Category Archives: Saturday Spotlight

Post ATI

Me, walking out of job interview:

Wow. I think that went well. Really well. In fact, I think I rocked that interview. Even if I don’t get the job, it was a good experience. That was a great group of people, and we all talked the same language, and at the very least, I now know that I can hold my own and interact comfortably with a target group of colleagues/supervisors.

Me, an hour after the interview:

Hmm. I wonder if I should have said that.

Me, two hours After The Interview (ATI) and yes, at this point, it has its own acronym:

I definitely shouldn’t have said that. And that last question, I bet you anything that what they really wanted to know is if I was willing to… 

Me, three hours ATI:

I’m such an idiot. Why did I/didn’t I (fill in the blank with the screaming match between the me who said what I said, and the me who is retroactively trying to convince the actual me into saying something different.)

Me, four hours ATI:

Texting grovelling, panicky message to teacher friend: It’s a good thing if they have already called some of my references right? I mean, they wouldn’t have called if they weren’t serious, yes? Please. I can’t breathe. Lie to me, make me feel better. Anything.

Me, circa ATI — TPC (THE Phone Call):

Not someone you want to know.

Writing this post. Proofreading this post. Trying to remember to breathe while reading this post.

Me, proofreading this post, when the phone rings:

Throwing things madly, jumping over furniture, trying to locate a phone. It’s almost 8 o’clock at night, but it could still be the high school. It could happen. Diving over my bed to snatch it up before the answering machine clicks off.


Holy Smokes! It’s the whoever-it-is-that-makes-The Call, and whose name I cannot for the life of me remember.

Because I GOT THE JOB!

I. Got. The. Job.



Holy. Smokes. I got the job. Sophomore and pre-AP English.

I’m even more terrified now.



I don’t know if you remember my apple picking debacle last fall–the one in which I blithely forgot that most important first date of my oldest daughter.

I finally got my hands on a photo disk from that evening and found out who was driving that car:

He’s the kid in the black shirt and the pale grey tie. This was my daughter’s homecoming group. (Homecoming, right? That’s the big dance ya’ll have in the fall down here?) If I remember right they made an appearance at the dance, and then went out into the middle of a cornfield and watched a movie about… aliens… landing in a cornfield… Or maybe that was some other dance, with some other group of kids. There are a lot of them her age.  We are blessed to live in a town with so many youth who support each other in making good choices. She’s the one that’s still taller than almost every other girl there, even though she’s wearing flats:

Meg is my oldest. When we brought her home from the hospital, she didn’t have a middle name. One day my husband suggested “Adeth” and everyone else in the room cracked up. I didn’t get the joke. Then again, I’m not sure I’d ever heard of that group. (Meg-adeth? You follow?) Meg has the same quirky sense of humor her father had, and also his height, mathematical ability,  and really good teeth.

She’s also my artist. I was going to hunt down one of her paintings and take a picture today, but the college has a ridiculous number of hallways, and I couldn’t remember where she said it was hanging. Honestly, my favorite pieces are the pictures she does in church–while she’s sitting there doodling. She has an incredible sense of perspective, color, pattern and balance.

I know, I’m her mother and I’m supposed to think that, but she really does. Wait, I’m going to go look through my church bag, I might have something….

Nope. Nothing. Which is weird, cause I thought I had several. Maybe next time round I’ll have some.

Meg’s always been quick. I remember the first time she uttered a sentence: she was halfway up Grandma’s stairs, and I was following along behind to be sure she wouldn’t forget what she was doing and take a tumble. She paused, looked back over her shoulder and blithely strung together a proper sentence. I was so stunned–that this little critter could speak. By the time she was old enough to register for Kindergarten she was already head and shoulders taller than her peers and reading chapter books. I called the school and they kind of brushed me off as an ambitious parent. They said I could take her in and have her tested if I wanted, but their policy was to always start children in the correct class for their age.

I took her in to visit the Kindergarten teacher. The principal happened to be there and handed her a book–which she read fluently. The kindergarten teacher sort of raised her eyebrows and gave him a look like, Seriously? You want me to have this child in my classroom? And he gave us permission, right there, to move her up into Mrs. Buckley’s classroom for the next fall. Bobbie Buckley–I loved that woman. She retired not long after teaching Meg. (No connection, I’m sure…)

Now she’s sixteen, doing Running Start, driving her own car, and making pretty good choices for herself. It is so strange to watch your daughter morph overnight from tweenish to nearly adult form. To realize that there are things they know more about than you do, and to be able to ask their advice about some of those things. She’ll graduate from high school and college at the same time, when she is seventeen years old, and she’s already making bigger plans and she’s more than capable of accomplishing anything she sets her mind to.

