Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday May 31

This morning, for the first time in a little while, we slept late.  I woke up several times since the kids were in & out of the room and making noise in the house, but I continued to doze off & on til about 9:30! was nice!

This afternoon, we went to a wedding.  It was very nice & very different from most weddings I've been to.  It was in a church of a different denomination than my own, so the practices are different.  It was still very pretty, though.  Afterward, we went to the rehab hospital to visit an older lady from our church, but found her asleep.  We left a note for her and came home.

We had a pleasant surprise this evening!  My parents came over to hang out.  While it's not all that uncommon for us to hang out at their house now & then, we don't typically have people over to our house very often.  Seriously, we've been married for nearly 14 years and I can count on my two hands the number of times we've had someone over for dinner.  We're just homebodies & never think to invite people over.  We are also pretty busy most of the time so our nights at home are sort of a retreat from the world.  That's not to say that we don't enjoy having people over, we just never think to do it. & dad came up and bought pizza for everyone & just hung out.  It was nice!  I'm blessed to have great parents & a good relationship with both of them.  Larry & my dad are always talking and swapping books.  Mom & I see each other at least once a week and email each other daily.  (in fact, as I type this, we're emailing back & forth!)  So anyway, it was a good night.  The kids enjoyed seeing Grandma & Grandpa, too!

I went to the store tonight after they left & bought a poster board.  I'm going to make a sticker chart of sorts for the kids' summer reading.  I'm going to include the girls on it so that Samuel doesn't feel like we're singling him out or picking on him.  I'll post a picture of it after I make it, but right now, my camera is dead and I'm working out a deal with a friend to get her old one.  I'll have another one soon, but til pics.  Anyway, I'm going to have each of the kids determine what their summer reading goal is (# of books) and then they'll get to put a sticker on the chart for each book they read.  Along the way, I'll reward them for every 10-15 books with some little knick-knack or a trip to the park or an icecream cone or something.  Hopefully that will encourage Samuel to read & thus help him in doing so by making it fun!

It's late.  I need to take a shower so I'm going to go do that & get in bed!  Have a nice weekend!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Samuel's reading skills

Today was the last day of school, as you know.  All year long we've worried about Samuel's grades in the reading/language areas.  He reads very slowly & on a lower level than they want him to be on at the end of the school year.  (for example, they want him reading 90 words per minute & he reads 57 wpm)  Anything to do with words that he has to read or write, he does poorly in.  (spelling, handwriting, english/language arts)  You may remember that earlier in the year, we had him tested for dyslexia & the lady from the school district said that he did not show signs of being dyslexic.  She is the same lady who evaluated Andrew, so I believe her tests & evaluations are correct, but even so, Samuel struggles with these things none the less.
Part of the problem is that he hears things funny.  For example, any word that begins w/ the dr- blend, he writes with a j or g beginning.  If you ask him what "Jrake" is, he'll pronounce it that way (the way he spells it) and then point to his friend "Drake".  I'm not sure if that falls under speech problems or reading problems, but none of his teachers to this point have ever suggested he go to speech classes, so I guess it's a reading issue.
Anyway, in today's report card, he was labeled "at risk" in reading because his fluency rate is so low.  He failed his end of the sixth 6 weeks benchmark test, too.  The teacher's suggestion was to have him read tons over the summer.  When schools starts in the Fall, we're supposed to talk to his teacher about his reading skills and try to determine early in the year whether or not he needs to go to the Reading Recovery classes or some sort of one-on-one extra help within the district.  While it doesn't sound like a big deal to have him read more this summer, reading is definately NOT Samuel's first choice of hobby.  He would much prefer riding his bike or skateboard, playing basketball or watching TV to picking up a book & reading it.
We always spend lots of time at the library during the summer anyway, so my hope is to go every Monday and let the kids get new books, and I will concentrate on Samuel always picking at least one chapter book he can ACTUALLY read.  He tends to have a bigger appetite than he can reasonably handle---i.e. he will pick out some GIANT 3" thick book because it has a cool picture on the front when I KNOW he will never finish it.  If I point that out to him, he gets upset & it frustrates him that I don't have faith in him to finish it.  It's a fine line in petting his ego and convincing him to get something more suitable to his level of reading.
Anyway, if you have any thoughts/suggestions to help, feel free to tell me.  Other than loads of reading for fun, I can't think of anything that might help.  Maybe I will let him get his own library card (he's been asking for one) so he can check out MORE books than usual.  Hmm.....

End of school/beginning of summer!

Some pictures from this afternoon, our last day of school

Last day of school/beginning of summer!

Remember the last day of school when you were a kid?  I was always so excited to see the end of a school year come & to feel the anticipation of summer ahead.  There were days at VBS to look forward to, church camp, sleeping later, cartoons to watch, swimming, vacations....the possibilities were endless.  And so, every year on the last day of school, I'd hug my teacher goodbye, wave to my friends & I was off!

Today is the last day of school for my kids.  They all left this morning with a little more spring in their step, a bit of a giggle in their voice.  They were READY.  And so am I.  This school year has been a whirlwind of busy-ness, so it's good to have the summer to rest.

I am so proud of the kids.  Savannah is "graduating" into Junior High.  Yikes.  I KNOW I am not that old...or ready to have a 7th grader.  I don't guess I get a choice, though.  ha!  Samuel is finished with 2nd grade & moving onto 3rd.  He and Sarah will be on a new campus next year, so they will be finding their way around in a new building together.  Thankfully Savannah & Andrew both went through this school already, so they've been in the building lots of times and at least somewhat know the lay out.  That will help.  Miss Sarah is going to be a big 2nd grader in the Fall.  :::sigh:::  Boy time flies.

The summer chore list has been made, some special things are on the calendar, a vacation week is planned.  Ahhhh....time to relax a little & just enjoy the time we have together.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Long time, no see.....

Ok, so it hasn't actually been a long time, but it sorta feels that way for me.  On Tuesday afternoon, we had an electrical storm & my internet connection was lost.  I called the company & they told me it was the Network Card (whatever that is!).  After a trip to the shop, we found out that our network card was just fine...and the guy who worked on it for us was able to get online using our computer, so clearly the problem was not in the computer, but at our house!  Kevin (our friend who worked on the computer) suggested that sometimes, simply unplugging & replugging everything back in was all a computer needed to start functioning properly...and by golly, he was right!  We brought it home tonight, plugged it in & right off the bat...voila!  Everything was fixed.  Of course, the speakers aren't working so I have no sound, but the internet is fixed, thank goodness.  And so...I'm back!!  We've had a busy past few days!

