Late Summer Report


Have we created a monster? The high school cheerleading squad hosted a “Junior Cheer Clinic” for elementary school kids as a fundraiser, and Katie really wanted to go, so ….. this happened:



Little did we know that she would then be invited to perform in the halftime show at the following Friday night football game. Which meant, for the first time in my life ever, I attended a high school football game.


Or at least part of one. Eleanor came with me, and it was fun to hang out and chat and eat popcorn and Red Vines while watching the spectacle of it all. (Brian and the boys were at a Scout camping trip at Ft. Flagler.)

Eleanor and I agree that the flag team is the best of all the cheer teams because it’s the only genre of cheerleading that trains you to battle Sith Lords.

One of Katie’s cheers went along the lines of “Let’s! Get! A little bit rowdy! R-O-W-D-Y” but I kept accidentally singing the last part as “N-E-W-E-Y”

Other variations we came up with: “Let’s Get Slightly Rowdy,” “Let’s Get Sufficiently Rowdy,” “Let’s Get Sarcastically Rowdy” and “Let’s Get Exponentially Rowdy.” (Eleanor’s response to that last one: “oh, my.”)


Katie LOVED doing the Shorewood fight song with the big girls. She came back to us all dewey-faced and seriously pumped up. It was a great time to go home and be exhausted. Katie’s already asking when the next Junior Cheer clinic will be (not until late January, fortunately).

In the meanwhile, Eleanor and I have decided that we should watch more partial football games because popcorn and Red Vines.

(Oh and there was a football game. We lost — terribly! 10-60. Poor local sportsing team!)

Meanwhile, Katie continues to regale me with tales of Complicated Friendship Dynamics, with enough layers of intrigue and conspiracy to rival Wolf Hall. Who among Katie’s circle is merely her BFF, instead of her BFFFFFF? Who has betrayed her on the playground today? Will she ever get to play kickball with her “crush,” Greyson? (Greyson is often the topic of discussion in Katie’s “very secret love journal,” which she insisted I read and give feedback.)

Katie is also reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the first time, and just as with all my other kids, she’s been completely pulled in by the suspense of the will-Charlie-find-a-Golden-Ticket plot.

A few days ago, she rushed into my room at bedtime, holding the book in her hands and insisted on reading aloud the chapter where Charlie’s grandparents all pooled their pennies together to buy him a birthday candy bar. She was SO CERTAIN there would be a Golden Ticket in that candy bar — eight years of children’s media had led her to believe that it was inevitable — but alas, it was but one of the many fake-outs Mr. Dahl set up to keep his readers guessing.

But she wasn’t disappointed. “There are still three tickets out there, Mom, and Charlie has to get one because why else would it be called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory??” No fooling her.

Lately we’ve also pulled Eleanor’s Schleich fairy castle out of her closet and made it, as I put it, “public domain.” Katie and William now spend long hours in knight and fairy fantasy play, with epic backstories, complex battle scenarios, and very assertive Fairy Queens. (All the fairy queens in my household Lean In.)

Katie has also discovered that whenever she feels down or bored, she can text GIFS to my mom. Bless my mom, she is always patient and sends GIFS back. Thanks, mom. It’s gotten us through more than one rough friendship day (see above).

OH — and as if all of the above were not enough Katie action — she’s recently discovered Brian’s old high school trumpet, and he told her it was okay to play it whenever she wanted and even printed out a page of basic key positions and now she’s “practicing trumpet” and carrying the blamed thing around with her like a security blanket. In fact, that’s often where we find the trumpet: nestled among a pile of stuffies and wrapped in her special blankie.

Brian, my dearest spouse. Did you really think our youngest daughter needed yet another avenue for self-expression? Really? It’s a good thing I love you, even if my ears occasionally do not.



You know what Wimmy doesn’t do much of? Complain. Even when he’s experiencing quite a bit of leg pain — which he’s been doing off and on for the past six weeks.

His left hip has been aching, sometimes so badly that he needs crutches to get around. (We had to bring the crutches with us on our Oregon road trip in August.) After a hike or a run — or the aforementioned Scout trip — he’ll be limping around the house, but ask him if he’s hurting, and he’ll say that he’s just fine. When he’s really not fine.

I took him to our pediatrician, which led to a blood test, which led to an x-ray, which led to a meeting with an orthopedist at Seattle Children’s, which led to an MRI.


Possible but not fully confirmed diagnosis: osteoid osteoma, aka William might have a benign tumor in his hip bone. Benign! Let’s not forget the magic b-word.