Seems like just a few months ago she was chattering about Elmo’s World and falling off of furniture. I have proof of that, by the way–the falling off of furniture part:

(Weird picture, I know. I found it on my hard drive the other day. I like the colors.)  See that dimple? She wasn’t born with that, believe it or not; that’s some kind of internal scar from slamming her face into the leg of a rocking chair, if I remember right. It swelled up something crazy, and when it went away, the dimple remained. But it suits her, n’est-ce pas?

I have no idea where the French just came from. The other alternative was “eh?” which I backed my cursor up over instantly. Apparently when I’m tired, I revert to my childhood.

Someone needs to go to bed.

Did I mention that she’s got her own car?

Which means that now, she is never, ever home. I wait up until I hear the tell-tale growl of the engine, and the tinny slam of the door and then I’m asleep before she walks in the door. I know, I’m supposed to stay up and have heart to heart chats about her evening. You do what you can. I probably trust her way too much, but God knew I’d need one I could trust to start out the teenage years. Cause you know the rest of them are coming, and coming fast…



Here’s where things get tricky: you can snap pictures of the younger kids and they don’t notice, or they like it. But once you reach the teenage set, you have to get sneaky.

Joseph is my most camera shy; he tends to conveniently lose his head in something whenever the camera comes around:

He grew these giant pumpkins a few years ago.  Let’s see… more footage of Joseph:

Yup, that’s about as good as the recent stuff goes. He isn’t as cooperative as back in the day:

He really was cute, no? Just want to pick him up and hug him. (Don’t so much get that vibe after they are twice your size. Which… yeah, he probably is.)

Joey is my fairly quiet, funny one–he does things like change my screen saver to a black screen with a metallic phrase bouncing around it that reads, “Move The Mouse”. Or takes a picture of the blue error screen and hides all my icons so that I think the computer has crashed. He has a unique way of looking at the world and impeccable delivery.

He built his own computer when he was thirteen, and can usually fix mine. He can earn %100 on a math final and still get a C in the class; ie: he’s really smart, but doesn’t like to jump through ridiculous hoops.

Can’t imagine where he got that from…

Ooh, here’s a fairly recent photo (June 2010) of him lighting his brother’s cake; I don’t know how he wrested the matches away from Jaeger, but I do have to say that he is possibly as skilled at building incendiary devices as he is at building computers:

(And yes, that is a block of ice cream with Skittles on it, masquerading as a birthday cake. I know how to be efficient.)

He’s the child who will take out the garbage because he notices it’s full or load the dishwasher when it is empty. I gave up doing his laundry long ago, because he has a sort of t-shirt collection he doesn’t want ruined, and my laundry theory is that if it cannot survive every temperature/chemical/agitation combination possible, it doesn’t deserve to survive my laundering.

He is also my child who will get himself out of bed early every Sunday morning before the family, showered and out the door to fulfill his priesthood responsibilities without being reminded and without complaint. He’s a good kid, and at fifteen I think that says a lot about a boy’s character. I wish I could provide more of the resources I know he could do amazing things with, given the chance. He could build marvels and invent wonders given the right circumstances. I’m sure he will anyway, in spite of less than perfect ones, because that’s the kind of person he is.


That’s his middle name: Hollis. It was his grandfather and great-grandfather’s before him. I’m the only one to call him that, but there you have it. When Jaeger just feels toooo formal, that’s what comes out: Hollis.

Jaeger is my tool-toting, mechanically minded son, always has been. I have pictures of him wearing so many plastic tools his little osh-kosh overalls are down around his knees with the weight, and pictures of him solemnly “helping” Dad and Grandpa when he couldn’t even use the toilet by himself. More recently, he helped us lay our upstairs tile:

And pour our front driveway:

From the time he was tiny, he has been fascinated with tools and has always been the first kid I call when I need help with something. Sometimes this irritates him, but I remind him that there are advantages to being known as someone who will get a job done.

He doesn’t mind so much when the job involves fire; I realized today that almost every picture I have of a birthday cake lighting includes Jaeger, holding the matches:

Jaeger can design and build a wooden box just the right size to hold something that no other box will hold with as much ease as he can put together an apple pie or a pan of lasagna–no storebought fillings or crusts for this kid–all from scratch. He can bake bread as well as I can, too.

