Thursday, February 22, 2018

This is my 40

On the eve of my 40th birthday, I was reminded of one of my favorite movies. I had stepped outside into a beautiful snow fall to do a “cart run” at my part-time job at a local grocery store. The parking lot was mostly empty, and the night sky was magical with the large snowflakes falling.  I imagined one of my favorite scenes from the movie as the main character, George, runs through the Main Street of town happily yelling “Merry Christmas” to everyone and everything.

It’s at this point in the movie that George had just finished an amazing reflection on his life. He was a dad, a husband, and friend. But he had always envisioned bigger things for himself. He had anticipated a different life than what he was waking up to. His daily life stressors combined with the fantasy life he envisioned for himself led to unhappiness. George had narrowed his focus to only what he didn’t have from that dream life. He was at a breaking point when he found himself in the amazing life reflection where he saw all he was able to accomplish; all the lives he had positively impacted by being himself.

I thought about all of this as I pushed a line of shopping carts through the snow. My yellow reflective jacket with the grocery store name shining in the street lights. My hair collecting snowflakes. This moment was not at all what I expected. To be a part-time cashier to make extra money was never in my plan. But it’s also part of my story that I’m proud of. I’m working hard for my crew because that’s what we need. My kids get to see my wife and I hustle to provide and to give back.

And I know that I’m on the right path when my students want to tell me about the exciting things happening for them; when my coworkers at the grocery store wave with big smiles as I walk up for my shift; when my kids run up to give me a hug before I leave to work for the night; or when my wife puts out a survey for my family, friends, and coworkers to fill out for my birthday and over 50 people sign up to share amazing memories, thoughts, and love for this 40 year old.

No, this is never what I expected, and in some ways it’s harder than I wanted, but man, I’m proud of where I’m going and all I get to do each day. I can definitely say that it’s a wonderful life. #theteacherdadis40

Me w/ my Zuzu

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday Favorites... totally sick!

By the time I posted last week’s Teacher Dad Friday Favorites, I had called out sick from work. It was aweful! I swear that I hadn’t been that sick in more than 15 years. Shaking, chills. I seriously wanted to cry, and my kids thought I was going to have to go to the hospital. I was in bad shape.

That Friday morning I went to see the Nurse Practitioner that has become my medical person locally. She’s part of a larger group of health care providers in our area, so there is a bit of a network she’s a part of. That being the case, they have created (or use) an online system for messaging with patients, providing billing info, and keeping track of records. It’s similar to online grade books that teachers can use for communicating with parents.

So after seeing my FNP Friday morning, I left knowing that my rapid strep test was negative and that I’d have to wait all weekend to know anything more. But, with this MyChart system, I knew Sunday that my throat culture was positive for strep, and by 9am Monday my FNP had messaged me to let
me know my prescription would be waiting for me at my pharmacy! It was great, and incredibly convenient.

I even had to message her about getting a medical release to go back to work, and she was able to provide one to me online to print out with out having to go back in. I will admit that prior to this experience, I had been reluctant to sign up for MyChart. I couldn’t see why it would be helpful. But now, it’s definitly one of my new favorite things!

Thanks to The Vancouver Clinic and it’s use of MyChart! And FNP Heather, you rock! Thank you for your medical care and getting me back on my feet.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Ambitious... is that the right word?

It’s easy to imagine how hectic the home life of a family of 7 can be. Throw in teaching, blogging, part time work, small business ownership, and coaching and I’m sure your head is spinning. A normal response from someone I’m meeting for the first time is “whoa, that’s a lot; you must be tired” or “really, 5.. I can barely manage my life with 2”. My favorite all time response was: “Wow, you’re ambitious.”

I like to hold onto that “ambitious” label. I’m proud of that idea. My wife and I... ambitious:

We were ambitious when we moved from Denver to Atlanta for my wife to go to school. I had to find work. I struggled in a post 9/11 world. My wife worried for me, then her mom had a medical emergency, but came out smiling. I fought to pass a Praxis test to get into an Ed program; she was top of her photo class with a project inspired by the beautiful song “Round Here.” We felt far away. Worried about her mom, I rejoiced at my acceptance into an Ed licensure/masters program in her hometown. 

