Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Through the Years

Sending my oldest off to Kindergarten has gotten me reflecting about my own school experiences.
And so, bear with me for a moment while I walk down memory lane
and reminisce about some of my school experiences.

Kindergarten: I started school in Utah and moved to Texas in November. My teachers were Mrs. Werner and Ms. Marquardt. One of my best friends had the same last name as me. I always thought it would be funny if we got married so my maiden/middle name and last name would be the same.

1st Grade: My teacher was Mrs. Irving. I had several incidents during this year with lying and learning to be completely honest. Once, we were taking a spelling test and the word was "seven." I couldn't remember if it ended with "-en" or "-an." There were number posters around the top of the room, and our teacher said, "Try not to look!" Well, I looked at the poster and spelled the word correctly. I was overwhelmed with guilt. The next morning, I wrote my teacher a note explaining what I had done and also wrote, "I also stayed sitting during the pledge of allegiance to write this note." I left it on her desk. During snack time, she called me up to her desk and gave me a big hug. She later called my mom and explained what had happened asking, "Did Kaitlyn recently have a Sunday School lesson on being honest or something?"

2nd Grade: My teacher was Mrs. Valenta, who had been our student teacher in 1st grade. She was young, newly married, and so sweet. This was the beginning of a great deal of little-girl friend-drama, and thus the beginning of my personal process of learning not to worry about fitting a particular mold.

3rd Grade: My teachers were Mr. Hull and Mrs. McCormick in Texas. My dad's work required a great deal of international travel which was hard on my family. As a result, halfway through my 3rd grade year my family moved back to Utah. On my last day, Mrs. McCormick gave me a beautiful copy of "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" and had all of my classmates write me notes in the covers. I still have that keepsake, complete with the note from the boy who wrote, "I'm not going to miss you." He got in big trouble and had to erase "not," but it's still clearly there amidst eraser smudges. My new teacher was Mrs. Ball. I quickly made a new best friend in Utah, not knowing her current best friend was home with the chicken pox. As you can imagine, she and I became enemies when she came back to school and I had stolen her best friend.

4th Grade: Aren't you jealous of my corduroy Winnie-the-Pooh overalls, velvet mock turtleneck, and platform sneakers? I was at yet another new school (worst-enemy drama was over), and my teacher was Mr. Allen (my favorite teacher of all time!). He kept our family entertained all year as I shared his stories around the dinner table. One day we came to school and he announced, "Today is a very exciting day! Your brain is filled with filing cabinets, waiting to be filled with information. You have filled up one filing cabinet in your brain and you are opening a fresh, new filing cabinet!" He made each day exciting in simple ways. 

5th Grade: My teacher was Mrs. Merrill, a woman with a wardrobe to compete with Ms. Frizzle in The Magic School Bus series and perfectly coordinating earrings. She loved the Wizard of Oz and her whole room was decorated in that theme. She had a great passion for writing, so we spent most of our time doing reading and writing and very little time with math and science. To my dismay, a boy I went to church with evidently had a crush on me and people concluded that we "liked each other." When we were the recipients of the "Hope of America" award at the end of the year and had to have our picture taken together for the newspaper, we stood as far apart as we possibly could.

6th Grade: This was my first year in Intermediate School. My core teachers were Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Nelson. Notice my amazing stuffed cow keychain dangling from my backpack, and there is a homemade beaded dragonfly bobbypin in my hair. (I've come a long way.) Once I was leaning back on my chair and it somehow became very stable while suspended in the air. It was odd, so I gave my desk a shove to see if I would stay that way. Nope! I successfully shoved myself right over backwards onto the floor. While the class laughed I put myself and my desk back together with a very red face and my teacher good-naturedly said, "And that is why we don't lean back on our chairs!" To my surprise, my "worst enemy" from 3rd grade (remember, I switched schools for 4th grade) was in my core classes. We started out the year nervously avoiding one another but ended the year as best friends! She is one of my dearest friends to this day, and about the only friend I've stayed in regular contact with from my pre-college years.

