Month: September 2010

October Sky, In September

Have you seen October Skyhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0132477/plotsummary  Awesome movie.

I married a rocketeer.   Greg has a passion for making these rockets, from scratch, from body to motor, and sending them up in the sky to see just how far they will go and how well they will return back to earth.    Its an art, and a science.  Greg is good at what he does.  Pretty frickin’ darn good.  You know how some people bronze their kids’ baby shoes?  I always joke that we bronze our kids’ first rockets.  We don’t, but it would have been awesome had we thought of it!  One year we even had a small rocket adorn the top of our Christmas tree.  I wish I could find the picture.

Sometimes things have to take a backseat when you get married and have a family.  For Greg that has been attending rocket launches with all of his friends.  We go as a family to the ones locally, but the ones that are the best are ones that are in Black Rock, NV.    The big event takes place the last weekend in September and is called, appropriately, BALLS.  (http://www.rimworld.com/balls/ )  There are some HUGE things going on there, or so I hear, this is the one event that discourages families.  Only because of the fact that it is an experimental launch.  Otherwise rocket launches are a blast for the entire family to go to.  (notice the pun?  badum bum)

HOWEVER, this year Greg got to go to BALLS!!!!  Seven long years have past, but he and a friend hopped a plane on Friday, drove out to the playground, played for 2 days, and are headed home today.  I can’t wait for Playa-Boy to get here!  I can’t wait to see the pictures.  I can’t wait to hear the stories.  It’s all very exciting.

(these next few pictures are from a family launch in Mansfield, WA that *all* of us, even Greg’s parents, went to this past summer.  The red and yellow rocket is Greg’s named Hold-The-Mayo.  The black one is Cameron’s that he built himself.  Oh, and yes, I have made one from scratch too.  Then I took out my rubber stamps and stamped it up in flowers.  It’s name is Flower Power.  I’m a rocket girl.)

Oh, did I mention that Greg and I teach rocketry to the 4th grade classes of our kids’ school?  We’ve done it for the past 4 years and love it.   It’s a part of their energy chapter in science.  Pretty cool.  Instead of a lame fieldtrip the kids team up in pairs and build a rocket, eat a lot of pizza, then fly the rockets that they build.

Go fly a rocket.

SPOVER**!!!!

A momentous thing happened in our family this past Friday night.  It was unexpected, but the surprise element made it that much more exciting.  After taking Atalie to the bus for school, Griffin and I ran errands and then asked a friend to go to lunch with us.  As we were sitting in the restaurant eating I got a text message from Greg:  “Have you heard the message from K on the voicemail yet?”  Uh.  I’m out to lunch.  No.  “What’s up?”, I reply.  “K* wants to know if Atalie can spend the night with A* tonight.  It would be A*’s first spover and she’s asked for it to be with Atalie!  Atalie could just walk home with K* and A* after school, eat dinner, watch a movie, then see how long Atalie is comfortable with the spover.  If we have to go get her in the middle of the night then so be it.  What do you think?”  (A* is K*’s oldest daughter)

What do I think?  My Atalie has been D-Y-I-N-G to be asked to spover at a friends house and the fact that her bestie has just asked her puts me over the moon!  YES!!!  I can’t imagine how Atalie is going to react when K* goes into her classroom and tells her that she’s able to go over to play AND stay the night as well!  I text back, “Can you take care of things?  I think I’m going to be emotional.”  Reply, “Yup.”  And there, it’s done.  My 10 year old is *finally* spending the night at a friends house!   Her *best* friend’s house!  (and can I say here that one afternoon I asked Atalie why A* is her best friend and she tells me,  “A* just gets me.  We don’t have to talk to be having fun.”  {my heart melted}  Not fair.  Does she even understand how long it takes to get a friend like that?  I’m envious. 

