Friday, January 23, 2009

Jon's Update--originally a family email

I find myself in an interesting position today at work. I actually have free time. Hence, the reason I am writing this at noon. I was at first twiddling my thumbs thinking, "what do I do?" Then I realized that I have this window of opportunity to check my email...something I don't do as often as I should.

For those of you who have checked out our blog, you will see that Heather did a great job with updating it with tons of pics of this last holiday season. We sure have a great life...even though we are poor. It just goes to show you that money is not the source of happiness. :-)

Today I filled out the forms and made out the check to the dept. of education and I will send it in to have my Masters in Guidance Counseling added to my certificate! I FINISHED!!! Oh how fun it is to be home on Monday nights to do FHE! ( that was the night I had classes). I had missed that and now that our kids are older it is so much fun. We have our lesson and the kids will pray and sing the primary songs and they love talking about Jesus. We then will play a game or something. A couple of their favorites are: Hi-Ho Cherry-o, Chutes and Ladders, and of course Candy Land. I think that was one of my favorites too.

Heather is not working full time right now. She sadly had to say goodbye to her long term sub position because they felt guilty turning down certificated teachers. She did an amazing job and they didn't want to let go of her. I truly understand their feelings. I feel the same way.. and the beauty of my position...I don't have to. :-) and I won't. So, she is enjoying being home a couple of days a week and playing with the kids and they love it too.

Aaron is amazing and his speech is improving. He slurs all his words. Hmmm ,I wonder where he gets that from. I am trying to enunciate my words better to help him and be a better example. He loves to ride his bike and he constantly asks to play with Colton Howard so he can play Star Wars Legos. Yesterday, he asked to go play with him and Heather said, "oh you want to play the Star Wars movie?" Aaron responded, "Mommy, it's not a movie. Its a game." He said it so seriously that I had to laugh. He is a doll.

Sarah is amazing too. She is the cutest little imp and loves to watch Barbie Mariposa and Tinkerbell. I would write more, but the bell just rang and I have to get to class. I love you all and I hope to be more diligent in reading my emails.

Love, Jon

Requiem for an Identity

Okay, now that I've finished updating you on all of the fun holiday festivities we've been involved with, I guess it's time to update you all on how we're actually doing. The past few months have been crazy ones for us, not just because we've been super busy, like the rest of the world, but it seems like it has really been a time of transition and redefining for us, or at least for me.

You know how you begin to define yourself by what you do? "I am a Mom," or "I am a teacher" or "I am a nuclear physicist", etc. Okay, so I've never defined myself as the latter, but over the course of the last 5 months, I was defined as the "ELD Teacher at Ranch Elementary". I was also my ward's Primary President for the past 2+ years, a weighty calling that certainly kept me busy and on my toes. Well, at the end November, I was finally released from my Primary calling (something I had known was coming since July, so it wasn't a surprise), and then in December, I found out they had found an ELD-endorsed teacher to teach my ELD class and that she would be starting right after the Winter Break. While neither change came as a huge shock, I have to admit, I went through a type of mourning period for my identity. I felt like I had lost a sense of who I was. Of course, I also greatly missed both my calling and my class, but it was more than just that. I no longer got up and got ready to see my students everyday. I no longer felt a sense of urgency on Sunday as I made sure all 17 of my primary classes were running smoothly. I was no longer "needed" in either of these positions. I had been replaced, and I didn't really know who I was. Well, I'm still working on trying to figure it out, but as time has passed, I have moved on to some other ventures, and I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that a few more doors will open up.

In the meantime, I'm back to regular daily subbing, which I have to admit, I have thoroughly enjoyed. Not only have I had a lot of fun with the work, but it has also allowed me to have a little more time with my family and friends, "Mom" and "friend" being a few of my identities that had been feeling a little neglected with my busy-ness over the last several months. Unfortunately, the loss in pay as a regular sub is substantial and I'm still looking for full-time employment, another identity on hold since most places are letting employees go, not hiring new ones. We had planned for me to start my Masters program this spring, but between finances and the intense time away from my family this move would require, even that pursuit is on hold, at least temporarily. This has been more than a little stressful and challenging, but both Jon and I feel the Lord is watching out for us and the right opportunity will come at the right time.

As for church, while I do still miss being in Primary and the intense ward involvement my calling as president afforded me, my hints and out-right begging paid off, and I managed to get called to my favorite calling--Relief Society 4th Sunday Teacher. I always said, when I was released from Primary President, I wanted to pick my next calling, and, well, I guess I kinda did. (Hmmm...squeaky wheel?)

