Blue belt! (part 1)

Belt test day!

This is our life at the moment. Eve had a field hockey game and a belt test today, both at the exact same time. She put a lot of thought into it and decided to go to the belt test since they are fewer and farther between. (I was happy because I that meant I didn’t have to get the kids to two separate places at the exact same time!) Alan is out of town. He left early this morning. I had to work today and therefore had to rush the kids out the door early. Eve did walk-n-ride and I dropped Lex off at school early (early care, he hates it). He was a mess this morning – tired, fussy, slow. He also felt very hot, but I told myself it was just because he had been huddling under the covers and crying. Then I told him to have the nurse call me if necessary. She did. Right at the end of the day. I picked both kids up and he was clearly ill. The nurse said he had a fever of 99.5, but he was super pale and she said he was “paling” right in front of her. I brought them home and he fell asleep on the couch. I was left with an excited child ready for a belt test and a sleeping sick boy. Eve was so sweet and took great care of Lex, unpacking his backpack and getting him water and a blanket. So sweet.

It was a tough call for me, but I ended up writing Lex a note (I told him about it before he fell asleep) and taking Eve to the belt test. She did excellent and moved up from the “beginner belt range” to the “intermediate belt range.”


Look at that kick! She’s a powerful girl!


She’s also a very silly girl! She was actually standing still and serious, but when she saw me taking a picture… well…


Goodbye yellow belt! Hello blue!

Now, for the first time ever, the kids have different belts. Hopefully not for long though! Sensei said he would give Lex a separate test next week.

We got home and found Lex sitting up in the chair with a book. I tried to get a little dinner in him, but he got half way through a yogurt before sliding off the chair and on to the floor. I asked why he was on the floor and he said, “It’s the closest place I can find to lie down.” Back to the couch! A few minutes later that yogurt came right back up. :(

I’m feeling fortunate that my new job is only four days as a week so I don’t have to worry about missing work. I’m pretty sure I’ll have a sick boy home with me tomorrow.

I don’t mean to overshadow Eve’s belt test accomplishments! She did excellent on her test! I’m so impressed without strong and focused she is in karate. Apparently she did an entire kata with her tongue between her teeth. Sensei commented on it, as did a few friends who had a better view. I think the tongue helps her concentrate. :)

New job!

I start a new job tomorrow.  I am feeling prepared, but nervous nonetheless.  I’ll be teaching pre-k at a beautiful little school nearby.  It is a long-term sub position while their regular teacher is off on maternity leave.  I’ll be the teacher until Christmas vacation.  I get to do all the fun holiday crafts.  :)

It was a long and emotionally tumultuous path to arrive at this position, but I’m glad I took the journey and ended up where I did.  The first week of school my kids went back to school and I got myself organized.  I wrote up a long to-do list and started checking things off.  I made healthy food to eat and exercised every day.  I was enjoying the at-home gig.  Then a friend told me about a preschool position that was open and a day later I applied for a full-time kindergarten co-teacher position.  Both had some amazing pros, but some serious cons as well, and I again began my internal deliberation about home versus work versus me.  I want to be home with the kids, I want to continue my career, and I want to take care of myself, both physically and emotionally.  Unfortunately there just isn’t any way to do it all.

I interviewed at the preschool and decided not to take the job.  Then I interviewed for the kindergarten position and, after a TON of internal debate and with apologies and gracious thanks to those who were around to listen and support my complex decision making process, I turned that down as well.  That was especially hard because the school is amazing and the job would have been great, professionally.  Unfortunately it was a full-time job at a different school district, which means after school care for my kids and mismatched vacation schedules.  There may come a time when that works, but this year is not that time.  This year my kids still need me at home in the afternoon and I still need to be there for them.  So I turned down the kindergarten job.

“You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes, you just might find,
You get what you need.”  – The Rolling Stones

A day later I got a call from the director of the preschool at that same school.  She said she heard I turned down the K job and was wondering if maybe I would be interested in a part-time pre-k job instead.  Heck yeah!  I went back and interviewed with the pre-k team and it was a pretty easy decision.  It’s part time and just through Christmas, but I’ll still get the teacher experience (good for the resume!) and the afternoons at home (good for the family!)  Best of both worlds.

I start tomorrow and although I know it will go well and I know I made the right choice, I still have first day of school jitters!  Wish me luck.


