Monday, June 21, 2010
Today was a great day for a party. Even though there was rain in the forecast (as usual, ha ha), there was no sign of rain. The skies were blue and beautiful, and there was an occasional big white fluffy clouds that wandered by. We were at a wonderful local park with a gazebo and a frisbee golf course nearby. There were quite a few people playing that game today, but they were polite and really focused on their game.
We had quite a few people at the party. Several families from our church came. A few of Mason's former teachers came--his second grade teacher came. She and I are cyber penpals these days. She has retired from teaching now, but she taught all but one of my kids. I was always happy with her focus on my children and kind way of taking care of them while teaching them what they needed to know. Another person who has retired from her school career came--the lady who was the aide to many teachers and programs. Our kids go to a school in a fairly small school district where everyone seems to know everyone. Mason had lots who came and there were at least 47 total guests who came.
Mitchell and I prepared most of the food last night. We made a big potato salad, a pasta salad, and strawberry pie without the crust. We also prepared and cleaned a lot of veggies for a big veggie tray. We bought a half sheet cake and had traditional chips and dip. My husband grilled brats, burgers, hot dogs, and these wonderful turkey cheese sausages by Hillshire that had 140 calories apiece. They were quite tasty and I'm certainly going to remember to buy them whenever I am at a store that carries them.
We visited with everyone. The kids played regular frisbee and other games in the sunshine. I got to go for a walk with my husband after most of the guests left. We got home around 7PM and the guys put everything away, so that I could rest up after all of the activity. (Mason, his girlfriend and another couple went out to a movie and a bonfire at someone else's house.) The predicted rain never came.
Although I don't want to do this too often, it also wasn't too difficult to put together. We did the shopping yesterday afternoon after I went to the pool. We prepared the food last evening. We bought a small pool at KMart and filled it with ice to keep the soda, beer, and water cold--as well as the food that needed to be kept cold. My husband did the cooking with our 19 year old son Miles. That made them both happy--and me as well. I haven't seen all of Mason's gifts--or Floyd's Father's Day gifts either. I thought it was an interesting choice of days for him to reserve the pavilion at the park for, but it worked quite well.
We are blessed--it was so much fun to do this for Mason and our friends who could make it. It was a beautiful, loving day that we all enjoyed so much. I wish that you all could have shared it with us as well.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
We have some tumultuous weather around here today. Yesterday was our first--and only--day without rain in over a week. It started out gorgeous this morning and we got off to our tasks and things in record time (for me--it is true, I will be late to my own funeral, ha ha.) Anyway, I went to church, but all I did was prepare for next week. The kids got to go on a trip to the zoo today with the big kids and I thought it was good for them to get to do that. I also decided that since I wasn't needed that I could do other things. I worked on creating a book that the kids are going to get to make next week and a chart to review their trip on Monday along with other plans for the coming week. I am going to be gone from Monday through Thursday at a conference, unless I make a decision to stay home. I could use some collegial support and interaction since I didn't get any all last school year, but I don't like to be gone from my children or my little students at church. I also don't know how to handle the vehicle situation around here. We have 3 of them, but one isn't too reliable these days. Anyway, I will decide sometime soon.
After we went to church, I came back home to pick up Marissa--she was going to sit with my friend's husband. He is a sweet, gentle man who has Alzheimer's and sometimes wanders a bit. My husband and I went to the new school to take a few items to my new classroom and then went back home to get a few more in the truck. Miles had taken the truck, so we loaded up all of my big books and a few other items in the car and went to the school. On our way there, the weather changed very abruptly. The clouds were in a long, long billowing set of lines and then the sky became as dark as night. The sirens went off and the rain began falling . We got to the school and my husband did most of the running back and forth--his hat was soaked on the sides and his pants weren't wet at all. The skies cleared up a bit--and the rain let up and then, it was nice again.
This volatile weather repeated in a similar pattern around 7:30, but it is still going on now. Two of my kids are a bit unnerved by this noisy weather front and are sleeping with me here in the family room tonight. Anyway, the storm raged while we were in the pool and it was fairly calm there. It was a pretty productive day and I am glad that my husband had a rare day off with me. He got to see the new school for the very first time today...Oh, and would you believe that yesterday we ( a friend of mine who teaches in another school and my two youngest children) noticed that there are spots on my ceiling like the ceiling is leaking. Really, in the brand new building. I reported it, but I am starting to think that the ceiling gremlins are following me.
