Tuesday, March 29, 2011

That's what teaching is all about...

Every once in a while, a new friend walks into the classroom on Meet the Teacher Night and leaves me with the WRONG impression.  That happened this year.  I had a little red-headed boy come in with his parents and he was like a whirlwind.  He talked a mile a minute and moved at the speed of sound.  When he left the room, I thought to myself, "Great, THAT one is going to be a handful!"  Thankfully, he ended up being a total joy.
My little friend is never idle.  He uses free time to create any number of things, which are usually accompanied by a use, purpose, and detailed instructions.  He has made everything from cars to helmets which he wears to read other peoples' minds.  
When not creating various useful items, he spends his free time assembling a huge, foam floor puzzle of the United States.  At Christmas, one of my students had given me a gift certificate from a local teacher supply store.  When that happened, I wanted to try to find something that would give me the most bang for my buck and provide a positive learning experience for most of the students in my class.  The puzzle was perfect!  When I bought the puzzle, my intention was to help the students understand borders, land features, and to familiarize themselves with some of the names of the states.  My little friend took it a step further. 
This afternoon as the day was ending, he cleaned up the puzzle and asked me, "Mrs. Searls, ask me what the capital of North Dakota is." I did and he responded, "Bismark."  I figured it was a fluke so I asked him about another one, which he promptly answered correctly.  He continued to answer most of my questions correctly, only missing 1 or 2.  His quick and accurate responses captivated not only me, but his classmates.  I would have never dreamed that that little, red-headed whirlwind that stormed through my classroom on Meet the Teacher Night would end up being one of my most memorable students for a totally unexpected reason.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This one is for Holly...

We have this storage building behind the house, right next to the work shop.  It is in really good shape; just pretty dirty because it sits under that nasty magnolia tree of mine.  Anyway, it is of no value to us and we have repeatedly tried to give it away.  First, my daughter Rebecca wanted it.  But, they got a larger storage barn instead.  Then, I tried to talk Leslie into taking it, but her back yard slopes too much.  When my brother David was visiting, he and his wife Deb were really interested in it to use for a motorcycle garage.  He talked about coming back to get it, but ended up going to Afghanistan and lost interest in it.  Holly, you are my 4th try.  Third time is supposed to be a charm, but I am counting on you.  If you and your Beau take it away, I want to put a small playscape for the Maggie and Sophie in the vacant spot.  You would not only make me happy, but two sweet little girls as well!  Text me!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

And now, the end is near; and so I face the final curtain.

I love the song, "I Did it My Way."  It has a hauntingly sad melody, but I love the lyrics.  It has become my own personal mantra in some ways.  I want to end each experience knowing that I did it my way and feel satisfied with the results.  I think that's the case as Spring Break comes to an end. I had a long list of things I wanted to get done and most are marked off.

The List:
Spend some time with family.
Clean out all 5 of the flower beds.
Transplant ferns from the back flower bed to the side bed.
Remove the rambling rose bush.
Plant a few vegetables.
Replenish the mulch.
Clean the deck.
Get new deck furniture.
Wash down the exterior of the house.
Clean the sun porch windows.
Clean out the workshop.
Sort through plunder for bulk trash pick up.
Paint the master bathroom walls and woodwork.
Read at least 1 book.
Do at least 1 act of service.
Go out to dinner with friends.

As Saturday arrived, the only thing left to do was to clean the house and make a trip to the grocery store. I told Ron that I was pretty proud of myself because of all I accomplished.  I know that a lot of my co-workers went on mini-vacations, such as a quick trip to the beach or hopping on a cruise ship.  And, I know those things would probably be very relaxing; however, I can't explain how much better I think I feel after a week of hard work. And so Sunday arrives, Spring Break ends, and I can honestly say "I did it my way!"

But, since no post is complete without a few pictures; here are some I snapped this week.
Leslie, Rebea, Scott, and Ron sitting on the front porch...

Gerson, Maggie, Seth, and Ed sitting on the front porch...

Sophie enjoying a popsicle...

Sophie and Uncle Ryan (her most favorite person in the entire world!)...

Maggie checking the mail...

Ed and his new truck.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Break Day 4...I'm Pooped!

Thistle: picture taken in Palo Duro Canyon
The day started with an early morning shopping trip.  Ron and I went over to Wal-Mart (I only go there with Ron - I HATE that store) to get some mulch and some bedding plants.  I have been working on 1 of my two major goals for Spring Break; the front yard.  The flower beds were horribly overgrown because I haven't physically been able to work on them since surgery.  Leslie has offered several times to clean them up for me, but it is something I love to do and hated the thought of not being able to do it for myself.  I did let her help me some yesterday and it was fun to have the company.  She did a great job of digging out a nasty rose bush in the front yard.  I had gone to Lowe's and picked up a new shovel because Ryan broke my old one digging up shrubs at Leslie's house.  I also bought 4 bags of mulch and 2 flowers to fill in a couple of empty spots in the flower bed.  Leslie and I got the beds cleaned out yesterday afternoon, then when Ron got home we spread what mulch I had bought. Unfortunately, I am not a very good judge of how much to buy; hence the second trip this morning.
Instead of flowers, Ron and I bought a couple of pepper plants, some rosemary, and some cabbage plants.  I decided to skip the flowers for the front flower bed and put some vegetable plants out there.  Ron doesn't think they will do very well because they are next to the mailbox and when the neighborhood dogs are walked, that is where they tend to pee.  But I figured it was worth a try.
Yarrow: picture taken in Palo Duro Canyon
We worked on the yard until noon then grabbed some lunch before heading down to Austin to work at the Bishop's Storehouse.  We worked at the storehouse during the 1:00 - 5:00 shift and had a great time.  There are 2 super cute older missionary couples that are assigned there and they are wonderful people.  The patrons of the storehouse were so appreciative and we thoroughly enjoyed our day.

