Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Oops....It's been a while.....

Wow!  Really, a year since I've last posted.
Well, I'll try to sum it up quickly.  
Kindergarten was kind to Seth.  His teacher was fantastic with him and he had a great year.
Rachel finished 2nd grade and after a rocky start to the year, and switching teachers, we found the right combination and she also had a great year.  Her Asperger's is a double-edged sword.  We get one thing figured out with her and another surfaces.  The gap between her and other 8-year-old girls is getting bigger, which is both a blessing and a curse, but she still has a couple of girlfriends that will play "dogs" at recess.
Brittany had an awesome year in 3rd grade.  She had a teacher who knew she needed some challenges and gave them to her without overwhelming her.  Next year she's going to be in the TAG program, so that should help with the boredom.  She continued piano lessons with me and is advancing really well.
Mike had all the "1sts" to go through without his dad this year.  We just got through the 1st anniversary of his death.  I think they all handled it well, but it was still hard.  His mother is doing really well and keeps herself very busy.
As for me, I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but I think I had my best year at school ever.  I picked up 5th grade beginning band this year, which added more stress and busyness to my schedule, but I think it made me focus more.  I had a band of 56 at the beginning of the year which is HUGE!  By the end of the year I was only down to 48, so I didn't lose many at semester, which is quite something.  I had an amazing class to break me into that responsibility and loved it.
As for church, I became even more involved in the Sunday School program by becoming a member of the Children's Education Board.  I was given freedom to choose what I wanted for music and it turned out very well.  With the help of all the other Sunday School teachers, we tackled an amazing Christmas program for the church and it was so much fun.  I had my 5-year-old boys be sheep with home-made cotton-balled t-shirts.  Their "wool" had molted all over the sanctuary by the end of the program.  They were kind of the highlight.
Now that the school-year has ended we're wrapped up in summer events.  We just finished T-ball with Seth and Softball with the girls.  Seth had really improved by the end of the season, so it will be interesting to see how much he grows next year.  The girls did softball this year and it was a very long season.  I won't go into detail, but we're glad to be done.
We're getting ready to go on our first vacation of the summer soon with just a little trip to the Omaha zoo for 2 days.  It's a fairly close excursion and the zoo should keep us entertained.
Later this summer all 3 kids will be at church camp for 2 nights and 3 days and Mike and I are going back to Omaha for a getaway.  The stars should align like this every 3 years that they will all be in the same camp, so we have to take advantage of it.  
In August, Rachel gets to go to Camp Courageous for a week all by herself.  This is a camp for special needs children only, and she is very excited to be with kids like her and get to do the amazing things that are on their website, such as zip-lining, ropes course, hikes, archery, etc....  We're planning on doing some fun things with Brittany and Seth while she's gone.
Well, I think that gives a little glimpse of what's happened in our lives.  I'm sure I missed a lot, but you don't want to hear about it.
I'll leave you with a couple of projects from the class I'm taking this summer.  Some new pics and a video.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What an end to the school year!!!

