Sunday, October 31, 2010

Zach-O-Lantern & his Brother

Someone lost another tooth!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crazy busy... Crazy happy!

Our house is a mess and our gym membership is being put on hold.  Why?

This week I:

Spent 3 1/2 hours going to my on-campus class.
Spent 5 1/2 hours in my boys' classes (on three separate days).
Watched soccer practice.
Spent 2 hours with our small group.
Had my father-in-law over for dinner (Bryan cooked).
Watched the Amazing Race and Survivor with Bryan.
Read approximately 120 pages of textbook materials.
Read materials on three websites for written assignments.
Wrote six discussion requirements for my classes.
Wrote four papers (three relatively short, one long).
Aced three exams.
Played a couple of board games with the boys.
Did homework with Zach.
Enthusiastically cheered Luke on as he played Wii.
Washed, dried and folded some laundry (still needs to be put away).
Washed a couple loads of dishes.
Wiped noses (we've all been fighting colds).
Made sure the boys had costumes for Halloween parties.
Made sure Zach had spirit wear each day for Red Ribbon Week (Drug Free Kids!)
Had a phone conference with Zach's teacher.
Had a much needed discussion with one of the girls in my Bible study.
Did a couple of lessons in my Bible study.
Played in the yard with my family and our neighbors.

And I wrote this silly blog post.

And I'm going to a Hallween party with the family tonight.

I'm also going to come up with (make?) a costume for myself between now and Sunday.
And going to a soccer game tomorrow.
FamFest Trunk or Treat at church on Sunday.
Trick-or-treating Sunday night.
....and the school work cycle starts all over again.

So...  The house is a mess and I don't know how or when to fit exercise into the equation.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Soccer... continues!

Our boys had such momentum at the end of our outdoor soccer season...

Some of the boys wanted to continue on with indoor soccer, so we've pulled together a team.  Since we had a few spots to fill, I contacted friends and received an overwhelming response!  So...  Our outdoor season is over, but six of our outdoor boys are joining us for indoor, along with four new friends.  Coach Bryan will have his hands full with TEN bundles of energy for the next nine weeks.

Looking forward to seeing the fast-pace of indoor soccer, and watching our boys grow in confidence, speed, agility and ball handling.  It's gonna be a fun fall in the soccer arena!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Every Halloween our house gets spookier and spookier...  The kids LOVE it!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Good kids

Parent/teacher conferences were this week for each of the boys.  With my return to college this semester, there hasn't been an opportunity yet for me to volunteer in either of their classes, so we were eager to meet with their teachers and hear about how and what they're doing in school.

We've gone to something like five conferences for Zach before, so we thought we knew what the meeting would look like.  We were were blown away.  So much so that I was nearly speechless!  (Doesn't happen often.)  First grade is an entirely different world than kindergarten.  With the basics under their belt, learning is really taking of.  Zachary is quickly moving through his reading and spelling words, and progressing through reading levels at a rate that we hadn't realized.  With the team approach they are able to use - four first grade teachers / all day school - students are able to be grouped with kids from all classes, and teachers and parent volunteers together assess progress in order for students to move to the next level at the rate they are individually learning.  It is awesome!

His teacher is amazing.  She's a former middle school math teacher and is driven to teach each individual student as much as they are individually capable of learning.  It is just so exciting to have a teacher who seems to have extra hours in her day - enough to reach and challenge each student individually as well as the class as a whole.  Wow.

Luke goes to school at the same place Zach did, so we thought for sure we knew what the drill was there.  We do know the curriculum, staff and daily routine well, but his teacher is new this year.  Much like Zach's teacher, she is a former elementary school teacher and is very passionate about kindergarten readiness.  Since our preschool is not a heavy academic / worksheet-oriented school, I was pleasantly surprised at how much she has stretched Luke - assessing his individual abilities and forming a game plan of where to go next.

There is a great deal of free exploration and expression at Luke's school - with an academic element in everything they do - but I would say their main emphasis at age 3/4 is on friendship, character and Jesus.  In our household those honestly trump academic excellence every time!  You can be the next Bill Gates, but if you're dishonest and far from God, what's the point?  So...  We love our preschool.  It's the perfect partner in forming loving, kind, honest little people.

