Tuesday, December 30, 2008
He has always been enjoyable to converse with as long as we stay away from electronic topics, as he is quite capable of giving you the play-by-play of any video game, tv show, etc.
We were recently discussing the impact of grades on one's income (see rant from early December). He has the ambition of working at "Games Workshop" as a career. We informed him that people who do not do well in school work in minimum-wage jobs. He explained to us that he was going to work full wage, not minimum wage.
Monday, December 22, 2008
We all learned how to grow vegetables in Houston. Yummy!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I finally put a wreath on the door. And got my nativity set out. But the neighbors are still worried. I can tell by the glances they shoot at our house when they gather in little groups at the bottom of the driveways to gossip. (Usually, I think our neighborhood full of retired people is quirky and charming - but usually, I'm not in their sights). The next one that asks is going to get an earful....
I've been under a little pressure this year. Its been building and building and I'm to the point where I need a sobfest for a couple of hourse to release all that frustration. For some reason, I haven't been able to make it happen. My family has a running joke (which I hate) that it's not Christmas until Kim cries....well this year should be a doozy - good thing I'm not going home.
1. I broke my foot in March and stubbornly kept walking on it so that by the time I agreed to see a doctor in July, I was stuck in a cast until October. 6 months of being cooped up. 6 months of not being able to function at the speed I am accustomed to. 6 months of falling behind.
2. I worked my tail off last school year and we missed being recognized by the state because we lacked 1 student passing the science exam. I am extremely discouraged. This year has been Mt. Everest in terms of the teachers being overwhelmed with staff changes and new IB programs, the students not having much English exposure, not making the connections, and just being mentally checked out. Probably due to PTSD that most of our students lost everything they owned in the flooding from Hurricane Ike (not much to begin with). However, try telling that to the upper-level school nazis that are pressuring us to get our scores up. I have had 2 district "visitors" in my lab this week. Yet I earned a performance bonus this year. I don't understand the politics involved- No Child Left Behind, you know.
3. My darling, sweet, wonderful son. Really, he is! However, parenting teens is not simple. (i know - i should expect that!) I just don't understand how an intelligent, loved child does his work in class and at home and DOES NOT TURN IT IN! He is literally driving me crazy. I knew this year might be more difficult because of the 7th grade state writing exam that causes his teachers to freak out since he has dysgraphia and shuts down when required to write. I purposefully cleared my after-school commitments for this school year to the bare minimum so that I would be available. He has given every excuse in the book for his non-achievement. He has happily informed me that he wants to be a 75 kind of guy, not a B or A type. The problem is when you shoot for a 75 you sometimes fall short so then you are a D or F kind of guy. He has a pattern of getting his grades up to acceptable levels and then not turning in anything the last week of the grading period which results in Ds and Fs. ARRRRGGGGHHHH! By then it is too late to fix it. As a result, he is grounded from all types of media until his grades are up. It is going to be a long, long, long holiday break. Plus, he won't be able to play with his 1 Christmas present.
4. Nate has done really well health-wise until October. His iron levels dipped again and he is back to the dizziness, fatigue, crabbiness, leg cramps, and sleeping 18 hours a day. It is all he can do to work and do his calling. I love him dearly and understand this, but sometimes I feel like a single parent. I wish there was a diagnosis so then we could find a cure for this darn anemia.
5. Speaking of that, my chronic psoriactic arthritis is on full-court press. I had to go back on the Enbrel so that I could walk, move my fingers, and function. Enbrel is a miracle - but it comes with a price (and not just financial). It blocks the function of my immune system, so I will catch every germ that comes my way. Not a good thing when you are an elementary school teacher. So how do I start my winter break? With a really, really bad cold. I understand that for some people, a cold is just an inconvenience, but not me...since my immune system doesn't fight as well, it tends to linger, and linger and turn to bronchitis or pneumonia. Plus while I'm sick I can't take the Enbrel so the arthritis returns.
6. I worry about my extended family. My dad just had a heart procedure that went well, but I don't do surprises, so it was quite stressful. My mom is going to work herself to death. My sister seems to be fine, but I'm not really sure about that. I think she is lonely. My brother and his family are fine, and I love being able to hear about their funny lives, but I worry about them anyway. My little sister seems to be supermom and I know from experience how hard that is. My in-laws are serving a mission in Ecuador and seem to be very tired. My husbands siblings are all busy but face challenges too.
7. My messy, messy house. With all of the above going on, my house is a shambles. I have been slowly working out from under the backlog, but its tough. I keep giving and throwing stuff away and I'm not a big shopper, so where does all this junk come from? I have a theory that my house is as organized as my mind. So it is very apparent what I'm dealing with mentally. Plus that little list of what I'd like to fix about my house is getting longer instead of shorter.
8. The stress of everyday life. This is a real stress. I won't bore you with the details, but everyday there is stress. Traffic, fear, sorrow, little obstacles. They add up. Also they announced drug dog checks of all teacher parking lots...no I'm not taking illegal drugs...but one of the factors dogs will alert on is gunpowder and my husband is a gunsmith. I just know I'm going to get called to the office and have to explain to the police why my car reeks of guns. Plus I haven't had a commitment-free evening since October.
