Friday, May 9, 2014

Tommy is Three!

My baby boy is three!  He chose "puppies" as his birthday party theme and had the time of his life!  To this day, 2 months later, he is still talking about his "doggy party."  We made puppy puppets, practiced our doggy skills like fetch & finding bones, and each kid adopted and named their very own puppy!  I love making birthdays special for my boys and I think Tommy felt very special on this day!
Sarah & Shaylee making puppy puppets

Asher creating his puppet

Tommy demonstrating his puppy puppet

Doggie Bag & Adopt-a-puppy party favors


Tommy couldn't be happier!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Love Affair of Science Fair

People are usually confused about what I do.  For 3 years I taught a science fair class at AMES and despite what you are thinking, not once did we make a volcano with baking soda and vinegar.  It's a shame, I know. Many of the kids' projects were WAY OVER MY HEAD!  I just helped give them the resources they needed to take their project to the next level.  Just to give you an idea about how amazing these kids were, here are some of the projects they developed:
  • The Suitability of Algae Protein Residue as an Effective Biofuel
  • A Bioassay on Natural Pesticide Filtration
  • The Suitability of Elaeagnus Angusifolia as a Bioindicator of Sulfur Dioxide in the Ambient Atmosphere
  • A Low cost approach to parallax based three-dimensional mapping
  • Detection and Analysis of Point Mutations of the Oxidative Variety in the K-ras gene 
I still don't really know what that last one was about, but hey, the judges did and he made it all the way to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the largest science fair in the world.  I had the opportunity to attend ISEF as a teacher observer when another one of my students was selected to attend.
I think there are around 2000 projects and they were all amazing!
This was my student's project.  It was titled
"Quantifying Implicit Stereotypes through Cognition of Ambiguous Speech."
He won multiple awards on his research.  Basically, he found that people misunderstood
certain phonemes when they believed a person from a specific race was the source of audio.
I really enjoyed my job, but I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to these sort of things, so I had to quit.  I couldn't be an awesome (supposedly) part-time teacher and an awesome (mostly) stay-at-home mom of 3, so I had to choose one and I chose to be the stay-at-home mom of my three young kids.  

But before I quit, I (along with my co-teacher, who also quit) were asked to run the district-level fair for all the charter schools that lie within the Salt Lake Region, 7 school districts from Park City to Tooele.  So now I have a new project to put energy into.  This has been purely a volunteer thing, but hopefully it can turn into a paying gig.  The google forms we were using for the hundreds of registrations just weren't cutting it, so I made Matt program a website that would do everything from registrations to scoring.  The web program he made might now be used for all the districts in our region.  I like to brag about him, if you can't tell.
Matt also made a logo, because we can't be a legitimate organization
without a logo, right?  Also, Matt is awesome.

 The reason I have volunteered so much of my time doing this is because I have seen kids benefit so much from participating in science fair.  I've seen painfully shy kids develop confidence.  I've seen disorganized kids learn time-management.  I've seen all these kids learn, not only science, but important life skills that will help them be productive adults.  I am an advocate of project-based learning for this reason.  I would love to see schools focus more on teaching students in ways that apply to real-world situations which include projects, cross-curricular assignments, and internships.  I really would love to go back to school and work on a Doctorate on Educational Leadership & Policy and do some research on these types of methods and have some sort of impact on our state's educational system, but who knows.  For now, I'll just run a local science fair and see where it takes me.

Monday, February 24, 2014

"Happy Birthday Tommy" or "How to make a birthday special while completely ignoring your kid"

Happy Birthday Tommy!  Today your brother gave you strep throat and your mom will ignore you for a large part of the day, well more like the week....but maybe I should back up...

Three years ago was the day of the AMES science fair, which for me was a big deal.  I was in charge of it after all.  It was the culmination of months of student research summed up in pretty boards decorated with graphs and tables and student interviews with grad students and PhDs from the U.  I love science fair day, but a little over 9 months earlier I had quit my job so I wasn't anticipating giving birth on the day of the science fair.  Fortunately, as a condition of my employment, I told the principal that I had to have someone else to run the science fair program with me.  Fortunately, I had Tara to run the fair that day.

