Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Everyone Is Heading Back

Tomorrow is the first day of school for three of my five kids. CED started back on Monday and is doing quite well at the middle school. It helps that she (mostly) likes school and has friends in all of her classes. If she didn't have her friends, she'd be pretty miserable. I'm really proud of how well adjusted she's been. JAD starts high school tomorrow. Gulp. High school! He's the picture of happiness and excitement (dripping sarcasm). Fortunately for him as well, he has many friends and acquaintances at school since it's a K-12 and he was there for the last part of 8th grade. JED and MED will be heading to school with me. I decided to pull them out of our neighborhood school and take them with me. I can keep a close eye on one particular child (ahem) and know that they are both safe before and after school. They both seem to be looking forward to it and are excited to be going to 'my' school. MAD started Pre-K on Monday and, after a few tears, went running off like I didn't exist. She adjusted quickly which made me feel better. She's been at her current childcare facility for 2 years now (this is our 3rd school year there) and she's finally feeling comfortable (even after 3 months off).

I'll keep you posted on how all of our days go tomorrow. I'm excited to get to know my students and do some great 'getting to know you' activities this week!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Visitor Goes Up the Incline

K's dad visited us Wednesday through Saturday this last week. We always look forward to family visiting and the kids were, once again, counting down the days until Papa came to stay. His one request while here was to do the Incline. Papa has worked really hard since last October to lose weight and hit his goal this Spring - about 80 pounds lost. Whoot whoot! To celebrate this loss and his new physical health (he walks for an hour at least once a day every day) he wanted to test his mettle on the Incline. Yesterday afternoon, we set out and headed over to Manitou Springs for our adventure. Unfortunately, we had to park about a 1/3 of a mile away from our usual starting point due to the parking lot being full. Papa did a fabulous job and powered through the difficult task known as 'The Incline'.

Here we are on the 'easy' part in the beginning. If you don't pace yourself here, you'll pay for it later. Do you see the top of the Incline way up there amongst the trees? That's NOT the summit, but the false summit. Papa re-labeled it 'the first summit'. Beyond that point, you still have another third of a mile to reach the actual summit.

Awww... father and son.

Here's where it starts to get a little more difficult. See how uneven some of the railroad ties are? Some ties are as high as your knee. Climb anyone?

This picture gives you an idea of how steep it starts to get. I'm just a few steps below and K is a few steps above. And this isn't the steepest part!

At the top! Papa made it and officially has bragging rights.

K and his dad at the top

All three of us just before heading down Barr Trail

I didn't take any pictures on the way down, but you have a 2 1/2 mile walk down Barr Trail that weaves back and forth. You certainly have to watch your footing with the many rocks that are along the path and there are times when you're scrambling down a bit or jumping off rocks. It's a workout! We are certainly proud of K's dad for accomplishing this.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Classroom

This week, part of our 'orientation' process was to spend two full days in our actual building with our principal going through school policies, rules, beliefs, expectations, etc. My principal spent 45 minutes with me and another teacher and has let us work in our rooms the rest of the time because she reviews all of this other stuff with all staff at our first staff meeting. I've been very grateful to have this time in my room to organize, clean, and 'decorate'. I've met some great staff members already and one of the nicest and most helpful has been one of our tech people. She has gone out of her way to make me feel welcome and established with passwords and such. In talking with D, she told me about all the technology that we have available for the students. (Keep in mind as I tell you this that I am coming from a school where we didn't have a single computer for the students in our classrooms and technology as a specials class was canceled.) My new school has a technology lab for specials. My classroom has four student computers all hooked up to the intranet and internet. We have an additional lab of laptops that teachers can utilize for various projects. We also have TWO mobile labs - 15 netbooks make up each mobile lab and these can be checked out to a teacher and used in the classroom. Say what? Technology? Yes, please! Every student is given their own personal drive on the intranet so they can save work that they have completed. Every computer is updated with Microsoft 2007 - unheard of in other districts! I truly had to pick my jaw off the ground when I heard all this. It's just so exciting!
Today I was able to get my room decorated and more things put away and organized. It's getting there slowly but surely and I'm really pleased with how things are coming together. My classroom is close to 1 1/2 times the size of my last room and I have far more storage than I've previously had. I'm just truly truly happy and relieved to be where I'm at. Here's what my room is shaping up to look like:

I'm looking forward to a renewing school year. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Last Weekend

Because I'm a slacker, I didn't mention that last weekend we drove back and forth to Denver for our first soccer tournament of the year. JADs team played for the first time together (it's a combination of two teams) and the coach used this pre-season opportunity to figure out which positions the boys should play and to see how they would gel as a team. The boys won the first game, but lost the next two. The third game was quite exciting to watch but, unfortunately, the calls were just not with us. At least it's pre-season!

A picture that embodies the absolute frustration JAD felt during the second game when his team just fell apart. Things can only get better from this point.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


At 7:00 am fourteen years ago on this date, I gave birth to a baby boy. He is my first-born, my guinea pig, my always-was-easygoing baby. We thought with this child that parenting must be the easiest job in the world. JAD always had a smile for us, was the consummate flirt with ladies in the grocery line, waitresses in restaurants, and walked around with a level of comfort most people would be jealous of. We never dealt with the step-over-the-line-I'm-a-crazy-boy attitude that we've seen in, ahem, another boy child of ours. JAD was my tow-headed happy baby boy.

