Sunday, March 23, 2014

Aj's essay on Space

I love this kid. He wrote this essay for fun and asked me to post it online. =)

So here it is... 
Enjoy! It's quite amazing, if I do say so myself. 

Learning About

By: Aj Zurmely

Welcome to space! Our solar system is fascinating! You are about to enter a world of our sun, and our 8 planets. Prepare for out- of-this-world fun (oh, and some learning)!!

First, here we go to the middle of our solar system. The sun gives us heat for the Earth, and even our whole solar system! But if you are going to be an astronaut, you are never going to land, or even get close to the sun! 1.) Its way to hot. 2.) The sun is liquid and a gas. It has NO solids.

Next, ready or not, Mercury here we come! Mercury is the smallest planet in our solar system (other than our 2 dwarf planets). It is small because when it formed, it cooled and shrank. Its crust wrinkled. If you are feeling a little hot on Mercury, it’s because of the sun. It’s the closest to the sun! Though the other side of Mercury is very cold. It’s because Mercury has no atmosphere. The suns heat escapes as fast as a wink! Oh, and for extra, 1 day on Mercury equals 59 days on earth! Know why? It’s all because of how slowly this planet spins. And I thought Earth spins slowly!!

Also, back to Earth! Don’t worry, were not done yet!J In fact, were not even close! Earth is the only planet with liquid water. From space, Earth looks like a little blue marble! We have an atmosphere and oxygen to breathe. We have something Mercury AND Venus do not. A moon. A moon is an object that orbits a planet.

After that, next stop, Venus! Venus is NOT a friendly planet. So if you go there, don’t expect a pat on the back from this planet. It traps the suns heat in its atmosphere. You can’t breathe here. The air is made out of poisonous gasses. There is burning acid in the clouds. The surface is just melting rock. These rocks form volcanoes. Venus has more volcanoes then ANY I repeat ANY other planet. See what I mean? You know what I would expect? A pile of lava in my face, boiling rocks smashing into my head, then burning and choking to death people!!

Then Mars here we come! This planet is the 4th closest to the sun. Mars is also about the same size as Earth. It’s dry and dusty. The soil is COVERED in iron. (Let me guess, you are thinking: “Yes! I’m rich!” I doubt you would go up there, but if you did, WOW!!) Mars is bitterly cold. The air is poison. That’s…. That’s…. REALLY BAD!!! GET IN YOUR SPACESHIP NOW!!! OKAY, LETS GO!!! Phew!

Another, Jupiter is the next stop on our tour. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. It’s just a ball of gas. This planet spins so fast, only 10 hours on this planet is a day!

Later, Saturn comes next! Saturn is a gas planet. Rings rotate around this planet. The rings are made out of rock, ice, and dust. Some bits are tiny. But some are as big as boulders! These rings are from other moons that broke in space. Saturn has more than 60 moons! Saturn is actually pretty light for its size. It’s so light, that it could even float on water (if you found a pool big enough)!

Before the end, Uranus comes into view. In my opinion, this planet is the most interesting. Uranus is blue. This blue is not water, though. In fact, it’s a gas in its atmosphere. Uranus is a very cold, and a really dark planet. Uranus has rings, just like Saturn. Astronomers call this world an oddball. All the other planets in our solar system spin tilted, but this one doesn’t. This one spins sideways, like a ball. Scientists say that this happened because of something humongous that hit it.

Last, this is the end of your tour. Neptune is the last planet you’ll learn about. Neptune is a cold, icy and windy planet. This planet is unique because it was found by astronomers. You heard me. Not scientists and not super smart, brainy, intelligent, and nerdy people (like me). It was just hanging around somewhere in our solar system, were NO ONE (including me,) could find it. So there.

You’ve toured our solar system. Now it’s time for you to go. Sniff…. this is super sad. Sniff…. We had so much fun, and now you have to go. Sniff…. Sniff…. WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!! DON’T GO!!!! WAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! PLEASE!!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! DON’T GO!! IT WAS JUST SO NICE MEETING YOU!!!!! Sniff…. Sniff…. Sorry. Just, don’t go. You still have to? Oh well. It was nice meeting you. Bye! Sniff…. Sniff…. WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Blurry Memories

About 10 days ago, my parents survived a nightmarish car accident. In Panama.

To say that time stood still while I processed the information and was waiting to hear what their plans were would be an understatement.

Jace and Aj went to St. George that weekend. In a car. They had the nerve to drive somewhere after the accident. In. a. CAR! Of all the things to use to travel in. I was a nervous wreck.