On Tuesday, I had an inservice day at work after my annual check up with the doctor.  (Yes, THAT doctor ladies...yuck!)  It turns out that the tree service people were due to show up & FINALLY cut off the excess from the tree that fell a couple weeks ago, while I was gone.  Since King lives in our backyard, we weren't sure if he would let the tree guys into the yard.  Larry left work & came home, got the dog & took him to his office.  When I got out of my doctor's appointment, I picked up the dog & took him to the preschool with me.  Thank goodness we both have really flexible, easy-going work environments where we can do this!  No one minded King being around in either location.

On Wednesday, the tree service guys actually showed up.  (ha!)  They came and did their job in the morning.  I had a PTO meeting that afternoon.  I've gotta tell all the years we've had children in school, I've always JOINED the PTA/PTO, but I have *never* gone to a meeting.  Honestly, it wasn't something that I cared to do.  I joined mostly so that my kids' class could win the enrollment drive prizes, but I just didn't have time for the meetings typically.  Since our school district has restructured the way it will work (beginning this coming Fall), and this was the first meeting for our particular campus, I decided now would be a good time to jump in if I ever planned to.  And so, I went tothe meeting on Wednesday afternoon.  There were six of us there.  Somehow, before the end of the meeting, I joined PTO for next year (I had planned to anyway!) and I was signed up as the chairman over the room reps/volunteer coordination.  Heavens to Betsy......what have I gotten myself into??!!  ha ha!

Today was Samuel and Sarah's end of school class events, including some awards. 

First was Samuel's class party.  They had Happy Meals from McDonald's for lunch, then his teacher handed out some cute awards.  She gave each child a piece of candy with an award connected to that candy.  For example, Samuel got the Dove chocolate bar because he is the "Class Peacemaker".  Another child got a bag of gummy bears because he's always giving bear hugs.  It was a really neat way to reward the kids.  Samuel also got the award for never giving up & always trying really hard.  Here are the pictures I took of his class stuff.  She had them all seated here, giving out the candy awards.  Can you find Samuel?  He's to the right of the teacher in a blue striped shirt.

Here he is with our favorite 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Buffington.  We have LOVED her this year!

When his party was over, I took him with me and we went to Sarah's school for her class party.  Samuel was able to run down to his 1st grade teacher's room (from last year) & surprise her with a visit.  She was out of the room when he got there, so he sat and waited for her.  Imagine her shock when she walked into an empty room & found a child!  ha ha!  She was so happy to see him.  They had a sweet visit.  Before he left, her class came back from P.E. and she was able to introduce him to her class, saying she hoped that all her students would come back & visit her from year to year.  We love you, Mrs. Walker!  :)

Onto Sarah's things!  She had her final Reader's Theater today!  She's on the far right end of this pic in a blue shirt.  They were doing "Taxi the Turtle".  She played the part of the baby squirrel "Squirt".

After the program, her teacher did something similar to Samuel's---sitting them all down & handing out neat little awards.  Sarah got the "Best Listener" award.  Her teacher praised her for always paying attention & never having to have things repeated.  Way to go, sweet girl!!

I was not able to get a picture of Sarah & her teacher together, but to give you an idea of what Mrs. Mitchell looks like, here is one from the first day of school this past August!

Tomorrow the kids go to school until 1:00.  When they get out, they'll be done for the year!  I think when I pick them up, we're going to go get a Coke or something for a special treat!

Yahoo!!  Summertime is almost here!

Monday, May 26, 2008

I forgot to mention.....

Remember how Sarah took jazz/twirl class last year & did SO well in the recital?  (here's the post about her recital with some pics:  This past Fall when it was time to register for dance again, she decided that she didn't want to do it anymore.  We were sad because she'd done SO well at it before, but decided not to push anything.  She spent this past (school) year doing nothing--no extracurricular stuff anyway.

In the past few weeks, we've found her playing with her old baton several times.  She's wanted to show us "tricks" that she can still remember from last year.  We've cheered for her & let it go.

Last night was the dance recital for the studio where she took dance class before.  Our next door neighbors' girls take dance from this same place, so we went to watch them.  The little girls next door invited us to come watch, so we did.  The recital is at the high school & we live right next door to the school, so we didn't have to go far to see it.  Sarah had told me yesterday afternoon that she thought she might want to do dance again.  I smiled & said OK and moved on.  But then last night, halfway through the recital, she leaned over & said "Mom!  When is dance sign up?  I want to do it again!!!"  I told her it wasn't until August.  She crossed her arms & made a sad face, but then giggled.  She's really into it & ready to go again!  Hooray!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday May 25

Today's been great!  This morning was church as usual.  With gas prices rising (SOARING), we have begun to take 1 vehicle to church.  It's a little inconvenient for the kids & I to go early (because there is really nothing for us to do) but it's necessary right now.  We are spending a ton on gas like the rest of the world, so anything we can do to cut back is helpful.

Anyway, we went to church early with Larry and it ended up being a neat time.  Larry has a pastor's prayer meeting at 8:45.  We got to the church about 8:30.  By 8:40 the kids were bored & Savannah disappeared into the gym.  Soon after, Samuel went hunting for her.  And then I went searching for them to bring them back to the office.  It was a sweet scene to walk in & find them in the church kitchen (just off the gym).  They were helping an older couple prepare the elements for communion.  So sweet.  They were putting the tiny cups into the trays for them and then the gentleman let Savannah use the little pouring bottle to fill the cups.  Before ya knew it, I was helping fill cups too.  What a sweet thing to do as a family.  (well, not the whole family, but part of us)  Afterward, it was time for me to go work in the nursery & the kids went back to the office with Larry, who was out of his meeting by then.

After church, we came home & zonked out.  It's our belief that the 11th commandment is "Thou shalt nap on Sundays."  ha ha!  We follow that one pretty closely.