Oh well--that's enough stormy weather and leaking ceilings for tonight. Take care everyone!!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
"The joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10
That is the verse on my daily calendar today and I am feeling so much better in so many ways that I know it is part of my story. After going through the daily issues and stress at work and the job of all of the packing and counting the number of boxes and dealing with bookcases and all of that--well, it is so good to have that off of my back after dealing with it constantly. the meds I started on for my fibromyalgia are helping me and they aren't putting me to sleep now, so either I have adjusted to them or the stress played a role in that. They are helping me to manage my pain and discomfort. Going to the pool and taking time in the sauna is helping me to walk and is helping me with my constant back pain and I am getting a lot of extra walking in too. We have had a lot of rain, but the temps are warmer after such a tough winter for everyone--and today was sunshiny and gorgeous here for the first time in several days.
I just feel good. And, it is awesome. I wish I could share this with everyone. I go to the church and teach children who need help, and then I have errands and have been taking a few boxes to the new school each day this week. I have run into my teacher friends from other schools and we have visited--and I realize how many friends I have (they just aren't in my current building, go figure...) I am not letting myself think about what may happen or is waiting for me in a while. I am just enjoying here and now.
I am spending time with my kids--and I have one who I am still having issues and a great deal of worry over, but that goes along with parenting. Megan turned 22 today and that brings back a lot of memories in the past 22 years and a lot of hope for where she will be in the future. She is a good kid and helps and supports me in a lot of ways. I'm thinking it should be the other way around, but I have 8 children who have been with me through so many surgeries and health emergencies in the past ten years, that things are a bit complex in the way they they have emerged here. I have wonderful, helpful caring children that many people are envious of. I have a husband who goes the extra mile as well--and I am blessed.
Anyway, I don't have a lot new to share today except that I am feeling good--and happy. I love this and it has been a long time since I haven't felt like the weight of the world has been on my back. I surely am not taking it for granted and I am not squandering it. I wish I knew how to bank some of the way I feel to pull out when I need it later on as well. Maybe appreciating it and giving thanks for it will allow me to do so.
I know that I have thanked you several times, but you have been with me through thick and thin. I am not sure which of those I am in right now--but whichever it is, I love it. I am glad that you help me and support me no matter what. For now, I will thank you again and share the good, satisfied, comfortable and confident feelings I have right now with you. Life is good!!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
This morning started with a casual time getting ready for church--our early Sunday school people didn't have to get going because the program is off for the summer as well. Anyway, our oldest daughter joined us at church today. We put flowers on the alter in honor of the kids' birthdays and she will be 22 on Wednesday. She is pretty busy these days with 3 jobs and the bigger job of making decisions for her future. She is a member here at SP and although she hasn't been around for a while, if you want to send a birthday wish to JAZZTHEATRE88, please feel free. I am going to do that as well. She has lost weight and is in pretty ice shape these days, but I doubt if she has time to run much with her obligations. I should ask her, but I don't think of these things much when she is around. She is moving into a house with friends and it seems as if I see less and less of her. She has helped me with a lot of things that none of the males around here are really wired to do.
They had a nice meal to earn money for Heifer Project International today. I hope that we met our goal. The meal was great--I made an awesome taco salad, there were a variety of Mexican foods and there were a lot of nice desserts that I didn't even look at. I wish I knew how they got that meat to be so totally without the least little bit of grease or fat. It was better than what I can do with the most lean ground beef and lots of rinsing. The flavor was very good as well.
We came home and did some chores around the house. This rain has kept us from doing the things I want to get done in the yard and the garden--and on the heap on the porch. It is a big pile of my school things there. We are going to start taking a few things over to the new school tomorrow, since we can move things in as long as we don't unpack. I have a Vit. B12 shot and a couple of my other kids have errands to fit in around the schedule at the Summer program. they needed a helper to teach a nutrition and gardening program as required through the grant that they received, so I nominated my son who is a certified teacher. He starts working with a couple of age groups tomorrow as well. Somebody (me??) needs to organize everyone for the morning activities.
