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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

I feel as if Father Time has waved his wand and SHAZAM! it's Christmas Eve again even though 2012 just began 5 seconds ago.  I feel like my life is on permanent fast forward, which I positively hate because I know that these are such very special years.  My children at home with me, loving Christmas, beyond excited for Santa to come, being married to the man of my dreams....it just doesn't get better.  I try try try to soak it all up, but gosh darn it!  Why does it have to go so fast?!!

I am feeling very blessed, grateful, and happy this season.  So thankful for so many things.

All of this is probably contributing to my own personal excitement for our annual Christmas Eve gathering at my Mom's house tonight, getting to spoil my brand new baby niece on her first Christmas, and the BIG event...SANTA'S ARRIVAL!  I can hardly sit still, so I've been putting all that nervous energy to good use this morning.  I've already run errands, been to the doctor, dropped off presents, cleaned out the garage, and cleaned out the van.  I don't know why, but I always feel the need to run around cleaning everything before the chaos of wrapping paper and presents hit.

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you all have a very blessed holiday with family and friends.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Charlie is a Big Boy

Charlie celebrated his 1st birthday on Wednesday. He brought chocolate chip cookies to school to share with his friends, who sang him happy birthday. He got to pick out the activity for the day, and he didn't have to pick up toys (he's not real great at this anyway). At home, we had his favorites for dinner (hot dogs, tater tots, and carrots). Jeff even made it home a little after 7 to spend some time with him on his birthday, which was nice. I can't believe it has been a year already! He is really taking off with walking. It is so strange to see him toddling across the floor. You can tell he is really proud of himself about it!

Charlie went in to the doctor yet again yesterday for another sinus infection. We talked for a bit with an ENT who suggested he have his adenoids out at 2 years, but until then there isn't much to do besides antibiotics and riding out the infections.

In Sam news, he has slept through the night for the past THREE nights! (He sleeps from 9 at night to about 5:00 in the morning). I have no idea why he is doing this...I wish I could pinpoint something I am doing to make sure he keeps it up! It has been a lot easier going to work with more sleep this week.

A Hodge Podge

I was very glad to wake up this morning to a world the same as always, despite the Mayan apocalypse yesterday.  I've really been looking forward to Christmas vacation and the holidays!  It would have been a bad time for the world to end.  I 95% didn't believe it was going to happen, but do those end of the world predictions ever make you wonder?  Give you just the tiniest bit of doubt?  Hope I'm not the only one!

Yesterday was my parent's 38th wedding anniversary.  I thought about my Dad all day,  He and my Mom had planned on having an anniversary/end of the world party yesterday to be held in the afternoon.  You know, to get the festivities in before the world ended!  I love his sense of humor.  It would have been a great party.  I spent a lot of the day thinking about how we would have been celebrating, what we would have been doing, how different the day would have felt.  All of his missed opportunities make me so sad.

Hasn't the Christmas season flown by?  I feel like I have been so busy with the boys and with school that I haven't had much of an opportunity to soak up the things I love about Christmas.  I am trying to savor every moment in these last few days...especially since school is out for a few days for the holidays.  I think our wacky warm weather as of late has been a lot of the problem.  It just hasn't felt like Christmas or winter.  Now that our neck of the woods was covered in 10 inches of snow on Thursday, it certainly feels more festive.

I am off to do some last minute Christmas shopping (I am sure to regret waiting until the last minute), and to accomplish some Christmas errands.  Merry Christmas!!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Odds and Ends

So much has been going on the last couple of days! The good news first...

Evan had his first Swimtastic swim lesson yesterday and he LOVED it! He was a nervous wreck before hand about doing something new, but he had a great time! And lucky for me, the toddlers behaved themselves during the lesson while we waited in the observation area, which was a good thing because the waiting area was chock full of St. Vinnie's parents!