New town hall

We went to the grand re-opening of the town hall building today. Alan has been working on the building committee for (what seems like) years now and was involved with many of the renovation plans, particularly on the energy front. The building is over a hundred years old and has been through many iterations and served many purposes. Unfortunately it was also falling down, unsafe, and struggling to meet current-day building codes and ADA regulations. The building committee and town staff worked very hard to plan and complete the renovations and now our town has a beautiful new town hall!


No giant comic scissors here, just all business! :)


Beautiful brickwork from the original building still peeks through in many places.


Alan’s name is on a plaque in the main lobby!


Eve, imagining a future in politics! The curved desk is actually a series of individual desks (seven, I think) pushed together. It is beautiful, locally-sourced, and handmade by our neighbor!


When I was in high school there was a house on my bus route that always had dead deer hanging from the front yard trees each fall. It was so gross. When hunting season began each year I would intentionally sit on the opposite side of the bus so I didn’t have to see them. Today, while I was out walking, enjoying the lovely fall day, I came around the corner and boom — giant dead animal hanging from a tree! Blech!! There was a guy there, doing something to it, but I averted my eyes and crossed the street as fast as possible. I’ll be going the other away for a few weeks so I don’t have to see that sight again, and so the kids don’t have to see it either! I’m not weighing in on hunting, just hang that disgusting thing in the back yard, PLEASE! Gross.

New toy


Jump, jump, jump!

This should help get us through the long winter months ahead!  It may be the end of our snowflake collection though, which has been decorating our ceiling for many, many years.  After only a few jumps they started reaching up and batting at the snowflakes with each jump and one has already come down.    :-)


I was at school last night and decided to take a quick walk down the hallway to check out the class bulletin boards. I really missing being in the kids’ school each day and seeing all that goes on. Both of their classes had writing assignments on their boards. I stopped and read many of them, which isn’t something you have much time to do when you’re working in the school every day!


In 5th grade they are learning about “5th grade words” or higher level writing. This assignment was to write a story about a very inappropriate (for advanced writing) word.


In 3rd they are working on descriptive language in their writing. Eve brought home a draft of this last week and after I read it she said, “Can’t you just smell the pizza?! Are you hungry now?!” (Sorry this is such a blurry image.)

Happy 90th Birthday Grandpa!

Grandpa turned 90 this weekend!  To celebrate we had a big family gathering with all four of his children there, plus spouses, some grandchildren, and even great grandchildren!  From all corners of the country people came to celebrate.  It was so fun and, as always, I wish it could last a lot longer.


Just hanging out, enjoying the beautiful fall day, and waiting for the West Coast crowd to arrive.

As soon as everyone was in one place we organized for a family photo. (For a quick stroll down memory lane, check out the family picture from 10yrs ago, this sweet picture, or this incomplete but funny Christmas picture)

lining up

Greg suggested we all line up single file and then put our heads out on either side! I wish we had managed that picture! :)

silly alan

Almost there…

family picture

What a good looking family!

silly picture

Can’t be a Steuer/Collier/Johnson picture without a bit of silly at the end!

After we managed a lovely family photo Rosy headed home (she’d had enough already!! Just kidding, really she had to work) and the rest of us hung out, chatted, cooked, set tables, slide down stairs, checked out Minecraft sites, drank wine, and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.


There are a lot of tall guys in this family! Greg was trying to get Eve to do a silly thing that we used to love doing as kids, but Eve was plenty silly all on her own!


Getting dinner set up.


The BEST photo bomb!


Like father, like daughter. Silliness definitely runs in this family!

Time for presents! Eve made Popcube a puzzle for his birthday present. Earlier in the week she was thinking about presents and asked me what kinds of things he liked doing. One of the things I said was puzzles, but I told her that at 90 years old it’s hard for him to do puzzles with tiny pieces like he used to. She thought about it and decided to make him a puzzle with large pieces that he could do easily.


Popcube opening Eve’s present.

After presents and cards we all headed downstairs for dinner. We had two kinds of lasagne, three kinds of bread, salad, and desserts. We worked hard on that meal and everyone enjoyed.


Sitting down for dinner.


I like taking pictures of people taking pictures. :) It looks like there was a serious discussion going on in the foreground!


Oh Greg! (What you can’t see here is Eve, on the other side of Alan, making the exact same face!)


Happy Birthday Grandpa!! We decided to go easy on him and only give him one candle instead of ninety.


I like this picture, despite the blurry. He was just so happy all day.


A birthday pie by Mema. I suggested she put “90” on there, and she took it to a whole other Grandpa-inspired level. (So many blurry photos. :( )


Lex started a new dining trend.