This is the kind of busy that feels satisfying--there is no pressure except what I put on myself and I have learned to back off a bit. I lost 1.4 pounds when I weighed in today and am 7.9 pounds away from getting under 200. I know that I'll see that before the summer is over and I expect to have my over 100 pound loss in the same time frame. (I think I need to look at my records--something seems a bit off to me right now.) The one thing I know is that I am feeling pretty good in spite of my back and these bruises that are taking more than their fair amount of time to heal up.
Life is good!!
Friday, June 11, 2010
I have enjoyed my first week of summer break. I have been working with a nice lady who enjoys children but who isn't an educator and my 14 year old daughter Marissa for part of the morning. We have 11 children enrolled--I moved 2 of them to a group doing recreational programs because their age and reading ability made our group a bit too easy for them. It is a different type of group than I have taught at the church previously. There are a couple of very young children without any school experience and several kindergarten graduates, then two children headed to second grade--1 is a pretty good reader and fits nicely into the group of 2 second graders that I have.
I set up a morning program that fits in between the free breakfast and lunch program our church does for any children between ages 1 and 18. My program works in conjunction with the Summer Club our church does for children ages 8-12 that provides activities in citizenship, self esteem, fitness, health and nutrition. That program runs until 2 PM, so my children go to lunch and then join them in the afternoon. They have three programs that we participate in--or will participate in. One is the Girl Scouts are meeting with all of our girls from 10:50-11:50 on Wednesdays. Another that is really exciting is a local group called "River Music Experience" is doing a drum/percussion group with the kids. This week as an introduction, the musician brought about 30 different percussion instruments, everything from drums and bongos to maracas, tambourines, and anything that you can shake or pound on to make musical sounds. The kids got to play each instrument and did some fun with copying a variety of rhythms. It even sounded pretty good to listen to. Starting next week, there will be field trips to a variety of recreational activities and I'll only see my kids for a short while before they leave on the buses. (I decided that I didn't want to go along--I am using a walker and some such activities don't match what I can do very well. Climbing into a bus would be tough for me and since I didn't ride the bus to the end of school event, I am certainly not going to try this either.) They will be great activities like skating, bowling, swimming, etc...
I let the kids come down to our room as soon as they finish their breakfast which is served at 9:00--breakfast has a milk, fruit, and bread--then some days extras like eggs or sausage or something is a part of the meal as well. Today they had cinnamon applesauce and donut holes with milk. I ate the applesauce myself, it was yummy. As I mentioned on a previous blog, I got reading levels from the children, their teachers, or I assessed them rather loosely--and I set up a basket of books for each of them with books at their current level so they can practice reading independently. Each of the kids have about 20 books--and sometimes during this time, I take the youngest students and help them all to really do one to one matching and read and understand an easy book. At 9:45, I bring the kids to a corner where they sit on the carpet and I use a big book with them. I started a silly new book with them today called "Cat and Mouse." It has the word "went" on every page--and that is a tricky word for children to learn. It is also full of prepositional words like "in, up, through, down, across, and over." today, I had them demonstrate those words using a ball while making a sentence using the word appropriately. I have picked animal themed books to use for this time--we just finished a big book called "Guinea Pig Grass" which was a funny story about a guinea pig in search of grass. At the end of the story, a kind and knowledgeable rabbit helps him to find grass. I brought a bag of alfalfa that we feed our guinea pigs and bunny for them to check out and we discussed the smell. Then, I brought a couple of our pets--"Tweak" the guinea pig and "Jerry" the rabbit for them to meet. I wish that I had brought my phone or my camera because it was fun to watch. We noticed that Tweak's hind foot was a bit bruised, so I left her in the cage for them to watch--and bless her, she munched that grass the whole time. The kids got to see why it was so important to the guinea pig in the story. They all had a turn holding Jerry--he did a little nervous thrashing around at first, but he calmed down and put up with being passed around. It was a top-notch learning activity because these were not animals that the kids knew much about. (Next week, if there aren't any allergies, I'm going to take the two kittens we have.) Anyway, we have 40 minutes for guided reading lessons where I have chosen a book for each group at the closest level I have for them. I teach the things that the children need in order to read the book successfully and anything that might come up as we read. (That's why it is called "guided" lol) We take a break and go outdoors for some