Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wonderful Chaos

As we gathered around the table last night, I felt an overwhelming sense of blessing. Our sons and their wives, our five grandchildren, plus the little one yet to be born, all were there at the table, happy to be together. It's been two+ years since we've done this and even though that's not a terrible amount of time, a lot happens in two years, especially when the grands are so little. It has been wonderful, and we're only into day two. I am so grateful!

Our sweet 7-year-old Colton reads to his little cousin Grace (3 years).

The youngest, Eliott (14 months) and the oldest, Kayla (11 years) having fun together.

The cousins: Grace, Colton, and Sierra love spaghetti!

Grandma and Gracie making ginger cookies

Grandpa and Eliott, checking out one of Grandpa's carved Santas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jesus really loves children

I remember reading that line in the book Heaven is for Real... "Jesus really loves the children." I know He does; I'm glad He does, but part of me is just a tad disappointed that He chose to take Anna Joy home to heaven when her mommy needed her here so much. So did the rest of her family, but her mother has suffered through multiple miscarriages and infertility; to lose Anna Joy now, it is absolutely heart wrenching. I'm praying for the family as they mourn this Christmas. Oh may God be close to them, hold them, assure them of his love, and heal their broken hearts.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Baby Anna Joy

It's three o'clock in the morning, and I'm still recovering from a terrible cold. Over the past few days, I have been haunting the blog of some of our church friends. A little baby girl, Anna Joy, was not expected to live more than a couple of hours after her birth, but God has moved yet again. She has endured open heart surgery and is a living witness to His power. This little one's grandmother (now worship pastor at our church) and my hubby have been friends since his early college days. Anna's mother has been one of our son's friends since he was in high school; they met during one of our evacuation from Haiti experiences. If you are one who prays, I would invite you to whisper a word to the Lord for this little one.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Day After Thanksgiving

We have been busy! My husband is the Grand-Master Dickens Village creator. Here's the process:

Take down the "Cabin by the Lake" print and put up the Dickens Village painting.
Add the wood base and boards for height.

Add quilt batting and begin placing houses, roads, bridges.

Lighted houses means lots of cords!

T adding the characters, lamps, trees.

A sparkling Dickens Village complete with snow, ready for Christmas.

I love Blythe Pond

The Watch-maker and The Old Curiosity Shop are our favorites.

The Village Church next to Ebnezer's house.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It's the night before Thanksgiving... and we've been busy. Tomorrow morning is the Turkey Bowl, the annual kids' football game that our son has hosted since his son was three. Lots of little children get out in the yard and play football for an hour, then we all eat breakfast together. Totally fun, although this year our son suggested calling it the Gravy Bowl since the rain has made the yard into a mud hole. But that won't stop the action tomorrow... no sir-ee! And we can't wait! I'm so thankful to be able to enjoy this time with our children and grandchildren.

School was only a half-day. I left within 30 minutes of the last bell. Couldn't wait. Went to Trader Joe's for a case of spiced cider then to Costco for several other things. Since I went when I did, it wasn't a horrible experience. Got home and have had a great evening, working on making our home more enjoyable for the little ones who are coming to stay.

We've been converting my husband's office into our grandchildren's bedroom and playroom and we are close to finished. Here's the latest:

Toys, Books, Fun for Little Ones

Dollhouse for Gracie and her cousins to enjoy

Eliott's bed, complete with the baby quilt my husband used as a baby.

Gracie's bed, with a sweet white teddy bear

We are so excited to have these sweet children come stay with us for six weeks. What fun we will have together! They arrive in 27 days - but who's counting; you bet I am! I am so grateful for my family, so blessed that we love each other and want to be together. There are far too many families who do not. Yep, I am living in a state of gratitude.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting Ready!

December 20th, one month from today, our son, daughter-in-law, and two adorable grandchildren will arrive from France to stay with us for six weeks! Hooray! We have been changing furniture in various rooms and picking up things that we think we will need. Friday, the church that has been meeting at our school prepared for a 'moving party' as they leave our school for a budget-wise transitional place before moving into their new building. Among the freebies: a high chair, a dinosaur rug, a little tykes play table with drawers, a large doll house with all kinds of accessories, a big (as in laundry basket size) bin of duplos, a toddler race car set, books and other miscellaneous toys. And yes, all these things have a new home in our home.

Saturday, I sanded, stained and sealed the old crib that I found on Craig's List. Today I asked my hubby to stop at Target so I could pick up some crib bedding. I finished quickly and was ready to head out when he mentioned wanting to check out the toys. Guess who's almost finished with Christmas shopping?! Amazing! This is so much fun!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Prove it

Have you ever read something about teaching and come away feeling really satisfied because you got there on your own? That's how I feel about this. I've been teaching my writing through literature this way for quite some time. The assigned essays always come from the literature students are reading, and students must always prove it, whatever it is. Right now I have students who have chosen, The Land, The Giver, The Same Stuff as Stars, Archer's Quest, and White Fang. One of their essays involves showing the effect society has on the character of the protagonist. Another deals with the ending of a book, that it ought to conclude, not simply stop abruptly. We always look back to A Wrinkle in Time when we talk about this essay because that was the number one complaint students had of this book. There are always a few students who get it. They realize I'm allowing them to express their opinion. But there is one way I go after this, and I repeat it with every essay. I say, "So this is your opinion. Is your opinion right or wrong? Neither, it's your opinion. Do I have to agree? No, but what do you have to do? Right... you have to prove it. Prove your point with evidence from the novel or other sources." And some of them do it, while others just write a summary of the plot (irritating) and receive a C- at best. But that's okay; they are getting exposed to this manner of writing, and I am hopeful that they will eventually catch on. I always ask the students to bring in their essays early. I put them in groups and have them edit and discuss their writing. Often I extend the deadline after this experience. It depends on what I see happening in the group. Anyway, I love what I get from about 70 percent of my classes. It's a good thing to know they can prove it!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A New Blog

My daughter-in-law was born and raised in the Middle East. One of her best friends married a few years ago and recently moved to Niger. They are a great young couple, and I have been following their blog. Really rich reading; I highly recommend it!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Finished, I hope

I am hoping and praying that my students have finally finished all their Halloween candy and will be somewhat normal on Monday. Last week was really a ridiculous week. Having Halloween on a Monday night is just about one of the worst things that can happen to junior high students and therefore, to their teachers! By Friday, I was so tired. About 11 o'clock in the morning, I called my hubby, the high school principal, and gave him some suggestions about what he could do with my students. It was that bad. They were simply not capable of calming down. After school, I came home, sat in a recliner for about an hour, then fixed taco salads for dinner. Quick and easy. I then went back to the recliner and didn't move again until bedtime.

