Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Year in Pictures

Last year around this time I decided to set goals for myself. You know a list of things that I wanted to accomplish by the end of the year. That did not happen my life was over the top hectic. So this December I am looking back at 2010 in pictures so that I can take time to reflect on the past year and enjoy the good in my life.

Last year we started with a snow day. We also had 12 inches Christmas Eve of 2009. We have had none this winter and I am personally okay with that.

This is one of the many ways that I arrange my classroom. I almost live here during the school year so I thought it would be a fitting photo to include in my reflection. When we ended the year it was with packed and covered rooms because we were getting a face lift; the building is 50 years old believe me it needed the face lift. Gone is the nasty dirty carpet. I now have nicely tiled floors and new lighting and paint. It is wonderful.

The classroom across the hall from mine is a high needs special education classroom. The teacher is unbelievable with her students. I stand in awe of what she does each day. Her class was learning about diversity and each student created a diversity picture. They hung them outside of my classroom because there are no lockers on my side of the hall.

As most of you know I have a new man in my life Winston Princeton Churchill. This is him when he was still very little.

Here he is being very royal. He is now to big for this as well. The poor baby also has hip displacia; so for now he is on glucosamine just like his Momma.

This was taken just a couple of weeks ago. Winston is now 8 months old and he loves Cookie the beagle basset mix that likes to be up.

This summer we went to Yankeeland and threw a surprise 50th wedding anniversary for Mom and Dad. This is one of my favorite pictures from this party. There are many others that it could be a whole post of its own and I may just do that on their official anniversary date which is January 14, 2011.

While in Yankeeland my sister and I took a day trip together. Just the two of us. No kids and no husbands. We went to Olana the owner was one of the Hudson River School painters. His property and home are just breath taking. I love the Persian influence that is evident throughout his home.

I also attended my class reunion this summer. It was the 30th a little less than half of the class was there; we had 126 students in our graduating class. Many of these people I had known since grade school. It was wonderful to see them again.

I often talk about Yankeeland and the property I grew up on the next couple of pictures are of that farm.

This is the old stage coach road that led over the mountain.

This is the view from the back bedroom the creek is one on my favorite places on the farm.

I went back to Yankeeland in October because I was one of three people named alumni of the year for my high school. It was a huge honor. This photo is of me listening to the hostess read what was written about me and why I won the award.

My brother was kind enough to be my date for the ceremony because Mr. Doohickie was unable to attend. He was a wonderful date.

My sister and her husband were also able to attend the dinner. They make such a handsome couple and my sister has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders.

This is me with my Mom and Dad before the awards portion of the ceremony. My Mom is the person that nominated me and the letter she wrote was very moving, even though I knew I had done all of the activities that she talked about it still made me tear up that what I did was recognized by the committee as something that was worthy.

Receiving my award.

Myself with the other two award winners; both of which were members of the class of 1974.

The last big event or should I say purchase occurred in November of this year when City Cyclist announced they were going out of business. I finally decided to try riding a bike again. I had not ridden since 5th grade when I took a nasty fall and damaged my knee cap. When I had surgery several years later the doctor asked me why I had never had my fractured knee cap set. So this was a huge deal for me I have always been afraid of falling. I am happy to report that the step-through Biria is a wonderful bike and of course Mr. Doohickie is thrilled that I will go on rides with him. But please do not expect crazy camera shots while I am riding or long posts on the rides we take. I will leave all of that to him.

Overall 2010 has been a good year even though work has been extremely stressful. Onward and into 2011 and waiting to see what changes it will bring.

