Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Former Students

I have often doubted my ability as a teacher.  In fact, I often get discouraged and think of all the things I wish I had more time to teach or wish I were better at teaching.  Then wonder if I am doing my students the good that I hope for them and wish I were better than I am.  Jeremy is always quick to tell me that I am a terrific and wonderful teacher.  In the day to day routine, it can be hard to believe.  And not because I don't work hard or don't care or don't try to be the best I can.  I do all of those things, but sometimes feel as though I'm just not reaching the bar that I've hoped to reach.  Call it unrelenting standards... at least, that's what I was 'diagnosed' with during a book study years ago.  And I know the shoe still fits.  Working on that.

Tonight was one of the best nights ever in regards to how I feel about myself as a teacher.  And I didn't even teach!

A former students of mine that I taught from 1st - 4th grade was in town from Colorado visiting her friend Emily (whom I had from 1st-5th grades).  She and I keep in touch on Facebook.  She has missed Texas and finally got the chance to come visit Emily for a few days so she messaged me earlier today.

Come to find out that she wanted to see me and went to our old street to find me.  The girls knocked on a few doors to figure out which house was ours.  Then got to one house where the owners told them that we had moved a few years ago.  She was bummed to not be able to see me. (very sweet of her!)

I messaged her and told her that we were home all day and she was more than welcome to stop by to say hi.  The girls were all off to the mall and said they might stop by later.  I gave  her my address in case they had time as it would be fun to visit with them and hear how high school is going.

A message came to my phone around 7pm saying "We're on our way!"  I was so excited to see both of them.  They were always great students and while I'd seen Emily now and again, I hadn't seen Evie except in pictures for six years.

The girls stopped by the house and stayed for about an hour.  We just talked, took a picture of the three of us and spent time finding out about their lives and what they do in Colorado and just life.  The girls were sweet and funny.

After we gave hugs goodbye and they left, I thought harder about how special it was that they would take time out of their schedules to come spend time with me.  They are sophomores in high school and have busy schedules.  Evie was only in town for four days and there are plenty of other things they could choose to do.  And they chose to take an hour out of their day to spend time with me.

Evie talked about how music was her favorite class and how much she missed me.  I'm so thankful to know that I had a positive impact on her.  She is now involved in choir, singing, and musicals.

It was a proud teacher moment being able to see students that I poured into in elementary school now being involved in music in high school and still remembering me as a favorite teacher.  What a rewarding and special night tonight was!  So thankful for the encouragement and feeling as though I am a better teacher than I give myself credit for...

Raising Girls

Today is piano student day.  It means a lot of time spent occupying the girls while teaching kids piano!  They have lots of options and a basket full of treats to choose from when they get hungry.  They are usually very well behaved and I don't have any trouble with them at all!

They have been very tired of each other and getting on each others nerves the last few days.  They finally found something to do before piano students came which is good!  Unfortunately some of the things they chose to do were very messy!

Julia got into decorating again and unloaded the entire bin of perler beads - teeny tiny beads in many colors all over the entryway on the floor.  1000s of them.  Covering the floor and the carpet.  Riley found a teeny tiny 2" rubber cat to play with.  She decided that she wanted her hair cut really short so that she could give the cat her hair and turn her into Rapunzel.  When told she couldn't do that, she asked to use iPod headphones for the hair.  Another no.  I told her that she could use yarn and cut it for hair.  Riley chose the yarn and I made some hair.  Though she didn't like my version of yarn and wanted to make her own.


Being an Easy Wife

Before going on our trip to Rhode Island, I thought I'd make it really easy on Jeremy as far as expectations for when I got home.  No need to read my mind or try to get a ton done around the house. I only had one request:  please unclog my bathroom sink.  We already had the unclogger stick (whatever it's really called).  Told him there was no need to do anything else.  Just unclog the sink.  Please.

We arrived back to the house after a week of being gone.  Jeremy had done the dishes.  He had also folded the laundry, but said he didn't know where the clothes went so they were still in the laundry bin. The bed was also made very neatly.  He asked if I noticed it because he spent a lot of time on it.  And it truly did look awesome!