He’s also somewhat… um… accident prone. From the time he was no longer safe on one hip, the kid has been a perpetual case of goose eggs and minor, yet bloody injuries. One day he got off the bus looking like this:

Yes, that’s sliced clear through. Uhg. Ironically, by a malfunctioning “safety seat”.  The most amazing thing about his aptitude with tools and his willingness to try new tasks is that it isn’t easy for him: he has a significant tremor in his hands that makes his handwriting nearly illegible and as a result of which I no longer even flinch when he breaks a dish; it’s a regular part of life.. He cleans it up and tries again. And handwriting aside, he always brings home a 4.0; the kid wants to got MIT, and I believe he will get in wherever he applies, because he has that kind of tenacity.

He’s thirteen, and he’s already researching these things. He’d also like to get his pilot’s license when he’s sixteen and maybe build an airplane for his senior project. He says this like it’s an impossible dream, but knowing Jaeger, I wouldn’t be surprised if he figured out a way to make it happen.

He’s is the third of six kids, the archetypal “middle child”. He tends to get hit from both sides in so many ways:

He’s usually a pretty good sport about it, but sometimes he really feels it, and then I feel bad, too, because there is so little you can do when a child’s feelings are truly wounded and they are too big to gather up on your lap anymore.

When did that happen, by the way? When did they go from a song and a story on my lap every night with a face like this:

To the uber-serious teen who is more likely able to pick me up, than the other way around?

Jaidon Hop-a-long Lybbert

Up next, this third Saturday Spotlight of the new  year, we have Jaidon–although, we’ve taken to calling him Hop-a-long because he can hop around on one leg pretty much faster than you or I can walk.

It all started out with a snowstorm and a couple really cool sleds the day after Thanksgiving (just as I was headed out the door to do go Christmas shopping, too. And yes, I totally blame him for my Christmas eve panic-shopping binge):

If you’ve ever had a kid build a sledding “jump” and try to launch himself over a large pit while travelling at a high velocity–and not… quite… make it… over said pit, you’ll know what this means:

That’s right, we had to cut it off. He spent the next three weeks flat on his back in his corner behind the Christmas tree in a full-length cast, doing homework, reading dozens of books, and, well, getting really greasy hair because it was nearly impossible to take a shower:

He finally got a new cast, just in time for Christmas morning, that he could sit up in and swing around easier. This was him, about an hour ago, notice the blue cast on his left foot still:

He looks eerily like my older brother here; I’ve never noticed that resemblance before. And no, I don’t usually cut hair in my nylons, nor do I typically wear them under my jeans;  it’s been a crazy day of costume changes and tasks piling up and running over into each other. He wanted a haircut at 8 pm, and who am I to argue? He’s hoping to get this last cast off on Tuesday, or at least before his left leg withers into nothing.

Jaidon is my silent, intense kid. He has always been one of strong emotion and once he grew up a bit, he stopped expressing his strong emotions quite so frequently and instead sort of simmers in the background at times. As a toddler, he was intensely happy, and intensely angry, rarely in between. He’s also fiercely competitive and the size of his opponent doesn’t seem to matter. This was him, about three years ago sneaking up on his brother:

He’s also tenderhearted and kind:

I don’t know if you can see the scar over his right eye in this picture–it was taken a couple years ago not long after yet another trip to the ER with him. He’d ridden down Grandma’s driveway just a little too fast and split his head open. This was back when I was babysitting round the clock. I had to take two kids with me to the ER, besides the profusely bleeding one. Egad. What a day.

None of my other kids have been in so many fixes as Jaidon. I think he’s naturally brave and physically very strong and this makes him a little more fearless than the other kids. In a way, I was grateful for the broken leg this winter; I’m hoping he will remember what a long recovery just one shattered bone required, and maybe the experience will lead him to stop and think in the future. I’d rather him learn that lesson now than when he’s twenty-one and thinking about diving off a cliff or something. Hopefully.

All I can say, is he was a lot easier to keep safe when he was this old:

Sweet Potatoes

Do not call my son Potatoes.

He will probably hate you and me, both, for it.

I’m the only one who can call him Potatoes, and then only if nobody else is around to hear me. I heard that he has become newly embarrassed by this.


Call him Quinton. He’s the fifth child of the fifth child, born on the longest day of the year. (Literally–it wasn’t all in my head–it was the summer solstice. Thus his middle name, DeSoleil.)

