Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cool Stuff

Rally Jacksonville

Here in Jacksonville there is a really wonderful program that tries to encourage kids to read. It's called "Rally Jacksonville." Part of this initiative includes a FREE set of 12 "Mayor Peyton's Book Club" books given to all kids who turn 4. How cool to excite pre-schoolers about reading and ensure that every pre-schooler in Jacksonville has access to books! Today while at the library we picked up Em's set of books. I was amazed at the freebies that were part of this project:

Cool stuff!

Tote bag, shelf box holding the set of 12 books, a set of alphabet flashcards, a parent guide, coloring book, "Shh I'm Reading " doorknob hanger, bookmark, "Leading with Reading" kid-sized T-shirt, and fleece blanket. WOW!

Here is an example of one of the books in the set.

The free blanket.

Having taught at a school where many of the middle school students reported that there were not any books in their home to read, I am delighted by the idea of trying to "hook" kids into books and reading at an early age.

Also, my former principal's mother authored the books. I've met the principal's daughter who is one of the main characters in the book series. Very neat!

The Dress

Tonight we went to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Casa de Salas. As we were walking
to the restaurant, Emma stopped to stare in the store window next door. Her mouth was literally hanging open when she said, "Wow! Mommy would look beautiful in that dress!" HILARIOUS! Even if I were 100 pounds lighter, I do not have the gumption to wear a dress like this. I am WAAAY to modest for this type of attire. Too too funny!

Why is this "cool stuff?" Because my sweet daughter thinks of me as "beautiful." I also appreciate that she doesn't yet understand that my large derriere would not fit into the dress.

(On a sad note, our favorite waitress, Candy, told us she was glad that we ate there tonight, because it was her family's last night of business. Due to lack of income, they are closing the restaurant. Bummer!)

The Shriner's Circus

Last weekend we went to the Shriner's Circus. As we were approaching the ticket counter, the man ahead of us turned to ask us if we had already purchased tickets. When DH and I reported that we had not, he handed us 3 "complimentary passes." So we attended the circus for free!

It was low-key and not as elaborate as the Barnum & Bailey circus Em and I attended last year. However, it was great fun. I liked knowing that our souvenir and food purchases were contributing to a good cause (Shriner's burn unit needs). I wish I had a video recording of Emma watching a slapstick routine of a man "trying" to jump on a trampoline. He would take a running start and then run into the trampoline instead of climbing onto it, jump so high that he bounced off the trampoline, fall through the side of the trampoline, etc. It was a one-man 3-Stooges type act. Em was laughing out loud SO hard. DH and I were giggling more at her than at the trampoline act. A slapstick lover. Sighs. I think my daughter may have been blessed/cursed with my warped sense of humor. :)

After the circus, Em had her first ever pony ride.

She was SO tickled to be able to ride by herself. There were many babies and younger children whose parents had to walk beside them during the whole ride. Em said, I can hold on tight by myself, cause I'm 4!"

School Stuff

Yesterday after school, I met with one of my former co-workers. She is loaning me the Teacher's Edition and DVDs for a class I've been teaching this quarter and have NO materials (other than student workbooks) for. I'll get the materials back to her next week after I write lesson plans and worksheet ideas from the items she loaned me. I feel SO relieved knowing I no longer have to "wing it" when it comes to lesson planning. Yea!

A teacher at my school was arrested last weekend for DUI and having narcotics (allegedly cocaine) in his car. He was also one of our football coaches. This week at school has been rough, as he gave his resignation. My students have been upset at his leaving and disappointed in his arrest. In addition, our school has been all over the local news due to another teacher being suspended for 10 days due to comments he made to students about their attire. Sighs. The irony is this is an A-school and not usually in the news for negative reasons! I'm hoping that things will be more settled next week.

I think I had a "breakthrough" with one of my more difficult students, S.W. He is a football player and was especially upset about the aforementioned coach leaving. I had a 15 minute one-on-one conversation with S.W. about how I know he is going through a rough time, Teacher/Coach was really important to him, I'm proud of him for trying when I know he really struggles with reading, etc. He seemed surprised and pleased that I understand some of what he is going through. This is one of the students I've really been praying about...he comes from a home where he was abused and witnessed drug abuse (he is now living safely with his other parent.) Now if I can just find some common ground with my student R.L.

We had an in-school football game 2 weeks ago, during which time I volunteered my classroom as a "holding tank" for students who did not purchase tickets for the game. I only had 9 students in my room, so I was able to have 3 hours of work time while they played board games. I finally got the rest of the filing cabinet cleared out. Hooray! My classroom is officially 100% organized. I am SO pleased.

