Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Catching Up, Starting With the Great American Road Trip

WOW!  It has been forever since I have felt inspired enough to write a post.  This year has gotten off to a fast start.  I usually get into my school routine in just a couple of weeks, but this year I still don't feel like I am in my routine.  I have taught at the same school for the last three years, since we move to Northwest Arkansas.  I thought I would be doing the same this year, but a couple weeks ago I found out I would only be at my "home" school half days and would be traveling to another school in the afternoons.  So, to make a long story short, I am now working at two schools and trying to adjust.

Change isn't really my friend so while I am trying to cope with this big change, I have been thinking a lot about the slow and easy pace of summer.  I have also been reminiscing about how much I truly enjoyed this past summer, even though it was so stinking hot!  Hubby didn't have to go to school and we were able to enjoy our time together without worrying about his job situation.  By the way, he totally loves his job. (I'll share more about it later.)

The big highlight of the summer was our Great American Road Trip.  We ended up being gone 15 days and traveled around 5,000 miles.  We all survived all those miles in the car and saw some really breathtaking and amazing sights.  I have been looking back over our pictures and wanted to share a few with you.  Well, I'll probably be sharing more than just a few, but it was so hard to narrow them down. Believe me when I say that the pictures in no way do justice the the magnificent sights we saw.

We left Arkansas and headed to the Chicago area for the annual 4th of July picnic we our extended family on my mom's side.  We also met up with Mike's brother and visited with him while we were there.  I am sad to say that we took no real pictures during our visit.  We go to Chicago fairly regularly, but it still would have been nice to have pictures of the friends and family we only get to see about once a year.  Hopefully, I will do better at this.

In recent years, we have kind of become Frank Lloyd Wright buffs.  We have visited several homes he designed and read some books about him and his life.  He was a brilliant architect, but led quite a screwed up personal life.  So when we left Chicago, we headed up to Spring Green, Wisconsin to visit Taliesin, his home.

Our first stop was the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.

When we left Madison, we travelled another hour to Spring Green.  In case you haven't been there, Spring Green is a tiny town and Taliesin is  one of the only tourist attractions.  We stayed at this cute motel call the Round Barn Inn.  Our entertainment for the evening was swimming in the indoor swimming pool and have dinner at one of my new favorites, Culver's.  If you haven't eaten there, they have good burgers and even better frozen custard.


We spent the next day touring the Taliesin estate, starting with the little church on the property.

We also saw his grave.  Well, it used to be his grave until his wife had him moved to Arizona.

This is Hillside.  It used to be a school run by Frank Lloyd Wright's aunts.  Then, he turned it into an architecture school.  It is still in operation today.  We were able to see some of the students at work.

This is the Romeo and Juliet Tower.  The hill we waled up to get a closer look is a lot steeper than it looks.

The Wisconsin countryside was beautiful.  I'm sure I would have enjoyed it much more if I hadn't walked across it in the blazing heat and humidity.

This is Midway Farm.  It is located about "midway" between Hillside and the house.

We finally made it to Taliesin.  The only thing between us and the house was another hill.

We were rewarded for making it to the top of the hill with cool drinks and a snack!

Here is a view looking back across the valley.

Let me just say, the house was pretty amazing, especially considering it was built in the early 1900's and has been rebuilt due to multiple fires.  We weren't allowed to take pictures of the inside, but it it pretty incredible.  I would highly recommend touring the house if you are ever nearby.

Here are some views of the house from the courtyard/garden area.

After our tour, we headed out to South Dakota.  Our next destination was Badlands National Park, which I will share with you soon.

Monday, July 23, 2012

So Much to Say...

It has been forever since I posted, almost 3 months.  I got busy wrapping up school and then there wasn't a whole lot going on.  About the middle of June things started happening and I got so overwhelmed with it all that I couldn't decide what to write.  At the end of June, we left on our 2 week Great American Road Trip.  It was amazing!!!  I'll try to post more about it later.

Now, I feel the need to start blogging again so that I can document our life.