Today was another tiring day but for a completely different reason. A couple weeks ago, my mother's dishwasher went on the blink and ruined a section of her hardwood floors. Mom's house dates from the late 1940's and the dining room floors were amazing. She decided to pull up all the carpets and have them refinished. A really smart move. They are gorgeous. She's been in a hotel for four nights (she wouldn't stay with us, didn't want to disturb us) and I helped her get back home today. But we couldn't walk on the floors until after 1 o'clock this afternoon so first we raked leaves in her front yard. After that we went to her church for their annual bazaar. Lots of handmade goodies, toys, and such. We each spent less than $20. Not bad. Then we went across the street to Lincoln Elementary for their annual toys and books sale. I got a box of books and several nice toys for $20! The books were a steal, nearly all hardback picture books for my little ones who are coming in a few weeks. Have you priced little kids' books these days? They are so expensive. I think I bought close to $150 worth for that 20 dollar bill! After lunch and a quick trip to the store, Mother and I went back to her house. We dusted walls and doors, got the pictures back up, rehung the drapes, and created enough room in each bedroom so she could watch TV in one and sleep in the other. We can't put furniture back in her living and dining rooms until Sunday evening and may wait until Monday after school. We'll see. She's just so glad to be back home.

Another good thing is that today/tomorrow is Fall Back! I love adding an hour of sleep to my day and of all times to do it, this week is perfect.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


When my friend, Shannon, posted that she was ready to begin her 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo, part of me wanted to cry! I am not ready to write, even though I love it. Not ready to blog faithfully, even though I did it last year. That was last year and things have changed! We are doing pretty well these days. T is healing, face is nicely healed, leg is fine... that wrist still screams at him from time to time, but he is so much better. First quarter ended yesterday and I uploaded grades last night. Started with a clean slate today and some of my students were grateful for the new opportunity. I have a week and a half until conferences. I'll say nothing of those.... nothing... my mother always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I love my mother. And she is right.

My 8th graders are back in novels of their choice, and the 7th graders are working through parts of speech. My writer's workshop kids are tearing things up! They love writing and I love that they love it! I can't wait to do "monikers" tomorrow. It's a fun little exercise with names. Yesterday we talked about puns and they each came up with five. Some were hilarious and others were quite painful. My favorite assignment that I have them write is the letter to themselves - 15 years from now. But they won't get that assignment for a few weeks, after Thanksgiving. January is going to be poetry, every day, from the beginning of the month to the end of the 2nd quarter. I found a sample unit online from NYC that I am hoping to apply to some of the projects I have used in the past.

The big news is that those two little kids pictured in my previous post are going to have a baby brother or sister in May. Yeah... can you say three under three? My kids can! And I can't wait!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Already?

October is gone. How is that possible? I think I've only written two or three posts on this site during the month of October. I could not have imagined how busy this year would be. Seriously, I'm pulling back and not apologizing for it. There are several things I am not doing. When asked to speak at retreats or conferences, I've said no. When expected to attend a conference, I didn't go. Normally I sing in both services for choir, not this month. Even when I try to simplify, life seems so busy. I really don't understand this but I'm plugging away, doing what I can, when I can, and forgiving myself when I can't.

My hubby is mending well. The eye area is healed; the leg is healed. But that arm... it is going to take time, a lot of time! The doctors took a big chunk of flesh from his wrist to patch the hole they made in his face. Since there are no functioning nerves in that area of his face, he feels no pain. However, the wrist is an entirely different story. One wrong turn and the man is in agony! It makes me want to cry to see him suffer like that. Honestly, it is getting so much better. He is radically more capable of caring for himself. He even takes care of all his bandages but one, the ace that wraps around his wrist and forearm. It has been six weeks since surgery; healing is a slow but steady process, and we are grateful for the progress.

School continues to demand our mental and physical energy. My students are doing back-to-back novels since I missed a critical two-week period in September when they should have been in a novel study. I decided to leave the grammar for the sub and concentrate on the literature upon my return. It was a wise move but there's still a lot to accomplish in a very short time. November is full of holidays, conferences, and potential snow-days. (From my mouth to God's ear!)

In 50 days, our kids from France arrive for their first home assignment. We called it furlough, back in the day. We are looking forward to seeing Gracie and Eliott again.

They are growing so fast. This past week, they moved into a new home in Chartres, France. They loved their little village in Jouy, but this location is more central to their ministry and the house is slightly more than twice the size of their prior teeny 500-square-foot apartment.

So as October fades away, we are grateful for the blessings of the past six weeks. As I look back over all we went through over these two months, I see God's hand of strength and healing. I don't know what lies ahead, not sure I want to know, but more than ever before, I believe God is in control. I'm simply going to let him deal with it all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Good Day

Wow, it's been such a long time since I posted anything! Today has been such a good day that I have to celebrate with a quick post. First, I over-slept. All right, that's not exactly a good thing but I got to school before the kids came in the classroom so it worked. And I didn't beat myself up over it either. I am tired of holding myself to a higher standard than I do others. Time to let that ship sail. Next, 8th graders had a major essay due today. I had two students unexpectedly absent but they sent their work to school! That is HUGE! Finally, the sun is really shining brightly. We have been told that the rain is going to come on Thursday so we should enjoy this while we have it. I plan to do that... somehow. And now, back to work.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Outside again

I should have been grading papers. Two stacks of essays sit on my desk awaiting my responses. But it was not supposed to rain (and it didn't) and I have a flower bed that has been driving me crazy. First of all, my nephews needed money. Cameron is a senior and Riley is a freshman in high school. Both boys have bikes that constantly require maintenance, due to the crazy things these boys do! The plan was to remove the old weed barrier, covered in clover - hate clover - and put down new barrier and bark. The boys were confident they could remove the old weed barrier before I returned with the load of bark, didn't happen. That old stuff has been there for decades and the roots that were tied into it... incredible! It took them almost three hours to remove about 350 square feet of the old stuff. With another hour's work, the new barrier and bark were in place. I worked with them and have the sore muscles to prove it. Although it's a relative small project, it has been making me crazy for a long time, and I'm so happy to have it finished.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


A couple months ago (seems like a life-time) we moved T's office furniture to the school and began converting his office into a den. Scott and Kass had a beautiful, wrought-iron daybed that they weren't using, so we brought it to our house (minus the hardware) and made plans to set it up for Gracie's arrival in December. Yesterday, S/K came over with their three adorables, and we set up the daybed. It was quite a process but turned out nicely.

I have a pack-n-play for Eliott but I am looking for a full-size crib that I can set up instead. I have a call into a Craig's list post for one from IKEA. Eliott is not a little guy. He weighs well over 25 pounds and is pretty tall. He'll be a year next Wednesday! Oh how we miss our French kiddos but it's all good; we understand what they are doing and are thrilled that they are able to experience the French world as a family. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to Christmas! They will arrive around the 20th and be with us for six weeks! This will be a super good thing.