Sam is officially walking! He took his first steps around Christmas, was doing a little more over the weekend, but yesterday he REALLY took off and was cruising EVERYWHERE. It was so cute

Missing Trudy

I just found out that Trudy, our sweet little dog, died in a freak accident this morning. She was in our storage room since she wouldn't go to the bathroom this morning because of the rain. When Jeff opened the door to the room to check on her before he left for work, it must have hit her in the head. She had been standing right behind it barking. I am so devastated. Trudy was Evan and I's baby for so many years when it was just us. She and Evan were truly best friends, and she slept with him every night. I cannot stop crying today...my poor kids at school! I just am so stunned, and I am so sad, and I am just torn apart for Evan....

Oh my lord, what a week!

Here is what I know...I firmly believe that Labor Day should ALWAYS be there waiting for me at the end of the first week of school.  This day off is precisely what my family and I  needed to continue recovering from the whirlwind of last week.

On Monday, Evan began 8th grade:
 Sammy had his first day of Kindergarten:
 And Charlie became a 1st grader!
I am having all of the usual Mommy feelings...I can't believe how grown up they are, I can't believe my baby is in Kindergarten, etc.  My own eighth grade experience doesn't seem all that far away, so how can I possibly have a child in 8th grade?  By the way, I personally felt that 8th grade was the equivalent of torture on so many levels, so I can only hope that Evan's year goes much better than mine did.

This year, Charlie's classroom is to the right of mine, and Sammy's is to my left, so they are very close.  I love that.  I get to see them in the hallways, at the bathroom, in the lunchroom.  It makes the separation easier for me.  I miss them so gosh dang much when we are at school.  And if there's a problem, their teachers know right where to find me!

Charlie was eagerly awaiting the start of school all summer.  He loves learning, reading, working, and homework.  He was so excited for school this week, he had a hard time falling asleep each night.

Evan has had a good week so far, but the homework hasn't really kicked in either.  I am waiting with baited breath in the hopes this is a better year for him.  We had so many troubles in 7th grade that I am often surprised both of us made it through.  I wish there was a wand I could wave that would make school easier.

Sammy isn't sure yet.  He went off to his classroom happily enough each day, but he has reported he doesn't like it that much.  Sammy is my worrier.  He stresses all of the small stuff, and I think that makes change hard.  I am hopeful that as school becomes more of the norm for him, that it gets much easier.

I started my 13th year of teaching on Monday.  I am finding that I have to work hard to change something in the way I teach or in my classroom each year to make it fresh.  I love teaching 1st grade, but I think I have been doing it so long it can almost become drudgery.  I have been working this week to stay positive.  The first weeks of school always feel to me like I have a houseful of house guests.  We are all busy getting to know each other, rules, and routines, and it just isn't comfortable yet, which is tiring in and of itself.  Here's hoping this week will be easier!

Jeff and I continue to explore me staying home next year.   We had the first of many budget meetings last night.  So far, I am loving how this seems to be a great exercise in letting go and trusting God.  We are becoming better at communicating with each other as well.  So, even if this doesn't work out for us, just going through this experiment will bring us many benefits.  I love feeling like Jeff and I are a tight team, with God as our head.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my husband?  I admire him so much, and I love how hard he works for us.  Really.  I am so lucky to have him.

How is your school year going?  Are your kids back to school yet?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Classroom 2012

In the past, I haven't been one to do a theme in my classroom.  This year though, I was inspired by Melanie at Schoolgirl Style and her adorable owl collection.  There is just something about these cutie patutie owls that grabbed me, and so, my first classroom theme was born.

 When I posted this picture of my window bunting on Facebook, one of my friends from high school wrote to me and said she had just done an owl theme for her daughters 1st birthday party.  She just happened to be coming into Omaha (she lives in the Chicago area), and wanted to know if I could use some of the decorations she had made.  I am so thankful for her kindness, because her adorable decorations added the finishing touch!
 Star of the Week board.  Margie made the adorable hanging green owl.
 My helpers board. Owl name tags by Schoolgirl Style, blue owl by Margie.
 Margie made these cute owls perched on my ActivBoard.  I love how they look like birds perched on a wire outside. 
 Word wall above from School girl Style, and cute pink owl by Margie.
 Another shot of the Cozy Corner (reading corner).  I found this fabric owl online.
 Schoolgirl Style suggested these cute lamps at Target, and I was thrilled to be able to find them at our local Target store.  I love the faux fur trim!  This purple lamp sits next to my Associate's desk.
 This pink lamp sits in the corner of my desk.
 I rarely use my chalkboard for writing anything now that I have my ActivBoard.  I usually hang anchor charts and things here instead.  This year I also added some liquid neon chalk.  I love the way it looks!
 Another shot of the Cozy Corner.
 My desk
Small group area

I love the way it turned out!  I hope the students will like it as much as I do.  When my classroom can be my happy place, I can be the happy teacher my students need me to be.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Summer Fun

Really, I don't know if the boys will remember this as the most fun filled summer ever.