The last post was about Mike's graduation so I'll pick up with that story.  We filled out a TON of applications for him.  Teaching applications sure have changed a lot in the last several years.  They are no longer little 1 page deals that take just a few minutes to fill out.  They are all electronic (which is nice) and they take FOREVER to fill out.  They want to know everything you have ever done and every thought about teaching you have ever had.  Anyway, we filled them out.  He had a couple interviews at the end of May, but we feel those were just interviews to fill their quota.  Those schools seemed to already have someone in mind.

Fast forward to the middle of June and we are starting to feel a little discouraged.  Well, I was feeling a little discouraged.  I am NOT known for patience.  He went ahead and signed his contract for his current school knowing that if something else came along he could always get out of it.  It was an at-will contract meaning that he can leave the school at any time for whatever reason with no penalty.  He got a call to interview for a middle school science position at a school district really close to where I teach.  He felt the interview went REALLY well.  We felt good about it and were excited about the possibility to be back to together!  A week went by without hearing anything.  Then, he got a call to interview at the new middle school in the district where I work!  We were beyond excited!!

He interviewed for that job.  The day before we left on the Great American Road Trip he got a call to go interview with the assistant superintendent for personnel.  He had that interview on the day we left and found out he got the job!!  He will be teaching 7th grade math and science.  Elation cannot even describe how we felt!!

Looking back over this last year, I really see and KNOW that God's hand was in this.  Last fall Mike had to do a practicum where he spent time inside classrooms in the grades he would be licensed for.  Mike did part of this at my school in 4th grade and part of it at the jr. high next door in 8th grade.  He visited several 8th grade classrooms there until he went into a science classroom.  He really hit it off with that teacher and continued going into that class everyday until he got his teaching job in November.  Mike stayed in contact with this teacher and would visit his classroom every chance he got.  This teacher later became an assistant principal at this new middle school, which helped Mike get an interview.  Our district is so large and desirable to work in that having someone know you and recognize your name among all the applicants really helps.  I truly believe that God connected these two and has had a plan for Mike all along that finally came to fruition.

I am so thankful for this blessing that has been brought into our life!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Graduation TIme

We celebrated a graduation on Saturday!  Mike finished his master's degree.  I am so proud of him!   He did it in a little less than two years while working full time.  It wasn't always easy, but now it's finished.

M & L
This was us before the ceremony.  He looks so happy.  This picture really lets me know I need to stay serious about my exercising.  Gotta get rid or at least reduce that double chin of mine.

Since he was a graduate student, he got to sit on the front row.  He never did see me during the ceremony, but I was able to get pictures with the big zoom lens.  When you're one of the first in line, you have to sit a while and wait for the rest of the graduates to file in.  This gave lots of time for looking around and talking to neighbors/classmates.

Waiting in line to go across the stage.  I was thinking what a journey it has been to get to this point.  Then, in a blink of an eye it's all over.  While this journey is ending, we are beginning a new one.

Mike getting "hooded."  I don't know if that is the correct terminology, but they did put his hood on him.  The purple and grey were the school colors and the light blue is for the field of education.  We now have matching gowns.  That is the same thing I wore 8 years ago when I got my master's degree.  That is something we can show our children one day.

After the ceremony, I was able to snap this picture before the cap and gown came off.  It was hot that day.  It was a very nice commencement ceremony.  Not too long, but a celebration of the transition all the students were getting ready to make.  Commencement really means the beginning.  For us it's the beginning of the job search for a teaching job in Northwest Arkansas.  It's the beginning of a career for Mike.  It's the beginning of a new phase of life.

Mike's graduation
This is the picture I saw when I looked in mom's newspaper the next day.  Mike and a couple of others made the front page of the paper.  The president of the university asked all the graduates to write a thank-you note to someone who helped them during their time as a student.  They were busy writing when this was snapped.

What a blessing this graduation was!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Five Question Friday

The time has finally come!  Mike is graduating with his master's this weekend!  I am so proud of him and his hard work over the last couple of years.  I am heading down for his College of Education pinning ceremony today and graduation is in the morning.  Yay!  Hopefully, I'll have some pictures up later this weekend or early next week

Now for Five Question Friday with Mama M.

