Saturday, December 8, 2012

The More, the Merrier!

Currently, we have ten people living in what is a 3-bedroom one story home with a basement.  Four of us live upstairs in two of the bedrooms, the other bedroom is the TV room, and six of us live in the basement.  Mom and Dad have their room, and the girls (Anja and Analee) live across the hall from them.  Anika, Gideon, and I have a room downstairs.  Josiah, Bub, and Duck share a room, as well.  Today we add to the mix Aunt (or sister) Erika, who will live in what is known here as the Little House.  (It's basically a converted wood shop out back.)  So 11, now.  Three bathrooms help, but we need to get another shower operational, or shower time will be an even bigger mess here. 

Dad is running for city council here in Lincoln, and has put Anika to work on social media, so expect more of that coming soon.  Feel free to like Dad even if you aren't in the area.  We'll post something when we get his stuff up.  Anika and I registered to vote here in Lincoln, so he's got our votes, for sure.

I'm applying to a number of jobs in the area.  One of them seems fun; I am applying to tutor the jocks at UNL.  I'd get paid well-ish, and it'd be fun to work at UNL.  I'm also applying for teaching certification here in Nebraska.  I don't know what the future holds, but I'm willing to embrace it.  I am no longer complaining about where I live; instead, I'm happy to be somewhere.  Can't wait for the future!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

New Normal

We're starting to get used to the new normal.  Life is still up in the air, but we're still finding pieces of normality all around.  We're settling into a new rhythm that meshes with our now-huge household.  I get up first usually, around 5 or 6 in the morning.  Then we do our best to both keep busy and out of Mom's way until it's time for combined bed time.  Then heck breaks loose as 5 kids brush teeth and get ready for bed, then songs, scriptures, prayer, and books for everybody, and then screaming (er...ahem...bedtime) for our two oldest boys, while our girl and Aunt Anja (8 years old) and Uncle Josiah (10) listen to a chapter book.  I usually go to sleep between our boys' bedtime and Josiah, who shares a room with them.

All of the kids here (all six of them!) are trying to find their place in the new household, which means fighting and limit testing.  Luckily for us, they mostly sleep through the night.  We find the line between parent and brother/sister/grandma/grampa is a difficult one to toe, but I think offense is being limited, for the most part.

We're going car hunting tomorrow, so normalcy might start returning in a big way.  Once I have a car, I can start really job hunting.  I'll probably end up substitute teaching, but I need a teaching license here in Nebraska before I can do so.  In the meantime, I plan on working at some store that is desperate for work (there are a lot in the area, apparently), just to earn a little bit of a living.

Our kids are getting ready for Christmas, which means ever-changing Christmas lists and fighting over whose will be the best.  I don't want anything for Christmas but a job, and nobody that lives here can give that to me.  So I honestly hope I don't get anything, though I have a lot of desires.  After moving recently and hoping to move again soon, I don't want anything else to schlep from here to wherever we end up.

I continue putting in applications, hoping against hope that someone will hire me.  I continue to find that in this profession, it's more about who you know than what.  I might be the best teacher the world's ever seen, but can't get a job because I'm not good at making connections with adults.  (I'm great with kids, though, I swear!)

In the meantime, the world keeps turning, and eventually life will go on.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Blessings from the Storm

As mentioned, we've noticed a number of blessings from the accident.  Among them are the following:

1.  Our Cutco knives were among the last things packed, and they weren't packed solidly.  In fact, that box wasn't even closed.  And it was in the front seat, next to me and in front of the kids.  They never moved.  We totaled our car, but the knives never moved.

2.  Razor blades were flying around the car in the accident, but nobody got hit.  As we were getting out, my good wife saw one on top of the air bag. 

3.  We all literally walked away.  Admittedly, I stumbled out first, and then assured the paramedic that came running behind the car that we were fine.  I then looked back and saw my wife gasping for air.  (Needless to say, our air conditioning was toast, and spitting out smoke.)  I then pried her door open and we stumbled out and away from the car.  The kids (especially John William Adams) were so enamored with the wreck that they kept going back to it.  The sheriff told us to keep our kids off the bridge where we wrecked, so we tried.  Occasionally a kid got away from us.

4.  We were on the bridge, so we could crash into the wall, and not fall into a ditch.    If we'd have hit the ditch, we probably would have rolled.  Drake's car seat came unhitched during the accident, and if it'd happened in a roll, who knows what kind of damage would have been done?

5.  We got to meet the Daetwylers.  Awesome people.

6.  Analee wasn't there.  Grandma picked her up earlier, much to Anika's chagrin.  If she'd have been there, it would have been mayhem.

7.  We left my car in Buena Vista.  We didn't know why, but we got the clear impression to do so.  Turns out to have been great counsel.  What kind of accident would it have been if both cars were involved?

8.  The car was luckily totaled.  That means we don't have to go back and get it, and can get a "new" car in roughly the same condition as the old one.

9.  The police, EMT's, and other helping personnel were great.  We loved meeting and working with them.

10.  Most of our new ward knew who we were when we got here.  Instead of being just another new family, we're the family that got in the wreck on the way to town.  People we didn't know were coming up to us and talking to us on the first day, just to talk about the wreck.

So yes, the wreck was an unpleasant experience.  We still don't have a car quite yet.  Some of our stuff was broken (a Wii game part and a bread maker, not to mention car seats, which is really not much).  It's kinda thrown off some of our plans.  That said, we really find the blessings of the Lord, even in the clouds of life.  Some people find reasons to believe the Lord isn't there in the hard times.  We're not those people.  The Lord loves us.  In this, we are assured.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

We're here!

Despite delays, we're actually in Lincoln, now!  ...and have been for about a week!

When we left Buena Vista last Tuesday, we expected to get to Lincoln in two long days.  It's about 1,100 miles distance, so we were braced for a long couple of days.

We were nowhere near prepared for what happened.

As we drove through Evansville, Indiana, I started thinking that we should stop.  My wife, on the other hand, always wants to get a bit farther.*  So we started to aim for Mt. Vernon, Illinois.  We got to about 4 miles from the Illinois border, and my wheel jerked to the left with no real cause.  I was in the wall and knew it'd be bad right away.  It turns out the van was totaled in the wreck, and the trailer with all of our stuff was on its side.  Luckily, nobody else was involved in the crash.  ...and we all literally walked away from the accident, though Drake had a limp for a few days. 

Great.  Now what?

So the police that showed up took us to a hotel (in Evansville), which was very nice of them.  One of them even gave Anika a coat because we just weren't prepared to wreck.  He also gave us his phone number just in case we needed it.  I can't say anything ill about the police.

So we called Anika's parents to let them know that we wouldn't be there the next day.  Then Anika started the insurance phone calls.  They lasted for days.  ...and our phone was quickly losing power.  The next day, still doing the insurance shuffle, our phone died.  That night, we asked Mom to put us in touch with a local bishop.  (We should have done that right when we got to the hotel room, in hindsight.)  He came over that night and started the process of helping us out.

Thursday morning, the Elders' Quorum president showed up to give us a ride to the Uhaul place, where we could get a truck to take us to Lincoln.  Then I went back to the hotel.  My wife and stuff were gone.  No worries, I figure, Bishop told us that Anika could spend some time with the sisters.  She'll be back soon.  At about noon, I ate the muffin that I'd picked up for her.  At about 2, I ate another.  Where was she?  At about 2:45, she called.  "What are you doing there?!?"  "Uhh...where should I be?"  About 5 minutes later, housekeeping showed up to let me know that my wife had checked out that morning.  (Wasn't it nice of her to tell me?!?)  I asked for a few minutes more to figure out where I was going, it was granted, and I called my wife back to figure out where I was going and when.

The high priest group leader was the next to call, and he set up time to move things from our newly busted trailer to our newly picked up truck.  That took about half an hour, and then off we went to the Relief Society president's home.

I should say right off the bat that we love the Daetwylers.  They took care of us and went far above the call of duty.  I'll let Anika write a bit more about them.  Needless to say, in my eyes they can do no wrong.

