Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Good News

On Sunday, December 20th, I played the harp at a reception in the lobby of the Grove Theatre in Upland. It was a lot of fun, including seeing Dale Kristien (one of the first Christine Daies) and Bill Hutton (the original Joseph of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat) perform their annual Christmas program, and getting to meet Margaret O'Brien (the sweet little thing from Meet Me In St. Louis).

When Jesse and I finally left, I saw that there were two missed calls--one from my mom and one from Ami--and a voicemail on my phone. I panicked. Being away from the phone for hours meant that I could have missed something very important. Worried about Papa, I called Ami right away.

"Hello my Sweet B, how are you doing?" Ami asked, cheerful as ever when she recognized my voice on the other end. I was taken aback. Cheerful?

I said that I was fine and that I was sorry that I had missed her call.

"I just wanted to call you with the good news," Ami went on.

Good news? What's good news? My papa is on his deathbed; the doctor said on Thursday that he would only last about four more days (and that was three days ago.) He hasn't even been conscious since then. What's good news???

Excitedly, Ami burst out, "Papa became a believer today!"

Whaaaaat? My papa?

She went on so joyously that we both burst into tears. It was miraculous news. Something I had almost given up on since Papa hadn't so much as opened his eyes for days.

Since I wasn't there, I'm pasting my dad's words here instead:

Sunday afternoon I went over to be with Papa and Ami, and Papa was sleeping soundly. It looked like it would be another day that I would not have opportunity to communicate much with Papa. However, Maureen encouraged me that I should try, since I may not have any opportunity in the future. So I wrote out (in large block letters) a five page simple presentation of the Gospel. I certainly would like to have said more, but I thought it best to keep it clear and short. I began by telling Dad how he has always impressed us with being able to do practically everything. However, there is one thing that he can't do, and that is go to Heaven by himself. For that he would need to trust Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I briefly explained what that meant and how Dad could trust Jesus to forgive his sins and to take him to heaven, where we could be together forever.

I must admit that I was prepared for disappointment. I thought that it was highly unlikely that Dad would have enough strength to read all five pages. I was also prepared for an unfavorable response, so I had prepared another page which simply stated, "I don't want to argue with you. I love you and respect you". (The last two verbs were underlined.) I was prepared to lay aside the Gospel presentation if I needed to resort to that page. I was so relieved that I never needed to show Dad that page.

I watched Dad as his eyes tracked each word on each page. He let me know when to turn the pages. When he finished reading I realized that I had only explained the Gospel and had not asked him to respond to that in any specific way, so I quickly wrote, "Does this sound like Good News to you?" I was amazed when he looked up at me and nodded his head yes. He then returned to sleep.

About ten minutes later Dad was rubbing his head as if in pain, so I wrote a note, "Are you in pain?" and then I woke him up. Again he read each word of the note, and then vigorously shook his head sideways, indicating "No". Dad's response to that second question gave me further reason to believe that he had understood the previous question and had given an authentic response.

I certainly would have loved to have had further conversation with my Dad about the hope of the resurrection and the joy of salvation, but I believe that Papa read enough to understand the
Good News of Jesus Christ and that he genuinely indicated his desire for its benefits for himself. The very next day the nurses began administering morphine to Dad and that has brought a complete barrier to verbal/printed communication. (He still responds to touch and constantly wants to hold Mom's hand.) While I certainly would love to have further conversation with my Dad I am so thankful for the opportunity God has given each of us to pray for Papa and to show him love. I am most thankful for God's love in giving Papa the best news that he has ever heard. Rejoice with us.
Amazed by His Grace,

We are all so thankful!

I had to serve jury duty on Monday, and prayed that nothing would happen while I was unable to go up to Oxnard to be with family. God was gracious, and the entire room of nervous potential jurors was dismissed by noon, since there were no more cases for the day. That gave me time to go to Urgent Care to get my foot taken care of (I stepped on a piece of glass weeks ago, and though I pulled it out, the pain never went away. By Monday, I couldn't even walk without extreme pain. With everything else that's been going on, I had to time it perfectly so that I had a few days to recover before needing to hit harp pedals with my foot again!)

Jesse took me to Urgent care that afternoon, and I spent the rest of the day on the couch with ice, afraid to walk knowing that I could open the wound again (man, did that doctor dig around! PAIN!!!)

I was still in so much pain on Tuesday, that I sat back on the couch prepared to stay there all day. I called my mom to tell her about my foot, and she was very quiet.
"Beth, Papa doesn't have much time. I'm sitting here with end of life pamphlets, and he's got all the signs." We cried together on the phone, and as soon as we hung up, Jesse and I ran (or hobbled) all around the house grabbing whatever we might need to stay a few days.

When we got off the freeway, headed toward Papa and Ami's house, I called Mom to see if anyone was hungry and if we should grab food for everyone before coming over. Mom wept. We had missed his passing by about 20 minutes.

When we opened the door to Papa and Ami's house, everyone was sitting around his hospital bed. There were tears in everyone's eyes, but it was so peaceful in there. Jesse and I went around the room hugging our family members, and the
n I sat between Ami and my sisters. We cried together, held each other, and held Papa's hand, cherishing the warmth.

