Happenings and Realizations

As far as weekends go, this was a pretty good one. For me, the weekend also includes Friday, okay?

Realization #1: I LOVE teaching Latin, almost as much as I love teaching English. I teach two separate Latin classes at different schools on Fridays, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I have a diabolical love for diagramming sentences, but now I know that I also love coming up with random analogies to explain complicated things to teens, like the 4 principal parts of a verb (2 arms and 2 legs on a body), different tense endings on the stem of a verb (putting a different hat on your head, depending on the weather), differences between conjugations being just like the differences between families (1st conjugation is that perfect white suburbia family with stepford wives), etc. LOVE it. Teaching Latin makes me want to go back and get another BA in classics.

My old Latin Book from Junior High-- I created a treasure hunt for myself!

My old Latin Book from Junior High– I created a treasure hunt for myself!

Realization #2: Most Thai food is gluten free!

Realization #3: I’m also allergic to soybean oil. I found this out when we made gluten free chocolate chip cookies after eating Thai food and I was sick to the point of throwing up for HOURS. I kept thinking it had to be the Thai food (maybe how they fried the tofu?), but Jesse pointed out that the timing wasn’t typical (3 hours after eating dinner), and that it had to be the cookies somehow. Then, a gluten-free friend told me she has the same reaction whenever she eats anything with soybean oil….there ya go. It makes sense of other things that have happened as well.

Realization #4: Soybean oil and hydrogenated soybeans are in EVERYTHING. The coffee creamer at church. Salad dressing. Chocolate. Most types of bread and crackers. How many Americans know that they are eating buckets of soy products every day? They say that just a bottle of baby soy-formula has more hormones than a month’s worth of birth control pills. C’mon, America, let’s get our food supply under control!!!

Realization #5: I am going to try an elimination diet soon, as it seems it’s the only way I can pinpoint the specific things that are making me sick. That should be….fun? I already feel like I don’t get to eat anything, so only eating 1 or 2 food groups for a month sounds devastating. But I hate the feeling that my food is poisoning me, especially when I am incapacitated by nausea. So, there’s that.

Realization #6: Jesse is going to have to make us some salsa soon. Our garden is producing tomatoes and spinach leaves like CRAZY. This is how many tomatoes we harvest on a DAILY basis!

Garden September 2013

Happening #1: I went on a women’s retreat with my mom’s church this weekend. I only went for Saturday, but it was so much fun! Just a whole day of sitting in a room, eating chicken salad, playing board games, drinking coffee and chatting….I am so glad I broke out of my introversion and went. I was worried how the boys would fare without me home, but I came home to the babies in bed and the kitchen clean. Success!!!

Janelle likes to point out that my face looks funny here. I was CHEWING. Ahem.

Janelle likes to point out that my face looks funny here. I was CHEWING. Ahem.

Happening #2: I bought some am-AHZ-ing boots at TJ Maxx yesterday with some more eBay money. I’ve made $250 in the last 10 days!

Happening #3: A busy week ahead of us! I have a full schedule for the first time, with both of my Latin classes and 15 piano students, half of whom are new!

Happy Monday everyone!

Rough Month

You guys, August was just one of those rough months you kinda want to forget ever happened. I should add that there were a few exceptions– we visited our friends in Southern CA that were here from TX, we got a visit from the Shelbys, and we went to Big Sur. Oh, and our AMAZING  7 Year Anniversary trip. So those were definite highlights that I don’t want to take for granted.

But there were a couple big sucky things.  I’ve wanted to write about them, but then another thing would happen and I wanted to wait and see how it played out first. And it always got a bit worse, so I’m glad I waited to write about it in one neat post, rather than let bad stuff string along into a saga.

First of all: I lost my teaching job at NCCS. At first, it was just “your 3 classes got dropped down to 2 and no one told you, sorry you had to find out like this”. Then it was “We’re not sure if we’re going to have the enrollment to keep the AP classes separate from the normal ones”. And then it was, officially,  “We definitely do not have the enrollment to pay you. Wanna teach for free?”