Still continuing the insurance boogie, Anika found a way to get us a car to get to Lincoln.  We picked it up on Friday morning, and then started to plan to get to Lincoln.  We decided to leave Friday afternoon, which put us through St. Louis right at rush hour (YAY!).  We stopped somewhere in Missouri that night, and then got to Lincoln on Saturday.

We've been unpacking and Thanksgiving ever since.  Literally.  We've noticed the blessings of the Lord being poured out on us from the first few minutes after the crash, but we're noticing them more and more since then.  The good Lord loves us.

That said, the hunt for a new family car begins.  Anyone want to give us a van?

* When we were first married (and less smart), we drove across the country a few times.  One day, we left Elko, Nevada.  As we passed through Cheyenne, Wyoming at about 9 PM, I thought it was about time to stop.  She asked "can we make it to Lincoln safely?"  "I guess."  I said.  About 8 hours later, we got to Lincoln.  It was horrific.  1,100 miles in one day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Moving Update

So it's starting to hit us that we're moving.  We've got a lot of stuff!  It's amazing how much stuff can accumulate over the course of 6 years of marriage!  We found a home for our hockey equipment, and we're excited about that.  Mom has lots of assorted figurines that she's not taking, so we'll be gathering those up and finding homes for them.  We've packed a number of boxes of books (we're book people), and have given a number of them to Southern Virginia University.  We still have about 6 more boxes of books to pack.

You see, most of what we'll be taking with us is books and clothes.  Other than those, we're really not taking much.  No couches, or beds (though we are taking two twin mattresses), or entertainment centers or dishes or tables or really anything else is going with us; most of it we'll leave for the family moving in after us.

That said, we still have lots of stuff to get rid of.  It's crazy how much stuff accumulates over time.

Of course, we're still doing our own accumulation, even as we tear down 6 years of married stuff.  We have kids, and want them to feel both wanted and welcome in their new home.  So we're working kid-by-kid to create images along the lines of President Eyring's talk.  No, they're not made of wood, but after finishing our first one (for Gideon) for FHE last night, we're rather impressed.  We'll have to take a picture of it sometime so you can see it.  We'll put the pictures we create into frames, and then put those in each kid's new room.  Though Gideon will sleep with us, we want him to know that he's wanted.

As a part of the picture, we found a scripture that relates to each kid.  In Gideon's picture, we listed the Lord's words, ironically, to Gideon: "Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel...."  (That's Judges 6:14, for the record.)  We also put in there the name of each kid and its meaning.  In Gideon Davis Adams's case, it's Hewer down (of men), Son of David, son of Adam.  Talk about a heritage to reach for!  I think he can do it all.  He's a stud.

I can't wait to find out what we come up with for our other kids.  We are truly raising a generation here, and it's great to see!

Monday, October 8, 2012


During today's Family Home Evening we talked about gratitude.  About how we should be grateful for everything Heavenly Father gives us.  And not just be glad we have it but to express that gratitude.  We went around a few times and let each person say something they were grateful for.  The kids' answers were fun.  Everything from books and toys to couches and...well...Drake kinda copied the last bit of everything I said.  John was, as always, the firm reminder of what's important, citing family members and Jesus Christ.  
Afterwards we asked each kid to pick someone that they wanted to say 'thank you' to and write that person a note.  We haven't delivered the notes yet (it was time for bed as soon as FHE was over) but are excited to do so tomorrow.

To go with John's wonderful example, here are some pictures of what I'm most grateful for:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


So we've pulled Analee from school as an experiment.  (Anika wrote to the acting superintendent today telling her of this fact.)  We've had a lot of fun, but I fear we waited too long.  Babe's attitude has changed, and not all for the better.  I fear my little girl is a lot like her mom; change isn't easy for her. 

When Analee went to nursery, she loved it, but came home with some pretty weird ideas of how the world works.  Like she figured if she beat up on her brothers, she'd get what she wanted.  After all, it worked for some of the kids in her nursery class, so why wouldn't it work at home?

Apparently the squeaky wheel gets the grease in public school, too.  Analee figures if she pitches a big enough fit over something, we'll change plans.  She's mistaken, and learning it the hard way.

Alternatively, the silent wheel in the public school system appears forgotten.  Analee figures that if she doesn't want to do something, all she has to do is fly under the radar and we'll let things pass.  She's mistaken again.

Despite sickness and us being newbies to this whole teaching thing, we've had a lot of fun learning.  Every night, we ask Analee what she wants to learn about the next day.  Then we focus on that and offshoots of that plan for our lesson.  For example, on Monday, she wanted to learn about ballet.  So we watched a documentary on Russian ballet, and a quick how-to on how ballet shoes are made.  Then we spent a lot of the rest of the day dancing around.  Today, it was cats.  Not house cats, but lions, tigers, and leopards.  So we watched a documentary, again.  Then we played "big cats" and rolled around biting each other's necks, as big cats can.  You see, big cats don't put all of their pressure on the prey's neck; instead, they put just enough to cause death by cutting off blood supply.

Tonight, we asked her what she wanted to learn tomorrow.  "Dogs, Dickens, and ducks."

Wait, what?


Did our 5-year-old ask for Dickens?


So we'll watch Disney's "Mickey's Christmas Carol," which has dogs, Dickens, and ducks all in one film. 

I'm amped.

When we move (to wherever we're moving) in a month (-ish), we'll probably re-enroll her in public school.  Until then, we're having a blast.  I love it!

Sunday, September 30, 2012


So I've felt the need to move for a few months, now.  My wife, not so much.  Still, she's been migrating to my point of view.  Change, however, is a problem for my wife.  She recognizes that the only constant in life is change (a view that I actually don't think is true; is not the love of God constant?  or at least constantly increasing?), but doesn't like major life changes.  (Don't tell her that the rate at which we are having children constitutes a major life change every few months.)  At a recent Stake Conference (a gathering of local church congregations), she finally got the revelation that I'd been getting for months.

You see, we don't make major changes in life until we both get the revelation that we should.  It's a rule of ours that helps to avoid conflict between us.

At that Stake Conference, she got it.  She cried.  (Again, she hates change.)  But she faced the future resolutely.  She's a champ.

So where are we moving?  We have no clue. 

You see, the where is as important as the when (of which we also have no definite clue, though we're leaning to "before Thanksgiving," for reasons listed below).  Both are just a shade under the fact that we're actually going to move.

So since it wasn't revealed where or when we're moving, we're using Lincoln, Nebraska as our default.  Anika's mom and dad live there, and they offered about once a week since I graduated from Liberty in June to have us move there.  So our default is to move in with her folks.  I'm still secretly hoping for a job to pop up between now and then, but that's partially because I have this male need to support my family. 

The reasons for the placement of Lincoln for our family are many, but essentially boil down to three.  (1) I want to live closer to family, and Lincoln is both closer to my wife's family and my California family.  (2) We plan on moving West for my career.  This is related to #1, but is important enough to be separate.   I'm in the process of applying for licensure to teach in Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, but I'm also open to the idea of teaching basically anywhere I can support a family on a teacher's salary.  I figure I would have had a job if I lived in Arizona, and it would have been at one of the top schools on my list of desirable work locations.  So the pure location of Nebraska (middle of the country) makes it desirable, assuming we don't get a job in the meantime.  (3) We're fans of family-friendly environments.  I don't mean to be offensive, but Buena Vista is not entirely family-friendly.  The LDS community here is great, for the most part.  That said, they're the exception to the norm.  In Lincoln, the LDS community is rather small, but the people seem to be built for families, for the most part. 

So when will we move?  Again, we're looking at before Thanksgiving, since we're looking at moving towards Anika's family.  The earliest we can move is early November (barring a speedy move to a job, which would be just me, most likely).  I'm shooting for that.

So that's the news on our front.

