Thursday, July 30, 2015

Middle School Music

I'm excited to be a middle school teacher.  This wasn't always the case.  I always thought I made a great elementary teacher.  I love little kids.  They give you lots of hugs, love music, tell you everything they notice about you and others in a cute way and are willing to try pretty much anything. I've said that I could never be a middle school teacher.  It'd be too hard to teach moody pre-teens and teens.  They are a little scary and unknown.  The hormones make them hard to read, hard to engage in learning and emotionally unpredictable

But had I ever taught middle schoolers?  No.
So where did my belief that I could never do it come from?  Assumptions and hearing others talk about how middle schoolers.

Yet here I am now about to embark on teaching middle school students and thrilled about it.

I've been trying to do some reading about teaching middle school.  There is a real lack of information out there.  High school - tons of articles and information.  Elementary age has an unreal amount of sources to equip teachers.  But middle school is lacking greatly for teaching resources in comparison.

There are resources out there.  However, there's not a wealth of knowledge about this age.  Research information about Orff in Middle School and you'll find an even less amount of substance out there. This is likely due to there being few schools that have Orff teaching in middle school.  Band and Choral information is likely more common.  I'm thinking this may result in a change of thesis for my master's course.  Maybe Orff Curriculum for Middle School, gathering information about Orff Schulwerk in a variety of middle schools across the USA, researching how Orff works in middle school... something to keep thinking about.

A few books that do look relevant and helpful for teaching middle school:

1) The book "What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know" is one that I found on Amazon.  I read the 'inside of the book' that is shared online.  I love the line that says "...if you see what adolescents bring to your classroom as a promise rather than a problem, middle school teaching can be one of the most exciting and satisfying things you will ever do."

2) Another book that looks good:  Make Just One Change.  This book could be used for a wide variety of ages.  About formulating your own questions.

3)  - looks like a great resource for teaching middle school

4) Book:  Tween Crayons and Curfew

5) Chris Judah-Lauder, Rob Amchin, ...


Camp Dry Gulch

On Monday morning, I took Riley to the Hope McKinney Church Campus where she and almost 400 other children got on charter buses to ride five hours to Oklahoma to attend Camp Dry Gulch.  Six days at camp overnight.... her first time to be away from home with people she doesn't know.  There are church leaders there and counselors.  She was nervous and excited.

The night before she left she asked if she could eat lunch and dinner at the same time so that she could just go to sleep to make camp come faster.

I woke her up early on Monday morning.  Typically she doesn't want to wake up early - loves to sleep until at least 10am.  At 6:30am, she stretched and pumped her hands in the air.  Then she got dressed fast and ate breakfast.

We went through the check-in lines at church.  I found my friend Jennifer and her daughter Alex.  Introduced the girls and then got them set up for the same bus to take to camp.

As they called the Gold Bus to board, I said a very quick prayer, hugged her quickly and handed her lunch.  She walked straight on the bus and never looked back.

They've been great about posting pictures of what's going on each day.  So far I've see three pics of her: one in the pool, one of her walking and one of her standing with a group of girls.  The interesting part was her attire.  She wore a blue shirt, black spandex shorts and a black skirt on Monday.  Tuesday's pictures showed her in the same black spandex shorts with a sleep shirt that says "Not a Morning Person."  Wednesday's pictures show her in the same black spandex shorts with the blue shirt she wore on Monday morning.

She and I went shopping for outfits for camp.  Bought her new shorts and matching shirts for each day of camp.  Curious to hear how that worked for her :)  And looking forward to seeing another pic of her at camp to see what her outfit today was... I'm thinking something like the sleep shirt with the black skirt.  Mix it up a little maybe :)

Debt Paid

After several years of fighting off our debt and working to get out from under it, we are now completely debt free!!!

When we purchased our new home, one of our goals was to find something in the low end of our price range and pay off as much debt as we could.  We had roughly $30,000 in credit cards and credit line from things such as two kids in daycare ($1600-1800 per month for a year), fence/roof/appliances/heater/ducts... and life in general.  We had begun to really make a plan several months back and were trying our best to spend less and pay it down.

We made a good amount on our last home and found a home that allowed us to pay off every dime of debt.  Now we work to stay that way.  No HOA fees, no daycare costs, no debt payments each month and a smaller home will all help us to have less to spend each month.  Here's to staying debt free and saving more!!