Happy New Year to each of you.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Brutal – not a word I use very often. My Sister-in-law uses it and I have to say that from August 2nd until now that word fits my life. Do not get me wrong there have been some great things that happened in July and in October. Unfortunately the stress of work has outweighed the few great and has kept me from being creative in any shape or form. My sister, niece, aunt and best friend have all been reminding me that I have not blogged in awhile so I am going to give it a shot. In all honesty if I had not read TC’s comment about wondering where I was the other day on my blog I am not sure I would be writing. I was pretty sure that the blog world did not notice that I was missing. I know my family and friends tell me I need to write but they hear from me in emails, phone calls and FB so if I did not write a blog for them they would eventually get over it. In fact they have kindly stopped bugging me.
July took us to Yankee Land; we got to see both sides of the family. While we were in Yankee Land I attended my high school reunion, I graduated 30 years ago. Gasp where has all the time gone? This was not the main reason for the trip there was an even more import event that was a very special one. My siblings and I hosted a surprise 50th anniversary party for our parents. Technically their 50th is not until January 14, 2011 but traveling to Yankee Land in the winter can be tricky so we decided to play it safe and throw the party early. A wonderful time was had by all and my Dad was surprised. We had to give in and tell our Mom because of information we needed that only she had. Family and friends both old and new were at the party, good food, great conversation, music and a little bit of dancing along with toasts and memories shared with each rising of a glass. Once the party was over and the church hall was clean the immediate family went back to my parent’s house where we had dinner together and more great conversation. Along with the party the gift to my parents was a scrapbook memory album. People sent well wished and pictures to be included in the album. The best was one of my Dad’s cousins found there original wedding invitation in with some old pictures he was sorting through and he sent it to my parents for the album. If I had been able to write this shortly after it had happened I am sure there would have been all types of details but that point has come and gone. It is the end of Thanksgiving break and I am just now finding time to write.
We returned home with a day or two to spare and it was back to work for me as the Lead Content Teacher (LCT). We were starting another school year with a new principal. The powers that be in their glass and ivory tower downtown do not know how to “fix” the school I work at so they keep changing principals. Ah gee let me help you with that … you with your PhD. Leave us with a principal in place for more than a year and a half. That’s how you fixed the other “problem schools”. We did not “break” in a year we can not be “fixed” in a year. So I have a new principal she is number 4 and of course she knows what we need to be “fixed”. Therefore the first order of business is to change everything that we do, even if it worked great. To make matters worse the four of us that wear the LCT hat got to be schedulers for two weeks because the student’s schedules were a mess. I therefore taught for 1 day in the first two weeks of school. Crazy…I know. Oh and we switched to a block schedule a whole different nightmare. With all that being said I still love my job I am just worn out at the end of each day and I use the weekends to get caught up which leaves little time for anything else. I am starting to get a grip on all the new requirements and responsibilities that have been given to me and it will be all right in the end.
October found me making a trip by myself to Yankee Land again. Two times in one year Wowy-Zowy for me. I went home to receive an award, I along with two gentlemen from the class of 74 were named alumni of the year. I was thrilled to be nominated but to win was just amazing. I told my Mom I will not get chosen they will select research scientist, lawyers and those types of people. I am a high school teacher and while what I do is important lots of people do what I do. The two gentlemen were…you guessed it a research scientist and a lawyer. When I got to Yankee Land my sister met me at the airport and we went out to eat and then dress shopping. An occasion like this warranted something awesome to wear so I purposefully did not go shopping here but waited for my sisters input. We do not get to do sister things very often, we plan to change that in the coming year. That will be another post. The night of the ceremony arrived and I was very nervous but I calmed myself by practicing my speech in my head. So my Dad, Mom and I met my Sister, Brother and Brother-In-Law at the country club where the dinner was being held. It was very nice and the food was excellent. My husband and sons were not able to make the trip so my Brother was my date and he was a great date. The one mistake I made was thinking that I had my short speech memorized – after all I talk all of the time it is part of my job. So my speech did not come off smoothly because I left my notes behind. A big piece of advice; never leave your notes behind if you win an award. I also started to cry something that I did not foresee either. So humor me because I am going to write what I should have said.
Good Evening; when I received the message that informed me I could speak tonight my first thought was oh no. But I quickly realized if I can speak in front of students, staff members and parents daily I could do this.
I want to take a minute to thank the committee for selecting me for this honor. I am honored and humbled.
I need to thank my husband and sons even though they are home in Texas their support and love is what keeps me going day in and day out.
I also want to thank my sister Heidi and my brother Derrick for cheering me on and being there for me and for being with me tonight. My brother-in-law Kevin for understanding my profession I thank you as well.
Most importantly I want to thank my mom and my dad Alice and Stanton. My parents have encouraged, supported and given advice when I needed it. I know they are very proud of me and this award is as much theirs as it is mine. So again thank you.
Yes I know some of you want pictures. I had to get a new computer and my pictures are not on this one. That will have to be another day that I post pictures. I have papers to grade, a test to create, lesson plans to write and grad homework to finish all before Monday morning. I used this week to rest and relax. I can not promise that there will be a post before the New Year but I will try to stop by more often and read everyone else’s blogs.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The New Man In My Life

I have been very busy with the end of the school year. I work two half days this week and then I am done until August 2nd. But school is not the only thing that has kept me away from blogging; the other bigger event is the new man in my life.

His name is Winston:

My two sons were out walking their dogs a couple of weeks ago and this sweet little man got between them and walked home with them. Our oldest thought it was Buddy, a dog that gets out regularly but it was not.

He does not have a chip in his body, no one has called or contacted the shelter about him. So after trying to find him a home I decided that this was his home and I am the new lady in his life.

