Sunday, December 26, 2010

Weirdness...A Confession

It is my belief that we all have touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I realize that some people are debilitated by it, and I'm not talking about that degree of the disorder. I'm talking about the weird little habits we have...our own little rituals to even the balance of this crazy world.

Minor clean freak stuff doesn't count. I admit, I don't touch doorknobs or shopping carts with my hands. I use a paper towel on the door and a wipe for the cart. There must be millions of people who feel this way about germs because they have trash cans by the bathroom doors now and wipes for the cart almost everywhere you go. Logically, this doesn't make sense. I spent most of my childhood not caring about germs at all. I remember being at Disneyland as a small child and my mom telling me to remove my chin from where it was resting on the metal fence near where you wait in line. I didn't see the problem with resting my chin there. Heck...I may have even licked the fence without a problem. (I didn't...) It didn't matter that thousands of germy people touched that fence on a daily basis. I had no fear of germs.

But germ awareness is not what I'm talking about. No, no, no. I'm talking about my weird obsessive compulsive habit of "unwinding." How does this work? If I turn around to look at something, I feel the need to unwind by turning back the way I came. I don't like turning in a complete circle because I feel like I'm out of I've wound up and need to go back to "zero." It's hard to explain because it's WEIRD. I admit it!

Another example of my OCD? I have an aversion to odd years. I don't like them as much as even years. I liked 2010 because it was an EVEN year. This weird belief doesn't really hold up because some of the most beautiful things in my life have happened to me during odd years. The girls were born in 2001. I was married in 1995. Both were good odd years. But I still prefer even years. I was born in 1972. I graduated from high school in 1990. Those were good years too! Nothing about this weirdness makes sense.

One more weird confession...and I don't know if you can call it OCD. It's probably just odd...I tend to think of numbers and silverware as male or female. Number 3? Male. Number 9? Female. With silverware, I think the weirdness stems from the way I remember how to set the table. The fork (a male) goes on the left side of the plate. He is in love with the spoon (a female) who is being held hostage on the right side of the plate by the knife (a male), who insists on being between the fork and the spoon. The knife's sharp edge is pointed toward the fork.

Weirdo! Strange, strange, strange.

But I know others have crazy OCD/Weird/Strangeness. If you relate, leave a comment. It will feel good to get it off your chest. I won't laugh at you...promise. :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sharing the Harvest

Rice on the face...
More rice victims.

Water squiring was Emma's favorite job.

People lining up for boxes of food, all donated by the school and the community.

Our amazing culinary students serving the food they prepared. (Isn't our cafeteria lovely?)

The turkey carvers. :)

My girls and me...sharing the harvest! :)

The booth. The kids with their backs to us have rice all over their faces.

I haven't updated my blog about work lately. After a year of teaching middle school, I realized that my heart was truly dedicated to high school students. They are my "peeps." I had a lot of fun with my 8th graders last year, but decided to go back to high school. I transferred to the new high school in my community. It is a breathtakingly beautiful facility, full of innovative ideas and a sense of community. Yesterday, that was made evident through our school's second annual "Share the Harvest" festival. Through donations, our school fed a full Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of families. In addition, we gave turkeys and boxes of food to the families, and had a room in our gym full of carnival-style games and jumpies for the kids. As the co-advisor for the class of 2014, I was there all day with my girls. Our booth was called "Get the rice off your face using only your face." Our sweet freshmen were there all day, volunteering their time. More importantly, my girls were able to see how good it feels to give of your time. They left the event feeling grateful for all they have, knowing that for many of the families who attended the event, this was the only Thanksgiving meal they would have.

Our hearts were filled with Thanksgiving! :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Twins, Pets, and a Camera

We have the most tolerant pets in the universe. Actually, some of them seem to like playing dress up in the girls' Build a Bear clothes.

I found proof of this when the girls confiscated my camera and had a pet fashion shoot.

I'm pretty sure the pictures speak for themselves.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


There are a thousand moments in any given day that I want to write down so I don't forget them.

Alas, the day gets busy, and by the time I settle my tired bones at night, the adorable moments have flown out of my memory. Yesterday, I swore I would write some of them down. That's what blogs are for, after all!

Moment 1-

Grace got REALLY frustrated with Emma and told me she wanted to SELL her.

"Where would we sell her?" I asked.

"To farmers!" Grace cried. "They could use her. She likes animals and would work hard."

Moments later, they were playing wonderfully together, and all thoughts of farmers were forgotten.

Moment 2-

Emma and Grace told me that their friend Shane up the street likes to play with them more than the other neighborhood kids because they have "imagination"- something the other kids lack.