1. What did you wear to prom? Include a picture if possible.
The only reason I had easy access to a picture is because one of my friends posted some to Facebook.  I knew Facebook was good for something.  So here are some shots from junior prom in 1996.
I'm on the right.  I fell in love with the sequined top immediately.  You can't see the bottom, but it was flouncy chiffon that came above the knee.  I remember thinking I was cute and sassy that night.  The best thing about this picture is that it has two of my good friends in it.  We were rocking the red.

2. Would you rather be on the biggest loser or a food eating challenge?
I think a food eating challenge sounds so fun.  I would love to travel across the country/world trying different foods.  My waistline probably has a different idea.  Going on the Biggest Loser would be better for my health.  I'm pretty sure I would be miserable the whole time I was there, though.  I'm really sensitive and wouldn't like the trainers yelling at me.  However, everyone always looks so amazing at the end so that would be the nice part of it.  I would be really happy then so I guess the Biggest Loser it is.

3.  Favorite Sonic Drink?  Refreshing Summer drink?
Oh, how I love Sonic drinks.  The ice and cup that keeps everything cold for a really long time are the best.  My all-time favorite Sonic drink is Cherry Dr. Pepper.  I usually get a Cherry Diet Dr. Pepper or Cranberry Sprite Zero to save a few calories.  There's nothing better than getting your favorite drink at Happy Hour for half price.  My favorite summer time drink is homemade lemonade.

4. What was your first car, and what did you call it?
My first car was a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am.

It looked a lot like the one in this picture.  It had tinted windows.  I used some of my birthday money to buy a nicer radio for it that had a CD player.  I didn't really have a name for it, but I was so proud of this car when I got it.  I was so happy to have this car when I turned 16.  I'm sure I'll always be a little nostalgic about it since it was my first car.

5. What's one thing your child or spouse does that sends you over the edge?

I know this is going to sound so weird, but it drives me completely bonkers when Mike picks at his fingernails or toenails and it makes noise. He is a little OCD about his nails. If they are not perfectly even and smooth he will pick at them to get them that way. I am always bugging him to use the proper grooming tools, but he says they are not always available. But, that little clicking sound gets to me every time!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Before and After

After today I am sure I will have exhausted my material to post about our cat Sadie.  I'm sure today was her least favorite day of the year so far.

This was her this morning while I was eating breakfast.

A couple of minutes after that picture was taken, I grabbed her up and shoved her in her carrier/bag against her will.  We then took a five minute ride in the car to the vet's office.  The ride wasn't very pleasant since she cried the whole way.  Things didn't get much better when we arrived.  We got there right at opening along with 2 large dogs and two other meowing cats.

It was time for Sadie's annual grooming/haircut and vaccinations.  I dropped the cat off with the instructions for her haircut (which they followed perfectly) and went on my merry way to work.

This is what she looked like when we got home many hours later.

My poor kitty was exhausted and mad.  She hates having to be shaved, but I really hate for her to throw up hairballs all summer long.  I also really hate having to clean up the previously mentioned hairballs.  So it is an "ugly" stage that we put up with.

The following picture demonstrates another perk of Sadie getting a haircut.

Sadie is not normally cuddly enough to actually lay on my lap.  So I will take it as long as I can get it!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Simple Life of a Furbaby

It has been a while since I have posted about our sweet Sadie Rose.  She just turned 4 and has the easiest life imaginable.  Sometimes I envy the life of a cat.  I have noticed that she has become quite a it more clingy since Mike took his job and has to be gone during the week.  She sure misses him!  I love on her and pet her, but he would play with her.

 Here is a view of a typical day for Sadie:

She starts her morning by sitting in the bathtub watching me get ready.

There is absolutely no telling what she does while I'm at work, but this is how I usually find her when I get home.

When I settle into the recliner to watch a little TV, she's right there with me.  It is kind of comforting to hear her purr in my ear.

When it's time for bed, she's right there with me.  She makes sure to hog my side of the bed even though there is the whole other side that is empty.