It would be three hours before the funeral home people came to get Papa's body, and until then, we really didn't move. We shared memories like we had on Thursday night, we commented on how peaceful he looked, thankful that he died holding Ami's hand. We read Scripture. We rejoiced that, like the thief on the cross, Papa was enjoying what we still can only imagine.

Isn't it funny to think about God's timing and how He works, sometimes? If I went through Papa and Ami's house right now, I know I could fill a large box to the brim with letters and cards, pictures and Sunday school crafts we have given to Papa over the years. Each one of us has worked hard at one time or another to give Papa practically a handmade book trying to witness to him (Dad has witnessed to Papa all his life through words, but my siblings and I had to write everything down because Papa became deaf.) Even though Papa refused to listen, he never took down what we put up. There are handwritten Bible verses that Jon and Laura put on his fridge, a painting by Kate, and a booklet that I made on his bookshelf. It wasn't for lack of our trying. God knew just how He wanted Papa's story to go.

On Christmas Eve, while I was playing prelude music at the Christmas Eve church service, it struck me that Papa, in his new, heavenly body, can hear music again. I don't believe that was he looking down from heaven and listening to me, but he can hear the angels in heaven, and how sweet their music must sound!

Thank You, Lord, for taking care of my papa, and for bringing him to You in Your own timing. Keep him in utter amazement of Your goodness, so that when we come join you, we can all marvel together!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

There is Love

I got a phone call in the school office right before I sent the kids to lunch on Thursday.
It was Jesse. I'd left my phone in the car, and he needed to reach me.
Papa Chuck has started hemorrhaging and was losing so much blood that Mom and Dad had called us all to come to say goodbye.

As soon as the kids came back from lunch, I had them all sit on the carpet with me so I could let them know. Before I even began, one of the 4th graders noticed, "Mrs. Brubaker, you're eyes are all red." I said yes, and I told them that my Papa was very sick. I told them that I was going to drive up to see him as soon as school was over, and let them know that it's ok for me to be feeling sad right now. [I feel that too often, children don't know how to express feelings or react to situations because they don't see their adult role models show emotion. Hiding sadness or any other range of emotions stifles a child's ability to be able to deal with things of their own. Off my soapbox.]

They came up to me and gave me hugs. I asked them to remember my papa and our family in their prayers. David, one of the 5th graders, folded his hands and said "Let's pray for him right now!" The kids all bowed their heads, and David led us in a beautiful prayer for my papa. It was very sweet. I love these kids!

Jon met us at our house about the same time that I got home from school, and the three of us drove up to Oxnard together.

When we got to Papa and Ami's house, it was warm and cozy with soft lights and lots of blankets to keep Papa warm. Ami, Dad, Mom, Kate, Laura, Uncle Todd, and Uncle David were sitting in the living room where Papa's hospital bed is these days. Jon and Jesse and I joined the group, and we sat there enjoying Mom's shepherd pie for dinner.

There were tears intermittently through the night, but it was a happy night, a blessed night, where we were all together as a family, enjoying one another's company, reminiscing in favorite stories, catching up with each other, and being there for whenever Papa opened his eyes.

He is so weak right now. The amount of blood he has lost has left him with skin that is cold to the touch, and only enough energy to open his eyes and wave to people in the room before drifting back to sleep. But he was there, and we were there. A whole family. Treasured moments.

Ami's tender love for her best friend is so beautiful. March 2010 will be Papa and Ami's 60th wedding anniversary.

With everything that has been happening the last few weeks, Papa and Ami'se tree had been put up, but there were only two ornaments on it! Laura and I spent some time filling it out with the treasured ornaments that we remember as little children. I love trees that have stories behind each ornament!

Now Papa can see the Christmas tree from his bed, and Ami can enjoy its cheer while she sits next to him.

I read something tonight about what a sad Christmas this is, with all of the tragedies that are happening this season. I don't feel that way. God has blessed us in so many ways. He's blessed us with a family that has been so close, supporting each other in everything, rejoicing with each other in everything. He's blessed us with time that we didn't think we would have with Papa (I've driven up to Oxnard 5 times since September to "say goodbye.") He blessed us with the ability to be together as a family for another night. Blessed us with joy and comfort that evening. Blesses us continually with the fulfillment of his Promise, which is why we celebrate Christmas.

These days are hard, preparing daily to say goodbye, dealing with guilt about being unable to be by Papa's side every moment, praying desperately that he will see his need for his Savior. But they are not hopeless.

I've never felt that so much as I did on Thursday night, surrounded by the family I love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

50 Things to be Thankful for on My 50th Post :)

It's a tradition :) And who couldn't be thankful?
This year, I'm thankful for...

