Thursday, September 13, 2012

t i m e w a r p

Whew, it's been f-o-r-e-v-e-r since I've posted anything. I won't try for too many details in catching up - I'm just checking in to report that the wildwestshaffers are still alive and kicking!

Summer came and went in a flash. Both boys had lots of things occupying their time, Keith was extremely busy at work, and my 'summer vacation' was cut a bit short by taking a job at a year-round elementary school!

I was hired in May, so I finished out the '11-'12 school year and then returned to work for the new year in mid-July. I am a full-time SFA (Success for All) Tutor. As such, I work one-on-one with 12 students a day from all grade levels, plus do all of the reading assessments and testing for all new students, all first-graders, and all remedial readers of higher grades. The full-time tutor positions don't come open very often in the district (each school only has about 2), so I feel very fortunate to have been hired. My biggest hesitation was the year-round schedule, but on the day of my interview, the newspaper reported that the school board had decided to make it a traditional school beginning next year - so this was our only summer of me going back to school before the boys. Yay!! Here's my school:

Keith, as you may or may not remember, also works for the school district - as the project manager for all the construction projects that were financed by a school bond passed last year. He's had construction projects at five different schools this summer, which has been a little nuts. Most days he never even made it to his office - he just went from site to site, putting out fires and answering questions - or sometimes even helping to move playground equipment, pour concrete, or fix clogged plumbing! Can-do-Keith can do it all. He really enjoys all of it because he's just that kind of guy. He consults on the side for some previous clients, including an old business colleague from Pennsylvania doing some ongoing railroad bridge work.

Pouring concrete at 4 a.m. recently:

Austin stayed busy all summer with football, basketball, football, mowing lawns, football, EFY, football, scout high-adventure caving trip, football, and Pioneer Trek. Oh, and did I mention football? Number 12 is mostly playing defense this year so far. 

Way to hold on, Austin! 
[after the first two games of the season, our little Austin was number one in tackles in the STATE]:

Sometimes he has to go in as the backup quarterback:

Caving was hard, but he loved it:

Then there was EFY with Evan Church - which he REALLY loved:

That trip also included visits with some special people:

"Special people" for Austin definitely included Kyle Van Noy, Austin's favorite BYU football player, who just happened to be on the same flight back to Reno Van Noy is from Reno). Austin screwed up ALL his courage to strike up a conversation with him, and as you can see, they became best friends.

And finally, Pioneer Trek was the highlight of late summer. He and his dad got to spend some time together:

Whew, that was a lot about Austin. Dallin's summer was a bit more low-key than Austin's, but he was busy with swim team and basketball 'open gym' for middle schoolers, and his first scout camp. I don't have any pictures of scout camp, but Dallin LOVED it, and I couldn't believe my baby was old enough to leave me for a whole week - crazy! But here are a couple of pictures from his first swim meet:

Kristi was home for a month between Spring and Fall semesters at BYUI. Not long enough to get a job, just long enough to do a whole lot of nothing. She enjoyed seeing lots of friends, hanging out at Lake Tahoe, and being Dallin's mom when his real mom went back to work. We loved having her here . . . and now she's gone again. She has a tough semester of math classes (her major is now Secondary Math Education), as well as a job as a Peer Advisor in the College of Language and Letters.  This has been a stressful week for her, but she is always positive and optimistic. She texted yesterday to tell me that she was 'lost' in her Calculus II class. I suggested she not wait too long before talking to her prof or going to the math lab, but she assured me, "I got this, Mom. No worries".  And I'm sure she does.

A late summer evening at our favorite Tahoe beach:

Last but not least, Elder Shaffer. The release date is official -- he arrives home November 21st at 9 pm, the night before Thanksgiving! We. can. hardly. wait.

Brennan was called to be an Assistant to the President in July, and the very night he was called he was whisked away to the mission home in Louisville, where he will finish out his mission. He has said several times in letters how difficult it's been, but how much he's learned and how grateful he has been for the opportunity. He and his companion have been traveling all over the mission, doing lots of trainings, working closely with the mission president, and it's been amazing for him. Last month he and his companion put over 4,000 miles on their car - can you imagine?? Some training:

Welcoming new missionaries fresh from the MTC (why do I love this one so much?):

A skit for the newbies:

Working in the office ("I'm getting really good at Excel!"):

And fun on the road:

We can't wait to see him, but we suspect it will be a bittersweet experience for him to come home. His mission has meant the world to him!

WELL. That little update turned out to be huge. I'll sign off for another six months or so . . .

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March Mellowness

It may be March Madness for some, but we, the Shaffers, are mellowing out.

Keith is into a pretty good rhythm balancing his school district job with his consulting business, and now that Dallin's 6th grade basketball season is over, he may have coached his last community team! He has coached all of our children in various sports for multiple years each (until school sports have taken over in 7th grade), so it's a bittersweet concept for sure! Keith is also very politically-minded, so he was a bit busier in the days and weeks leading up to the Nevada Caucus. But now that's over too, and we have a break until we are closer to the general election. [GO ROMNEY]

I have been mellowed out since last fall when I decided not to return to my job as a reading tutor with the school district. Dallin would have come home to an empty house every day now that he's in middle school, and that was something none of us felt good about quite yet. Instead I go in as a substitute tutor from time to time, which I enjoy, and I also try to keep PEAK Engineering & Design's books and billing up to date. Being home again has been so nice - I am back to walking most every morning with friends, I can go to the temple more frequently, and I can read a book now and then! It's been lovely.