And it will be so much fun to watch Eliott grow and develop over that time. What a blessing our little ones are to us.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Crazy New School Year

This year has certainly not started like I had planned. After two weeks of school, I found myself flying off to Texas with my hubby as he went through more cancer surgery. During the prior week or so, I prepared detailed sub plans - two weeks of them. I really thought that would be more than enough. I also made all the photocopies I would need for the following week when I planned to be back in the classroom. It didn't turn out quite as I planned, but having prepared nearly everything I needed, it was pretty easy to extend the sub plans. We returned home Monday night, very late. I did laundry and ran errands all day Tuesday, worked in my classroom a good portion of Tuesday night, and started school again this Wednesday. It's been an intense three days, but I think I am caught up enough that I won't drown. I still have quite a bit of work to do, namely three sets of essays to grade, but other than that, I'm on it. Tomorrow the grandkids will be over for a while. It will be their first visit since surgery. We'll be ready for the little darlings; we've certainly missed them! I'm pretty sure they'll adapt quickly to their Grandpa's crooked little smile and new battle scars, none of which are very visible as yet. Bandages are good for hiding the wounds. I'm so glad it's Friday. I need the rest!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Benefits

There are tons of benefits to teaching in a private school as well as a few limitations, but last night my husband spoke with a friend of ours who revealed one of the big benefits. Teacher friend has 37 students in her 7th grade classes. Oh my goodness! We had 25 (our cap) and then enrolled that beautiful, little, blonde girl, who became my favorite student this year because she allowed us to split the class! We have 13 in each 7th grade, and 16 in each 8th grade. Goodness, I seriously cannot imagine having 37 in any junior high class. Horrors!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

A New Addition

I added a new blog to my Worth Reading list: Books That Heal Kids. It is so true that kids come to school with a ton of baggage. You may remember that last year one of my students lost her father to cancer. It was discovered in December, and he died in June. Shortly after, she hurt herself badly, falling down a 15-foot shaft. After a summer trying to do things that would help her get on with life, school started... and she broke her foot! I'm not making this up. Of all the kids who might have to wear a boot and use crutches, this one was not the kid who needed that kind of hassle!

One of the things I do in my Bible class is the Silent Study. I teach a curriculum published by Lifeway called Character Quest - I love it! Each week, I introduce another character trait that should be a part of our lives as Christians. In addition to that, I have gone through scripture (mostly New Testament) and found short passages that apply to the particular trait being taught. Students come in each morning to find a new passage on the board. They get their journal and answer two questions: What does this passage mean? How can I apply this to my life? We just finished the first week of school and the introduction to the textbook. The passage I chose this week was Colossians 3:12-14. Students wrote about verse 12 on Wednesday and verses 13-14 on Thursday. (Friday is chapel - no silent study.) On Thursday or Friday afternoon, I read the journals and jot short response notes to my students. The pain that came from Thursday's passage about forgiving... it took me by surprise. It always does. I know students have broken homes and lives, but I am constantly surprised at the open, intense pain that 7th graders are willing to write about in a journal.

At the end of the day, Friday afternoon, we held our traditional first week finished junior high party. Before we ate all the junk food that the kids brought, we played a game - Just Like Me - students noted their favorites: books, food, musicians, etc. and then had to find someone who marked the same answer. It takes about 15 minutes to play. The 8th graders were acting too cool for the game until I introduced the prize: 1 Free Homework Pass for any of my classes. Suddenly, they were all over it! One new girl had a tough time with the game. She wrote her answers and then wandered the room, from person to person. I could see she was trying. Basically, she placed herself next to someone different every minute or so, and hoped that person would ask to see her paper. Shy is an understatement. But I know a bit about her story (family members with addictions, abuse, moving, legal problems) and her sense of who she is, of what she's worth, doesn't match the beautiful little person I see. And she is having an awful time trying to write. It is as though she is bound with ropes and cannot move off a certain position. I ache for her. She's in my writer's workshop and has yet to get a full sentence on paper. I have a feeling that I need to get into poetry quickly, much sooner than I usually do. I think it will open her more than fiction writing.

Books are therapeutic; they can help children heal. They allow students to identify with characters who have survived similar pain and sorrow. We live in a broken world, with fractured lives and relationships. Anything that helps children find a pathway through the pain is a good thing.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Visitors

There have been a few visitors to my class over the past few days. Our beloved private school welcomed lots of children back to learning on Wednesday. Our K-8 school is one of three schools on campus; the high school is across the parking lot from us. As you might imagine, several new 9th graders came back to visit their old junior high teachers. I love getting hugs from my former students. Today three boys came to visit... young men actually. All three had grown considerably over the summer. But the greatest thing happened... Mr. Principal happened to be standing nearby as two of the boys left my classroom and called out to them, "Hey guys, how are you doing?" To which one of my dear grads replied, "Very well!" Isn't that great? He said well!!! Knowing when to use the word good and well is one of the heralds grammar acquisition. And believe me, junior high boys are not terribly excited by the proper use of small words. But I was thrilled. I turned to Mrs. History Teacher, also standing nearby, and asked if she'd heard what he said. Oh yes... she had a big smile on her face too. She heard him. The casual use of proper speech - music to a teacher's ears!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A New School Year

Here we go... I've been working in my classroom for a few weeks. Friday morning --> afternoon was the Meet and Greet for K-8. High school does theirs Monday evening. One of the things I did differently in my classroom this year was the top of my bookcase. I have taken an idea from my young librarian friend, Andrea, and will change out the books each month. The first month, September, the display is entitled Super Series for September. This month I'll feature a few student favorites, including the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, a good selection of Roald Dahl books, the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, the Shadow Creek Chronicles by T. Elizabeth Renich, and several books from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. I have many others I could have put on the top shelf but this is a good variety for the first month of school.

I've made a few other changes as well. Last year I placed my parts of speech posters on the back wall but I've brought them to the front again. Students kept getting out of their seats to check out the definitions and examples, so it is worth bringing them back to the front.

I posted a question on my facebook account about how to sort books in the classroom library and almost everyone said by genre. My initial reaction had been to do that, but getting the opinions of people I respect made it quite easy to follow up on the idea. I'm going to try to push the students to be careful with re-shelving. Right... Oh well, as long as they're reading!