1♥ Jesse--for the way he cherishes me, puts up with my dorkiness, and makes daily life such a joy
2♥ my family--knowing that I can be near any one of them in 2 hours or less, for how involved we all are in each others' lives even though we're spread out.
3♥ my friends in Oxnard, my friends in Glendora, my friends spread across the world
4♥ the internet! Bringing people together :)
5♥ our college and career Bible study group at Hope
6♥ flowers
7♥ tea
8♥ strawberries
9♥ crafts
10♥ the church family in Oxnard that still holds me up
11♥ my dear old lady friends at Hope
12♥ music
13♥ trees
14♥ slippers
15♥ sleep
16♥ our beloved little rented home (and our landlords who have blessed us so much!)
17♥ aprons
18♥ laughter
19♥ pansies
20♥ herbs and spices
21♥ fireplaces
22♥ avocado trees
23♥ blogs that uplift me, make me laugh, and inspire me
24♥ teapots (they're so cute)
25♥ geraniums
26♥ hot chocolate
27♥ hugs
28♥ baby giggles
29♥ photos
30♥ cellphones
31♥ freedom (and the soldiers who protect it)
32♥ devotionals
34♥ my harp teacher, Suzy
35♥ friends who know what I'm talking about before I finish the sentence
36♥ the way my siblings make me laugh
37♥ strawberry yogurt
38♥ smiles
39♥ good books
40♥ ice cream
41♥ that Jesse doesn't take advantage of my extreme ticklishness (too much)
42♥ rainy days
43♥ that Jesse likes to eat as much as I like to bake (it's our type of happily ever after!)
44♥ rubber stamps
45♥the ocean
46♥ good movies
47♥ smoothies
48♥ playing board games
49♥ road trips
50♥ waking up in the morning curled up in arms of love

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happiness is...

Happiness is...
♥ taking a day to recharge
♥ conversations with dear friends I haven't spoken to in a while
♥ cleaning the heck out of the house
♥ unpacking my suitcase (...just in time to pack a bag for tomorrow's trip)
♥ baking my very first chocolate cake from scratch (yummmmm)
♥ knowing that Jesse will also enjoy the country-style chicken strips on the menu tonight
♥ a sit-down dinner with my prince charming that has been weeeeeeks in coming
♥ figuring out how to make an important Christmas present
♥ yummy house smells
♥ dancing with Louis and Ella on pandora
♥ waiting for a hug at the door ♥

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


My goodness, what a whirlwind the last few days have been!

I typed my last post as I was waiting for my friend Emily to come get me. She is the sweetest thing! She is a respiratory therapist, and knows all about DNRs (Do Not Resuscitate forms which patients can sign). After my mom called me on Monday, I sent a quick text to Emily asking her to pray for my Papa. She called me back moments later and said "Where are you? I'm coming to get you."

There was no arguing with her, and two hours later, she was here straight from San Diego. We got in her car and drove up to Oxnard, enjoying each other's company and a few tears along the way.

We stopped at my parents' house to get the latest update before going over to see Papa and Ami, and then headed over with dinner for Ami and bits of food to entice Papa to eat.

When we got there, Papa was asleep in his chair. He has had very little energy lately, especially since he really hadn't eaten in four days.

Ami was glad to see us. She cheered up right away with our presence, and happily went around the house showing Emily all of the fun little things I enjoyed as a child. As we were looking at her musical carousel, I heard a cough and looked over to see Papa smiling and waving from his chair. He is deaf, so I pulled a chair next to his and sat, typing away on the laptop so he could read my words. He was very tired, and didn't talk to me, but he enjoyed reading stories that I wrote out about our trip to Kansas and our friend's wedding in San Diego last weekend. His laugh is weak, these days, but it still warms my heart!

Emily and I heated up soup that Mom had sent with us, and though we couldn't get Papa to eat any soup, we sneaked him pieces of a crescent roll, and he ate most of one.

He was tired, and Em and I were exhausted emotionally and physically from our trip, so we said goodnight and headed back to Dad and Mom's for the night.

In the morning, we went back and spent time with Papa and Ami. He was more alert and had enough of an appetite to eat half a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tomato soup. Praise the Lord! As long as we can keep food in him, I'm praying his strength will return.

Around 2:00, Em and I said goodbye and headed back home. I'm still so exhausted from all of our travels, and just need to be home to recharge before anything else happens.

Emily dropped me off at church where I was greeted by all of the kids who were in School Age Care waiting for their parents. Their hugs are such morale boosters! And they were all very concerned when they heard that my papa was sick. It really touched my heart to hear them say "I'm so sorry! You get an extra hug."

I'm reveling in being home for the next few days. Kate and I are heading up to Oxnard on Friday to see Laura's opening night of Pirate's of Penzance. That girl is living and breathing theater these days! It will be a lot of fun--especially since Dad has a part in this play too! I love that even with as busy as things are on the homefront right now, between church and the ceramic studio, Papa's health, and everything else, that he's making time to be involved in something that Laura is passionate about. I can't wait to see them together on stage!

Monday, November 16, 2009


I'm going up to Oxnard this afternoon to be with my Papa Chuck. He hasn't eaten since Friday, and his doctor says that's a sign that his body is giving up.

He's supposed to start chemo this week. I wish they weren't even talking about it. He's so weak, why take what's left of him?

My mom has been their constant caregiver for about two months now. She goes over there three times a day to feed and take care of Papa and Ami. She's been so strong. But today, there was urgency in her voice.

How do you prepare to say goodbye?

He has been one of the strongest, most constant people in my life. When I was a child, back when they were both strong and healthy, Papa and Ami used to come visit us almost every week. It felt like they lived with us, we saw them so much.

Waking up to the sound of Papa's laugh as he played outside with our dog in the morning is something I came to expect growing up. I love my papa's laugh. Rich and full, whole-hearted, splitting his face from ear to ear.