Finding all this out, mid-August? Totally craptacular. Luckily, we have a savings account for the first time in our 7 years of marriage, so we weren’t panicking….but we were saying, “Holy Crap, that’s a third of our income, gone like that! With only 7 days notice!”

Luckily, Jesse’s job is secure (he’s now the only English teacher in the HS). And I still have 9 piano students. If I had known I wouldn’t be teaching, I would’ve had all summer to build up my clientele, but with only 2 weeks before school starting, I wasn’t sure I could pull in enough students to pay the bills.

Whaddya know, God is really really good. In just 2 weeks, I’ve pulled together 2 extracurricular Latin I courses, one with NCCS after school and one at a homeschool group. I also got a flood of emails from interested piano students, and I start teaching 7 new ones next week!

So, the long and short of it is: As of right now, we can pay our bills, AND put a tiny amount into savings every month. Granted, we won’t be flying around the US to vacation or see anyone for the time being, but we will be far from starving. God is SO good, I cannot say that enough. On the plus side of this arrangement, I only have to work from 3-6pm, 4 days a week! That’s actually less than I was working before. And it won’t put strain on Jesse’s prep time because my awesome mother and mother in law are stepping in to help babysit all 4 days so Jesse can stay at school and get stuff done!

Second of all: Right on the heels of this, I found out that the reason for all my headaches and tummy aches is gluten. I’ve been trying to eliminate various foods all summer to figure out why I’ve been feeling so crappy, and I saved gluten for last because I really REALLY didn’t want it to be that. I love pasta! Bread! Donuts! Unfortunately, (or, fortunately, actually), after 4 days off of gluten, I feel better than I have in months. It’s undeniable, at this point.

I really wasn’t ready for another project to take on at this point. I’m starting up 3 different avenues of business right now to pay the bills, and it takes a lot of coordination and behind the scenes work. The boys and Jesse are not about to stop eating gluten any time soon, so I’ll be alone. Also, we are on a vegan fast every Wednesday and Friday (due to Orthodoxy), and being gluten free is really hard when you can’t eat meat or dairy.

So, it’s good news in the sense that I finally feel better. It’s bad news because I really really wanted it to be something other than gluten.

Lastly: After months of going back and forth, being hot then cold, our foster daughter C finally decided that she does not want to do the work that’s required to live with a family. She has chosen to stay at her school up north and eventually transition out of her group home to an in-between foster situation before aging out of the system.

While this is a relief because we no longer have to wonder about when she’ll be coming back, we are very sad, mostly for her. To not have any family is a very sad and scary place to be, so it’s crazy to think that attaching to a family is even SCARIER than that. She has never learned how to go back and fix relationships, and has a 5 month expiration date on every single relationship in her life, save the one she has with her old foster mother of 7 years. Her “survival instinct” makes her blow up every situation and relationship and restart, like a video game. She doesn’t realize that this is not normal– in fact, she does it on a QUEST to be normal, sadly. She has layer upon layer of self-deception going on (borderline multiple-personality disorder), down to the point where she re-tells the narrative of whatever happened at a particular home, just to deceive new families, social workers, police officers, etc. into believing that it was someone else’s fault. Whenever anybody figures out what’s really going on, she blows it up and moves on to someone new that she can manipulate.

And her attachment issues run so deep, that I am very afraid for when she decides to have kids or any sort of romantic relationship, especially since her mom and grandma had the same attachment issues which lead her to where she is today. If the issues cannot be fixed, they just repeat themselves.  The odds of a fatherless teen having a baby before 20 are high, and the odds of an orphan are astronomical. It makes me mad to think that a child who was abandoned at birth will just continue abandoning everything else in her life. I’ve talked to many other people who’ve fostered teens who were abandoned, and it’s the same thing. It makes me feel so helpless to change things. You can’t help someone who won’t let you near them.