I asked if he had unclogged the sink and he said "Doh!  That's what I forgot!"  In his efforts to try to think of all the things he could do to make things great when we got home, he forgot the only thing I had asked about.  And did a hundred more that I hadn't even thought would have gotten done.

Thinking that next time I'll make a really long list... :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Decorating

Not sure if I posted about this already...

Julia has really gotten into decorating.  She is very thorough about it.  Very decisive in where everything goes.  Most of all she uses every resource available to her.  She has decorated the play room and both living rooms so far.

Her decorating goes like this:

pick out every toy, doll, or movable object in the room
lay each one down on the ground next to another object
put things in categories and make sure they are laying the same way on the floor
cover the entire carpeted area until there is no room to move or walk

Then announce "I decorate!"  We clap and tell her 'thank you!' and leave it for a while.  Today she decorated two rooms.  It was truly beautiful... :)

Vacation 2013: New England

We had two vouchers toward airfare from our trip to Bermuda last year.  Jeremy has a tough time taking off work, Julia is still little and we weren't sure how she'd travel so that left Riley and me.  My mom took off a few days to spend with Julia and Jeremy took off the other days so he could be with Julia.  She loved the special time with them!

This vacation was very special because it gave me so much time with Riley, my dad, Jon and Allison.  We flew up to Boston last week on Wednesday morning.  Got up really early at 4:45am, took the 6:50am flight (perfect and on time) and arrived to a very humid and hot New England area!  They were experiencing a heat wave and it was quite hot!

Jon and Allison were awesome.  They were up for anything and very gracious and kind and patient.  We did something every day and it was a blast!!  Riley loved so many things on this trip.  Though I did find it really cute when she said that she missed Julia a lot and missed her home and her room.  The last full day we were there she was missing home a lot and enjoyed the day, but I could tell she was ready to just be home which is sweet too.

Here's a rundown of what we did:

Wednesday:  shop for groceries, went bowling (Riley scored in the high 70s on one of her games!)

Thursday: Went to the Wrentham Outlet Mall in Massachusetts.  Great stores!  Found Riley some cute earrings and a bathing suit which turned out to be very needed for Friday.

Friday: Spent time at the Scarborough Beach in Rhode Island.  Beautiful day!  Riley loved the waves until the last one when we were walking back to shore and a wave that was taller than her came over her back and head.  She blamed Grandpa.

Saturday:  SkyVenture Wind Tunnel in Nassau, New Hampshire!  Total blast!!!  Spent five minutes each inside the tunnel and it was so incredibly fun.  Riley did awesome!

Sunday:  Drove my dad to the airport and then spent the day at the Boston Museum of Science.  Really cool place!

Monday: Went to the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence.  Was a great place!  Had a play area for kids at the end and Riley spent tons of time on the rope swing.

Tuesday:  Shopping at the Providence Place Mall.  Found lots of bargains for the girls for back to school.  Too many bargains but they were so good it was hard not to take advantage of some of them!

Wednesday:  Allison drove us to the airport in Boston and we had an uneventful and easy flight home.  Riley did amazing on the flight in.  Her only worry was that Julia would only hug me and wouldn't hug her.  Turned out neither of us got hugs because we met them outside in the car!  The girls were giggly and sweet together.  Love our family!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Looking For Jesus

Since Riley and I are going to Boston for a week to visit Jon and Allison, Julia will be staying here with my mom and Jeremy.  She gets to stay the night at my mom's house tomorrow and my mom gets to have three days with Julia all to herself.  I know they will both have so much fun!  Julia couldn't wait to pack and get ready.  Riley said that she would like to spend some time with Jeremy before we go so she has had him the last few nights and I have gotten to put Julia to bed.

Each night Julia has said something about God.  It has been so adorable.  Tonight I asked if she wanted to pray or if she wanted me to pray.  She said that she wanted to pray, but that she didn't want me to hear.  She pulled the covers over head and held onto her teddy bear while she prayed out loud.  I wish I could remember what she prayed as it was so incredibly special.

I told her thank you for praying and she said "I didn't pray!  I told God a story!"  So I thanked her for telling him a story.  She said "He in my heart."  To which I agreed.  Then she lifted her shirt and said "I going to look for him!"  We talked about how you can't see Him, but you can feel Him and He makes us happy.