I've learned a lot watching him grow and it makes me sad to realize how truly fast 14 years have flown by. We've entered the teenage years with its moodiness and Ineedtobealoneness. But through it all, I'm watching that blonde-headed baby boy turn into a man who is learning how to process the world in all of it's infinite confusion. He still watches from afar and takes things one step at a time, thinking things through. He's become a person with very high morals who treats others well and thinks about the consequences of how he treats them. He's an extremely bright young man and very athletic - not a combination you see all the time. He is immensely passionate about his chosen sport (soccer, if you haven't guessed with the plethora of posts relating to said sport) and will regale you with statistics and stories about his favorite players/teams/teammates/practices/games/etc. He fights tooth and nail to not be known as the 'geeky-super smart' kid and has turned into one who can win a battle of the wits without batting an eye. He is compassionate through and through and will bend over backwards to help a friend and even a sibling when they are down.

I am extremely proud of my son. My first-born. My Ihavetofigurethingsoutonyousosorry kid. He takes everything in stride and uses these moments to grow. He amazes me each and every day. He makes me laugh. He makes me groan and yell in frustration. He makes me want to tear my hair out. He makes me beam with pride that I could give birth to such an amazing human being.

Happy Fourteenth Birthday, JAD. I hope you have an amazing, fun, rewarding year. I am so very proud to be able to call you my son and I love you more than you'll ever comprehend.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thought Provoking

I started New Teacher Orientation last Friday. It's a mind-numbing process that anyone new to a district has to go through regardless of experience outside of the district (I've been teaching for 16 years, yet still had to go through this along with many, many other veteran teachers). Today we were shown a video from YouTube that really impacted me. Throughout the first half of the video, I just kept thinking 'Yep, yep, this sounds about right.' At the halfway point and through the end, I sat in awe of what was happening. In a room full of 150 teachers, you could've heard a pin drop as we watched this. I will let you see for yourself...

Reverse Thinking

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's Begun

Today was my first 'official' day in my new school district. I've worked in my classroom sporadically over the past week, getting things unpacked and put away, but it's all been on my own time and unpaid. I attended a math training (I know, riveting!) with eight other people from various location throughout the district. There were two trainings going on as the district has two different math programs in its thirty five elementary schools. No, that's not a typo. There are thirty-five elementary schools in this one district. It's by far the largest district I've ever worked in. Interestingly enough, of the nine people at this particular training, four of us had come from the same district previously and we felt we were embattled survivors. Others around us just sympathetically agreed with our conversations and deemed us brave and courageous for having been through such a difficult situation. It's funny how people just hear the name of this particular district and nod their heads, acknowledging the horror stories they have heard from others. It's really quite sad and I feel for my friends who are still working in that district.

Tomorrow I get to attend day one of 'Orientation'. Doesn't that just sound exciting??? We get to sit for eight hours each day (yes, there's more than one day of this) listening to various district higher-ups tell us about the philosophies of the district (which are important - don't get me wrong) and the different odds and ends of expectations, who to contact for various questions/problems/whatnots, and, I'm sure, the new state standards that we will be attacking this year. Don't misunderstand - I'm so very grateful to have a job and I'm very excited to be working in this district - but orientation days just drag on and on and on... On the bright side, orientation days are not part of our salary, so we get paid the hourly rate for these few days. That will be a nice little bonus on the first paycheck!


On the soccer front, we have been going to practice four nights a week for JAD and CEDs practices. Fortunately, practices have been at the same place, so that makes life a little easier. JAD practices Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 6 - 7:30 and CED practices on Tuesday and Thursday from 5 - 6:30. I found out this week that JED will also start practicing (thank goodness at the same aforementioned park)... on Tuesdays and Fridays. Really??? Five days a week??? Heaven help me... Now it really doesn't matter when the little girls start practicing because I'll ALREADY BE THERE. Silver lining, people.


School registration has begun. On Tuesday, I had to register JAD for HIGH SCHOOL. Did you catch that? Ninth grade. I don't think I'm ready for this. How did I get old enough to have a child going into high school? Life goes by way too stinking fast. Before I know it, he'll be driving and never home. Yikes! I do like his schedule, however. He has to take Latin. And he got that class 1st hour. What can be better? I was happy to see that he was enrolled (thank you, Vanguard!) in honors history, English, and biology. JAD, on the other hand, was not so happy to see this. What you don't like can only make you stronger, right? It'll be interesting to see how he handles these classes plus high school soccer and club soccer. I think we're heading into our most challenging year yet!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I've really focused this year on how truly expensive it is to get ready for school. And I only have four going to school this year. Next year, it will be all five. Yikes! I have purchased the bulk of the school supplies (we still need all the kleenex and baggies and disinfecting wipes) and have spent over $200 on those things. As a teacher, I understand the need for parents to buy things like baggies, dry erase markers, and disinfecting wipes - we just don't have the budgets to purchase those things for our classrooms. As a parent, I groan every time I see a 4 pack of dry erase markers on the list - those add up quickly, especially when you're buying supplies times four! Add to that, CED needs uniforms for middle school, so we had to go out and purchase those items as well. Although, I didn't buy much simply because we have her on the waiting list for another school that requires uniforms as well. And, of course, the uniforms at this school are different colors than at her current school. Fabulous. So once she gets in there, we get to go shopping all over again. Today, JAD and I went to his school to register and had to pay a $30 fee for copies, paper, etc (charter school, so they can do that) plus an additional $90 for the camp he is required to attend next week. This doesn't include the $100 fee to play high school soccer, either. I'm being sucked dry and school hasn't even started yet! Next year I think I need to make sure I have at least $500 set aside for school shopping/fees/etc. And maybe some Valium as I go shopping for all those items...