7th Grade: My core teachers were Ms. Johnson and Mrs. Saunders. I started taking German and, as a result, had the opportunity to have a German girl about my age come live with us for a month during the summer. I was also a part of the Student Council and I have many vivid memories from our very fun and outspoken advisor! I also loved acting in our school plays during 6th and 7th grades.

8th Grade: I advanced to Middle School and started to care a little more about fitting in. I always felt that 8th Grade was hard because the 9th graders in our school were lumped together with the high school kids, but there wasn't much 8th graders could be involved with. I guess that's why I mostly draw a blank when I think of that year.

9th Grade: I made the Freshman volleyball team and played as a setter. My German friend came back for another visit during the school year, and we got clearance for her to attend school with me for 3 1/2 weeks. In the spring, my family moved to a new town about 40 minutes away. Some of my classmates began telling my teachers I was moving to Kentucky to live on a pepper farm and they believed them which made for some funny conversations! I also had the opportunity to go to Europe for a month to visit my German friend the summer after 9th grade!

10th Grade: Can you just see insecurities dripping from that picture? Although I was insecure, I stopped trying to fit in. My family had moved and after a long history of trauma with friends, I just gave up. That was reflected in my physical appearance as well, as you can see in the difference between 9th and 10th grade photos. I turned down invitations to parties in favor of evenings spent with my very young sister and brother. I struggled socially, but this was a time of quite a bit of spiritual growth for me. Oddly, I also got chicken pox that year and spent a week at home.

11th Grade: I (finally!) got braces to straighten out my very crooked teeth. I started becoming "state certified" in numerous courses and I served as the vice president of service for FCCLA and was involved with Operation Smile. I started teaching piano lessons. I had a pretty tough load of classes that would usually keep me up into the wee hours of the morning with homework. It wasn't uncommon for my mom to wake me up in the middle of the night where I had fallen asleep on my textbook at the computer desk. I also learned that it really wasn't the end of the world to not get asked to dances.

12th Grade: For some reason I started really dressing up for school. I was the president of FCCLA, continued teaching piano lessons, and worked in the high school day-care after school. I took a couple of classes at a different high school a few miles away. I loved making plans and preparing for college, and I was so anxious to start college that I started at BYU during the summer instead of the fall. I got my braces off and my fake teeth put in just before graduation which made me look at least 15! My mom, my sister and I flew to Denver with my cousin and my aunt for the last couple of days of school to see "Wicked."

As I think back over my school years, I have many fond memories, many not-so-fond memories, and quite a few regrets. The other day I was thinking about my regrets and things I wish I could change. I was thinking about how I wished I could take my current self and put it in different situations, because I would handle them so differently now. And then I was struck with the realization that regret is only a sign of progress. And this life is all about progress! So whether I cringe over the social mistakes I made or the lack of fashion sense I had or my lack of confidence or times I treated others unkindly, I can recognize that I am improving.

And though I still have a long way to go,
I hope my regrets will decrease as the years pass by.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Each Moment

A few weeks ago, I had a dream.
In my dream, Sam woke me up and it was the day of Talmage's baptism.
(In our church, members are baptized at age 8--Talmage is still 5.)
In fact, his baptism was supposed to start in 15 minutes.
I started frantically running around trying to get ready and prepare refreshments
while Talmage was left to his own devices.

All in all, it was a rather silly dream
(a nice change from the horror-story type nightmares I usually get)
but it got me thinking.
As parents, we have relatively little time to prepare our children for their independence.
Each moment is so precious--am I running around keeping busy with trivial matters that have little bearing in the eternal scheme of things?
Or am I spending this time working to prepare my children spiritually for what they will face?
Am I prioritizing my time correctly?