Cactus: picture taken in Palo Duro Canyon
Tomorrow I hope to clean out the flower beds on the side of the house and then spend the afternoon with my parents.  To some people these posts may sound rather dull and unexciting.  For me, they are simply thrilling! I am sooooo happy to have my strength returning and to be free of pain.  Getting rid of that nasty old hip was the best decision I have made in a very long time!

PS I know the pictures don't have anything to do with this post, but I took them when we were visiting the boys in Canyon, Texas.  I think the landscape and native plants there are simply beautiful.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Break day 3... On the Farm

This afternoon, Maggie and Sophie got to visit a farm.  One of the families from church live on a farm in Troy. Mary Garcia is also a facebook friend of ours.  She had posted pictures of her latest batch of baby goats, so Leslie asked if she could bring the girls out for a visit.  I found out and asked to tag along. Not only did we see goats, but the girls got to see two very large bulls!
Another young mother from church found out about the trip to the farm and asked if she could bring her girls.  The girls loved the entire experience.
At first, Maggie was a little timid.  She didn't get very close to the bulls, but she really liked the goats. 
There are 2 little ones that were rejected by their mother, so Mary bottle feeds them every day.  She explained that it actually is better for her because she can get them ready for sale faster that way.  They use the milk for ice cream, yogurt, and the family drinks the goats milk instead of cows milk.  She said she made cheese once, but it isn't worth the effort.
Sophie isn't much of a talker, but she managed to let us know that she was having a wonderful time.
One of the little girls that went with us loves animals.  I didn't get a picture of it, but she would put her face right into the face of the little goats and let them lick her.  She loved it!
These two goats in the foreground are carrying kids and will be giving birth in April.  We were invited back to see the new ones when they arrive.  I don't know how they could possibly be any more adorable than the little ones that the girls fed.
After the goats were fed, we went into the chicken yard.  The girls got to feed the chickens some pieces of bread.  The Garcia's don't have a huge flock of chickens; I think I counted about 12 - 14.  However, Mary is forever bringing in cartons of eggs for the members of the ward.  They are so fresh and tasty!
Once the pieces of bread were gone (and that happened quickly) the girls got to go inside the chicken coop.
There were 2 chickens that were in the process of laying eggs.  The girls got to see the eggs and take them from the nest. 
The eggs are beautiful shades of peach and green.  The girls were so excited about their eggs! Mary gave us each a dozen to take home with us.
I had to take a picture of the outside of their little farm house.  This is the new addition to the house!  It was built in 1946.  The house consists of 3 sections.  The oldest part is what the Garcia's have turned into their kitchen.  The next addition is now their living room.  This is the newest section and it is where the bedrooms and bathroom are located.  The stone walls are original and the living room walls are unfinished.  The stone is beautiful!  We all had such a wonderful afternoon. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Break... Day 1!

Spring break has come and I am so excited!  There are so many things I have been wanting to do for a while, but just haven't had the time.  On my to-do list are 2 major things I hope to accomplish.  First, I want to clean up the flower bed and get some things planted.  Second, I want to get the master bathroom painted.  But, today I started neither.  I started the day sorting through a tub of fabric that Leslie is getting rid of.  Most of it came from either Mom or I, but there are some things I think I will take back before I pass the tub on to someone else.  Next, we headed over to the chapel.  March is our ward's month to clean the chapel so we spent the morning doing that.  Afterwards, we went to the Bell County Yard Sale that is held annually at the Expo Center.  I picked up a little shadow box that I hope to use for a craft idea I am stealing from another blog.  We had hoped Rebecca and Ed could join us, but Becca has strep throat, a sinus infection, and an ear infection.  However, Leslie and G went with us.  We went to lunch afterwards at a restaurant in Belton called The Oxbow. We had the most delicious 6 oz. sirloin steak, salad, and baked potato.  Now, we are home grabbing a quick rest before we head over the the church for a baptism.  Day 1 has been a busy but productive day.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Warm weather is returning...

Ron and I moved to Texas way back in 1976.  Ryan was just 2 years old, and we were a very young military family.  I can still remember the amazement I felt when I first experienced the sheer vastness of this state.  We arrived on Memorial Day Weekend; listening to a NASCAR race for most of the drive.  I can still remember thinking to myself that SURELY we would get to Ft. Hood before the race ended.  I soon learned that there was a lot of truth in a bumper sticker I saw which read, "The sun is riz, the sun is set, and I ain't outta Texas yet!"
The second thing that amazed me about Texas was the weather.  While I haven't seen it yet, there is bound to be a bumper sticker that says, "If you don't like the weather in Texas, just wait a day.  It will change."  In an earlier post I complained about the ice and snow that we have had.  I know it didn't amount to much in comparison to the weather most of the country has had, but we hated it.  Living here has thinned my blood and I don't tolerate the cold very well.  Luckily, I don't get sick often, but everyone I love seems to stay sick through the cold winter months.  
Recently, the weather has started to turn, the sun is shining again, the temperatures are rising, and good health is starting to return.  We are all thankful for the change, but I think the grandchildren are the most appreciative. These are a few shots of our first warm day on the deck in quite a long time.

Sophie & Maggie playing "chase me and take my stick..."

Sweet Seth comforting Maggie after a fall...

Sophie trying to find the perfect spot to sit...

She hasn't found it yet...

Ahhh, perfect!

Finding a spot to rest after a game of ball tag...

Seth laughing at Miss Sophie's independence.   

Welcome back Texas weather!!