"You have to have a lot of imagination to play on our cul-de-sac," said Emma seriously. "We have bikes and scooters, but that's about it. We make believe a lot."

Moment 3-

The girls have been sleeping in my bed this week since Jeff is gone on a four-wheel-drive trip. We have had crazy girls times, including "littlehood" stories, philosophical discussions, and fits of giggles. They have been arguing over who will sleep closest to me. We've watched movies, read books, and scratched backs. I am in Heaven. I think about how much I wanted a little girl, and God gave me TWO. He doubled my heart's desire. He's fancy that way!

Moment 4-
We went 4th grade shopping. ( little ladies are going to be in 4th grade!) We bought rolling backpacks, binders, folders, markers, highlighters, pencils, correcting pens, and crayons. I don't think I ever had to buy so many school supplies growing up. The school provided them. But this year, the school gave us a fourth grade list, and we followed it to a T. There is something about school supplies that makes me very happy, even if it is only August. (We go back so dang early here!) I love the smell of a box of new pencils. I love the fresh, clean look of a new back pack and lunch bag. I realize that in a month, everything will have a dirty grunge to it. The lunch bag will be stained with food, the back pack will have a greyish grime around the edges, the erasers on the pencil will we worn down by miswritten math problems. I like things right now- new, and shiny, and perfect. Organized! It reminds me of the feeling after you've cleaned your house, and everything just FEELS right. Then that goes away and you have to start all over again. Back to school....ahhhh....I remember my mom scrubbing every inch of our bodies before that first day. She trimmed our nails, cleaned our ears, and put lemon and vinegar on our hair to take the green chlorine stains out of it. It was the cleanest we were all year.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


This guy still makes my heart pitter patter...especially when he looks beachy like this. I love the way his eyes get crinkly on the sides. They get more crinkly as the years go by.

What I like about him...

He looks at me as though he is absolutely in love with me...after 17 years of being together almost non-stop.

He is eternally patient, through hectic mornings, chore days, fighting twins, and even (gasp!) PMS.

He has the most wonderful sense of humor.

He is handy. He just redid my closet floor. He builds bookshelves, tv consoles, and love seats. He cuts and hangs crown moulding and bead board perfectly. He paints, installs wood floors, fixes cars, and installs water softeners. If he doesn't know how to do it, he'll figure it out.

He has a green thumb. He makes EVERYTHING grow, bringing home almost dead plants and nursing them back to life. He keeps a garden and recently grew tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce, cilantro, asparagus, and watermelon.

He unclogs toilets, cleans up cat puke, and does the dog poop duty without EVER complaining. He also kills big, ugly spiders.

He is the most magnificent, fun dad ever. He builds snow forts, puts up tents for camping, makes a perfect smore, and never complains about blanket forts in his living room.

When I watch him walk by, or see him with my girls, I still have some of that "take my breath away" love that I had for him in 1989 when he sat in front of me in 11th grade history, or in 1993 when we reconnected, or in 1995 when we said "I Do" or in 1999 when we danced to Dick Dale's surf guitar on New Year's Eve, or in 2001 when our sweet girls were born.

Overall, I like him better now than I did 17 years ago when he came to my door, taller and older than his high-school self. I am so glad we found each other on this big old planet. I think God put magnets in our souls. :) (Sorry...a bit of my 17-year-old self comes out when I think about him sometimes, and I begin to over-romanticize.)

A GRAND Evening

Tonight was truly memorable. A GRAND evening. All because of three sweet girls and a 93-year-old woman.

This summer, my grandma Ottilee has been very, very ill. She has declined quite a bit in the last few years, but over this past summer, she has rarely gotten out of bed. There have been times over the past week where I've been sitting right next to her and she didn't know who I was. She's called my mom "Mary" or "Mom" and has seen people in her closet. She has even thought I was on a boat in the pool in the back yard. As of two weeks ago, her nurses suspected she was bleeding internally and we didn't think she would live longer than a week. (Her hospice nurse told us to give her broth and morphine and make her as comfortable as possible.)

Well, one thing I know about my grandma...she rallies. She is a fighter.

My mom has a caregiver come to spend time with my grandma during the day, and my mom and dad are usually with her at night. My mom had a doctor's appointment out of town and asked if I would give Grandma dinner and hang out with her. I told my mom that wasn't a problem, and then I told my grandma that I would be "babysitting her" the next day.

Grandma got mixed up, and thought I had asked her to my house for dinner. My mom told her, "No, Dawn is going to come up and feed you dinner."