Anyone have any boxes that we could use?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I am a Child of God

John mentioned before that after school can get pretty grumpy.  Analee is tired, the boys are tired, we're tired (the afternoon used to be our down time).  But what he didn't mention is that the mornings are pretty ugly, too.  Either we wake Analee up earlier (earlier than 6:30-6:45) and have her moan and groan and whine through an extremely slow morning routine or we let her wake up on her own/when she hears her brothers being loud and rush through it all.  When it comes down to it, though, she doesn't get to school on time unless we push.  Gentle reminders don't seem to help much and there is only so much you can prepare the night before.  It seems like every morning one of us gets to be the drill sergeant.  Put it all together and our daily schedule looks like this:

dark-7:45 - GO GO Grumpiness GO GO!

morning - we miss Analee 

afternoon - no, seriously, when will Analee come home?

3 - dreaded pick-up (dreaded b/c we have to go to the school)

before dinner - whine, cry, scream, fight, punch, kick, wail, flail, throw things (this involves all the kids, and hopefully no parents)

dinner - if we're lucky Analee doesn't comment on how disgusting dinner looks and how she won't touch it (note, a few months ago the dinner mantra seemed to be "I don't like it-BUT I'll eat it anyways")

bedtime - hopefully no crying, clinging, sobbing etc.

I don't know how people do this.  I can't handle it.


I did want to share something that brought a little peace.

This video soothed a crying baby, a crying two year old and a whining 4 year old in less than 30 seconds. 
My kids that know the words couldn't seem to help but join in.
I cried the first time I saw it.  (no joke)

Whether or not your days have been as crazy/upsetting/stressful etc. as what I've described above, I hope this video brings you not just a little peace, but a lot.

I know that I am a child of God.  He sent me to earth and has a plan for me.  Each of us is a child of God.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I've waited long enough! (How I stopped waiting for my wife to post and just did it myself.)

So after setting up my wife brilliantly for a post on the charter school that failed, we got...nothing.  Not even an "I'll get to it!" from my woman.  Try as I might, I just can't get her to post.  She claims she's "too tired" to post, and she does have a lot going on.  That said, we have a public to entertain with our not-so-great blog, so I'll step in.  Hey, late is better than never, or so I hear!

Analee is starting to waver on her choice to stay in public school.  Mom is definitely wavering.  You see, Babe is just drained when she gets home.  She's cranky and miserable, and when she gets home, her brothers go berserk.  "Let's see what Babe brought us!" they seem to yell.  So they're all over her, her school supplies, her lunch, and anything else she happens to bring home.  ...and she's just so tired that she can't help but snap at them. 

Fierce Babe is even creeping into our nights.  Last night, at about 10 (when I should have been LONG asleep but wasn't; more on that below), she came into our bedroom.  "I can't sleep.  Can I stay in here?"  Enter half-hour test of parents trying to get alone time vs. child who wants parent time.  She admitted that she misses us during the day (cue Mom's heart breaking; kid is good!), so we once again reiterated that she doesn't have to go to school.  She thought about it and told us she'd tell us in the morning.

I'm still torn on whether or not I want to see her stay in public school.  I find value in Analee facing others on their terms.  She meets people of different religions than her own, with different customs, and different lifestyles.  She has a great teacher, and Anika wants to bend over backwards for her. 

That said, socially, the school setting isn't helping Analee.  We've raised her to be nice to all people, and she's doing great.  She says "hi" to EVERYBODY, and knows their names.  Still, though, few respond in kind.  One girl, who we thought would be good friends with Babe, has repeatedly told her that she doesn't want to be friends with her. 

Further, I think she can get through 1st grade now, and she might just do that at home.  I'd be peachy with that, honestly.

She's home today.  (It's a "family day," which translates to us being to sick to think about taking her to school.)  We'll see if she goes back to school tomorrow.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A return to job hunting.

Since the start of the school year, I have put job hunting on the back burner.  It still happened (and happens), mind you, but it just wasn't a priority.  Cleaning house, taking care of the yard, helping with kids, and generally trying to (a) help out and (b) stay out of Anika's way (not an easy combination, let me tell you!).  I've applied for a few jobs, but not many.

One of them is interviewing me tonight.  It's in Arizona.  Do I want it?  Of course.  I'd love to teach entrepreneurship and economics in a middle school setting.  I love the primarily minority class of students.  I love what I think is the pay.  I love it all.  Except the placement.  Don't get me wrong, I have no problems with Arizona; it's closer to folks I love in California, for one.  That said, it's also farther from Anika's family, and we really want to get closer to them.  I would love to have my kids get really close to "Grandma and Grampa" (their names for themselves).  I want my kids to have a relationship with their aunts and uncles.  All of them.  Even if Anika is unsure about the type of relationship that the kids would have with them.  I love family, and find it important.

That said, I also find the ability to not just survive, but grow, to be just as important.  This job would allow such growth. 

There's another job, though only half time, in Iowa that I applied for.  I'm honestly not sure that I don't want it more.  We found a huge home in the same town that is well within our price range.  It's not a big city, like Tucson is.  But it's only half time.

If I get neither, I've been looking for part-time work here in Buena Vista, too.  I found a job that I could take part-time at SVU, but don't know that I want to be one of those people. 

Don't get me wrong; I have no problem with SVU grads/students working on the hill.  I think it's wonderful for SVU grads to have positions on the hill.  That said, I just don't think it's for me.  I don't want to be the guy who graduated and never left.  Even if I get a job in the area, there is and should be (in my opinion) a clear distinction between who I was and who I am.  I rarely go on the hill because of the difference.  I see professors and staff a heck of a lot more off-campus than on-. 

There's a job in Rockbridge County (more accurately Lexington, but it'd be for Rockbridge County Schools...more on them in a bit) that I think would work well with me.  There's another at VMI that I would love.  Ultimately, though, my goal is to teach.  Anything.  Anywhere.

Rockbridge County Schools.  What should I say about them?  Suffice it to say, we're not their greatest fans right now.  I'll let Anika dive into details, but it's enough to say that they rejected the charter for a school to which we wanted to send our kids.  We're not excited.  At all.  We're so unexcited that we've lately talked about moving to Lincoln just to get away from Buena Vista/Rockbridge County and start over again.  We'll see when/if that happens. 

Cue Anika.  Go, woman!  (I love you!)

Thursday, September 6, 2012


John keeps telling me I need to post.
I keep trying to decide what to say.

I have a post started.  The Aftermath II.
A continuation of my struggle with post-partum depression.
It needs to be said.
It will be said.
But not right now.

Right now I need something lighter, softer, kinder.
Something I found in Analee.

Before Analee started school she got a father's blessing.  In it she was told that she would need to learn how to be compassionate towards the other kids.
You see, Analee might not understand her classmates for a few reasons.

1) She loves learning - and is naturally good at it.  She eats it up.
Example-I used to make math worksheets for her, nothing special just addition and subtraction problems in whatever notebook she brought me.  But when Gideon was born I found my hands, literally, full.  I wasn't able to write up a worksheet for her whenever she wanted, so what did she do?  She made them herself.  Cute little boxes for the answers and all.  Not everyone learns quickly and not everyone likes it so much.

2) Analee has masterful control over her emotions.  She always has.  She can mask disappointment and sometimes even switch from sad to happy in mere seconds...frankly, that can be tough for most of us.  She is the epitome of composure.  In fact, most of the time I have to poke and prod to make sure I'm not overlooking some emotion in there-and often I am.  Then put her in a room with other 5 year olds who may not be so self-controlled.

In fact, in the first week or so would comment to us that this kid wasn't acting the way she should or that kid wasn't coloring inside the lines-he was scribbling, you shouldn't do that.  At first we'd try to temper these somewhat accusatory comments about other kids (it really is okay if someone scribbles on their paper).  I could tell that she just didn't comprehend why someone would behave differently from her.  Soon after she stopped accusing and started asking - why did this kid not listen to the teacher or why did that kid make a bad choice.

One day she told me a little boy had been crying and she went over to him.  Are you proud of me for sitting next to him and asking if he was okay? 

Today John picked her up from school.  When she got in the car he said he could see the wheels in her head turning (aren't those cool moments?).
Daddy, why does such n' such boy act mean sometimes and nice sometimes?
She went on to tell John some of the mean things the boy did.  John asked her if she told the teacher.
No, I don't think he was that bad.