Since this was a huge event both moms forgot to take pictures.  So, we had to improvise the next day.  A*’s family has a media room with surround sound, big screen and theatre chairs.  The whole she-bang.  The whole family watched a movie.  It was so loud that they didn’t hear us knocking on the door to drop off Atalie’s stuff.  I had to call them to tell them we were there.  Yeah, that’s fun. 

The games that Atalie and A* played.  The two stayed up till 1AM.  Yup, 1 o’clock in the morning.  After the movie and playing games they were put to bed at 10:30.  Atalie called us to tell us good night and did shed a few tears on the phone.  I was told that after she hung up the entire family gave her a group hug.  (I heart this family)  They were told they could talk for a while before going to sleep.  At 11:30 when K* went to bed they were still talking.  When K* woke up at 1AM she could still hear them talking and went to go tell them it was time to sleep.  K* walked into A*’s room and A* asked, “Mom!  Why do you look like that?”  I think K* was thinking, “this is what I look like at 1AM!”  K* told me that the girls had gotten out A*’s Dr. Seuss Spanish Dictionary and were teaching themselves Spanish.  Well, of course they would be.  There is a new student in their class that doesn’t speak English and these girls are nice enough to want to learn another language so they can talk to him.  In the middle of the night. 

Atalie and A* sitting in the chair where they taught themselves Spanish.  Goofy girls.

At 7:10AM Atalie and A* wake up and are ready to get going on the day.  A*’s family, thank goodness, are not only good about getting up early, but doing fun things as a family.  They put me to shame really, but that’s a different post.  K*, her husband, S*, A*, her sister K*, and Atalie head to Krispy Kreme for a dozen glazed stomach aches  donuts. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, mom and dad have been awake off and on looking at the clock trying to guess when “THE CALL” will come to go pick Atalie up.  It. Never. Happened.  At 9:15AM there is a call from Atalie.  “My stomach isn’t feeling well.”  Me: “Did you eat something?  Do you need something in your tummy?”  Her: “We’ve had Krispy Kreme then K* made scrambled eggs and hash browns.”  SCORE!!!!  *I* want to spover**!  Me: “Do you want me to come get you?”  Her: “No.  We want to play till 11:00.  Then you can come get me.”  Me:  “Okay.  Have fun.  Let me talk to K*”.  K: (almost unable to control her laughter) “I am *SO* sorry they stayed up so late!  I couldn’t believe it!  But they had so much fun.  I kept thinking that you were going to kill me, but they were having so much fun!”  Me: (in my head)  “It’s all good.  If she’s happy, mama bear is happy.  I’ll be dealing with her grumpiness later though)

I know that this was a good experience.  No, I know it was a great one.  Atalie and A* have been best buds since Kindergarten.  They have been in Girl Scouts together and in the same class at school.  They support each other and make each other laugh.  They are also there to be that hug the other one needs when things just aren’t going the way they are supposed to.  They are Super Twins that are unstoppable when they are together, yet are each others’ strength when they are a room apart.  And just by a glance from across that room they know that the other loves them, accepts them, and is encouraging them.  They have what so many adults don’t have.  Or *did* have and for some reason or another have lost.  It’s rare.  It’s important.  I hope it lasts for many, many years to come.

Congratulations Atalie and A* on your first spovers!  This is just the beginning.  There is so much more waiting for you.  I can’t wait to watch!

*names were kept at a minimum because I didn’t get permission to use their real names before I started writing this.  I’m sure that everyone would have been fine with me using their real names, but just in case.  And, quite frankly, *’s were easier to type than the whole names.  :)

**Spover: teenage-ese for ‘sleepover’.  My son used it so much when he first started having sleepovers that it’s just stuck.  Feel free to use it.  It’s a fun word.

PS, You can tell just how tired Atalie is in these photos, she looks like she is about to cry in all of them. 

PSS, while I may not remember THE first sleepover, I remember that starting at a very young age (younger than 10 I’m sure) I spent the night A LOT with Sande Bennett.  Oh the good times . . .

