Sunday, August 23, 2009

New school year!

Our school year is off and running. I officially started back to school with meetings and working in my room last Monday. I really am liking the way I have things arranged in my room this year. It's quite different from last year and seems to be working well. It's also so much more organized (for now)-we'll see if it stays that way through the year. Here are a few pictures of my room so far. I still have a "to do" list a mile long, but writing lesson plans and preparing for the week have to come before "cute and organized" for now. Maybe by Christmas I'll have things the way I really want them.

This the door to my room. I have since this picture finished it by putting the kids' names all around the coconut tree. It turned out cute!
This is my area for circle time. I will be adding more things as the year goes on. I'm thinking I need a lamp behind my chair.
Another view of the circle time area. My "helping hands" chart will go on the first black section next week when we start having helpers.

This will eventually be the writing center (minus the baby doll)

This is my pretend center. I'm working on labels for the shelves and drawers so things can be put away neatly.
This is the block center, puppet stage, and science table area. We'll be adding some more things to this area as well, but for now it's just blocks.

And just for fun, this is a picture of the kids on the first day of school. Quality is not great, but things are always crazy on the first day, so I'm just happy to have a picture at all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"So we don't forget" -quack and poo...

I have to do a quickish Wednesday's Walk (now called "so we don't forget") this week. I have a mile long to do list for both my classroom and at home to get ready for the first day of school tomorrow. I had an amazing experience this week that I want to get down before I forget. Hope you can get something out of it as well.

I had the opportunity yesterday to hear a phenomenal speaker during our school district's back-to-school assembly for the teachers. His name is Allan Johnson. I had heard him speak before, but yesterday especially touched me. His talk was basically about attitude.

The beginning of a new school year is stressful for teachers (you probably guessed that already). There is so much "behind the scenes" things that have to happen to make a school run smoothly.schedules for special classes, lunch, recess all have to hammered out every year. Who is going to be where and when for bus duty, recess duty, cafeteria duty, etc has to be assigned. Which class gets which kids has to be's a mess. And, no matter how you assign things and how fair you try to be, someone always feels like they got the short end of the stick. That's where our attitude comes into play.

Allan said that you can choose to be a duck or you can choose to be an eagle. Eagles are built to soar. They stay high above the earth and see amazing things. Ducks hang out close to the ground. Mostly, they see each other. And mostly, ducks just quack and poo...quack and poo. Kind of like we do when we feel something isn't fair or we didn't get what we "deserve". People say things like "well, I'm going to do my job, but I'm not doing anything extra." "They don't pay me enough to do THAT..." Quack and poo...a bunch of ducks.

So, our goal is to be eagles. To soar above all of the mess and see the amazing things. And yesterday, when I left the assembly, I WAS an eagle. I couldn't wait to get back into my room and get ready for all those sweet little babies coming my way on Thursday. I was so excited writing their names on things in the room and remembering their little faces from Meet the Teacher night. I left school for a couple of hours and had lunch with some of my very dear friends I used to teach with when I was a "newbie" teacher. I left there soaring even higher. It was a great feeling, even when up until I went to bed.

Then, morning came. Today, we spent most of our day in meetings. It started out wonderfully-bagels from Panera Bread, someone brought us cookies, and we hung out and talked about how great the meeting had been yesterday afternoon. Then, we got into the "meat" of our meeting. Schedules and duties and dress codes...oh my!

And suddenly, I found myself on the ground with all the ducks. Quack...poo. What happened to me? I could no longer see anything beautiful or amazing about starting school. All I could see was the poo. Just like that, I changed from being super excited about school, to being sad and angry. And really, most of the things that were making me feel that way were things I had no control over anyway. But still, there I was-quack...poo. And the more I quacked and pooed (yes I enjoy saying that. I'm trying to see how many times I can use it in context) the worse I felt. My excuse for all the quacking and (you guessed it) pooing, was that I "just needed to vent." But, really, I think if I honestly looked at it, what I wanted was to bring some other ducks down to quack and poo with me. And it worked. There we all were on the ground together. Pretty sad bunch.

When all the meetings were over and the chaos of the day was over, I went back to my room to work. I had more things to label and set out and hang up. As I worked, I started to notice some of the quacking in my brain fading away. I wrote more kids' names on things and I started seeing their faces in my mind again. I could feel the eagle coming back. I went out to take pictures of places in our building for a book I'm going to read to them tomorrow and the excitement started to come back as I pictured them on the playground and in the cafeteria. By the time I left, I could see all the amazing things that I had been missing all day. I walked up to the office to sign out as I was leaving and I stopped in to talk to some of the other "ducks" that had been with me this morning. But, I no longer saw the ducks-they were eagles too. The excitement was back!

