Sunday, April 10, 2011

Coming to an End?

Without trying to count our chickens before they hatch we are very optimistic that our AZ adventure could be coming to an end within the next few months. Nothing is anywhere near final and anything could happen but things are looking very good for a job prospect in Pennsylvania. We have our fingers and toes crossed. We find out details about being brought out to PA for an in person interview and if that and a few other things go well we could be planning another cross-country move this June!

No more Diapers!

I know, I know, I still have a lot of catch-up to do, but I am just so excited by this news! We no longer have to buy diapers!!!!!!!!! Last weekend (April 2nd specifically) Emily potty trained herself. There was very little to no effort on my or Jon's part, she just did it. To say we are shocked is a bit of an understatement. On Friday, so April 1st, we happened to be out enjoying our favorite outdoor splash area (a little fountain at an outdoor mall) and ran out of diapers so Miss Emily had to go commando. She told us twice that night that she had to go potty and didn't have any accidents. Hoping it wasn't just some horrible April Fool's Joke being played by our little girl we decided to put her in underwear the next day and she was accident free and we haven't looked back since. She's had an accident here and there but that is to be expected. Everyone said little girls are easier to potty train than little boys, I just never imagined it would be THIS easy!

Where did I leave off? October 2010?

October went by rather quickly, but was still exciting. Since we start school at the beginning of August we get Fall Break in October. Of course we spent the week at Disneyland! We saw several characters we typically don't see in the parks and everything/everyone was decked out for Halloween. Emily was very excited to meet characters this trip, she would RUN up to them (especially the princesses and fairies and of course Mickey Mouse) and give a big hug!

After a fun week it was back to work. "My" student teacher took over my regular English classes so I began teaching a new core replacement class to help struggling readers. I had to teach two different course simultaneously and while a bit difficult I fell in love with those classes. My largest class had about 15 kids in it and it was my favorite time teaching, ever!

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. The student teacher couldn't stay forever and we had to prepare for my return to the regular classroom, which meant something had to be done so these students continued getting the instruction they needed. With a little help from a couple other teachers I completely redid the entire 7/8 schedule and made individual schedules for every student (they were traveling by homerooms). I would still be able to teach one section of the core replacement class but then would teach regular 8th grade English the rest of the day (or so I thought).

About the end of October our 7/8 Science teacher quit. Our principal asked me if I would like the Science position (since I am highly qualified) and I said no. About 2 weeks later I was told it wasn't a choice, I had to take the Science job so after Thanksgiving I began my 3rd job in my 4th classroom since the beginning of this school year (and I was hired originally to teach kindergarten....if only I had stayed in kindergarten, lol).

As for the rest of October though, before I get too carried away, the kids were very excited about Halloween this year. Emily was Jessie and Nathan was Buzz Lightyear (both from Toy Story...duh). Since Halloween fell on a Sunday and we are in a new area and didn't know the Trick-or-Treat "rules" for our condo complex so we were glad that our Ward had a really fun Halloween Party complete with Trunk or Treat. I had a lot of fun decorating our trunk. It was nice to be able to actually be outside since for many years in MI we had to move the Trunk-or-Treat indoors due to weather.

Did I mention the Pie Eating Contest. I didn't win but I think I was in 3rd or 4th place. Next year I need nose plugs, then I will win!

We also had fun at a local corn maze!

Well I think that sums up our October! Hpe you enjoyed reading about our October AZ adventures.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Emily turns 2!

Our little Princess turned 2 on September 5th (I know, that was more than 6 months ago but I figured I should at least post something before she is 3). We asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday and she decided she wanted to go to the zoo. At the time the Phoenix Zoo was offering free admission to Bank of America card holders so Jon and I got in free. Nathan was only 1/2 price because we still had our Detroit Zoo membership. And because we went on September 4th, the day before her birthday, Emily was still under 2 and free as well.

It was another hot day but we stayed for a few hours and the Birthday Girl seemed to enjoy it. We didn't get many pictures unfortunately, but we did snap a few good ones.

Here is Emily, excited to be going to the zoo.

The zoo lets you ride your bike inside so Nathan was excited to bring his bike. He is riding around a splash pad, which we all enjoyed running around in to cool off, in this picture.


We also took a "train" ride (it is not a real train) and spent a considerable amount of time playing at the splash pad mentioned above. Overall it was a great day.

The "Big" Move

September turned out to be a pretty hectic month for me, with camp and then the "big" move shortly after getting back from camp. It's time for some more background information about my job. The reason the 8th grade job was available was because the former 8th grade Language Arts teacher took on a different position at our school...intervention specialist. That meant she no longer would have a classroom but would be compiling and studying lots of data. The only problem, she had already made plans to have a student teacher. Since she had the student teacher it was decided that the student teacher would slowly take over my classes during her time with us.

