Tuesday, December 25, 2012

November Update (even thought it's December)...

November was a difficult month.  The staff and students at our school are still reeling from the unbelievable amount of deaths, and severe illnesses that have struck our school family. It began early in the month with co-workers who lost family members.  Our assistant principal lost her mother, and then 2 weeks later lost her brother.  At the same time, one of the kindergarten teachers had a massive heart attack at school and was minutes from losing her life. Thankfully, the ambulance arrived quickly and got her to the hospital in time.  She has still not returned to school, and it is uncertain whether or not she will ever be able to do so.  Our counselors both suffered loss; one lost a brother and the other lost her mother-in-law.  And then, my former student, Alyssa, lost her mother.  All of these deaths and illnesses have been tragic, but the most devastating was the loss of Alyssa's mother.  I had a connection with that family that extended to my own family.  Alyssa's mother, Amy, was a co-worker of Leslie's and we were all so excited when Alyssa was placed in my class last year.  Each day that Amy picked up her daughter, we would spend a few minutes chatting about work, Leslie, the kids, school, and any other topic that seemed to bind our lives together.  Even when Alyssa moved on to third grade, we would see one another after school and catch up.  Amy died as a result of a brain hemorrhage that came on suddenly and violently.  She entered the hospital Friday after Thanksgiving, and was removed from life support on Monday morning.  Amy was a young, vibrant and beautiful woman who's loss has been felt throughout the school and community.
Most of these things started early in the month and by the time we got to Thanksgiving week, I was in need of a break.  Both Seth and Maggie attend school at different districts, which took the entire week of Thanksgiving off. I decided to take Monday-Tuesday as sick days just to spend some time with my grandchildren.  It gave me a much needed boost and when Amy passed away, I was so glad that I had put my priorities in order. When she passed, I was so very thankful I chose 2 extra days with my grandchildren instead of working.

Here is a brief rundown of how our days went:
Leslie dropped Maggie and Sophie off at my house Monday morning on her way to work.  We loaded up the Jetta and headed up to Gatesville where we picked up Seth.

Maggie, Seth, and Sophie eating lunch at The Junction...

After we got Seth, all of us headed over to a new restaurant in Gatesville called The Junction.  It is typical Gatesville food: lots of Country Fried items.  The atmosphere is unique and the service was good, so we had an enjoyable lunch.

Later that day, we drove home to Temple. After spending some time playing around the house, we decided to go to the Railroad Museum Park.  It is one of the nicest parks in Temple, and the kids love playing there.  We stayed all afternoon, and left only because it was getting dark and the kids were getting hungry.
Seth at the train park...

Sweet Sophie was recovering from an ear infection...

The BEST grandkids in the WORLD!!

Silly Maggie Lyn...

We spent the evening watching movies, snuggled up on the couch.  When they were ready for bed, they fell asleep so quickly because they were worn out.

The next day, we went to Belton and played along the creek near the Cotton Gin.  We took some bread to feed the ducks, snacks to eat, and introduced Boomer to the ducks.  He was pretty good around them!

That evening, Seth and the girls were picked up by their mothers. I hated to see them go home, but knew Thanksgiving was just a day away.

Snuggling up on the couch with Boomer...

Sophie Lyn...

Walking along Nolan Creek in Belton...

Maggie collecting feathers...

Sophie Lyn...

feeding the ducks...

more ducks...

More feathers!!

That evening, Seth and the girls were picked up by their mothers. I hated to see them go home, but knew Thanksgiving was just a day away.

Half-time entertainment at our house during the Ohio State game on Saturday.
 On a side note, the drought has brought an especially colorful fall (at least for Texas) this year.  Here are 2 pretty trees on our street.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bubblegum, Razzleberry Pie, and the Cone of Shame...

When I started teaching, my wise mentor, Nita Benoit, told me that I should use my sick days and not let them accumulate.  She said that she wished she had had someone tell her that when she started teaching because she only had a few years to go before retirement and she had over 60 sick days that she would never use up.  Some districts will pay you a month's pay for 30 days when you either resign or retire; but, our district is not one of them.  So, Nita basically had to kiss those sick days goodbye when she retired.  I have taken her advice and have used my sick days for doctor's appointments AND what I call mental health days.  
At the beginning of the year, I arranged for a substitute for 2 days right away.  One, was a Friday before our stake women's conference. The other was my birthday.  Every year that is my birthday gift to me; a day off.
On my first mental health day, Ron, Boomer, and I walked over and picked up Maggie after school.  We hadn't told her that we would be picking her up so it was a surprise.  Ron has been up and picked her up before, but this was my first time.  We all walked back to our house, picked up some popsicles, and then drove Maggie down to her house.  I love the fact that they live so close and we can do simple things like this.
Maggie Lyn with her cute little back pack.

