Friday, December 12, 2008

'Tis the Season

'Tis the Season...

Only one more week until winter break! I can't wait to have my yearly reflection time. Each year I like to stay up late after everyone has gone to bed. I turn on the Christmas tree lights, grab a cup of cocoa or tea and stare at the tree and let my thoughts wander over the past year...over family and friends far and near...over my is quiet "ME" time. I started doing this with our tree in high school and have continued the trend into adult hood. I usually spend at least 2 or 3 nights during the season reminiscing...

School: Whose idea was it to give Benchmark tests this week? Though grateful they didn't require us to give them the week before winter break, testing on the Thurs and Fri before the last school week of the year was still rough. My kiddos were very easily distracted. I do have to say that they behaved/tested much better than I expected. However the down time between testing sessions was rough.

Speaking of rough, I have a student who needs prayers/positive thoughts sent his way. He is going through a lot of heavy issues at home. He trusts and confides in me, which I think is great...and then I feel so heartbroken that he doesn't have support at home. I've been praying that his parents will wake up and realize what a great person he is. But mostly, I've been praying that he will realize his own self-worth. How I'd love to see him enter my classroom with his head up and hair brushed out of his eyes, instead of his un-confident demeanor. Poor baby!

Friends: This week I reconnected with an old friend. M-E was literally the first girlfriend I met in Florida. She trained me to take over her position at Child Guidance Center when I got my first post-college job (and she was leaving to go to another agency.) We've been in touch off and on through the years, even working at the same agency for a while when I was still doing social work. The last few years our contact has been mostly via email. This week we met for a girls-night-out dinner. It was great to reconnect and catch up. (M-E---if you're reading, thanks soooo much for being so candid and especially for sharing about your IVF issues!)

More School: We got new laptops at my school this past Wednesday! Hooray! I upgraded from a Lenovo R50 to a Lenovo R500. SOOOOO much faster, I am loving it! Also, the screen is about an inch larger, which is great. What I am super thankful for is that this program has enough capacity to hold the Read180 software on it. I can finally conference with my students and show them immediate scores instead of having to print out reports to discuss. Hooray!

Emma: Em finally sat on Santa's lap for the first time! She has been terrified and we've never had a Santa picture with her before. Sadly, this occurred on her class field trip to the mall, so DH and I didn't get to see it first hand. (Her class went on a field trip to the mall for a Santa visit, lunch, and a train ride.) She was SO proud of herself for being "brave" and posing for a picture this year. She said she told Santa that she wants "Barbies" for Christmas. Barbies have consistently been her gift preference when friends or family have asked her what is on her wish list. (DH did some Santa shopping this week and purchased some neat things including a "Barbie: My House Playset" which includes a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom w/ laundry.)

DH: I just found out that DH is off the 23rd-25th. I'm glad he has more than just the 25th off, as he could use some "downtime." :)

I think that is all the latest...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Catching Up...

Hopefully when winter break starts in 2 weeks, I'll be able to catch up (and keep up!) with my blog.

Until then, some quick news....

AT&T has announced they'll be laying off 12,000 employees. Thus far, this does not effect DH or the center where he works here in Jacksonville. They were told that the 12,000 layoffs will occur throughout we are hoping the economy doesn't worsen so that jobs in Jax are not impacted.

My friend Stacye sent me a cute email link:

When you go to the site, you can click on a template to complete a quick letter FROM Santa. It even includes a small Santa "mailing stamp" you can print and stick on the envelope. I completed the template and printed it out at school, then stuck it in an envelope with a Santa "stamp." When Emma and I checked the mail after arriving home from school I was able to sneak the letter into the mail pile. Em was SOOO excited to receive a letter from Santa that mentioned, "Mrs. Claus and I have been watching and are very proud that you help feed Viggo, clean your room, and have green behavior days at school." Emma's jaw literally dropped and she said, "I can't believe it!" She was so tickled. It was great.

Best news of the week: I received e-mail confirmation from my teacher this afternoon that I successfully completed my Reading Endorsement Competency 6 class. HOORAY! This means that I am FINISHED with the 6 classes I need for reading, and can now add "Reading K-12" to my professional teaching certificate. Whew...3 years of work is finally done! I am ecstatic!

Other good news: My school is in the pilot program to start using an online gradebook system. Because most of our laptops are outdated, we had to turn in all of our teacher laptops yesterday. We'll be getting NEW laptops on Monday! (Still no word on if they'll be Macs or PCs....but I'll take a new anything compared to the old piece of junk I just turned in!) We'll start the gradebook program in January. Word on the street is that it will be a district requirement for all schools to use this program starting next August. I'm glad we'll have training and be used to the program ahead of time!

Meghan---sorry, no extra time (and not exactly sure how!) to do your "tag" this time. I'll look into it during break. I'm sooo behind on reading/commenting on other blogs, I'm going to use time to do that instead. :)

Only 10 school days left until winter break...