There has also been a lot of renovation going on at school, notably the boys' bathroom near the school library and sixth grade classroom. The day before the Meet and Greet for students and teachers, that hallway looked like this:

Nothing says welcome back better than thrones in the hall for all!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Saturday morning I pruned my vegetable garden. Earlier in the week, I brought my mother over to my house to show her my raised-bed garden. I was sooooooo proud of it! My mother is a master-gardener so I thought she would be impressed with my 2nd-time-ever vegetable garden. Well, she was impressed all right but not in a good way. She got right with the program, telling me that I needed to prune all the suckers off the tomatoes, cut off the remaining blossoms, in fact, cut the tops out of the tomato plants. If I didn't, my tomatoes might not ripen properly. I have LOTS of tomatoes and some are pretty big, but they are all green. Next, she suggested I remove some of the excess foliage from my one (huge) zucchini plant so I could actually see if I have any more zucchini in there. I thought I had two - ahem - I had seven. Then she said something that kind of hit me in a different way than she intended, "You've watched me raising tomatoes for years; I thought you knew this."

Saturday, as I pruned away at my plants, I thought about my mother's comment. How much am I counting on my children, grandchildren, students... knowing what to do because I assume they have paid attention to what I have done? The truth is that I did watch my mother plant and cultivate her flowers and vegetables for at least a couple decades. But I didn't really learn anything until I asked questions and she provided the answers. She was always willing to share her knowledge; I wasn't always paying attention.

We have to speak the words. Do we want our children to be polite, well-mannered? Instruction is needed. Do we want our kids to love books and reading? We must read to them. Are we hoping our children will find a valuable relationship with Christ? We have to talk to them, share our Christian experience, pray with them. We cannot assume it will be caught - it must be taught.

The other thing I realized as I was pruning was that it was taking a very long time. I spent well over an hour at the job. I realized that I could have nipped the suckers (little growths that appear between a branch and the main stems of the plant) as they appeared and it would have taken just a few minutes. Since I waited until I had fruit-loaded plants, I had to be quite careful when I cut, and the job was far more tedious than necessary. The same is true in our lives as parents, as teachers. If, from the very beginning, we start right and consistently do all that is required to raise up well-mannered readers who love Christ (my prior examples), the outcome may be what we hope for - fruit bearers. I'm grateful to my mother for all the lessons she has taught me over the years. I just hope I remember them better than I did the pruning.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back at it

I've been working in my classroom for just over a week. There is so much to do to get ready for a two-week departure. We will go to Texas for my husband's surgery at some point - still don't have a fixed date for that. Yesterday, I spent some time talking with my principal and we decided on a sub for the time I will be gone. The sub I really wanted has been hired to teach 4th grade in our elementary building. I don't know the lady that's coming but her creds look very good and my principal mentioned that he hoped she wouldn't be too strict. I know what all my teacher friends are thinking right now, and yes, that was the comment that sealed my choice! Long live strict subs!

I have planned five weeks of lessons. I have photocopied all the work I will need, which has turned out to be a mixed bag... I was told my class was full, and I would have no more... and then, yesterday, we accepted another student. I was not happy as that means I get to go back and make one more copy of everything! But I got over it when I realized if we get two more, we'll hire another teacher so I'm really hoping that will happen. Plus the new student is fluent in French! How often does that happen?! Never in this neck of the woods. I'm excited to have her for that very reason. (For those who do not know, I'm also fluent in French - or I was!)

Yesterday afternoon, Mrs. History Teacher and I worked on student scheduling for junior high enrichment and elective classes. Mrs. H.T. is the same age as my youngest son, but we get along as though the decades of separation were not there. She is an excellent teacher, incredibly organized and creative, and I'm so grateful to work with her. We complement each other quite well; what I don't think of, she does - and vice versa. In addition to scheduling, I have the chapels for September all lined up with speakers, and I have my stuff out of boxes and on the walls, journals in the proper bins, books in the cases. Honestly, I could start tomorrow... but have another week to go. Meetings begin the 24th and students show up the 31st. I have a feeling that this is going to be an interesting year!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Poetry and Cancer

A few days ago, one of my Haiti friends, Ruth, posted about a book of poetry called The Radiation Sonnets. I had no idea such a collection existed but I think I'll have to get this book. A couple weeks ago, my husband and I learned that the dreaded "C" had returned. We know there is surgery in the future but are unsure whether it will be necessary or even possible to have radiation again. He had the maximum dosage the last time around and it's not a great idea to over-radiate any part of the head. So we'll see what happens. This whole thing is so surreal; we honestly thought we were done with this stuff. Oh well, he is alive and active and I am grateful!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chi-ca-GO !

We are heading to Chicago in the morning so we can see these sweet people by afternoon.
Can't wait!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Family Heritage

This weekend has been all about family. Friday night I accompanied my 83-year-old mother to her 65th high school reunion. It was great to see her connect with friends from long ago and those with whom she lives life regularly still. Sixty-five years... wow! As you might imagine, there weren't a lot of people attending. Three other 'children' attended with an elderly parent; it's all about the designated driver! It was a good experience and I'm so glad I went. I know my mother would not have attended without me.

Today my husband preached both services at our church. He did an amazing job sharing the Word and some of his own story. God used him powerfully. After that, we attended my annual family reunion. My dad had 17 siblings: 10 brothers and sisters, 1 half-brother, and 6 step-brothers and step-sisters. Most left Kansas as soon as they could - around age 17 or 18 - and moved to Western Washington state. Every year since the mid-1940's, the family has come together on the first Sunday of August for a huge potluck picnic. As a kid growing up, I really looked forward to this event. My cousins were more than family; they were my friends. We had a blast as kids. Now things have changed a bit. The main thing is that we only have three of the originals left: Uncle John (90 in January), Aunt Margaret (87?), and Uncle Walter (79). All the others are gone... and we miss them. The stories are not quite so colorful or heart-rending. Many came from the old country (German Russia) and lived through the Great Depression. And every one of them made something exceptional of his/her life. All of us kids were able to go to college if we wanted to and most of us did. The stories we share are memories of them, plus it is good to see everyone again.

It's been a good weekend of reflection about my family and how they have allowed me to be the person I am today. I am so fortunate, so blessed!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Website Grammar

I'm really not trying to be picky - but - I just visited a website dedicated to a certain kind of homeschooling, one that emphasizes classical education by parents who know their students best and therefore are more prepared to help them succeed. I cannot count all the errors in grammar I found on that site. I am not against homeschooling, just against those who say they are going to do it and then don't really do much. I've had some students who've had excellent homeschooling preparation and others who were enrolled in my class because the parents realized they hadn't done anything to really prepare their student for high school and figured I could do it in a year. I know, I know, it's like anything else, always examples of good and bad. I just think that those who like to point out how good they are at what they do probably ought to have a proofreader.