I can't say that I've had quite the end to the school year as we have this year.
School was finally out last Tuesday at 11am.  We said goodbye to our walkers then all the teachers head out to the busses and wave goodbye to their little heads sticking out the windows.  It's fun.  When they're out of sight down the street a couple of us even do ugly-looking cartwheels in their "honor".
School this May was a weird event for us though this year.  Mike's dad continued to go downhill this spring.  Mike was very fortunate to go up there the first weekend in May and got to see him one more time.  They talked on the phone just about every day.  Finally, Sunday, May 13 he was admitted to Hospice care.  We were heartbroken by the announcement but also grateful that his mother wouldn't have to try to care for him by herself anymore.
Friday morning, the 18th, the kids were all called home.  They didn't expect him to make the day.  We were actually packed and ready to go up that night.  Mike called me that morning and said he was leaving straight from work.  My heart was in my throat all morning as I was just praying that he would make it in time.  It's a 4-5 hour trip and I wasn't sure how much time he had.  I finally texted him and he said he had made it.  That night at 7:30pm he was gone.  No more pain, no more labored breathing, just peace.
On the home-front the girls had their Track & Field day that afternoon.  They did very well in their "shoe-kicking", "limbo" and "bear-crawl" events respectively.  They each came home with a first place ribbon and Rachel came home with an additional third place.  That evening I unpacked/repacked waiting to hear when arrangements would be.
Since Mike had left straight from work, he had nothing with him.  Sunday, the kids and I drove up and met him in Albert Lea, MN where we brought him a suitcase of clothes and bathroom supplies.  He was sleeping on his mom's couch and was still in the same clothes.  He was quite scruffy.  We had a hasty lunch together then headed back home.  The plans came out that the visitation and funeral would be on Wednesday.  This was a welcome answer as this way the girls got to have the last two days of school which are a nice way to end the year.
Tuesday, after school got out at 11, we piled in the van and started the 5-hour trip.  I was very nervous traveling alone without Mike along.  We usually have to do combat duty with fights erupting in the back seats.  However, the kids did amazing and we had a very uneventful trip, albeit a very windy one.
We stayed with amazing friends in Edgerton who give us their entire basement to spread out, and even got to see several of my former co-workers Wednesday morning.  The visitation and funeral were very nice.  The minister had an excellent message and was very comforting to the family.
Our trip home on Thursday was just as uneventful, albeit for the heavy downpours of rain wiping out vision.
In a nutshell, it was a rough end of the school year, but there is quite a bit of peace now within the family.
On a lighter note, we're back into t-ball and softball with the girls.  Swimming lessons start next week along with a 2-day class for me in Ames.  I also wanted to share some pics from my classroom from the end of the school year.  We have a custodian in our school who is wicked-talented.  He comes up with amazing animals/characters with different found objects.  He has created several characters for my room with different musical objects.  Here they are:
This first one is the cutest fly made out of one of my 45's.

This is a happy catterpillar made out of my 45's.

This is my favorite.  I'm not sure what to call him exactly.  He's going to kind of be the music room mascot.  His name is t-bone as he's made out of an old trombone.  The arms and legs were the slide of it and were cut apart to make it stand.

This guy is t-bone's friend and sits at the base of his "feet" which are old pieces of a clarinet.  The friend is a harmonica.

And here's a closer view of t-bone's face and arms.  The "hands" are the keys to the clarinet which were removed and attached to the slide pieces.  He's holding a broken recorder who also is quite a character.
There has also been one more addition, but he showed up on the Tuesday we ended school and didn't make the picture cut just yet.  He'll have to be added later.  I love these guys and they add so much character to my room.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New stuff