This week my principal, the district Read180 coordinator, district Scholastic coordinator, and district head of the Reading department all observed my classroom. I was thrilled when my principal forwarded me a copy of the "Sight Feedback Form" he received from the district regarding their visit. Notes included, "Both teachers observed were implementing program with fidelity and had a high level of student engagement..." also, "both teachers are organized and have a high regard for student success." YEA! Hooray for me (and Larry---the other reading teacher observed.) :)

Home Stuff

DH won't be running in the half marathon on Oct 4th. He was sick 2 weeks ago and on antibiotics for phlegm/chest congestion. This put his training schedule behind, as he didn't run/practice at all when he was feeling yucky. He has a new half marathon goal...I think it's at the end of November. I feel badly for him, but he seems to be taking yet another delay in his first major race with a someday-my-race-will-come kind of attitude.

A fence! A fence! A fence! Hooray! After living in our house for 6 years and having our dog for 5 1/2 years we are finally getting a fence. I am SO ecstatic about this. It will be great to be able to let Em play outside independently. It will be greater still to be able to let the dog potty independently---no more leash required. Em has already asked for a swingset for Christmas. I think it's a super idea. I am also going to get estimates to see how much it would cost to have a screen door(s) installed outside the french doors that open onto our deck. :)

Emmaisms of the week (9/23/08):
--On the clothing drive at her school for new clothing items to send to children in Haiti:
"We don't give them OUR underwear, we have to buy NEW underwear for the kids."

--Tonight while getting ready for bed:
Em: "I have a butt crack."
Mommy: "Who told you that?"
Em (turning around looking at bare butt): "When I turned around, I just saw it back there."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Birthday Pics

I forgot to post my 2 fav pics from Em's birthday.


9/6/08 On humor: "Daddy, you're cracking me up!"

9/7/08 Conversing on the phone:
Auntie Laurel: "Hi! What are you doing?"
Emma: "Rubbing my toes."

9/8/08 On coloring: "I'm gonna color all the hearts pink, because I love hearts, because they love people very much."

9/9/08 On getting undressed:
Daddy to Emma: "Yes, it's helpful to take your shoes off BEFORE you take off your pants."

9/11/08 On getting dressed, specifically re-buttoning her jumper after going potty at school:
Emma to her teacher: "This dress is giving me a hurt neck."
Ms. Stephanie: "What?"
Emma: "This dress is giving me a hurt neck."
Ms. Stephanie: "The dress doesn't touch your neck."
Emma: "No! I mean it's giving me a HURT neck!"
Ms. Stephanie: "Do you mean that it's a 'pain in the neck?'"
Emma: YES!

9/16/08 On aging:
Crying and clinging to me, "I don't want to turn 4! I don't want to be a grown up!"

9/19/08 On riding in the car on a sunny day:
"God, stop it! Stop it! The sun is in my eyes! Turn it off!" (She said this with folded hands, looking up at the sky.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Ugly, The Bad, and The Good

Whew! The school year is back in full swing and my blogging/free time are dwindling. Here's what's been going on this September...

The Ugly:

Last Wednesday 9/10, I was in a minor car accident. I had just pulled into
a parking space at a restaurant, when a man hit my rear bumper, as he
tried to park in the spot next to me.

When we got out of our vehicles, his first words to me were, "What do you want?" As if I had inconvenienced him. Sighs. To make a long story somewhat short, after I wrote down his name
and license plate #, we agreed we'd exchange insurance info inside the restaurant we were parked outside (because it was 90+ degrees out that day.) As I entered the restaurant, the man got in his car and drove off! Instead of calling a non-emergency police number as originally planned, I then called 911. The man was located at his home. He was cited for driving with a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident, and careless driving. I'm still dealing with insurance mumbo-jumbo with his appraiser to have my car fixed.

Fortunately, the damage isn't too dreadful. And no major injuries, though my back has been sore since the accident.