movement--today we played freeze tag, tag, and "Duck, duck, goose." If any of you know some other games that such young children can enjoy successfully, please let me know--my repertoire of this sort of thing is a bit limited. I am going to get some hula hoops, balls, and jump ropes on pay day next week. When we come back indoors, we have center time. I lead one activity, my helper leads one activity, and the third is independent--my daughter is gone helping to distribute lunches at a satellite station at a school, park, or religious site that our church provides food for. Today, I helped the children to write a story that started with "I like" and to illustrate it. I was going to make it into a class book, but I may hang them up in the hallway near our room instead--some are very clever. My helper played sight word bingo with the kids and at the third group, my youngest son, Micah came and helped them to play a consonant board game. We stop 10 minutes before it is time for lunch--and we fill out a chart I have that lists what we have done today. We also share which activity was the most "memorable" to them. We end our day by playing "beach ball volleyball." This is a team building game where the kids are trying to see how many times we can hit the ball and keep it going. I am the official counter and we write our number on the board. Our goal is to do better each day. We have been stuck at 13 since Wednesday, but I noticed that they were figuring out that if they hit the ball to someone, it might stay up and that the really hard hits don't work so well. By the end of 6 weeks, they should be good team players. (The beach ball is safe indoors--it won't break things or knock them down.) The kids leave with smiles on their faces each day and that leaves me with one as well.
I had a request to tell about the program--so that is it. Last year, I noticed 4 children in my school who we had worked with--none of them needed my service for the year, one did work with the reading para. We seem to accomplish a lot and the kids grow pretty fond of us. This year, I have a lot of children who are much younger than before, but if I can get them a good start on reading, that should give them a much more successful year in school. I love doing this--the atmosphere is awesome and everyone is glad that we are providing this. I bring a lot of my books to the church and everyone there is happy to see them. It makes the summer more organized and structured for children who might not have much to do--many who might not eat anything healthy as well. Today for lunch, they had a turkey sandwich, baked cheetos, canned peaches, and an apple along with milk. They have had chicken, pork, beef, along with carrots, tomatoes, potato salad, fruit cocktail, and oranges this week. I talked to the nutritionist our church hires and she has a tough job of selecting foods that children will eat while keeping things healthy. She told me that each day, she puts a "high interest/profile" food like today's baked cheetos with the meal to keep them coming. Staff gets to eat and I find several items that fit into my plan. Today, I brought my banana and I had applesauce and a half of a banana for breakfast with milk. I ate half a turkey sandwich for lunch with peaches and had my apple for afternoon snack. (My second oldest son who will be teaching the nutrition program for them starting next week had the other half of my sandwich along with the cheetos and an extra apple I had gotten--I gave him my milk this time too.) It worked out well--he is also watching what he eats, but he runs 2-3 times a day and is walking like crazy as well.
Our pastor blogged about this program and I will share that link--I'm going to try to include a photo he took of our group as well--but you all know that I haven't done well at including photos lately.
OK--it gave the link to the photo in the blog. The entire blog is at: http://churchofpeaceucc.org/site/blog/summ
Please stop by and leave him a comment. We are doing good things and I am proud of our efforts--at least 11 children will be stronger readers when school starts in late July or early August. (You think I'd know the date, but I am focusing on having some fun more than anything right now.) It has been a revelation to me that I love my work and it is fun. I am sure glad that I haven't made the decision to retire because I now am sure that I am just not ready to do that yet.
As for the rest of my day/ week... I had a doctor's appointment, a mammogram, and an appointment with my therapist this week in the afternoons. I am slowly catching up here at SP and have had a couple of naps too. I have been to the pool each night this week, generally with a different group of my children. I have been working on organizing some of the things on my porch and am getting ready to take a few of them to my new classroom--we have been given the go ahead to move some things in--we just cannot unpack anything yet. That will help the heap on our porch!! I have also read some magazines, did some puzzles, and talked to my kids more. It is a good time--the weather is nice and I am getting better and better. Our garden is starting to look pretty good--it needs some weeding and the lawn needs mowing and that is on the kids' agenda for t he weekend. I will get to walk my bassets by the end of summer, I have no doubt that I will reach that goal as well as my other goal, to dance with my husband.
Life is good!!
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