But, what was the key to bringing it back? Hmmmmmmmm...have you ever noticed that ducks hang out in groups? You really don't see too many lonely little ducks wandering around. They stay with the flock. How about eagles? When I see pictures of eagles, I see one or two at a time. Eagles hang out by themselves. When they're soaring high above the earth, they don't have anyone there to bring them down. Ducks quack and poo together, but eagles soar alone. Funny how that works.

So, my goal is to not hang out with the ducks. Rather, I want to invite the ducks to come soar with me and enjoy the view.

(okay, it wasn't that quick, but it was much quick-er than usual because I didn't post any pictures. I have some of my classroom, maybe I'll add those later.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another garden update

It's been a while since I've updated about our "garden". We haven't actually done much to it since the last update, just left it alone to see what would become of it. Much to our surprise, things are still growing out there-sunflowers and pumpkins at least. In fact, it has turned into quite the pumpkin patch out there! I didn't realize that one little packet of pumpkin seeds would produce so many pumpkin plants! They are everywhere!
We have everything from pumpkin flowers (oh, and weeds)
To little tiny green pumpkins
To great big green pumpkins
To pumpkins that are starting to turn orange.
To big giant ORANGE pumpkins!
We are so excited!

Unfortunately, it looks like we planted our pumpkins a tad bit too early this year. We have several that look like they are going to be ready any day now. So, we may not be able to use them for Halloween. But, Daniel has promised the kids that when we get some that are ripe, we will make jack-o-lanterns out of them anyway. The kids' plan is to save the seeds and plant an even bigger pumpkin patch next year.

Our sunflowers have grown as well (two of them anyway). One of them is HUGE-taller than Daniel! It finally bloomed this weekend and it is so pretty!
The other sunflower is not quite as tall, but looks like it is also ready to bloom. These seeds are also going to be saved for next year.
(For those who haven't met him, that's our dog, BACON. Daniel rescued him as a puppy-someone tied him to a garbage bag and put him out to be picked up with the trash.)

The kids have made a list of other things they want to grow next year. The thing at the top of the list is STRAWBERRIES. I can't wait to see how that one turns out!

Mini vacation part 3-Springfield zoo

Since we spent so much time waiting at Lambert's Saturday evening, we didn't make it back to the hotel for the kids' favorite thing-swimming in the hotel pool. So, we got up extra early on Sunday morning, had breakfast at the hotel, and got ready for the pool. I did NOT get into the pool because it was FREEZING! The kids had a blast though and didn't seem to mind too much until they got out (except Dakota. She's too spoiled to swimming in the warm pool at the Y, so she didn't stay in long).

From there, we went to the Springfield zoo. It's a pretty cool zoo. Lots of walking, of course, and some big hills, but they have a few animals that OKC doesn't have.

Here's the hippo-very cool!

These giant tortoises were awesome! They have some similar in OKC, but a different species, I think. Anyway, they were pretty much just sitting there like tortoises do when we first saw them. We went on to other things and when we came back by, they were doing this:

How cool is that?

The Springfield zoo also has a pretty nice kids' area with farm animals to feed. They have goats, a donkey, a calf, and maybe something else, but I don't remember. The kids loved feeding them.

But, the very best part of the Springfield Zoo and the main reason we went back this year is the GIRAFFES! There is a raised platform at the exhibit where you are eye level with them. You can buy "giraffe crackers" and feed them! It's so much fun!

The kids were even nice enough to let Daniel and I have a turn!

And believe it or not, they even have the kids' favorite kind of animal-the bronze kind! We found lots and lots of animal statues to take pictures with.
This is a picture of (a picture of) the kids with that same tiger statue the first time we visited the Springfield zoo. Landon was not quite two years old! Look how much they've all grown!
Sorry about the quality. I know it's on a CD somewhere, but I didn't want to spend the time digging it out, so I just took a picture of the picture I have hanging on the wall at home.

And, just in case you think Sierra is always so sweet and smiley, here is a picture just to show that she does have a bit of an ornery streak.
Oh, do you remember this picture from the time I took all four of the kids to the OKC zoo by myself?