Since we didn't have church tonight, the kids stayed home with Larry while I went shopping.  My Mon/Wed/Fri class gave me a sizable Target gift card for my end of the year gift so I went on a little shopping spree.  (THANK YOU GUYS!!!)  I really needed some new clothes, so that was my goal.  I ended up having a bum trip because there just wasn't much selection.  Their plus-sized department is pretty small anyway, but today it was really shabby.  (Sorry if I ruined the image any of you had of me.  I am indeed a plus-sized girl.)  They have all these shirts that look like maternity tops to me, so I just don't go there.  I mean seriously, if you're bigger than a size 10, you probably shouldn't wear something that looks sorta umm... "poofy" in the tummy department.  No thanks.  So I skipped over all of those!  I ended up finding ONE shirt & ONE pair of capris.  Seriously.  That's IT.  It's ok.  I'll go back later & try again.  I decided that since this gift card was specifically meant to be spent on ME, I'd also peek at shoes & books & CDs & other thinks that I would like to have but never spend the money on.  I found a pair of tennis shoes (because I reallyyyyyyy needed some!) and another pair of cute shoes.  I got a book I've wanted to read and the new Natalie Grant CD, too.  I didn't get as much as I was hoping in the way of clothes, but I did get to spend some time focusing on buying ME stuff.  That doesn't happen very often.  And now I'll get to go back later & do it again!  What a treat!

After the kids went to bed, I went on my FIRST BIKE RIDE since getting my new bike.  It was great!  How often can I honestly say that about exercise?  I'm blown away.  I seriously loved it.  I made a big loop around through my neighborhood & would've kept going but the bike was making a funky scraping sound so I came back to the house & had Larry look at it.  Turns out, one of my pedals is bent funny & scratches against the thingy that covers the chain.  I have no idea what it's called, but you know...that THING under the pedals.  Anyway, it was after 9pm and dark, so he decided that it's just going to have to scrape for now.  I parked the bike & only then realized I was sweating a lot and my heart was pumping pretty good.  Cool.  It worked for the purpose it was purchased!  Yahoo!  It'll take some time to get used to riding a bike again.  My braking maneuvers tonight were a little jumpy---either applying too much pressure & nearly flinging myself over the handlebars or not applying enough pressure & having to drag my feet to stop fully.  Other than the one time I almost T-boned the side of a red Silverado, I did pretty good.  I'll get there.

It's nearly 11pm now and I'm headed off to the shower.  I've got to make a pan of brownies for a lunch we're going to tomorrow with some friends from church, too.  I think I may be up a while.  Looking forward to our day off tomorrow.  Any plans at your house?

Friday, May 23, 2008

The last day of (my) school

The kids still have another week to go, but I'm done.  School's out.  Today was our last day.  And what a sweet day it was!

Allow me to introduce you to the rest of my students!  First, these are my Monday, Wednesday, Friday class kiddos.

This is Ella Bea.  She is a precious, sweet girl.  She is gentle & caring, but spunky and silly at the same time.  She spends most of her school days playing at the dollhouse with Sophie (who you'll meet next).  Such a girlie-girl!  She loves ballet and all things pink & frilly, but at the same time, she can roll in the dirt and play with worms like a champ.  A great mix!  I think Ella Bea will one day be a great mother or a nurse.

Next is Sophie.  Sophie has this wildly curly, beautiful blonde hair.  She is the funniest little girl I've met in a while.  Totally dramatic & silly, with the softest heart.  She tells crazy stories and sings me songs with funny words.  She has the energy to pull a freight train, but can sit very still for storytime.  I can see Sophie becoming a theater teacher one day.  Or a stand up comedianne.  (tee ya, Sophie girl!)

This is Brooke.  She has a fun personality and enjoys playing house, dressing up, doing art projects, building...whatever you throw at her, she's there.  Brooke gets excited about everything and loves the detail work on everything.  With Brooke's strength of character and bright little mind, I bet she will be a pediatrician one day.

This is James.  He is the quietest, most gentle little boy.  He is soft spoken, introspective and tender spirited.  He loves to build things and pretend to be a fireman.  He has become more & more sweet as the year has passed.  Anyone would love to be around this little guy.  I am excited because I think I will have his cousin in the Fall when school starts again!  I think James will be a doctor one day.

Anna is my little lovey girl.  She likes to hang around me and sit & talk to the girls.  She is probably the most shy & quiet of my group.  This picture actually took me several tries to get!  (I kinda snuck this one...she didn't know I had the camera on!)  She loves circle time and making art long as her fingers don't get dirty.  :)  Anna is a precious girl with a sweet personality.  I think she'd make a great Kindergarten teacher one day.

And 3 kiddos who attended school Monday through Friday.  These guys were the ones I saw every day of this school year, and so, they deserve a little bit more space on this blog.  I might post some more pictures later.

First, this is Laura Mae.  LM has been such a pleasure to watch grow this year.  Not only has she gotten bigger physically, her personality has stretched & grown.  She started out the year quiet & passive, and ended the year with a lot of GIRL POWER.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and is one of the most polite & well mannered little ladies I've ever met.  I love ya, LM!

Next is Jacob.  Jacob is a man's man sort of boy.  He likes golf & sports & bugs.  He enjoys building things and digging in the dirt.  He likes to run and play and isn't such a fan of sitting still and listening to stories.  He's all boy!  He is a sweetheart with a neat family.  I've enjoyed having Jacob this year.  I think he'll be a golf pro one day.

And last but not least is Harman.  She is a spunky little thing.  Harman has a ton of energy & is very loving and friendly to everyone she meets.  She loves to help me and the other kids anytime a need arises.  Harman is strong & independant and has made friends with everyone this year.  With her personality & people skills, I think she'll be an attorney or a politician one day.  You've got my vote, girl!

And so, I bid a fond farewell to my Mon/Wed/Fri class.  Have a great summer, guys.

I did OK tears until this.

Look...the chairs are stacked up for the last time.  Their chair tags are gone.  Name tags from the shelf where they hang up their bags are gone.  I got a little choked up when I saw these this afternoon.

But I'm ok.  I'll see many of the kids this summer.  Some are going to summer school at least some part of the summer, so I will see them again.  This isn't farewell.  It's just goodbye....for now.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Last day with one of my classes

Late last night, I read the news that so many of you have heard.  About 5pm yesterday evening, Steven Curtis Chapman's son (I think he's about 17?) accidentally ran over his baby sister, 5 year old Maria, and killed her in the family's driveway.  I was horrified, not only for the loss of this little girl, but for the boy who will have to carry this around the rest of his life.  I can't imagine being the parents of this poor boy and trying to help him through this while at the same time mourning their little girl's death.  So tragic!  And so this morning while driving home from taking kids to school, I heard Mr. Chapman's song "Cinderella", and I lost it.  The song was written about his daughters, both the 20 year old and his youngest ones, including Maria.  In case you haven't heard it, this is the one I'm talking about.