Papa would sit and eat breakfast with us in the morning--always shredded wheat or corn flakes--and then we'd follow him outside while he found something to keep him busy. We would watch as he repaired a fence post, or sit on the driveway "keeping him company" as he slid under our car fixing the transmission, changing the oil, or putting in new shocks.

There was nothing Papa couldn't do.

He has battled cancer for longer than I've been alive. In and out of the hospital, he's always had a fighter's attitude. "When are they going to let me out?"

He's been to the hospital five times in the last two months. The second to the last time he was there, his physical therapist told him he couldn't go home until he could walk around the ward twice with his walker. Dad says he got out of bed, picked up the walker, and carried it the first lap around the ward. They let him go :)

He and Ami have been married almost 60 years. March 26th will be their anniversary. Their love is so beautiful. Last time I was there, Ami went in to wake him up and let him know that we had to take him back to the hospital, and the way she leaned over him and kissed him, the way his eyes fluttered open and lit up with love shining through his weakness, was enough to make me cry. She crooned to him and asked him if he was ready to "go back and see the pretty nurses?" He waved off her question and said "What do I need them for when I have you?"

We celebrated his 85th birthday last month, and even though he was so sick that day that we ended up having to take him to the hospital, he told us he was planning on "15 more."

My papa has always been determined to live to [at least] 100. I remember him telling me all growing up that he was planning on living forever.

It's hard to convince a guy who's not planning on dying that he is in dreadful need of a Savior. All my life, I've talked about Jesus with him, sent him Bible verses, prayed for him. All my life, he's told me he doesn't need a god.

It puts such a pressure on my family. We have a limited time to continue to share God's truth, and now, he is too weak to hear.

My best friend Em is driving up here today so that we can go see him together. There's so much to pack (I've barely unpacked from our vacation! We just got home Saturday night.), so much I was planning on doing today. I don't know what the days ahead look like, and for little-old-planner-me, that's a struggle.

Be still, and know that I am God.

It's ringing in my ears today. But how can I be still? So much to do...

Be still, and know that I am God.

I know, Lord, I'm trying. How do I say goodbye? I've never lost anyone I love. How do I stay strong?

Trust Me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Farewell, First Grade

My last day of subbing for my wonderful first grade class was October 16th.
I miss them so much!

Here are a few more of my favorite moments from my last few days there:

Savannah walked in one morning with her jacket pulled all the way over her head. When I suggested that she take it off so she could see, she said, "But you see, I'm having a hair situation today."
"A hair situation?" I asked.
"Yup," she replied, "I woked up this mornin' and it was all stickin' up!"

After helping Beverlynn (a precious, tiny little girl--the smallest in the class) with one of the math problems she was struggling on, I said, "Ok, Pumpkin, you're all set!"
To which she promptly replied, "I not your punkin! I's your goat. Goats be heavy."

During Social Studies one afternoon, the children were supposed to draw a picture of their families. Ariel announced that she was going to draw her whole entire family, but since we were pressed for time, I encouraged her only to draw the people who lived in her house--mom, dad, brothers, sisters.
"I don't have a dad!" Ariel blurted out.
"That's ok, not everyone does," I said, trying to avoid any situation that could stem from that.
But it was too late. The kids latched onto her truth viciously. "You don't have a dad?" they questioned, "How can you not have a dad?"
"I don't have a dad," Ariel informed them matter-of-factly, "I was just born because my mom was with a man!"

And last but not least, every Friday, the first graders recite their Bible verse individually for a grade. The verse of the week was Psalm 25:4-5 : Show me Your ways, O Lord, guide me in Your truth and lead me.
Noah came up to say the verse for me, but he stumble a lot and it was obvious he hadn't spent much time working on it at home. " me...uh...your ways...uh...uh..."
I helped him out with the prompt "O,"
That seemed to make something click in his brain, and he began the verse again with a fresh start: "Show me your ways, O Baby!"

"I would like to be a teacher, so I get to pass out homework."

Farewell, First Grade! All you precious cuties, you!

Love is a Many-Splendored Thing

Thinking back to another windy Autumn day...

Two years...Can it be so long ago?

I love days like this, my handsome guy, when we leave everything to the wind and cherish time together.

Our favorite little spot under a crooked tree in Irvine...

How many hours each month did we used to spend there?

People-watching, bird-watching, enjoying silence, so many conversations about our hopes and dreams for the life we looked forward to spending together.

New love, invigorating feelings, all nestled tenderly under your arm, with only the birds to witness.

Once on a high and windy hill,
In the morning mist two lovers kissed and the world stood still,

Then your fingers touched my silent heart and taught it how to sing,

Yes, true love's a many-splendored thing.

Double-Thick Potato Cheese Soup

I have a crockpot recipe for double-thick potato cheese soup that Jesse and I love. It's so easy! Totally one of my favorites.

2 pounds of baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. cubes
2 cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups finely chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
black pepper to taste

All you have to do is combine the potatoes, soup, 1 cup green onions, garlic powder, and red pepper into the slow cooker. Cover, and cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4)

Add cheese, sour cream, and milk; stir until cheese has completely melted. Cover, and cook on high for 10 minutes. Season to taste with black pepper. Garnish with remaining green onions. Makes 7 servings.

