Saturday, August 29, 2009

School is Back in Session

Whew! It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks as back t0 school time is here...

School: This year middle schools in my county changed from 6 class periods to 7 periods a day. As the reading course I teach requires a 2 period back-to-back block, this enables me to have 3 class loads of students, rather than just 2. I am loving it!

--There are still some things I'm getting used to. The biggest change is that I had 1st period planning last year and this year I have 7th. Yikes. This means I go, go, go all day and get a break at the end. But, though it's the "reverse" of last year, I'm managing.

--And there is a HUGE glitch with my afternoon block of students. Reading classes in my county are supposed to max at 21 students. My 1st/2nd class has 14, my 3rd/4th class has 17, but my 5th/6th class has 31. THIRTY-ONE???? I have a small classroom with only 24 desks in it. So I've had students seated at the "small group" table area in my classroom. It's been difficult. Another struggle has been that the majority of the group is ESE. I have to say the class has been extremely WELL behaved for the number of kiddos in tight quarters. I just struggle because many of them need individual help and attention I am unable to provide in such a large group. This coming week, we'll conduct testing to see if there are any students that can "test out" and no longer be in the reading program. After that, we'll start to level out classes and shift some from the large class to one of the smaller morning groups.

The annoying thing I don't understand is why this is being done NOW after students are already attending?? Surely when schedules were being created this summer the curriculum people could see the unbalanced classes. Why not shift students around THEN instead of when the kids are actually present and already attending classes? Sighs. This county makes no sense sometimes.

--I swear I am not usually a klutz. Remember how I fell and busted my butt when walking in NYC with my girlfriends last month? Yesterday, I slipped and fell on a pencil someone left on the floor in my classroom. My first thought was, "THANK GOD it is my planning period and no students are in here!" My second thought was "OUCH! I whacked my upper arm on a desk, and hit my knee (the same one I hurt in NY, of course) on the floor. Check this out...

How do you like my lovely arm bruise? The photo doesn't do it justice. Maybe I'm a whiner, but it seems much larger and purpler in real-life, I think. :-) (And yes, I filled out an "accident report" with my school.)

--I've been swamped, because as the reading "department head" I have some beginning-of-the-year-responsibilities. Yesterday after school I ended up picking Em up from her school/daycare and bringing her to my classroom until nearly 8 p.m. (She LOVED playing on the beanbags in the reading area of my classroom, writing on the large dry erase board, and doing "arts and crafts" while I got some work done.) Beginning on Monday, every reading student is required to take a test on the computer to determine their current reading level. However before they can test, each student must be placed/matched to their teacher's class within the software system. I had to match all 187 reading students to the correct teacher. It took foooooreeeever. And since the software is only on my school's server and inaccessible on the Internet, I couldn't work from home. Ugh!'s done now. It's just really time consuming at the beginning of each year.

--My new principal seems cool thus far. The first time I met her in person, she thanked me for sending her "prompt data" this summer when she requested it. Yea, I guess I'm off to a good start!

--Emma had one week of "summer camp" at her daycare, due to my pre-planning week for teachers. Then she started her pre-school class this week on 8/24 when "school started." Em is loving her teacher Ms. Tyson and is SO excited about makes me happy to see her eager to learn. The school separated the 4 year olds into "high fours" and "low fours" based on age. This year Em is in a class with kids who will nearly ALL be 5 in the next few months. Her teacher is starting reading strategies with them already. This makes me very happy. (Em misses the kindergarten cutoff by 17 days due to her birth date. I think she is more than ready for kindergarten, but our county won't allow kids to "test out" of a grade until 2nd grade.) Last year she was the oldest in her class and was nearly a year older than many of her classmates. I am grateful she's with kiddos closer to her age this year.

--DH: Has been writing up a storm. He enjoys writing, and I'm glad to see him back at it after a nearly 10-year hiatus. I don't want to say too much, since his project is his news to share with family and friends....but I can tell you he's written up to 100+ pages of work. And I can tell you I've been told that I won't be permitted to read it until he has completely finished and then revised his first draft. He's been able to write a lot during the evenings and weekends. And during work on "slow days," or when he has "down time," he'll try to jot things down as well. The other night he said he'd been able to complete 4 pages while at work. I'm glad he's pleased with his efforts, and I can't wait to read them one of these days... :)

--Before I sign off, here are some recent Emmaisms:

7/26/09 On not getting to watch the WHOLE movie at Grandma's House:
"But I only got to watch the tippy beginning!"

(I guess if standing on "tippy toes" means you only stand on a tiny bit of your toe, then "tippy beginning" is just a tiny bit of a show.)

8/10/09: On Fashion

"Why does that teacher wear bald caps a lot?"

("Bald cap" instead of "ball cap." It actually makes sense! Lol.)