It caught on quickly.


Uh oh! Someone gave Greg a weapon! Take it outside boys, take it outside. (and they did, and they had a blast!)


Goodbye hugs, still silly. Greg finally talked her into putting her arms like that so he could lift her and fly her around. I tried to get a picture of that, but it was all too blurry!

In celebration of Grandpa’s 90th, the moon decided to put on a show! It was a full moon, a harvest moon, a blood moon, and a lunar eclipse. I feel like I’m forgetting something too. Apparently only happens every 18 years or so. We decided to stay up late and watch it. Everyone was excited (except tired me) and we bundled up and brought out the lawn chairs. I enjoyed it too. Shhh, don’t tell. At 10:11pm the moon was fully covered and turning red. We loudly discussed astronomy and displayed our complete ignorance of moon cycles and such things for the whole neighborhood to hear. :) I think we all need to go back to school!


My camera clearly is not up to snuff for night photography!


Super harvest blood moon lunar eclipse! Google it for much better photos. :)


A blurry, blurry close up.

We were too tired to stick around for the un-eclipsing of the moon so we headed in for bed. I thought the shadow would keep moving right across the moon, but I kept checking as I was getting the kids into bed and getting myself ready for bed, and that red moon stayed steady for a long time. (Lots of good information about it here…. I should read it myself some day!)

The next day was a school day so the kids went to school and I had errands to do. Most everyone else went to lunch at Mickey’s and hung out for the day. Someone else will have to share photos of that. Mom sent me this picture of Grandpa with his new puzzle. :) I love it!


Popcube completed Eve’s puzzle. A drawing of him, wearing his red Scrabble sweatshirt, and holding a green airplane.

I hope we have many, many more happy occasions to celebrate as a big extended family. I’m chomping at the bit to get out West again myself. I’m hoping I can make that happen next summer. Maybe I’ll started a GoFundMe campaign. ;)

Eve’s first field hockey game!

Eve had her first field hockey game tonight.  She was so excited!  She told me all about the rules and positions.  She was going to play right link.  So excited!


I love this girl! She was so excited, and nervous, about her first game.

It was a beautiful day for a game!  These pictures are all from my phone, then zoomed and cropped, so I hope they aren’t too blurry on a big screen. 


She caught me taking her picture and granted me a little wave. :-)


Lucky #13


Lex grudgingly came to the game, but ended up having fun and was a great cheerleader for the team. I even saw him giving her a big hug at the end of the game. Love the love.


Sporty girl!

The game lasted an hour and her team won 2-1.  Eve played the second half of the game.  She did great!  When she wasn’t on the field she was on the sidelines cheering her team on.  I’m super proud of her!

Pet sitting

A few weeks ago (or more) the kids decided they wanted to get a dog. We went online and found out that they cost $300-$400 at the humane society, depending on the age of the dog. The kids decided they would save their money and Alan and I agreed that we would consider a dog if they really were able to save that much. Through our conversations the kids decided to start a pet sitting business to earn money and learn more about animals. They went to work making fliers and posters, and immediately ran into conflict over how to make the fliers and posters. They ended up agreeing that Lex would type up the fliers in Google Docs (his favorite thing to do!) and Eve would write signs to hang.


One of Eve’s signs

A few days later they hung their signs and delivered fliers to every house on our street and many houses on the neighboring streets. Then they waited, eagerly, for the calls to pour in. Then we had to talk about how often and when people might need pet sitting services.


Price list on the left and notes on the right.

Then, at our neighborhood block party, two different neighbors told the kids they would be in need of pet sitting services soon, and finally last Thursday the day came when they had their first job. From Thursday to Sunday they fed the cats for our neighbor. They went down to talk to the neighbors, took notes on what to do and where to find everything, and discussed pricing. Then then went down for four days and did the work. Lex wanted them to do it on their own, without my supervision. I told them I was going to observe the first few days and if they really could do it all on their own then I’d let them go on their own for the last two days. That never actually happened. They did learn a lot about how to be professional, how to work together, and how to stop complaining when mom threatens to take away your business. :)

I wanted to get a cute picture of them cuddling the cats they were taking care of, but turns out the cats are super shy and we didn’t see them once the whole time! Eve was super excited at the beginning of the job, but both kids were a little bored by the end. I think had there been cats to cuddle each day it would have been a lot more fun for them, and better photo ops for me!

I think it will take them awhile to earn $400 through their pet sitting business, which is great because it will take them awhile to learn how to work together and take care of a dog as well!