I have to say, I'm really proud of her for that.  People (especially kids, but all of us are guilty) get caught up in 'fairness', which is oftentimes translated as mercy for me and justice for everyone else.  I mean, how often do we get annoyed by someone driving too fast or too slow or one thing they said just one time. We excuse ourselves saying "I'm tired" or "I've been really stressed", but rarely do we give others the benefit of the doubt.  Truly, think of the last time you were shocked or annoyed or offended, did you think of how the other person was feeling?  If you're like me, the answer was no. 

And yet, my 5 year old is started to learn differently.  She put aside her need for rules and fairness in exchange for compassion.  I am seriously touched by her emotional generosity and hope to become as generous. 

Am I proud of you?  Yes, my dear, very, very proud.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Labor Day Parade

So Monday was our annual Buena Vista Labor Day parade, which is also known as the "kickoff of the political season."  No, seriously, it deserves the quotation marks.  In our dinky town (though it's actually a city), big political names came to pay us a visit.  And shake hands.  And march roughly a mile down the main street in BV.  ...and speak at the park, though we thankfully missed that.  (More on that in just a bit.)  Oh, and the parade had a few other goodies, too!

First off, I shook hands with Bob Goodlatte.  Of the political guys at the parade, I relate to him better than most.  I won't vote for him, but I don't think he'll lose, no matter how much of a fight he has on his hands.  Why won't I vote for him if I think he's doing a good job?  He's one of the things I see wrong with our system.  In my view, we shouldn't have career politicians.  Goodlatte is just that.  I just can't support career politicians.

Which brings me to Virginia's Senate race.  With Senator Jim Webb (D) retiring, the race is down to two career politicians: George Allen (D) and career politician Tim Kaine (D).  I saw Kaine, but might have missed Allen, because I read that he was there.  Once I shook Goodlatte's hand, I decided to hide behind my camera and just click away so I didn't have to shake anybody else's hand.  I'm not voting for either of these two, either.  This is one of the toughest races in the US, and I hope they both lose.

The good sides of this parade were the actual BV-oriented parts.  SVU was fantastic.  Parry McCluer's marching band was fabulous.  For both, even my little girl got ecstatic.  Seeing VMI's bagpipes was awesome.  Though the flags didn't lead the parade (?), seeing the focus of the cadets was amazing.  My American-ness was touched to see it.

On to more pictures!  (Can anybody believe that I've become the picture guy?!?)

 This is all-too-familiar for Labor Day.
 As is this.  Politicians buy votes by giving people candy.  We let our kids have the candy.  I won't be giving them my vote.

 Still brings a tingle.  Amazing sight.

 Why do cute girls go to parades?  Because they're invited, of course.  This is Miss Virginia, I think.

 This is Miss Junior Teen Virginia, or something like that.  That makes her, what...8? 

 The adopted symbol of Buena Vista: three old grouches.
 Analee: "I know some of them!"
 Buena Vista has American Indians?!?  Who knew?!?
 Obligatory cheer squad.
 Doesn't Ms. SVU seem happy?

 Poor guy got stuck at the end.
 Babe showing off her haul.  Or some of it.
They're glad to be home.

I'm generally a pretty politically-minded guy, but I'm glad to have missed the political speeches.  I just don't think anybody could have swayed my opinion, and looking at the divisions in town, I doubt many, if any, ended up swayed.  I'd rather spend the holiday with my family.

I was out before the fireworks started that night.  A good end to a long day.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Long enough!

This post is for pictures of Babe going to school for the first time.

Before that, though, an update on our schooling situation.  We're going to stick with public schools for the time being, but we're also going to supplement with out own teaching (as the public school isn't teaching her anything at this point).  Anika wrote a letter to the school outlining our problems with the way things were handled, and hopefully we can change the policy accordingly.  Even if it's a paper given to parents before the first day of school that they can choose to sign to give permission for any type of check on kids' health (which we would have gladly signed), we hope to get parent permission to be a part of BVCPS's future.

On to the pictures!

OK, so there are technically two first days.  You read about the false start.  That's the upper pictures.  The lower ones are her actual first day. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Yuck! Be warned!


What is to come is a sensitive topic.  Please stop reading if you are offended by talk of underage sex, pedophilia, or other such topics.

You have been warned.

So it's been a few days since we last wrote.  We've been trying to figure out where we are going with life in general, and with Analee's schooling in particular.  Today, we were given a big shove regarding Analee and school.

At school today, teachers and administrators came to the knowledge of somebody having chicken pox.  I don't know how they found out, but apparently some children at Analee's school showed up with chicken pox.  I'm not a hippy spreading chicken pox around (I find "pox parties" abhorrent, and the data suggests their danger), but I'm not afraid of chicken pox.  It's a disease.  One of many.  Most likely, my kids will get over them if they get them.

The school decided to check the students for signs of chicken pox.  That's a great idea!  Stop the contagion before it gets too far in a confined population.  One problem:

They never told the parents.

So what's the problem?  Not telling the parents isn't that big a deal, is it?

I think so.

Here in Buena Vista, sex offenders abound.  We've had at least two within a block of our home, and likely more, but we try not to look because I would have to stay up all night with a shotgun in hand to protect my family if we knew the real numbers.  I would never let my children play outside.

More to the point, one of our neighbors was a sex offender.  The guy lived right next door!  We tried to let the kids play, but couldn't let them outside without keeping an eye on them.  Or two.  Or four.  They never got to go to the neighbors' yard.  The neighbor seemed to be a nice guy trying to overcome his past, but doesn't a parent have to question motives around children, especially with past experience suggesting a likely outcome?

Furthermore, BV's school system isn't the safe place it should be.  At the high school, a football coach was arrested and booked for an international child pornography ring that he was part of.  At one of the elementary schools last year, a counselor was arrested for looking at pornography just after his wife gave birth to a child.  In public.  (It happened at a local university.)

Fast forward to today.  According to the school's principal (who got a call from a freaked out mother), numerous adults were in the room when all of the children were checked for chicken pox.  Analee says that one of them (her clues suggest it was the school's nurse) looked under her dress to see her belly and back.

Luckily, Analee was wearing pants under her dress and a shirt on top.

Even so, we are quite freaked out by the utter lack of decorum spread by the school.  Multiple adults are not a sufficient barrier against pedophilia, as adults have been known to gang up to assault children in the past.  They should have done two things, and failed completely on both accounts:

1.  They should have looked at Analee's immunization record.  While no immunization is 100%, Analee has been immunized against chicken pox.  They utterly failed to do that, according to the principal.  (Why do we even send immunization records to the school if they are not going to be consulted?)

2.  WHY IN THE WORLD DIDN'T THE SCHOOL CALL US FOR PERMISSION?!?  Nobody should have carte blanche permission to look under a little girl's clothing in any way, shape, or form.  Using the excuse "an adult was in charge of the situation" ignores the fact that child pornography is generally perpetrated by adults on children.  It's assigning the teachers a never-can-fail fallacy that leads to a furthering of the laxity of society in public.  It's the wrong message to give to children.  "Here, kids, trust all adults who say that they have superiority over you, whether you have met them before or not."  (Analee didn't recognize the nurse.)

Ultimately, it doesn't matter if the school people were looking up her dress (Analee's claim) or down her shirt (the principal's claim); without our permission, what they did was wrong.  It was the wrong message to send to my girl, and it was the wrong message to send to my wife and me. 

So now, Anika and I are seriously considering home schooling our daughter.  We worry about the social aspect of home schooling, but feel that it is what's best for our child.  We're going to give it a few days to make up our mind.  In the mean time, we've instructed Analee to fight back against anybody who tries to get into her clothes without her seeing us give our permission.  She'll kick, punch, scream, or do what it takes to get away.

