Monday, May 30, 2011

In Honor of Memorial Day

Some of my favorite pictures from my trip with Macy to Washington D.C., in honor of Memorial Day.

Vietnam Memorial. My students used to read a story about the building of this memorial, and how people were mad when it was built because it wasn't as tall or huge like others, but let me tell you, it's pretty impressive.
Arlington National Cemetery. I must have taken at least 200 pictures of those beautiful white tombstones.
The World War II Memorial at night, looking over at the Washington Monument. The WWII one was pretty cool.
Macy, with the Washington Monument behind her and the reflecting pool.
Macy standing in the same spot Martin Luther King made his "I have a dream speech".

Thank you to all our veterans for keeping our country safe.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Busy week

It's been about a week since I was an insanely busy week. Here's a short recap.

This beautiful girl had a bridging ceremony for Girl Scouts and bridged from Brownies to Juniors. There are no pictures of the actual ceremony because I was in charge, and someone (no names to protect the guilty) "didn't know he was supposed to take pictures."

Kaylin also bridged this week, from Daisy's to a Brownie. She did not appreciate the jokes about eating her now that she was a Brownie. Here she is reading her part in a poem at the ceremony.

My beautiful girl and her certificate. Her troop is huge and rowdy, but she loves Girl Scouts.
The girls also had a ceremony at church for the group they are with on Wednesday nights. They had to research a country, prepare a food from that country, and find a game. Then throughout the year, they studied missionaries from those countries. Macy was paired up with Lauryn, and they had Jordan. Lauryn's aunt/uncle/cousins are missionairies in Jordan, so it was easy. Kaylin was paired up with Gracie, who was adopted from China about 2 years ago, and their country was China, so that was easy too.

Wednesday the girls and I got hair cuts (bangs...eww...but I agreed bc it's their hair) and we all got feather hair extensions, all the newest rage. They were so excited to go to school on Thursday and show them off!

Friday brought our last day's of school for the summer. I was in charge of a luncheon for teachers Friday afternoon, and spent all night Thursday working on a PowerPoint--it was 118 slides. Then Friday morning I somehow managed to save over it with another Power Point--it was gone. Poof. I managed to re-do the PowerPoint in a mere hour, finishing with about 10 minutes to spare. Massive stress!! 

The girls got excellent report cards and both received Reading awards at the school assembly. More important to me than the awards are the fun they had in school, and how much they enjoy it and their friends. They are both excellent students who work hard, and that's all I ask. 

Finally, wrapping up our busy week, I brought home 2 dwarf hamsters on Friday for the summer. Our Gateway program, which is for students ages 18-21 with mental disabilities, have 2 dwarf hamsters who had no where to go for the summer. I made a spontaneous decision without checking with my wonderful husband, and now they are on our fireplace for the summer. The girls love them, although I can't tell you how many times we've yelled at Kaylin for trying to pick them up. I'll get a picture and update soon. Oh, and their names are Thelma and Louise. Ha!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Since Wednesday night, I've been thinking about what to say, what to write, how to wrap my brain around what happened. I'm not any closer to any answers, but I'm going to try.

Wednesday night I received a phone call that one of my favorite students--a beautiful, talented, vibrant, super intelligent, gifted singer, wonderful 16-year-old--committed suicide that day after school. I sat in stunned silence, unable to process the words. I stared at the TV, not seeing anything. I talked on the phone more than I have in a long time to other teachers and friends, trying to make sense. Wednesday night was a very restless sleep.

Nothing could have prepared me for the hell that was Thursday. It was the worst day teaching I've ever had in 12 years. We had a faculty meeting before school, and I was doing okay until I saw my friend Leigh Ann. We shared this student, and shared a close bond with her. Then I had to walk upstairs, and walk into a classroom of students with a prepared statement I was supposed to read. I stood in front of 25 faces, most mirrored mine: shock, tears visible, most wearing white in her honor. Nothing in my education classes had prepared me for this moment. I crumbled up the prepared statement, threw it in the trash, and winged it. We cried together. The day didn't get much better...most hours were a repeat of 1st hour.

