Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fast Eddie

Not too many people know that Jason's nickname used to be "Fast Eddie." My husband (whose middle name is Edward), back in his glory days was super fast! He ran track for many years and set a lot of records at his high school. He even earned a track scholarship to Fresno State, which is pretty much how he (and later on, me) ended up here. He got injured while running at Fresno State, and that pretty much ended his running career... Until recently! So, how did this all come about? Jason has been coaching volleyball for quite a number of years. He began to train and run to get in shape for coaching. The more in shape he got, the more it reminded him of his track years. He remembered back to a time when he ran in All-Comers Meets. An All-Comers Meet is a track and field meet that is open to all ages. It is competitive, and many high schoolers run in them as part of their training and to qualify for other events. Athletes who no longer run for college compete for the sheer pleasure of the sport and the thrill of competing.
Jason attended his first All-Comers Meet since college this past February. Our family drove to Sacramento (it was a reeeaally long day- the kids didn't do so great). Between Gracie pulling my arm trying to get my attention, and Jeremy practically falling off the bleachers, I pretty much missed Jason's race. He pulled a muscle and barely made it over the finish line.
Last week, Jason ran in his second All-Comers Meet. It was held at Los Gatos High School, his alma mater (Los Gatos is in the San Jose area). It coincided with our week in San Francisco without the kids. I was soooo excited to go support him on his home turf! I loved seeing his world- he showed me their track fieldhouse where the records are kept. We discovered that 2 of Jason's records still stand from 1994 (100 m at 10.47 seconds, and the 200 m at 21.28 seconds). WOW! Jason was able to meet up with 2 of his former coaches, Butch Lumby and Willie Harmatz, and even a former college teammate, Etroy Nelson, who he'd run relays with at Fresno State. He barely had enough time to warm up before his race, and I was worried that he was going to get injured. His first race was the 100m and he was placed in the first heat against runners who just recently graduated from college. His goal was to finish the race without injuring himself. He did great, coming in 5th (not bad for an old guy!) with a time of 11.95 seconds and no injuries! Unfortunately, I didn't think he was going to be in the first heat, so I didn't get the camera out in time to get the entire race recorded. He does have ongoing problems with his achilles- he's got tendonities which he goes to physical therapy for. They hurt enough, that he decided not to run in his second event, the 200 m. His next two All-Comers Meets will be in July in Edmonton! Let's see how he fares against Canadians!

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Very Happy Birthday

It was my birthday last week, and even though I wanted it to be "low-key," it turned out to be anything but that! First up was a visit to The Cheesecake Factory with two of my closest friends, Jill and Christa, for a pre-birthday treat. On the actual day of my birthday, we went up to Jason's mom's house for dinner. She and Jennifer made a delicious Chipotle Chicken for dinner. After we put the kids down to go to sleep, we played board games (to my horror, we've misplaced my two favorite games- Perpetual Commotion and Pick 4- they've disappeared... I'm hoping they're still in a box somewhere from when we packed our stuff up for the remodel). We still had a lot of fun.

To top things off, Jason got me an amazing birthday present- tickets to see the musical, "Wicked" at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. Jason asked his mom to watch the kids for several days and we were able to do a getaway without the kids! My post would get really lengthy if I included all the details, so I'm just going to give a quick overview:

-Aaron and Christa recommended we try Frontera Fresco (if you watch PBS, you've probably heard of Rick Bayless. This is his chain). Really enjoyed it!
-Went to see Wicked the Musical. The premise is based on events that happened before Dorothy arrives in the story, The Wizard of Oz. It was great- see it if you get the chance.
-Spent the morning on Alcatraz. Neither of us had ever been there. This was Jason's highlight on our trip. We both love learning about the history of things, so we thought this was very interesting.
-Had an incredible meal at Gigi's Sotto Mare in North Beach. We both highly recommend this place, but know a lot of people won't ever try it because it's a seafood restaurant. I had one of the best pasta dishes I've ever had, and Jason's halibut was to die for!
-Can't go to San Francisco without exploring Chinatown (I've been so many times and still haven't gotten tired of it... I know, weird)