So no, I haven't decorated yet. I haven't wrapped gifts, I haven't made or purchased Christmas cards, I haven't baked, I haven't hung the stockings by the chimney, no gifts for those people I'm not related to but appreciate. And you what? I'm not really sure it's all that important.
I have a family and friends that I love. I try to show them that love year-round. I read my scriptures, say my prayers, eat my vegetables and take my vitamins. I love the Lord and he loves me.
And now, finally I'm crying....so all will be well in a few hours. Yay!
And here is the science on crying:
PS 2:30 p.m. I'm feeling much better now. I knew that crying would relieve the stress. I'm wrapping presents and trying to decide how to arrange the den so that the tree can be by the window. I know that my life is very blessed. So I guess the family myth is true. It isn't Christmas 'til Kim cries.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
This school year has been tough between losing a month of instruction from the hurricane and another 4 days from the apartment closing fiasco. This week has been particularly frustrating. When I had taught my heart out and the classes couldn't remember what we learned 2 days ago, I took a deep breath, pulled out my cell phone and looked at the pictorial evidence of the goal we completed yesterday. That mini-break gave me enough good energy to go again - with a smile.
Two goals Nate and I set earlier this year was to have a vegetable garden (which we have been eating out of), and a year's supply of food and finances. We achieved 8 months of food storage AND an organized method of storing it yesterday.
Those of you who remember the laundry room will see the shelves between the fridge and the dryer. Our next step is to take down those wire shelves that feel like they will fall on your head, and put up a cabinet to store the laundry and cleaning supplies.
The bulk wheat and water storage is located behind our bar - where I used to hide all the junk when company came. (The wheat is on top of the water bottles in case of flooding. Hoping that the cans will stay dry.)
I understand now why goal setting can be beneficial. It not only gives focus to activities and choices, but it can boost you in other ways as well. The mini-celebration of success can give peace in unexpected ways.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I, on the other hand can hardly wait for them to leave so that I can have the whole house to myself and enjoy complete and total silence for 24 hours.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
You can see your state of mind at the link below:
Authors note: Don't get used to this many blog entries. Once I get my life back you'll be lucky to hear from me once a month.
8 TV SHOWS I like to watch:
I'm not big on watching TV. That said, I hate to miss:
2. Boston Legal
4. Oklahoma State basketball
If I am stuck at home with nothing else to do, then I'll watch:
5. old movies
8. The Weather Channel (I know...but I got hooked during college when I had to watch it for a meteorology course).
8 Favorite Restaurants
1. Shiva's (indian)
2. Chuy's (tex-mex)
3. Niko Niko (greek)
4. Cavatore (italian)
5. Cafe Rita (Middle Eastern)
6. Mission Burrito
7. The Red Lion Pub (british)
8. Pappa's BBQ
8 Things that happened in the past 24 hours.
1. Ben's friend Walt came over and drove me crazy.
2. We had chicken pesto pasta with homemade bread for supper.
3. Nate's friend John dropped off a load of firewood for winter (one good thing about Ike!)
4. I defended my decision to NOT have Walt spend the night.
5. I watched the final season premiere of Boston Legal.
6. I read 3 chapters of Stiff. And 2 chapters of Annals of the Former World. (When, oh, when will the library reopen?)
7. I went to school to see how much damage my classroom sustained. (Not much thanks to a fabulous custodial staff who dried up the 9 inches of water in my room. We'll see more when the electric is restored - hopefully by Friday).
8. I observed the growth of my bean plants (11 inches!) the recent sprouting of the lettuce and radishes.
8 Things I look forward to
1. Getting back to school
2. Trip to NSTA (i hope!).
3. OSU Basketball season - is the new coach any good?
4. A working foot.
5. SUMMER - I need a vacation!
6. Hosting another Catan night
7. Our next family fun day
8. Thursday - Ben goes back to school and I don't!
8 Things I love about fall
1. In other places, the leaves turn colors.
2. In Houston, the temperatures begin to break out of the 90s.
3. Basketball season begins.
4. Our garden grows.
5. Hurricane season ends November 1.
6. We begin to enjoy spending time outside.
7. Earth science rotation begins and I get to play with dirt and rocks.
8. The hummingbirds and monarchs make their way our direction during their migrations.
8 Things I worry about
1. That I am not a good: mom, wife, servant of Christ, teacher, daughter, sister, friend.
2. That the little pieces of my DNA that go down the drain are morphing into weird things down in the sewer system.
3. My foot will never heal and I will never get back to my normal range of activities.
4. City living is killing my senses and soul.
5. Our society is headed for destruction because of people's greed and lack of ethics.
6. Cockroaches are secretly living in my house.
7. Ben will grow up and still live at home with his only ambition to beat every video game ever made.
8. I'm really mentally handicapped and people are just being nice to me.
8 Things on my wish list
1. A home in West Yellowstone, Montana
2. A trip to see the northern lights.
3. No arthritis & a healed foot.
4. Remodeling projects completed.
5. A 4 day work week.
6. A dog
7. A camper trailer
8. 80% of my students pass the science TAKS.