5th hour was the hour she was in. Her counselor was going to all of her classes, and we had more grief counseling. After she left, the kids shared with me how frustrated they were with the adults "preaching" at them about how to handle grief. We talked about her and shared some laughs.

I'd heard that several students closest to her had been working on a poster. At the end of the day, I went down to see it. Tears overwhelmed me again. It was the largest poster I'd ever seen--many pieces of white butcher paper taped together, a huge painted Eiffel tower, for her dream of making it to Paris one day, along with personal notes, pictures, etc. It was an amazing outlet for the kids to be able to express how much she meant to them.

Today was the memorial. Probably 300 people filled a barn on her family farm in 90 degree heat, sweat mixing with tears. It was a nice memorial, as those things go. I wish she could have seen how loved she was.

Things I've been wrestling with internally: how did I not see anything. I talked to this girl, about lots of stuff. She drew me pictures for my bulletin board, told me about her weekend, things she was looking forward to, invited me to choir concerts, we discussed books and love and boys and work and families...never once did she let on that something was terribly wrong. How did I not see it? How did none of us see it? How could she have thought that breaking up with a boy, a fight with a friend, a fight with her mom was so terrible to warrant taking her own life? That those problems are minor in the grand scheme of things? Did reading the Great Gatsby, which ends with a man killing himself, put the idea in her head? We were reading it at the exact same time. How could she think her friends didn't like her?

She may not have been family, may have been *just* a student, but she was a student I talked to every day, more than I do my own family. Just because she was *just* a student doesn't mean it hurts any less. Most teachers, well, most good teachers, build relationships with students, and that was the case with her. She and I had a bond, and it hurts that she is gone, and that I did nothing to help when I was supposed to be there for her. 

They played two songs at her memorial today: If I die young by Band Perry, and Why by Rascal Flatts. Both were right to the heart of the matter. Since this is already the world's longest post, I won't put the full lyrics, just a few key phrases.

If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song

Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother
She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my colors
Oh, and life ain't always what you think it ought to be, no
Ain't even gray, but she buries her baby

And maybe then you'll hear the words I been singing
Funny, when you're dead how people start listening


You must have been in a place so dark, you couldn't feel the light
Reachin' for you through that stormy cloud
Now here we are gathered in our little home town
This can't be the way you meant to draw a crowd

Oh, why?
That's what I keep askin'
Was there anything I could have said or done?
Oh, I had no clue you were maskin' a troubled soul
God only knows what went wrong
And why you would leave the stage in the middle of a song

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Girls on the Run

My niece Hannah has been doing an after-school program called Girls on the Run--focuses not only on physical activity, but social and physical development as well. The end result is a 5k. My sister wasn't going to be able to run due to an injury, and Hannah needed some motivation, so I told her I'd run with her. Then Macy said she wanted to, then my friend Jenn said she'd do it too, so the four of us ran a 5k this morning! We had quite a cheering section, and had a fabulous time.

Here's the 4 of us before the race started.

Just getting started!
This is Macy and Hannah crossing the red finish line. Jenn and I are behind them, and thankfully Bobby saved you all by not taking our picture..
Macy and Hannah after the race. They did great! We most definitely didn't run the whole 5k, took some walk breaks when they wanted to, but they didn't grown or complain.
Here's the group Hannah has been training with.
Here's the four of us post-race. Not as lovely as the before picture, but hey, we just did a 5k!

Me and my beautiful daughter and niece. So very proud of them!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dance 2011

Saturday brought another round of dance recitals. For the first time, the girls were in different shows. We've lucked out in the past and they've been in the same one, but not this year. We had to sit through 2 2-hour shows in which our daughters danced for 3 minutes. At one point I told Bobby, I'm really sorry you didn't have boys and have to suffer through this.

 Here's our Macy. She's taking hip hop this year. She's been taking dance since she was 3, and I think this might be the last year. She did a dance to Ridin' Solo, and it was cute.

Here's Kaylin. She's in a dance combo class, and they did a jazz dance to Life is a Fairytale, a song I've never heard. She had a small "solo" of sorts in this one, and it was neat to see her in that role.