In between naps around the house, Sadie makes sure to beg for food and treats.  She also runs around like a made woman.  She's my little equestrian.  She goes over, under, and around all kinds of obstacles.  Since we don't have kids yet, Sadie has become our child.  She does a good job of keeping me company while the hubby is away!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Insomnia and Jeremiah

It is 1:45 a.m. and I am awake for some unknown reason.

*Maybe it's because I drank a Route 44 tea from Sonic today.  The nice thing was they had Happy Hour all day since it was Tax Day.  I treated my team at work to drinks!

* Maybe it's because I can't put all of my work out of my head.  I have a crazy number of parent conferences between now and the end of school.  That's the life of a special education teacher.  I have been working on some of my paperwork, but have gotten as far as I can until I get back to school tomorrow.

* Maybe I'm stressing a little bit about Mike's job situation.  I have been praying for him to find a job in Northwest Arkansas next year.  We have found several and put in applications.  Now it seems to be a waiting game.  I know I am being taught patience with this situation.

If I had my guess, I would say that this case of insomnia is a combination of these factors plus all the other uncertainties I have swirling in my brain.

I cannot get Jeremiah 29:11 out of my head.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm youplans to give you hope and a future."

I just have to trust that God has plans for us.  We just have to listen!

I hope these plans include some rest for this very tired teacher.  Only 26 more days until summer vacation and time with my family.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Worst Time of Year For a Teacher

The time of year that most teachers dread has arrived. What time of year is that?  Testing time, of course.  Here in Arkanasas every student 1st-8th grade has to be tested.  High school students have to take an End of Course exam for some classes.  Students doing well on this these tests has become the goal for all teachers during the school year.  If we dwell too much on it, the testing can take the joy out of teaching.

I think the creators of these tests have lost sight of who has to take them.  These students are still children andd a lot is being asked of them.  This year, I am testing a small group of fifth graders.  For various reasons they get accommodations during testing, which is why I only have 5 students in my testing group.  We have complete 3 out of the 5 days of testing so far.  Every morning we get started around 8:30 and have tested until anywhere between 11:30 and 1:00.  In my opinion, that is a lot to expect 11 year olds.

I am so proud of how hard they have worked, but it breaks my heart to see how tired and frustrated they are at the end of testing. During the breaks I try to encourage and praise them for all of their hard work.  I also just try to remind them to try their best.  We just have a couple more days to go and then it will all be over for another year.  This test doesn't always show what our students know and are capable of doing.  There are many things that this test can't measure.  I tell my students that there is so much more to them than their test scores.  This, too, shall pass and we will get to move on to more fun things soon! 

The other good new: only 30 more school days until summer! Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but there is always something so exciting about an impending break!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Thoughts

He is risen!

I am so thankful for that.  I have not always been the most spiritual/religious person.  I have always believed in God, but tended to be passive in my beliefs.  However, recently I have found myself desiring a deeper relationship with God.  Since Mike and I have been living mostly apart since November I have been spending more time in prayer and reading my Bible.

I have been searching for peace and comfort.  The only place I have really found it has been through the Bible and my time in prayer.  It has given me a sense of hope and has made me realize I am never alone.  I am trying to be more positive and spend less time worrying.  It makes getting through the week easier.

I am a little disappointed in myself that it has taken me so long to get to this point.  Why am I just now realizing that I am not alone, that I am always loved, and that Jesus died so that MY sins are forgiven.  These are things that I have been taught over and over, but am just now realizing the true power of.

I have a desire to continue to grow my relationship with God.  Mike and I have been make a much bigger effort to attend church regularly.  I always feel so rejuvenated and ready to make it through the week.  We have two churches that we love depending on where we are: Greenbrier First United Methodist, the church we were married in and Central United Methodist here in Fayetteville.  We also are attending events in Fayetteville with The Bridge, a group for 20 and 30 somethings that does different activities together, including community service.  I have also signed up to participate in an online bible study at Women's Bible Cafe.  I want to learn as much as I can about the Bible and this seems like a way I can do that on my schedule.

This Easter season has really reminded me how much I need God and how much better life is with Him in it.  We may not be living in the ideal situation now, but I am able to make it through knowing I am never alone.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring Weekend

I had such a fun weekend.  Spring, especially with the weather we are having, makes me so anxious for summer vacation.  I think I am even more like that this year since I spend the majority of the time living by myself.  Only seven and a half more weeks and summer vacation will arrive!