Well, a couple of days before our trip, Landon and I were looking at all of my old posts. We came to that picture and he said something about his sad face-the girls didn't let him sit where he wanted to sit and so he was pouting. We talked about how "yucky" that face looked in the picture and then looked at some pictures of him smiling and talked about how much nicer those were.
So, just after I took the picture with Sierra's tongue sticking out, I tried to get the four of them together for a picture. Once again, the girls didn't let him sit where he wanted. So, he got up and stomped away and said "then I'm mad." So I told him I was going to take his picture like that with his "yucky" face. He turned his pouting right off and I got this picture instead.
So, maybe, if I would just carry my camera around everywhere we go, I could have a smiling, happy Landon with me all the time??? It's worth a shot!

We had so much fun on our little mini vacation! We are already planning our trip for next year-to the BEACH! I can't wait!

Mini vacation part 2-Lambert's

(I apologize now for the really bad quality of the pictures in this post. I forgot to bring in my camera, so these are from my phone)

Once we were all finished with the swim meet, we loaded up and headed out to Springfield. It didn't take as long as I expected, which was good. The kids and I passed the time mostly by sleeping in the van and we were there before we knew it.

We found a really great hotel (we had our own bedroom-nice!) and got checked in and unloaded. We hung out in the room for a while watching Disney Channel (we don't have cable-so that's a treat for us) in one room and grown-up TV in the other room (yes, TWO TV's! We thought we were in heaven-ha!), then got ready for dinner. We were going to Lambert's Home of Throwed Rolls.

We called ahead to see if we could get reservations, but sadly they don't allow that. The wait was TWO HOURS when we left our hotel. Wow! But we went anyway because that had been our plan when we decided on Springfield. By the time we got there, the wait was down to 1 1/2 hours-and it took the whole time. It was kind of neat though to see all those people waiting. I wish I had taken pictures outside. People pretty much expect to wait that long, so they come prepared. The people who were parked in front of use had a travel trailer and passed the time by cleaning it out-sweeping, etc. Our kids drew pictures, drank soda, and climbed all over the van.
Finally, it was our turn! We soon found out that it was worth the wait. The kids we so happy to find out that hot chocolate was a choice for their drink and they each had one (even though it was almost 100 outside). I think the appeal was more the whipped cream than the hot chocolate, but they enjoyed it.
Oh, and did I mention that it was HOT? (I love Dakota's face-she has burned herself before, so she was prepared.) Oh, the think on Chey's head? It was the ribbon off a box of pictures that I had in the van. She decided she would look "cute" with a bow in her hair. She tied it herself. It was vacation, who was I to argue with her choice of accessories. It did, however, "accidentally" find it's way into the garbage the next morning when I was cleaning and packing up to leave the hotel.

And this is Landon with his hot chocolate mustache. It's hard to see in the crummy picture, but he loved it so much I couldn't not post it.
Daniel and I ordered chicken fried steak. It can out in a HUGE skillet! We could have all six shared one order!
Then, came the fun part-the THROWED ROLLS! The roll guy comes out of the kitchen and yells "Hot Rolls!".
(Look closely, he's in the middle in the back)

Then all the people in the restaurant go crazy yelling and waving at him to throw one their way.

He's really good! All the kids got to catch at least one and I lost count of how many Daniel caught for us.
We only lost one or two to the floor, but that's part of the fun.

At the end of the meal, they brought around some sorghum molasses for the rolls. It was so good! We left Lambert's happy, stuffed and carrying our very own can of sorghum molasses! It was a great time!

Our mini vacation part 1-swim meet

Things around our family have been constantly changing for the last several years, especially the last five years since Sierra and then Landon have come along. We have moved three times, I have changed schools three times, and I have changed grade levels twice. Things have just been kind of "up in the air" for most of that time.
This has been the first summer in a really long time that everything in our lives has pretty much stayed the same. It's been nice. We've been able to get out and do a lot more things this summer-partly because all the kids are older and easier to manage by myself and partly because we haven't had to spend our whole time packing, moving, and unpacking. We've done quite a bit of organizing and simplifying, the kids have learned to be responsible for a few chores that really help me out (putting away folded laundry, vacuuming, and clearing the table are the best ones), and it's just been pretty relaxing for the most part.
It's also been nice to not be worried about finding a job. I know which school, what grade, and which room I will be in when school starts next week. I've even been able to go up during the evenings and work on my classroom sometimes. I feel like I'm more prepared than I ever have been for school before.
This is also the first summer in a long time (since Landon was born) that we have been able to take a "vacation" with our family. Just the six of us. So, a couple of weekends ago, we headed off to Springfield, MO for a quick overnighter and had a great time. It was so nice just to get away with the kids and have no real agenda or schedule other than to just have some fun and spend time together.
Our first stop was Dakota's summer state swim meet. She swam the 50m butterfly, the 50m backstroke, the 50m freestyle, and the 100m freestyle. She did well in all of them, but my favorite was the 50m butterfly. She had only swam it in one meet before state and I was really inpressed with how well she did. In her heat, she came in first (!) for her age group. That got her fifth place overall in the butterfly for her age! She has been swimming for less than a year, so I think that's pretty great. This is the video of her butterfly. Look for the white swim cap.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday's Walk-OSU