The Bad:

DH and I spent last weekend at Disney World to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Though very enjoyable overall, I am writing a letter to our hotel to complain about the following:
--After calling that morning to verify if we could check in early (the posted check in time is 3 p.m., but we wanted to check in between 1:30 and 2), our room was not ready when we arrived.
--Brand new fridge in our room was still taped shut with the owners manual and styrofoam inside. It also was not plugged in. We had to move it out of the TV/Entertainment unit in order to plug it in, because the furniture unit was too large for us to move in order to reach an outlet.
--There were 2 flat screen TVs in our suite. 1 in the bedroom area and 1 in the living room area. The TV in the living room area was also not plugged in...and we could also not reach the outlet, again due to the large entertainment unit.
--The jacuzzi tub did not work. The whole reason we chose a suite at this hotel was because I wanted a room with a jacuzzi. I did have a nice, hot bath which helped my back...but it's not the same!
--Neither of the lamps on our nightstands were plugged in. The one on Aaron's nightstand even still had the plastic piece covering the plug prongs when he checked to see if it was plugged in!

Overall, the Buena Vista Suites hotel was really lovely. They have just renovated everything. The suite was roomy, CLEAN, and nice. The breakfast buffet was super. I think they just rushed to book our room after renovations without really checking to make sure it was ready.

The Good:

After getting over my initial guilt of going to Disney without Emma (DH reminded me that "Disney is one of (my) favorite places in the world too," not just Emma's,) we had a great time.
We spent time shopping and sightseeing in Downtown Disney---we had never been there before.

Aaron on a chopper at the Downtown Disney Harley store.

DH and I in front of Cinderella's castle

We spent a lot of time looking at the neat exhibits at the Lego store in Downtown Disney.
I especially liked this dragon in the lake outside the store.

Downtown Disney signs. We ate dinner at House of Blues. It was really yummy! But we were disappointed that they didn't have any live music playing at the time we were there.

Self-portrait while we were riding the Tomorrow Land Transit.

It was really nice to have one-on-one time with DH. We don't have many "date nights" or time away from Emma. I always enjoy our times together. Oh---I don't want to forget---DH sent a dozen roses to me at my school on our anniversary. He has purchased flowers for me before, but has never sent them to my work place. I thought it was very sweet!

More Good...

Em turned 4 this week! I can hardly believe our little one is growing up so quickly. We didn't plan it, but it worked out so that she had nearly a whole week of celebration. Weds she took cupcakes to school and had a small class party there. When we arrived home from school, there was a package from Auntie Laurel waiting on the porch. It was filled with great goodies (including a purse and wallet Em had requested,) but Em seemed especially excited about the book of 400 princess stickers.

Thursday we had a playdate after school w/ Em's friend Adrian and his mom. They gave Em a cool princess story book and the CUTEST Cindy Lou Who PJs.

Friday when we arrived home from school there was a package waiting from Grandma and Grandpa. It contained several books (thus far Em's favorite is the "Beauty and the Beast Look and Find") and a Dorothy costume complete with gingham hairbows and red shoes. (Em told Grandma she wanted to dress up as Dorothy for Halloween.) Em immediately wanted to try the costume on. It is SOOOO CUTE! I can't wait to post Halloween pics next month. Em really enjoyed having her hair braided in 2 pigtails and asked me to braid her hair again today. I love it...but it makes her look so grown. Sighs!

Today we had Nana, Papa, Auntie Amie, and Uncle Burke over for a cookout dinner and birthday celebration. Em had present opening and birthday cake time. Fun was had by all. (Kiddo wouldn't sit still for a nice pic with Nana and Papa. Bummer.)

Daddy picked this WAY COOL princess cake out by himself. Em loved it. (Note the "Princess" photo of Em on the top tier!)

Blowing out the candles...


Em's "Birthday Girl" badge was given to her by her teacher.

"I'm 4!"

Uncle Burke and Auntie Amie

Opening presents... (Shhh! She doesn't know the princess art supply kit was
purchased by Mommy & Daddy at Disney World!)

The amazing cake.

What a nice day!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mail Call

Mail Call:

During our 3 "Fay" days off from school last week, Em asked if she could "make letters" for my parents. She was SO excited to do "arts and craps" and draw pictures for them. Em also decided to create a letter for my sister Laurel. This was all Em's doing---from the artwork to the gluing and sticker placement. She decided who she was "writing" to and what she was creating. Em was quite excited to go to the Post Office. She liked putting the stamp on all by herself, liked kissing the letter good-bye before dropping it in the mailbox. It turned the whole arts and crafts day into an adventure for her.

This week on Friday Emma received a really nice rebus type letter from my Mom. Grandma had cut out magazine pictures so that Emma was able to "read" much of the 6PAGE letter along with me. Thanks, Grandma! Em loved it!

Then on Saturday, Em received mail from Auntie Laurel. Included with a letter were packs of Dora stickers. What a hit! Em has used many of the stickers this weekend to create even more arts and craps! Thanks, Auntie Laurel!