And with that on my mind this morning, I drove to work knowing that I would be saying good-bye to several children that I won't be seeing anymore.  Today was the last day for my Tuesday/Thursday class.  I had a hard time seeing the road on my drive to work.  Tears clouded my vision, but I pulled it together when I got to work.  I was doing OK til one of the moms came in & got all teary-eyed telling me how much she appreciated me and what I'd done for her daughter this year.  Luckily, I only teared up for a minute & was able to get through the rest of the day without crying in front of the kids.  Leaving work, I again felt the emotions of losing contact with those kiddos.  I will still see a few of them this summer while I'm teaching, but there were at least a few that I had to say good-bye to today.  It's always hard to say goodbye to those kiddos when you've invested so much time & energy into them for the past year.  Their parents all went together and bought me a gift certificate to a local spa.  I can't wait to use it!  It's for a full day of beauty.  A 1 hour massage, a facial, a mani/pedi and lunch!  Wow!  That will be a treat.  Anyway, it's nice to be validated by the know that you made an impact and they appreciate it.  But I'll still miss the kiddos.

Since the year is over, and I'm not giving their full names or their addresses or something like that, I think I can safely share a few thoughts with the world about these kids now.  Let me introduce you to some of "my" kids from school.

This is Caitlyn.  She is an inquisitive little girl who's kept me on my toes this year.  She's got the energy & curiosity to make an awesome scientist one day!  I can't wait to see where the future takes her.  She's got a great family who are strong in their faith.  With a super family & God on her side, I'm sure she will do well in life.

This is Alyssa.  You may remember me telling you about Alyssa earlier this year.  She is my spunky little friend who had surgery on her legs to correct club-feet.  She made it through the surgery & recovery with amazing speed & strength.  She has got a sweet little personality & will make a super teacher one day!

This is John Walker.  He is a little love bug.  His mom told me that he often draws pictures of me at home & tells her that he loves me and wants to marry me.  How sweet is that?  He's a little country boy with the cutest southern accent.  I love this kid!  One day, he'll be selling John Deere tractors at the feed store.  (ha really, he'd LOVE to do this!)

This is Bobby (on the right).  Bobby is the sweetest little boy!  He started the year feeling a little insecure & shy and finished the year running full-steam ahead.  He has got a gentle personality & soft heart.  Say hello to the next Billy Graham....or elementary principal.  I think he'll be a preacher or work with kids.  Hard to decide which one...

And lastly, this is Zoie.  I had Zoie's big brother a few years ago when he was 3 years old.  When I saw Zoie's name onmy class list this year, I knew she had to be his baby sister.  (Trust can't miss it w/ their last name--it's truely unique!)  She has been a great joy to teach this year.  She's helpful and kind, caring and sweet.  And the girl loves art!  One of these days, it wouldn't suprise me to hear that she's the next Martha Stewart!

The rest of my Tues/Thurs class are kids that come 5 days a week, so it wasn't my last day with them...yet.  Tomorrow I will introduce you to the rest of "my kids", including my 5 day kids.  Til then, I'll leave you with this picture.  It's our class's group picture for the year.  Pardon the picture of a picture, but it's the best I could do.

I love you guys.  Have a great summer!


Political ambitions

A few weeks ago, Larry was approached by a member of the city council.  This man was nominating Larry to fill a seat that had been opened by our recently elected mayor.  Larry has always had aspirations of running for an elected office, even if that just means the school board or city council.  When this came up, he jumped on the chance to serve in such a way!  The gentleman who nominated him assured him that there were no other candidates for the position & it was pretty well a "done deal".  We were to come to a council meeting tonight at 6:00 and let the council vote on Larry's involvement & then, assuming they liked him, they would swear him in immediately.

WELL...a couple of days ago, the man called back.  A little glitch came up... 3 other men had been nominated as well.  It was no longer a "done deal", but we were still hopeful.  Tonight we all dressed up (to look professional, after all), skipped church and went to the city council meeting.  We sat through the entire meeting, quietly listening.  The kids did great!  Everyone was excited about Larry's future in small town politics.  When they finally reached the part of the meeting that we'd come for, they decided to skip over it & hold it til next week's meeting.  Since there were several candidates involved now, they wanted to make sure each of the candidates was thoroughly prepared (1 candidate wasn't there tonight).  Next week, they will allow each candidate to speak for about 3 minutes, introducing themself to the council & then the council will have some Q&A time with them.  Unfortunately, that meeting will be held in the middle of the time that we'll be sitting in Savannah's school cafeteria watching her awards ceremony.  Larry was quick to point out that his family comes first, so he will miss the "interview" session of the council meeting.  I suppose they could still "hire" him based on his bio sheet & resume, but it's probably a little less likely than if he were to go there & let them talk to him.  He doens't seem the least bit upset or bummed about this, which is great.  He said tonight that if this is God's will, He'll make it happen......and if it's not, He'll shut the doors.  I'll let ya know what happens.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Growing up, I was the youngest of 3 girls.  Most of my clothes were hand-me-downs.  Most of my shoes were hand me downs.  Actually, come to think of it....most of what I owned was a hand me down from clothes to toys, beds and books..... even my BICYCLE!  I think I spent most of my childhood riding the same purple bike w/ the banana seat.  I still remember it & can picture it to this day.  The seat had nice harvest gold & avocado green flowers all over it.  Pretty, huh?  I remember begging my parents to get me a new bike for years.  I really loved the bike I had, but I always hoped to wake up one Christmas morning & have a new very own bike.  I think sometime around my 15th birthday when I wasn't really out riding my bike all the time anymore, I quit begging for a bike.  (or did I just give up?  hmm....)

It's sort of been an ongoing joke with my parents for years now.  Many times I'll ask for something simple (can you pass the salt?) and remind them of the plight of their poor child who never had her VERY OWN bike.  I like to pretend that it was a rite of passage I was deprived of.  They tease me about it, too.  Truth be told, I always HAD a bike.  There was NO REASON for them to go out & buy a new one just for the sake of me having a new one.  And so, they didn't.