Monday, August 01, 2011


A few days ago, my eldest granddaughter sent me an e-card. Actually, every so often she sends a short note via email and I always write back. The last time, she asked me to send her little sister an e-card because she was sad that she never got any email. So I did... one with monkeys; it fits. Anyway, Kayla helped little Sierra choose an e-card to send back to me, thanking me for the card. The one she sent had this song playing in the background, just the chorus of it...

Legacy (Nichole Nordeman)

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

The chorus says exactly what I feel. I want my grandchildren to know that they are loved unconditionally, by Jesus and by us. I want them to believe that they can change the world - because they will - for good or not so good, we all do it. I love all five of them so much; we are so blessed!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Unfortunately... it's back.

On Monday of this week we learned that the lump under my husband's (empty) eye socket is cancer. We are so disappointed. If you want to follow his progress you can check this blog: It's the easiest way I know to keep lots of people informed. Please keep us in your prayers as we again walk this all too familiar pathway.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reading in 2011

Here's my list for this year... so far:

Books Read in 2011

  1. Essays 1: First Series - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. Stuck in the Middle (Sister to Sister) by Virginia Smith
  3. Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow
  4. Hide in Plain Sight by Marta Perry
  5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  7. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  8. Drums of War by Edith Morris Hemingway
  9. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  10. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  11. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  12. Emma by Jane Austen
  13. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  14. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
  15. Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson
  16. Invisible by Lorena McCourtney
  17. The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
  18. Fated to be Free by Jean Ingelow
  19. Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
  20. Fated to be Free by Jean Ingelow
  21. The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne
  22. The Heart of Rachael by Kathleen Thompson Norris
  23. A City Schoolgirl by May Baldwin
  24. Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
  25. I Have Lived A Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson
  26. Evergreen: A Christmas Tale by Richard Taylor
  27. “Hard Creek Bridge” a short story by Isaac Sweeney
  28. Dandy Detects: A Victorian San Francisco Story by M. Louisa Locke
  29. A Chance in Time by Ruth Ann Nordin
  30. Summons From A Stranger by Debra Diaz
  31. A Lady of Quality by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  32. The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade
  33. Teddy’s Button by Amy LeFeuvre
  34. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  35. The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux
  36. The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
  37. The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre by Ann Rinaldi
  38. April Morning by Howard Fast

Through it all

Can't get this out of my head today, which is probably a good thing!

Through it All
You are forever in my life
You see me through the seasons
Cover me with Your hand
And lead me in Your righteousness

And I look to You

And I wait on You

I'll sing to You Lord

A hymn of Love
For Your faithfulness to me
I'm carried in everlasting arms
You'll never let me go
Through it all

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ending the summer month

July is the only true summer vacation month. We teach, work in the classroom, and have meetings until mid-June and start it all over again in August, so both of those months are short. Suddenly, here we are; this is the last week of July. It's a great month for our family. Both of our sons were born in July as were two nieces and three nephews. Our wedding anniversary (#38!) is this Wednesday, and both of our sons and their lovely wives have anniversaries this month. Scott and Kass celebrated #15 the same day as Brian's birthday and Brian and Erin will celebrate #9 tomorrow, the day before ours. I love all the partying we get to do in July; it makes it an expensive month but so much fun!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Sleepover

We had a day at home to wash clothes and rest before we brought two of our five grandchildren over for a summer sleepover.

We played games at home and then packed a sandwich picnic and headed down to the lake to play and eat. Sitting on the dock, the two adorables asked Grandpa all kinds of questions about snakes, mosquitoes, and water lilies.

Tired children slept well and after french toast and a few morning cartoons, we headed out to Watershed Park to hike the two-mile trail. It was gorgeous, mid-60's, sunny, and sheltered with a canopy of greenery. When a boy sees a good climbing tree, he has to climb it. It's the law of the universe.

After the hike, the smiles were even bigger than before we started. A perfect summer day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Finally: Home Again

This has been an interesting and sometimes difficult week. Several months ago, my hubby noticed a lump under his (empty) eye socket. For those who don't know, T had radical cancer surgery in 2004 which resulted in the loss of his right eye/orbit. Following weeks of radiation and almost five years of quarterly, then annual visits to MD Anderson Cancer Center (the best cancer hospital in the world!), he was told to go home and live his life. He was finished. And we did. Then about a year ago, the skin graft in T's orbit started showing infection and this lump got bigger. After messing around with over the counter treatments and less than adequate medical care, we went back to Houston.

I am more than happy to say it was a good week. All the tests were negative for cancer. We also learned a lot about some of the issues T will face with the orbit. We learned that the skin graft is far more sensitive than we realized and will probably always present some issues. Six weeks of intense radiation will do that. The only awful moment came when the doctor, our fabulous Dr. Esmaeli, decided that the lump needed a needle biopsy just to confirm her diagnosis. It was extremely painful and it had to be done twice! Not fun! However, the reason it had to be done twice was that the doctor doing the procedure was unable to harvest enough cells for the lab. After the second dig, getting what he needed, he informed us that usually when cancer is present, the fluid vomits into the needle. His word, not mine. This did not happen and the initial reaction is that the lump is part of the restorative process: scar tissue, for us laymen.

So we are home again and thanking the Lord for health and a future. I am grateful every single day, that I can grow old with his man, my high school boy friend, the love of my life.

While we were there (in 104* temps!) we did some vacationing. We went to Galveston for the first time and returned to Spring, the site of an old-time village, full of cool stuff. We think we found a coffee table to replace our hand-me-down of 11 years. We'll see. We haven't received the medical bills yet and they promise to be significant. Not that I care - I don't care - I'll pay them off over ten years if I have to; I have my husband!

T with his new buddy in Galveston

Friday, July 08, 2011

Quiet Morning

It's Friday morning and I've been working hard all week, getting everything ready for family visitors. This is my last quiet morning for several days so here I sit in my leather recliner, coffee in hand, still in pjs, enjoying the calm. I still have a few things to do but no pressure. Unfortunately, my husband, who has been working harder and longer than I have, doesn't get a break. I wish he could have a long quiet morning too... maybe in a couple weeks.

I read something on a blog that I am sure I have seen before but never written down: "Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me, and I may be forced to love you." William Arthur Ward.

I think the encourage part is the one that sticks out to me. Many years ago, during some of our initial days in ministry, I heard a sermon or read something about encouragement changing people's lives. Since that time in Vancouver, I have really tried to take that idea to heart and intentionally plant encouragement into the lives of others. I'm not always good at it. Sometimes the critical part of me takes over and I see everything negatively, but that is really not who I want to be. I deeply desire to see the world with optimism. I want to see the potential in people, especially children, and lift them so they can become stronger and have the desire to keep moving forward. As I deal with students and colleagues, I try to ask myself, What if this person was my child, my sister, my brother? How would I want someone to respond to him/her? That helps me a lot.