8 Blessings I currently enjoy
1. Wonderful husband, Nate. He is patient, kind, a good cook, a hard worker, and fun to talk to.
2. A fabulous son, Ben. He is caring, helpful, generous, funny, and makes me proud.
3. No major damage or sacrifices from Hurricane Ike.
4. Good friends and family who care about me and like me despite my quirks.
5. To work in a job that I love and with people I like.
6. I know that Christ is my Savior and I have the freedom to worship.
7. I have a home and the means necessary to live a life of comfort that allows me to help others.
8. I live in America.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I find my dependency on the internet a little disturbing. We don't get the newpaper because I'm allergic to newspapers and get really bad breakouts from touching them. Therefore, I read all my news online. I also rely on the internet for all bill-paying and banking. As well as phone numbers, maps and other information and a great deal of shopping and researching. Don't forget communicating. So when our link was out all week, I would call my parents in Utah and ask for them to go online and inform me of whatever pressing need I had. Like the football game scores and the school website to see if I need to be at work on Monday. Do I have enough money in my account to buy gas, and oh, yeah, I can't find the phone number for my VTeachee - could you go online and find it? Dad would offer to e-mail me whatever I needed and then just madly chuckle when I would explode "but I don't have e-mail right now!" I'm sure they were tired of hearing from me. I thank them for their time and assistance!
Our civic, church and government leaders have been counseling us for years to put together 72 hour kits to be prepared to support ourselves in time of emergency like Ike. We even received a hurricane preparedness pamphlet from the city government about 10 days before Ike hit. Don't people listen? don't they read? Don't they watch the news? I was understandably quite irate at all the people I heard complaining on tv and radio about not having water or food for the first few days while FEMA was getting situated. Perhaps we had better create a cartoon on Cartoon Network about prepping for hurricane season! We went to Lowe's to pick up some stakes to try to save some of my plants, and people would run in, scan the battery display, and run out saying..."no batteries...what are we going to do?" I felt sorrow for the suffering of these people that was avoidable - IF they had followed the direction of their leaders.
With all my judgements in mind, Nate and I sat down and evaluated our 72 hour kits to see what changes need to be made. We had good water supplies, adequate food supplies, and ready cash reserves. I discovered that although we did not suffer any tragedy, just going through the hurricane experience was trying and I mentally had a hard time planning a simple meal. So MREs might be a nice thing to have. We definitely need to add cranked radios and flashlights to our kits. We had radios, flashlights, and batteries, but we hadn't updated them since we arrived in Houston 10 years ago and the batteries had leaked and ruined several things. We should also add some bungee cords and parachute cord. A generator would be nice to keep the freezer cold and be able to charge our electronic communication equipment (phones, laptops, etc.). We also should add some rain gear in case of having to leave our house for some reason. Oh, and a couple of big rakes and a supply of yard bags for cleanup.
If I were grading our preparedness I would give us an A-. We had the basic things needed to get by, and the things we didn't have no one person could provide. As we get slowly back to normal, I hope people everywhere learned a lesson in self-reliance and being prepared.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I commented that I was glad I wasn't a stock market accountant anymore - teaching is a much more stable position these days. Although I'm beginning to wonder about that. We have not yet returned to school and only 1/3rd of schools have power as of this morning. I heard a rumor that there will be no school on Monday either. I'll either be losing a paycheck or teaching all summer long to make up the days. I'd rather lose the money, but state law requires a certain number of days. It's going to be a long year.
The good news is that my sister Heather has her power back and so I am able to get online a little.
Ben's court of honor was postponed, as is the merit badge fair on Saturday. No church activities, no school activities, and the library isn't open. Ben and some of the other kids at church volunteered at the Food Bank on Wednesday.
Many businesses are opening back up if they have power or generators. Getting gas is still a struggle with mile-long lines for the stations that have power. McDonald's, tree services, and lawn crews are in high cotton this week. Most intersections are a four-way stop and now that traffic numbers are approaching normal, it takes about 20 minutes to get through one intersection.
We hope all is well with you and your family. If you need to reach us, call our cell phones.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Around 5:30 this morning we had some big thunderstorms roll through. We got 5 inches of rain between 5:30 and 8 this morning. Our street was flooded sidewalk to sidewalk. When our friends left to return home, they came back because the water was splashing up through the floorboards of their SUV. All the work we did yesterday has washed back onto the driveway and street. Once it stops raining, we'll get started again.
We have been totally amazed by the news video of our area. Without cable or power, we could only appreciate what we could see around us and now we are more humbled and grateful for the protection we enjoyed.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Reports are that the southern half of Houston is experiencing power outages so I expect we've only got a little while til we are in the dark too.
They expect that by noon tomorrow it will all be off to the north. Power may not be restored for up to 2 weeks.
Good news is that the storm surge will not affect the drainage for our area of town. So possibly no flooding.
We love you!
Winds are upwards of 40 mph and gusting to 50. The 100 ft. pines are swaying and something just fell down on my neighbors roof. Still no rain. But it's coming along with double the winds. I don't think I'll be sleeping much tonight.