I'm far from perfect in this area,
and I'm constantly working and praying to improve.
But I'm grateful to know that time is a stewardship,
and I will keep trying to focus on the things of eternal importance and value.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ant Experiment

Last week was dinosaur week, and this week has been bug week!
While bugs are always on the radar of my little boys,
this week their mom willingly jumped in the investigations.
On our science day, we performed an "ant experiment."
We spread lines on a piece of cardboard of 5 different foods:
jam, peanut butter, Magic Shell, brown sugar, and honey.
We then took the cardboard outside and placed it near a crack in the concrete which is frequently home to many ants.

Sure enough, it was only about a minute before ants started pouring out of the crack and heading toward our piece of cardboard. We were all interested to see which food the ants would prefer.
My guess was jam, Talmage's was Magic Shell, and Wesley's was honey.
As it turned out, the peanut butter was by FAR the winner!
It was soon completely covered with ants while the other foods were largely neglected.
There was some very minor interest in the jam and Magic Shell, and almost no interest in the straight sugar or honey.

We kept our cardboard out for several hours, periodically checking on it.
Soon, the surface of the peanut butter was covered in nibble marks from the ants,
and when it was about 75% gone, the ants disappeared.
I'm not sure how wise this experiment was, as we just fed an entire colony of ants for a long while,
but it was worth it in the name of science and happy little boys!

Happy Friday, dear readers!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Motherhood Funnies

There is certainly no shortage of laughter at our house.
I could write a book of the funny things these boys say!
Some of today's funnies:

-Talmage told me with great drama, "Mom, one of Grammy's neighbors is learning the curse of writing!!!" After stifling my laughs, I explained that it is actually "cursive" writing.

-We were coloring pictures today and Talmage excitedly told Wesley that he was doing a great job. "Wow, Wes!! You used to not be good at coloring, but now--" I interrupted to chasten him a bit for saying Wesley wasn't good at coloring before and explained that we all start out scribbling and learn as we grow. In the midst of my explanation Wesley said, "Mo-om! Of course I used to not be good at coloring!!!"

-Talmage was explaining that a girl in his class is a bit of a bully and would always hurt the boy sitting next to her, so the teacher had to move the boy to a new seat and now the girl doesn't sit by anyone. He told me she is always grumpy and mad and I said, "I hope you're nice to her anyway!" He replied, "I am. She's my favorite friend! She's never mean to me!" Hmm...

-Talmage has no boundaries when it comes to making friends. While he knows the safety rules very well, he loves people from babies to the elderly. I have a couple of 10-year-old piano students and they always gladly go play with Talmage while I teach their younger sisters, but then their younger sisters likewise play with him during their brothers' lessons. In fact, they even argue about who gets to play first! He sits by the school bus driver on the way to school and talks to him the entire way. When we went to the dinosaur park last week, we got back a couple of minutes after the bus came so I had to drop Talmage off at school. He was quite angry about it and when I said, "But wasn't the dinosaur park fun?" he responded, "Not as fun as the bus!!"

-And Lincoln...well...just about everything he does is hilarious right now, but it's not quite as easy to convey the humor of his actions through words. But this happened yesterday. When you're a mom of three boys, you learn very quickly that the primary function of a nose is to be a receptacle of a wide variety of small objects, from roly-poly bugs (true story) to Legos to Tinkertoys.

My little sillies certainly do keep life interesting--never a dull moment!

Monday, September 21, 2015


On Friday night, my sister and I hiked Grandeur Peak.
It's a "moderate" level, 6-7 mile hike to the summit and back.
My sister is in great shape and wasn't even breathing hard and didn't need a single water break,
while I trailed along panting an embarrassing amount and stopping every few minutes to guzzle water.
We made it to the top just in time to see the last of the sunset,
and then enjoyed our hike down in the dark--
especially when a skunk darted out of the shadows right in front of us!

I sure hope I can make it back again soon with Sam.