"NO!" my grandma insisted. "Dawn would like me to come to her house." She put on her fanciest purple outfit and asked her caregiver to curl her hair. This is even more adorable because my house is four houses down from my mom's house. Grandma was getting gussied up to go down the block. :)

Megan is staying with us right now while her parents are camping (she has dance practice in town), so Megan, the girls and I went to the store and bought all of the food that Grandma likes- chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and salad. On the way home from the store, Megan called Grandma to tell her that we were on our way to pick her up. (She can't walk four houses down to my house.) Grandma said she was ready, but asked, "Should I put on my bra?"

Megan replied, "Ummm....Yeah....probably..." and hung up the phone, cracking up. When we got to her house, I said, "Grandma, if you don't want to wear a bra, you don't have to..." to which she snapped, "What are you talking about?" and looked at us, puzzled. Megan and I looked at each other and shrugged.

It took about 20 minutes to get her into the car, down the street, out of the car, and into my house.

It took Grandma so long to get into the house that the screen door shut behind her while I was trying to block the dogs from getting out. "That door just hit my bottom!" she yelled, smiling.

We escorted her inside, and Emma asked to play the piano for her. Grandma sat next to the piano for her very own recital.
In the meantime, Megan and I put all of the food out to make it look fancy. Grandma likes to eat from a formal table setting, so we stuck the rotisserie chicken on a platter, and scooped the microwave mashed potatoes onto plates.

Once we sat down to eat, Grandma was in Heaven.
"You must have worked on this meal ALL DAY," she said.

"Why, yes!" we agreed, trying not to laugh. Emma looked guiltily in my direction, and I winked at her.

During dinner, we used our "table topic" box to pick some things to talk about. One of the questions was, "Would you rather spend one week in the future or one week in the past?"

Grandma said she would like to go to the past, back to when her kids were babies. My heart melted when she said that. I could imagine her a young mother, and I knew somewhere in her heart she still feels that way.

Toward the end of dinner, some neighborhood kids stopped by to give Emma and Grace these punching bag balloons they bought for them. Grace immediately blew hers up and began batting it around the table. To all of our surprise, when the balloon headed toward Grandma, she stuck her palm in the air and spiked it defiantly back to Grace. I thought I would never stop laughing.

After dinner, she hung out on the couch with Megan and the girls chatting and catching up.

After a while, she turned to the girls and said, "Bring me a puppy!" The girls brought her Sophie, and soon Olivia followed. The pugs know an animal lover when they see one.

Alas, it was the end of the party for Grandma, who tires easily. I took her home, and as I was getting her out of the car, one of the neighborhood girls ran into my parents' driveway and yelled, "She's OLD, right?"

Before I could say a word, Grandma answered, "Yes...VERY old!" and she gave her cane a little thump on the ground defiantly.

Monday, May 24, 2010

9 Things

9 Things About Emma at 9 years old

1) Emma's voice gets soft and low whenever she answers the phone or tells you something serious. It's a very soothing, smooth, sweet, deep voice. I love it! When she worries, she also gets these dimple marks above her eyes, which we call her "Power Points."

2) Emma is OCD about schoolwork. If the teacher tells her to read 15 pages, she reads 15 pages. She takes no shortcuts, and she would NEVER pretend to read more than she actually did. Sometimes, Emma has a near melt down when she forgets something (like her homework folder in my classroom.) Her worst fear is to "go down on the chart"- she has yet to do that.

3) Emma loves ponytails. She has very long hair at this point, but nobody ever sees it, because she ties it back into a pony every morning. She puts a little barrette in her bangs as well, so they'll stay out of her eyes.

4) Emma is thoughtful. If I am sick, she asks me if I need water. She worries about how other people feel.

5) Emma adores chocolate milk. The more Hershey's syrup, the better.

6) Having Emma around is like have another mother in the house. She reminds me not to leave the fridge open, and tells me not to talk on my phone in the car. "Look at the road, Mama!" She tells her sister not to forget her dance bag "so Mom doesn't have to stop at the house after school."

7) Schoolwork comes very easily to Emma. She excels in almost everything, but when something doesn't come easily, she gets extremely frustrated! She has no patience for the struggle.

8) Emma is obsessed with Harry Potter. She is on Book 3. She cried when Buckbeak died. She would like to drink butter beer and own a wand.

9) Emma takes piano lessons and has a natural talent for tinkering around on the piano. She would like to join the girl scouts as well. (We're on the call list!) She loves to ride her pony. She doesn't care if it is cute, or popular, or "cool"- she wants to do what she wants to do. She is her own girl.