It is dark now. The streetlights did not come on. I wonder if the power company turned them off. The wind is moaning around the eaves. Things are starting to go bump out in the night. Our lights are flickering.
Maybe I could write a mystery novel with that opening. I don't mean to sound sinister - but it is kind of creepy.
I think I'll go have some birthday cake (thanks, Heather!).
Ben is ready with his rain gear, water supply and chainsaw.
We have a tree next to our driveway that the squirrels nest in. One squirrel is in his hole with his head sticking out calling and calling mournfully. Kinda creepy.
The hummingbirds and songbirds that were flooding our yard this morning have flown away.
Still overcast and a little breezy, but no rain yet.
I am fighting the urge to drive down to the coast to see the waves and high tide.
Despite what you may be hearing, our officials have asked us to shelter in place. The dire, life-or-death warnings are intended for Galveston Island which has been under a mandatory evacuation order since Thursday morning.
We expect to get winds of 70 mph during the night tonight or early on Saturday morning. Structural damage does not occur until winds reach 95 mph. We will have some tree damage and although we only have 1 tree, our neighbors have lots of big ones. Our biggest concern will be power outages (no ac) and torrential rains causing flooding. Our home sits in a relatively high area, so we should be dry, but may not be able to go anywhere.
Keep checking back and I'll post pix so you can see the changes.
9:00 a.m. September 12, 2008.
No wind yet and just some very high, thin clouds.
We are picking up things that might get caught in the wind and blow around. Patio furniture, planters, etc. in the garage. Firewood tarped down. Basketball goal laying down. I'm worried about my beans. they are 12" tall and may get stripped by the wind.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
I went back to the doctor yesterday with high hopes he would let me out of the cast. I'm not sure why I had hopes for that since my foot has been swollen and very painful for the past few days. He was concerned that I was still having so much pain and wanted me to consider getting a bone scan that would pinpoint where the injury was: bone, ligament or joint. The scan cost $1200 and the treatment for all 3 is the same: 5 more weeks in the boot. I politely turned him down and asked him what he meant when he said "take it easy". He gave me a funny look and said that meant only be on your feet 10 minutes out of every hour. AHHH....there's the problem....I thought taking it easy was to elevate your foot for 10 minutes every hour. I'm sure many of you are rolling your eyes and shaking your head, but for me that IS taking it easy.
With tears of frustration, I drove to work with the boot, crutches, and a strong anti-inflammatory. I didn't want to take 4 weeks off at this point and my principal agreed. So starting on Monday, I will set up the lab and be there, but the classroom teachers will be teaching. I am going to be soooo bored!
The kids have been the sweetest about it. "Ms. Ottosen! Why are you on crutches? Why do you still have the cast?"
me: "Well, I didn't follow directions so now I'm in time-out."
kids, after some thought. "I'm sorry about your leg".
If you see me walking around without my crutches, kindly ask me where they are. I'm getting older now and tend to forget things.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
The exciting news is that our garden is sprouting! We have 3 green bean plants up (out of 8) and it's only been 5 days. We won't plant anything else until the end of September if the temperatures get back to normal.
Nate is still baking bread and brought home more supplies from our canning date on Saturday. He and Ben worked really hard and ran into Becky Clarke from Tulsa/PA years. Nate says that work is picking up and so he won't have time to build projects for himself until next spring.
I am loving my first week at school. When the principal told the teachers that they were THE science teacher and I was just support and enrichment it took alot of the pressure off. The children are all very happy to be back and have had excellent behavior. The work last year with the 4th graders has paid off a little. Their knowledge level is still low, but the spark of interest has ignited, so we'll be able to work with them much better this year. I started wearing a shoe in earnest yesterday, and my foot seems pretty good, but my ankle and knee are weak and stiff.
Ben had "my best day ever" on Friday. He got his schedule change from Spanish to German and it caused him to repeat his math and English classes, so he got to read a book for 3 straight hours. Then he was able to see some fancy thing at the Warhammer shop. He is very excited about playing the French Horn in band and mostly about the band lockin at the local game center. He has achieved his First Class rank in scouts and will recieve the award in 2 weeks. He is excited to see our garden grow and is s l o w l y getting his room clean. He rides the bus with a girl from our ward, but the bus route is different so he doesn't get to ride with his good friend, Zac.
Life continues at its normal school-year crazy pace with multiple places to be at the same time. I'll try and post another update after my dr appt on Friday.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Our garden is still not planted. The heavy rains and high temps have made poor planting conditions. We plan to try for FHE on the 25th.
I started back to work on August 11th. I gave my first full day professional development workshop and it went really well. I was exhausted by the time it was over, though. I returned for my follow-up appt with the orthopedic doc on the 15th. The new x-rays showed another break perpendicular to the single fracture that had been hidden by the swelling. The doc says that I can start to wear a stiff, lace-up shoe at home, but my boot if I'm going out. Unfortunately, everytime I wear the shoe, my foot swells up and hurts. I think I'm never going to get back to normal. Especially now that I'm on my feet all day at work - I'm trying to elevate it, but teaching science is not a sedentary job. Another follow-up is scheduled for Sept. 5th.