I hope this never happens again.  I feel violated.  I can only imagine what my wife feels.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

False Start

Yesterday was the first day of school here in Buena Vista.  Kinda.  For most students, it was the first day.  For kindergarten, it really wasn't.  We sent Analee to school.  Mom went with.  They started late (9 AM), and ended early (roughly 10).  It was an orientation day for parents, with rules and such.  In that hour, Babe went to the bathroom.  Twice.  When she got home, she complained about how boring school was.

Boring?  Isn't that something middle school students say?  My kindergartener was bored?  On her first day?!?  This isn't good!

I'm hoping today will be better for her, because this is her first day of school.  Really, this time.  No false starts.

When Anika and I were considering marriage, we went to a hockey game.  (Don't all guys think better at sporting events?)  While we were at the game, I thought "this is the girl I'm going to marry."  Finally.  You see, she answered about a month earlier.  I already knew she'd say yes.  But I wasn't ready to ask.  At the game, I finally grew the courage to do so.

You see, a marriage proposal is a scary thing.  Even if you know the answer.

So the entire way home, I was thinking about how to ask.  I already had a ring, you see, because I'm a dork and have these kinds of things.  (I also had a marriage style magazine; not exactly guy couture, but it proved useful later on.)  So we get home, and I ask Anika to break our "Spirit goes to bed" rule.  (The Spirit goes to bed at 10 PM, we said, so we shouldn't spend time together past that.  On this night, we were in the car at 10, but intended to split up when we got back to campus.)  She agreed to go on a walk with me.  Hang on, I said, I need to get something from my room.  (Why yes, I am smooth.)  So I go to my room and pray to find out if I should ask Anika to marry me.  The answer was "no."

No?  So what am I supposed to do now?

So we went on a very small walk, and then split up for the evening.

Poor Anika was very unhappy that night.  She knew what I was thinking (she usually does), and knew that I wanted to ask her, but that I didn't.  Later, her dad called.  "No more false starts," he cautioned.  It was good counsel.  The next time I intended to ask, I did.  That story is to come.

Hopefully the school follows Dad's advice.  No more false starts.  Not with my girl.  This is a smart one, and if they turn her off to school, I might just lose it on them.

My girl is in school today.  I feel extremely old.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sunshine on the horizon.

Now that I have two paper routes, I experience this strange phenomenon known as "sunrise."  It's odd.  I have never known why people like to watch the sun come up.  Don't they know that it's the Earth that's turning?  Either way, I get to see the sky get lighter every morning.

My wife and I have been talking finances over the past couple of weeks.  Now that we have the paper routes (plural), we might actually be able to stop hemorrhaging money.  We've got plans to budget almost everything, including family fun, monthly.  We have plans to blow up our route, or get people to subscribe, which will both get us a bonus for referring people and increase the income on the routes.  Two routes mean there are a lot of people to cover, and we're rather excited.

Also, my long-awaited teaching license has been posted by Virginia.  I finished the requirements a long time ago, but waiting for Liberty University to send paperwork to the state took forever.  I'm not shy about what I believe, and I think that hurt me in this case.  Liberty seemed to drag its feet, and so I didn't get a license until yesterday.  In fact, I still don't have my actual paper license.  That is (hopefully) in the mail.  This is a glorious thing!

On that note, however, is an executive order signed by President Obama.  I generally try to defend the president as the elected leader of our country, but this one strikes me as racial warfare.  The president wants to limit discipline for African American students.  As a future teacher, that makes me want to work with African American students less.  Which is a shame.  I went to a high school with 75% minorities and didn't notice.  Looking back, I dated a white girl, a Chinese girl, and was friends with a bunch of Indians and blacks.  I didn't notice, because they were just friends.  As a teacher, should I have to look at the exterior of a person before judging content?  As a result, in the coming round of school applications, I'll have to ask myself whether or not I want to work in predominantly African American schools, and I hate to think on those terms.  What a shame!

As a teacher, I want to help change the culture of my students for the better.  That, I believe, is the crux of the problem.  If we can change students' culture for the better, we can change society for the better.  Otherwise, we're all doomed.  I fear President Obama doesn't see things that way, and that's a shame.  I can't vote for such policies. 

...and to make a political decision based on racial qualities strikes me as anti-American, and that's a shame.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Aftermath

In the last post John pointed out that I had forgotten a few details of Bub's birth.
It's true that I left them out, but they weren't forgotten.
I hadn't put them in just yet because they seemed to open up into a whole 'nother topic.

When Analee was born I could feel that rush of oxytocin (read about that here).  Bub came out and there was no such rush.  At all.

But before I get into this too much I want to make something clear-the emotions I was dealing with are in no way a description of how I feel about Bub.  While he was born at the peak of my depression he is in no way a manifestation or cause of it.  Bub, if you're reading this years from now, I love you so deeply and fiercely.  Fiercely enough that I pulled out of it.  You're incredible and I am truly blessed to have you as my son.

Okay, moving on now.  They put this baby on my chest.  I was in denial.  I did not just have a baby.  All of that did not just happen.  And there is this thing on top of me.
"It's going to roll off, someone should grab it."  I don't know if anyone actually heard me.  So I stuck out a finger to stop him from falling.
"Seriously, someone take it."  And a nurse did.
I tried not to look at anyone.
A few minutes later he was cleaned and swaddled.  A sweet nurse came back with him "Mommy, baby bonding time!".  She was really sweet.  But I didn't think so at the time.
Out of obligation (you know, since she was so happy about it) I took him.
I didn't look at him.
I looked around.
Impatiently waiting until she left.

The moment she grabbed the doorknob "John, take it."
John:  "Don't you want-"
"Take it."

And that could pretty much describe the next couple months.

And the previous year...or more.

You see, once I got help (a few weeks after Bub was born) we realized that I had been dealing with post-partum depression since some point during my pregnancy with Analee.
Yep, post-partum depression can start while you're pregnant. 
Not so cool, right?

Looking back I think two main things prevented us from recognizing the depression.  First, a lack of information, and second, culture.

The first is pretty straight forward.  We didn't know about it or expect it.  My doctor, during my pregnancy with Analee, had gone over risk factors with me.  But I thought the whole idea was ridiculous.  Why wouldn't I be thrilled?  We were trying to get pregnant.  We wanted to have a family.  And as I had never experienced depression before the thought that I would now was absurd to me.  When it did come, neither John nor I knew what was going on.  Often I found myself thinking "so this is life now" or "why do people want to be parents?".  As it seemed that life became miserable once I had kids.

I want to clarify-parenting is not actually miserable, depression is.

Of course, our naivete was aided by factor #2-culture.
People don't talk about post-partum depression.  It has been, culturally, a source of shame.
While I was pregnant with Analee, well, I was pregnant.  Any unusual behavior was attributed to that.  Once I was into my pregnancy with But I think we could both tell something was seriously wrong.  John, not one to take our lives into public view (or ask for help, for that matter) was desperate enough to start asking around.  The response he often got was that pregnancy made women crazy.
Generally when I asked other moms about being a new mother the responses were anything from "It's so much easier once they get on a schedule" to "enjoy every moment, they grow up so fast".
But I wasn't enjoying it.  In fact, I couldn't remember how to enjoy anything.

I don't know if anyone actually wants to hear how it felt so for now I'll just skip those bits.  Needless to say, life was dark and sad and seemingly hopeless.

I remember being in the hospital after Bub was born and getting a call from my visiting teacher-a wonderful lady from church who was asked to help out if I needed anything (awesome, right?). 
"Oh, I'm sorry, did I wake you?"
"Oh, were you about to go to sleep?"
I couldn't figure out why she kept thinking that I was needing sleep and why talking to me seemed to confuse her.  I found out later she quietly made a phone call (or two?  I don't really know) and by the time my mom got here she had gotten a heads up that something wasn't right.


Up All Night.

So between Anika and me, one of us was up all night.  I was up until 10.  ...and awake before 3.  My good wife was up until at least 3, because she was still up when I left for work.  When I got home, she was in bed.  ...but kids started to wake up, and I'm not about to force her to get up again.  One of us, at least, was up all night long.  It seems our last two children decided not to go to sleep (though both are asleep now; it's Bub that's awake, and we don't dare let him roam free!).  Why is that a big deal?  We only have LOTS to do today!

