Sunday, September 4, 2011

Big days!

Wow, I thought we were trying to kill ourselves off before. Now we got serious about it. This week, when we had a ton to do, we decided that we ought to look at some property that was so cheap it was too good to be true. This is property that we would perhaps one day be able to build a cabin on so that we could hold family reunions. We spent hours looking online, and spent a long time driving around and looking at places, and came to the determination that these things that seemed too good to be true really were. We also got the car registered, did more doctor and dentist appointments, including having Jacob anesthetized so he could have 8 cavities filled, going to Back-to-School night, shopping around and buying furniture, Christmas electronics, and season passes to some recreational things, and getting some more yard work done. We also took Sabrina to school for the first time. She is officially a kindergartener now, and goes to school every day. She was excited to begin with, but by the end of the week she couldn’t believe she still had to go to school, and would have to go again next week. A bit of a rude awakening. But she seems to like her teacher and seems to be doing well. Hard to believe that we have only one left not in school, and he goes to preschool twice a week. Our kids are getting old, which I guess means we are getting old.

Sabrina got a little nervous right before she went in (didn't help that we were late)

Jacob was so out of it, but we took him in the stroller as we went to school with Sabrina

Sabrina in the school on her first day

I actually had to go and start teaching this week. I had one of the longest days ever, being on campus from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. I moved books around, did a tiny bit of organization, met with student assistants several times, had some wonderful reunions with some students who came by, did an ANES meeting, met with some colleagues, and had my first Religious Education Academic Council meeting, which took forever, and wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, which means it was only pretty bad. These are good things to be involved in, but the wheels always turn slowly for these kinds of things.
The highlight of the day was going to teach my class. Before it started I went down and taped on the door the “Mule Crossing” sign I often had on my bus, so that my JC students would know I was thinking of them.

JeeHee found the sign on the door several days later and took this picture. It stayed up for a week.

By the time I got there I could hear that they were so busy visiting with each other that the other students must be wondering what was going on (and one of the students told me that one of them was asking him what in the world this was all about, and why everyone seemed so excited to see each other). When I walked in they all yelled “Muhlestein!” I think the students who hadn’t been to the JC must have thought this was the weirdest class in the world. I tried to explain it to them. As I stood up front I saw that each semester had grouped together sitting by each other. As we sang together, and as I showed a picture of the family in Jerusalem together, I got a bit choked up. But I made it through, and I think that in the end we had a pretty good class. It was great to see all those students again, and I have to work to make sure that the other students don’t feel left out. They need to feel like they are part of this as well. But as I looked at my JC students in their seats I had all sorts of flashbacks, and I could see them sitting in my classroom at the JC, asking questions. It was the most wonderful sort of déjà vu in the world. One of the students later told me that as soon as we got going he felt like he was back in Jerusalem as well. What an amazing experience, and I so look forward to doing that every week this semester.
In the middle of this busy week we were thrown another curve ball. We are okay with the Jr. High and High School here, but not in love with them. We have been impressed with one particular school, Maeser Preparatory Academy. We tried to get BJ in, but the wait list was too long. Then we got an email on Thursday saying he had been accepted, but we needed to let them know immediately. So we took him with us Friday morning before his school and met with a counselor. It sounds incredible. It sounds like a wonderful, perfect, amazing place for BJ. And if he is in, then the other kids get in on sibling preference. Tashara is the only one who could go in now, but she could and it would be great. The others could when the time came. But they are dead set against it. BJ is livid with the idea that we might make him. He is besides himself. Tashara is also heartbroken about it. They hate the idea. But we think it is best for them. I am not sure BJ will ever forgive us if we make him, but I think we will make him. I think he will blame us for everything he has to do that he doesn’t want to do for the next four years. I think he very well might intentionally do horribly at everything. He is throwing fits about it. I don’t really blame him. He just got back, he is with friends he really enjoys, he is doing well, he feels good about everything that is going on, and suddenly we want to change it all. And there is nothing worse than the feeling that you really don’t want to do something, yet someone is making you. That is a terrible feeling. He is not handling it well. But still it seems like the right thing to do. I hate these kinds of decisions and situations. I wish that some aspect of it is different. But it is not, and we have to act soon.
We spent most of our week trying to get things ready for the big get-togethers with the students this weekend. I spent lots of time getting things put away and arranging things like the bookshelves. We hung things on the wall, bought flowers and trees, figured out how to display our new mementos from Jerusalem, like putting my olive wood Elijah that Fall semester OT students gave me, or arranging the new suns that we added to Julianne’s sun collection.