Ben spent a week at Camp Eagle in Sugar Land. He had a great time. We dropped him off in the midst of TS Eduard, and picked him up 5 days later mosquito-bitten, sunburned, and with a bad cold. They did 2 service projects, 5 merit badges, went water-skiing, and inner-tubing behind a fancy motorboat, visited the Channel 11 studios with the stake president (he's some BYU football alum). All the boys were in a group shot on the 6:00 news, but they did a close-up on my handsome boy. Since I've been back to work he has been extremely bored. Ben says he's not ready to go back to school, but I think he's secretly glad.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Ben enjoyed his first rock concert. He thought it was "Awesome, man!" We saw Foreigner and Bryan Adams. Both groups were great but Foreigner gave a better show. It's been a long, long time since I was at a concert.....like since college. Things are a lot calmer than I remember them being. Not that I'm complaining, but I've been trying to figure out a good reason besides the fact that we've all gotten old. Here's the list: 1. It was hot - temps in the 90's, but the humidity wasn't too bad.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Anyway, I'm really not as depressed as I sound. Nate took me shopping for some school clothes on Saturday and out for dinner on Friday. Church was a great outing on Sunday.
Ben's friends have been keeping him busy and I'm learning to look past the mess of the house and feel good about the few things I can keep up on.
Things I can do: dishes, laundry, family history, read, send in my food storage order, shop online, and mentally organize what projects come first when I am mobile and then change my mind incessantly. I get to be beaten by Ben in board games, get the play-by-play of whatever he is doing and be available for both Ben & Nate's conversations. Take naps, lazy around, and smell the flowers. Watch cloud formations out the window, listen to the birds chirp and notice how the light changes the paint tone during the course of a day. Second-guess my decision to stay at my school another year, worry about the upcoming year, and learn how Windows Vista works. Plan actiivity days for next year, practice my presentation, help Ben prepare the lesson for YM on Sunday, make supper, sort out those pesky boxes.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Friday. Got the brace. It goes up to my knee. It's heavy. I can take it off for showers and bed. Planned configuration for year supply storage. Have to move furniture, though so its still in the drawing phase. Researched kitchen stuff online that we need/want.
Saturday. Already stir-crazy. Nate kindly drove me to Pottery Barn and Bed Bath & Beyond and grocery shopping. Went to bed early so I could take off the brace. Spent some time plotting out our square foot garden. Nate made a great greek salad, hummus and pita for supper.
Sunday. Went to Humble to visit the Bolsters and for Kristina's baby blessing. I miss them so much! Had a nice chat with their families and the Davises and their friend Alan. It was good to be with friends.
Monday. Cleaned the kitchen, did laundry and made dinner. Cabin fever. Couldn't wait for Nate to get home and take me to the library. Finally got my rolling stride with the brace - but still tire out easily. Read The Julius House.
Tuesday. Ben cleaned the bathroom and I did dishes. Watched Away From Her while folding laundry. My new vacuum cleaner arrived, but I can't use it because vacuuming is on my list of banned activities. Ordered the garden stuff and located the soils. Still need to send for the seed varieties. Read Fearless Fourteen.
Wednesday. Ben's friends came and spent the day. They were a little wild and I was not very patient. Sick of reading, sick of computer, sick of TV. Got our food storage figured out to the month and planned purchases for rest of year. Read Peace Like a River. Whined to anyone who would talk to me on the phone. Ben and Nate went to scouts and I watched Baby Borrowers. Ben and I stayed up waaaaayyy too late. (I found out later that Nate had let him have a Coke before scouts. I just had insomnia from not being mentally exhausted.)
Thursday. I spent all day on the sofa because I figured that was the same as being in bed and I didn't wear the brace very much. Plus I was tired from being up so late. Read The Bookwoman's Last Fling.
Friday. My foot is actually feeling minutely better. The tedonitis in my ankle is almost gone and I don't feel so crabby. Ben went roller skating and to a sleep over with his friend. So now I'm all alone. I should enjoy it, but I'm not sure what to do. Probably I'll read another book and shop for seeds online. Maybe Nate won't be too tired this evening and we can go out for supper on all the money I've saved by not driving.
If you've made it this far, let me brag about Ben. He has been the sweetest boy ever! He helps me alot and understands that I can't drive him places. He is always there to help me up and down steps and tells me to sit down and rest my foot. He does most of the daily household chores and helps me with nearly everything. And he does this cheerfully and willingly. What a blessing he has been!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
Ben and Nate got up on the 4th to do the flag ceremony at our church pancake breakfast. I stayed home and slept in. Around 1:30, we drove to Washington-on-the-Brazos, a Texas historical site for a fun-filled day. We started at the Barrington Living Farm and toured it. Ben discovered guineas in one of the barns and helped load firewood into a cart for the Pineywoods team of bulls to pull. After a couple of hours, we hopped on the shuttle bus to the museum, where Nate, Heather & Ben spent a couple more hours (Kim napped on a bench). Then outside to eat supper, and chill out. We returned to the farm where we had parked because it was the best show for fireworks and enjoyed a beautiful display. The evening cooled off and it was just beautiful!