Both of the boys received high praise as role models.  They are easy going, obedient, energetic, likable, helpful, honest, engaged, kind, trustworthy, responsible guys.  They are also unbelievably hardworking self-starters.  We couldn't be happier or more proud.  God has truly given us the most amazing gift in our boys.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

First steps alone

We live more than a mile from school, so it's not practical for Zach to walk all the way there and back everyday...  However, we wanted to give him a chance to practice walking alone and figured that the streets right around school provided the most controlled, safest environment to begin.  (Let me be clear here - I park a block away and watch him walk this straight shot back to the car, but he thinks he's a big shot!)

Where did the time go?  When did we ditch the stroller for this?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What a gift!

Between life as a wife and mother of two, two Bible studies, my return to school, and home ownership, there is little time for anything else.  The deadlines - and those weeks where every extra thing imaginable happens in the span of a few days - can be overwhelming, but I wouldn't trade it.  I haven't missed anything at my kids' schools - I even took each boy on a separate class field trip and hosted a dozen of Zach's friends for a birthday party over the course of four days!  It was way busier than I like, but still a wonderful time.

I have a full scholarship covering my tuition and books (up to 18 credit hours/semester), and am also a recipient of a Pell Grant, compliments of Bryan's layoff back in January.  Receiving an entirely free college education is very humbling and motivating for me.  I want to honor the gift by doing well. 

I am enjoying each of my classes.  Learning more about and enjoying American Government, PE Strategies, Psychology and Public Speaking more than I'd expected, and continually finding myself tucking random bits of information away for future use.  I am not taking classes just to pass and move on to the next, but for actual enrichment.  This is an entirely different academic approach than I had in the 90's.  I added Anthropology at mid-term (yesterday), and I expect it to be interesting and stretching.

Considering the way I squandered my education the first time around, I just cannot help but feel immensely grateful for this second chance.  It is not financially ideal for Bryan to be out of work (since Jan. 8), but his presence around the house, involvement with the boys, and support and encouragement that he offers me is a gift beyond articulation.  He is such a wonderful husband and father!  Had it not been for his layoff and willingness to take over while I study, my return to school would never have seen the light of day.

My classes themselves have been determined by my major.  I am only taking classes required for my degree in elementary education; however, these classes have provoked passions, ideas and even talents that could serve to take my sexual abuse ministry to new places.  While I am studying to become a teacher, I remain open to other ideas.  Non-profit and abuse prevention and recovery have always been at the top of my interests list.  Will God use what I learn in college - while working toward a degree in elementary education - to do something entirely different?  I do not know, but I eagerly place one foot in front of the other...going wherever He leads.  It is such an exciting time.  Such a precious gift.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Zach's journal

Zach got a tiny little superhero spiral as a birthday gift.  He turned it into his journal.  I don't think he'll mind my sharing what he's written.

Zachary Shrader

Page 1:
Friday, Otoder 7th 2010
Towmarow is Saterday, PS: I have a socker game to...

Page 2:
Friday, Otoder 7th 2010
My broter and dad thay are playing Batman, PS: Legoe...

Page 3:
Sunday, Otober 9 2010
Yesterday I went to a frend's house!!!

Last page:
Zach's OLDER MAN'S Jrnile

He's got his dates wrong, there are some spelling and punctuation errors, but the best part is the end.  He told me he would begin writing in the journal again when he's 27 --- when he'll be an OLDER MAN.

Love, love, love him!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Another one down

At the ballgame on Sunday, Zach looked like this for much of the first 7 innings.

Or this.

And finally, in the bottom of the 8th, he looked like this.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Birthday fun with friends

Since Zach had his family party on his birthday and his friend party an entire week later, his birthday seemed to go on, and on, and on.  We had a great time, but Zach suffered a royal meltdown at bedtime after this last party.  Remind me of this next we're sure not to drag the excitement on for so long that my guy is reduced to an inconsolable puddle of tears in the end.

However, his party was awesome!  We had a dozen friends over to play Minute to Win It games like Face the Cookie, Dizzy Mummy, Bite Me, Junk In the Trunk, Bottom's Up, and Suck It Up.  It was all Zachary wanted, and completely lived up to his expectations.