Maggie, Boomer and Poppy 
 Knowing that I would be taking my birthday off, I had Ron make an appointment on the Friday prior to get Boomer neutered.  I wanted to make sure someone was with him for the first few day, until we were sure he would be okay if we left him at home alone.  He moved a little slowly the first day, but by Saturday he was up and running around.  Ron said that the assistant that signed Boomer out at the vet's clinic told him we would have to leave the cone of shame on him until he went back to get the stitches out; in 2 weeks! I thought that was a little crazy, so we took it off of him yesterday just to see if he would mess with the stitches.  He doesn't even pay any attention to them so we left it off.  He sure was cute in that cone.
 When Ron asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I asked him if I could have anything I wanted.  He looked at me as said, "As long as I can afford it!" I assured him that it wouldn't cost him a thing.  I told him I wanted a birthday without a fuss, no presents, no cake, no party, no visitors... just a stay-cation where I could sit around in my p.j.'s all day and read, watch movies, do crafts, quilt, or nap.
He did make me agree to let him fix my favorite breakfast (french toast casserole).
It started out great.  Saturday, he went to serve court papers and I was puttering around in the office.  Before I knew what was happening, I hear some noise coming from the kitchen.  I went out to discover that Leslie and her family had come over with pizza & soda to watch the Ohio State football game.  Ron came home a little later and apologized all over himself. We ate some pizza, the girls went outside to play, and everyone settled in to watch the game.  Because I absolutely, positively HATE football, I decided to escape to my classroom for a few hours.
Our team has started a math fact fluency challenge called Bubble Gum Math.  We give them a set of flash cards each week to memorize, then they take a timed test on Friday.  If they get a 100, they put a gumball sticker in their gumball machine on the bulletin board and get a piece of bubble gum to chew in class.  I have been wanting to put up my bulletin board for a while, so the time I spent in my classroom provided me with the opportunity to get a few things taken care of.
My gumball math bulletin board.
 On the way home, I ran over to Michael's to get a few things to make my gumball machine.  I used to have one that a student's mother had made me years ago, but I must have given it away because I couldn't find it.  So Sunday, I made this one to replace it.  So cute!!!
On Sunday, Ron and I were lounging around watching movies in our jammies, (we had skipped church for our stay-cation) when I heard a car door outside.  It was about the time we would have gotten home from church, so I was afraid it might be someone from church stopping by to see if we were okay.  So I jumped up and ran to the back of the house. Ron went to the door to discover that the boys had decided to come over and cook dinner for me.
Ryan is the best in the family at cooking on the grill and Scott makes a mean macaroni salad.  Scott also knows that my FAVORITE, FAVORITE pie is Marie Calendar's Razzleberry Pie.
After seeing what was on the menu,  couldn't be mad at them for disturbing my stay-cation.
 So, Monday, my birthday came around and I finally got to celebrate it the way I wanted.  I ate Ron's delicious breakfast casserole, had some time to quilt, watched a movie, read a book, and finish up my gumball machine. Ron and I went over and spent some time with my Dad & Mom because Dad and I share a birthday. While I really wanted to stay home all day, I did make a run to Hobby Lobby with Leslie and Sophie, which is almost as much fun as going with Scott. But that is a story for another day.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Quilts, grandchildren, and puppy news...

I was looking through the pictures on my lap top and realized that I hadn't posted these.  The first quilt was made by Mom. She used her Thangles buck a block squares that she gets from her favorite quilt shop.  It is a change from her usual color pallet.  She has been trying to get some quilts put together that her grandsons might like.  This thing was massive! I swear it must be between a king and California king.  When I had it in the frame, there were only about 5-6 inches of space on either side.  
The second one is Leslie's.  She made it right after she graduated from college.  She was housesitting for our friend Barbara one summer and made if out of all the T-shirts she collected through middle school, high school, and college.
Now that she is a mom, has a career and rather busy church calling, she doesn't have time to quilt.
I left her the binding, though.  I hate putting on a binding!

The grandkids visit quite often, considering school is back in full swing.  Seth is in a camera phobic stage.  I usually just get a picture of his hand; but, every now and then I catch him unaware and get a picture of him doing something cute or silly.

Leslie and the girls rescue Boomer on the days that Leslie isn't working.  They take him home to give him a break from the kennel.  He absolutely loves them!  They aren't too sure if his romping is fun or not because the puppy teeth are killer!  Here are some pictures of their last romp.