He has a CT scan this coming Tuesday to confirm. If the diagnosis is correct, he’ll get a low-invasive oblation, using a thin needle to kill off the tumor. If the diagnosis is incorrect, then . . . mystery pain goes on indefinitely?

It’s not often you hope your child has a tumor. But that’s where we are.

In other news, Will loved the aforementioned Scout campout at Ft. Flagler. It’s a little unfortunate that we are leaving Scouts at the end of the year, because Will really seems to enjoy it. (I, on the other hand, am SO READY to say goodbye to this lumbering dinosaur of a nonprofit don’t even get me started.)

The campout was one night but it’s an annual tradition in our ward. Ft. Flagler is a decommissioned military base from the WWII era. It’s a multi-tiered concrete fortress that makes for the perfect “Capture the Flag” game, which usually runs until 3:00 a.m.

Brian went along as a chaperone. He didn’t sleep well the night before, worried about kids falling to their deaths off of Ft. Flagler. Buuuuuut it turns out that the adults in charge were really good at setting ground rules to keep everyone safe and the game fair. Whew! Only one sprained ankle in the bunch.

William enjoyed himself so much that, upon arriving home, he immediately came upstairs to where I was knitting and wanted to give me a minute-by-minute rundown of everything that happened.

I said I was happy to listen after he took a shower. Which he did, and then happily cuddled in my lap and gave me a minute-by-minute rundown of everything that happened. EVERYTHING.



I’m constantly torn between wanting to push Eleanor to succeed in everything and holding myself back and not wanting her to explode from pressure or whatever.

The good news is that Eleanor is finally showering of her own accord — and! and! — making her bed every day. Cleaning out her room has given her incentive to keep it clean, and she’s succeeded so far.

Eleanor is enjoying her high school classes so far, except that her Geometry class has taken her a bit off guard. She was in honors math classes in middle school, and is taking honors everything else, but since there is no “honors” version of Geometry (why would there be?) then there are 10th and 11th graders in her class, many of whom are not highly motivated students.

My 9th and 10th grade math classes were the same way; I think it’s healthy to be with a variety of different learners, as long as the class doesn’t feel out of control (and I haven’t seen that at Shorewood so far).

Eleanor insisted on giving my glasses a try. Her review: “I can barely see anything in these.” Zero stars.

She applied to be an ASB justice (low level student government position), but didn’t get the job. This was a bit of a blow, considering that she already lost her ASB senate run last spring. They talked her into being a Student Council person (even lower level student government job) which is the most thankless of tasks I’ve ever seen. But I just tease her with references of I, Claudia and say at least there isn’t an Honor Board and this is just one step on her way to overthrowing the student government, etc. etc. until she covers her ears and tells me to stop.

In the meanwhile, she’s interested in the thespian society and the math team and is singing with Camerata (whoa . . . and yikes). We’ll see how that last one works out. Three straight hours of choir per week is a lot of choir.

She and I are reading all the Enola Holmes books (which are fabulous) and watching Season 3 of “The Good Place” and she is simply the most fun person to hang out with even if she does still have the occasional yelling-and-door-slam moment.



This boy is so close to earning his Eagle Scout award and Brian and I are so over it. His big project (the blood drive this summer) is all checked off. Now we just have to do all the little piddling merit badge requirements and then set up a series of meetings and forms and red tape and arrrrgh.

Brian’s being the Lead Parent on this, which is great because I don’t got time for that.

In the meanwhile, we have finally installed a firewall-level internet filter which allows me to deny YouTube or the internet entirely with a flick of an app. This made Jeff extremely angry when we first turned it on, but he’s learning to adjust.

His anger seems to flare up more often and aggressively these days. I don’t know if it’s because of summertime . . . he loses a lot of social skills when he’s away from peers for so long. Yelling, door slamming, kicking walls and the back of car seats. It’s so stressful.

He’s interested in driving, but since we had a scary encounter driving home from Leavenworth on Labor Day, I don’t want him to drive the van anymore. (I should have put my foot down on this one from the start . . . I wasn’t allowed to drive my parents’ van until I was in college. Brian didn’t grow up with vans, and I don’t think he understands how difficult they are for beginning drivers). Jeff is understandably frustrated that he isn’t allowed to do something he only did weeks ago. Cue the yelling, stomping, door slamming, etc.

Sigh. Jeff and Eleanor are doing this behavior. I don’t know if my heart can take it if/when William starts.