Green Plate Special

This may seem like an ordinary plate.  In the Deputy home however, it is unique.  It is scratched up from all of it’s use.  It is plastic.  It is see through.  It is a bright green.  It is bigger than the other plates we own.  It is the only one of it’s kind in our plate drawer.  And even though we own nice dishes that we eat on regularly, and nicer plastic ones we use in a rush, this plate is the one everyone wants at their place.  This, my dear friends, is “The Special Plate”.  If you have The Special Plate in your spot at the dinner table it is like you are star-of-the-day!  During dinner each family member, or *anyone* at the dinner table for that matter (because we *have* brought The Special Plate out when we have company), tells you what they love most about you.  After having this tradition for a bit (at least three years) you’d think it would be hard to keep coming up with something, but I kid you not, there are nights when some people get two or three compliments because we just can’t narrow it down to one. 

Sometimes I wish that I had bought a nicer plate to use as The Special Plate.  Then, like tonight when I took it’s picture, I think that this plate is perfect.  It will be resilient and serve it’s purpose well.  It will last us for years of compliments.  (would it be too strange to retire this plate out in a year or so and buy a new one to use for a year or so then buy a new one so that eventually each one of my children will someday always have a “Special Plate”?)

Them and Me~A Long One

It’s been a week since the kids went back to school.  Only a week?  Holy Cow.  It seems like we never got a summer.  Oh well.  I reluctantly put each of them back on the bus to absorb as much knowledge as they can and become better people.  I have many milestones this year.  Here, in the NorthWest, 6th grade is the first grade in Middle school.  (no Junior High here folks!) and 9th grade is the first year at High School.  I have both a 6th grader and a 9th grader.  Guess what else I have?  A Junior, a 5th grader, and a KINDERGARTENER!  Sob.  My baby is in school.  Now get this, the Kindergarten schedule is as follows: the Red class (which is Griffin) goes to school Monday, Tuesday, and every other Wednesday (which is a late start, school starts 90 minutes later on Wednesdays for our school district than on other days).  The Blue class is every other Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.  Yes, stupid to the nth degree and I have no idea why, neither do the educators apparently, but that’s how it is.  With holidays there will be times when Griffin (who I also call Finn or Finny) will go up to 7 days before his next day at school.  Whatevs.  Here are my kiddos, and a bit of reflection on where *I* was at their age.

My sweet Kindergartener, Finny.  He is all decked out in his faves, but wanted to show you his backpack.  My other kids called it a ‘packpack’ for the longest time, not Finn.  He’s too mature for that.  He has Mrs. Young who also taught 2 of our other children.  We love her  *I went to Parson’s Elementary for Kindergarten.  I had Mrs. Trammel, morning class.  I cried every single day I went.  My mom tells me that one day the school called and said, “Mrs. Roper, we’re sorry to tell you this, but we can’t find Mandi anywhere.”  She got her car keys and opened the front door to go get me only to find me sitting on the front porch.  We lived 6 houses down from the school.  I didn’t stop ‘crying’ at school till the 3rd grade when I was bused to Martin Elementary, clear across town.  Memorable Moments: learning “Silent Night” in sign language.  (oh, Griffin didn’t even shed a tear.  Rude)

My “Little Miss Atalie Bug” in her 5th grade garb.  She has  Mrs. Spencer.  She is in a 4th/5th split class which is perfect for her because she has a really hard time with change.  Knowing she was going to have Mrs. Spencer (whom she had last year as a 4th grader) really helped Atalie relax this summer.  Since she will be going to Middle School next year we decided to go easy on her and keep things smooth this year.  Both she and Griffin attend Liberty Ridge Elementary.  *When I was in 5th grade I was still at Parson’s Elementary, but not crying anymore.  I thank Doug Naegle, Mike Dietz, and Kevin Williamson for that vastly.  Oh stop it, they were neighbors that included me in stuff.  I was the only girl in the neighborhood that I recall, well there were 2 others, but we didn’t gel.  I had Mrs. Clanton whom I adored because she let me do the bulletin boards in the class instead of having to go out to recess with the creepy Coach what’s-his’face.  Memorable Moments: Mrs. Clanton’s husband, Butch, the twins, Tammy and Toni getting in trouble for switching classes on April Fool’s Day, “going” with Joel Anderson, and the stinky kid in class sitting next to me.