All Moved In

It has now been sixteen days since our movers brought everything to our new home.  This has already been one of the best decisions we have made yet.  The home is smaller and amazingly so much better than our last one.  I loved having a large home, but didn't realize the amount of time and energy that simple tasks took.  Now that we have two bathrooms instead of three, cleaning is amazingly quick and easy.  Vacuuming is super easy as it's less than half our home instead of two stories of almost entirely carpet.  Sweeping takes no time as the kitchen is half the size.  Yet instead of being frustrated that we have less room, it has been incredibly freeing.

Every morning and night I take our dog Valentino for a walk.  There are beautiful big trees throughout the neighborhood as well as lots of nature sounds.  We even have a family of owls that lives in one of the trees in our backyard.

We managed to get tons finished before moving into the house and now two weeks later even more is complete.  I painted the entire downstairs (except the two small bathrooms) in five days.  Well six actually as I just painted the entry and hallway yesterday.  Jeremy installed Container Store closets in the three bedroom closets and we'll be putting another one in the hallway closet soon.

The sprinkler company, plumber, pest control, carpet company, electrician, and soon the a/c company have all been out to the house to fix or do work on various things.

The girls are absolutely loving the new home.  Haven't heard them say they missed the old home at all.  Playing in their bedrooms compared to a large playroom hasn't been an issue either.  In fact they've both said how nice it is to be so close to each other as far as proximity goes with all three bedrooms.  We've liked that as well.

The room above the garage is still pretty full of boxes to go through.  Best part is that noone sees that part of it and the rest of the house is completely unpacked.

Our new home is cozy, comfortable, sweet and charming.  We feel incredibly blessed to be able to live here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


We're figuring out some things about our new home.  One of them is the locks.  There are three doors that lead outside and one that goes to the garage.  All of them have a regular lock, a deadbolt and this C-shaped metal piece that connects to a chain that keeps people from entering.  Apparently it's a Texas Security Bolt found here at Home Depot.  Ours are all white, but function the same way.

Jeremy met us up at the new home to drop off a few things and see the painted rooms.  As we were leaving tonight, I made sure to hook the security bolts on all the doors to keep the house safe.  We went into the garage and I shut the door.

Jeremy asked if we wanted to lock the door to the garage and we agreed it would be a good idea.  I shut the door and then tried to lock the door with the house key and it wouldn't lock.  So knowing we needed it locked, I reopened the door, locked it from the inside and shut it.

The problem with what I had just done became apparent when I then decided to test the key again when the door was shut and locked.  Surprise, surprise... it didn't open!  I had just finished painting for eight hours so my brain wasn't fully working.  I'll just blame the paint fumes.

I was flabbergasted as to why it wasn't working.  I told Jeremy "Who would own a home where the key wouldn't open the door?"  He looked at me somewhat funny.  I then tried the other two keys that we have to the house.  I thought maybe one of them would work, but they didn't.

Jeremy had watched me do all of it and it didn't take time for him to figure out what I'd done.  For me, it took a little while.  (Again, paint fumes to blame for brain not working... right!?)  I told him how I locked it from the inside and he explained that we have no other way to get in the house.  I was a little confused as to why we couldn't when there are three other doors to get in.  He then reminded me that I'd used the C-shaped bolts to keep our home safe.  Which also meant it kept us from opening the doors and getting in too.

We left our very safe home and I called a Locksmith.  Hoping that we can meet up with him at the house and get everything working.  I'll need to be smart about using the locks so we don't get locked out again.  :)

Paint Colors

We're doing a slightly different color palette for our new home.  It's quite a bit smaller than our current home and we want to lighten it up a little.  Though we find ourselves pulled towards some darker colors that will make all the white cabinets, shelves and fireplace 'pop.'

We purchased all of our paints from Home Depot so far.  Behr paints in flat enamel with stain resistance/easy clean.  There are a few rooms we haven't gotten paint for yet, but will do that soon.  Here are the colors we're doing:

Riley's Bedroom:  Double Click
Julia's Bedroom:  Double Click
Master Bedroom:  French Silver
Kitchen and Dinette:  Fashion Gray
Family Room:  Suede Gray
Living Room and Dining Room: Studio Taupe
Laundry Room:  Teton Blue
Hallway and Entry Way:  Studio Taupe

Today I painted both of the girl's bedrooms and the kitchen/dinette.  The electrician came to finish some work on the home.  Hoping to paint the laundry room and master tomorrow.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Closing Day!

Today we closed on our current home at 9:00am and our new home at 2:00pm.  It was a fairly smooth transition.

Last night we did our final walk-through of our new home while the new buyers of our home did their final walk-through.  Tomorrow the electrician comes to fix a few things while the girls and I clean and paint.

It's been an amazingly easy process!  Now to finish packing and get all set for the movers next Tuesday!