So this post is for my friend Kara who said I haven't written a post for a long time and she has been waiting.  If she reads this I should hear from her.
A lot has been going on in our lives.  With only 25 days left of school, the year is winding down quickly, but there is still so much to cram in that short time.
Brittany had her field trip Thursday before Easter.  Many grades are doing field trips and makes it difficult to get ready for a concert.  Our Spring concert is next Tuesday.  I think it's going to be a lot of fun to attend as each grade level has a theme.   Kdg is doing an animal theme.  1st grade is doing all Folk Songs.  2nd grade is doing all holiday songs.  Holidays other than Christmas that is.  3rd grade is doing a mini-musical called Music Class.  4th graders are doing two songs on their recorders and then their musical is about positive character.  5th grade is doing a musical all about jazz music.  I've had a slight shortage of rehearsals, so we've had to cram memory into a few grades, but we'll make it just in time.  I'm always ready to be done with a concert though.
T-ball started for Rachel tonight.  We haven't even heard from Brittany's coach yet, which is disturbing and disappointing.  Rachel really wanted to do t-ball again this year, so I hope she's successful.
Seth has Kindergarten round-up on Thursday.  My baby's going to Kindergarten!!!!  He's had a great year in pre-school and he's definitely ready to move on.  Round-up should be fun.  We were told at inservice this afternoon that we have 89 scheduled to come Thurs/Fri.  That's a lot of kiddos.
Mike finally moved to his new position at his same job.  He's now working normal-people hours.  He leaves about 7:15 in the morning, so he gets to see the kids before he leaves and then he's home about 4:30 every night.  He's working Mon-Fri and has every weekend and holiday off.  No more weekends and holidays for us.  There might be the occasional Saturday if they get extra busy or backed up, but it should be rare.  He comes home in a much better state of mind.  His new job is loading the rail cars with the ethanol, so he's moving them around on the track.
My news is that I'm finally going to be full-time next year.  It's been 3 years at 80% time and I love the job, it was just God's timing.
I'm also totally into couponing.  I've had a couple of very successful trips and saved a huge amount and I'm hooked.  I have awesome people at school that save their coupons for me.  I'm going to try to not turn into the crazy coupon people on TLC, and I don't have the room or time for a "stock pile room"so I doubt you'll see me on TV, but I'm having fun teaching the girls about living frugally and respecting every penny that God has blessed us with.
I'm also gearing up for garage sale season!!!!!  My favorite time of year.  Now, I don't need clothes for myself as my mom has totally set me up in that area.  She and I both are losing weight so as we go down sizes, I get her hand-me-downs.  However, I love shopping for the kids.  I find the year's worth of clothes.  I'm very torn this year though.  My favorite town to go is on May 12 and there is a class I need to take to renew my teaching license and they fall on the same day.   Hmmmmm, which is more important?  License renewal or garage sales?
Well, I'll stop the updating with that.  That's enough news for one day.  I'll try not to get so far behind.  How's that, Kara?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Piano recitals, spring break and misc...

Last Sunday we had the girls' piano recital.  For those of you questioning this, no I do not teach my own kids piano.  When Brittany entered 1st grade she was already reading chapter books so I thought she was ready for lessons.  I decided that if I wanted my children to live, I better not teach them myself.  I can teach other kids, just as long as they're not my own.  Speaking of which, I might start teaching after school next year.  Hint, hint.

I recorded the two girls playing their pieces.  Brittany's song was titled "A Quiet Place".  She did very well on it and even had it memorized.  Rachel's was called "Black Cat's Waltz" which her teacher played the duet with her.

In other news, we've been on spring break since Thursday.  We have one more day tomorrow, then back to it on Tuesday.  The weather has been 80s every day which makes it even better.  Often, if you even get them, spring breaks are a waste.  Lousy weather, sometimes even snow.  Usually we have so many snow days we don't ever get a break.  This one was long overdue.
Teachers needed a break from kids.  Kids needed a break from teachers.  Teachers needed a break from other teachers.  I think we'll be ready to finish out the year now.  We only have 40 some days left.  It can't be that bad.
Due to the awesome weather for break, we've been outside non-stop.  The kids have been riding bikes, playing with neighbor kids, sandboxing, etc.  They've had so much fun and played so hard that it's been  an every-night-bath week here at our house.
I guess there isn't much misc., it just felt like it in my head.  I have a big to-do list for this break and none of it's getting done.  It's supposed to rain tomorrow, so there's a chance I'll get to cross something off.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Shower Escapades

This is how I start my Friday morning.  Sometimes with my mornings I can't decide if I should laugh or cry.  Sometimes I cry because I'm laughing so hard.  It's one thing to step into the shower and see a pair of goggles, but when it's accompanied by a snorkel, well.....
I'm sorry, there's just no words for this.
So here's the picture of just the goggles.  That is their permanent spot because bathing with just a mermaid doll and an alligator just isn't enough.  That's what's next to the goggles.  Oh, yeah, that is watering can with a smiley face next to it too.
Those of you that are lucky enough to have a bathroom of your own probably can't relate very well.  This is the results of an older home that only has one and a half baths.  This is how families used to have to live all the time.  However, I don't think they had to share snorkels that many years ago.
The only redeeming part of this morning is that it's Pajama Day at school today.  When I couldn't stop laughing over the snorkel in my bathtub I didn't have to worry about redoing my mascara because I was crying from laughing too hard.  You just never know in this house.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A New Week