8/13/09 On realizing life isn't fair:
"Why do adults always get to do what they want?"
DH: "We don't. Sometimes we have to do things we don't want to. Like today, I had to go to work, but I would have rather stayed home with you and Mommy."
Em: "Oh. It's like going to your favorite restaurant, and then it's closed?"

(Rofl. Watch out Alanis Morrisette, Emma might be re-vamping your "Ironic" lyrics.)

Sorry blog buddies....I've been absent for awhile again. After this week, I should be back in the school groove and more frequent at posting and commenting again. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Girl Power 2009---NYC

"Girl Power Weekend" is what my college girlfriends and I call our yearly reunion. The weekend is comprised of girls who met our freshman and sophomore years at Ohio University (1993-95.) Each GP is guaranteed to bring laughter and re-connecting, reminiscing and "catching up" time. Of course, we find sightseeing, hiking, or fun adventures to partake in to make each weekend unique. The first several reunions were held at various Ohio locations. (All of the girls except for Michelle H. and I still live in Ohio.) I hated that I was unable to attend the first few. But, DH and I were newly married. I had minimal vacation time from my newly acquired first post-college social work position, and we didn't have extra $$ to spend on airfare.
I've managed to attend a few reunions throughout the 11 we've had and I always LOVE spending time with my girlfriends again.

This year, we were able to have a 4-day weekend in New York City. I was able to fly from Columbus, OH with 3 of my college buddies. (Emma spent the weekend with my parents and on outings with my sister, Laurel.) Once at LaGuardia, we met our friend, Vicki who had flown in from the Cleveland area. The 5 of us had previously arranged a driver to take us to our hotel.

Friday July 31st:

Michelle R., Vicki, Randi, Me, and Kasy

Notice the "Girl Power" t-shirts Kasy purchased for all of us. Michelle R. and I cracked up when we were going through the airport and an airline worker asked us if we were going to a "Girl Power Convention?" ROFL!

Michelle H. lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan. She planned to meet us at the hotel the afternoon of our arrival. Little did she know we were planning a surprise bridal shower for her, as she is engaged to be married this fall. Prior to Michelle H.'s arrival, the rest of us went to the Crumb's bakery and selected 6 delectable ginormous cupcakes (cookie dough, cappuccino, key lime, and peanut butter cup flavored among others.) We did our best to decorate the hotel room and get Michelle's gifts ready.

Photo after the shower. L to R: Kasy, Michelle H., Me, Vic, Randie, Michelle R.

Bus Sightseeing Tour: That afternoon, we braved the overcast weather and went on a tour of NYC. The $$$ for the bus tour were very well spent. Our tour tickets enabled us to get off and re-board the bus for up to 24 hours. Thus we were able to "see" New York, and get off at the sights that most interested us. And, when it finally did rain, we were given free ponchos! :)

Kasy and Vic

Randie and Michelle H.

Michelle R. and I

Sights from the top of the double decker bus...

City Hall?? LOL...I can't remember what this building is.

We learned that all apartment buildings over 6 stories high have their own water towers.

This sign cracked me up, because OF COURSE people still honk in the city!

Sign for our bus stop...the Gray Line.

I took this photo in China Town. It makes me giggle. I would love to know what the sign writer means by "BJ," as I am certain at only 99 cents, it's NOT what I'm thinking.... *Blushes.*

The United Nations Building. (The flags are not up, because the UN wasn't in session.)

Saturday August 1st:
On Saturday we were able to go shopping and eat lunch in Soho. We then toured St. Paul's Church and the World Trade Center areas. I spent the summer in NYC back in '92 and hadn't been back since. I was floored and saddened by the difference in the skyline. SO tragic. St. Paul's Church was across the street from the Trade Center. There are many amazing tributes at the church, which were left in the days just after 9/11.

That evening we went to the Upright Citizen's Brigade comedy club. We watched their improv skits. Only $10 and they were really good!

Did I mention that on the way to the comedy club, I tripped on an uneven sidewalk and fell flat on my face? Well almost on my face. boobs, stomach, and hands, knees, and the top of my feet were all touching the cement, as I was face-down on the ground. I don't know how I didn't hit my face! I scratched open my right pinky, left ankle, and banged up both knees. (In fact, as I type this, it is 2 weeks later and my blasted right knee STILL hurts!) The worst part was, this all happened in front of a floor to ceiling restaurant window. Once I did the initial "Am I okay?" and sat up, I realized there was a dining room full of people staring at me. Embarrassing!! Who says I don't know how to live it up in New York?

After the comedy club, we went to Dallas BBQ restaurant. Delicious!

Me with the giant mojito my friends bought for me because they felt badly that I wiped out.

Then we subwayed back to our hotel. We hung out at "The Met," the bar inside our hotel. (I fondly dubbed it the "Regal Beagle" because it reminded me of the swankiness Jack Tripper used to visit.)