She looked but couldn't see him and then asked "Mom, can we get him out?"  I told her that he lives inside of us and the only way to get him out is to act like He does - kind, loving, patient.  Julia says "I do that!  I be very kind to my big sister!"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Yardsticks

I am trying to get all my materials ready for when I go back to work next month.  It will come fast so I like to spend parts of my summer getting new ideas and new materials ready so I don't have to work on them once school is back in session.

At Orff Level 1, we learned the coolest dance called "The Sword Dance."  Definitely want to teach it to my kids and have them perform it for their parents.  So I need to make swords.  They are made of yardsticks wrapped with silver tape and black electrical tape for the hilts.

One of the teachers of the Orff Levels is a coworker of mine at an elementary school in my district.  I figured I'd ask him a few questions to make sure I had the right materials so I made them correctly and they wouldn't fall apart or the tape rip off or whatever.  Couldn't quite picture the yardsticks we had used at the Orff Level so I asked him the following question on Facebook:

Hey Michael!  Getting ready for the sword dance with my kids and making some swords.  What kinds of tape do you use?  And what yardsticks do you use?  Do they come in different sizes?

I was thinking that yardsticks could be longer/thicker/thinner/shorter and didn't want to get the wrong ones.  He was gracious enough to write back:

Hey!  Well, I think that most yardsticks are about 36 inches in length.  Hahahaha.  I use silver spray paint and electrical tape.  Check at Home Depot first.

At this point, I realize that I had not thought through the entire thing as a YARDstick is a YARD in length!!!  So all yard sticks would be three ft. or 36 inches long and wouldn't be different sizes.  I laughed out loud and then wrote him back to thank him and for not making me feel totally inadequate in my measuring skills.  It was a good geometry lesson!

Bedtime With Julia

Julia was in a hilarious mood tonight.  We said our goodnights to Jeremy and Riley.  He asked Riley to put her fanny down.  Then I said "Fanny - hahahaha" and the girls erupted in laughter.  I think we've found their new favorite word!

I took Julia into her room to read and then we lay down on her bed.  I asked if she wanted to pray so she said:

Thank you God for this day
(dfjkldsjfkdl - incoherent words)
Thank you for the girls coming over tomorrow
So that is the plan.
Thank you.

I kissed her and thanked her for praying and asked if I could pray.  She said "Oh!  Sure you can!"  So I started:

Thank you Jesus for Riley and Julia...

Julia interrupts with "No Mommy.  Don't pray for them.  Pray just like me."

So I start again:
Thank you God for this day
For our food and family we say

Julia interrupts:  "No, no.  You have to say 'Thank you for the girls.'

So I did my best to pray as she wanted me to without laughing all the times she interrupted.

Then I said "Good night!"  and she said "Good night."  "I love you!"  "I love you too!"

Julia sat up numerous times to say "Hey Mom! Mom!  Tomorrow the girls come over.  McKenzie be my favorite and Morgan and Peyton.  A new Peyton!! (we had a different Peyton over to play today)  And we going to play and it be fun!  You get your hair cut and then the girls come over.  Right?  So after your hair cut, the girls come here!"

I would say "Yes, it will be great" or whatever else to confirm it and then say "Good night!"

She's somewhat like an amnesia patient in that she forgets what she just said a minute ago and asks the same question over and over and over.  Cute at her age!

I finally told her that she needed to lay quietly and not talk or ask any more questions since it was so late.  She just said 'okay' and lay down again.

After a little while, she sits up and says:

"Mom... so... I just have one more question.  Not two more questions.  Not a lot of more questions.  Just one.  Okay?  So we go to your hair cut and then the girls come over.  Right Mom?"

I simply said "Yes Jules!  That's right."

Julia replies with "Thanks Mom.  It be very fun.  McKenzie be my favorite girl.  I will share with her tomorrow.  I will bring my doll and set her on the floor and then play with her with McKenzie."

**McKenzie is the name of her favorite dancer on the show 'So You Think You Can Dance' and since she loves the dancer, she loves her friend too - even though she doesn't really know who she is.

So I asked her to lay down and close her eyes.