As for Jon, he has his own identity issues. He did add "Masters Degree" to his personal definition in December, an accomplishment we're both proud of, but as this degree is also opening new doors and opportunities, it is also providing new stresses as Jon has many decisions to make regarding which path to follow--stay as a HS teacher, move to elementary, go into counseling, pursue administration, etc. It's a lot to take in, and since finances are always an issue, every decision is a pull between desire for a position and duty to provide. Sometimes having too many choices can be an even harder place to be in than not enough choices!

So, as we enter the new year, the Coombs family does so with a lot of anticipation (and a little apprehension) for the upcoming opportunities and changes that may come. But while our identities may be in flux, I want to assure you that our foundation has not and will never change--I thank my Heavenly Father daily for the daily constant of who I truly am. I am and will forever be wife to my loving husband, mother to Aaron and Sarah, stalwart and faithful Latter-day Saint, and friend to you all. Stay tuned, however--I'm sure the rest of my identity roller-coaster should be a fun ride!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Coombs Great 8 Christmas!

Christmas Fun 2008

Coombs "Great Eight" Christmas Week

Christmas with the Coombs!

The holidays were super fun and now I have to catch-up with it all! I've posted a slide show showing some of our holiday fun--seeing the lights at the Mesa temple, holiday parties with friends, Ward Christmas party, and just enjoying the festive atmosphere together. Santa was good to my kids, despite his budgetary considerations, and showered them with new games and DVDs, their favorites being Mariposa (a Barbie movie) and Candyland. It's great when they're still so young--kids can be thoroughly overjoyed with just a few simple pleasures. We kept Christmas relatively low-key (at least financially) this year, but it certainly didn't dampen any of the magic. I simply love the holidays!

The day after Christmas, our family headed up to St. George for a giant Coombs Family Great 8 Christmas reunion. Aside for the epidemic sickness that ran rampant through the family (our family amazingly remained unscathed!), the week was simply magical and we LOVED being with all of Jon's siblings. We planned a lot of great activities for the kids (there are 19 kids now!) like a family carnival with every family providing a booth, lots of hikes and park days, and just time to run around with cousins. Of course, there were plenty of activities planned for the adults, too--lazer tag up in the red rocks, family dinners, game nights at the hotel, etc. It made the whole family hungry for more time together, and now we anxiously await our summer reunion up in Park City this June! Enjoy the slide shows of all our family Christmas activities--we hope you all had a great holiday season as well!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy Birthday, Warren Brown!

Thanksgiving weekend also marked Warren Brown's "Surprise" 30th Birthday Party that Cary had spent the better part of a year planning. With all of his family and friends in town, Cary planned several amazing activities, from activities at a park, a concert of Warren's Band, and a morning of ATV/Quad riding up in the hills. Unfortunately, Jon spent the better part of the weekend being sick in bed, so the kids and I made it to what we could. It was all a lot of fun. Happy 30th Birthday, Warren Brown!

Posted by Picasa

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving! Jon and I hosted a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner at our house this year, with the Howards, Browns, Huffmans, and Kathermans--that's 10 adults and 15 kids, for those who are counting. The whole dinner was delicious and fun, and we ended by heading to the Howard's home for dessert and a little Rock Band. What a perfect Thanksgiving!!

Jon and our beautiful bird--man, I love turkey!

The Howards and their amazing turkey--lovingly tended to by Paul himself. That guy is truly a master when it comes to the kitchen!

Cami Brown entertained us all with her mud-antics in my back yard. It was all well and good until she decided that the other kids should be involved as well and started hucking mud balls at them. Sarah, the girly-girl that she is, was devastated when she got nailed in the center of her pretty pink dress by Cami's mud slinging two minutes after she went outside. After that, an abrupt end was put to all mud activities. My home took several days to truly recover from all the mud that we found tracked throughout the house.

Posted by Picasa

Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot

On Thanksgiving morning, Jon and I, along with several of the Brown family, participated in the Annual Queen Creek Turkey Trot 5K Run. This year was even more special to me because the proceeds went to benefit my favorite principal, Eric Samuels, who was diagnosed with a rather advanced cancer very unexpectedly in the middle of this last semester. It was a huge blow to our school, but he's doing quite a bit better now and should even be able to return to Ranch Elementary this January. Anyway, the Turkey Trot was a lot of fun, and Jon and I finished the 3.2 miles together in 32 minutes. Not too bad! Also, it made us feel a lot less guilty when we started stuffing ourselves later that day!

Jon and Cary before the race began.

Jon and I right after we finished.

My pricipal, Eric Samuels. This was the first time he had been out of the hospital in over 6 weeks. It was really great to see him there! His wife, Beth, actually pushed him the whole route, so he could finish his own Turkey Trot!

Posted by Picasa