My Middle schooler, Keegan.  We worried about this one all summer long.  Who am I kidding?  We worried about this one since the 4th grade!!!  He did great though.  I know most of the staff at his school, Mountain View Middle School, so I was happy with whatever he got.  The school has great communication and since I hang with a lot of the teachers on a social basis I felt that they had our backs.  He has as teachers, Mrs. Forman (one of my closest friends), Mr. Lynch (his drum teacher outside of school), Mrs. Davis (someone I scrapbook with on a regular basis), and Mrs. Black (whom I’ve never met but am excited to partner up with).  On Wednesdays he has Mr. Rushton as well who is a member of our church so we are excited about that.  My 6th grade year I was still at Parson’s Elementarty and had Mrs. Cunningham?  I can’t remember her name, she was short, dark long hair and could be meaner than  a junkyard dog.  But she could also be nice.  Memorable moments:  Obviously not much since I can’t even remember the teacher’s name.  And I’m generally great with that sort of thing!

Ninth grader, Cameron.  He is such an easy going person that I knew he would fit right in to Bonney Lake High School.  Plus, he was so ready to be done with Middle School.  He branched out and is taking French and Technology Foundation.  He is loving it.  Oddly his French teacher’s name is Cheryl Roper.  (that is my mom’s name as well)  It doesn’t even seem to bother him that he has a sister that goes to the same school.  I think they actually like being there together.  Not that they see each other, but still.  It can be a comfort.  Maybe if I had had a sibling at the same school when I was in Kindergarten I wouldn’t have cried so much.  *I broke the mold of my family by NOT attending Atkins Jr. High as my home school in 9th grade, but was bussed to JT Hutchinson Jr. High clear across town.  Best decission I ever made.  I had as teachers: Mr. Garcia for math who had the answers on the chalkboard for the night before’s homework every day.  Thank you Mr. Garcia for that, I never did a stitch of homework for you, but I think you knew that.  Mrs. Rhodes for choir.  She took Mr. Andrus’s place and I still have issues with that.  Mr. Andrus was the best, very hard shoes to fill.  I still made Highlanders though so I was happy with that.  :)  English was Mrs. Stogner who made us memorize the 23rd Psalm.  Thank you!  I sat next to Ethan Logan, behind Catherine Ranck, and catty-corner to my 9th grade banquet date, Lee Cochran.  Ethan, I had a crush on you.  Sad you didn’t see it.  I was a sport’s trainer under the tutelage of Mr. Lowrance and Dee (the student teacher) which was the best thing ever!  I made great friends there and got to feel like I wasn’t such a nerd afterall.  My favorite teachers for that year is a toss up.  Sra. Cervantez was a hoot.  I loved Spanish class.  I loved my classmates.  I dated Sra.’s son Cezar my Soph. year.  Oops!  She loved me though and always welcomed me in her home, even though Cezar was also dating another girl named Jinell who lived in Amarillo.  Thlppbbb to you Cezar, wherever you are.  My second favorite teacher was Biology’s Mr. Tishler.  There were 24 of us in the class, only 4 girls and we were tested by everyone in there, including Mr. T.  I loved disecting the shark and the value I felt when I walked in there that I could hold my own against so many boys.  (Alan, Nathan, a Guven bro, Lee again, Brian, Chris, and other smarties – not to mention hotties)  I remember Mr. T labeling me “Giggles” .  I will never forget that when I had to have my appendix out in an emergencey surgery that it was Mr. Tishler that sent a card around for everyone in the class to sign and send it to me.  It was the only card I got.  I still have it.  Honorable mention teachers at JT Hutch: Mrs. Frankliln, Coach Wilson, and Mrs. Brashears. (oh heck, I’ll throw in crotchety old Mrs. Waller even)  I also formed my closest friendship my Frosh year with someone that I still speak to, who hasn’t abandoned me through all the crap I’ve been through, who still gives me advice and love no matter what.  And I give the same in return.  I value our relationship second to my marriage and kids. Memorable Moments: Ranger Round-Ups, Pep Rallies, Swanee, and the 9th grade banquet.  I’d like to mention that those untouchables that I didn’t think I could ever be friends with because they didn’t know I existed?  Well, we’re friends now.  YAY!  Thank you FB!  Turns out that when you take away the big hoop earrings, the designer bags,  the tall hair and the lack thereof you realize that you have the same goals and values.