We are still grieving on a day to day basis. One minute, I’ll think I’m okay, and then the next minute something new will crop up and I’ll realize I haven’t healed yet. That’s how grief works. I want to let myself go through this process of grieving, as painful as it is, because the alternative (shutting off my heart), is an even worse solution. I want this to grow me and make me stronger, not harden me. Part of this growing and grieving is to know that it’s OKAY to remember that we loved and love her, even if she only pretended to love us to get what she wanted. I don’t have to cut her out of my heart and life– what I had for her was very real, even if it didn’t turn out like I wanted.

So, there you have it– my crappy August. Here’s to September being better!

8th Grade Graduation

This last Friday night, my favorite class ever, the 8th graders, graduated from NCCS. Some of them are transferring to a high school where they can play football, so this class will never be the same as it was this last year. Makes me pretty sad.

I was so honored to be unanimously chosen as their key-note speaker! Although I was SUPER nervous ahead of time, I actually had a blast while I was up there speaking. It’s the first time in my LIFE that all of my nervousness actually went away the moment I was up in front of everyone. My speech was exactly 10 minutes long.

A group shot with all 10 of them!

A group shot with all 10 of them!

With the twins

With the twins

Even though it was a great experience, I’m so glad it’s over and I can relax. Summer is finally here!!!


Aeneid Latin 1

Today, my students officially decided that I was nerdy. As we were reading aloud the Aeneid in the original Latin, tears welled up in my eyes.

No, seriously. It was that beautiful.


Someone generously donated a 30 second commercial to our school. The commercial will be played during both the morning and evening news, for 5 months!

The problem was….they needed an alumn to be the “face” and “voiceover” for the commercial. And our boss chose me. I mean, when your boss asks you to do something, how can you not, right?

What’s even funnier about all this is that Jesse and I rewrote the script for the commercial just this last Monday night. We didn’t like the lines (some executive wrote them, I think? VERY cheesy), and I definitely didn’t feel comfortable reading them on camera.

As a result, there might be a mention of the “Good, True and Beautiful” in there somewhere 😉

Someday, I’ll probably see a clip of it. When I do, I’ll make sure to post it. For now, it’s just me.

Kelly KSBY commercial

My mom took this on my phone in front of our house. You can see why I’ll never be one of those “fashion bloggers”– I just don’t know how to stand!

KSBY commercial Kelly 2

My boss took this of me during the actual shooting of the commercial. Awkward and uncomfortable smiles are kind of my thing…

King Arthur

Another very cool day teaching! To finish up our unit on Sir Thomas Mallory’s Morte D’ Arthur, we built castles and knocked them down!

First, Jesse and I brought a bunch of our old moving boxes to school. The boys and girls, on different teams, divided up the boxes one by one.

Castle Project 7


Next, each team arranged their boxes into a “castle”, the design of which was entirely up to them (the kids have been planning this for weeks. The Girls Team even “accidentally dropped” a “fake plan” of what their castle was going to look like in order to “trick” the boys!).

Castle Project 6

Their mission? To protect their victim– one of Gregory’s stuffed animals.

Castle Project 9

Then, the games began. Each team had to send one person out to “joust”– that is, to answer King Arthur quiz questions correctly in order to obtain ammunition (a basketball and a volleyball).
Castle Project 4
We had to “joust” for over an hour before the fatal blow.
Castle Project 1

We Killed Julius Caesar

There are days when I love my job, and then there are days where I FREAKIN LOVVVEEEE my job. Yesterday was the latter.

My first year teaching at NCCS, I didn’t time our reading selections all that well. Case in point: we read the creepiest chapter of Wuthering Heights the WEEK before Christmas. Oops.

This year, I did better. We finished with The Christmas Carol right before Christmas. We also just finished Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar right before March (Ides of March, anyone?).

Yesterday was our planned dramatic enactment. We didn’t spend much class time even learning our lines or blocking, we had just barely finished the play. But I charged them to bring their togas so we could have some fun!

And fun we had.

Julius Caesar 1

Yes, my sister was Antony. Yes, she did gangsta signs during her speech. Yes, she accessorized her toga. <sigh> 🙂

Julius Caesar 3

Is it any surprise that a bunch of teenage girls know how to be dramatic?