The day is supposed to start with a breakfast for the preschool that Bub and Duck will be attending.  I'll go up and ask Mommy if we're even going to that, with her sleep-deprived and me comatose-desiring.  After that, we're supposed to go to the elementary school that Analee will be attending to get her set up in her classroom and meet teachers and other students in her class.  I'm actually excited about that one, because I'll finally get to see her class and teacher and such.  I won't be able to go on Monday because I'll have the other three while Mom goes for Analee's first day of school.  Expect many pictures and tears to be seen then.

It's strange to think that I'm old enough to have kids going to school.  I worry about them.  Especially Analee.  She's incredibly smart.  She loves math and reading, and cranks out huge words like "commandments" from the King James Version of the Bible.  Yes, she reads Elizabethan English.  Crazy.  My worry isn't that school will be too tough for her, but rather that she won't learn to work.  Anika says that she didn't learn to work, but at least she learned to study.  I never even learned that because I lowered myself to the school's standards (and I went to a school in the top-100 in the nation!).  I don't want to let Babe lower herself like that.  My worry, then, is that she'll end up doing art projects all day long and come home zombified.  I worry that she'll get bored with the schooling and focus on the socializing.  I worry that she won't learn to work.

Bub is just as smart, but far less interested in showing his smarts.  He'll learn to work on his emotions and keeping them in check.  Babe can control her emotions, though she sometimes chooses not to.  Bub has trouble keeping his anger in check.  I think it's because he's a boy.  I worry about him learning to focus, but not on overall smarts.  He'll have his work cut out for him there, though.  My hope is that he'll be engaged by the learning process, and not use his time to get others riled up.  If he does that, all will be well. 

The next thing we need to focus on, then, is sleep.  If we can all get some sleep, I think we'll all be better off.

Here's hoping!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Temples. ...and balloons.

Analee says I should write about balloons today.  Bub says "I love the temple."  Duck says "temple."  Two out of three ain't bad.  I should figure out a way to write about balloons, too. 

We don't get to the temple near as often as we want to or even as much as we should.  It's one of the reasons I want to live close to a big city, but not quite in it.  Close to a temple sounds wonderful to me.  Of course, I figure close to family is just as good.  There are few people I trust with my children, but Grandma and Grampa are on top of that list.  So if we move to within 6 hours of Lincoln, we'll probably use them.  If not, I hope to be near a temple. 

In fact, one of my dreams is to live within walking distance of a temple.  I've looked up area prices of the temples we've almost gotten jobs for, and Mesa looks great, price-wise.  It's not the only one.  Omaha also looks great.  The problem with Omaha is that family might use our home as a stopping place for temple trips, which might involve us in family drama.  We want to avoid that. 

With our kids all so young, it's tough to get to the temple.  Literally.  I have an early morning job, which means I should have an early evening bedtime.  That means we would have to leave for the temple right when I get home, and with the temple roughly 3-4 hours away, that means rush hour traffic in DC.  For those of you that don't know, I hate traffic.  I also hate big cities.  Put the two together and Daddy gets cranky quickly.  Then you add in the fact that my wife and I can't go into the temple together.  So I let her go first.  ...and then when she comes out, we realize that we'll have to get home because I have to get to bed.  ...and we can't afford to eat out.  ...and we can't find anybody to go with us. 

You see, the problems seem to snowball on us.  They always seem to.  For example, just after struggling through my senior essay at SVU (I wrote 30+ pages in less than 4 days), I got a call from the registrar.  Backstory: I'd been working on getting my language passed off for two years.  I learned and still speak dialects from the Philippines.  Hiligaynon (also known as Ilonggo) is the one I chose to pass off.  Great!  I know it well!  Just before my last semester at SVU, I finally got the registrar to sign off on my language.  When he called a week before I graduated, I knew it wouldn't be pretty.  Somehow, Dr. MacDonnell gave me a B on the essay, so I knew my problems would get worse before they got better.  So the registrar tells me that BYU has a test for the language, and I could just take that and get credit for my language. 

Wait.  I was supposed to graduate in a few days!

Nope.  I sent away for the test.  Only, when it got to SVU, I didn't have any way of knowing about it.  They never called.  So 6 months later, my wife, who happened to be a student at SVU (a story I'll let her tell), went to the registrar's office, and they gave her the runaround.  Something about confidentiality.  So I went in and found out that they had my test and were trying to contact me.  So I set up a time for the test.

Another problem: the good people at BYU don't know how to speak Ilonggo.  I could tell they were (a) reading from a bad script and (b) knew nothing of how to pronounce the language.  Wala ko nakaintiende sang langwahe nila!  (I couldn't understand their language!)  So I guessed.  The entire way through the test.

The good thing about our snowballing problems is that Heavenly Father seems to realize that we're incredibly problem-prone, and finds a solution to our problems.  I passed the test.

The temple problem, however, is still a difficult one.  We can't very well expect our kids to sit through 6-8 hours of driving plus temple time without stopping at least once along the way.  Plus there are other costs involved.  Gas.  Snack food.  (My wife can't exactly prepare a dinner for us, so we're eating finger foods, which come at a cost.) 

Suffice to say, we don't get to go to the temple near enough for our tastes.

One day, though, we will.  ...and when we do, we'll even tie balloons (see?!  I told you I could do it!) to the car.  Filled with helium, as we will be.  Giddy to go to the temple.

One day.

While I've got your attention, let me correct my wife a bit.  The "10 minutes" that it took for Bub to be born isn't quite accurate.  We had to get from the car to the delivery.  That means (a) parking, which wasn't hard, (b) walking *slowly* to the hospital, (c) going up the elevator, and (d) getting the doctor to see her.  We were in the delivery room for about 2 minutes.  They checked my wife into the hospital about an hour later.  One of the questions they asked: "Did you want pain medication?"  Awkward silence.  "I mean, I'm supposed to ask."  Defensive look.  My wife's response.  "Yes."  What she was thinking.  "Thanks for bringing up such an unhappy memory!" 

When Bub was first put in her arms, her thought process seemed to be "what is this thing?!?"  There seemed to be no rush of oxytocin.  The second the nurse left the room, it was "John, take your boy."

Mommy was not a happy camper that day.  I don't blame her.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

He's Here

I had been having pains all night.
But this was pregnancy, it's painful.  So I didn't think much of it.
At 6am I told John.
Thrown into alertness "Should we go to the hospital!?!"
"No," I said, disinterestedly "I'm sure it's just braxton hicks."  And I went back to sleep.

At about 7 I got up.  Still hurting.
John: "Now should we go?"
Me: "I'm gonna take a shower."

I don't really think I'm in labor (we're at 35 weeks, after all), but, if I am, I'm going to start the process as clean as possible.
I have a hard time making it through the shower.  I get out early because I can't stand.  Dripping, I decide to look at a clock for the first time this morning.  (John had filled me in later regarding the timeline, in case your curious).  What I was determined was braxton-hicks contractions were coming 3 minutes apart.
I got dressed and walked downstairs.

I saw John on the couch.
Me: "We should go to the hospital."
He sees me slip on my shoes.
John: "Oh!  You mean now!" as he springs towards the door.

In case anyone thinks John was being dense, I'd like to point out that I had already told him that I wasn't in labor-twice.  And I hadn't actually filled him in on the 3 minutes apart bit.

Just a few blocks from our house John says "Shouldn't you call your mom?".
I huff and puff a bit and roll my eyes.  Why bother if I'm just going to walk around the hospital a bit and get sent home?
Fine.  So I send her a text.  It's 8:45am.

It's a 15 minute drive to the hospital and, despite John's asking, I insist that there is no need to speed.
When we get to the maternity ward I let out with the oh, so convincing "Hi, I think I'm in labor."  (At this point I'm not as confident that this isn't the real thing).
They check their calendar-"Oh," I say "I'm not due for another month".
After a pause, they tell me to go to this side room while they call the doctor over to check me.
I go.  I lay down.  And a minute or two later I look at John.
"I need drugs, NOW."
I'm finally convinced that I'm in labor.
He asks the nurses-they can't administer drugs until after the doctor checks me.
We wait.
"John, I want DRUGS."
He goes to find the doctor-who just stepped in the ward.
He checks me and you can see his eyes pop open "She's at 8, plus 1-get her to the delivery room."