As much as I want to be an encourager to others, I also want to do it for myself. I want to tell myself that I can more than I can't. I want to forgive myself for my mistakes and keep trying to do better. I want to believe that I will make a difference in the world by making a difference in the life of one child or many, the number doesn't matter so much.

So... time to get moving and start the things I have on my to do list for this day.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Summer-time Yum!

Now all we need is vanilla ice cream to go with these!
Gotta love summer in the Pacific Northwest!

Done - kind of...

We did the best we could with what we have:

We never did find the hardware for the daybed so we'll need to order some to have it ready for the next visitors. However, the den is clean and the beds are ready for a baby and her big sister. Two more big sisters will be able to claim the queen-size hide-a-bed in the living room.

The books are off the table, in the hallway bookcases, or hidden away in boxes. Dinner may now be served!

And there is no twin mattress creating chaos in the kitchen.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Making changes

Right now my house is a mess and I'm sitting on the couch, blogging. This weekend our nephew, his wife, and their four daughters come for a four-day visit before they leave for a new teaching assignment in Cambodia. I need to get cracking but I'm just not sure what to do!


My hubby sweetly gave his school office desk unit to one of his assistants because she kept hurting her leg on the old one she had. That meant we moved his executive desk (read large) from home to his school office. Then we realized he needed a computer desk at school so we took the one I had used for a couple years (pro-cert), painted it black, and moved it over. That made room in the guest room for a chair. Nice.

Next we decided to put a daybed in what was once his dedicated home office. We have four girls coming and I hate putting people on the floor to sleep, even little people. Our kids brought over the frame for their daybed minus the hardware. They're looking for that in between the three extremely active adorables demanding attention, swimming lessons, and chasing after a big dog named Scout who likes to run off. I also have the twin mattress in my kitchen/family room.

The hubby had a tall three-unit bookcase that matched his executive desk so we moved two of them to the hallway (we have a super-wide hallway) and the middle one with doors to his office. It fit perfectly.

Last night, older son and family stayed for dinner because after dropping off the daybed, dad started showing his many books to son and son started packing them into boxes and my laundry basket to take home. By nearly seven o'clock, little Sierra was begging me to feed her so burgers on the grill worked quickly and satisfied her and the rest of us.

So now I have various books, knick knacks, and office supplies scattered in several rooms. I don't know where to start! Augh! I think I'll go find boxes and see if I can eliminate some of the clutter. I'll just stack the boxes in the garage. But I must say, at least the guest room is ready!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Moment of Magic

That's what my son said about his daughter's behavior.

Last Saturday, first-born granddaughter Kayla was a flower girl in her mother's cousin's wedding. At the rehearsal, Kayla met the other flower girl. Evidently the bride's mother works with the deaf and the little girl walking down the aisle with Kayla was one of her students, not completely deaf but seriously challenged. Additionally, the little girl reads lips, a fascinating skill. The connection between the two girls was instantaneous and their practice was flawless.

If there is a word to describe Kayla it is Kindness. Although a bit shy, she is extremely tenderhearted and kind to others, always putting herself in the other person's shoes, so to speak. After the wedding rehearsal was the big dinner. I do not know the little girl's name so I'm just going to give her one: Rosa. It solidifies the connection with my Kayla Rose and indicates the little one's Hispanic roots.

My son said there was a big buffet that was well worth waiting in line to experience. My d-i-l's family members were through the line and seated together at a large table, thoroughly enjoying each others' company. Since they don't live very close to each other, I'm sure the reconnecting was a lot of fun. Kayla's mom was at the table with her family, and her dad was still in line when Kayla came away from the buffet with a full plate in her hand then looked around the room. Her dad said that she looked at the family group and smiled, but then she saw her... she saw Rosa with her father, mother, and younger sibling, sitting alone at another table. Kayla's dad watched as a multitude of thoughts dashed through his daughter's mind, and the lump in his throat grew when he saw her move away from the laughter of her own family to sit with the isolated little family; he couldn't wait to join her.

This was not an event that was high on my son's priority list; he went to please his wife and daughter. But even as he thought of what he could have been doing (sleeping) at home, he reflected on how special it was to have that moment of magic when he saw his daughter choose kindness over her own possible pleasure. He was so glad he didn't miss it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Book Club Begins Again

I had a great day yesterday! Around 11 in the morning, I went to the YMCA and took over the grandkids, allowing my lovely daughter-in-law a day on her own. My son is away on business and the three adorables have our family's high-energy-gene which can be a real drain when they choose to engage it. The little bit has swim lessons first so finishes first and can be showered, dressed, and ready to go when the other two finish their lessons. That's a good thing as she wants both my help and my full attention whenever she can get it. Once the three were finished, we headed to the DQ for lunch and ice cream. Summer and Dairy Queen kind of go hand-in-hand for me. After a quick trip to Sears for socks and long-sleeved T-shirts, it was off to Jumpin' Jacks for a full hour of bouncy, slidey things. They were already a bit tired after swimming and this sealed the deal. We headed to our house and by the time I got inside, the two older kids were stretched out on the sofas in the family room, waiting for me to hand them popsicles and turn on the cartoons. I wanted to laugh out loud but restrained myself. As dinner time approached, I began the process of getting them off the couch and in the car. After one last 30-minute stop at the playground in the park, we continued to their house where I delivered three worn-out kids who were ready to eat (or not) and drop into bed!

Just before we left my house, I handed each of the kids a book. Colton looked at me and wanted to know why I was giving him a book. I told him it was summer reading time. Kayla immediately piped up, remembering our book club discussions from last year. She explained to Colton that he would read the book and let me know when he was finished. Then the two of us would go to lunch and talk about his book. He looked at the book, looked up at me and said, "This is a chapter book Grandma." (He just finished first grade) I told him that he was right but I thought he could read it. He glanced at a few pages and agreed, then responded, "I'm going to read this in the car so I can go to lunch with you right away!" I laughed... I know summer is all about activity with this boy so if he reads a few books, I will declare myself the victor! Long live summer reading!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My contribution

Sometimes I don't get along well with others; I don't work well with others. That seemed rather evident to me the day we were packing/moving the in-laws. When they decided to come to my house overnight, I was so glad to go home and prepare the guest room for them. I really did want to help but the group dynamics can sometimes make me crazy, so I volunteered to clean their condo after everyone left. My m-i-l is the world's all-time, most dedicated housekeeper - ever! I didn't think it would take me two hours but it did. It took five! I didn't expect the refrigerator to take that long and I didn't expect the bathrooms to take that long and.... you get my point. At the end of the day, some guys came to remove a couch and hide-a-bed that the in-laws were donating to someone in need. I tried to get these guys to listen to me - didn't happen. What did happen was they crunched the bedroom door, poked a good-sized hole in it with the hide-a-bed leg. I was irritated big time but they couldn't tell. I appeared totally serene. I just wanted them gone! Thankfully the hubby found a You-Tube that explains how to repair a hole in a hollow-core door. Not what we wanted to do but at least it's fixable!