I am relishing my weekends and trying to enjoy every minute of them.  I started this past weekend by taking an art class with my mom.  Here is our masterpiece.


We had a lot of fun and I get wait to get the hung up!

We spent Saturday get our garden planted.  We started our seeds several weeks ago inside and thought it was time to get them moved outside.  I don't know if we will get any vegetables, but we do have a lot of fun taking care of the plants.  It was so hot last summer that we didn't get much besides cucumbers.  We'll see how our luck is this year.  We planted cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, beans, peas, onions, garlic, shallots, okra, cilantro, and I'm sure other things that I can't remember at the moment.


While we were at Lowe's by soil for the garden yesterday, I also picked up a braided hibiscus.  Hibiscus was one of our favorite flowers that we saw while in Hawaii.  I thought this would be a good reminder of our trip.  There were no blooms on it yesterday, but one opened up overnight.  This is what I saw when I woke up.


We went to the early service at church today and then headed to Little Rock for lunch.  After lunch, we went to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of "The Wiz."  The shows there are always so enjoyable and today's was a lot of fun.  I had a great weekend and only five more days until the next one. Just have to get through some standardized testing with my students first.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Goodbye Spring Break

Well, I guess it's time to head back to reality.  I just had to tell hubby goodbye until next weekend.  We got spoiled having this whole week to spend together.

We spent the beginning of the week at Mount Nebo State Park.  The rest of the week just felt like if flew by.  We got home in Central Arkansas on Wednesday afternoon.  We spent the rest of that day and Thursday hanging out at home, grilling, catching up on some TV, and made a point to go walk at the City Center for some exercise.

On Friday, we got to go see The Hunger Games, which we really enjoyed.  That evening, we headed back to Northwest Arkansas for the weekend.  We have had a busy, full two days here.  We ate out for practically every meal, got the oil changed, and he even helped me get some work done at school.  We were also able to go bowling with the 20s and 30s group at church yesterday afternoon.  We made our stock-up trip to Sam's Club, too.  We try to do that about once a month and end up spending more money than intended.  I always look at it as I won't have to buy it again for a while.  This morning, we went to the early service at church and went for a walk on one of the trails before he had to head back.

Spring Break seems to go so fast, but we actually got quite a bit done.  We ended up walking around 15 miles this week, which has to be good for us.  We also got to job applications done for hubby so that hopefully we can live together next year.  I also got to spend a lot of quality time with both hubby and my mom.  That is always a great thing, but makes this afternoon even harder since I am alone again.

One more thing I wanted to mention is that if you love shopping at Target like I do, you should definitely check into getting a Target Red Card.  We just got ours and I love it.  We got the debit card version, not the credit card.  It's just like using our regular debit card, but we save 5% on everything and get free shipping on things we buy online.  Another plus is that a percentage of what we spend is donated to the school where I work.  If you want more information about it click here.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Break Getaway

Most of you know that this summer we are going on the Great American Road Trip, as I like to call it.  To save money and energy we decided to keep Spring Break a little low key.  We went to Mount Nebo State Park for a few days and really enjoyed it.  We had a cute and cozy cabin.  We spent our time hiking (more like walking), eating, reading, and watching movies.  I have several picture to show of the park and the signs that spring is here!  All of these pictures are from before the torrential rains set in.  All of the pictures of us are still on hubby's camera so I'll have to post a couple of those later.  Enjoy a peek into our mini vacation!

Our home away from home.

The view from our cabin.

The view from Sunrise Point.

Some deer friends we saw eating in the woods.  The blend into their surroundings very well!

The view from Sunset Point.

We went on two hikes.  One was about 3 miles and the other was about 4 miles.  Here are some of the sites we saw along the way.

This is the view from our cabin as the rain started moving in.  We were above the clouds.  Eventually, we were in the clouds.  That was a neat, but eery feeling.

I love the state parks for a quirky, easy, and relatively inexpensive getaway.  What a relaxing Spring Break!