A couple months ago, I mentioned to Larry that I'd like for all of us to have a bike so that we could ride bikes together as a family.  My mom got wind of my request & said something like "by all means, go buy the girl a bike...she's been asking for one her whole life!"  ha ha!  When the tax stimulus check came, part of it was earmarked....for bikes!  Larry got his a few days ago.  Tonight we went to the store & bought mine!!!!

Hi, my name is Liz.  I am a 32 year old mother of three and I just got my first (ever!) brand new bike.  I am a happy lady tonight.

Now I have these fantasies of how this will work.  Play along with me, ok?  First off, this summer, since gas is SO HIGH, the kids & I will spend our days leisurely riding our bikes all around the neighborhood, enjoying the breeze blowing through our hair (ok, so the hair dryer-esque heat scalding our skin....) while we joyfully spend quality time together.  We'll hum a little song while we ride.  The kids will laugh and have great memories of the summer of '08, hanging out with mom & going for bike rides together.  And the perk of all those bike rides will be the 30-40 pounds I will lose by the time summer is over.  I will go back to school in the fall all slim & trim with calf muscles to die for.

See?  I told you I've got it all figured out!

And ya know...the last time I rode a bike was in 2005.  And that was a stationary bike at the YMCA.  I got on the bike momentarily tonight when we got home from the store.  I felt a bit like a hippo sitting atop a clown bike in the circus.  I wasn't exactly steady on the bike.  But I'll get there.  After all, they say that you can't really forget how to ride a bike..... 

Monday, May 19, 2008

Book recommendation

I am in the middle of reading a Max Lucado book.  I have only read a few of his books & each one always makes me think "wow....he's good, why haven't I read more of his stuff?".  They're good on a different level than my favorite Christian fiction books.  I am excitedly looking forward to Karen Kingsbury's new book, due out in the Fall, but til then I'm filling up on other books.

This one is particularly good, so I thought I'd let y'all know to look for it!

It's called Next Door Savior.  Mr. Lucado is really good at taking a Bible story and creating a storyline to go along with it that really drives home the message of the story, but in a familiar, friend next door sort of way.  It's sorta hard to explain, but totally worth reading.  If you're looking for a good read written in short little chapters that you could read & digest one bite at a time, this might be the book for you!

old friends

In 9th grade, a girl moved to my school & we became quick friends.  We spent most of our high school years in classes together and ate lunch together most days.  When we graduated from HS, Lisa went into the Air Force and I got married & moved away.  Somehow, however, we kept in touch.  She was stationed all over the world (quite literally!) over the course of the next 5 or 6 years after we graduated from High School.  She met a sweet guy while she was stationed in Japan & they got married.  Since they got married, they've had 3 kids and she left the military.  Her husband is still in the Air Force and together, they have moved several times.  Right now, they are in the States.  Though they're still several states away from me, we have been able to visit a couple of times when they come through to see family.  It's always fun to see the way our kids play together.  Although they've only seen each other a handful of times in their lifetimes, they always act like old friends who've never missed a day of being together.  They play so well!  Tonight, Lisa and her family were in town so we met at McDonald's for supper.  It was such a nice treat to see her sweet family!!  And of course we had to get a picture!

Not a great hair day for me....but oh well!  I love my sweet girlfriend.  I'm so glad I got to see ya, Lisa!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sarah's eyes & my flowers

Ok, so those 2 topics in the title have nothing to do with one another, but they're both in this post.  :)

This afternoon when Sarah got in the car at school, she started sniffling & very reluctantly pulled a paper from her backpack saying "I have to show you something."  We expected that maybe she'd gotten a bad grade or maybe had to change her color at school & had a note about it.  When we got where we could look at it, we took a peek.  It turns out that the school nurse has tested her eyes several times & she's consistently failed with her right eye every time.  I don't know WHY it took til 2 weeks before school is out to let us know about this, but anyway....  The paper was a note telling us we need to get her eyes checked.  Sarah was thoroughly worried about it.  She thought we'd be upset for some reason.  Silly girl.  Now her biggest concern is that she might need glasses.  Larry & I told her that we both wear glasses or contacts.  90% of our immediate family on either side wear glasses, so it's no big deal.  She's probably near-sighted like the rest of us.  We called this afternoon & got her set up with the eye doc Samuel saw about 6 months ago.  I guess we'll find out then!

When I got home from work, Larry was in the yard doing some work & pointed excitedly at my new pots.  You see, we have one side of our yard that gets VERY LITTLE sun....almost NONE.  When we moved in, we put in a rock garden because no grass would grow.  This pic shows what I'm talking about.  It's from the day we got a new roof a couple of months ago.  The side nearest my van is where the rocks are.

The flowerbed area directly in front of my van (you can't really see it in that pic above) has been bare for a while now.  Recently, I decided that we could put some pavers in it & sit big pots on them & fill them with something colorful & pretty.  WELL....we got our government tax stimulus check thing today, so Larry went out & got me some pots!  This afternoon after picking up the kids from school, we went to the nursery & got some pretty red impatiens.  See?

This (above) is one of the 2 smaller pots that I planted a few flowers in.  These are my big ones in the flowerbed:

Hopefully they'll take off growing really soon!

Tues & Thurs May 13 & 15

On Tuesday, I had the privelege of going to the Discovery Science Place with Sarah on he class field trip.  I love that place!  It's the same kids' science museum that our kids have gone to for day camps the past several years in the summertime.  They have a ton of fun & because we're there so often, we know most of the staff.  Anyway, I went on the trip with them.  Here are a few pictures I took.

In this first one, she was rolling golf balls around in this wishing well.  She is always drawn to this thing.  In fact, she busted her head open on her way to this very spot when she was about 2 1/2 years old.  She's got the scar on her right eyebrow to prove it, too!

...and here she is looking down over the side of the big ship that is inside the building!

She was being a silly goose here, looking into a kaleidoscope & peeking up at me.

She was playing a Magic Schoolbus game on the computer in one of the rooms in this pic.

After the museum, the class went to the park to play & eat pizza, but it started raining, so we had to leave & go back to the school.  All in all, it was a really fun day, despite the rain.

