remember. When we entered the little establishment, we would wind back past the main part of the tiny restaurant, past the kitchen into the back of what was probably a house at one point. There would be the table. Tai Chi also introduced me to what a "lazy susan" was. I was fascinated by the little wooden disk, that would turn and spin. The first course to be presented from the little waiters was the "sizzling rice soup." It is the one dish that I was always afraid would injure someone at the table. The soup would be presented and everyone would "ooh and ahhh". Then the Asian men would dish everyone a bowl of the rich salty soup with the sizzling rice, which would only be floating in the dish at this point. The best part was the huge jumbo shrimp that bobbed up and down in the broth. About the time the seconds had been served on the soup, the adults would be presented with dishes and dishes of the best Chinese food in the world. My favorite dish was "shrimp with snow peas." It wasn't a spicy dish, but I was never afraid of the spicy dishes. I always felt a little honored when my dad would offer me a piece or two of his coveted general tso's chicken. Even though the first time it burned the inside of my mouth, there was something about the chicken that keeps you wanting one more bite.
My brother and I used chopsticks for the first time at Tai Chi. And they weren't the wooden kind. They had these bright red plastic chopsticks that came in a cloth napkin neatly wrapped. They had little gold Chinese symbols that etched the top of the chopsticks. Dinners lasted for hours at Tai Chi and we never got bored. It was even an adventure to the use the restroom. We tried to avoid it, but with a long trip back to Fremont, California one would have to use the restroom atleat once.
My mom and I ate at Tai Chi in 1995, and even flew home general tso's chicken for my dad, that is how wonderful this restaurant is.
(This is how Tai Chi looks today.)
I guess I am homesick for San Francisco today. The Phantom of the Opera is playing at the Keller in Portland this month. I am reminded of the first time I ever saw the Phantom. It was in San Fran with my concert choir. We experienced the production in a venue that was built just for the Phantom. I was so moved by that performance. I remember at the end of the show when the Phantom disappears and all that is left is the mask. I tried to hold back my emotions, but I was so moved. After hearing my mom and my friend describe this years Phantom, I decided that I must see it again. I bought myself a ticket for Tuesday night. It will be my 3rd time seeing it. I can't wait.






Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We Start Them Young...

Well, Luke had his first official day of riding motorbikes. Luke's cousin Ethan was kind enough to share his quad with him. Although, I am absolutely certain that we will be the proud owner of yet another motorbike soon. I can't believe how absolutely adorable he looks. And the helmet....it kills me :)
Luke had an awesome day and loved telling me all about it when I got home from training.

Speaking of training, I have been at a new educators teacher training this week for Vancouver Public Schools. I didn't really know what to expect, but WOW!!! I have only ever been to an orientation for the Christian Schools, so I had no frame of reference. Not only are we getting paid for attending, they have been giving us free stuff and prizes and catered lunches. I can't wait until Thursday because Beaches is catering. Yeah! We have been given so much information and breakout trainings. It has been a great experience. Today, I picked up the keys to my room and met with the new building principal. I started moving furniture around and making it my own. It is really awesome. Vancouver Public Schools does a great job of taking care of their teachers. The new superintendent this year really believes strongly in early childhood education. He and his wife have adopted two children. A little girl from China and a baby boy from the Congo. I really believe in their (I guess it is mine now too) mission statement and the direction for the district. I am really excited about this upcoming school year.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Vacation Bible School

Our church had their annual "Vacation Bible School" this week. My dear, wonderful husband signed me up to help with the preschool kids. I thought "help, how hard can that be?" Well, apparently I was the director of the preschool which meant I got to be in charge of everything relating to preschool!!!! How happy am I? So here is a picture of my crew in all of their glory. All 22 of them.The theme for this year was "Avalanche Ranch". It was a cute western theme. They did a great job on the sets.


Since daddy signed mommy up without asking, mommy signed daddy up without asking. Daddy was a crew leader for Luke's group. Of course daddy really enjoyed his job. While mommy wished that she had daddy's job. I tried to get daddy to trade. No such luck!

Grace in all of her glory and attitude. She is just naughty sometimes. I told her I wanted to get a picture with her next to her friends. She told me, "I not look at you." So this is what I got. This has been a great practice for preschool this fall. God bless Grace's teacher!

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