That's too bad, as it was also the longest summer break we will probably ever have.  Our school is under construction for the second summer in a row, and as a result, we had an extra three weeks to enjoy ourselves.

We didn't get to take a vacation, as we had to do a majorly expensive roof repair, which meant we missed out on the most looked forward to week of the year.

Instead, we tackled some additional home improvement projects that were long overdue.

We separated Sammy and Charlie, and gave each of them their own rooms.  This meant moving Evan downstairs to the basement guest room, which I think he overall enjoys.  He likes the cooler air (now that it's summer anyway), and he likes the privacy.  It also meant I had to paint Evan's old room and get it ready for Sam.  This about killed me, as it was the first room my Dad painted when we moved in.  He loved Evan so much, and he wanted Evan to be comfortable in his new room, so within a few days it was wearing a fresh coat of paint.  Evan picked out a planets and space border, which my Dad loved, being a space nut himself.  My heart ached as I removed the wallpaper and covered the blue paint with green, and the only way I got through it was by reminding myself that Dad would not want me to stop updating the house.  He was a firm believer in keeping on top of home renovations and painting, and I knew the painting would make him happy.  I also thought about how darn glad I am that I made him teach me how to paint only 3 short years before he died.  It's one of the most practical things he ever taught me.

Next I painted the master bathroom, and added some Uppercase Living accents that have been sitting in my closet for the last two years.  This job has been lingering on my to do list for years simply because I hate painting behind toilets.  Apparently, I am really great at talking myself out of unpleasant tasks.  VERY glad to get this one done.

Evan and I dug out a large area of sod in our backyard, killed a ton of weeds, and planted a perennial garden next to our pool.  We dragged bag after bag of mulch, and carted out load after load of sod, but sadly neither of us gained any arm muscle doing it.  Evan was disgusted at this.  I think he'd like to start looking good for the ladies.

And thanks to my wildly talented and handy brother Creighton, we were able to rip out the COMPLETELY craptastic sliding doors on the top and bottom floors and replace them with french doors that have the blinds between the glass that you can raise and lower with a magnet.  I love, love, love them.  I keep saying on Facebook that I really should have been nicer to Creighton as a kid, and I mean it.  We fought like cats and dogs.  Worse than that.  Once, as my Mom dragged me off the top of him at about the age of 11, she told me I was going to jail if I didn't stop it.  Creighton had an incredible talent of being able to push just the right buttons and annoy the hell out of me.  But now?  That boy takes the best care of me and my family.  When my Dad died, it was as if Creighton emerged from a cocoon.  He blossomed into an adult who is such an kind and caring leader.  He is truly the man and the leader of my family.  My Dad left hard shoes to fill, but Creighton does a good job of it.  I know my Dad has been busting his buttons with pride in Heaven just watching him.  I really feel like he is my older brother now, instead of my baby brother.  He is a blessing.

Which is all a long winded way of saying that instead of a really fun summer, it was a working summer, which is nice in a way too.  I did tell the kids we would try and do some fun stuff around town, so a couple of weeks ago we headed to the Children's Museum.

Our favorite part was the Wizard of Oz exhibit.  The movie has always been a huge favorite with Charlie and Sammy.  They loved sitting in the chair of the Wicked Witch of the West, and pretending to be flying monkeys.
We also really wanted to go to the zoo, but unfortunately we have been living through the hottest summer of our lifetimes (literally).  And it just doesn't sound fun to me to go to the zoo when it is 110 degrees outside.  We may have to move this goal to a weekend in the fall.

