A Refreshing Trip to CO

When the wedding invitation arrived in my beau’s mailbox, I’ll admit I was a little nervous about attending. “Let’s wait and see what the schedule looks like,” I remember saying. I wasn’t looking for excuses really, but something about going to a wedding that involved the family of my beau’s ex was a little nerve-wrecking. Good news was that his ex wasn’t going to be there. Although divorce shouldn’t sever the ties of previous family relationships, my situation, unfortunately, seems to have gone differently. I was genuinely happy that my beau still has relationships with his ex’s family. Once it looked like the trip was going to be a “go”, we planned some activities around the upcoming celebration of love.

Day 1: After many trips to Keystone, I had driven by the shadowed mass on the I-70 of what is Pike’s Peak but don’t recall having actually gone there so the drive toward this particular mountain was incredible. I’ve always wanted to run the Pike’s Peak Ascent but my schedule has never permitted it due to timing of the school year. Some day, perhaps! We arrived after about a 7 hour trip to Colorado Springs and after checking into the motel (great price through booking.com!), we decided to check out Garden of the Gods. This particular location was also listed on my Bucket List board on Pinterest! Inspiring, to say the least! I can’t help but feel closer to God in the mountains, particularly when you see such wondrous sights such as these!

IMG_6475 IMG_6490.JPG

20170801_152258

Day 2: Our morning began early after having purchased tickets weeks ago to ride the Cog Railway up Pikes Peak. We had to be at the depot by 7:30 AM. Of course, I hadn’t planned on having strep throat and still being on antibiotics for this trip either, so although I had wanted to HIKE Pikes Peak, that wasn’t going to happen on this trip.  I wanted to get to the top so the railway was the way to go. Again, the views were spectacular! I was elated that I didn’t get altitude sickness on the way up (I can be prone to that based on my history) and we were both trying to stay hydrated to ward off any potential problems, so much so that Mike couldn’t wait to get to the top and was first in line for the bathroom! The conductor did an excellent job with her commentary on what we were seeing and puns and made the 1+ hour journey up (and back) very enjoyable.

IMG_6493 IMG_6499.JPG IMG_6505.JPG IMG_6497.JPG

IMG_6513 IMG_6523

Day 2 continued: The wedding was also this day so after heading back down the mountain and visiting the gift shop (of course!) we rested before getting ready for the wedding. It was a lovely ceremony and you could just feel the love and contentment between the bride and groom. I felt very accepted and there was no discomfort at all.

Day 3: This was the BIG day! We had planned to hike a 14er (a 14er is a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet. See What are 14ers?)and carefully chose Mt. Bierstadt as my beginner mountain. Mike had hiked a couple of 14ers many years ago so this wasn’t new to him but he hadn’t hiked this one yet. We got up at 4:30 AM to drive 2 1/2 hours to the trail head (from Colorado Springs to Georgetown) to ensure that we were down below the tree line prior to any potential storms coming in during the afternoon. I had my Garmin on to see what the mileage would be like but it died at 6.4 miles after several hours on the trail despite having been fully charged prior to departing. The book that we referenced said the trail was a 6 miles round trip hike that should take about 6 hours so I’m curious as to what our actual mileage was since we were beyond that and weren’t even down yet!

IMG_6527 IMG_6529

IMG_6530.JPG IMG_6538

The trail started through willows and then got to boulders. Due to my running, I would consider myself to be quite fit yet my legs were screaming at me to stop because they were so tired of climbing! When we got to the part where we could actually see the summit, it was easier to keep going. A second wind? Perhaps. The end was near! Well, the TOP was! We still had to hike down.

IMG_6547

The view from the top

IMG_6550

Another view from the top. The clouds were starting to gather and you could see lightening off in the distance therefore we didn’t stay on the top as long as we would have liked.

20170803_113601

Tired was an understatement but WOW! what an accomplishment! We hiked a 14er!

20170803_115217.jpg

This was the “official” marker of having made it to the top – a cardboard sign! Yep, had to take a picture.

Going down was tough and Mike twisted his ankle more than once. The parking lot seemed a long, long, long way away and we got rained on a couple of times as well as lightly snowed upon. We did pack adequately though, and had plenty of fuel and water to make the trip, for that I was grateful. After spending about 7 hours hiking and getting up predawn, we crashed that night!