Julius Caesar 2

Yes, this was posed. We couldn’t get Julius Caesar to stop laughing. 


Last night was North County Christian’s Open House night. It was actually a lot of fun– a yummy BBQ to support the Booster’s Club (ever had Hawaiian coleslaw? It was amazing!), “choreographed” hula dances from each of the elementary grades, tons of art from the High Schoolers taped up on every available wall, and the Science Fair awards with Mr. Bartel (ah, the memories! Not to brag, but I had two kick-a projects when I was in High School. I even went to the Regional and State Fairs and won prize money!).

In the midst of the hubbub, I decided to take the plunge and walk across campus to visit the preschool room. Jesse and I have discussed sending G to preschool 2 mornings a week from 9am-12:30pm. He loves singing songs and coloring here at home, but think that he could enjoy and appreciate 7 hours a week of guided interaction with other kids. Other than the social component, I don’t even care much if it’s “school” (YET–don’t get me wrong, I care a ton once he’s in Kindergarten), but I want him to interact with other kids on a consistent basis.

We’ve also looked into the absolutely wonderful Montessori school down the road from us– the same one I teach piano at on Tuesday afternoons. Over the past 5-6 years, I’ve worked at nearly a dozen Montessori schools in LA, Dallas, and now here on the Central Coast, and I must say that I’m more impressed with CHMS here in Atascadero than I am with any other Montessori school. I don’t have time for the details here, but it truly is a gem. They go through 6th grade, and, get this, they have a LONG waiting list for each classroom. You have to wait for over a year to even get in to this school.

The problem? To send G there for 2 mornings a week is $3900/year. That’s over $300 a month for 6 hours/week of preschool! A car payment!

And, the more I think about it, Montessori education is great, but if the kid is not fully immersed, it might not really be worth the money. And to send G there fulltime (not that I ever could! My poor Mommy heart!) would be close to $8,000/year!!! Employing certain Montessori principles at home seems like a better idea.

So we went to visit the little 2.5-3.5 year old preschool room at NCCS. I loved it from the second we walked in. It was so cheerful, fun, and un-cluttered (I can’t stand most preschools for this reason…). Dena, the head of the preschool, was there, and she was just the sweetest! She gave me a run down of what the 3 hours in the morning looked like and showed G all their different books and letter games. I must admit, I was pretty darn proud when Gregory could name his letters and colors for her. She seemed shocked and surprised that a 2 year old could already do that (hey, he’s my kid, I’m not surprised. Don’t ask him to count or do his numbers, however….;) ).

Also, I loved that G clearly felt happy and comfortable there. He walked right in and acted like he owned the place! He went right to the art easel and started drawing “cew-cals!” and “squawers!” (they looked nothing like either shape, but he’s got quite an imagination lately). He read books with Dena and even interacted with her animal puppets!

My favorite thing about Dena was that she didn’t call the kids “students” or “children”, but kept referring to them as Friends. “Oh, most of our Friends don’t get here until 8:30am”, or, “On most days we have between 8-10 Friends”. How adorable is that?

So, for right now, NCCS’ preschool is our top choice. I’m not going to lie, the fact that we get free tuition and I’ll only be 20 yards away in another building really helps me feel better. I think that I could even schedule my teaching to be mostly these two mornings so that I can spend the other days and mornings with both boys. And, while Gregory’s having fun singing songs and doing arts and crafts, Anthony will be getting some one-on-one attention from his Grandmas! What a lucky kiddo!

Hybrid Mommy

I’ve been really torn and struggling with something, so I thought I’d put it out there and see if anyone has any advice.

There are the occasional times when I think to myself, “I truly have the best of both worlds.”

Two days a week, I get to 100% stay at home with my kids, wake up with them, spend the day playing, have lunch, put them down for their naps, all without having to worry about the clock. While they’re sleeping, I get to write, read, or clean up around the house (with a toddler who wants to do EVERYTHING himself, it’s usually the latter).