Ever since I can remember, there has been a kind of rivalry among my extended family-aunts, uncles, cousins-when it comes to colors. Some of us like red and some of us like orange. I'm referring to, of course, OU and OSU (Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University). Around here, most people come down firmly on one side or the other, there isn't really any in between (unless one of the teams is playing Texas-then you are allowed to cheer for the other team).
I happen to bleed orange. Always have. Even before I understood what a college was or why you would go there, that's where I said I would go. Back then, it may have had something to do with wanting to irritate people and stir them up, who knows, but somewhere along the way it got stuck in my head that I needed to go to OSU. So, when the time came, that's what I did.
My experience at OSU was a little different than most. I was married when I came to OSU-we were married in July and I started my classes in August. I never lived in a dorm or a sorrority house. I lived off campus in a "house"-and I use that term loosely-with my husband. So, there were some experiences that I missed out on-I don't have all those "crazy room mate" stories to tell, no memories of people on my floor, didn't go to any parties. But I also missed out on making a lot of mistakes that so many kids make at college, which is a good thing. My focus was on my classes, my home, and my husband.
I started off at OSU planning to major in Psychology. Why psychology? I don't know. I think that I really didn't have any idea what I wanted to do but felt like I need to have an answer when people asked my what I was studying, so I decided that was a good one. I actually only took one psychology class at OSU. Anyway, when I was in my second year at OSU, I found out that I was pregnant with Dakota. It was then that I heard about the Early Childhood Education program. I immediately decided that was what I wanted to do. What could be better for someone who had kids than to be a teacher? So, for the rest of my time at OSU, that's what I studied.
I am so thankful for my the time I had when I was in college. Daniel worked very hard for us during that time (sometimes two jobs) so that after Dakota was born I didn't work again until after college. I still say that was the time when I was the best mom I've ever been. I would drop Dakota off for a few hours a day while I was at class, and then I was home with her the rest of the time. It was perfect. I got just enough of a break and some adult time each day and was free to enjoy my baby the rest of the time. Not that things weren't hard. But, looking back on it, it was all very much worth it.
I graduated in May of 2000 with a BS in Family Relations and Child Development. I earned my teaching certificate to teach Early Childhood-ages birth to age 8 (or PreK to 3rd grade in public schools). Here are some pictures for my graduation day.
Here I am! Yes, I was the nerd who wore the cords from every honor society I was in. But, hey, I worked hard to earn them and I was proud to wear them.

Daniel and I. We had already proven lots of people wrong by making it through those first 4 years (and by me actually graduating from OSU-married at 18 and with a baby at 20). 9 years later, we are still proving them wrong.

I did have a (very) few close friends at school. By our last year, we practically spent the entire day together every day. This is Brandon, Michelle, me, and Twila. Unfortunately, we haven't stayed in touch as much as I would like, but thanks for Facebook, it's getting better.

Here is the sea of graduates that day. I am out there somewhere!

And here I am with Dakota. Did I mention to you that she attened her first class at OSU when she was less than a week old? She was a smart girl from the beginning.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Not Me! Monday

If there is anything that you would like to confess to NOT doing this week, hop over the Mckmama's blog and link up with your own NOT ME Monday post.

It was NOT my family who waited for an hour and a half at a restaurant on our trip to Springfield, just to have someone throw rolls at us during dinner. It was NOT totally worth it. We did NOT all eat totally too much and then eat some more.
(Okay, this isn't my picture, I copied it from someone else. I forgot my camera that night so all the pictures are on my phone and I haven't figured out how to get them to my computer yet.)

It was NOT me who had to dig baby possums out of their dead mother's pouch so that they wouldn't die in the heat outside. If I had done that, though, I would have been very thankful for Daniels big, thick work gloves.

It was NOT my kids who ate 5 bags of popcorn (between the four of them) for dinner one night last week while I was working at school. I would never approve of such a thing. My kids always eat a perfectly balanced dinner. On that same night, I did NOT go straight from school to Wal-Mart for a grocery shopping trip and miss bedtime. Since the kids were going to be asleep when I got home, I did NOT stop at Sonic on the way and pick up burgers and ice cream for Daniel and I. We would NEVER eat something like that late at night and we would never eat that when the kids had eaten only popcorn for dinner. Really, who would do that?