In case you don't know, that's 8 out of 10 cm and plus 1 pretty much means his head is just itching to come out.

"I want drugs!"
"Too late for that now." the doctor informs me.
As John later described, it was as if "DOES NOT COMPUTE" was streaming across my forehead.
And it's true.
I had just barely accepted that I was in labor.  I certainly hadn't come to accept that baby was coming any time soon and definitely wasn't ready for him to come without an epidural.

The nurses wheel me over (I assured them that I couldn't walk).
I'm not sure what everyone else kept saying, but I kept asking for drugs.
Over and over.  And over.  And over.  No joke.
The nurses quickly realized that they should just stop talking to me and talking to John.  I don't blame them-when anything you say is combated with "I WANT DRUGS!" the conversation would get old, fast.

And here I started letting out what I think would be described as "primal screams".  Honest to goodness, I had no control.  I actually remember thinking "am I doing that?!".  Then I'd close my mouth and it would stop.  Then I opened my mouth and this screaming just came out.
At this point I imagine the nurses and doctor wished that I hadn't had a background in vocal music and was unable to sustain the screams for so long.

I do remember the doctor saying something about focusing that energy and using it--and I was screaming again.  If I recall correctly, that is when the doctor gave John this "I'm not getting through, hows about you take that end and I'll cover stuff down here?" kind of a look.  Maybe not, but I swear it happened.

Here is where my brilliant labor logic came into play.  You see, I hadn't stopped asking for drugs-you know, in between those primal screams.  And it occured to me-if I get a c-section, they have to give me drugs!  At which point I began insisting that I have a c-section.  Didn't matter that he's practically out now, I wanted a c-section.
Of course, my ever-cool doctor calmly glanced over and replied "How about we just have this baby?".
And we did.  By 9:10am John had texted our family pictures.
9:10am.  Remember what time I texted my mom?  Go ahead and scroll up to check.
That's right, 8:45am.  When you account for the 15 minute drive, that's 10 minutes.  Everything that happened in that hospital happened in (probably less than) 10 minutes.
Yeah.  No kidding.

But John William Adams was born.  6 lbs and .1oz.
He was named for my paternal grandpa (John) and John's maternal grandpa (William).
Of course, the naming is a whole 'nother story in itself :)

My Time.

So I've yet to find a job.  I really am OK with that, though.  It means I have lots of time to work on other things.  What I'm doing now is the subject of today's blog post.

First and foremost, my focus is getting paid to teach.  So the job hunt continues.  Instead of having it consume my time and life, though, the search is part of the periphery for life.  I am getting ready to take other Praxis II tests, which will allow me to qualify to teach other subjects here in Virginia and other places in the nation.  I'm not sure which test I should start with, though.  I figure I can pass the Praxis II that will make me eligible to teach secondary (6-12) English almost immediately, as well as the middle school tests in math and science.  I don't think it'll take too much time and/or effort to pass secondary math and science, but it'd be harder than the above three.  You see, in my dream, I end up in a rural school somewhere that I can teach multiple subjects, allowing me to see the growth in students in more than just one subject.  Think Eastern Oregon, for example.  Kansas.  Oklahoma.  Eastern Washington.  Northern Colorado.  Southern Utah.  West Virginia.  So the hunt and preparation for jobs continues.  We'd love to be close enough to a temple (and an airport!) that we can go any time, but far enough from a city that we don't have to deal with the hustle and bustle of city life.  I'd also like to have some land with which my kids can play.  "Watch the corn!" sounds a lot more useful than "watch Mommy's flowers!" to me, because we can eat the corn. 

Also, I found an awesome website where some of the best universities in the nation offer free (uncredited) classes for free.  Coursera has 117 courses at present, and I am signed up for six (!) of them.  The first one starts in just under two weeks, and it's on gamification.  In fact, that's the title of the course.  What is gamification?  It's "the application of digital game design techniques to non game problems," which in my case, is another way of saying using games to teach.  It's taught by a UPenn teacher, and I'm really excited about it.  Other courses I'll take are on online education (taught by a teacher at the Georgia Institute of Technology), computational investing (G.I.T.), irrational behavior (Duke), Greek and Roman mythology (UPenn), and a history of the world since 1300 (Princeton).  There are lots of other courses that I wanted to take, as well, but figured 6 was enough for now.  Anika will join me, along with at least one other friend, for the mythology course, and we'll Skype study sessions.  Or at least that's the plan.

Also, I'm running two newspaper routes for the Roanoke Times.  The hours stink, but I don't really have to deal with people, so I don't mind too much.  We'll see how that changes with the seasons.  Right now, it's foggy, but warm, if rainy.  We'll see what happens when the temperature drops.  Of course, maybe we'll have a Winter like last year, when the jet stream kept the season up North.

I'm also helping around the house.  I get to clean a lot more than I would if I had a full-time job.  Maybe by the time I get a full-time gig, I'll be ready to move to said job.

Meanwhile, we're preparing for Babe to start kindergarten, Bub and Duck to start preschool, and I'm writing lesson plans for my hopeful future job.  Life continues, teaching job or none.

...and I couldn't imagine being happier with it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Two Stories Meet

The end of Analee's beginning story and the start of Bub's overlap.
You see, Analee was only 5 weeks old when Bub was conceived.

Nursing was horrible.
Lots of pain.
Lots of bleeding.
Lots of crying.      Mine and hers.

When she was about 4 weeks old I couldn't nurse more than maybe a minute, literally.  It was so excruciating.  I had started pumping, which hurt but not nearly as bad.  It cut down on the pain, and therefore my crying, but Analee was still having a tough time.
I was 'nursing' and pumping all day and my supply didn't budge.  We traveled to visit family.  Our last stop was Nebraska, where my parents live.  About then I realized that my milk was not enough.

I had never been an advocate for nursing or anything and didn't feel too strongly about it, but suddenly I felt like a failure as a mother.  I couldn't even feed my baby.  I was shocked by how important this suddenly was to me.  I didn't know what to do when my dad suggested I go talk to my mom.  I had one of those "oh, yeah!" moments and went to confide in my mother
My mom is amazing.  She is supportive and loving and understands how to respond to all the crazy hormone-ed emotions.  After reminding me that she had totally been there, this was the jist of what she said:

Giving your child formula is feeding her.
You love her enough to give her what she needs-even if it's not from you. 
That is not failing.
That is loving.
That is being a good mother.

We got some formula.

Theoretically I was nursing too, but really it was a combo of pumping and formula.
Nursing was still extremely painful and the opportunity to not be in a boatload of pain every hour was not one I could pass up.
And yes, every hour-or more sometimes.  Not only was it painful but my supply was low.  Pumping all day and drinking all day and whatever else I tried didn't help. 
Eventually we found out why.
A few weeks later we realized I was pregnant.
A few months later...say, nine-ish...we realized I had been dealing with depression.

But one bit at a time.
I'll admit, though it's still hard to, when I found out I was pregnant I cried.

When you have a baby you always say that's it's all worth it.  You tell your war birth story with zeal and with pride gaze down at your little one.  "It was all worth it."  "I'd do it again."
I said that.
And I meant it.
But I didn't realize what it meant.

I want to say-right now, four and a half years later, I'm glad that little guy came just when he did.
In fact, I know he came exactly when he was supposed to.
But that doesn't mean it was easy.

I can't remember most of that pregnancy.  Most of that year.  It's all dark.
I wish I could, for everyone who was in them, but I can't.  I'm sorry for that. 
Perhaps, eventually, it will come to me.

But at 35 weeks we drove to the hospital.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Unwanted Jobs.