-Visited California Academy of Sciences. It just recently re-opened after an extensive renovation. Wonderful place! We can't wait to take the kids someday. It has a planetarium, an aquarium, a rainforest, a living roof, and tons of exhibits geared towards greener living. We saw a show in the planetarium- the screen is ginormous!
-Lunch at Park Chow. We came across it while walking near Golden Gate Park and it was packed with people. We know why- really good food in a comfortable atmosphere.
-Jason ran in a track meet at his high school... That in itself deserves its own post (which I'll get to soon)!

We are sooo grateful to Jason's mom for taking the kids! Our getaway was a great way for us to reconnect, make new memories, and reminisce! It was indeed, a very happy birthday! (Picture slideshow on the right)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another Sad Goodbye

The year that I went back to work full-time after having Grace, we came across this home daycare called, "BearHugs." We loved it when we went to check it out, but decided to have Grace go to a different home daycare that was closer to our home. Last summer, when we had to start looking around for a place for Jeremy, "BearHugs" was the first place I called. We are so grateful that they had an opening for him. He has been going there since August, and we have been so pleased. Mona and her staff are so loving and it's amazing how much they do with the kids! They celebrate all the holidays (eg. pictures with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus), make a big deal about the kids' birthdays, have fun themed-days like "Rock out Day," or "Tea Party Day," and she is so generous with the kids, too. Grace's last day of preschool was last week, but Jason and I decided to have both Grace and Jeremy in daycare this week to give ourselves some time to "breathe" after a very busy year. Today was Jeremy's last day there since he'll be with me at home for this upcoming year. Our family is sad to say goodbye to Mona, but we've told Mona that when I go back to work, Jeremy will definitely be back at "BearHugs."
Mona threw Grace and Jeremy a goodbye party today. All of the kids at the daycare colored a picture for a "Goodbye, We'll Miss You" book. Mona also had goodbye gift bags with balloons for the kids when we came to pick them up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hair's an Update!

I totally forgot to post this last week. Remember the day Grace did this?! Just looking at the picture makes me crack up!
Grace cut her own hair in January, after practicing on most of the hair on her dolls. As a consequence, we decided to take away everything she had that had "hair." She has been without dolls for almost half a year. We told her that she could have the dolls back when her bangs grew back. Well, they finally grew out long enough that we took her to get a trim (front and back).
A few weeks ago, her grandma also gave her a huge dollhouse. You could just see her disappointment that she had this beautiful dollhouse and yet couldn't play with it because she had no dolls. She was practically begging us to take her to get her hair cut. Her hairstylist asked her at least three times, "You come see me if you want anything done to your hair, ok?! Don't cut it yourself!" Well, after we got home, we also took out the box of dolls and returned them to her. Oh the joy! She spent over a half hour right then playing with her dolls and dollhouse.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Grace in Gymnastics

Last Saturday was Grace's "Showtime" at gymnastics. She has been going to The Little Gym for several months now. Overall, the experience was good- Grace learned so much and had a lot of fun. What we didn't enjoy was being stuck with the other parents that were there. They were really pretentious and judgmental, and every week it seemed like I had to sit and listen to them complain for an hour about how horrible our education system is, and how a good parent wouldn't send their kid to a public school. Needless to say, they never knew that I was a teacher teaching in a public school. Okay, enough about that. On the last day, Jason, Jeremy, and I went to watch Grace show off all that she has learned. At the end, they had a little "ceremony" to award each student with a ribbon. This is what Teacher Sarah had to say about Grace: "This person started off the class very reserved, but since then has come out of her shell and runs to give me hugs. She is dainty, peaceful, and calm, a joy to have in the class... That's Miss Grace!"