We've also been swimming almost every single day, and we've gone on some trips for ice cream and slushies as well.  

Sammy started out the summer knowing only his alphabet and sounds and a few simple words, and now he is already reading at the level of a first grader.  We went out to celebrate with a hot fudge sundae when he learned all of his Kindergarten and 1st grade sight words.  I am not above bribery, apparently.  Also, if I do say so myself, after all these years of practice, I am a kick ass reading teacher.  Want to know my secret for teaching kids sight words?  The good old fashioned Dick and Jane books.  Yep, the ones from the 1950s.  Dick and Jane knew what they were doing.  It works every time!!

Even though our summer was busy and maybe not the most exciting, I have enjoyed spending these days with my kiddos.  Even the days when Charlie's been grumpy, or we've had too many appointments planned.  I am sick to my stomach they will be over all too quickly!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Sammy's Preschool Graduation

I finally got around to downloading pictures off of my camera today.  I have pictures all the way back from May to go through!  I am for sure behind with documenting our summer.

In May, Sammy graduated from preschool.  It was sad for me in all of the usual ways...not ready for him to go to Kindergarten, not wanting my baby to be SO grown up!  But it was extra hard this time around, as it also meant a good bye from our family to our daycare for the last 14 years.  We have been incredibly blessed to have our children attend the daycare at my school (which is only for children of school staff members), which is staffed by the most incredible and caring women ever.  I have been dropping my children off for school here every morning for 10 years now (my Mom did it for me before that, long story).  It will be so strange not to have this as part of our daily routine this year.

 Sammy, Jeff, and I pre-graduation ceremony in my classroom.  Evan took this picture!  It's nice to finally get some shots with me in the picture.
 Sammy with his best preschool friends Gabe and Michael.  It's a fun experience to watch these kiddos develop friendships, since they have been together since birth.
 Sammy's graduating class with his teachers (left to right) Miss Karen, Miss Taylor, and Miss Jenny.  My Mom (aka Miss Kathy) is the infant teacher, and she is standing in the back.
 Family picture.  I hesitate to post this, as several of us look pretty goofy in this picture, but it was literally the best one of all the family pics.  I guess it shows the craziness of life with three boys :)
 My Mom with Sammy at our celebration dinner at Applebees.  Our waitress was in love with Sammy and brought him no less than THREE very large chocolate milks.  Which Sammy then threw up all over the table at the end of dinner.  EXTREMELY embarrassing, but it has already become a cherished family story among the boys.  "Remember that time Sammy threw up on the table at Applebees?  And then he did it again in the parking lot?" one of them will say, which will always lead to a fit of the giggles.  I know someday one of them will tell this story to Sammy's wife.
This is Sammy with his incredibly awesome preschool teacher Miss Jenny on his very last day of preschool.  Sammy is holding his well loved Lambie.  Lambie was a present from my Mom and Dad when they visited Ireland when Sammy was one.  He has not left Sammy's side since, and came to school with Sammy every single day after his arrival.  I told Miss Jenny that Lambie deserved a preschool diploma too.  Poor Lambie will have to wait in the car when Sam goes to Kindergarten.

I am not ready to be done with this stage of our life as a family.  My children are growing at warp speed!

Friday, August 03, 2012

A long time...

Wow.  It's been a long time since I've written in this space.

Last weekend, Sammy, Evan, and I went to a family reunion for my Dad's side of the family.  We had a GREAT time!  I don't get to see my family nearly as often as I would like to, especially my cousins now that we all have families.  While I was there, I talked to one of my favorite people, my Aunt Joyce.  She reminded me to write some new posts here, so here I am!  (Hi Aunt Joyce!!)  It was nice to be reminded by family that people still check in here, and that this is still a good way to keep in touch.

So what's new?

We've had a wonderful summer.  So wonderful in fact it has prompted Jeff and I to consider whether it is time to make some changes in our work situation for our family.  I love my job.  I love teaching.  I have always, ALWAYS felt that I was called by God to be a teacher, and that He gave me certain gifts to help me accomplish a mission he had in mind for me in the classroom.  The hard part of teaching is that it absolutely is NOT a 9-5 job.  I spend hours after work and on the weekends creating learning materials, grading, lesson planning, etc.  This is easier said than done when you have three kids, and you are a wife.  Although I feel that teaching is a calling for me, I also feel that being a wife and a Mom is a God sent calling, one that takes the highest priority.