I was at the school substituting on the day after my birthday last week - and a 3rd grader asked me how old I was, not knowing of course that I was trying to make the adjustment to 45, so I told him to guess. He said, "26?" I told him I was a little older than that, so he said, "27?" Sweet. We finally got to the correct answer, though, and his eyes widened and he said, "So you are a grandmother?!?" Sigh. Here's my yearbook picture from last year. Somewhere between 26 and a grandmother, perhaps?

Kristi has been home from school since Christmas. She began working full-time on January 3rd, but this week she has gone to part-time, so she is mellowing out as well. Her position is funded by a grant, and is supposed to be part-time, but since they hadn't had anyone in the position for awhile, they had some leftover funding, so she was able to work full-time until that money had been used. So her bank account is pretty plump and she has been grateful for that opportunity, but now working part-time just feels so mellow and delightful!

Kristi began attending our singles' branch as soon as she came home, and was soon called to be the FHE Coordinator, meaning she has to give a lesson each week and plan the activity. It's a pretty small group of people, and a rather eclectic mix of personalities. The only callings she's ever had have been associated with music, and therefore have required no preparation on her part. So this has stretched her! But she is into the groove now - this week they did some tie-dying and had chocolate fondue for refreshments (see family cookbook, so delish). She is excited about registering for her Spring classes in a couple of weeks, and is greatly looking forward to her return to Rexburg!

Since last summer, Austin has been continuously in a sport. Football went from June to late October, and basketball went from October to February. He briefly considered signing up for a Spring sport, such as golf or track. But instead he now comes home after school like a regular person! [I guess I will insert that his first practice for club/traveling basketball is later today, but that is less intense and more fun] Austin plans to complete his Eagle Scout project between now and when football begins again - in MAY - heaven help us, we better get moving.

Austin was unexpectedly brought up from his JV basketball team to the Varsity team mid-season. It was a compliment, but one he didn't really want because all his friends that he's played with for years are on JV and he was having a great time. But up he went, and although some games he played very little, most games he played far more than we expected, and did very well. The highlight was probably playing against our rival high school where his cousin (a senior) plays. We never expected the two of them to be on the same court outside of church ball, so it was pretty fun. Austin played most of that game, and we took them to overtime. Austin and Trevor gave each other a hug as the teams walked by each other at the end, and it was nice to see that blood was thicker than team pride.

Playing against the rivals!

#12 on the line while cousin Trevor is shooting:

And Dallin. His community basketball season began last November (I think?), and so from then until mid-February he had bball on Mondays and Wednesdays, and swim team on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But now bball is over, so it's just swimming. He was sad about the season being over, but now I think he is enjoying a couple of more mellow afternoons each week. He came home from swimming on Tuesday with a 'report card' from his coach saying that they want to evaluate him at the end of March for the competitive league - moving up would mean three days a week plus the meets would no longer be optional, I'm pretty sure. He seems fine with that, but I am stifling some low-grade anxiety.

Only 3 kids showed up from his team on picture day:

In some of our mellow moments, we can be found watching "American Idol" or "The Middle" - two shows that gather the whole family, which is my favorite part about them; or playing ping-pong since Keith and Austin recently cleaned out the garage and made a place for the table again; or going Geocaching for treasure; or going driving with Austin so he can get all of his required hours in before his 16th birthday next month!
Our most recent geo-caching trip - pretty Nevada skies!

And the treasure!

Speaking of "The Middle", and since I haven't mentioned Brennan yet, one of the reasons I personally enjoy the show so much is that the oldest son reminds me so much of Brennan. Certainly not in every way, but possibly quite a lot. Here's a clip from youtube that has lots of good Axl moments. (sorry, I may never learn how to embed links!) It's 9 minutes long, but at least watch the first minute and a half; so funny (now) and so relatable to me. I can't wait to introduce Brennan to Axl when he gets home from his mission. (if you watch, sorry about some of the language - my one complaint about the show)

Take a look at Brennan's missionary countdown! Can you believe we're on the "S"??? So awesome.

Elder Shaffer is currently a Zone Leader in Elizabethtown, KY, working hard, learning a lot about leadership responsibilities, and continuing to have amazing faith-building experiences. Yesterday morning we were watching the Weather Channel, and there was a tornado warning for Elizabethtown specifically! Brennan has wanted to see a tornado since he got there, and knowing him, he might just run towards one instead of away from one just so he could say he's really EXPERIENCED it. But no news is good news, right?? We continue to be grateful that his mission has been so fantastic for him. I think he will come home with a whole lot of reluctance in November. But we are getting so excited to be on a single-digit month countdown!

Can you find Waldo? First row, second from left.

I will finish this l-o-n-g post by quoting from his last letter:

This is our time to be a standard for the nations, there has been no greater need than now in the world for us to be better than we've ever been before. The world is getting farther and farther away from the Truth, but the Lord has blessed us with the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, restored by Joseph Smith. He has trusted us to be the bearers of light and be a standard to where people can't help but notice a difference. We must live so that it is impossible for the world to think we are one of them. We all have to be better and be that example so we can bring others closer to Christ. I'm so grateful for him and his example on how we should live and how we should love everybody as ourselves, and because of his love for everyone and sacrifice for all, we can all become who we were born to be! And live with him forever!! Nothing brings greater joy in this life.

Brennan has come a long way from his Axl days.

May March brings more mellow than mad into your lives!!