My other celebration this year was that summer school ended on July 3rd, so the 4th was an extra dose of freedom! I have spent the past 3 days sleeping and sleeping. Today I made myself get up because I hired one of our neighbor's boys to help Ben and I begin the summer cleaning. We got the dining room and kitchen done this morning. The whole house should be done by Friday. Which is its own kind of freedom.
Lazy summer days.....this is why I changed careers! The corporate world paid lots of money, but never offered the kind of freedom I needed - to do a job that means something AND be home when Ben is and be a Mom.
Monday, June 30, 2008
200 things I have and have not done:
1. Touched an iceberg
2. Slept under the stars
3. Been a part of a hockey fight
4. Changed a baby’s diaper
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Swam with wild dolphins
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a tarantula
10. Said "I love you" and meant it
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
20. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Bet on a winning horse
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Taken an ice cold bath
28. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Ridden a roller coaster
31. Hit a home run
32. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
33. Adopted an accent for fun
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Felt very happy about your life, even for just a moment
36. Loved your job 90% of the time
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Watched wild whales
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Gone on a midnight walk on the beach
41. Gone sky diving
42. Visited Ireland
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited India
45. Bench-pressed your own weight
46. Milked a cow
47. Alphabetized your personal files
48. Worn a superhero costume
49. Sung karaoke
50. Lounged around in bed all day
51. Gone scuba diving
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Done something you should regret, but don’t
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Been in a movie
60. Gone without food for 3 days
61. Made cookies from scratch
62. Won first prize in a costume contest
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Been in a combat zone
65. Spoken more than one language fluently
66. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
67. Bounced a check
68. Read - and understood - your credit report
69. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
70. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
71. Called or written your Congress person
72. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
73. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
74. Helped an animal give birth
75. Been fired or laid off from a job
76. Won money
77. Broken a bone
78. Ridden a motorcycle
79. Driven (in) any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph
80. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (with my fear of heights only made it a few steps)
81. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
82. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
83. Eaten sushi
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read The Bible cover to cover
86. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
87. Gotten someone fired for their actions
88. Gone back to school (more than once!)
89. Changed your name
90. Caught a fly in the air with your bare hands
91. Eaten fried green tomatoes
92. Read The Iliad
93. Taught yourself an art from scratch
94. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
95. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
96. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
97. Been elected to public office
98. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
99. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
100. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
101. Had a booth at a street fair
102. Dyed your hair
103. Been a DJ
104. Rocked a baby to sleep
105. Dropped a cat from a high place to see if it really lands on all fours
106. Raked your carpet
107. Brought out the best in people
108. Brought out the worst in people
109. Worn a mood ring
110. Ridden a horse
111. Carved an animal from a piece of wood or bar of soap
112. Cooked a dish where four people asked for the recipe
113. Buried a child
114. Gone to a Broadway play
115. Been inside the pyramids
116. Shot a basketball into a basket
117. Danced at a disco (have you seen me dance??!)
118. Played in a band
119. Shot a bird
120. Gone to an arboretum
121. Tutored someone
122. Ridden a train
123. Brought an old fad back into style
124. Eaten caviar
125. Let a salesman talk you into something you didn’t need
126. Ridden a giraffe or elephant
127. Published a book
128. Pieced a quilt
129. Lived in an historic place
130. Acted in a play or performed on a stage
131. Asked for a raise
132. Made a hole-in-one (I assume this is mini-golf?)
133. Gone deep-sea fishing (went - spent most of the time seasick.)
134. Gone roller skating
135. Run a marathon
136. Learned to surf
137. Invented something
138. Flown first class
139. Spent the night in a 5-star luxury suite
140. Flown in a helicopter
141. Visited Africa
142. Sang a solo
143. Gone spelunking
144. Learned how to take a compliment
145. Written a love story
146. Seen Michelangelo’s David
147. Had your portrait painted
148. Written a fan letter
149. Spent the night in something haunted
150. Owned a St. Bernard or Great Dane - oh I wish!
151. Ran away (my room was never clean enough)
152. Learned to juggle
153. Been a boss - just in my classroom!
154. Sat on a jury
155. Lied about your weight
156. Gone on a diet
157. Found an arrowhead or a gold nugget.
158. Written a poem
159. Carried your lunch in a lunchbox
160. Gotten food poisoning
161. Gone on a service, humanitarian or religious mission
162. Hiked the Grand Canyon
163. Sat on a park bench and fed the ducks
164. Gone to the opera
165. Gotten a letter from someone famous
166. Worn knickers
167. Ridden in a limousine
168. Attended the Olympics
169. Can hula or waltz
170. Read a half-dozen Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books
171. Been stuck in an elevator
172. Had a revelatory dream
173. Thought you might crash in an airplane
174. Had a song dedicated to you on the radio or at a concert
175. Saved someone’s life
176. Eaten raw whale
177. Know how to tat, smock or do needlepoint
178. Laughed ’til your side hurt
179. Straddled the equator
180. Taken a photograph of something other than people that is worth framing
181. Gone to a Shakespeare Festival
182. Sent a message in a bottle
183. Spent the night in a hostel
184. Been a cashier
185. Seen a geyser erupt
186. Joined a union
187. Donated blood or plasma
188. Built a campfire
189. Kept a blog
190. Had hives
191. Worn custom-made shoes or boots
192. Made a PowerPoint presentation
193. Taken a hunter’s safety course
194. Served at a soup kitchen
195. Conquered the Rubik’s cube
196. Known CPR
197. Ridden in or owned a convertible
198. Found a long lost friend
199. Helped solve a crime
200. Responded yes to a calling you hated & ended up loving it.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
He shared 4 scriptures that testified of Christ, bore his testimony, and went over his 3-5 minute limit.