Boomer is getting so big! Due to the fact that we have never seen his parents and don't know how much of him is Basset or Beagle, we are waiting to see how he turns out.  He still has his cute beagle face, but his legs seem to be getting shorter and his body is getting longer.  I have a feeling he is going to be a funny looking fellow.
But, he sure is a comfort to snuggle with after a long, hard week at school.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Trudging along...

I have had such a battle with the blues lately, that I simply haven't felt like blogging.  But, I realized that if this is truly going to be a record of "stuff" in my life, the blues certainly need a place in the blog.  My sweet husband, Ron, who never seems to have a gloomy day doesn't seem to understand why I feel blue from time to time.  I can't ever really put my finger on it either, so I mostly try to ignore it because they eventually go away.  I try to count my blessings and stay busy, so that they pass more quickly. That works for me.
During the past couple of months, we have been pretty busy ending our summer and moving into fall. Ron wanted to visit his family in Ohio this year, so we took Becca, Seth, and Maggie with us.  It was a pleasant trip and we were able to see all of Ron's family and some of mine on our trip.  The kids traveled well, and we didn't have any problems along the way.  It was great for Seth to meet his cousin, TJ and find out that they have so much in common! We enjoyed going to the county fair and discovering that it is just like we remembered it.
Cousins TJ, Seth, & Maggie

While in Ohio, Ron and I were able to finally get a marker placed on the grave of the baby we lost early in our marriage.  He chided himself because it took so long to get it placed, but I reminded him that we've been busy with life; caught up in the challenges of raising a military family.  We are content and at peace with the choice we made for the marker. We hope that members of Ron's family will take us up on our offer to let them have the remaining 3 burial plots so that someone else in the family will be buried near our baby. Our intention is to be buried here in Texas because it is now our home.

My surgery to repair the heel spur and Morton's Neuroma went well.  I feel better each day, and look forward to being able to get out with Ron for our daily walks.  My co-workers have been helpful and check on me daily to make sure I'm doing okay.  I really work with wonderful people and am thankful for them.
Post surgery footwear... not cute, but comfy

Returning to school this year was difficult.  Not because of the surgery, but because I am just tired of working.  I am ready to retire, but still have at least 3 years before I can collect a full annuity.  I think part of my worries about working have a lot to do with how I feel physically.  It seems as I age, I don't have the energy I used to have or heal as quickly as I used to.  Therefore, I seem to work and come home exhausted.  Thank goodness Ron helps out so much at home.  He cooks, helps with the cleaning, and laundry.  He is a real treasure and I would be overwhelmed without him.
Ron and his mother, Marie

There are many moments of joy during my work days, which make it easier to keep working.  I have been at this school long enough to see many of my former students move on into middle school.  It is amazing how many of the big, tough 5th graders still run up for a hug when they see me in the hallway or on the playground.  I know in this day and age, hugging students is discouraged; but, I will never push a student away when they run up to me with arms open wide, just wanting a little affirmation that they are important to me.  The students in my class are very sweet and adorable.  This year, I am working with struggling learners again, and that melts my heart.  They challenge me and make me want to be a better teacher.
The classroom on Meet the Teacher night

The family is healthy, clothed, housed, and (for the most part) employed.  In these troubled economic times, those are great blessings.  My parents seem to be doing well physically, and that is a comfort to me.  We still enjoy gathering the kids and grandbabies with them on Wednesdays for food, laughter, and noise.  They are crazy evenings, but we all love them.
Mom & Dad... LOVE these two!

Our furry friends have had some ups and downs lately.  We lost Sassy to complications associated with diabetes. Then, as soon as we got back from Ohio, Buddy had to be put down because he had tumors on his kidney and liver.  But, we have our newest little friend, Boomer to cheer us up.  He is the cutest little mixed breed (beagle & basset hound) that we bought at a flea market while we were in Ohio.  He loves the grandkids, they love playing with him. and he fills an empty place in my heart that my Daisy girl left when she died.  He is a challenge to get potty trained, but we'll get there eventually.
"I got that Boom, Boom, Boomer!"

Our weather is starting to cool down now.  It is a welcome change from the oppressive heat we have each August, and the rain has helped repair some of the damage from last year's drought.  Most of all, it reminds me that fall is near.  It is my favorite season, and I love the weather; but, it is the feelings I have during the fall that I love most.  I can't quite describe it, but it feels like I have rushed through yet another year, trying to be everything that people expect me to be and thinking that maybe I did an okay job.  It feels good to think that I have another year behind me, and fall is wrapping me in warmth and comfort, preparing me for the rest that comes during the winter.  That rest gives me the strength to face another new year with renewed hope and determination.  Just knowing that this season of rest is ahead of me has brightened my spirits.  And, the blues will soon pass.