Macy was giving Kaylin tips before Kaylin's show, and she said, "I've been on stage so many times from dance competitions to recitals to drama club performances, and I'm not nervous anymore. I know what to do." I smiled to myself, because that child is still very shy. But if she thinks she's not nervous, then I'm not going to tell her!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

School Tidbits...

Yesterday a student thought it would be smart to plug in his phone with a charger that was in pieces, wires sticking out all over, and it shocked him.  He seemed surprised. Strangely enough, he had a scab on his elbow, and the scab came off and blood started coming out his arm. I asked him about 900 times if he was okay or did he need to go to the nurse, and he said he was fine. It made for a great story the rest of the day. And left a blood splot on the floor.

A student was making a poster, used a black permanent marker, and it bled onto the tile floor below. You could read the words on the tile. She was mortified.  The custodian laughed.

Answers on Chapter 7 of Great Gatsby Quiz...funny, but funnier if you've read GG.
  • Gatsby is sharpening his ax at the end of the chapter because he is going to brutally murder Tom and Daisy. 
  • Why did Myrtle probably run out into the road? Because she needed to get to the other side. 
  • Who killed Myrtle? The butler in the kitchen with a wrench. 
  • Who killed Myrtle? The chicken she was following kicked him and made him fall.

This is the time of the year when kids realize their grades aren't what they want, and start begging for extra credit, asking for extra work when they've slacked off all year long. Makes me cranky with them.

Apparently I'm getting a student teacher again next fall? Sign me up.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It starts.

This afternoon Macy, Kaylin and their friends Kaylee and Joseph set up a "sale" in the driveway. Their product? Bowls of cereal mixed with dried cranberries and cups of water for .20 cents. Only customer was Kaylee and Joseph's dad. I wonder why? Anywho, back to the original story.

The loco boys showed up--nicknamed this by Macy because they are crazy. They are neighborhood boys a year or two older--or could be same grade. I've never really talked to the loco boys but have seen them riding their bikes. They stayed for about a half hour, and I watched the drama unfold through the windows as I was picking up the house. At one point I took this picture through Macy's bedroom window--boys climbing our tree, girls watching.

Lots and lots of "flirting" going know, kid flirting where you pretend the other annoys you, but secretly you are loving the attention.  The girls were blaring Justin Bieber on the radio, the boys pretended to hate it, stole the CD and the girls chased them around to get it, the boys stole the girls' bikes and the girls chased them to get them back, the girls tried to spray the boys with the water hose, the boys helped them sell their cereal and cups of water by yelling at cars driving by.

The whole time I was inside, laughing to myself and texting Kaylee's mom and Bobby of the drama unfolding. It was hysterical to watch the grade school flirting, and just proved the girls are growing up. Soon it will be the real deal.

Oh goodness, I'm not ready.

Monday, May 2, 2011

To be a princess...

I've always been fascinated with the Royal Family in England. Really any Royal families...I remember being infatuated with the Romanov dynasty in Russia for a while. I love the Kennedy's, American's version of royalty.

It should come as no surprise then that I was excited about the Royal Wedding between William and Kate. I mentioned to the girls that the wedding was on Friday morning, and did they want to get up at super early to watch it with me? They did.

I set the alarm for 4:45--the wedding was to start at 5:00 am. At 4:15, my phone rang. After finally figuring out that it was my phone that was making that strange sound, I called my mom back in a panic. My dad has heart problems, and any early morning call sends me into nervousness.

I could tell right away my dad was fine. Mom sounded giddy. "Are you watching? Have you seen their hats? What do the girls think? Are you up? It's getting ready to start!" I mumbled something about waking up the girls and hustled them downstairs.

Maybe it was the fact that they were still half asleep, but the girls were mesmerized. They were glued to the screen, asking questions and making comments. They were puzzled a few times at things in the ceremony, but were in awe of everything.

In honor of the British, we ate English muffins for breakfast. :)

Kaylin fell asleep on the floor in front of the TV, and Macy and I dozed a little, Macy really loved when they were riding around in the carriage.

While I was pretty tired the next day, I think the girls will always remember getting up before the sun to watch the Royal Wedding. I know I will always remember watching with them, and that's what it's all about.