Winston is going to be a big boy, he is most likely a Grayhound German Shephard mix. He is so sweet.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Sister

My sister had her birthday in March, the 16th to be exact. I had planned to write this wonderful tribute to her and surprise her for her birthday. Life was a mess in March and most days I felt like I was running on a treadmill and could not get off. So better late than never and hopefully she is still surprised. Oh and a disclaimer before I start; it is not my intention to make you cry.

I was an only child for almost 6 years and I think I spent three of those years wanting a baby sister and I finally got one. I loved her from the moment that I saw her, and wished just a little bit right from the start that I could be more like her. She is fearless.

We did not always get along especially when she was younger. As little sisters do she wanted to tag along and I was the typical big sister I did not want her following me. My sister was a tomboy and she is still very athletic, she does the whole tri thing which I will never understand but I am so amazed and proud that she does.

The trait that I most love about my sister is her fearlessness. Is that really a word? It is now. She broke her arm 3 times before she was twelve. "Look Mom I can slide down the icy hill like Penny Candy and Tim" move forward a few hours and her arm is in a cast. She fell of the horse "look no hands" bam on the ground a few hours later and another cast. I don't remember the third way it must not have been as exciting as the first two or maybe she was just an old hand at it by then. She doesn't give up or let an injury keep her down she just lets it heal and goes right back to the activity that she loved or loves.

After I want away to college we grew closer and as the years past our bond became stronger. My sister is one of my best friends. We can talk on the phone or chat on FB for hours at a time. We joke and say she has my child and I have hers. Her oldest daughter and my youngest son are 6 monthes apart and NP Diva is very much like me while my second son reminds me so much of my sister he makes me laugh and cry at the same time. I think it happened this way so that we are always close to each other even though there are hundreds of miles between us.

My sister loves completely and she is a fierce protector of all that she loves. She has what I consider to be one of the toughest jobs in the world and she is amazing at it. She works with people that have suffered Trumatic Brain Injury. She has started Bookin Feet to help girls build their bodies, minds and self-esteem all while still having two young children at home.

I have learned much from my sister and I am not even sure that she knows it. I learned that love needs to be a two way street and if both people can not give freely then it isn't really worth trying to hold onto. I also learned that dating someone because everyone else thinks you should was not enough of a reason to keep dating the person. Younger than me and wiser than me. She is also one of my biggest cheerleaders. When I doubt my ability my sister is right there to remind me that I can accomplish the task and she reminds me of what I have already done.

My sister is an amazing woman, a great Mom and not only the best sister I could ever ask for but also a wonderful friend and my life would not be as full if I did not have her to share memories with.

My sister does not like many pictures of herself so I will not put many up but there is one picture that needs to be in the post and I hope she doesn't object too loudly.

Gram, Heidi and Me

I love you and Happy Belated Birthday Sister of Mine.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Okay...maybe not

Let me start by saying I am never again going to say my goal is to bring balance into my life. As I tried to become balanced I actually became unbalanced. It did not help that I have spent many weekends not feeling well.

So my goals for this year are out the window. I am just going to take each day as it comes and do what I do best, plan a little and fly by the seat of my pants a lot. Hopefully with the end of the school year just around the corner I can get back to being my normal self.

I actually had time to sit down today, Mother’s Day and read blogs it was nice to catch up with Bone, TC and my cousin Felicia that just had a beautiful baby boy. I also had dinner with my dear sweet husband and our two sons oh and I did laundry.

I have not written in so long, except for a grade school paper every week, I have forgotten how something else to get back to once summer is here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This Week….Awesome

I had a great week at work. There are three very different events that made it awesome.

First, I was nominated for Teacher of the Year again this year, but I decided to take my name off the ballot so that someone else could be on the ballot. I am not saying I would have won if my name was on the ballot but I really wanted to give others the opportunity. It is enough to know I was nominated again.

Second, my class played the Urban Game. It isn’t really a game it’s an exercise in learning but they think it is a game. Let me take a minute to explain the game incase you have never played it in your world history class. When the students walk into the room the desks are set-up in pairs, with one piece of copy paper in the middle of the desk and two pieces of colored paper with directions and background information for the pairs. The timer was set for 5 minutes to copy the key, when the timer goes off they need to start reading the first paragraph and complete what it says. They had 5 minutes for that as well. If they are not finished when the timer goes off they have to just keep going. They are only told that the river needs to be 1-inch wide, the rest is up to them. With the first 10 minutes completed I start readying short blurbs about the industrial revolution and in those blubs are the directions for what needs to be added to their village next. There are 21 rounds to this game. My perfectionists hate this game because it goes to fast, my ADD kids love it because it is so fast paced and even though my ELLs say it is hard at first as it goes on and they find their rhythm they like it as well. One of the first things they put in their original village is a “nice house” of course many of them draw it way to big so other things have to be really small or they have to erase and redraw. By the end their paper is covered and we then talk about how fast the Industrial Revolution felt to the people of England when it first started. This also launches the lecture about the Industrial Revolution that they now can picture in their mind as we talk and take notes.