This is Dr. Seuss week for West Marshall.  In Minnesota we celebrated Dr. Seuss' actual birthday with lots of fun things, but here it's an entire week of celebrating.  Today is color day.  Seth is to wear purple (I don't think he has any), Rachel is to wear orange (her favorite color) and Brittany is to wear green.  I don't know what color I'm supposed to wear being a specials teacher, but I choose the color jeans.  That is a really nice side benefit of this week is you can justify wearing jeans with just about every day.
Tomorrow is farmer day.  We might struggle with that one a little bit.  Wednesday is whacky Wednesday where you wear whatever goes.  Thursday is hat day and Friday is pajama day.
Whacky Wednesday is also a lot of fun for teachers because we switch jobs for a couple of hours.  Our principal pairs us with another teacher and we have to do their job for the morning.  It's both scary and fun at the same time.  The kids absolutely love it and most are really good about helping you follow the normal routine.  My favorite is that the Kdg. teachers have their "subs" make oobleck during that time.
Friday is the mother of all Dr. Seuss days though.  There is absolutely  nothing resembling our normal schedule at all.  My room is used for a book exchange.  Kids can bring in books and for every one they bring in, they take a different one home.  Very cool.  The gym has Dr. Seuss-themed games.   I remember one from last year "Hop on Pop" where they have pictures of a bear taped to the gym floor and they use hippity-hops to land on each one.  There has also been a month-long reading contest for the building for the month of February.  If we met our goal, we get to do something to our principal.  There are also great prizes for the top readers in each grade.  Last year Brittany won for 1st grade and she received a series of chapter books.  She read a lot this year.  I don't know if it will be enough.  We'll find out Friday.
So it's going to be an interesting week.  I'll try to get some pictures posted of the kids for all these.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Parent-Teacher Conference Day

I'm stealing this joke from a website today.  There is no author listed, but I've heard it before.  Tonight is our first of two nights for parent/teacher conferences.  Being a music teacher I usually don't get very many "customers".  Every now and then I get the uber-responsible parent that comes to check how their child is doing in music class.  Usually they're my best students.  The students I have problems with are usually having problems in their classroom also.  
I know this joke isn't about conferences, but you could probably insert the word conferences wherever it says inservice.  Enjoy!

Inservice Joke
A teacher died and went to heaven. St. Peter welcomed her in and said
he would show her to her place in heaven.  The first neighborhood was
lovely. People were out on the park-like lawns, socializing,
Bar-B-Q-ing, playing golf on a beautifully landscaped golf course, and
having a fine time.
"Oh, this is wonderful," says the school teacher to St. Peter, "Is
this where I'll be staying?"
"No, this is the doctors' area," replied St. Peter.
They continue the journey and come to another beautiful neighborhood.
Again everyone is outside socializing. People are on tennis courts,
swimming in pools, etc.  "My, this IS paradise," gushed the teacher,
"Is this my  neighborhood?"
"No, no, the teacher's area is next."
They move on among the clouds until they reach and equally beautiful
neighborhood, but no one is outside. No one is visible anywhere and
the houses appear to be closed and empty.
"Well, here we are," said St. Peter with a smile, "Isn't this a fine
place to be?"
"Yes," replied the teacher with noticeable disappointment in her
"Don't many teachers make it to heaven? I don't see anyone else here?"
"Sure, we get lots of teachers. Don't worry they'll all be here
tomorrow. They're just down in hell for another inservice."