Day 4: Since we were in Georgetown , just down the road from where I spent many days in Keystone, I wanted to show Mike the place I love so much so the next day we headed in that direction. After showing him where my parents’ town home used to be, we walked around Lakeside Village and then walked to River Run, sharing stories of my experiences as we went. After shopping at the Silverthorne Outlets following our walk (I took advantage of the savings and did some Christmas shopping!), we headed back to Colorado Springs.

IMG_6553

20170804_120923.jpg20170804_120842.jpg

IMG_6554

Day 5: That night we stayed at the Air Force Academy (cheap lodging!) and toured the chapels in the morning. They were absolutely incredible! The larger chapel was Protestant with a humongous organ in the balcony. Below that was a Catholic chapel and Buddhist and Jewish chapels. What an amazing place!

IMG_6564.JPG IMG_6574.JPG

IMG_6569

IMG_6580 IMG_6582.JPG

IMG_6585.JPG IMG_6588.JPG

I only had a week left before I headed back to the classroom for meetings and I can’t think of a better way to wrap up my summer. I accomplished things I hadn’t done before, admiring God’s incredible works and spent precious quality time with the one I love. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I was very glad that I went!

Advertisements

It’s been quite a year . . .

I had such plans for my blog this year. I had great thoughts of what I was going to write about, how life was going to go, and then things started to spiral in all sorts of directions. Hmmm. . . I guess that’s how life works, isn’t it?

plans

A run-down:

January: After nearly 14 years of living in the same home, it was time to move. There were too many not-so-good memories in that house and I wanted to downsize. I met with a realtor, determined a time-line in which to get her recommended improvements done, and started the work.

February:  The goal was to have the house on the market by the end of February. I had to repaint the entire ceiling (kitchen/dining/living room/hall/entry way) due to changing out the light fixture in the kitchen.  It took 6 GALLONS of paint and a lot of time & energy. I didn’t meet the deadline. I wasn’t even going to even start looking at other homes yet as I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case my own home didn’t sell in a timely manner. My teenage son didn’t help matters any when the hallway had to be patched, as well as his bedroom wall, and the bedroom door replaced. Ugh.

March: House finally hit the market after spring break and a lot of sweat equity!

April: Let me tell you that trying to have a house ready for viewing with 3 kids, 2 dogs, 3 guinea pigs and working full time was just crazy.  However, on our 3rd last minute showing, the house sold —  in only 4 days!! Uh-oh, now I have to find somewhere else to live AND pack! I had already started purging things left and right and even managed a yard sale in an attempt to earn some $ instead of just giving it all away. That was a nice surprise as I earned about $300 for one day! Then there was CraigsList and Facebook Marketplace to help get rid of some of the other stuff. . .

May: I ran the Spring Prairie Fire Half Marathon and, amazingly, somehow managed a PR in spite of all of the craziness! I finished in 186th place, 4th in my age group out of 67 women with a time of 1:53:49. Soon after, my nephew graduated from high school. We found somewhere else to live but the home inspection came back with horrible issues so we backed out of that deal and luckily didn’t lose my earnest money. In the meantime, my teenage son got angry in the bathroom and punched a hole in the bathtub. Another costly repair. Closing on my existing home was scheduled for May 15 and I didn’t have anywhere to live!  The rush was on to find another home! This entire time I’m praying for God’s guidance and his direction on all of the plans. After all, He’s got this under control, right?! My stress levels were off the charts . . .

fcfcf653-9b32-409b-bf8b-bbd62e3cdc38

trust in god

May continued . . . I found another home but they couldn’t close in time with mine so we moved all of our house into a storage unit and moved in with my parents. A week after closing, school finished up for the year and we headed to Sanibel Island, FL for a week with my parents. Perfect timing for a break, that’s for sure! I ran miles on the beach, biked across the island, relaxed poolside, and enjoyed time with my parents and children. I also got to see my aunt and uncle that I hadn’t seen in ten years! The very next day that we returned from FL, my oldest son moved to Lawrence, KS. Well, he IS 20, but nothing can prepare you for your children leaving home.  And it’s not like he was just around the corner — it’s a little over 2 hours away!!

a11772cd-bad1-454e-96e1-0d652c4be9a9

Bikes and beaches. Ahhhh . . .