Jesse and I love putting this in sourdough bread bowls. The bread just makes it even homier. It's such a yummy chilly evening treat!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What a Way to Spend a Lunch Break

I'm sitting here in the quiet of the first grade classroom. It's rarely this peaceful in here, and it's wonderful!
The happy hustle and bustle is wonderful too :)

I've spent my break reading over old posts from the blog I kept before we were married. It's so fun to reminisce!

I love reading back over the things I wrote that I was looking forward to...and thinking "Oh yes! That is wonderful."

God took such amazing care of both of us--preparing us with hearts to love and serve another. Reading through that blog again reminds me how truly blessed we are.

Thank you, God!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bless You!

My favorite moment from Friday came when the kids turned in their spelling test moments after they had taken it. One of the little guys came up to me, and when he handed me his paper, I noticed that there were drops of moisture spattered on it.
"Sorry, Teacher," he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his sleeve, "I hachooed on it."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Such a Sweet Idea

I just saw this on This is Reverb's blog, and I love it!

I'm putting it here so that in a few years, I might be able to do the same thing.

Kate, I'll be calling on you as my photographer!

Here is the finished project.

How cute is that?!?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Feeling Oh-So-Productive in a Not-So-Prioritized Way

There are dishes in the sink, baskets of laundry waiting to be folded, a bed that didn't even get made today, and a dinner that never happened tonight (besides Pops! cereal...) but I'm home alone and taking a night to refresh!

I went to JoAnn's Craft store after school today and was blown away by the sales. I was there last week and eyed a few items I wanted, but decided to be a good girl and wait until my coupon was active. Boy, did I score today! All of their rubber stamps and accessories were 30% off, and I dug right in to make some fun cards. I've been itching to do it for a while, and here's where patience pays off :)

So, while everything around me sits in heaps waiting for attention, I have spent the entire night making even more of a mess with papers scattered everywhere, in addition to layers of ribbons, decorative scissors, new rubber stamps and old, embossing powder, adhesive, ink pads, and a glass of water that has been threatening to spill all over everything tonight.

It's been so wonderful!

I needed that. I think too often I come home and stress about how the house should look, or stay at school until I'm too exhausted to do anything but sit with the computer in my lap until Jesse comes home. It's been a long time since I had a good hearty night of craftiness.

Also, I finally had time to listen to some podcasts my friend Paris had passed on to me. I listened to three of them tonight while I made cards, and I feel so refreshed! Growing up, I thought I'd never say this, but I miss sermons that were more than 15 minutes and really went in-depth on something I needed to hear. First, I was just listening to Ryan Detzel's sermons, but then through his website, I found other podcasts that were equally fulfilling.

Anyway, I'm also really enjoying the blog of the pastor who makes the podcasts. You should really check out his website >>This Is Reverb<< It's just an all-around wholesome site. He's a husband, a pastor, and a dad to two adorable little ones, and his insight on God in our lives is inspiring, humorous, and laid-back. I think I need that.

Well, I got the call from Jesse, which means he is on his way home! Good thing he loves me and won't be upset about the lack of housework and the over-abundance of craft supplies sitting on our kitchen table!

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Psalm 85:10

LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. Isaiah 26:12

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Birthday Pedicures and Sushi

Since our birthdays are two weeks apart, Momma B and I like to celebrate together by going out once a year and getting pedicures. We have so much fun!

I drove out to Redlands on Tuesday as soon as my last little kiddo was picked up, and met Momma B at her house. We got in her car and went to Papillon Beauty Spa. It is such a nice place (lol, because my knowledge of spas is so great after having 2 pedicures in my life!). Mom treated us to the most luxurious package, and we got to enjoy over an hour of pampering! Foot baths, scrubs, even a paraffin wax foot masque. That was amazing.

It's so interesting to me how talented people can be with a little bit of polish and some sticks. See how cute our toes turned out?

I'm completely inspired. I'm a big do-it-yourselfer, and if there's a way to recreate this at home, I'm bent on figuring it out! I went to Sally Beauty Supply yesterday and bought the same white and silver polishes that they used on my toes. I also bought bottles of bubble bath, foot scrub, foot masque, and foot lotion to be able to do at home what they did at Papillon.

Only problem is, now I have the things to do it all, but super cute toes I don't want to mess up! I already asked Jesse if I could practice on him, and got a resounding no. He's still not happy about the last time I practiced on him before realizing we were out of nail polish remover! I'll have to see what Kate's up to this weekend... :)

Anyway, after our pedis, we went out for sushi at a new place by Mom's house. It's a much more modern/stylish place than our beloved Miyako's in Glendora, but the food was really good. We shared a crunch roll, an ozeki roll, and a spider roll, and decided that we really don't like soy paper. Mental note for next time. Ozeki was the only one that had soy paper, though, and the other two were so good! The ozeki would have been really good without the soy, so next time, I would just ask them to make it with regular old delicious seaweed wrap.

We had such a fun night! I really lucked out in marrying a man who has no sisters--his mom spoils me rotten! We have a blast being girls together :)

Birthday pedicures and sushi--can it get any better than that?!?!

Our College Girl, Kate!