We had enough rooms out in the portables (where the 7th and 8th grade is housed along with the options program...for kids with behavior problems that prohibit them from being able to function in a regular classroom) that Jodi (the former 8th grade teacher) and I could each have our own rooms. That was until September when another classroom was needed for the options program. The solution...Jodi and I would share a classroom and the 8th grade math teacher would move in to my old classroom.

On moving day I was still packing things up as things were coming in, going out, and kids were here, there and everywhere. And in the middle of it all the preschool calls and Nathan had just thrown up. Talk about a crazy day! Yup, I should have stayed in Kindergarten!

I was going through my work email about a month ago looking for something and I found an email from Jodi referring to this as the "big" move. Oh if only this were the big move. It turned out to be very minor compared to what was in store for me next.

I should have stayed in Kindergarten!

I don't know if I shared this on here or not, but I was originally hired to teach kindergarten at our school. For anyone that knows me well you would know that I went to school for elementary education with a very heavy focus on teaching middle school. I student taught in a middle school, my first teaching job in Detroit was for 6th grade, and I coached middle school cheerleading. I just love middle schoolers, so the thought of teaching kindergarten scared me...a lot! So when our principal called me in mid-July and said there was an 8th grade Language Arts position available it was a no-brainer for me, that was more my speed and a lot less scary sounding. Little did I know what I was in for when I took this position. I have more than once found myself saying, "I should have stayed in Kindergarten!"

This year the 7th and 8th grade students at our school went away to camp for a week in September. Camp Sky Y, in Prescott, AZ. It was a leadership/high adventure type camp. I was excited to go and overall it was a lot of fun, except for one first "I should have stayed in Kindergarten!" moment. One of the activities was a high ropes course. The students could choose one of 3 options. They could do a single person ropes course, a two person ropes course (which was about 15 or so feet higher than the single person course), or they could go on a huge giant swing. I thought the swing looked like great fun, even though I am deathly afraid of heights. I would love come my fear to experience that swing!

As I am standing around waiting for my turn over comes Fred (our principal) and asks if I'd gone up to do the ropes course yet. I said that I hadn't, but I was waiting my turn to do the swing. And before I knew it I was harnessed up and climbing, nervously up the pole to the two person ropes course.

I get to the top and got scared. Fred was already up there waiting for me and helped me get across the first challenge. That was when I froze. I was at a pole and hugged that pole for dear life. I couldn't even change my own harness I was so scared. The second leg of the challenge was way harder than the first and I had to do it alone. It was jumping from platform to platform, but the platforms were very small and they weren't completely stationary. I got across one, then two, then three, even four. But then the gaps between got a little bigger and I really struggled. I probably stood there a good 20 minutes afraid to move. I was in tears, my students were trying to help talk me across the last 2 platforms. Finally "E" (a student)who had my ground rope had an idea to get me across using the ground rope. He said to hold on to it and he would pull me across. So that was what I did. Seriously, if it weren't for "E" I'd probably still be up on that silly ropes course.

The last leg of the course was easy and fun. If I hadn't been so shaken from the previous part I may have enjoyed it more. And then getting down was a blast. It was like repelling down an invisible wall. Once my feet hit the ground I instantly fell and kissed the ground and said the words, "I should have stayed in Kindergarten!"

There have been a few other times those words have been uttered from my mouth this year, but they will have to wait for another time.

Nathan Goes to School

Teachers reported back to school the last week of July and students were back the first week of August. We found a home daycare for the kiddos but it was clear after one day that while it was great for Emily it was not a perfect fit for Nathan. He was not acting like himself at all when we picked him up that first day and the next morning he did NOT want to go. It was hard getting him out of the car and in to the house. Thankfully we found out that our school district was opening their preschool up to full-time, tuition based students. We got special permission to enroll Nathan (since we are out of district) and he started school on August 5th. Here he is on the car on the way to school, outside his classroom, and then headed in to all the fun!

Now I know what you may be thinking. I sent my kid to preschool...isn't that against everything I believe in eduction? In short- yes, but he was thrilled with the idea, especially if it meant he didn't have to go to the home daycare anymore. The goal is still to get back to a place in life where I can home school and do my unschooling thing for a while before starting anything formal but for now life is what it is. It has been rough since Nathan is in a 3 year old class and is actually regressing a bit academically to try to fit in with his classmates. We are actually strongly considering early kindergarten for him if our circumstances stay as they currently are come August.

August was full of very long days and being tired and exhausted. I was quite homesick and stressed most of the time. I'm happy to report that while we still have very long days and are tired and exhausted we are a bit happier now and not as stressed. Teaching this year has been hard on many levels, more about that later, but I am surviving and what doesn't kill me will nly make me stronger!