On the other hand, I also get to have a career. Not a job, a career! I get to teach English literature and writing, which has always been my dream. Not only that, but my husband gets to teach with me! We spend our evenings “prepping” for the coming days, discussing books, writing techniques, and how to better prepare our students for living Godly lives. While I’ve sometimes felt like he’s encroaching on my “turf”, so to speak (um, hello, newcomer to MY English world!), I recognize that we’ll never have to be one of those couples who says, “Oh, what did you do today?” We get to share it all!

Thanks to my awesome boss, who partially designed the class schedule around me, I work 10:40-12:10 M,W, Th, and then 12:45-2:15 M and Th. She did this to give me the ability to run home and nurse (good thing we live 90 seconds away!). She even scheduled classes so that Jesse’s prep period is when I’m teaching. If something ever happens with the boys, I have a sub right there. Thanks to this schedule, we will probably never need to use any of the milk I’ve pumped/stored! I also have awesome family to fully cover my babysitting needs!

In the evenings, I also teach piano lessons in short 30-60 min. clumps, here and there (about 6 hrs./week). This enables us to save close to $1500/month!

So I definitely acknowledge that God has poured out abundant blessings on us. I honestly don’t know how we got so fortunate. We don’t deserve it, that’s for sure.

That being said…being a “Hybrid Mommy” has it’s own unique set of challenges. I never get to fully immerse myself in one or the other. For example, I don’t get a lunch on Mondays and Thursdays– instead, I am running home in between classes to nurse Anthony. I am constantly juggling babysitters and feeding schedules, managing our bills, groceries and dinner schedule, cleaning the house and doing all the laundry, while ALSO creating lesson plans, grading papers and taking notes on books. In the evenings, I am running my piano business, which involves much more than just teaching. I feel like each is a full-time job, yet I’m forced to do them all in half the time.

Basically, this is an emotional rant more than a logistical one. I can do this without too much hardship. But I feel so torn between both worlds. It’s really hard to both work AND be a stay at home Mommy. I don’t think I ever realized that until now.

I also want to be fully present wherever I am. This is SUPER CHALLENGING when being a Hybrid Mommy. When I’m with my boys, I have to be thinking about what I need to get prepared for tomorrow in order to be ready for class. When I’m with my students, I am wondering in the back of my mind if the boys are okay without me (they are, 99% of the time. Gregory practically crapped his pants with joy when “NANA” came to the door yesterday!).

In fact, as part of my “first day” speech yesterday, I said, “Instead of spending time with the 2 most important little people in my life, I’m here teaching you guys English. It’s not because I need the money, it’s because I believe in what I’m doing. So don’t you DARE let me catch you dissing my class or my subject.” (I think I scared them, just a little bit 🙂 )

So it’s definitely hard to remain present, especially because I don’t compartmentalize well. I find myself wishing I was one or the other– a Fulltime working Mom, or a Fulltime Stay at Home Mom. But I know this isn’t me. I would (and have!) gone crazy just being home all day, and I would go crazy missing my boys if I didn’t get to see them until dinner time. I can’t imagine not being a Mommy, and I can’t imagine not being a teacher.

I’m very fortunate to have a husband who believes whole-heartedly that I belong in both worlds. He encourages me often, saying that because God gave me such a wide array of gifts and he would be sad not to see me use them. That definitely takes the pressure off.

But I still wonder if I am really doing justice to either job.

Then again, aren’t we all “Hybrid Mommies” of a sort? Being a mother requires one to always be multi-tasking. It’s always a challenge to remain “present”.

Does anyone else deal with this? It’s not quite “Mommy guilt”…but I can’t put my finger on what it is. Perhaps, simply put, it’s just, “Life”?