Because I'm a newspaper deliverer while I wait for my dream job of teaching, I have a soft spot in my heart for those with unwanted jobs.  Almost every morning on my paper route, I fight for road space with a garbage truck.  More accurately, the truck and my car fall all over themselves to get out of each others' way.  They get up as early as I do, and drive around the city looking for trash that's out.  While the Buena Vista trash folks often miss our trash, the Lexington trash folks seem to never miss anything.  Would it make any difference if BV's trash collection were on the street where everybody could see it?  I think so, but the bigger issue is the type of men (and women, if there are any female trash collectors) that do the job.  Judging by their driving, Lexington's trash collectors are honestly trying to do a good job and stay out of people's way.

From what I've seen, newspaper delivery men and women are similar.  While there are those that do a horrific job of their craft, most are genuinely good men and women who are trying to put food on their tables and make people happy.  Numbers of people have changed how I deliver their paper, from having me put their paper in their driveway to on their porch to one lady who has me put the paper on a flower pot on her porch.  Let's be honest: the hours for my job stink.  I don't want to be a morning person.  Nevertheless, I force myself to get up before 3 every morning, and this morning I woke before 2.  I'm willing to bet some of you haven't even gone to bed when I start my day!  That said, I'm not just doing this for money.  I really try to meet my customers' needs.  Occasionally, it's nice to be appreciated.

A few weeks back, Virginia was one of a few states hit with a derecho.  It did a lot of damage, and while Buena Vista wasn't hit very hard, Lexington was.  I was a new delivery guy in Lexington when it hit.  My kids were terrified, and I calmed them with the soothing words "has wind ever hurt you before?"  When I went out that morning, I wasn't expecting to find the destruction that I encountered.  There were a lot of major roads in Lexington that were down.  I had to piece together my route, walking much of it.  While I did, a number of people were incredibly nice to me.  One talked to me about my goals and the reasons for my newspaper route.  Another frankly forgave my late delivery at the end of the route.  "I'm impressed that you're here today; I didn't expect to get a paper today."  Delivering newspapers is my job, but it's really nice to be appreciated.  I go out of my way to make sure those customers are treated special. 

Another customer has emailed me support.  The fact that he has gone so far out of his way for me makes me feel great.  He didn't have to email me.  He didn't have to say a word.  But he did.  After being nice in email, he asked if I would put his paper on his porch.  If he wasn't nice, I would still do it.  Because he was so nice to me, I try to make sure his paper is where he can get it when he gets out his door, and not randomly placed on his porch.

There are lots of others that are incredibly nice to me and my family and don't get paid for it.  At church, for example, I think my kids' teachers are mostly wonderful.  I'm grateful for the example that they give to my children.  I fear I won't always have such an example to show them, but I hope I will.  I try to have my children thank their teachers as often as I can, but fear that their thanks aren't enough.  These people bend over backward for my family (let alone other families), and ought to get more credit.

Lots of jobs that most of us find distasteful are filled by good men and women.  How often do we thank them for a job well done?  It might not mean much to us to thank them, but as one of them, it means the world to us.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


My wife is the greatest.  No, seriously, she is.

Her birthday was on Thursday and I kinda let it slide.  I mean, I said "happy birthday" to her and let her buy whatever she wanted (I can always eat less), but we didn't really do anything for or with her.  Not on her special day.  So though I'm a bit late, I thought I'd give some anecdotes of our 6+ years together.

We met at Southern Virginia University.  Nobody would have ever though we'd end up there.  We did, and met the first week there.  I was a 26-year-old with a rule about dating anybody under 20.  She was 18.  My rule got shattered.  Ironically, another gal wanted me to break my rule for her, but I wouldn't.  She turned 20 about two weeks after Anika and I got attached at the hip.  I don't think she liked my wife much.  I don't gravitate towards strangers, but I did on one day at lunch in the SVU cafeteria.  I sat right next to her.  And mocked her.  Mercilessly.  And she laughed.  I guess nobody had any ingenuity at SVU, because what I was saying was original.  Anika got the nickname "Arbor Day" during that first meeting. 

A day or so later, we found out that we were struggling with differing sections of the same class.  (We love Dr. Cluff!)  So we decided to study together.  We acted out parts of old books, and had a blast.  The Iliad by Homer was the first major work that we read together.  There really was a lot of back story to act out for very little action, but it was fun.  One day, as we took a break from Homer, she started talking and crying about a member of her family that was causing her grief.  Girls crying really put guys in a tough spot.  Or at least it should.  Especially if the gal is one that he doesn't really know.  A gentleman will do what he needs to in order to calm the woman, all without either offending her or making it seem as though he has undue feeling toward her.  I must not've been a gentleman, because I apparently made it seem as though I had feelings for her.  Then I realized that I did.  When the time came for us to split up and go to bed, I found myself returning her kiss.

Wait, what?

Apparently I grabbed her arm and kissed her.  I don't remember that part.  I remember realizing that I was kissing her.  We split up awkwardly that night, and then when we met for breakfast the next morning, we knew that we were an item. 

I tried to pass on my love of hockey, and was moderately successful, with some major bumps in the road.  Back then, there was a team in Roanoke.  The Roanoke Valley Vipers.  Their mascot looked like Barney the dinosaur.  One game, we got a free T-shirt and great seats below the lower bowl.  We had to follow Barney to our seats.  It was humiliating.  Luckily, there were only like 12 people at the game to mock me as I walked by. 

During our first game, though, we knew that we were serious.  In fact, we were already talking about marriage and those kinds of things.  You'd think I would know better.  Note to kids: always take your dates to things that you like if the things that you like are more important than your date.  Luckily for me, my date was more important.  Lucky, because we sat right on the glass.  Great seats, right?  Not so much.  Though we could literally put our feet on the ice, all Anika saw was 6'4" brutes smashing each other into the glass.  Sometime during the 1st period, I opened my fat mouth.  "Wouldn't it be great if our kids played?"

Wrong.  Thing.  To Say.

I don't think we were on talking terms throughout the 2nd period.

For the third, though, I had a stroke of genius.  I took her away from the glass where we could see the play develop and the skill it takes to play football players on ice.  She started to like the game.  Soon enough, I could see that she was starting to pick up on what was going on.  She was cheering for the away team because they were assigned to warm up on our side of the ice and they were playing with a kid through the glass.  So her team forced overtime.  Overtime led to a shootout.  The home team won on the last shot.  My poor wife was on the verge of tears. 

Over a hockey game.

(YES! *fist pump*)

Anika, from those early memories to four kids (and two degrees!) later, I love you.  I couldn't have asked for a better wife.  Thank you for saying yes before I ever asked, because that made things WAY easier. 

I can't wait to see what life will bring us next.  Whatever it is, I'm glad I'll face it with you.  Happy (late) birthday!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pretty Fabulous

I wanna just say that kids are weird.
Their ideas are...incredibly unique.
Their shame is non-existent.
And their limits are, too.

For that, I think they're pretty fabulous.

Kids see the world in the most fun ways.
Because the world is fun.
And none one has yet to convince them otherwise.

Anything can happen or be achieved.
Anyone can be anything, so long as they are willing to.

Kids are are inspiring in their ability to be happy.
Kids can get excited by anything.

Within the last week John and I decided we would start drinking only water at dinner.
Mostly, the response from the kids has been 'oh, darn'...or, as they would say lately, 'oh, rats!'.
But a day or two ago Bub let his ultimate kid shine through.

Here he is.  Stirring his milkshake.

Oh, you can't see a milkshake in his cup?

Well, 'really' it's water.

But not if you ask Bub.

It's a milkshake.  He was happily confident that it wasn't water, but a milkshake in his cup.  Maybe I thought it was water but really, it was a milkshake.

The kid was pretty awesome before, but, for me, this took it to a whole new level.
A level of optimism and confidence.  And, to boot, a level of playing with the rules of perception and reality.
And, yes, he was doing that.  He just didn't approach it with the same self-aggrandising attitude that us adults tend to. 

Like I said.  Kids are Fabulous.

At least, mine are.:)

Also included, obligatory pictures of the other two doing the same they would get their picture taken, too.