She did for a few seconds before saying "Mom, little Jesus lives in my heart.  And big Jesus lives in my panties."  Ummm... She's still trying to figure out how they live in her.  I might have some explaining to do before she starts sharing all of this with others!  She keeps going:  "Little Jesus and Big Jesus be friends!  They live outside!!!"  And she bursts into barrels of laughs at the thought.

So I said "Well, no.  Little Jesus and Big Jesus are the same person, Jules.  Little Jesus grows bigger and becomes Big Jesus when he is older.  They are the same.  Just like when a little baby gets bigger and becomes a kid and then is older."

Julia just laughed and said "Okay!!!"

Got some work to do on the "Who is Jesus and Where does he live" part of her theology!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pre-Team

Last week Riley started on the Pre-Team at Sky High.  She has really loved it.  She has practices on Mondays from 3-5 and Wednesdays from 3-5:45.  Her practice yesterday ended up being from 3 to almost 6.  I got dinner between the girls lessons and Julia had her gymnastics lesson at 6.

Her coach couldn't be at the practice yesterday so she had a substitute (one of the coaches of the older girls' teams).  The coach wasn't totally sure where they were at and had them warm-up with another team:  the older high school age boys team.  There were only two girls at the practice:  Riley and Mea.

All the teams start out with running laps around the floor mat.  Arms rolls, runs, squats, stretches.  It was hilarious to see the two girls running laps with six really tall high school guys.  Riley and Mea started out running and even from where I was sitting, I could see in Riley's posture that she was out to win the race with the boys.

She had a running posture that showed she meant business and any time that the boy behind her sped up, she sped up and continued to run faster than him.  The boy kept looking back at his friend and then laughing a little bit as if to say 'can you believe this girl?!  she keeps going faster than me!'  I was chuckling out loud as I watched them and turned to Mea's Mom, Kris, to say "I think Riley is trying to beat them."  She smiled and laughed too.

After their long practice, I told Riley how proud I was of her and that I hoped she had fun.  She said that she loved it, but that it was hard work.  Then she said "We got to warm up with the boys!  I was determined to beat them!!  I saw them running and said 'I'm going to be the fastest one!' so I just kept running and when I saw them get close, I ran more.  Mea was behind me and she was slower than me.  And the boys were too.  I ran the fastest of all of them!"

So my assessment of her was accurate... determined, competitive, focused.  Those characteristics in her are definitely going to do her well in life in so many ways.

He lives where???!!

Tonight I was having coughing fits from allergies and needed to go get my inhaler so I could possibly start to breathe normally again.  Since I had Julia, she did not want to let me go and kept trying to hold me so that I wouldn't go.  Didn't make it easier to breathe for sure, but I tried to explain that she wasn't alone.

Me:  I'll be right back after my medicine.  You'll have teddy, your bear and your babies.  And God is here too.

Julia:  God is not here.

Me:  Yes.  He is inside of you.  He lives in your heart!

Julia:  Little Jesus??!!  (all excited and sitting up now while putting her hand where her heart is)  **I could totally picture her visualizing the illustration of little Jesus from her Bible inside of her head.**

Me:  Yes.

Julia:  Not Big Jesus?

Me:  Well, He lives there too.

Julia:  In my heart??

Me:  Yes.

Julia:  Little Jesus lives in my heart.  Does Big Jesus live in my pants?

Then she proceeds to laugh hysterically at how funny she thinks she is with that question.  Then asks more.

Julia:  Does Big Jesus live outside?

Me:  He lives all over.

Julia thought this was hilarious and was laughing full out and repeating things like "Big Jesus in my pants!  Big Jesus in my feet!"

At this point, there wasn't too much to say and I think we'll save the "God is omnipresent" talk for when she is a little older and can comprehend it a little more.  (Though it was a very cute talk)

30 O'clock

Julia:  Daddy, it's 30 o'clock.

That's all she has to say and we know that it is her way of saying "I'm tired and I want to go to sleep now."

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fourth of July

Our Fourth of July was very low-key and very nice!!  Other than the fact that the girls were overtired and cranky and constantly arguing all day long.  First day all summer that they hit their wall of being together too much.  We've had a lot of late nights too and that hasn't helped at all either.

Went upstairs and felt that the air conditioner wasn't working.  And it's the newer unit.  Thankfully our A/C guy is so awesome and talked to Jeremy until they figured out what it was.  A frozen coil from overworking due to blocked filters.  We replaced our filters and turned it off for two hours.