I woke up Friday, February 24th 2011 and got ready for the day.  I was scheduled to be induced that day, but I had to wait until I received a phone call to go to the hospital.  I could sleep in, relax, get things ready for the baby, and wait for a phone call or I could go to the school and ensure everything is ready for the science fair.  Of course I chose the second option.  I went into school to help with the set up (as a nine-month pregnant lady, I wasn't much help) and to double check that all the details had been taken care of.  I was able to see my student's final display boards and wish them luck before I got the phone call and rushed off to the hospital anxiously awaiting the arrival of my baby boy!

I didn't have to wait long.  After a couple hours of labor and 3 big pushes, Thomas Alexander Budd arrived.  A beautiful 8 lb. 6 oz. package of joy.
Isn't he just perfect?
I really timed his birth poorly.  I no longer run the AMES science fair program, but I run the district-level science fair for all the charter schools in the Salt Lake region which includes Tooele and Park City and guess what?  It always lands on the same week as Tommy's birthday.  In the past, I just rescheduled Tommy's birthday.  He didn't know the difference between Feb. 24th and March 3rd!  This year we had a small celebration yesterday with his grandma and I will have a bigger birthday party in a week which will give me time to plan it a little better and make it special. You can expect a proper birthday post in a couple of weeks.
Tommy in deep contemplation of another year gone by.
Tommy loves all things tiny and cute so we found him the smallest stuffed puppy in the store.  Yes, we found it down a pink aisle and yes, we removed the very feminine dog tag found on the collar.
Everyone is happy in this picture, even Ella eating the instruction manual.
 And in case you are considering turning me into DSFS, I am not completely ignoring him.  He is just watching a little extra TV which, to him, actually makes his birthday extra special!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ella, My Love

My Darling Ella,

How is it possible to love someone so much who has only been in your life for 8 short months? But a mother's love is stronger than most conventional types of love.  A mother sacrifices her time, her sleep, her body, and sometimes even her sanity to nurture the infant in her life.  Serving someone with that much commitment almost always creates a bond stronger than can possibly be described with mere words.

When you were born, the nurse was gushing over how beautiful you were!  In hushed tones, she confided that you were, in fact, the cutest baby born that day.  The nurses curled your long, dark hair into a crazy-looking mohawk.  You were the perfect newborn.  Actually, you are pretty much a perfect baby.  Your Grandpa Budd once asked me if you ever cried because he had never heard you do so.  You were just so chill!  Tommy would pretty much topple you out of your little swing. I walked by to see you hanging upside down, head fallen to the floor.  Yet, you didn't cry.  You cry a lot more now because you know what you want, in particular, you want ME.  Sometimes you will put your face directly on my face, nose to nose, and then cuddle your entire being right up next to my heart.  A hug from a baby.  I really can't think of anything more beautiful.

More than I can say, I have enjoyed having you in my life.  You have brought me so much joy when I have needed.  I am amazed at each new thing you learn as you get older, but desperately want you to stay little.  You are perfect!

Thank you for blessing my life, my sweet little angel.


To My Tommy Valentine

Dear Tommy,
I feel like I understand you.  I've always thought that Parker is like Daddy and Tommy is like me.  It's like there is a special Tommy/Mommy club and we are the only two members.  Others have said that you are a serious child, but I know you are just as silly as any other kid, just not everyone is special enough to see it.  You have bright eyes (that happen to be beautiful too)!  You look at the world and try your best to understand it.  You constantly take in information and process it without saying a word.  I never taught you how to count, you just counted to ten one day before you were even two.  We watched the movie Frozen as a family and a week later, you started singing one of the songs!  You're just a little sponge absorbing the world around you.

Speaking of music, I can tell you have a talent.  You have always had very good rhythm. When you were very young, you did this fancy little dance that looked like you were riding on a horse.  Adorable! I usually listen to the radio at a fairly low volume when we ride in the car, but as soon as you hear a song you like you yell, "Turn it up! Turn it up!"  You definitely have opinions about the music you like and will change the radio station if you don't like what you hear. I am very excited to see what you do with your musical skill.