And my Junior, who I gave birth to yesterday.  Sniff, sniff.  Colleen is now 16 and loves high school.  She is the only kid I know who hates summer and weekends because they take her away from school.  She has followed in my footsteps with choir but is much better in math and science than I am.   She gets that from her dad, and she will never admit it to anyone.  *Again, breaking the mold of my siblings, I went to Lubbock High School rather than Monterey High School.  LHS was also the school that Buddy Holly went to.  Buddy Holly, you know . . .  Anyway, my Junior year was tough.  My mom moved my brother and I to Seattle, WA right after the second semester started.  The teachers that stuck out in my head that year though are: Mr. Smith for Chemistry, what a sweetheart, the Coaches B’s for gymnastics (thank you for letting me hang out there for study hall and after school), Mr. Jarvis in choir, and most of all, Sra. Grisham.  What a hard-nosed person!!!  But she listened to me and comforted me, and sat me next to Conrad Dennis which would have brightened any girls day for heavens sake!  I miss her.  I was dating Albert Alderete who moved to Dallas the summer before this Junior year and who was also dating someone else.  I had a crush on Eric Rodella who never got a clue, but is still one of my best friends.   Memorable Moments: football games,the choir t-shirts where the Westerner had 3 arms, homecoming, after school with the gymnasts, parties at April’s house, and moving without being able to say good-bye.  When I got here to Seattle (Bellevue to be exact) I attended Newport High School where every car in the parking lot was a BMW, Mercedes, or Jeep.  Very yuppy.  It was hard.  I finished out my Junior year with the help of my cousin and those she forced to be friends with me, like my dear Greg. (my cousin and I are very opposite people, and I am appreciative to her for everything she did for me)  My favorite teachers were Mrs Franklin who I had for Vocabulary and Mrs. Cruickshank for English.  Memorable Moments: Greg’s high school prom at the Space Needle.

So where does time go?  I remember all the crying I did in Elementary school and now that Elementary school is back in my life I am still crying.  Not because I have to go this time, but because it means that my children are growing too fast.  And before you know it they’ll be writing some equivalent of a blog about their schooling.   What do you think I’ll be blogging about then? 

Time, it’s bittersweet.

On The Eve, I Remember

I remember on Sept. 11, 2001 I woke up early to get Colleen ready for school and to kiss Greg good-bye before he went to work.  The TV wasn’t on because we didn’t have the money to pay for cable.  The radio wasn’t on because we didn’t have one that worked well.  I remember the phone ringing before 8AM and Greg answering it.  I remember him gasping and asking what the person was talking about.  I remember hearing, as he walked into another room, “No.  She can’t see it, we don’t have a TV right now.  Yes, I’ll take it with me.  Are you sure?  How did this happen?  Thank you for calling, and keep an eye on her today for me.”    I knew I was the *she/her* that they were talking about.  I knew something bad had happened.  I knew they were trying to protect me from something. But what they didn’t realize was that they couldn’t protect me from this.  Nobody could be protected from this.  I may have been spared the images and cries and visuals and information on that particular day, but the outpoor of evidence of what had happened couldn’t be crushed.  They would make themselves seen, and heard, and it was almost as if we could take this tragedy in with all of our senses.  Even those of us without cable in Bonney Lake, Washington.