Thanksgiving Feast at Emma's School

Em and Daddy with the hats Emma made

With her teacher Miss Stephanie

Smiling for a pic with Grandma and Grandpa

Acting silly with Auntie Laurel (Using hands to act like the wattles on a turkey)

Like mother, like daughter

Eating with her classmates

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Grandpa helps Em learn to steer a tractor

Tractor Girl

My parents and Laurel arrived around 6 a.m. the day before Thanksgiving. (After driving ALL night to be with us. Thank you, family!) Em slept through their arrival. DH and I gave hugs and then we all went to sleep for a few short hours before "morning." Em was thrilled that Auntie Laurel escorted her and Daddy to school.

After dropping Em at school, DH and Lal got bagels and doughnuts for the adults to eat while we were hanging out before going to Em's school luncheon. At 11:30, we all attended the "Thanksgiving Feast" at Em's school. (Continuing the LaFrance family's inability to arrive ON TIME anywhere when more than 2 of us are together, we arrived late and missed the blessing...oops.) The potluck meal was fine. It was nice to see Em interacting with her teachers and other kiddos. I think my parents and sis enjoyed seeing her school environment. My Mom seemed to really like meeting Em's teachers.

We took Em home with us after lunch. We all hung out at the house the rest of the day. Em was able to have some outside time with my Dad. My parents brought us an AWESOME peddle-tractor that both my sisters and I used when we were young. The tractor also went to my cousins Barette and Brandon in Wisconsin for a while. And now it's here in Florida. A 3 state 2 1/2 generation toy. (Why 2 1/2 ? Because the age range from my older sister to cousins to Em is a 30+ year gap!) Kinda neat! I have fond memories of riding the tractor up and down the sidewalk at the house I grew up in. It's awesome seeing Em enjoy the tractor too.

That night we all went to MyGym for Em's Weds night class. She and Adrian were 2 of only 3 kids who were present for the class. Thus, they had lots of individual attention. My parents would clap when Em completed her balancing or gymnastic activities appropriately---too cute. And of course Em loved showing off for them. Afterwards, we all ate dinner at the St. John's Seafood restaurant located in the same strip mall as the gym. Then went home to have some hangout time before bed.

The next day we all went to my in-laws house. The house was lovely! Cindy always decorates SO nicely...some of her holiday decor looks like it is right out of a magazine. Amie & Burke were able to join us. It was a nice day of hanging out and WAAAAAY yummy food. Craig's turkey was divine, the side dishes were great and he made 3 homemade pies this year---wow! It was a nice day, I think relaxing for everyone...and I hope C&C didn't stress too much about having everyone over. My favorite Emmaism of the day, was when we pulled into C&C's driveway. Amie & Burke had parked behind Craig's car so that we'd have room to park my Dad's van on the driveway. Emma said, "It sure was nice of Amie and Burke to hang up their car there so we'd have room!" Who needs to park when you can just "hang up" your car?

Friday was a hanging out at home day. Poor DH felt sick most of Thanksgiving and all through my family's visit. (He thinks he either had a stomach virus or food poisoning from some dip at the Seafood restaurant...ugh!) Bless his heart, DH still made an amazing pot of chili which we had for dinner that night. I was able to get ALL of our Christmas decor up---the tree, the decorations, the outside lights, etc. Hooray! (Otherwise, I likely would've waited until winter break.) My Dad generously took Em to the park and Ft. Caroline for 3 1/2 hours while I prepared the house. (Thanks, Grandpa!) When they returned she enjoyed helping to put ornaments on the tree.

Laurel read, read, read the "Twilight" book by Stephanie Meyer that DH and I had already finished, so that the book would be finished before we all saw the movie together. (I recently read all 4 books in the Twilight saga and LOVE them, so had asked her if she'd like to read the book and see the movie with us during her visit to FL.) Friday night my parents babysat Em while DH, Lal and I saw the "Twilight" film. I enjoyed it. I would see it again. However, the book is sooooo much better!

Saturday, DH had to work. Em and I took my parents and Lal to the Jacksonville Zoo. (A tradition that started when Em was really young---now she expects that if Grandma and Grandpa are here, we WILL be going to the zoo together at some point.) The weather was gorgeous---in the high 60s. It was a really nice day! That night we ate dinner at Moe's and then drove around looking at Christmas lights. We had a little bit of hangout time at home before bed. My Mom and sister met my expectation----I laughed so hard that I cried---this usually happens at least once whenever my sisters and I are able to visit. This time it was because we were giggling about Christmas limericks... :)

Sunday morning, the Ohioans left promptly at 6 a.m. We woke up a lethargic Em to give tearful hugs good-bye. Then she, DH, and I went back to bed for a few hours while my Ohio family drove 12+ hours to return safely to their homes that night.

What I am thankful for this year...
--A fence! LOVE having backyard access for Em and Viggo
--A husband who cooks even when he's feeling lousy
--A family who traveled far and wide to be with us for the holiday
--In-laws who welcomed my family into their home
--Finishing my reading endorsement Comp 6 class! I finished the "Video Reflection" paper on Sunday and submitted it this week. As long as there are not any corrections (which I do not anticipate) then I am done and can officially add "Reading K-12" to my teaching certificate in January!!
--A little girl who is SO excited about the season. Loves her nativity playset. Loves the idea of Santa. Loves giving presents and surprises to others.
--Emmaism: Emma: "Mommy, do you know what I'm thankful for?"
Me: "What sweetie?"
Emma: "You!" Awwww. I love my little sweetie.