Then last night the hubby decided to move his desk from the home office (which he doesn't use nearly as much these days) to his school office. We're getting ready to have company and need a bit more bedroom space. I am actually quite excited about the change because it means my kids and grandkids will be able to have a comfortable space at our house this Christmas. They are coming for six weeks! That will be so much fun! It's a long way down the road yet so I haven't allowed myself to go there. But it's always in the back of my mind. Family makes it all worthwhile.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Moving at 80 and 90

My in-laws are almost all packed up. They are almost 85 and 92 (summer birthdays) and are moving from WA to ID, to a college town with lots to see and do, plus a lot more sunshine than Western WA. He loves to golf and she has a ton of friends over there so it's a good move for them. However... at their age, moving is more than a pain, it's down right dangerous! They've been working too hard and are totally worn out. Tomorrow they're beginning the drive over there. So if I were you, I'd get off the roads between Olympia and Nampa for a couple days, cuz here come two sleep-deprived old people to a freeway near you!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seattle Séjour

This week, the hubby and I went to a conference on Differentiated Instruction in Light of Brain Research. The conference itself was very interesting with a lot of practical resources provided for the 300+ private school educators in attendance. However, I really didn't want to get up before six in the morning for an hour's + drive to Seattle on Monday, then home, and back to Seattle on Tuesday, so we came up with a brilliant plan.

My brother owns a condo in downtown Seattle only ten minutes or so from SPU, home of our two-day conference. No one has used his condo in more than a month so he graciously agreed to let us stay there. We drove up Sunday afternoon, avoiding a lot of heavy traffic, and settled in for a relaxing afternoon, wandering the city on foot and thoroughly enjoying Zeek's Pizza.

Monday we drove the few minutes to the university and stay put until four in the afternoon. We called some friends who live in Edmonds, met them for dinner that evening, then headed back to the condo and rested well before our last conference session on Tuesday. Each day, a catered lunch was provided, and it was sooooooo good! Tuesday we knew we couldn't each much dinner after our pasta lunch so checked out a Seattle magazine and found a Caribbean restaurant that specialized in Cuban pork delicacies. After enjoying the early evening at the Ballard Locks, we went to The Paseo and shared a delicious grilled pork, green salad, rice and black bean platter! This tiny space was hopping! Seating was limited to six tiny tables and we were fortunate to snag one of the last vacancies. Don't offer these guys a credit card or check; they're strictly a cash only establishment. This place gave new definition to the proverbial hole-in-a-wall restaurant! And it was wonderful!

Wednesday morning we packed up, left the condo, and headed downtown, specifically to Pike's Place Market and my all-time favorite kitchen store, Sur La Table. I also wandered into a Made in Washington store and bought Goodnight Seattle, a sweet book that I will read to my granddaughter via iChat and then ship to France to add to her expanding library. After our traditional trip to Ivar's on Pier 54, we headed home and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and evening. Well, I did... the hubby mowed the lawn, weeded, and accomplished several other outdoor jobs. Tomorrow he will go into the office and I will tackle the laundry and then babysit two of our three adorables here in town. The third is headed to Seattle with her mom for a wedding rehearsal. She's going to be the flower girl in a cousin's wedding. And she will do it perfectly!

Such a great way to participate in a conference and spend our first week out of school together!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sierra's Sleepover #2

Whew! What a day we have had! I picked up almost four-year-old Sierra a few minutes before noon and off to DQ we went. After lunch, we got ice cream and went to Grandpa's office to drop off a strawberry-chocolate chunk blizzard for him to enjoy. We stopped at the store for popsicles and some new sandbox toys because... we created a sandbox for Sierra to enjoy! It's made from a big old drawer that used to be part of the bedroom closet in my mother's 1940's house. I just think it's cute and she loves it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Staff meeting delight!

Yesterday's staff meeting really surprised me. We actually accomplished several things. That's been my biggest gripe. For too long we have hashed over the same old things then tabled everything for the fall. This year, decisions were made, changes that will make our lives easier as teachers, including dress code, assemblies, attendance policy enforcement, and other things that are smaller or don't directly affect junior high.

Part of the success yesterday was finally getting people to see that we are two schools in one, that junior high is simply not the same as the elementary grades, and that we need to acknowledge this and allow for some changes. One of the biggest disconnects for us has been the Grandparents Day celebration. I'm all for grandparents but once students hit junior high, this kind of event is not always successful. While elementary classes have three grandparents for every student, our classes had one or two sets of grandparents for the entire class. It's been like that for years and making this event anything but a boring embarrassment has been a huge challenge for us. This coming year, junior high will opt out of the day and have a normal day of classes. This is so much better for us.

Another issue, a much bigger one, has been the tardy policy, rather, the enforcement of the tardy policy. Our policy is quite strict and consequences are clearly spelled out but when those consequences are not delivered, students receive the wrong message. Yesterday we requested the authority to deliver the consequences ourselves, and it is going to happen. Little by little, we are shaping our part of the school.

I have to say, part of what we do comes from my experience at QCS. When I taught there, we had a principal for the school and administrative assistants for each department within the school. I had that responsibility for the middle school. We had our own staff meetings, dealt with discipline issues, curriculum issues, and made recommendations to the administration that often resulted in change. Teachers had a voice - or at least we believed we had a voice. And that's what happened in staff meeting yesterday. Teachers spoke, were heard, and witnessed change. It was a good thing!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who says?