Sunday August 2nd:
We had Dim Sum brunch at a Chinese restaurant called Jin Fongs. I was nervous at first. Sadly, I eat like an 8 year old and am not super fond of Chinese food. Luckily, Michelle H. is a Dim Sum guru and was able to teach us all the ropes. I was able to leave full and even found something new that I like---it looked like sweet pulled pork inside of buttery biscuits. Yum!

The little barrel-looking dishes are what the restaurant workers would push around on the Dim Sum carts. They were stacked, in columns. Pretty neat!

Our bill

After brunch, we walked to view the apartment front from the HBO series "Flight of the Conchords." (Which I hate to admit, I know nothing about, as I've never seen the show.) Then we went souvenir shopping at the Pearl River Mart.

A highlight of our trip was when we saw the matinee showing of the "Hair" musical. We had a blast! (And though we knew there would be full-frontal nudity, I don't think any of us were anticipating full frontal nudity from the ENTIRE CAST in their number just before intermission. Verrrrry interesting!)

Michelle H., Randie, Me, Kasy, and Michelle R. with a "Hair" poster outside the theater

That night, Randie and I walked around Times Square for a bit. It was awesome! Many of the stores there don't close until 1 a.m., so the streets were still crowded with people and vendors even though we didn't get there until after 11 p.m.

Me in Times Square

Sunday August 3rd:
We went to Rockefeller Plaza to try to get on TV as part of the audience/crowd at the "Today Show." (Trivia: Host Matt Lauer is an Ohio U. alum!) Randie and Vic DID make it on the show, though the rest of us didn't.

Matt Lauer in the center of pic

Al Roker

After the "Today Show," we said good-bye to Michelle H. The rest of us separated for some shopping and sightseeing before catching our afternoon flight back to Ohio. (Michelle R. and I went to the American Girl store----very interesting and pricey and to St. Patrick's Cathedral---beautiful with exquisite stained glass. We then had 10 minute chair massages at the salon inside our hotel.)

The GP group at Rockefeller Center

We had a super time!

(Note: Thanks to Kasy who is a professional photographer by trade, so most of the "group shots" with all 6 of us were taken with the timer feature on her camera. She is also the clicker who captured the photos of all of us in bus ponchos.) :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Show and Tell--Dress Up

On this, the last Thursday of summer (teachers go back next week for pre-planning week, then the 1st day of school for students is Aug. 24th) I am reminding myself to HAVE FUN! This summer I was able to unwind and "get rid of some cobwebs" (my Dad's words) emotionally. I was able to reminisce with childhood friends (I saw childhood neighbor friends Kristin S. and Amy B. when my family went to a motorcycle parade in my hometown. They both looked super and it was awesome to see them!) I was able to laugh until I cried, play S.crabble and board games, and have family time with my parents and sisters. I was able to be me!

Last summer my Mom set up an amazing play area in her basement for Emma. This year she added a "Dress-Up" corner complete with a mirror, hats, jewelry, shoes, purses, and lots of dress-up clothes. Show and Tell this week is a photo from my 2nd night of my family vacation in Ohio. Em was being cranky and didn't want to partake in the fun...but that didn't stop my Mom, sisters, and I from dressing up anyway. What a hoot!

Mom, Lal, Chel, and I

3 sisters: Me, Michelle, and Laurel (Also my sister Michelle's 2 dogs. She's holding Pixie, and Dylan is seated at her feet.) (For the record, one of my absolute all time fav pics of us! SO cheesy!)

Can anyone come up with a witty slogan to use if this were a photo on Christmas cards this year?

To see what the rest of the class is bringing to Show&Tell, CLICK HERE to head over to Mel's blog.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Vacation 2009

One of my favorite pics from the summer:
Em and Viggo who is NOT allowed on Grandma's furniture.
I found them in the bed that DH and I use in the guest room, when I went to check on Emma.

The M.ontgomery Inn
DH and his family used to go to the original inn in Cincinnati when DH was a kid. He introduced me to their yummmmy ribs when we were dating. We were thrilled to learn the inn opened a new location only 25 minutes from my parent's house! Grandma and Grandpa kindly watched Emma, while DH, my sister Laurel and I headed to the M.ontgomery Inn for some ribs and then to the Harry Potter 6 movie.

Lal loving her onion straws

DH (note the scenic river view out the window)

DH's full rack of ribs. (Lal and I only ate half racks. They were delicious!)

Me with my bib and half rack.

Exterior of the Inn.

The best part of our Ohio trips is getting to spend extended time with my family. We stay at my parent's house. We eat my Mom's home cooked meals. We run and play in their huge yard. We totally impose on them...and I love them for letting us! Em soaks up Grandma and Grandpa time and loves being there. From lightning bugs to seeing cows and corn when we drive around, Em gets to experience Ohio. And DH and I get to recapture things Florida doesn't have that make us nostalgic about our childhoods.