Tonight was Savannah's end of the year band concert.  It is really amazing to hear this group of kids play!  Nine months ago, none of them had ever touched their instruments before and they sound amazing!  I am so glad she enjoys band.  I never learned to play an instrument as a kid and have always wished I would have.  I still joke that I'm going to be the 45 year old student at piano lessons with the frustrated teacher one of these days.  ha!  Larry was in the band from 5th through 12th grade & is tickled pink to be walking down this road with her.  It brings back memories for him.  And tonight's band concert brought back memories for me, too.  You see, about 20 years ago, I sat in this same gymnasium & listened to MY FRIENDS play in the band at our pep rallies.  Just hearing the swell of the music as they played tonight flooded my mind with sweet middle school memories & reminded me of so many football games, pep rallies, concerts.  Oops...this wasn't about me, it was about my sweet girl!  Anyway...tonight was their concert.  We could not have been prouder!  The whole group did so well.  We loved the percussion group that did an ensemble of the William Tell Overture.  Awesome!  Wow!  Here are some pictures I took.

To give you some sort of idea of the size of their band.  This is the 6th grade only---the beginner band.  There are something like 175 kids in it.

Here is Savannah & her French Horn.  That's her on the end of the row w/ the black jumper style dress w/ the white tank top under it.

And afterward...she was pretty proud of herself, too.

Way to go, Savannah Banana!

(and note:  She is wearing socks this time!  ha ha!  If you don't know what I'm talking about, read this:


Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Mother's Day 2008

I think part of what provoked me to write last night's entry was that I stopped & admired 3 little pictures that are on my bedroom door.  They were drawn for me by a sweet baby girl over a year ago, but I haven't been able to take them down you.  I think you can see why.  Can you see the artist's name?

This morning, however, was better.  I awoke to my sweetie pie heading off to work (church).  He crawled into bed to hug me, tell me he loves me & to thank me for being the mother of his children.  (Of course, I in turn thanked him for making me a mama.  tee hee)

Soon after, Samuel was in the kitchen telling me "don't get up!  I'm making you breakfast!".  Umm....ok.  He did pull off toast & juice pretty well.

One by one, the kids brought in their treasures & cards mostly handmade things from school.  Too sweet!  Larry apologized several times today about the fact that what he ordered me had not arrived yet.  He ordered it several weeks ago but it's still in transit somewhere.  That's ok, though.  I forgave him.

At church, our pastor's wife (& a dear friend of mine who I also work with) spoke during the worship service.  She did a fabulous job of giving a message about moms, but it was one that is also applicable to all the people in the service.  Way to go, Gina!!  In her speaking, she really honored me and several other ladies by mentioned traits about us that she admires.  I was so touched that she said my name & talked about the fact that I'd gotten the teacher of the year award from work.  The whole crowd clapped & many of them came up afterward to hug me & congratulate me!  Wow...what a blessing!

We came home after church to rest & then spent the evening with my parents.  They cooked supper & we ate at their house.  We gave mom a card & a little bath set.  The kids got to have fun hanging out & doing 'grandma's house stuff'.  Sarah & Samuel both went to the garden with mom & I to dig some potatoes (they think that's the coolest thing in the world).  Before we left, we took a new 3 generation picture.  Me, mom & the girls took one last year on Mother's Day, so we needed a new one tonight.  I won't embarass myself by posting both pics....because I figured out after I got home & looked at the pics that I was wearing the same outfit in both pictures!  ha ha!  But anyway, here is the one from tonight:

It was a great day.  Life is good.  I am blessed beyond measure.  Thank you, Lord.

praying for moms

It's nearly midnight & my mind is filled with the names & faces of so many women that I will spend tomorrow praying for.  Unfortunately, I know far too many ladies who've lost a child to cancer or some other horrible illness.  I know too many to count who've surivived abortion or miscarriage along the way.  There are others who've lost a child in infancy and have to visit the grave of their tiny child, gone too soon.  Friends of mine have had children killed in wrecks.  And oh, those mothers who have to walk through tomorrow aching for their kidnapped or murdered child.  Precious lives, taken away from their mother's arms..... 

So many of us mommies live each day with a void.  The void is pierced by life that must continue, other children that must be fed, a job that must be done & projects that must be finished.  My void is not quite like the others I listed above, but it's a void just the same.  Two little people are gone from my life and I ache for their presence.  What I wouldn't do for a big hug from them tomorrow. 

Other moms have lost their own mother.  Some as little girls, some as young women or young mothers themselves.  Life without their mom has never been the same since she was gone.

For so many women out there, Mother's Day is a hard one.  These moms are the "walking wounded".

I am grateful for my three healthy children, for the wonderful mama in my life who I speak to nearly every day.  I am grateful for two beautiful sisters who are moms, too, and for so many close friends who share in this great sisterhood of being a mother.

But tonight my thoughts & prayers are going up for all the moms who paste on a smile & go through Mother's Day with a pain in their hearts that won't ever go away.  I encourage you to join me in those prayers.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

funny kids

I'm typing these out quickly, so pardon any spelling errors or typos.  I need to type them up before I forget them!

#1---Sarah is a perfume hound.  Anytime she sees a bottle, she'll grab it & give herself a little squirt.  This morning, she came out of my bathroom grinning, like she usually does after spraying perfume.  She walked over to me & acted like she was waiting for me to notice the scent.  I leaned over & sniffed....but didn't smell anything.  I asked if she'd used perfume.  She said she had, so I sniffed again, still nothing.  I asked her which kind it was & she ran back to the bathroom to look.  She yelled back "It's called White Rain."  I was stumped.  I have a lot of perfumes, but I couldn't remember one with that name.  Then she started laughing & said "Oh wait........that's hairspray!!!"  (No wonder I couldn't smell anything when I sniffed her.)

#2--We ran to the grocery store for a few things this afternoon.  Samuel & Sarah went with me.  Upon getting into the van, they both said they had money with them to buy me something --- from the gumball machines.  Sarah gave me a lovely pink & white rubber ring while Samuel purchased an upscale golden band.  LOL!  I love them both.

#3-- On the drive home, someone mentioned "joy", which of course always makes me think of a childhood church song---I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.....  Anyway, I started singing that.  Samuel jumped in when I got to the next verse & sang out "I've got a piece of understanding down in my heart......"  I giggled at his version of the song & then Sarah said "NO, goes like this...........I've got a piece of pastor's understanding down in my heart...where?  Down in my heart to stay!"

