Monday, October 25, 2010

his life is flashing before my eyes

We will be having an open house for Brennan on November 7th (and for a sweet couple who are leaving on their mission the same week). We wish you could all come and eat "Sunday Sundaes" with us. In the background we will be playing this slideshow (disclaimer -- it's LONG so I don't honestly expect anyone but me to watch the whole thing, but I couldn't resist posting it!):

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Monday, October 18, 2010

one more picture . . .

. . . to add to the picture theme of my last post.

Saturday marked a significant and wonderful day for our family when Brennan went to the temple for the first time. We are joined in the picture by two of Keith's brothers and their wives, as well as his parents. It was a special day!

Friday, October 15, 2010

all in a day's work (and pictures!)

It was a day of contrasts at work today. Here's one end of the spectrum: I tutor a first-grader named Anthony and today his mom came to school during his tutoring time to meet me. She told me that she had to come meet Mrs. Shaffer because Anthony talks about me all the time at home and tells his mom that tutoring is his favorite part of his school day. She sat in on our tutoring session, raved about how much it is helping Anthony, and even brought me a pretty flower! It really perked me up because only an hour earlier . . . I had a tutoring session with another first-grader named Zackery.

Zackery likes to do things his way every day. Which is fine on some days because his ways coincide with my lesson plan for the day, but sadly for him, most days this is not the case. Even after lots of patience and cheerfully using all my tricks to help him get down to business, I had to take him back to class a little early after he drew in a book and then dumped a box of crayons on the floor instead of working. On the way back to class he was so frustrated with me that he declared, "You're fired!" Oh, Zack, if wishes were fishes.

So thanks for the flower, Anthony's mom! And T.G.I.F.!!


And now for some pictures:

Kristi bought a WIG for a leadership thing, and then this happened:

Explanation: Kristi is Kristi and Dallin is willing.

But I have no explanation for Austin.

Speaking of Austin, here is how he spent his summer:

practicing for football . . .

hiking Half-Dome at Yosemite with Brennan for a scout high-adventure trip:

dear old Dad made it too!

dizzying heights at the top . . .

Then it was rafting the Merced River:

and doing a little rock jumping:

And then climbing Boundary Peak (highest point in NV at 13,700ish)

Here's Brennan, opening his mission call!

Kentucky Lousville, WAHOO!

As for Kristi, she/we had a fun time at girls' camp:

Keith was a dancing fool with the other camp dads:

And I had the good fortune of competing in a mullet contest:

But back to Kristi -- this is the picture of her that says it all:

Am I ready to face this all over again????? I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

easing back in

You know how it is -- the longer you wait to do something, the more difficult it gets. And so it goes with the blog. The last few months have been pretty full, and I simply have not made any time for this somewhat guilty pleasure. Looks like today's the day to ease back in. Probably without pictures.

Quick recap of summer: it was a blur. Again! This 'blur phenomenon' quietly irritates me. I can't figure out what we're doing wrong, but we rarely have any time to just be.

Brennan continued to work at Lowe's over the summer, and got his mission papers ready to go. That included getting his medical and dental check-ups completed and getting his wisdom teeth out. There are funny stories that accompany each of those things which I won't go into, but they include fainting, a magic pill, and an attempted laughing gas overdose. And all for the cause of Zion.

Kristi got a job as a Teacher's Aid at the Child Development Center at nearby Western Nevada College. The job was a blessing monetarily, and she was grateful to get it, but the 35 hours she worked each week really added to her stressful summer. Because she had signed up for 4 AP classes and was elected vice-president of her senior class for this year, she had an inordinate amount of summer assignments due the first day of school. I am not kidding when I say it would a-m-a-z-e you the amount of work she had to do for each of her classes and for her leadership requirements. So she had no summer break to speak of. Which made me furious.

Austin is playing freshman football this year, which meant that his season began in June with the summer conditioning program. So he stayed busy with that, plus he also had summer assignments for his two Honors classes. He was busy with a few significant high-adventure activities for scouts as well (all with his dad, who is in the YM's presidency): climbing Half-Dome at Yosemite National Park, camping, whitewater rafting, and climbing Boundary Peak (highest peak in NV at 13,500ish ft). At some point I will post some pictures from those hikes because they are really something.

Dallin actually enjoyed his childhood by swimming in the backyard pool and playing with friends a lot. He loved riding his bike in the construction zone nearby in the evenings when the workers had left. Watching him made me happy because he so loved staying up late and sleeping in, eating popsicles, wearing his swimsuit all day, etc. Real summertime stuff! I did instigate "Webelos Wednesdays" and "Faith in God Fridays" because with our house running at such a quick pace, it is often easy to neglect those kinds of things in daily life. He is now working on his Arrow of Light before he turns 11 one month from today.