Third and to me the most awesomest of all. I know awesomest is not really a word but I used it once this summer and it is now my trademark word. Anyway back to the third item. It occurred this Saturday, I held an AP World History study session at my high school from 8am – 12pm and I had 8 students that attended. I believe that I have between 10 and 12 students that can pass the AP exam. All 8 of Saturday’s attendees are in the 10 to 12 count. It was so great to watch them work together on timelines, the Chinese Dynasties of the Classical Era and essay skills and to see them realize that they knew and remembered a lot more from the first half of the year than they thought they did. I am holding another study session this Saturday and I hope it is as good or better than this one.

On a scale of 1 – 10 I would give this week a 9.5, not a 10 because the one problem I had all week was the temperature of my classroom. It was so warm (above 70 with the fans on) that it flared my asthma.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What Am I…Crazy….Maybe?

Second semester is upon us and with it comes standardized test season. Oh boy the kids love it the teachers love it. Therefore we are all well rested and in the best moods ever.

Last Saturday I went to data training, from 9 to 3 so no massage that day. I was able to keep yesterdays appointment and believe me it was so worth it. This time of year I think I should get two a week but I do not have the time or the money. Sorry back to data; now that we answer to a test everything is data driven. What SEs (student expectations) are they weak in; lets look at the question and see what they do not know/understand. Usually it is vocabulary, please read to your children and use expanded vocabulary with them. It makes everyone just a little bit less stressed. The training I had Saturday had to be turned around this week and given to our teachers so during our in-service I trained the Social Studies department using the new data strategies.

So I decided I was not stressed enough and I added grad school to the mix. Yes I am back in grad school. I had been once before but then when our oldest son got sick I stopped. I did not return to Norwich for my Military History degree I am now taking classes through Texas Women’s University and getting my MA in curriculum and instruction. Why the switch you might ask when I had only 4 classes plus my presentation left for the MMH degree? Okay maybe you haven’t asked but I’m going to tell you anyway. Money…the district is paying for half of this degree but none of the other. Also an MA in C&I allows me do to so much more than an MMH. I would still love to get my MMH one day because it offers more credibility when I write. So far the hardest part about the class I am taking is not the work load; it is the idea that I have to tape myself teaching. Ugh! I do not like to be taped, have my picture taken ect. One good thing I have lost enough weight and toned that I do not look horrible on video.

Why am I concerned with what C&I will allow me to do since I do not plan to leave the classroom anytime soon? Well first some day I would like to be a full-time Academic Coordinator and eventually a Dean of Instruction. This degree allows for that, plus I might be up for another promotion at work, it depends on what the district will allow. My principal wants me to be the EHHS Academic Coordinator next year but I do not want to leave the classroom so she is pushing for it to be like the LCT spot I teach 3 classes and wear the AC job the other half of the day. It would be so fabulous…but I’m not sure the district will approve it. If not I’ll stay AP World History Teacher/Social Studies LCT.

So I am crazy busy but deep down inside I love it. To make it even better it is shaping up that I will be traveling this summer for trainings that are work related.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010 Goals

I have not set goals for myself in awhile but decided that I would do so this year. So here they are. Yes my sister and my cousin are rubbing off on me, in a good way.

1. Now that I am going back to grad school, changed venues and my degree plan but I am going back. My grad school goal for this semester is to have at least a 3.5.

2. As many of you know I am not the gym type but I do need to work out because of the fibromyalgia. So my goal for this year is to work out for at least 1 hour every day with one day off every 10 days if it is needed. I think this is doable because we got the Wii Fit for Christmas this year and I love it. I’ve worked out everyday for at least an hour and half since December 26th.

3. To outline the first draft of the World War I book I have running around in my head.

4. This one is going to be hard to measure but I want to balance my work and personal life a little bit better than I have in the past year.

5. To get a passport. I am the only one in the family that does not have a passport.

6. To apply and be selected for an AP World History reader position.

I think this is enough considering that I have not set goals for myself in a very long time. They are not resolutions they are goals. I have to keep telling myself that. In the past when I made resolutions and I did not meet them I would be mad at myself. I am hoping that because I am calling them goals I will not be so upset if I do not meet all of them. Wish me luck and I’m off and on my way. Now Bone is rubbing off on me too with the song lyrics. They are close enough to the Carpenter’s “We’ve Only Just Begun”.