Hmm...maybe we need to re-learn that song.  Then again, sometimes I feel like I just have a "piece" of understanding as well.

What is the difference between day care & preschool?

I've been asked this question a lot and since I've worked in both environments, I feel at least semi-qualified to answer.  My answer is solely based on the experiences I have had, so others may disagree with my response, but here are my thoughts.
In a day care setting, the children have to be there.  Their parents are working & they need a safe place with caring adults to leave their children during those hours when they have to be away.  Day cares typically provide custodial care, that is, being a stand-in for mom & dad during the hours when they are away.  That includes caring for boo-boo's, loving & snuggling the children, teaching & guiding them in not only academic ways, but also with morals & values & basic standards of life.  They are also responsible for disciplining them when necessary, feeding them, putting them down for naps and help with potty training from day 1 to completion while the children are in their care.  Day cares will vary, but in the one where I worked, it was mostly staffed by college-aged ladies who were there for a semester or two & then left.  While this is certainly alright & the children got quality care from these ladies, there were times when I felt bad for the kids in their care who had gotten attached to them & then had to watch them leave.  There were a few older teachers who had chosen this as their career, who were involved in the center and its children for many, many years, so there is a wide array of teachers & experience in day care settings.  Day care centers provide oppurtunities for the children to learn with curriculum-based centers and group times, field trips & outdoor activities, but they also provide a lot of 'babysitting' & free play time because you really can't have every minute of the day lesson-planned out.  Day care centers are generally open from 6:30 or 6:45am until 5:30 or 6:00pm and offer care for infants all the way up to 12 year olds in after-school programs.  Some day care centers offer meal programs for the children as well.
In a preschool setting, the children don't have to be there.  It is a choice their family has made to provide a pre-elementary school experience for the child.  Preschools are typically open fewer hours (many are 1/2 day programs) with a much smaller age range of children (usually 2 -5 year olds).  Preschool classes are specifically designed to introduce children to a classroom setting & prepare them for the routines & structure of elementary school.  Curriculum is fun & exciting and provides lots of oppurtunities for hands-on activities and crafts.  They also have field trips and outdoor activities, like a day care center.  Preschools do not usually have nap times because the children are only there for 3-4 hours at a time.  The kids may have a snack and/or lunch at preschool.  In a preschool setting, teachers are typically ones who have chosen to teach in this sort of setting as a career, not just a job (there is a difference!).  Parents of preschool students may be working, but many are not.  They have simply chosen to implement a preschool program to prep their child for Kindergarten.  Preschool teachers will, like day care center teachers, provide love & care and nurturing, first aid for boo-boos and discipline when needed.
Of course, there are a lot of day care centers that are now moving in the direction of preschools & even may carry the "preschool" title.  There are also preschools who provide an extended time frame for families with working parents.  So while there are situations where the 2 names can be used interchangeably, there are most definately some very big differences.
One thing both environments have in common is state licensing & guidelines they must follow regarding care, health standards & teacher requirements.  Teachers in both situations must go through ongoing training classes to stay "on the top of their game".  Schools vary with regard to teacher licensing & credentials.  At both of the places I have worked, teachers must have (at least) a high school diploma, first aid/CPR training and experience working with children, with preferance given to those with a degree or some college classes in early childhood development.  In both environments I have seen teachers on both ends of the extreme---some with teaching degrees and some with only a HS diploma.
After having worked in both environments, I can say that I really prefer to be in a preschool.  While my time with the day care center was absolutely fantastic and I wouldn't change it for the world, I adore the preschool environment for a million reasons.  If the time came that I needed to transition back into a day care center, I would do it but I prefer a preschool.
Any questions?  Feel free to leave a comment or email me:

Friday, May 9, 2008

Totally stunned!

Tonight was our end of the year party for the teachers at the school where I work.  We traded our secret pal gifts & revealed who the secret person has been all semester.  I got a big bag of goodies---a cool tote bag, an insulated lunch bag, a monogrammed towel, some B&BW body spray in one of my favorite scents & a book of devotionals for teachers.  We also ate a meal together & then they gave out awards.

One of the awards was "Teacher of the Year".  Weeks ago, they had us nominate someone.  I had a really hard time voting because I don't really know what other teachers do in their classrooms, so I had a hard time choosing someone based on their personality or what their classroom looks like when I walk past (decorations, center set up, etc).  We had to write out reasons why we were voting for that person, so I really wanted to vote for someone who deserved it.  I ended up choosing a lady who is technically a sub, but she is there (it seems) 4 out of 5 days a week & she has subbed for me a couple of times.  She is willing to work with any age group, is very flexible & jumps in wherever she's needed all the time.  She's able to be silly & have fun with the littlest ones and can teach the Kindergarten class with ease as well.  That means a lot to me.

Tonight, they began reading all the comments people had given for the teacher who had won.  They read the reasons before naming the teacher.  As I sat & listened, I was thinking 'wow...those are such nice things people said about this lady....I wonder who it is'.  And then, out of the blue....whammo.....they weren't describing someone else!  It was ME!  This is my plaque.

I am just so stunned.  They promised to get me a copy of the comments that people made about me.  I started crying when I realized it was ME they were describing.  Seriously, it was very touching....and I will cherish those words even more than the plaque to hang on my classroom wall.  (although I'm pretty jazzed about that, too!!!)

It turns out that there was a tie & another teacher (who was actually my secret pal!) also received the teacher of the year award.  They are making a yard sign that will stand in front of the school this summer & all next year with our names on it, too.  I'll post a pic when they place the sign! 

I'm really excited about this, but I'm honestly very surprised.  I've only been there for one year, so I neverrrrrr expected to win this award.  It makes sense for Sheila to get it (the other lady who won) because she's worked there for several years now....but me?  Wow.  That's all I can say.  Wow.  (if you're a parent or a teacher, you may recognize that reference from Lilly's Plastic Purple Purse...ha ha!)  Anyway,

To all you Oak Tree folks who read my blog, THANK YOU!  From the bottom of my heart, I really appreciate this!  What an honor!

Cute Mother's Day video

oh what a morning!

Before the alarm clock went off this morning (at 6:20), Samuel tip-toed into the room & whispered to me that a branch had fallen from a tree in the back yard.  Umm, ok, that's nice go away so I can sleep a little more.  He went back to his room & that was that.