This summer, as I had time to relax, enjoy my kids, and actually get things done around my house, we came to some conclusions.  The first was that other people's kids always get my best.  That's tough for me to think about.  I want my best to go to my own children, especially when two of my kids are very high needs.  Secondly, I realized that I am never able to do anything really to the best of my ability, because I don't have time.  Being split in so many different directions is not allowing me to get anything done well.  I also discovered how much stress I am carrying around with me during the school year, and how much that is affecting my marriage and my kids.

Sooooo, we have been toying around with the idea of me staying home next year.  I have reservations about both sides of the decision, but I truly feel that we are being called to consider this as the next stage for our family.  If things can come together financially, we will see how it goes.  We are going to be thinking and praying hard about this during the school year.

Evan is getting ready to start his 8th grade year.  Junior high is never a super enjoyable time for anyone, but last year was especially hard for Evan.  As he works through the upper grades, his learning disabilities are really making things awful.  We made the decision that he needs to go to a public high school to receive the appropriate special education help.  It was a hard realization to come to.  I really wanted him to be able to have the private high school experience, but I know in my gut it isn't the right place for him.  Hopefully this year is a bit better.

Charlie is giving me a run for my money.  I love him to pieces, and he can have a heart of gold, but he is also very stubborn and willful.  He is still having massive temper tantrums, and we have been going to therapy for about a year.  I am not seeing any major improvements yet, but they always have good suggestions for us to try, and that gives me hope.  Luckily, he is an angel at school, and he is incredibly smart, so at least part of the parenting job with him is easy.

God bless Sammy.  He is a ray of sunshine in our family.  Always happy, always smiling, always giving hugs.  Hardly ever needs redirection or discipline.  I think God knew I had my hands full and needed a sweet pea.  He is starting Kindergarten in a few weeks, and that makes me sad.  They grow so fast.  As all mothers do, I long for time to slow waaaaaaaaaaaaaay down so I have longer to enjoy my babies and my family.

Jeff and I celebrated 7 years of marriage on July 22nd.  I am crazy in love with that guy.  We get better at marriage every year, and it gets to be more and more fun all the time.  It really surprised me when I got married how much work marriage is.  Work that is worth it, but hard as well.  My parents were so good at marriage they made it look easy.  Maybe someday Jeff and I will give that impression as well.  In the meantime, I am super blessed to have a husband who balances me, believes in me, puts up with me, and supports my dreams.  He was definitely worth the wait!

And me?  I am feeling better about myself than I have in a long time.  Last November, I went to my doctor, very frustrated with how I was getting nowhere with my health goals, despite healthy eating and exercise.  He did a lot of tests, and determined that my weight struggles were related to my issues with insulin resistance.  He put me on a low carb diet, and for the first time in my life, the weight began to melt away.  It was such a relief to begin to see the me I knew was in there in the mirror again.  Since then, I have lost a total of 45 pounds.  I have been feeling so much better physically, I have been able to go back to running in full force.  I've been able to get in a total of 12-15 miles a week, which for me as a busy Mom is GREAT.  My runs are great "me" time, where I can destress, think, and get healthy.  I love looking better and feeling better, but most of all I love feeling more confident about my overall health.  When my Dad died at only 58, my cardiologist told me I was in a very high risk group for also dying early of a heart attack.  I do NOT want to leave my family one minute earlier than I absolutely have to.  I can at least rest easier knowing that I am doing my best to improve my odds.  Thank goodness for my patient doctor who has been willing to do research and stick with me.

Now that it is August, I have been working my tootie off on my classroom.  I am trying to work up some excitement for the coming school year.  That usually comes more for me in October, once the students and I have settled in.  August is a rush to get everything done.  I always wish I could fast forward through the first few weeks.

I know I've said this before, but I am going to try and get back to this space on the web more regularly.  I always feel better when I do.  I am hoping to post some pictures this weekend.
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