He was born smiling, dimples and all, and hasn’t stopped:

That’s him at eleven days, in Aunt Lori’s arms. He was the happiest kid. If it’s true that small things amuse small minds then that kid should have a mind the size of a peanut. Kidding! He’s super smart. He’s in the fourth grade this year in an awesome classroom where the walls are absolutely plastered with words; I love it:

Mrs. Larissa Hansen moved up with her class from third grade last year, and he’s got some of his favorite cousins in class with him, which makes for a fun day (poor woman!)

Quinton is my word-coinage king. He loves words, loves to make up words, loves to utter words for the pure auditory/physical sensation of uttering them. Not only that, but he has a mellow little voice, so I don’t even mind listening to him!

Which brings us back to his nick name: Potatoes.

Marty has always coined bizarre nicknames for the children. Quinton, at some point, became Quintomenedos–try saying it with an Argentinian accent, and you’ll be pretty close. No idea where that come from, but it stuck. Quinton instantly pronounced it, “Quintonpotatoes.” And you can guess what happened from there.

Especially since he had a history of being obsessed with certain tuberous vegetables:

Every morning he would open the door under the kitchen sink and retrieve two potatoes, one for each hand. He would carry them around all day. I think he equated them with balls.  Look at those ankles and wrists, will you? Not only was that kid happy, he was fat and happy.

He’s thinned out some, but we still like to joke that Quinton can smell sugar, even if it’s in a shrink wrapped package in another building. He loves to eat the way he loves to talk, but he also likes to move. (Dance, specifically, and let me tell you, he has some moves.) He can also do forty-five sit ups in one session. Egad. My stomach hurts just thinking about it.

When he was born he looked like his father’s clone. That’s him on the left in 2001, and Dad on the right, in 1971:

Another bizarre coincidence with these two fifth children–Marty was born when his father was thirty years old and he was thirty the day Quinton was born.

This is Potatoes, today:

The hat, he colored himself, FYI. He’s also an artsy type.


And he would like to be called Toney now, not Potatoes.  Pardon me, “Toney DML…and yes, you pronounce the dot-dot-dot. As in “Toney Dee Em Ell Dot Dot Dot”.

Just in case you were wondering.


On March 19, 2003 I was curled up in a hospital bed with my sixth child in my arms. The nurse who brought me lunch flipped on the television and asked me if I’d heard: President Bush had just declared war.

My youngest son has never known a world without war. Thank God he has never really known it–that we live in a nation where war is something on the television screen and some place that friends and uncles disappear to for long periods but they always come back.

This picture is probably four years old, but for all the conflict around him, he still radiates joy (okay, most of the time):

He’s also the one who lets you know when he’s radiating something else more sinister, but lets not search the archives for those photos, though I’m sure I have some. This one, from when he was almost two is one of my favorites:

A little more recent:

Don’t his eyes just kill you? Milk blue, I call them. He was born with that strawberry mark on his right cheek; I had many old women ask me when I was going to have it removed, but it never bothered me, and now it’s almost gone.

He’s my only blonde and is somewhat self conscious about it; in the summer he’s a real towhead. He’s also the closest to his dad, I think. I could post dozens of pictures of those two in a tangle:

Christmas morning (he said he only wanted one thing for Christmas this year, and um…yup, everyone took him at his word):

This is him today, January 1, 2011 (yes, Angie, those are the pants you gave him last Christmas, no, he has not grown more than an inch in twelve months):

He’s currently more than a little obsessed with Legos. See that blue bucket? He has THAT MANY Legos. A real joy to pick up, let me tell you. He is very ingenious with the models, though. The airplane and the helicopter are sets he got for Christmas, but usually he invents cooler models on his own. He can play for hours and hours with those things–which explains why I don’t just vacuum them all up, tempting as that may be!

Winslow is my friendly child–he gets along with every one, and isn’t scared to talk to adults or kids of any age–my others are pretty reserved. (Okay, really, really reserved.) I don’t know if it’s because by the time he started developing social skills I was doing daycare and he was constantly presented with new faces in a safe environment, or what.

He started soccer this past fall and had a great coach, thank goodness. Their team did really well, but he has fun and he works up a sweat and that’s all that matters, in my book. He’s in second grade–Annie Shuler’s class–this year, and he is an excellent reader and mathematician. He struggles to keep his letters all facing the same direction still, which makes his reading ability even more impressive.