We moved. Drove all the way from GA to AK. She worked to find a job; I thrived on my new Ed path. I received my teaching license, and she worked as an after school program coordinator helping students get the support they needed. She was great, but wanted more. We started our family; I accepted my first teaching position. 

Our first kiddo was born, and she still worked. I taught and took a class here or there to complete my masters. Money was tight, but it didn’t need to be... debts had piled for school... moving.. life.. She followed her heart and started her photo business. First born wasn’t a fan of sleeping. He was sensitive to so many things. We were exhausted; I taught and went to night class. She carried, soothed, fed, built her business, and researched everything to help our boy. 

Tragedy.. we traveled 3 times to say goodbye to loved ones back in Chicago.. through sorrow grew hope; our fist baby girl. Her small business continued to grow. I change schools, but haven’t finished my masters.

We took a vacation. Life was great. Then more sorrow. So unexpected to not even get to say goodbye.  Rattled, we moved forward and planned a path to grow our family through adoption. Over a year later having shifted our plans, we have our twins. Money was tight, adoption expenses were high, but we did fund raisers.. it’ll be ok.

I finished and defended my masters project. Our 4 kiddos were great. Business was growing. But the school district was suffering. Pink slips and low moral. I began to feel like I was done. I looked for a new opportunity; we tried for another baby. It happened altogether a new opportunity and our new pregnancy. We moved from AK to WA.. the house didn’t sell, pregnancy was tricky, stress was rediculous. Healthy baby was born. Debts grew.. more moves for homes and a new school.. restarting a business.. 

Ambitious? I hold onto that, but maybe it was all just crazy. The fact that I’ve done it all with the same person at my side it just amazing. Of course we’ve argued, cried, said terrible things, thrown things, and I’ve slept on the couch a couple of times. But maybe that’s just what ambition is sometimes. It’s pushing yourself and your partner out of comfort zones to cause conflict that you then have to work through together. And I can tell you honestly that there was plenty of conflict through all of the “ambition” we’ve lived through, and some of it was down right aweful... but there is no other person in the world that I would have rather grown this life with than her. We continue to build our family on ambition and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.. but for the record, there will be no more actual moving! We’re staying put here.

*Side note: this week our oldest turns 12 marking the anniversary of my lovely wife becoming the greatest mom in the world. Happy BIRTH day!

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Teacher Dad’s Friday Favorites

I’m excited to introduce my new weekly segment called “The Teacher Dad’s Friday Favorites.” Each Friday I’m going to feature something that I find to be a “go-to” for me as a teacher and/or as a dad. This could be a thing, or a place, or a thing at a place.... whatever I want to share each week. My hope is to introduce you to a something new that you might find just as interesting or helpful. It will also be a way to give a glimpse into my life as a teacher and father of 5.

The first thing I want to share has truly been a game changer for my family. Imagine the fun of being a dad and taking 5 kids grocery shopping. The fights about who stands on which part of the cart, or who the better helper is, or the common “are we done yet?” Buffered by the irritating “oh, don’t you have your hands full” and “some one’s in the dog house having to take the kids to the store.” The awkward fake laugh reply pails in comparison to the commenter’s own belly chuckle at there own poor sense of humor.

Natuarally, any chance I got to do the shopping at night or without my kiddos was one that I took. Then my glorious wife (yes she reads the blog.. hey honey) suggested that we try Fred Meyer’s ClickList. It’s wonderful. Plain and simple they do the shopping for you, walk it to your vehicle, load it and you drive away. Yes you have to pay, but it seriosuly takes you all of 10 min to drive up, get your groceries, and leave.

How it works:
1) Download the Fred Meyer App and link it to your Rewards card.
2) Set your favorite store location
3) Start shopping for your normal items. Leave a description of what you look for when picking
    things like produce or meat.
4) Check for digital coupons to save more money.
5) Check out and set your time for pick up.

Any items you order that they don’t have available will be substituted with a similar item if you permit it when you place your order. There are certain items I don’t do this for like our favorite tea, salad dressing, and laundry cleaners. But for most others this works just fine. The best part is that you pay whatever the best price is between what you ordered and the substituted item. For example, I always order the Fred Meyer brand almond milk, but when it’s substitued with a name brand we pay the cheaper price of the Fred Meyer brand.

I can’t ever envision going back to shopping the old way again. I hope wherever you are that you can use Fred Meyer’s ClickList or some version of it. It’s truly a game changer.