Our 10 year wedding anniversary is next weekend. As of yet, we have no official plans. I think DH is off of work on Friday the 12th. Maybe we can get his parents to watch Em overnight so we can go somewhere? We are usually planners, but have both been putting off making definite plans for some odd reason.

Emma's birthday is coming up...
We are just going to have a family party this year. Small and simple. And I can't believe my baby is going to be 4! Wow! Where does the time go?

Happy Birthday Grandma and Grandpa! My Dad's bday is Sept 9th and my Mom's is Sept 20th.

School update:

School has been going well for both Em and I. Em seems to have adjusted well to her teacher Ms. Stephanie. She is in a nice, small class---only 7 students---which is great, because they seem to get a lot of teacher attention.

My school is going well thus far. I still have a To-Do list that is a mile long, but I am slowly plugging away at it. I am beginning to feel less overwhelmed as I get into a routine with my students. This weekend I was able to spend time reviewing both the Reading and Language Arts curriculum, so I now have a better feel for how to merge the 2 curriculums within my classroom.

I am missing the small family feel at my old school. Last year there were only 42 teachers on faculty at my school. This year there are 75 of us. In addition, student enrollment last year was in the 500s and at my new school it is in the 1200s. It's been an adjustment. Fortunately, the other 3 teachers in my reading department are wonderful. We are already a support network for one another and I've appreciated having a sounding board. Still no close "friends"...or teachers with children in Emma's age bracket...but at least I'm not totally alone. Whew!


DH has been training to run in a half marathon on Oct 4th. He has been running for about 3 years now. He has enrolled in half marathons on 2 other occasions, but ended up not running due to getting sick the week or two prior to the race. He seems more serious about his training this time around. I hope for him that he is able to run and complete the race this time. Go DH, go! :)

Guess that's all for now. I need to finish some lesson planning for the week.


This weekend, I found a pile of post-its I had randomly written Emma quotes on. In order to better preserve (and organize) them, I'm sharing below:

2/14/07 On having to wait to eat Valentine candy until after the dog was walked: "Hurry up,
Viggo! I wanna open my candy!"

3/18/07 After going to Michael's craft store: "Are we going to the Jane and Mary Poppins store
with Daddy?" (Michael and Jane are the 2 children in the Mary Poppins movie.)

3/21/07 Enroute to ride on a ferry boat: "When are we gonna go on the Fairy-God boat?"

3/29/07 Emma: "Are you o-kay, Mommy?"
Mommy: "I'm a little congested."
Emma: "I'm a little cuh--con---con--I'm a little tired."

4/1/07 Emma to DH who was wearing his running clothes, "Are you gonna get sweaty and go in
the bathroom?" (He does always shower after

4/15/07 Going to church: "Mommy, you look beautiful with your hair." (I think she meant
because it was's not like she's ever seen me without hair. Lol.)

5/3/07 Riding in the car: "Daddy, is there a tissue in this car? I have a booger in my nose...and
one in my mouth." (Ewww!)

5/10/07 On a cat hairball on the floor: "Hey! Abby put her eyebrow on the floor!"

5/10/07 In the bathtub to Daddy: "You have little boobies like me, not big boobies like

9/23/07 "C'mon, Daddy. Be careful or Pumar James will get us. Pumar James is a monster!"
(We still have NO idea how/where she came up with the name Poo-mar.)

12/10/07 "Yea! This is 'Jingle Bell Ross!'" (When "Jingle Bell Rock" came on the radio.)

3/2/08 Emma: "Mommy! My pants are wet!"
Mommy: "What happened?"
Emma: "I tried to go to the potty, but suddenly, my pants were wet!"

4/13/08 On cleaning up so that we could leave a restaurant:
"Can you guys help me clean up this crap?"

4/18/08 To DH who was using the potty:
Emma: "What are you doing?"
Daddy: "Reading."
Emma: "Why don't I hear anything?"

4/19/08 Neighbor, smiling and waving as he walked into his house: "Have a good day!"
Emma: "Have a poopy day!"
Mommy: Embarrassed, apologized and shoved Emma into the house....

4/23/08 On being a Mom: "When I grow up, I don't know yet if I'll have a boy or a girl. And I don't know yet if Adrian will be the Daddy."

8/10/08 On why she was doing silly steps in our living room
"...and that's why I'm walking sidewards."

9/1/08 Impressed with herself for predicting the weather: "No one told me it was raining, but
I looked at the window and when I saw raindrops I figured it out!"