I helped my sister Kate move into her new dorm at Azusa Pacific University last week.
She drove down to Rosemead and picked me up at school, and then the two of us drove up to Azusa together to get her registered and set up her new dorm.

Here we are on our way!

To reduce the risk of embarrassing her on her first day, I was forbidden from taking any pictures on campus, which is why I don't have the cliche first day of school pics of her standing in front of APU's sign, or smiling with her new dorm key, or posing in her room. Sad day.

Jesse came and met us at APU and stood in line with us while we waited to get her dorm key. It's so nice that our church is only 5 minutes from Kate's new school! Jesse is excited about being close by whenever Kate needs something. I'm excited about having her within half an hour! (And you can rest assured, Kate, I will be bombarding your dorm on Sundays!)

After we got her all set up in her dorm, she came back and spent the night with us. We had fun teaching her how to play Settlers of Caton and watching her favorite show, The Mentalist. It was a great night! I was bummed to see her go the next morning, but I know that having her this close will mean we will get to see her more often. (Or at least, I HOPE so. We live half an hour away from Jon-the-bum too, but he never comes to see us.) I say it all with love.

Dad, Mom, and Laura came out the next morning with all of Kate's things to officially move her in. I was working at school, so I wasn't able to be there, but Jesse helped and they got things all set.

On their way home, Dad, Mom and Laura came back with Kate and Jesse to our house for an afternoon of "Let's Eat Pizza and Avoid Labor Day Weekend Rush Hour Traffic." It was lots of fun!

The following is a study on Kate and Laura:
I almost didn't include these because they're blackmail-esque, but Laura made a special request. Here you go, Louly! Don't blame me! ♥

These girls are two peas in a pod. I honestly don't know what they'll do without each other! I can't wait til Laura gets her license so that she can come out and visit often!

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th

It's been eight years, but I remember exactly where I was.
I was 14, a sophomore in high school, and was sick that day. As the rest of my family packed up and left for school, I sat on the couch watching again and again the only footage they had so far: smoking, crumbling buildings, people jumping from floors high above the ground, reporters running away and hiding behind cars as the towers imploded.

As I was sitting in front of my class at Circle Time this morning, I thought about mentioning it before we said the Pledge of Allegiance. Then I realized that not a single one of them was alive that day. In their little five and six year old lives, do they even know about it yet? My heart was heavy today with remembering. They were lighthearted and giddy because it was Friday. What a strange difference.

Wondering what my feelings were 8 years ago, I just pulled from my bookshelf the journal I kept in 2001. Here is an entry from the day after our lives changed.
Wednesday, September 12th, 2001
Our country is under attack. Yesterday, America was invaded by terrorists, and thousands of innocent lives were lost...I saw the entire thing on the news yesterday, and I just couldn't believe it.

I watched as the second plane crashed into the tower and blew up. The whole building caught fire. People were running as fast as they could, trying to escape. Others jumped from the building. It was the most horrifying thing that I have ever seen.

Then, the tower crumbled. All 110 floors of it came crashing down, along with the several thousand people who were captured in the flames. It was a scene that I will never forget.

There is a cloud hanging over New York City. A cloud of smoke and debris. It is a reminder to all of us how hateful we can be. Don't the people that did this to us realize what they have done? Don't they realize that they have killed thousands of innocent people? I don't understand how they could be so hateful, whoever they are.

Thousands of people were killed yesterday. Thousands of moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and grandparents. Thousands of people who won't be coming home tonight, and why? Because there is hatred, and sin, and they were the victims of it.

I don't understand at all.

An Airforce general said that this was worse than Pearl Harbor, and that it is the beginning of another war. Will this start World War III?

Right now, I'm in my mom's classroom. I can hear the music students downstairs singing the Star Spangled Banner. Their sweet voices fill the room patriotically.

We are proud to be Americans. God bless America!

Bethany Elise, 2001

Friday, September 4, 2009


Hopefully you don't tire of reading about cute little first graders, because I have lots of stories!

Today, I had the students do a creative writing piece where they had to draw a picture and then tell a story about what they would do if they were bears. The story their Language Arts unit is on right now is about a bear who lives in a treehouse, so I figured it was ample ground for the imagination.

I was excited when Scott came up to show me his work--an entire page filled with writing! It was a big step for a little guy whose imagination is so big that he rarely finishes his assignments instead of staring off into space and daydreaming. I looked at the page, but so many of his words were spelled phonetically (and boy, can first graders be creative with sounding things out!) that I was really at a loss as far as reading it aloud myself went. Instead, I said "Wow, Scott, that's a lot of writing! Would you please read it to me?"

This is where semantics can nip you in the rear, because the response I received was,
"Yeah, I would, only, I can't. You're the one who knows how to read--not me!"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Adding to the List

This afternoon as we were getting ready for lunch, one of the first graders tapped my side.
"Mrs. Rulebreaker," she said, still tapping on me, "I need help tying my shoes."
Another girl walked up, put her hands on her hips importantly, and informed the other girl, "Evelyn, it's not Mrs. Rulebreaker, it's Mrs. Rudebaker!"

Not sure how contortions of my name went from sweet and innocent "Blueberry," "Bakery," and "Blue Bagel" to Mrs. Rule Breaker and Rude Baker in a single day!