When they returned home safely, I cried. I hugged them and I cried.

I wish I could say that all's well that end's well, but life doesn't stop even though my personal world did. It's still not quite okay for my soft heart that desperately wants to be tough.

It's like when Collin and Uncle Bill died. I needed time. I needed space. But the world is unforgiving in it's demands and obligations.

Thankfully, for me, coming from a big family, I have a built-in support network. My sibs and I spent a really long time chatting on FB. Like, 48 hours. We were hurting. We were exhausted.

And we needed to be together.

We got sent this PHOTO of my parents that sent me into a tailspin. I knew, in my heart, that I had come close to losing my parents. But that picture drilled it into my head. I almost lost my parents. My parents nearly died. If the car had been slightly angled... it just makes me shudder. No one should see a picture like that. NO ONE SHOULD TAKE A PICTURE LIKE THAT. Put the damn phone down and just don't take the picture. Please.

It was like cancer all over again. The what-ifs and the if-onlys and the feeling of complete loss of control. I could not stop shaking.

A few years back, my parents gave all of my sibs and I photo albums of our lives.

In the midst of that crisis, we pulled those out. We pored over those books. We snapped pics of the pics and sent them to each other. We laughed and cried and filled the holes in our hearts with these old, brown, faded photographs.

They were so blurry. And not because of my tears. My parents, as good as they are at so many things,  were  NOT good photographers. Someone always had a goofy look on their face or was not paying attention, had bad hair or was crying. There was 6 of us... someone was always crying.

But, 35 years later, it didn't matter. I touched those photographs and I could almost feel my mom's touch, hear my dad's laugh and revisit the dinner table where EVERYTHING in my parent's house happened.

 They are blurry but they are perfect.

In these days of filters and digital photos and catching that perfect moment all the time, sometimes I delete photos because they are blurry and try again.

But blurry is real. Blurry is love. Blurry memories are really what we all have and I am grateful for every one of them.

And mostly, I'm grateful that we get to make more... because there will never be enough.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Spelling Bee

When I was in 6th grade and in middle school, I won the spelling bee.

Not just the grade-level spelling bee, the SCHOOL spelling bee. That means I beat Eighth graders... at Spelling. I know. Try not to be jealous because at the awesomeness that is all of THIS spelling-bee queen-ness. It's rough but I know you can do it.

Of course, in the 7th grade, I was out first. It was a trick word that they planted JUST FOR ME. After all, they couldn't have me win, AGAIN... that would make the other kids feel bad. So, after I misspelled that word (totally on purpose - you know, to help the other kids in their winning-ness), I gracefully took my seat in the audience.

Regardless, I am a fantastic speller. I have never studied for a spelling or vocab test.. ever. It's one of the things I just am good at. Some of you are all about pinterest and home improvement projects and fashion and sewing... but you are you are missing out. I mean, I can't do ANY of ANY of that but that's okay. Who needs a skill that is actually interesting, useful and helpful? Certainly not this spelling queen been.

So, I get married and he is an excellent speller, too. That's good. We've got genetics on our side so I wasn't surprised when spelling and grammar came easy to my boys. In fact. the school can't find words HARD ENOUGH for them to spell. That's what we do in our gene pool. We can SPELL.

Then I had my perfect girl. This girl is sweet, kind, helpful, smart, athletic, generous, social, funny and a "pleasure to have in class."

We have found her fatal flaw.

She cannot spell. Like, she cannot spell AT ALL.

She botches the most common of words and I can't handle it.

I'm pretty sure this will be my biggest parenting challenge - to not ridicule her inability to spell.

We STUDY for her spelling tests - which are made up of words such as "them, what, who and me". We write and rewrite and alphabetize and orally recite every word on that list. We take pre-tests, mid-week tests and practice tests. STUDY for SPELLING? My daughter??? Absurd.

She will usually do okay on the test in class but come the next week when she is filling out some reading comprehension worksheet, she misspells the word. Not just one word. Pretty much all the words. Except her name. And the word 'love'.

Please don't tell me she needs to read more. She reads all the time. She reads everything... picture books, chapter books, magazines, snoops in my emails, Facebook's, texts. She's got the reading thing down. CLEARLY, reading and spelling are not the same thing. CLEARLY.

This girl cannot spell. It's some freakish genetic mutation - like my obsession with processed cheese and fried foods or Jace's love of wearing only underwear when he's at home. It's something that she will not overcome and will haunt her forever.