There were fireworks going off in the distance so we just opened our bedroom window and sat with the night breeze blowing on us as we watched the fireworks.  It was fun!

My favorite part was that we could see neighbors across the street going in and out of their homes.  Whenever someone came outside, the girls yelled out "Hi!!!" or "Hey man!!"  Then they giggled like crazy as the person looked around trying to figure out who was calling to them.

Patterns

This morning Riley and Grandpa went to a Kids Home Depot Workshop where she was able to build a car from the movie Despicable Me 2.  They had a great time together!  Then I took her to her friend Ryan's party and we got home around 1:30pm.  She has such cute and sweet friends!!

After Julia and I took a nap, Jeremy was going to start grilling and the girls were restless again (overtired from their sleepover with Gma and Gpa) so I took them to Michaels (stickers rock!) and Joann Fabric for some fabric to make a cotton slip for some skirts I've made recently for myself.

The girls were very well-behaved.  McCall's had their patterns on sale for only $1!!  So we found some American Girl Doll patterns that work for their dolls and one pattern for a cute dress for Julia.  I paid at the end and thought the total sounded high, but figured we had bought some fabric so maybe I had miscalculated.  Should have looked at the receipt!

Got home and started to look through patterns after dinner only to find a pattern for a women's vest and jacket in the bag.  I checked the receipt and had paid $12 for it!!  Which is not something I would have done on purpose.

Julia had been laughing and putting things in the cart (especially the quilt squares - she loves those things!) and I kept pulling them out.  Apparently she had grabbed a pattern and put it in.  Hoping they will let me return it!!

Happily Ever After

The girls were getting restless indoors yesterday so I took them to the park.  Riley rode her scooter and I pushed Julia in the stroller.  It was about 95 degrees and in the middle of the day.  Used sunscreen and told them it'd be a short trip, but it perked both of them up and helped with their irritation at each other.

Slides were too hot so the girls went in the swings.  While riding the swings, Riley turned to me and said "I miss Kami.  I almost forget what she looks like!"

Me:  Me too!  She is awesome!

Riley:  Does she work now?

Me:  Yes.

Riley:  Does she have a husband?

Me: No.  Dan used to be her husband.

Riley:  Oh.  But then they broke up.  I hope that Kami finds a great husband.  I know the story of how you and Daddy met!

Me:  Oh yeah?

Riley:  One day you lived somewhere in Michigan and Daddy lived in a state kind of close to you.  And he wanted to meet you so he came up to the station in Michigan to meet you.  And he asked you to marry him.  And you did.  Then you were happy.  And you moved to Texas.  And you had a beautiful baby girl and named her Riley.  Three days later you had a baby girl named Julia.  And you were thankful.  You thanked God every day for your family.  You thanked Him for your family.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Trip to the Fire Station

This morning at 10am the girls and I went to our local fire station.  The girls had drawn pictures for the firemen and Riley had made a fire truck out of boxes and construction paper.  I made brownies.  We called ahead to make sure it was a good time to visit.

The girls were very excited!  They were able to meet some of the firemen and go into the large fire truck.  A fireman showed them all of the equipment and opened the doors so the girls could see all of their tools.  He told them a little bit about it.

Julia really wanted to go for a ride in the fire truck and was sad that they were only able to go inside and not actually go for a ride.  No tears; just disappointment.

The girls went inside the garage and were able to see all the uniforms hanging on the wall.  The fireman was very gracious and stood to talk to the girls.

When we gave the brownies, Julia got very moody and upset that we didn't get to take all the brownies home for ourselves.  I told her that we were giving them to the firemen to say thank you for all that they do for our community.  Her response was "I don't WANT to share!"

Each girl had one brownie and they both said thank you to the firemen and the woman at the front desk.


Julia Quotes

Julia:  (Cough Cough)  You hear that Riley?  Dat be my mouth.  Dat be allergies.

A few minutes later... (we are going to the fire station for a tour and to go on the firetruck and do other activities in an hour so the girls are making pictures for the firemen)

Julia:  I make a picture for the fireman.  So he be very happy and give me a big hug.