Thanks to Losaunne for showing me a little bit of your world.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Brotherly Love

One of my favorite things, as a mother,
is to see my boys show tremendous love for one another.

A couple of days ago, we went outside to meet Talmage after he got off the bus.
Wesley was so excited to see him that he started running full speed across the driveway and tripped and fell, scraping open his hand.
When Talmage came walking up, Lincoln excitedly ran around the corner to walk with him.
Talmage was instantly concerned about Wesley's hand and, when he learned what had happened,
rushed into the house to get him a band-aid and secure it across his palm.
He then pulled out his reading assignment for the day and said,
"Wes, do you want me to read my book to you?"
And soon they were both absorbed in the story.

Tonight, all three boys wanted to sleep in the same (twin-size) bed.
We try to allow things that will facilitate their friendship so I agreed but,
finally, after a long time with lots of shrieks and giggles,
I had to split them all up (Lincoln was evidently tickling the other two).

Moments like these make my heart sing.
When we found out Lincoln was a boy,
I began to imagine scenarios where three little boys would tag along together on their adventures,
and I hoped and prayed that they would be best friends.
I hope they're always such great buddies.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dino Week

One of the reasons I dreaded Talmage heading to Kindergarten so much
is that I really love spending time teaching my kids.
While we ultimately decided not to homeschool for reasons specific to our family
(meaning I don't feel that there's a universal "right answer" for schooling),
homeschooling definitely appeals to me.

I love to teach, I love coming up with activities and field trips for my kids, I love taking part in their discoveries, I love helping them meet their full potential, and I just plain love spending time with them!
When it finally dawned on me that if I put Talmage in afternoon Kindergarten we would still be able to continue our morning learning activities and field trips with him, my outlook improved drastically.
I may be a mess when next year rolls around and he's gone all day,
but hopefully by then we'll have adjusted to this whole school-child thing.

Last week and this week we've been learning about dinosaurs.
We've been playing counting games with little toy dinosaurs,
reading the (many!) picture books we have about dinosaurs,
singing "There's a Dinosaur Knocking at my Door,"
matching toy dinosaurs to pictures in a book,
watching "Dinosaur Train" online,
making snickerdoodle dinosaur eggs,
and we visited the dinosaur park for our field trip!
We have plans in the work for ice paleontologists,
fossil making,
volcanic eruptions,
dinosaur tag, and more.

Rumor has it that Lincoln is getting a whole set of big dinosaurs for Christmas
(evidently Santa frequents garage sales and finds some awesome things!)
and I can't wait to see their dino games, imaginative play, and learning continue on a larger scale.

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again,
but sometimes I really wish I could be a mother of young children forever.

This fossil restorer was working on a turtle fossil.
He talked to us about his work a little bit, and it is amazing to learn about how much work goes into cleaning and preparing the tiniest piece of a fossil. A piece about the size of a matchbox car took him a few hours just to clean after it was extracted. It's definitely a job for patient people!
PS...Can you spy Lincoln in this picture?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Party Boy

We had a lovely, simple celebration for Lincoln's birthday.
His day began with chocolate chip pancakes,
and that afternoon Sam took the boys to the park.
We ate a picnic dinner in the backyard of some of his favorite foods--
ranch-parmesan chicken tenders, Annie's white cheddar & shells, and pears.

Sam's mom and brother joined us for alligator cupcakes, ice cream, and presents,
and the next day we continued to celebrate with my family.

He was pretty fascinated by his cupcakes!
The frosting was colored with spinach and cocoa,
causing my dad to ask if I put gravy on top of the cupcakes.

He quickly got used to the idea of presents!
At my parents' house the next day, he kept responding "No," to every question we would ask...
just because he likes saying "No."
Finally, my mom asked, "Do you want some presents?"
His face lit up and he said, "Yeah!"

His celebration was just the way I like celebrations to be...
sweet & simple while spending time with loved ones.
Oh, how we love this little 2-year-old!
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