The whole cramming thing is working and teaching her a life lesson that she will be able to use in college (if you don't actually know the material, memorizing it for a test is sufficient enough), so I'm calling it a win. Well, at least, we're calling it sufficient. Whatever.

Next spelling test, we'll be learning how to use spell-check. It will be far more beneficial for her.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Inside out, Upside down and Backwards

Hello, blogging world. It's been a while. I've been tired lately... deep down tired. Too tired to process what is actually happening; too tired to write it all down.

And I regret it. Because I'm sure I've missed recording moments that I won't remember.

But I needed to retreat a little. Because I was empty and looking for approval, every time I sat down at the computer - whether it was email, Facebook or blogs - I was craving to be "liked".

At some point in the last couple of months, I realized that I just don't care if I'm loved or approved or by too many people. There are 4 people that I don't ever want to disappoint but they share a mailing address with me. And they don't have internet access. And they love me so deeply, fiercely and with so much loyalty that I truly feel safe with them... Love... Approval.

My life has changed so much in the last 6 months that I barely recognize it. My husband is HOME, people. He is home and he is HELPFUL. Yes, I am internet yelling that because he is really and truly HERE. When I get an email from a teacher, a panicked phone call from a child or two of my completely opposite children have practice at the same time but in locations roughly 5 miles away from each other and I am at work, should be at work or am late for work, he is HERE. He rescues me. He rescues them. He gets in his car and he drives to where they are, where I am, where whatever the thing is that is throwing everyone into a tizzy is and he SAVES us.

I can breathe again.

I thought I was a good mom. I thought I had it all under control. I thought I was tough enough to be both he and I and do a kick-ass job at it so Jace could continue providing for us in his old job.

I did the best I could. I really did. I did okay. I am perfectly OKAY with the best that I was doing.

But, THIS is so much better.

I am not a great dad. I am not great at handling the stress of being ripped in multiple directions constantly. I am not good at handling the guilt of not dealing with that stress well-enough that I ended up in tears at the dinner table every night.

This is so much better.

He makes my coffee when I wake up and makes breakfast while I fix hair and I make sure clothes match and socks are found. We both send the kids off to school. We go to the gym together. I go to work. He stays at home and works. He leaves to go on calls and appointments. I come home and prepare dinner - either in the crockpot or in a casserole dish. The kids come home and we do snacks and homework. Sometimes the house gets cleaned. He comes home. I take ONLY THE KIDS to the pool who need to practice while I go to work. I STAY there because I don't actually have to leave to run anyone to soccer... or futsal... or anywhere else. He gets home and finishes up dinner. I come home and we actually have family time because dinner happens BEFORE 7. Then we snuggle. We don't fight. We snuggle, we kiss, we hug, we talk. We actually snuggle, kiss, hug and talk on WEEKDAYS.

This is SO much BETTER.

I used to think that if my husband worked from home, I would HATE it because it would ruin my rhythm.

I was wrong.

I was more wrong about that than anything I've ever been wrong about... and there has been a lot - and I mean A LOT - of things I've been wrong about.

We found ourselves a rhythm and it's magic. With him helping me and rescuing me and saving me all the time, I now can focus my energy on kicking ass at the things that matter most to me: My husband, my kids, my relationship with God, my preschool students and my swim team.

I am breathing again.

It took me a minute to realize that when I leaned into my husband to breathe, I could breathe easier. Now that I've figured it out... I can BREATHE and I can WRITE.

I'm finding myself thinking about writing again. I'm finding myself pulled to the keyboard to record the thoughts I'm having about having these children and these jobs and this husband and this LIFE.

I'm excited. I'm SO excited to start putting it out there again and recording this blessed life that God has given me. I'm excited to reread it again in a few years and feel blessed all over again. I hope you can feel joy and inspiration, if you choose to join me here. If not, I get it.

I will still keep writing.

As crazy as this new life is for me, I don't want to miss one minute of it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Spin it

With all the changes to our life in the past few months, every member of our little household is having to adjust in their own little (or big) way.

for me, it’s just trying to stay centered and focused and not worry too much. For those who know me best, that’s pretty much the hardest thing in the world. I don’t do well with transitions… and right now, life is one giant transition. So, I’m reading my Bible and doing my daily devotions, saying my prayers, getting back to the gym and trying to keep a consistent sense of normalcy with the kids. But most importantly, I’m trying to enjoy the little shining moments of motherhood in between the hard ones.

for Gavin, he’s mimicking me. He internalizes and worries and is trying to make my life easy. When he sees the crazed look in my eyes, he backs off, runs and hides… Bless his soul. It may be that he is simply getting older, but he helps me out SO MUCH and I don’t know what I’d do without him.  But I get concerned that he takes life too seriously, worries too much and takes responsibility for things he shouldn’t. So, we try to remind him to enjoy being a kid… he has the rest of his life to be a grown-up.

