Saturday, December 21, 2013

Grace the dancer

Grace has rhythm.  Have you ever typed the word rhythm.  The English language is a mess.  As I like to say "You shouldn't be mean to someone who doesn't know the meaning of mean.  They are probably just average." Anyway, going on, when Grace hears music with a distinct beat she has a tendency to break out into a spontaneous dance.  And it's always to the beat.  She has some funny dances, but my favorite is when she makes her arms all stiff, kind of like a robot, and then grooves around the room with her little mechanical arms moving to the beat.  Every once in awhile I'll get up and join her in her"dance."

There have been plenty of occasions when Tracey and I have also broken into some goofy dance.  Sometimes with music and sometimes without.  The girls think it's funny, and it's those moments when I think "Do normal families do this?"  Probably not most.  It's a lot of fun to be goofy and make your kids laugh.  Actually there are also times when Tracey and I have done this and its only us in the kitchen.

So, I guess I never posted this and I'm not sure why there are pictures of the girls learning to ride bikes next to a post about Grace dancing, but since this draft looks like it was never posted 6 years ago (?) I guess I'll post it now.


This past Tuesday I took a half day off so that I could go to the Van Buren awards assembly.  As I sat there, it dawned on me that this was the first time (that I can remember) I attended an awards assembly for any of the girls.  I'm pretty sure that every year the girls have been in school they have received some sort of award.  Be it Student of the Month, Responsible Citizen, Teacher's Choice, or Award winning artist, they have seemed to get recognition for being good students.  On this particular afternoon, Sarah was helping Mr. Valburg pass out the awards.  Mia received Teacher's Choice Award for "Excellence in Reading Counts."  As she walked down the center aisle, nearly a head taller than a lot of her classmates, she glanced over at Tracey and I and nervously grinned with a little embarrased wrinkle of the nose.  She didn't know that we were going to both be there.  For that matter, I didn't know I was going to be there until the day before.  It was worth the missed time at work. Unfortunately, I wasn't there when Grace received an award for her 1st place art entry.  This is the second time that she has been recognized for her artistic ability.  And apparently, Sarah received recognition for being on a "Battle of the Books" team.  All of this in one day.  I'm a pretty proud father.

  As the girls continue to grow up, they really are becoming hard working, responsible, creative, and caring young ladies.  I couldn't ask for much more.  Granted they destroy my house on a daily basis, Grace and Mia fight with each other as daily entertainment, and none of them want to shower every day, but all in all they are good kids.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer 2013

I just started my vacation today for this summer.  After three days of meetings...  Not my favorite way to end a school year.  I'm looking forward to taking the girls Whale watching next Friday.  Hopefully, Sarah doesn't get too motion sick.  We are also going to Hume Lake at the end of the month with my brother-in-laws.  It should be a great trip.  I hope they enjoy it as much as we do.  After that the girls will be going to summer camp through Eastside.  Allen and I will be heading to Vegas.  Then the whole family will be going to Palm Springs.  It wasn't that long ago I was teaching the girls to really swim in the pool at the resort in Palm Springs.  It's a lot less stressful, when you know that they are confident swimmers.  Since Tracey started back full time, I'm hoping we can also squeeze in a 2-3 day trip for our anniversary. We really do live a blessed life.  Summers are great!

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Tracey Anderson, Mrs. Anderson, Mom, Miss Lees, Trace, Stace, Momma, and many more names come to mind when I think of my wife. She knows how I feel about her already, but I don't think I've ever publicly elaborated on all the reasons that I'm glad she's my wife, best friend and the wonderful mom to my children. This will be stream of consciousness and in no particular order. Generally speaking, she's the same funny woman I met in 1994, I think it was 1994, I have early onset dementia so it could have been 1995. I'm just kidding, I know it was 1994. I'm not quite sure if I'm joking about the early onset dementia though. I have some serious problems with my memory. Usually, my comprehensive recall is really good, the last couple of years it's been a little sketchy at times. I still have a lot of info in my head, but I'm concerned that remembering the content I'm teaching will be lost, and I'll have to start re-reading content the day before I cover a topic in my classrooms. Oh wait, this is supposed to be about my wife. I can't believe I'm typing this fast right now. It's crazy what two to four fingers can type when you don't worry about spelling and can just spell check later. :) Okay, back to Tracey. Not only is she the same funny person I met almost 20 years ago, but she is more beautiful, caring, intelligent and a better worrier than ever before. Seriously, I'm still attracted to my 42 year old wife. She still does it for me. Same old crackers, but I REALLY like those crackers. Even when she's not interested. Now, she can't read that at my eulogy. You can just skip that part hon.

I love that she always wants to plan fun stuff for the family. For example, we just got back from Vegas with the girls and she wanted to take them to the movies the next day. Since we are on vacation she wants to have fun with the family. The Vegas trip was fun, and very out of the ordinary. I would not normally want to take the girls there at such a young age but we planned the trip with ideas for them in mind. The highlight comment of the trip was Grace telling me "The casino is like Chuck E. Cheese's for adults." So true. Oh wait this is about Tracey. Did I mention the stream of consciousness? Welcome to tangent 101.