Excellent job for your first, or tenth time!
I have discovered the joy and addiction of family history and have spent hours the past few Sundays tracking down family records. It's kind of like being a detective.
Summer school ends on July 3rd and I can hardly wait! Ben has been going with me and doing peer tutoring with 5th graders. We are both ready for some lazy summer days.
Nate's anemia issues are improving, and he actually wants to go and do things some evenings.
We are getting our food storage organized onto some new shelves and planning a garden (in Houston, gardening season begins in early fall.)
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Ben didn't pass off very many merit badges, but he's nearly completed several. Guess we'll hit the remaining reqs in July. He had a wonderful time being part of a group of boys and definitely grew in confidence and boyness. He thinks he wants to play football in the fall, and so we are working out everyday to be ready.
Nate had a good time too. He was blessed with other leaders who had their own health issues and so they all supported each other and had a good time. He came back with good color and a fair amount of energy and most importantly - a smile.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
#1 - Heights. I have this uncontrollable fear of heights. I hyperventilate on overpasses.
#2 - Cockroaches. I love snakes & spiders, but show me a cockroach and watch me run screaming.
Today, while we were in sacrament meeting and enjoying a very spiritual testimony meeting, my sister took off her shoe and started smacking it on the pew in front of us. I raised my eyebrow at her until she mouthed "roach". I immediately cringed, lifted my feet off the floor and pulled up my skirt a little. Eventually, I began to relax until I saw another run across the pew in front of me and another scuttle past my bag. I clasped my mouth shut with my hand and began shaking in terror. Nate asked if I needed to sit in the foyer and Ben started singing "la cucharacha" under his breath. Since we were in the second row in the middle, I didn't want to disturb everyone by crawling over them unless I had to. So I kept telling myself that it was only an insect, they don't eat people, it was only two, etc. Then I noticed waves of disturbances in other pews and the lady behind me held up 5 fingers. UGH!!!! I am proud to say that I did not jump up and begin speaking in tongues, which is what might have happened. I did make it to the end, but I couldn't tell you about the last 7 testimonies. I thought it a fitting end to the meeting when Bro. Groesbeck said that as long as we are spiritually prepared we have no need to fear. Hmmm.....I wonder where that puts me?
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I'm having a "can't cut the science lab apron strings" year. I really bonded with my 5th graders. Some of them I had taught since 2nd grade, all the others I have taught since 3rd. They knew me and I knew them and we learned alot this year. I was a bigger crybaby during the promotion exercises today than most of the parents. Of course, my little girls and even some of my boys were boo-hooing as well.
Remember the little girl that wrote me a note that said "RIP - you are a witch" - (but as threatening as it looked, she was just celebrating her favorite holiday - Halloween)? She's off to middle school along with the kid who would never sit still during 2nd grade - he kept playing the drums all day. He moved schools and we were so glad and then he returned this year to the chagrin of many of us. He announced to me..."Remember me, Ms. Ottosen? You're the teacher that made me love science". And then of course, the boy in bilingual classes who would never do anything in English - wouldn't even try. The last week of 4th grade I got him to write a short paragraph in English in his journal and this year he passed the state exam in English! The little girl who came in the middle of 3rd grade and didn't know a word of English and was so determined to learn. She would never give up and practiced and practiced and made all her teachers teach her as much as possible - passed all 3 state exams in English and received the Principal's Award for her undying enthusiasm and motivation for succeeding. A handful of our bilingual ed students passed the science TAKS exam in English, which is a much harder test than the reading TAKS, which they failed. What is the logic in that? If they were all going on to the same middle school, I might change jobs.
I'm going to miss my friends. I hope they all invite me to their high school and college graduations.
Of course, summer science camp begins next week and I have a whole new group to make friends with.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I have been asked by my school district to become a trainer for a program called The Private Eye. This program empowers students by giving them tools, both physical and mental, that allow them to think in analogies, which in turn, opens the creativity in all subjects.
The first two days of our training were spent being trained in these tools. Several exercises ask us to observe closely an object (I chose a sweet gum seedpod) and then create a list of 10 analogies of what it reminds us of. That part was quite easy for me. Then we were required us to use that list and create a written piece. Here is where it all comes to a screeching halt because I HATE TO WRITE! I freeze, I fidget, I hyperventilate...classic signs of a panic attack. It was made worse by the fact that I was surrounded by the best of the best science teachers in our school district, whom I respect and look to as my peers.