Also, here's my irony for the day: the same child who asked me during Writer's Workshop this morning how to spell "read" is the same one who corrected my spelling of Webkinz (how would I know it ends with a Z instead of an S? I had to look it up online to make sure I even really knew what a Webkinz was!) But yes, my first graders can spell Bakugan and Webkinz, but not "read."

What a world, what a world!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Funny Subbing Moments

I'm sure I'll have a lot of these, but here are some of my favorite moments from my first three days in first grade!

On the first day, the children were given a piece of paper and told to draw a picture of what they did this summer, and write a sentence about it. I walked around the class to help the teacher (still very pregnant, but might deliver this weekend!) One of the boys was sitting there with his pencil poised, chin on his other palm, staring off in to space.
"How is your sentence going, Colin?" I asked him.
"Well, I'm trying to write 'I went on a bus to Las Vegas,' " he explained, "but I can't remember how to spell 'a.' "

On the second day, one of the girls came up to me.
"Mrs. Bakery! Natalie is tattling on me!" She whined.
"She's tattling? Oh no! What are you doing?" I asked.
"Ohhhhh..." Quieted and and seemingly confused, she sat back down at her desk.

But my favorite comes from a child with a huge imagination. Something tells me I will have lots of stories to share about him!

The first thing he did yesterday when he walked into the classroom was walk up to me with big dramatic eyes, and say, "Oh, Mrs. Rudabager, I do not like push doors."
"Push doors?" I asked, confused.
"Yeah," he said, his eyes getting big, "you know, the kind that dragons have?"
"Ohh," I nodded as if I understood, "well, I don't think we have any push doors here at school."
"You bet we don't!" He announced triumphantly, "I already slayed them with my sword!"

I can tell that it's going to be a fun substituting position! I love the kids already, and can't wait to have my turn with them :)

The last week was invaluable, though, because I got to watch the classroom teacher in action, learn her classroom cues, become familiar with the layout of the classroom and schedule, and get to know the kids.
She went to the hospital straight after school yesterday, so I may very well be taking on the class on Monday! I'm really excited!

Here are my names so far in first grade: Mrs. Bakery, Mrs. Blueberry, Mrs. Rudabager, and Mrs. Uhhhh, Teacher?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Winds of Change

My last day at Summer of Hope was on Friday, but since Jesse gets that day off, he surprised me by taking me out for our "last lunch break together" on Thursday. So sweet!
Even though Thursday was his birthday, he told me to forget about that and just enjoy celebrating what a wonderful summer we've had of working at the same place.

Out of the two of us, I'm the frugal one, so I verrrrrrry rarely ever encourage going out for something (Jesse does enough of that for the two of us. I hate to be the bad guy!) but Jesse took me out for a Jamba Juice smoothie. What a treat!

Here we are enjoying our last lunch break together.

I'm going to miss this SO much!

It's been such an amazing thing to work at the same place. Getting to stop by his office on lunch breaks, running into him in the supply room, watching him play with the kids when he needs to stretch his legs...It's been so wonderful.

Leaving that job behind means changing my whole world. I loved being so involved at the church this summer. I was able to attend all of the events, the dinners, spend time with the youth groups, and really develop relationships with members of the church.

It will be so different to only be there on Sundays again. Sigh...

I went to First Lutheran yesterday to meet the teacher for whom I will be substituting this fall. Her due date is September 9th, but she looks like she could pop any time! She's very sweet, and made me feel completely comfortable. She laid out an outline for me, but told me that she's flexible and that if anything doesn't feel right, I'm welcome to change it to fit my own style. After my 2nd half of student teaching, that is a breath of fresh air!

Tomorrow is the first day of school. Christina will teach her 1st grade class until she delivers, after which they are mine for 6 weeks. I'm so thankful that it's 1st grade! That was always my ideal, and I'm excited to finally get a chance to experience it.

There are 18 of them, which, for a private school is a lot. I'm looking forward to meeting all of them tomorrow! I've asked her if I can keep coming to school until she delivers so that I can watch her teach. The kids will be going through enough changes to not need inconsistencies between teachers. Even simple classroom cues are important!

I've begun a new blog for teaching: My Teaching Toolbox. I haven't really added much to it yet, but that's where I'll be posting teaching ideas and things that I learn!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Promised Pictures!

Well, I told you that I would post pictures of our Intertidal Mural that we created last week at the summer program. I was really pleased with their work!

We spent Monday and Tuesday researching animals that live in tide pools. I had them each spend time on computers using websites I had found for them. They each chose an animal, and then wrote a report like these:

(Click on it to see a bigger picture. Then, maybe, you'll be able to read what they wrote!)

Then, the older kids were given web pages to research the different levels of the intertidal zone.

The little ones were busy drawing and cutting out paper organisms to add to our mural while the older ones did their research. Then they got to join in the fun too!

Here is the finished product!

I'm so proud of them!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beach Day!

Today was my last field trip with Summer of Hope. Can't believe the summer is over already!
We've been learning about tide pools this week, and today we moved our learning into real time as we visited the beautiful tide pools at Laguna Beach. We had a blast!