The bookshelf almost ready

Elijah in the pride of place display

Some of the suns from our sun collection

We borrowed tables and benches for people to sit on, bought 235 hot dogs (Hebrew National Kosher dogs of course) and buns, 8 gallons of ice cream, etc., etc. We worked as hard as we could as fast as we could to get everything ready for our long lost students to come by for reunions at our house. We didn’t work hard or fast enough, so that we weren’t quite ready when they came, but it was good enough. We were so glad for that summer we spent creating our new long driveway and fenced in patio area. It worked perfectly for the get-together.
Winter semester was Friday night. It was a bit overwhelming at first. First it was just Jeanelle Hollenbaugh. She was so sweet and wonderful. She helped us get ready, played with the kids, and thought of everything a person could think of to be helpful and great. But the best thing was to see her. It was so wonderful to be with one of our students again. And then soon many more showed up. The feelings were overpowering. It was amazing to see them all again. I hadn’t realized that I had not been experiencing that constant feeling of deep love for everyone around you until there my students were, with me again. The feelings of love and appreciation were incredible. And I experienced flash back after flash back. I would see someone’s face and could picture being in Egypt, on Sinai, in the City of David, in the classroom, on a hike, at Capernaum, at Petra, in my office, in church, in the lobbies, on the shores of Galilee, and a thousand other places. The flood of memories was incredible. The flood of feelings was incredible. We hugged, we laughed, we caught up. As people left the goodbyes were hard. But in many ways I kept thinking that this must be what heaven is like, being able to again be with people you love so much. The Chadwicks and Judds were there, and everyone loved being with them too. After what was many hours but seemed like hardly any time, most of them left. A few of them came inside and we visited until quite late. When they left I cleaned up a bit and went to sleep. It felt like one of the best nights we had ever had.

Happy to be together again!

Heide and Sarah helped Sabrina go to bed even with everyone around

Michael got Kaleb into it for a while

Chadwick always gets Alexia happy

Jacob was awake much of the night. He cried a lot in his sleep, and we couldn’t tell why. It seemed like he was just overtired. The morning came too soon (we didn’t get to bed until late). It was a day I was looking forward to. We were taking Tashara to the temple for the first time to do baptisms for the dead. As we were getting ready to go Julianne realized she hadn’t found BJ and Tashara’s temple recommend. We started looking, but could not find them. We called my parents, who were going to meet us there, and told them we couldn’t make it yet. We spent hours cleaning and sorting through things that had not yet been put away. We still couldn’t find them. Finally Julianne found Tashara’s, but not BJ’s. Sadly, we had to decide to take Tashara and not BJ. So off we went, and met my parents there. We had a good experience. Not as good as I would have hoped. It looked like a huge wait, and I was not sure we could wait that long and make it back in time for our own BBQ. The wait ended up being a bit shorter than we thought, but there was confusion as to where we should go first, with temple workers giving us conflicting directions. Finally we were able to do confirmations and then baptisms. But we were only able to do 5 each because they had already done too many more women than men. So, it was surprisingly short. But it was very nice. I think Tashara enjoyed it. We ate lunch there and talked about it, and I think she was very happy with the experience. We need to get her back soon for an even better experience if we can.
When we got home Will Budge, one of our Fall Semester students, was already there. It was good to visit with him about his situation with another of our students, Kelsey, who went on a mission recently. His story is similar to ours, so we all enjoyed talking about it. I hope it was useful for him. We visited while we finished getting ready. And then Fall Semester students came. Again the wash of emotion and memory. It has been so long since I have seen them all. I love them so much. I am overwhelmed with how much I love them. I was awash with memories. It was incredible. I cannot describe how wonderful it was. I cannot describe how much I enjoy them. Many stayed for longer this time, and a few stayed very late. I couldn’t get enough of them. It was one of the best nights I have ever had. It seemed perfect.

Chadwick visiting with students at the reunion

Sabrina with Amy and Raelynn at the reunion

Julianne visiting with students at the reunion

So loved seeing these guys again!

As always, Tahna cheered up Kaleb

Fast Sunday was tough because we were fasting about Maeser Academy. We have really decided to do it, but the kids have really decided we should not. BJ is not handling it well, and I am not sure what to think about that. Sabrina threw up during the night, and I was up with her quite a bit. We were up with Jacob quite a bit, having figured out he has a sore throat. We were exhausted. But church was nice. Julianne was made a Primary teacher and I was made a Bear Leader. That will be a ton of fun, and the guys I am in there with will make it great! We had a really nice evening with my family having a dinner and visiting. But the unhappiness about schools put a damper on everything. I wish I could see the way out of this, but I haven’t yet. We are just trying to look at the long term. Sometimes that is hard.

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