For me, summer was consistently busy with Girls' Camp preparations. I served (again) as the stake camp registration secretary, which sounds simple but is surprisingly involved and time-consuming! Camp was the first week in August, which meant that I spent most of the summer busy with preparations, and then once it was over, we only had two weeks until school began. Mentally that was sad. But camp was wonderful for us because this was Kristi's sixth and last year, and in addition to my being there with her again, Keith was called to be a camp dad, so the three of us were up there together and shared some fun and good times.

Well the school year hit us like a freight train with full days, short nights, and figuring out who gets what car on a daily basis. As most of you know, Brennan received his mission call to the Kentucky Louisville Mission, covering most of Kentucky, and parts of Illinois and Indiana. To say he is excited and eager to go is an understatement. He really got what he was hoping for: an English-speaking mission in a part of the US that he is unfamiliar with, with a climate and culture different than ours. Check, check, check. He reports to the MTC on November 17th, and he is counting the days. He is keeping fairly busy between work, a lot of pre-mission reading, and checking things off the packing list. He also has a darling girlfriend which he never intended to have before his mission, but sigh, what can you do.

Kristi kept her summer job and works M-F afternoons; about 18 hours/wk. As expected, she is burning the candle at both ends on a daily basis. She is constantly in motion, from trying to get to 6:00 am seminary on time, to keeping up with her homework, to serving in a thousand ways for leadership, to making it to work every day, to trying to get to bed before midnight. Honestly by the time she leaves for college we will barely notice a difference; that's how much she's NOT home now. Sniff.

Austin LOVED high school for the first week or so, and then he got used to it, and it just became school. His two honors classes are pretty demanding, and so with football, he is feeling a little too busy as well. But he's a good sport and tries his best in everything that he does. He is playing left-outside linebacker on defense, and is the back-up quarterback on offense. The first-string quarterback won't ever run, and hates contact, whereas Austin is a great runner. So the coach often puts him in when they get close to the goal line, and he scores on a quarterback keeper. Not sure how long it will take for the other teams to figure this out, but so far it's working. They've only lost one game, and Austin scores at least once in every game. Two games ago it was 4 touchdowns and 100 yards rushing. So he's having a great time.

Dallin is in the leadership club at school this year in fifth grade. He is also playing the trumpet in the band. He is very responsible about getting his homework done and is a conscientious student. He is a fun and funny kid to have around.

I am back to work as a part-time reading tutor and lunch/recess aide. There is much I could say about this experience; in fact a whole post's worth, no doubt. It really is a fascinating experience to work with kids every day. I work with 7 children one-on-one every day with the tutoring, and then as an aide I have contact with every child at the school, and know most of them by name. So both parts are interesting and have taught me a lot. I consider it a great blessing to have this job with the economy the way it is and with Brennan leaving on his mission.

About a month ago, my sis-in-law that lives nearby and I drove to Sacramento for Time Out for Women. It was so good to catch my breath for a moment and to hear inspirational and motivational messages of hope. I think it was my favorite Time Out so far (and I've been to several). I feel that I am definitely in the phase of life where I am running and planning and doing the laundry and helping with the homework and balancing the checkbook and doing my calling and cooking and cleaning and going to work while trying to be at the crossroads for my children and be a support and helpmeet to my husband. I feel like I've been in this phase for quite a number of years and that it just doesn't slow down.

I so appreciated Elder Holland's talk in the Saturday morning session of conference because frankly it's easy to feel like a blur myself, doing most things out of responsibility and few things for any other reason. Now and then it's good to be validated. And that applies to all of us! I also appreciated President Uchtorf's talk about simplifying and slowing down, and I think I practice most of those principles but I still feel breathless most of the time because even on a satisfying day when things go right, tomorrow in all of its glory is only a sunrise away. I hope there's enough of meaning in all of the busy.

I have so much to be grateful for. Too much to count, really. I enjoy being in my forties. I enjoy my growing children, and am so excited for Brennan to begin his great adventure. I will admit to being tired of this precarious economy and the effect it has had on our family, but I am determined to continue in faith and be optomistic. And to keep mixing milk, haha. I so appreciate Keith and all he is handling as he provides for us. [Another understatement.] It is through the interesting twists and turns of personal, family, and professional life that we learn and grow and become more refined, wiser, and with a more clear perspective on who and why we are. It's a fascinating journey, isn't it?

Next time with pictures.