Sydney is acting out. She is pushing boundaries and growing a bit of a spine. I’m fine with that – even though we still discipline her for being disrespectful at home. But she’s a girl and in this world, if she wants to accomplish anything, she has to be tough. The boys in this house cater to her – often helping her with things she does NOT need help with. I stop that when I see it – she needs confidence in her own abilities. She is definitely adored in this house and so I’m glad she feels comfortable enough to test the waters of rebellion a little bit and still feel loved.

Aj is struggling. He’s not processing things the way he should and the little voice that used to tell him how bad he is has returned with a vengeance. Unfortunately, I walk a fine line with him between loving and coddling him… as he often tries to manipulate a situation with tears and anger. When given a consequence, he tries to bargain and negotiate his way out of it… often blaming someone or something else for his behavior. And when I tell him he needs to work for something (a reward), he quits without trying. It’s the whole, “can’t win, don’t try” mentality. Admittedly, I’ve not been doing the best at managing this. I attempted an honest conversation with this child last night and we recognized we both need to quiet that little voice in our heads that says, “you suck.”

I told Aj:

“you know, I’m not perfect. We all mess up. You messed up today. But so did I, so did Sydney and so did Daddy. God made us so we mess-up all the time… if you have blood in your veins and air in your lungs, you’re going to make mistakes. That’s okay. But what he doesn’t want us to do is to feel guilty about it. Guilt doesn’t help us fix our mess-ups. Guilt makes us dwell on all the bad things we’ve done and only make us feel badly about ourselves. You gotta change that voice that says, “you shouldn’t have done {all those things you did}, you’re a bad person for doing that, and no one really likes/loves you.” You gotta spin those bad thoughts into good one.”

Aj told me:

“I don’t know how to do that. I can’t.”

I told Aj:

“today, I lost my temper. I yelled. And that voice is telling me that I’m a bad mom because I got angry and yelled instead of responding with love while being firm.”


“you are NOT a bad mom! you’re a good mom!”


“and you’re a good Aj. but that voice likes it when I feel bad so it lies to me and it lies to you. So, instead of listening to it, I’m going to spin it around and make me feel like I have more power than that voice. I’m going to say, ‘Tomorrow, I’m going to speak kindly to my children and show more love.’ How can you spin your voice?”


“I can tell it that, ‘tomorrow, I’m going to listen to my mom and say something nice to her instead of argue.”


The light bulb went off for that child and now when I say to him, “buddy, you need to ‘SPIN IT!’”, he’ll know what I mean. Hopefully, together, we can quiet that voice.

As a parental figure, I sometimes forget to be a human. My children don’t know that I experience the same feelings of insecurity, worry and loneliness that they do. I try to be an example of strength and resiliency so they will know that when life is hard, they can be able to bend and not break. Sometimes that works. But, I find, that more often than not, what they need is to figure out a way to cope from someone who knows where they’ve been because they are already there. Someone who loves them and knows them at their best and worst. Someone they trust. Someone they can be vulnerable with and know they will be safe. That’s hard for me. I can be the tough mom… I want to be soft, nurturing, comforting mom but I struggle with showing my own weaknesses to others. I struggle with letting my children show their weaknesses, too. BUT, it seems that someone, somewhere, is determined to teach me that admitting your weaknesses is different from being weak.

From now on, I will not listen to the voice that tells me “you suck” because I show my children how to be vulnerable and that being imperfect is just the way it is supposed to be.  I know I’m not perfect and I know I will have lots of mess-ups; however, I’m determined to show my munchkins that when life gets hard and that voice in my head wants me to dwell on everything I’ve messed up, I’m learning to “SPIN IT”.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Photos of July 2013 - in reverse. :)

Adventures without kids!

More Nike Park

Gavin's 11th Birthday!...Pacific Science Center and Pike Place Market

Idlywood Park/Lake Samamish

Discovery Park

Nike Park

Flight to Seattle

Long Course State Championships 2013!

Most of summer was filled with soccer, swim meets, Seven Peaks and Qwirkle


4th of July: Seven peaks, Fireworks, Nana and Papa