I finally wrote a short poem that I was fairly pleased with. We used our new tools to create a drawing of the item, and then it was time to begin sharing our work and I began to have that sinking feeling. Their poems discussed how broccoli looked like the rainforest, and undersea kelp forests. One poem sang the praises of green. My poem in comparison was rather dark and morbid. How unlike an elementary teacher!
Now it is my turn to share my poem and I tell them that I'm a little frightened of sharing because it is darker than what else has been shared and that I hate writing and please don't laugh. So I read my poem...and the stunned silence at the end is broken by a cacophony of spontaneous clapping, requests to reread it, and one complaint from another table: "Yeah, sure the genius who thinks she can't write." Thankfully, the spotlight moves onto others and I can relax.
At lunch, I reflect on what causes me to dismiss writing as something I "can't do". I am a creative person by nature, and love all different kind of creation - even music where I really don't have enough talent to share with the world. Why do I find writing so panicky? As I ponder, I realized that it was all because of my 1st grade teacher. We were given an assignment to write a poem using rhyme and on a Halloween topic. Thus was born my 5 Little Ghostesses poem...and my first bad grade. The teacher informed me that I did not use words that rhymed - I made them rhyme by adding esses to the end and so I had not fulfilled the assignment. I still have the original copy of that poem and her words are burned into my soul. Unfortunately, I am rather sensitive and took her words to mean that I couldn't write a lick. That judgement overcame all other input for the next 34 years.
I shared my thoughts and that original poem with the founder of the Private Eye, Kerry Ruef, as well as some of my peers that happened to be nearby and they were shocked. They saw the power that teachers have to shape children and told me that had I been in their classroom, I would have immediately been sent to the gifted program. Kind words, but now I sort of believe them.
In defense of that first poem, I will share part of it - to prove that the words DID rhyme and to heal that wound from so long ago.
Five Little Ghostesses
Five little ghostesses
Sitting on postesses
Eating buttered toastesses
Greasing their fistesses
Right up to their wristesses
Oh such beastesses
to have such feastesses.
Many thanks to Kerry Ruef and my cohort of Private Eyes in helping me to see that I can express myself in writing and that my unique way of looking at the world is of worth to others.
I am sharing the next piece with the world. You may love it or hate it or just not get it, but you cannot take away the power of its creation and the freedom that sharing it has given me in this, my 40th year.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
As the week progressed, Ben was happier, quick to do chores and homework before playing, and he just seems to have a quiet confidence that wasn't present before. He's still a boy, though...he loves video games and still smarts off on occasion and conveniently forgets about homework.
It was interesting to me that my principal shared that he recently became a deacon in his church (at the age of 52). His responsibilities include greeting people as they arrive. It seems to be a much different process than ours and I don't know the details, but the juxtaposition was interesting to note this week.
This Sunday morning, Ben exercised his priesthood duties for the first time and passed the sacrament. He remembered Grandpa Jones' council and passed the trays with his right hand. He did a great job and you could not tell it was his first time. He even looked like an expert at helping our blind sister with the sacrament. I cannot express the feeling of joy and humbleness that I felt as my son, entrusted to me by Heavenly Father, undertook this duty.
The power of the priesthood is real. I know. I saw it this week.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Comcast bought out Time-Warner a while back and I haven't been pleased with that change. When AT&T's rep showed up on the doorstep to tout their new Uverse fiber optic phone, cable & internet service, they talked me into it by promising to lower my bill.
Add to that the fact that Texas deregulated their electricity service a few years back. I miss the old days when one just didn't have a choice. I have spent 15.5 hours comparing rates, checking service complaints and just plain fence-sitting since my contract with Reliant ended and I had to enter into a new one. I would have just extended with R, but they increased my price by 2 cents per kwh! That just wasn't in the budget since we have virtually no insulation and summer is coming. (i know...i should just roll out that insulation...but have you SEEN my attic?!)
I don't like change...but it sure likes me!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
1. Ben has always been very determined from the moment of his birth to today. We are fortunate that he has been determined in righteous paths.
2. Ben has a kind heart. He loves animals and babies.
3. Ben is bright. Despite a few learning disabilities, he competes quite well (when he chooses to) at school. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of topics that strike his fancy. Such as greek mythology, pokemon, and warhammer.
4. Ben is honest. He takes after the Joneses in the blatancy of his honesty.
5. Ben is sober in the things of the Lord. He takes his church responsibilites seriously and never makes light of them. He is usually the first to remind us of scriptures and prayers when we get off track.
6. Ben likes to laugh and make other people happy. He must get this from his father who was recently introduced as the "ward comedian".
7. Ben is generous.
8. Ben is a good friend.
9. Ben is forgiving.
10. Ben is quick to show appreciation and gratitude.
11. Ben is quick to bear another's burdens. He often jumps in to help without being asked and endures to the end when he is helping.
12. Ben is polite. He never goes to a friend's house that the parents don't make a point to express how well he behaves and how much they enjoy having him around.
Nate and I are constantly awed by Ben's quiet greatness. He is truly a gift to our family and we hope to be worthy parents of him.