I love that Tracey and I can just hang and be content. We are like the old couple sitting at Coco's eating dinner in peace and quiet, not speaking to each other for the majority of the meal, because it's about the food not the conversation. There are only so many things you can talk about when you've been with someone for nearly two decades. I say that with teaching schedules in mind. We are currently on Christmas vacation. We still have things to talk about, but during Summer vacation we can go through stretches where there isn't anything new to talk about during a day. It's not like I'm coming home from work and can tell Tracey about how Brian walked into class and said "Okay, class let's get started, Mr. Anderson wants your attention, it's time to learn 'WHHOOOOH'" Life just plugs along on a daily basis and there isn't always something exciting to talk about.   If you can't hang with your wife in silence and be okay with that, then you should never be married. I'm not saying we just sit and stare at each other all the time. Half the time we are yelling at a kid to clean something up or planning something fun to do with the family.  This is another reason why I love Tracey, she is a planner of things. We can't just sit around the house watching the boob tube all day long. We have to get some fresh air and be active. I really appreciate that quality in my wife. This is one of the things that makes her such a great mom. The testament to this fact, is Grace always asking "what are we going to do today." As if it's a given that we will be doing something. Sarah on the other hand likes to be a home body.  I can relate. Some days, I just need to stay home and decompress. Tracey has this balance too, and I like that we usually balance out the doing of stuff with the hanging out and doing nothing. As a married couple we also have a good understanding of having personal time.  It's important to maintain that balance too. For example, she let's me play poker or hang with my friends and it's not a big deal. Unfortunately, I've witnessed couples that always have to do things together. I appreciate the fact that Tracey can go workout or get a massage or go to dinner with her friends to get some time for just her. That feeling is reciprocated in our relationship.

I also love her intelligence. Genetics speaks volumes in this regard. We have some really smart kids. This is a combination of good genes and good parenting. That's right, I'm bragging. We've done a good job of encouraging our kids to be readers. Tracey has been great about buying books, reading to the kids, checking homework, and staying on top of all the things that the girls need to be successful in school. She has also been great about making sure that they do other things too, such as enrolling them in dance and soccer. Tracey is intelligent enough to know that these foundational aspects that we pour into our kids is preparing them for a bright future.  When we met over 18 years ago I was attracted to Tracey physically, intellectually, and to her overall personality.  I was also attracted to her because I knew she was going to be a teacher and that spoke volumes about her character.

Now that she is teaching at Acacia, she is finally getting the positive parental feedback that she's deserved for the years of hard work she's invested in her students.  She worries about doing a good job, challenging her students, making sure she's using technology effectively, and reaching each kid. I'm proud to be married to a woman that strives for perfection in her job. I'm proud to know that she is doing such an amazing job in such a challenging environment, where everything is new. New Principal, new expectations, new socio-economic environment and new challenges.

As I tell Tracey all the time, I wouldn't change a thing about our relationship. I love her goofy personality and her serious personality.  I love her tiredness at 8:30 at night and her early morning workout regimen.  I love the lounging on the couch and the  5-day long camping trips. I love her worried personality (because it means she cares) and her carefree ability to ignore a mess until she can't take it anymore (and then finally starts ordering everyone around to clean up). I love that we have rubbed off on each other so much that we start acting and saying the same kinds of things.  Exhibit A would be her aggressive driving. Exhibit B would be Melissa Hypolite telling me how much Tracey reminds her of me. Hopefully, someday we will be that old couple that eats queitly together in peace, only it wont be Coco's, it'll probably be at Red Robin. I love my wife. I love Mrs. Anderson. And I love "Momma" and all the complex facets that make her who she is.

Almost T-boned

It's been awhile since I felt like I had a brush with tragedy. Today was the day that reminded me of how blessed I am to live the life that I live, and to have the people in my life that I have. I have an amazing wife and wonderful children. I have a great family and great friends. I've got a great job that drives me crazy, but I wouldn't change where I work or what I do. Even though this school year has probably been one of the most difficult years of teaching in awhile.

Now, let me paint the picture of my brush with potential death and a certain hospital visit for me and my girls. I was stopped at a red light. I had just finished yelling at Grace and Mia for fighting with each other in the car. If you are a parent of three kids or more, you know how sitting lined up in a row in the backseat can set the kids off. My girls get along most of the time, but 70% of the time that I drive them in my Camry someone will be annoyed by someone else because "she's singing, she's touching me, she won't let me use her iPod, I don't want to sit in the middle, she's looking at me, she won't let me use the crayons, I don't have enough room fro my legs, her breath stinks, she's bothering me, she just kicked me...." You get the idea? I can't take it. I have a confession. I'm not patient. The squabbling in the backseat drives me CRAZY! Tracey has this amazing ability to tune it out. I think it's because she works with elementary aged kids all day long. Because I teach high schoolers, I don't have the same level of patience for conflict resolution. If there's a conflict I want it resolved. Now. End of discussion. But, in the reality of "elbow touching" seven and ten year olds, they just fight. It's annoying to say the least, and infuriating when I'm cranky, tired, or just trying to get home so I can make dinner, check homework, and get children ready for bed. The other issue is, it's distracting.