I don't have any pictures of the actual tide pools because I was so busy showing the kids all sorts of different animal life. We saw so many things! Mussels, barnacles, clams, sea snails, hermit crabs, tiny fish, sea anemones that had the kids screaming with glee, and sea urchins that had them leaning in for a better look. They learned the difference between a univalve and a bivalve (and the hand motions that helped them remember), what a "hollow" in a tide pool is, the difference between high and low tide (and got to witness it over the span that we were there), and how to closely observe the wildlife without tampering with it or causing harm (or at least, that was the idea!)

They've been researching tide pools all week. We made an awesome bulletin board about it, and I'll have to remember to take pictures and post them!

Anyway, here are some pictures from today...

After spending about an hour roaming through the tide pools, we moved the kids to an area where they could be more active and enjoy the beach.

Jessica found a crab! But...a seagull found him first.

That looks really yummy, Matt...

Mary was our hero and came along at the last minute--we had too many kids and not enough seats!

Pretty pattern...maybe lobster?


I loved how interested the kids were. They were learning all on their own!


Everyone with their "treasures" (which were promptly returned to their places)

All in all, it was a great day. We had a blast at the beach, had lots of stories to tell on the way home, and a lot of impressive things to tell moms and dads when the kids got picked up.

I love days like these!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Simple joys of today...

♥ Working the early shift today (7am--3:30) and feeling like there's still an entire day ahead of me

♥ Tomatoes from my garden in my salad at lunch

♥ Making apple pie with my youngsters at church this afternoon (and seeing the pride on their faces as they ate it!)

♥ Finishing reading my 10th Newbery Award book--76 to go!

♥ A rare valley breeze moving gently through this warm little house

♥ The scent of my vanilla candles just from the heat of the day

♥ Knowing that Jesse will be home before midnight tonight

♥ The energy to contemplate baking cookies or cinnamon buns in a few minutes

♥ Picturing Jesse's face when he walks in to yummy smells from the kitchen

♥ Quilting on the couch while watching Jeopardy

♥ Knowing that life is so much better when focusing on the good things in life!

♥ Thank you, Lord, for Joy, Peace, and Love! ♥

Monday, July 27, 2009

Favorite Quotes for the Day

These aren't actually from today, but it's the first chance I've had since to breathe!

We took the kids to the OC Fair last Thursday (it's free for kids on Thursdays, pass it on!). Here are some moments that made me smile:

Walking through the 4H section of the livestock area, one of my 7 year olds ran up to me. "Miss Bethany! I just had a staring contest with that rabbit over there, and the rabbit won!!"

We stopped at "Noah's Ark," a small booth where christian volunteers told children stories from the Bible. It actually was a small wooden ark (pretty cool, but way too small for me!), so I waited outside until the kids all came out. As we were walking away, one of our six year olds tucked his hand into mine and said "I'm so glad God gave me the goooooood love!"

And then, in the car on the way home, I overheard one 7 year old telling the rest of the kids in my car, "When God created cars, He made the white ones first. That's why there's more of them."

Check our shared blog for a crazy story about our trip home from the fair!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Joys

I've been realizing this week how truly blessed I am to have such a wonderful job this summer. Somehow, it's just different than last year (even though I was at the same place). I love being the program director for a summer day camp, the responsibility of being guardian of so many youngsters, and the challenge of creating a program diverse enough to feed the hearts and minds of such a wide range of kids!

Just had to share some pictures with you. Wouldn't days like this make you smile, too?

During "Animal Safari Week," the kids had fun learning about different animals and the places they live. We did face paint on the kids to help them dress up as their favorite animal. I loved their creativity!

Here's a picture of a few of our animals:

(a mouse with cheese, two cats, a dolphin, a cheetah, and a zebra)

I'm the only person I know with access to a genuine cheesehead hat! (thanks to my handsome Greenbay Packer's fan)

Speaking of whom, Jesse had to get in on the fun too! He used his imagination and dressed up as a bluejay (with the help of some blue hair gel!)

Pretty much, this is one of my favorite pictures ever. Eddie decided to dress up as Cat in the Hat for his animal, and Savannah's in her full fledged cheetah costume!

During "Ocean Exploration Week," we went to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Savannah and Austin were the only two who wanted to pose with the shark...

Some of our kids watching a diver feed the sharks in the tank

Possibly my favorite things about the ride home on field trip days:

Engrossed readers during our daily reading time after lunch:

Working on the mural for this week's theme:

Each of them added their own dinosaur to the mural. I was impressed with the amount of research even the youngest ones did to make their drawings as accurate as possible (and then of course, we got some unicorns, too...)

Lizeth and Carissa playing happily during free time:

Every Tuesday, we make a trip the the Glendora Library to participate in their summer reading program, and enjoy the educational programs they put on for children every Tuesday afternoon. We've seen puppet shows, wild animal presentations, and all sorts of great things. This week was a man who played the guitar and sang. The kids loved him!

It truly is an adventure. And I love it!

**Funny his sermon on Sunday, Pastor used a story about a family who lost their 4 year old at an aquarium. In the margin of my bulletin, I wrote to Jesse, "And I took TWELVE kids to the aquarium last week and didn't lose ONE!"

He quickly wrote back, "that doesn't mean you get to have twelve kids."

Hahaha! I've talked him up to 3 or 4 kids, and that's probably as far as I'll get :)