9 Things About Grace at 9

1) Grace is going through a "grunge" period. She hates to do ANYTHING with her hair. She likes her sideways bangs lightly grazing her eyes. She likes to wear rippy jeans and big t-shirts. She HATES pink. Poor Grace- her room is pink!

2) Grace is funny. She does voices for all of the dogs. She has a whole routine for Sophie called "The Lunchlady." She has voices for the birds. She wants them to get married and have a baby named Brucie. She is always thinking of new situations for our household pets. She thinks Poe the cat is a veejay in his spare time--that he scratches records and wears his hat sideways.

3) Grace gets grouchy easily. It has everything to do with her blood sugar. She gets a wrinkle between her eyebrows when she's upset, and she holds a grudge for a long time. You have to feed her, hug her, and tickle her (in that order) for her to snap out of it.

4) Grace is the most limber human being I've ever met. She can do the full splits (either way), put her leg in the air (by her head) and hold it there, and bend all over the place. This makes her a beautiful, graceful (no pun intended) dancer.

5) Grace will stick up for the defenseless. She is very well-liked at school, and when she sees an injustice, she will speak up. If someone is picking on a kid, she will befriend that kid. I love this about Gracie.

6) Grace is sometimes careless with her schoolwork. She likes to get it over with so she can rollerblade outside, ride her bike, dance, or play. She is capable of beautiful work, but often doesn't use her talent for scholastic things.

7) Grace has very long dreams. She remembers them each morning, and tells them to me on the way to school. :) Did I mention she has lonnnnnnng dreams?

8) Gracie loves Soup Plantation. She would eat there every day if she could. She is a strict vegetarian- she NEVER eats meat. She also doesn't like milk, peanut butter, nuts, etc. This makes feeding her VERY challenging (especially since she is apt to get so grouchy when her blood sugar gets low.)

9) Grace is a snuggle bug. When she's tired, she lays with me and calls me "MYYYY Mommy." She is very affectionate. I will be sad when she stops doing this!

Well, those are nine things about each of my lovely nine-year-old girls. I adore each of them--so unique and beautiful in their own way. I am lucky to be their mother. This makes me wonder...what are nine things my girls would say about me?

Another blog, perhaps.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Master's Class

I am officially 3/4 of the way done getting my Master's degree in Education with an emphasis on art integration. I haven't talked about it at all on my blog, so here goes.

I am currently taking a class on storytelling. This has been so cool. I'm learning how to incorporate storytelling into my lessons. For example, students could do a book report by telling a story from their book through the point of view of one of the characters. I could introduce a book by telling a story from the first chapter to get them "into" the character.

Last weekend, we had to tell our story to the class. Summing up our life story in 15-20 minutes is quite interesting. What do you keep? What is important? Boiled down, what are the moments of your life worth sharing? My life story came down to Bishop, Jeff Smith, and my girls (the journey to get to parenthood). Teaching would have been part of it too, but since everyone in my class teaches, I didn't feel the need to share that part.

This weekend, we are telling stories that we can use in the classroom. Since I am planning to teach Farewell to Manzanar to my advanced language arts classes, I am going to "become" Jeanne Wakatsuki Housten and tell the story of her family being moved from Long Beach to Manzanar. I am very interested in Manzanar, mostly because I grew up less than an hour away from it and never learned about it in school. I love the book's descriptions of the Sierras and the Owens valley- a shock to a family from the ocean in Long Beach. The barracks they lived in had slats in the wood siding, and every night the winds would pick up, and the cold desert air would blow sand all over their bedding and belongings. I can't imagine living like that. They ended up working hard to make Manzanar HOME, using anything they could find to weatherstrip their barracks, planting fruit trees and gardens in the harsh desert soil. They created baseball teams, school yearbooks, and glee clubs. They made beauty out of what they were given, and that is the part of the story that inspires me. If only everyone on earth could do that!

Back to my Masters- My classes so far: Art Integration, Visual Art, Drama, Movement, Poetry, Computer Arts, Assessment and now Storytelling. After this I have Music, Arts and Culture in Community, and my Thesis Class, and I'll be done. I really wish I could go to Boston for graduation. It will depend on money, timing, etc.

Overall, the experience has been more work than I ever anticipated, but highly worth it. I've come out of class each weekend with fabulous ideas for activities and lessons, and have used my students as guinea pigs several times (with mixed results...but they agree that it's fun to try, even when a lesson doesn't work out as planned.) Overall, it's been worth it!