There is a serious side, a silly side, and a sweet side which is my favorite of all.  Your hugs and kisses are so wonderful!  You have a special love for babies and animals.  When your sister was born, I had to fight to keep her safe from your excessive loving!  You love puppies and pretend to be one all of the time.  You especially love small things.  If you find something small, you will try to keep it forever by hiding it in your pocket.  Your bed is filled with stuffed animals.  Each one of them is important to you.

Sometimes you do naughty things as most two-year olds do, but when you say, "Sorry, Mom!" in your sweet little voice, my heart melts.  You seriously have the cutest voice ever!  You also speak very well for your age and, unlike your brother, you are tall so I often treat you as if you are older than you really are, but you usually step up to the challenge.  You proclaimed that you were, in fact, 5-years old, like your brother, and demanded that I let you go to preschool with him.  You love your best friend, Parker and want to be just like him, but I don't want you to be.  I want you to be you because I love who you are!

Your Mommy

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Perfect Parker Valentine

Dear Parker,

Oh, Parker, you light up my life!  Did you know that you started smiling when you were just two weeks old?  At first I thought that maybe you were just a bit gassy, but no, the pediatrician confirmed that you were just one happy baby and the smiles have continued day after day.  Your laughter is so easily provoked that I am privileged to hear it often.  Even your baby sister knows you are the funny one.  No one can make her laugh like you can.  Even just saying a few words to her in a silly voice gets a giggle out of her while I nearly have to perform acrobatics to get the same result.

You are silly, it is true, but you are just as sweet.  You frequently express your love to me which is more than I feel I deserve. Empathy is not usually found in a five-year old, yet you have been concerned for other's feelings for years.  I remember watching Kung Fu Panda 2 with you.  There is a scene where the mother has to leave her baby and you burst into tears and hugged me so tight and I burst into tears and together we were a blubbering mess.  You are always energetically bouncing off the wall, yet you can be, and very often are, quietly thoughtful.  You are quite the contradiction.

You always want to know how everything works and have proudly declared that you will be a robot inventor.  You very well may be with your mechanical skill.  Your ability to understand things amazes me!  Your questions are very coherent and you listen well when I give you as scientifically accurate answers that I think are just slightly out of your ability to understand, but you surprise me often and understand anyway.  Your Daddy and I very impressed with your knowledge of energy conservation and your Lego-instruction-following ability.  I know your Daddy was just like you when you when he was younger.  You are both very silly/smart individuals with a great capacity for love.

Suffice it to say, I am very, very proud of you!

Your Mommy

Saturday, February 15, 2014

It lives!!!

That's right, my blog lives once more! I can almost hear the surprise. "What? You have a blog?  I had no idea."  Well, that's because it's been, well, let's see....two years since I last posted.  So after a long hiatus, I decided to return.

And why am I returning? This blog will now be my gift to me.  Honestly, I have been having a hard time lately.  I have three kids and I love them more than anything, but they have sucked my soul dry.  Too harsh?  Ok, let me rephrase.  I have given them every ounce of myself and I feel like there isn't anything left ... that isn't better is it?  I am trying to make more time for myself and one thing I would like to do is write, just a chance to use my mind in a more intellectually creative way (not that figuring out how to get my son to poop in the potty doesn't get the creative juices flowing).

I feel like I need to explain...I love my children more than anything and wouldn't change any of my decisions leading up to this life if it were possible (well, maybe I would have told my pregnant self that going crazy on pizza probably isn't a good idea).  This job of motherhood is just incredibly difficult.  Some days it feels like I'm perpetually repeating myself a la "Groundhog Day."  Fortunately, the monotony is peppered with moments of such unbelievable emotional fulfillment that I can't remember why I would ever complain.  Moments so heartbreakingly perfect that it completely overcompensates for the hours I spend cleaning up bodily fluids (Two potty references in one blog post...too much?).

So here I am, writing about any darn thing that comes into my mind and you know what?  It's nice.