Em acting like a monkey while my sisters and I do the "Speak no evil" (Laurel,) "Hear no evil" (me,) and "See no evil" (Michelle)

Family portrait

I haven't cropped this yet...we used the timer on my camera to capture all of us.

DH took this photo. Front: Em, Laurel, Michelle
Back: Me, My Mom and Dad

Swimming Lessons:
Em took Beginner Swim Lessons at the pool my younger sis and I learned to swim in...

Each day they'd start out in the "baby pool," then move on to the large pool area

Em's Special Baby attended her 1st day of lessons with her

Em received a certificate and book on her last day of class.

Young's Dairy Farm
This is the 2nd summer we've been able to meet our friends the P family at this wonderful dairy farm. We met Joe and Mary Ann when they lived here in Jacksonville. They moved to Indiana a few years ago. We miss them dearly!

Dairy cows being fed

Em feeding a goat (while wearing DH's hat)

Em loved to 'milk' the wooden cow in the children's play area

This year the farm has a new tricycle track, featuring a variety of John Deere tricycles

Katie on a trike

Nick on a John Deere scooter

Another neat new feature was a large "corn box" area where kids could scoop corn and play in the corn. (Much easier to clean off than sand!)

Nick playing with trucks in the corn

Katie and Em in the large corn box

DH and I

MaryAnn and Joe

Being a dairy farm, one of the things Young's is known for is it's delicious ice cream...



Emma during...

...and after.

Katie and Em with their kids meal sunglasses. (Note Em's are over her regular glasses. Smiles.)

Nick with his kid's meal prize.

I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture of the entire P family together, or one of all 4 kiddos together. Oops!

The Ohio Deli:

This summer, I unintentionally learned a trick...
DH does not usually like to be photographed. However, I learned that if food, especially food challenges are involved, he's all smiles.

After viewing the challenge on the T.ravel Channel show, "Man Versus Food," DH ate an entire Dagwood sandwich AND 1 pound of fries in 17 minutes. (Time limit to meet the challenge was 30 minutes or less.) (My Mom, sister and I wanted to barf at the amount of food consumed in such a short time. Bleck!) The sandwich eating occurred at the O.hio Deli located on High Street in downtown Columbus, OH.

DH posing with his Dagwood and fries platter

Free t-shirt he won after demolishing his food platter.

Em was tickled they hung her artwork up on the deli display case.

C.OSI: The Center of Science and In.dustry Museum in Columbus

Emma spent a lot of time at this touch-screen art station.

I loved the "Emma I *heart* you Mom" she made

Summy, Emma, and Jack (We met Aunt Meghan and Em's cousins at the museum. For more Summy and Jack updates, check out Meghan's blog at: The Adventures of Tader Baby)

Em loved having fun with her 2 year old cousins.



The neat ocean area at the museum

Em playing with a large water squirter

Em and DH rode in a small space ship simulation ride

DH acted as a news anchor

Then I was the anchor (photographing myself as I appeared on the TV)

My sister Lal was our film crew

Hilliard Fire Department
Em and I joined my friend Shannon and her kiddos and their MOPS group, as they toured a fire station. Em was tickled to be able to go inside a fire truck and an ambulance.

Em poses after stepping out of the fire truck

The Columbus Zoo
After DH returned to Florida, Em, Lal and I spent some time at the zoo.

Whew! I think that's our trip in a nutshell...
I loved meeting up with friends for playdates while we were there, but I don't have pictures to share...

One neat encounter was reconnecting with Bethany. She was the first friend I ever had. We met as 3-year-old neighbors. Bethany and I had lost touch a few years after my '98 wedding. We reconnected via F.acebook and were able to have a super playdate with Em and Bethany's 2 daughters (who are 5 and 6.)

We were able to visit with my friend Shannon and her family 2 times and with my college roommate Michelle and her kiddos. (They had visited us here in Florida this spring and Em plays SOOOOO well with Michelle's daughter who is only 10 days older than Em.)

Em loves playing with the 3 kiddos who live next door to my parents. She spent a few afternoons enjoying their company.

We visited Uncle David, Aunt Meghan and their boys at their lovely new home. Em LOVES playing with her cousins and enjoyed their outdoor swingset and inside playroom.

I am at a good place emotionally. I was able to read the first 6 (and a bit of the 7th) Harry Potter books while I was in Ohio. I did NO school work. I was able to not dwell on miscarriages and/or babymaking and....gulp...dare I say it??? Move on a bit. My parents kindly watched Emma a few times so DH and I were able to get away and have some "us" time. As the summer comes to a close, I am greatful for a wonderful family, and I'm ready for new beginings, whatever they may entail.