My Last Day of School- Reflections

Today was my last day of school... Not just for this year, but for next year, too! My emotions have been building for the last several months. It has been incredibly difficult emotionally, as I've packed and prepared for the end of the year. This past school year had many ups and downs, but when I look back on it, I will remember it as one of the best years I've had. My grade level partner, David, had a lot to do with it. We worked together very closely this past year and made a great team. From a teaching perspective, he and I were really in-tune. Yesterday, he organized a surprise goodbye party for me with our two classes. I had no idea (how did they pull that off?!), and was so incredibly moved by everything that he and the kids did for me. The theme was "things for me to do on my year off." Kids chipped in and got my family a zoo membership! In addition, I received a picnic blanket, picnic cooler filled with my favorite snacks, Jamba Juice and Starbucks gift cards, a beautiful arrangement (from the family that tested me the most this year), candles, etc. David also got me a yearbook and had all of our two classes sign it. As a teacher, it's hard to know day in and day out the impact that you have on your students' lives. My confidence was shaken quite a bit this year. Yesterday was one of the most special moments of affirmation that I have ever received as a teacher. I am so grateful to David for giving me that moment to treasure. Already feeling very emotional, I have been a wreck since! I anticipated that today would be hard. Thankfully, I was able to keep myself together (for the most part). The final goodbyes with my kids though brought the waterworks, particularly when some of my girls broke down while giving me hugs. I have decided to be intentional about keeping in touch with those girls. I feel that my connection with them will last beyond our school year. After they left, I gathered up the last of my things. It turned out that not everything fit into my car. I ended up having to ask one of my friends, Michelle, to help me with a load. She kindly folllowed me home with a load so that it'd save me from having to make 2 trips. That pretty much saved me- I was in a rush to leave school because I didn't want to keep her waiting. So, the goodbyes were short and quick. I hate goodbyes... I HATE goodbyes... The minute I started driving, I burst and broke down. I cried pretty much the entire way home. I am overcome with sadness. Part of my emotional rollercoaster has been the anxiety I feel about heading into this unfamiliar territory of being a "stay-at-home-mom." Yes, this was my decision and I am absolutely looking forward to spending more time with my family. I don't doubt how amazing it will be to be 100% focused on my wonderful husband and kids, but the uncertainty of what my year is going to be like, the loss of teaching (and all that entails- something that's innately mine, a huge part of my identity, something that I value so much), the insecurity of not knowing where I will end up the year after, the worry of not meeting my family's needs and expectations... makes me feel so anxious. As I sit here reflecting, tears are flowing and realize that I still have tight knots in my stomach- I feel my anxiety.
Having written that, I am willing to bet that next year at this time, I will probably be writing a post about all of my anxieties and emotions as I grapple with heading back to work... And with that, this chapter of my life comes to an end as a new one begins... PS: We just found out this week that Grace got into A.M. kindergarten!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rock Out!

Tuesday night was Grace's Year End Program at Shining Star Preschool (at Northwest Church). Jason's mom watched Jeremy for us so we could focus 100% on Grace. The place was packed! Grace's teachers have made several comments this past week about how great Grace has been during their practices. One actually said, "We're putting her front and center, so you better come." We had no idea what to expect. In children's programs at church, she hasn't always participated- she has been the one who has flipped up her dress, made funny faces, and a few years ago, even ran around behind the risers while everyone else performed! Today, her class performed last. I personally think they saved the best for last! Not only that, I think (and yes, I realize I'm a little biased) that Grace totally stole the show. Watch the video! (And there are pictures on the right).

She was amazing- I laughed so hard. Where'd she learn those moves?! After the program, we returned to her classroom for Open House. She showed us around and we got to see some of the things they've been doing in class. She told Jason that after the program, everyone would be getting some bread and sticking some ice cream in it and putting it together (get it? ice cream sandwiches). It was such a great evening- we are so proud of our little girl and are amazed at how much she has learned this year. Preschool has been a wonderful experience. She is going to be incredibly saddened when school ends next week. I don't think she realizes just what that means yet...

Grace's teachers: Mrs. Laura and Mrs. Becky