I have NOT been working in my classroom already, even though I don't have to be there for another week. I am NOT totally in love with the Dollar Tree this year for carrying "teacher supplies." I do NOT go in there at least once a week to see what new things they have.

I did NOT accidentally set the alarm off at school on Saturday. It was NOT completely my fault for not filling in the sign-in sheet correctly making the other person think I had already left. I did NOT have to call my principal and tell him it was me. I was NOT totally embarrassed! It did not remind me of the time about a year ago when I thought I had set off the alarm to the office. I did NOT have to call the principal then also, only to find out what I was hearing was the alarm from the weather radio and not an alarm! I was NOT really hoping that he didn't remember that.

I did NOT totally forget that I was substituting for Sierra's Sunday School teacher until Saturday evening. I did NOT stop by the church and pick up the materials only to set them aside once I got home and forget to look at them. I did NOT try to read and drive on the way to church Sunday morning so I would know what the lesson was. The kids were NOT totally bored with the lesson because I didn't prepare anything to make it fun. I did NOT feel really bad about it.

I am NOT posting this picture of some kid I don't know.
I took lots of pictures of my own kids with the giraffe's on our trip to the zoo, so I would NOT post this one just because this is the best picture of the giraffe's tongue I have. I do NOT still crack up when I look at it and remember that giraffe licking everyone that walked by hoping they had some food for him. We did NOT have a great time on that trip and I will NOT be doing a post about it later today (or maybe I will, you'll just have to stop back by and see.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Getting to know me...for Lynnette's blog

Okay, I'm REALLY not good at this. When I go into an interview, the question I dread the most is "Tell me about yourself." But, I'll give it a try...

1. I am an only child. I always wanted to have a brother or sister when I was growing up, so I totally don't get some of the things my kids say and do to each other. I'm just praying that someday they will appreciate their siblings. Other people have assured me that this will happen.
2. My husband and I have been married for 13 years. In that time, we have lived in 8 different houses. That's an average of less than two years in each house...I have boxes that we have moved at least 3 times and never unpacked.
My goal is to stay in this house for at least 3 years and break the cycle...We'll see.

3. I am a reader. But, I have to be very careful to limit myself. Once I get started on a good book, I can't put it down. If I'm not reading it, I'm thinking about it. So, I don't read during the school year (for pleasure anyway). I read the first three Twilight books in about 24 hours each and the entire series in just over a week.
My oldest daughter inherited this reading gene from me (along with the gene for keeping everything neat and organized-or not).
4. This is my 9th year to teach. I change grades and school as much as I change houses. I taught one year of second grade, two years of first grade, two years of kindergarten, and three years of PreK so far. Last year was the first time I taught the same grade 3 years in a row. This will be only the second time ever that I will be teaching the same grade in the same school for two years in a row.

5. Even with all that change, some things do stay the same. The pants I am wearing today I have had for 8 years (although I have retired them from being seen in public now). They are super comfy and I love them.6. I have a love/hate relationship with storms. I am terrified of tornados and used to have nightmares regularly about them. But, I love to look at pictures of them. I think they are really kind of pretty (if you ignore the fact that they are very dangerous). I judge the severity of a coming storm by which weather guy is on at the moment. I know that if certain ones are there, I am in no immediate danger. However, if Gary England is on, you know things are going to be serious...My husband finds a lot of humor in my theory about this.

7. I am terrified of spiders, even little tiny ones.

8. I love my job as a teacher (most days), but my dream is to someday be a nurse. When my kids aren't so little and can handle me going back to school, I hope to have a chance to make it happen.

9. I have issues with my feet, always have. I don't like socks, but I wear them when I have to. If my socks get out of place, I have to immediately stop and and fix it, even to the point of pulling my car over when I'm driving. I can't stand it! I also can't stand to see someone else wearing their socks wrong, so I can't watch when my kids put on their own socks. A favorite game at my house is for someone to come by and tug on the toe of my sock. Makes me crazy! If not that, then someone will come over just to show me that their socks are on wrong.

10. I am a planner and a list maker, but not necessarily a "doer". I constantly have a list of things I need to do for the day. I even go so far as to "schedule" my day, hoping that it will motivate me to get things done. It doesn't work. I always get distracted or things take longer than I planned. I've always said that I would love to write curriculum for teachers because I can come up with some really great lesson plans. The part where I fall short is in the preparation. I purposely put writing this post at the top of my to do list for today so that I didn't have to feel guilty about it :)

Hooray, I did it! Now, you do your and link up with Lynnette so everyone can get to know you better too!