When I moved back to the Pacific Northwest, a song came out that I just had to own. Bon Jovi's "Who Says You Can't Go Home." I loved this song! It perfectly suited my emotions at the time. And today, five years after moving home again, I still love it. Last night two of my four brothers, my mother, my hubby and I went to a lovely waterside restaurant to celebrate my mother's 83rd birthday. My mom is amazing! She is, without doubt, the most independent person I have ever met and my husband says I'm just like her on that front. I do respect people who try their best to resolve their own issues and live their own life without becoming hermits. My mom is one of those people. I really hope I am able grow old just like she has!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

81 Days

My summer vacation is 81 days long... well... kind of... I do have to sit through a meeting on Monday, but I've been known to get up, head to the restroom and not come back for a l.o.n.g time, so that doesn't bother me. I am going to a two-day conference on brain development and learning in junior high students, but that's in Seattle, and we're going to stay in my brother's downtown condo so in spite of the long daytime learning, we'll have some evening fun. I determined last year to truly focus on my days outside the classroom, to read, to garden, to spend intentional time with my grandchildren and my mother. I loved it, so I am going to do this again. But first - it's 10 o'clock in the morning and I should probably get out of the pj's and into some blue jeans. The garden needs watering. Bliss!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Good Day In School

Today was our last in the building day. Tomorrow is the all-school picnic at a nearby park. Our day started well with a bit of sun. Students finished a crossword puzzle that they seemed to enjoy, got everything out of their lockers, wiped them down with clorox-wipes, and then it was time for the awards assembly. I really must do something about this. It's tortuous! The assembly started at 9:35 and ended at 11:50. My students were wasted! I don't care much for this assembly, but I do plan well for it. Last year I took the baby quilt I was making and quilted all morning. This year I took one of the new novels I'm reading for a possible Lit Circle book for next year and I read to page 138, in spite of the noise all around me. I told my students to take a book or sketch pad and pencils because it would be long. Last year's went on for 90 minutes and I thought that was a big deal. This year's was nuts! But it's history so that's that.

The afternoon was far more successful. It was party-time! Students brought cookies, chips, sodas, fruit, veggies, cupcakes, and Rice Krispie treats! I picked up the DVD Tangled from the local Red Box. I love Red Box... good grief, a new movie for a buck! What's not to like! Usually I don't have too many kids show up in my room for the movie but this year, I had a roomful! It was hilarious listening to them sing along with the characters! The last period of the day, the PE teacher took the students for some outside games so we could clean up the mess in our classrooms. I got everything off my walls and windows and put away. Once I clean off my desk, I'll be ready to check out! Productivity!

On the way home this evening, I passed kids playing outside in shorts and tank tops. It was 62*. I thought about where I used to live in the islands. If the temperature ever plummeted that low, people would wear sweaters and hats and whatever else they could find to get warm. Sun and 62 degrees equals summer weather in the Pacific Northwest!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

And On They Go!

I just walked in from 8th grade promotion. My feet hurt and I'm tired but it was a good evening. My husband, the high school principal, groaned more than once tonight as these kids exhibited their unique personalities. It's okay; he'll love them once he gets to know them! They are ready to move on and I know they will do well. I told them today that they each have ten million mistakes to make in life and they might as well take a risk and start learning from them. They will be fine.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Pretty Cool!

Tonight was the high school senior/parent evening. It was really nice, simple but nice. Had cake and punch and the kids were able to share with their parents. Academic awards were also handed out. They used to do this during graduation but it makes it way too long so this is the evening activity when it happens. There were several amazing awards. A lot of our kids got the presidential award for excellence (a dozen or more) but the one that kind of blew me away was the Washington State academic awards. Each high school in the state can submit the names of the students who meet certain criteria, like a 3.5 and a 1600 minimum on SAT and 26 minimum on ACT. Then they calculate the top 10% of the state, which winds up being much higher than the minimum. We have 47 students graduating this year and 8 of them made it into that top ten! That is just plain cool!

There are people who want to say that a Christian high school doesn't measure up academically. I know that's not the case! One of the great faculty members that makes such a difference in these kids lives is Dr. Norm Nielsen. Recently he's been chosen as the top chemistry high school teacher in the NW region. This is the link to the article but you do have to scroll past the grads and the summer school stuff. He is an amazing guy and our grads tell us that college biology, chemistry, and physics are smooth sailing for them. They've already had the tough stuff with Norm!

The theme for the high school is Raising the Bar. My hubby is the principal and is committed to academic excellence. It was important to him as a student and it's even more important to him now. I could tell he was happy tonight with all the national and state awards our students were receiving. It is truly well worth the effort.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Sunny Saturday!

It is absolutely gorgeous outside. I've been working in the yard for three hours, and I'm sore. Picked up the mail and came inside to pay a bill on-line... thinking about going back out... thinking, thinking... not moving yet. We took all the weeds off the front hillside and are dreaming of what it could be. I have to remember to take some pictures so I'll be able to do a before and after. I should have done it before we weeded! We put in pathways in the back yard last year and we are thinking of adding one to the front this year. We would have a couple purposes for the path, a route to the mailbox (down on the street) without having to go down the driveway, which is on the opposite side of the house, and a way to head to the back yard from the front door or mailbox area. We need to extend our retaining wall on the west side of the house and build a small retaining wall along the new path. We'll add ferns and azaleas along the retaining wall, back them with my lilacs that will have to be moved. I'm beginning to see it.

Friday, June 03, 2011

One Week

I have one more week of school. My 7th graders just discovered that they actually have to work through next Wednesday and they are shocked. Poor things... this is the perfect time for grammar review and boy, do they need it! We just finished a capital letter review and the grades were not spectacular. Next, word usage... one of my pet peeves. I just corrected a girl who wrote except rather than accept. If I hammer away at this hard enough, it's possible these students will know a few of these things before high school.

Today I removed several things from my classroom walls, mostly schedules for sports, electives, enrichment, and such. I also took down student work and gave it to them. It's always interesting to see which students toss their work and which save it. Nearly all my only children save their work. And yes, I have several onlies in this class. That explains a lot of the conflict these students experience. They are simply used to getting their own way.

So... the sun is shining and I have the afternoon to look forward to. I'm done with most of my work! What joy!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Grades DONE- - -

And uploaded! How glad are all the teachers out there that we don't have to calculate our own grades and fill out paper report cards? That used to take HOURS! As frustrated as I can get over little quirks in our school record keeping program, I am enormously glad that I don't have to do the manual calculating and paper shuffling that I used to do every quarter. Today I gave my 8th graders their last test, entered it, and it's done. Had I been doing this manually, I would not have been able to count today's test. Tomorrow we'll be watching a 30-minute DVD Auschwitz: If You Cried, You Died about two Holocaust survivors. It falls perfectly after our literature circles. My 7th graders are going to take a vocabulary test which won't count - but they don't know that. Ah yes... one more week and vacation begins. This year hasn't been horrible, not at all, but I am ready for summer break. Leisurely mornings, sunshine, garden, and grandchildren... perfect!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Crazy Farm

That's where I told my 7th graders I was going: the crazy farm. They wanted to know if there really was such a place and I assured them there was, not too far from here either. Then D wanted to know if he could have visitation rights. "Absolutely Not! If I'm going crazy, I'm going alone!" was my sweet reply. We are at that point of the year when 7th graders forget they have been in school for nine long months, nearly ten, and act like they haven't a clue in the world how to do a thing! We've been doing the same kind of vocabulary work all year long, the same grammar all year long, the same... you get the picture... but they don't. Their role in life right now is to push me over the edge and I'm rolling right along, I assure you!