So, I had just gotten finished explaining, in a rather loud tone that Grace and Mia needed to "knock it off" and be quiet while I drove, because I need to be focused while I was driving. Then, the light turns green and I glance to the left and see the car in the far right lane slow down, and then I start to drive through the intersection.  As I start to look forward, I can see in my peripheral vision to the left that there is a car in the left lane that is barreling down on me. When I turned my head I was looking staright at an older lady with giant dark sunglasses, blowing right through the red light. I instantly punched my accelerator, and she barely missed my car. I would estimate that she missed my car by about a half a car length. She never slowed down.  That stretch of road is 50 MPH and she was speeding through the red light. If I didn't notice her she would have T-boned my car right where Mia was sitting. In the split second after I accelerated, I double checked the light to see that it was green.  It was green as a Sprite can. Somehow, the car behind me hadn't started driving forward. I saw them brake right as they saw the Oldsmobile flying through the intersection.  As soon as I hit the railroad tracks I could feel the adrenaline running through my body. I said a quick "Thank you God for protecting me" and then proceeded to think about how thankful I am that my girls and I were alive and not heading to the hospital.  I then yelled at them again. :) "This is why you can't fight in the car. If I were distracted and looking back at them we would have definitely been in a major accident."

So, after this post I'm going to tell you why I'm thankful for my wife and family. That way if I die anytime soon there's a record of it. The twins are half way to 20. Mia is halfway to 14. Time is flying by, and you really don't know when some 65 year old will be running a red light (so she's not late for church) and killing you in the process.  This doesn't even bring up the lock down we had at Diamond Ranch last Friday because of a phone threat. Nothing quite like hearing the helicopters and SWAT team landing on your roof when your locked in a dark classroom with 30 teenagers sitting quietly and praying that it's just an idiotic prank.

I'm glad I'm alive. If I die I hope my wife, children, family and friends know how much I love them and want the best for them in life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bike riding on the Horsetrail

I occasionaly think to myself I really need to blog...then I don't.  Then when I sit down to type something up I'm not sure where to start.  It doesn't help that I chicken peck, because then I can't type as fast as I think. Right now I'm cruising because I'm not worrying about typos and will spell check in a minute.  So here are my initial thoughts for blogging.  I need to write about Mia, her artistic abilities, the fun we've been having with biking etc., and Donuts for Dads.  I need to write about the girls past soccer season and the playoff game that I'll never forget. I need to back track and write about this past school year.  Inclusion and the presentations should be at the top of the list.  Gilberto and Deanna's presentation was awesome, and so was Briana and Herlyn's.  Okay now I need to reread that mess for fluency.

Alright I guess I'll start with Mia.  She is amazing. She drives me crazy. She's a little mini-me. Mia has to be a perfectionist and in control.  If she can't do it right she gets frustrated and doesn't want to do it at all.  Once it clicks, she really wants to focus on that one thing until she gets better at it.  Riding bikes is a perfect example.  Last week we went riding after she was done with school.  We rode along the Yorba Linda horsetrail.  We rode for miles.  I was on my skateboard and she was tooling along on her bike.  She had a couple of minor crashes but brushed them off and popped right back on.  She's improved a ton and she has asked to go biking every day since the day we started on the horsetrail.  She loves it.  When I tucked her into bed that night she said "I had a really fun day with you dad."  I had a really fun day too.  It was great having that one on one time.

The second day she rode her bike she said "I can't wait to go to Yosemite!  Maybe I will be good enough to ride my bike the whole time."  At her current level of obsession I think she will be. The only issues will be how tired she gets and how many people she runs over. The whole family is really looking forward to camping.  It comes up almost daily.  As in "how many more days before we go to Yosemite?"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bucket List

These are things I would like to experience or witness before I die. This list is not in any particular order.

1. Travel to Hawaii with the family.
2. Travel to Europe with the family.
3. Watch the girls graduate from high school and hopefully watch them graduate from college.
4. Walk Grace, Sarah and Mia down the aisle on their wedding day. Hopefully this will be on different days because I'm pretty sure my heart wouldn't be able to take it all in the same day. I suppose I should preface this wish with the idea that my girls marry someone that has their lives figured out and that the girls have grown into young ladies that are already living fulfilled lives.
5. Attend Aryel's graduation from college.
6. That Aryel will someday meet the guy that she is meant to marry and that I can be there when she gets married.
7. See Dave Matthews, or U2, or Coldplay perform at Red Rocks.
8. Go to the Grand Canyon with the family.
9. Visit Elizabeth in New Jersey.
10. Win a poker tournament at a Casino.
11. Travel to the Rain Forest.
12. Go to Australia.
13. Camp in Yellowstone with the family.
14. Visit Uncle Tim in Louisiana.
15. Play Poker in Atlantic City.
16. Watch the Angels win another World Series and attend one of the games.
17. Travel to Alaska.
18. Travel to Canada.
19. Play in a World Series of Poker event.
20. Go River Rafting again.

I'm sure there is more that I have thought about in the past, so I will have to add to this list later. Apparently, I really want to travel.