I have to admit here that when the Challenger blew up I was home from school sick and I mentally and emotionally lost it after I saw the events unfold on TV.  I remember throwing up with such horror.  As a child then I remember needing my mom home right then to keep me grounded and not fly away on emotions.  To keep me from going crazy with confusion.  Those feelings stayed with me for days.  Years.  I wasn’t the same afterwards.  Again, when the OKC bombing happened I went back to that place.  I was paralyzed.  I couldn’t believe that something so horrible was happening again.  Another part of innocence inside of me was choked that day as it had been many years back with the Challenger.

On 9-11 more of me was choked.  Not just because of what was happening, but because I couldn’t take part of it.  I couldn’t watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio.  I was in my own little world, helpless.  To some this may be exactly the best place to be.  I can’t describe it.  As many of you can’t describe your feelings that day either.  I think we all went through the processes of grief, anger, despair, denial, fear.   It’s still very surreal to me to see pictures and video now.  I shake even now as I type this because I just can’t think of how in the world that happened.  My heart aches when I think of families that were never reunited.  Not that day anyway.  Not yet.  But one day, they will be.  Thank God for that.

I had a group of friends at the time that gathered a ridiculous amount of information (poems, songs, lyrics, pictures, quotes, etc)  and decided to put it all in a scrapbook.  I kept some of their postings but never did a book of my own.  I just didn’t think it was the healthiest thing for *me* to do.  But this one woman’s story comes back to me every year.  This is what my friend, Sheri, had to say about an experience she had with her son, Joseph who at the time was 12 (?), a year after the towers went down:

“Last night Joseph wanted to watch one of the 9/11 specials on tv.  I asked him several times if he was *sure* he wanted to watch and he assured me that he was sure.  During a break, I asked why he felt the need to watch, when it had affected him so deeply last year. 

He replied, “I figure if I watch it enough times, it won’t get to me any more.”

I could totally understand his reasoning, but also explained it to him this way, “Every time I see the space shuttle Challenger explode again, I cry.  Every time I see footage from Oklahoma City, I cry.  And every time I see things about 9/11, I cry too.  And someday, Joseph, you’re going to be my age and sitting on your own sofa with your own children, and they are going to show you their history book and ask you about this day, and you will cry again.  You will cry.  It will always get to you, because it was such a horrible thing.  I’m only sorry that it had to happen during your lifetime.”

I know Joseph is crying.  I know thousands are crying.  I know that I am crying, but it may not be the same cry or the intense cry of the past. Crying may not cure anything.  It may not solve anything.  It won’t take away or bring back anything.  But it helps us remember that we are human.  We are people that can let our hearts go out to strangers and to those strangers families and so on and so on.  Our tears remind us that not only were we wronged, but that we also came together for a time and that we proved strong. And sometimes, crying puts us into action.  Crying is good.

There will be more tragedy to come.  But there will also be more taking care of each other,  more ‘mourning with those who mourn’, more heroes, more triumph, and more strength.

God does bless America.

A Whole Lotta Prayin’ Goin’ On

Praying Mantis:  “Dear God, don’t let them kill me, please.”

 Mandi: “Dear God, get it off of *my* side of the bed, PLEASE!”

Praying Mantis:  “Dear God, what *is* that thing, why does it keep getting closer to me, why is it taking pictures of me?  Dear God, is this my good side?”

Mandi: “Dear God,  It is after midnight, so please,  forgive me, but I fear that if Greg does not soon stop taking pictures of that “EW” creature and either escort it out of this room via the window or kill it freeing me from this closet then you may meet my husband a little bit sooner than anticipated.   Amen.”