A few minutes before the alarm went off, Sarah came rushing in to tell me that a TREE had fallen in the backyard & King was "squished" under it.  What?  By this time, I had forgotten Samuel's earlier explanation that a "branch" had fallen, but the idea that our beloved dog was "squished" under a fallen tree made me jump out of bed.  Larry & I ran to the back window of our bathroom & saw this:

Umm...that's not good.  (This pic was taken looking out my bathroom window.)

We threw on our clothes to go check the damage outside.  Interestingly enough, all three kids were already dressed & ready to go out.  Apparently Samuel woke up first & then woke the girls to look at the "branch" in the yard.  ha!  We ran outside & found a bigger mess than we expected.  See?

This enormous piece of the tree had fallen.  The part connected to the tree was easily 15-18" in diameter.  It was the length of about 2/3 of our yard.  While it didn't hit the house (praise God!), it did hit the front wall of our shed.  Damage was VERY minimal, just some scraped places.

Check out how CLOSE it came to hitting the house.  The yellow part you're seeing is the bathroom we added on in 2006.

Larry went to staff meeting this morning, then came home & began the arduous task of cleaning up this mess.  With the assistance of my dad's chainsaw, he cut the branch down & cut it into a million pieces.  He got one trailer load of it hauled off before I got home from work.  After we picked up the kids from school, the 5 of us worked for several hours to load up the rest.  It was after 7pm before we finished, but the yard is officially cleared out now!

This morning, we thought that lightening had struck the tree, causing it to fall.  After all, this looks like a charred spot, doesn't it?

As it turns out, it's something entirely different.  The tree is infested with carpenter ants.  Apparently where they have eaten through the bark & into the tree, the tree tried to "rebark" itself, growing a new layer of bark down into a "Y" where the tree was bare, thus pushing the "Y" farther apart.  Between that & the ants eating away at it, it was weakened & apparently finally broke off & fell.  Thank goodness we were not outside at the time.  Thank goodness it fell in the direction it did.  Thank goodness no one was hurt & nothing was damaged.

The rest of the tree must be removed.  There are other VERY LARGE branches to this tree hanging over our roof & others the size of the one that fell across the yard that look a little precarious.  It's only a matter of time before they fall as well.  We have someone coming tomorrow morning from a tree service to give us an estimate to take the tree out completely.

Oh what a morning.....there's nothing like standing in the yard in your pajamas at 6:30am taking pictures of a fallen tree.  Ahhh...the joys of homeownership.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What a great weekend!

I've had a great weekend!  It all started Friday night.  We had a gift card to Clear Springs, a restaurant here in town, so we went out to eat.  What a treat!  Yummy food with my sweet family.  Afterward, we got home & put the kids to bed and I went to meet a friend for a Coke before I went grocery shopping.  I always put the kids to bed & then go to the store for groceries, so that wasn't out of the ordinary, but the friend I was meeting was "me" a few years ago.  You see, she's the mom of one of the kids in my class at school.  She's going to start teaching this Fall & she was nervous about that and has lots of questions.  I say she's "me" a few years ago, because I remember feeling that way.  Now, all year long, there have been parents of "my" kids who I looked at as not only a parent in my class, but a potential friend...someone I could see myself hanging out with & really enjoy talking to.  Friday night confirmed that for this lady.  We met at 8:30 and started talking.  We did talk about teaching & school, but we talked about a lot of other things too and before we knew it, we looked down & realized it was 11pm!!!!  I did my grocery shopping really fast & got home just past midnight....but it was worth it.  I had a good time getting to go have a "girl's night" with her.

Saturday was another great day!  The church has a Mother/Daughter party each year for Mother's Day.  This year it was a Pep Rally theme.  There were cheerleaders there to teach the little girls a cheer for their moms.  There were craft tables set up where they could make necklaces & key chains for their moms.  There was a table where they could decorate a megaphone to take home.  They served nachos & hot dogs & popcorn (like the snacks at a ball game).  It was fun!  The girls & I enjoyed it.

That evening, we went to a Co-ed baby party for some friends of ours who are having a baby in July.  We got to see baby Bella's room & visit with the couple and lots of other friends while chowing down on some really good BBQ.  Yum!  Congrats Mandy & Jason!  Can't wait to meet your little sweetie!

But above all the other cool things that happened this weekend, today took the cake.  Early this morning, Sarah got saved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This is an email I typed up to send to family & friends early this morning right after it happened:

For the past month or so, Sarah has been coming to me relatively often to confess some sin.  It's always been sort of comical because she tells me about things that happened LONG ago.  For example, one of them was from 3 years ago "when we first moved into this house, I told our neighbors something & then later I changed my mind, so that was lying."  We did finally convince her that changing her mind & lying aren't the same thing.  But each time, she is obviously broken & convicted about whatever it is, though, because every time, the confessions have come with tears & a very humbled attitude.  At least twice a week, she's confessed something and each time we've comforted her & let her know that we forgive her, and each time, Larry & I have talked about how she must be "getting close" to salvation because she's so aware of her sins.
This morning it finally happened.  She walked into my room, again crying & humbled like she has been each time she's "confessed", and I really expected that to be what she was coming into my room for.  But instead, she said "Mommy I'm scared to tell you that I asked Jesus into my heart."  (I believe she meant she was nervous about talking about it.)  We talked and she could answer every question I asked her about it.  She said that she asked Him into her heart a few weeks ago at church, but since I don't know the circumstances or the date, I'm just saying that TODAY was the big day.
Larry is already at the church, so I called him & put it on speaker phone and we told him the news & have made the plans for him to baptise her at the next baptism service.  They're actually having one TODAY, but that's too short of notice for everyone, so she'll get baptised next month & Larry will do it.
I am pumped.  Thank you, Jesus for the conviction of the Holy Spirit she's clearly felt.  Obviously the Word is true...she's been indwelt by the Spirit & has been confessing things right & left.  Thank you, Lord, for her salvation!  Isn't God GOOD!!?
Hallelujah!  Thank you, Lord, for an awesome weekend!
I'm anxious to get back to school & start our weektomorrow.  This week, we'll focus entirely on Mother's Day.  We'll talk about our moms & make loads of cool crafts that the kids will take home at the end of the week.  It's going to be fun!