The good news is that he is incredibly pleased with his birthday present this year. We are giving him the entrance fees for a three different Magic: the Gathering tournaments that are happening in conjunction with a new card set pre-release (as is my understanding).

Brian’s going out of town that weekend, so part of the present will be me forcing myself to stay awake until 1:00 a.m. so I can drive and pick him up when the tournament is over.


At least I know I can always make him smile with a choice meme. That boy done loves his memes.



Brian has some great projects at work that are going well, but unfortunately they are complicated and I know that if I attempt to describe them, I will fail miserably.

Said description will be slovenly and inaccurate. Nobody wants that.

Fortunately he enjoys telling me all about them, even if I can’t quite keep all the details straight in my mind. One of them is a study involving both BYU and That’s exciting, right? Two things I’ve heard of! Good for me.

His main trial in life right now is the sisyphean task of teaching Early Morning Seminary, constantly wrestling with a lesson manual that often seems written by someone who has never met teenagers, has no respect for their intellect, and is overall designed to make adult leaders feel good about themselves instead of helping the kids develop spiritually.

(At least, that is my take. Some of those lessons are simply dreadful.)

Add to all this a strong dollop of if-you-take-your-cell-phone-out-in-class-again-I-will-throw-it-against-the-wall, and I get the impression that Brian is getting more than a little discouraged with his second year of teaching.

On the bright side, he assures me that he’s said enough outrageous things to various stake-level leaders that I never have to worry about him being called to any bishopric, ever. Well, one less thing to fret over, I suppose.

I’m so glad I have him for my best friend.

For a change of pace for Date Night, I nabbed two tickets to the Moon Viewing Party at the Seattle Japanese Garden last week. There were beautiful lanterns and luminarias along the garden paths, launching of little boats, traditional Japanese folk music, and a haiku contest. (Brian entered, I did not. Neither of us won.)



Me Update

First off, this thing finally got finished:


Yep, it’s the squishy grey “Greatlove Sweater” that I’ve been making for Kristen since May. This is by far the largest knitting project I’ve ever done, and it turned out very well. Kristen is incredibly pleased to have a sweater with sleeves that aren’t too long, and I’m happy to not have to drag around a massive cardigan with me everywhere I go.

We all took turns modeling. I spent a couple of hours wearing it before giving it up. (Yes, I know it was my idea to make it as a gift, but after having something as your constant companion for four months, there’s a little bit of mopey snurp-snurp when it’s all over.)


But the bigger news with me is that I’ve gone back to school. Well, part time. This is what I wrote on my Facebook feed:

“Twenty four years ago I was a college freshman and could not choose between majoring in English or Music. In order to decide, I enrolled in Intro to Literature (for English) and Beginning Music Theory.

The music theory class was a nightmare — all of the other kids had taken AP Music Theory in high school (which my high school didn’t even offer) and they all answered the instructor’s rapid-fire questions in unison (except me). A red headed girl who also studied piano asked condescending questions about who my piano teacher was, and what my score was in the all-state adjudications (as a military kid, I didn’t have very consistent lessons or access to competitions like that). I dropped the class that day and ran to the English department, where I could easily ace all the courses and read books forever.

While my music major friends called this the wisest decision I ever made (although they often affectionately referred to me as “the most music major person who isn’t a music major”) the experience rankled for a long time. When there’s something I’m passionate about, I like to excel. The whole affair reeked of Unfinished Business.

So it goes that I’ve decided to go back to school to earn an associate’s degree in Classical Piano! I’ve been taking private lessons through the community college for the past 3 years, and earning course credit along the way, so….why not? I’m only attending half-time, so it’s going to be a long, slow go of it, but since class started this past week I’ve found it very fulfilling. My kids even made me a schuletute to celebrate. I’m loving my mornings on campus and meeting lots of interesting people.

And if you think it’s odd to earn a Master’s degree and then follow it up with an Associate’s, just know that I am the third woman in the Shirts family to do this recently, so I’m just following a trend.”


Spoiler alert: that schuletute was full of random things my kids picked out from Fred Meyer and absolutely none of it was useful and I loved it.


I’m slowly adjusting to the student lifestyle again. In the morning, I hug Katie goodbye at the bus stop, then race to the school’s overflow free parking, catch the shuttle, and hoof it across campus. If I time everything just so, I can make it into one of the practice rooms by 9:00 a.m.

More updates on school life in posts to come. Hooray for fall!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s