School Days

NCCS Orientation Training Started this week. I was dreading it, because it signaled the end of our first summer break together as a family of 4. But the minute I was in that room with all of those wonderful people yesterday…I got super excited. We have such a wonderful faculty this year, and I’m really glad to be working with all of them! The math teacher, who is Jesse’s age and got her MA from Pepperdine, finally permanently moved nearby (last year she basically lived out of a suitcase!), so hopefully we’ll see more of her. The new Bible teacher is also an alum from my brother Keith’s class, so I’m sure that will only add to the new faculty dynamic.

Overall, it was such a fun 12-ish weeks of Jesse not working (I worked, but only 5-6 hours/week with piano lessons). I realize how completely BLESSED we are to have so much time off together. I don’t know many families that get this blessing– 12 weeks a year of paid vacation! Not to mention 2 weeks off for Christmas, 2 weeks off for Easter, random Mondays…yeah, it ALMOST makes up for the lower salary base.

This summer, we were able to cram in quite a few things:

*Moving. Yeah, it technically happened 2 weeks before school got out, but since we moved things over from my parents’ house slowly, it still counts. Actually, not everything’s been moved yet, so…

*Day/Road Trips: 1. San Francisco to see the Folsoms, 2. Agoura Hills to see the Unruhs, Shelbys and Ben. Pictures will follow…someday…

* Camping at Big Sur: TOUGH with two kids under 2, but still fun. 3 nights, 4 days! Wow, did we honestly make it through that?

* Weekend Trip to Ventura with my family

* Made it to the beach and zoo around 3-4 times.

*Decorated our whole house: With the exception of G’s room/office, I’m ALMOST satisfied. That’s saying a lot, if you know me. I hope to take some pictures this week. This actually took a ton of time, as I made lots of things by hand with my new sewing machine (I realize the irony of that statement). We also had a lot of things to organize, since they’d been sitting in boxes for 9 months.

* Got into yoga! Seriously! It started out as me mercilessly teasing Jesse about trying it out, complete with jokes about buying him a girly yoga mat (the most manly color I could find was turquoise…hehe), finding menstrual cycle yoga on YouTube, finding STRIPPER YOGA at a local gym (I’m NOT EVEN KIDDING), asking if he’s stretched his ovaries yet today….and now, I like it too. It makes me feel super energized and flexible. Not to mention, it’s something that I can aspire to. Some of those crazy positions? They’re sick, I tell you. So super hard and impossible looking. They make me hurt just WATCHING the video.

* Finished TONS of TV shows we’ve been dying to catch up on. This may seem lazy, but we love lounging around in our pjs, drinking coffee, laughing at a funny show together. So far this summer ALONE we’ve watched: 2 seasons of Downtown Abbey, 2 seasons of Game of Thrones, all 7 seasons of How I Met Your Mother, seasons 5+6 of Dexter (OHMAGOSH!), season 2 of Sherlock, season 1 of United States of Tara, and countless other Netflix shows. Not to mention the Olympics and So You Think You Can Dance! Basically, since it’s hard to get out of the house with two babies that are always napping or sleeping, you have to stay in, so that explains some of the TV.

Since we hope to have a few more summers together as teachers, I’ve thought of a good plan for the future. We sort of followed it this year, but it will hold as a good rule of thumb so we don’t waste our summer (or, worse, FEEL like we wasted our summer! 🙂

June: Rest and rejuvenation. Whatever form this takes is okay, whether it be sleeping until noon (CHECK!) or watching lots of shows we didn’t have time for during the year. Basically, whatever we decide to spend time on is OK, and we don’t need to feel guilty or worry about doing anything productive if we don’t want.

July: Travel. During this month, we can make it a point to go camping, visit friends, visit a monastery (Jesse’s dying to go), take day trips, etc. Big Sur always falls within this month, so that helps.

August: Study and Prepare for the School Year. This will involve making lesson plans, reading the novels for the upcoming year, organizing school papers, etc. For me, this involved coming up with a cleaning schedule, a new budget based on our savings goals and my new salary (I’m now teaching 2 classes instead of 1, and organizing a few more things. It also meant buying a few professional clothes for myself, seeing as I haven’t bought any in almost 3 years!

Alrighty, it’s back to lesson planning for me!