 

6ac0b487-db89-4418-ad61-b534028e2c2b

I loved running on the beach!

f538ab52-4608-4568-86e4-7dd49dc927a2

My beautiful children at various locations on Sanibel. But then again, I’m biased!

June: My mortgage company was giving me issues and dropped the ball on the purchase of my new home, delaying the closing date to mid-June. Praise God, though, as the sellers were willing to let me move in on our original closing date! If that hadn’t have happened, I would have had NO help to move all of our belongings AGAIN, this time from the storage unit to the new house. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in my mortgage company.  What makes it even worse is it’s the same company that carried my previous loan! Crazy. In the meantime, my younger brother and his family were planning a move out of state. They had put their house on the market and my sister-in-law had already moved to FL. We settled nicely into our new home and it didn’t take me hardly any time at all to unpack. I still have work to do with it (the previous owners REALLY liked the color gray and couldn’t paint worth a darn) but it was mine with fresh memories ready to be made in it. Refreshing, I tell you! I also managed a quick weekend trip to my parents’ lake house. A change of scenery can do one good, that’s for sure, especially with someone you love!

20170616_092515.jpg

Here we go again! Between moving from 1 house to the storage unit, Taylor moving out, then moving all of this out again into a new home, I was sick of moving!

20170611_133741

In the outdoor gardens at Crystal Bridges. We couldn’t resist having our picture taken by the LOVE art!

July: Even though I was feeling less stress than I had all year, my ocular migraines returned. I have been suffering with these migraines for more than 6 years and they’re actually quite strange.  They come on suddenly, rolling in behind my right eye, feeling like a knife is piercing me. I had already had an MRI in the past and tried medication, to no avail. After more than a week of excruciating and debilitating pain, I opted for daith piercings.  My niece also suffers from migraines and she said they really helped her. Once I got through the pain of the actual piercing and the healing of the cartilage, I am pleased to say that they have most definitely helped. I would highly recommend them! By July 7th, my brother and his family left for their new home in FL. In the meantime, I’m supposed to be training for 2 more half marathons and a 10-miler so my training has been suffering.

Still July:  I spent two days taking a class working for graduate credit in order to renew my teaching license by January. Next up? Homework! Then I went to my parents’ lake house and enjoyed time with my younger two children as well as my boyfriend and his children. The water was lovely and floating around in the hot sun was refreshing!

88f312c6-510f-4720-bdbf-63f650781587

Still July: Fast forward a week and I awoke with a sore throat. No big deal, right? Except for it got progressively worse. And worse. And worse. The Dr. visit said mono or strep, yet all of the strep tests came back negative! The white sores in my mouth told me otherwise, however, so after waiting too long on test results, I finally got a prescription for an antibiotic. Let the healing begin! Once again my training was derailed and I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. Argh!

So, what do you do during all of these types of fiascos? Dare I say that I’m actually glad that it’s now August and I’ll soon be back at work? Well, maybe I’m not THAT desperate. Cling tightly to His hand. I do believe in what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! God always has a plan. . .

A Long Day and Failure

It had been a long 12 hour day of teaching restless students with an early release day due to parent/teacher conferences on top of emotional conversations with parents. When I finally walked through my door, my fur babies greeted me enthusiastically, yet my first gaze fell upon the dirty dishes all over the counters and the ½ full gallon of milk – now warm – left out. *sigh* Really? And what was that smell?

My daughter was at work. My oldest son was MIA. Apparently telling your mother where you are when you’re 19 is optional. I only knew that he didn’t work that day. My youngest son was laying on his bed with bloodshot eyes playing Xbox.

I exhaled and tried to convince myself that it’s okay. But it sure didn’t feel that way. I felt like a failure again.

I probably should have gone for a run or done some yoga. Mistake #1. Instead I looked up grades on my phone and about had a heart attack when I saw that not only did my daughter have 4 D’s, she had 2 of them that were less than 1% from F’s. (We’re working through some issues at the moment and she’s working hard at getting them better.) Mistake #2. Refer back to Mistake #1. So I started working on upcoming paperwork for my attorney because due to budget cuts within the school district it’s affected my health insurance and, therefore, my paycheck. My ex is ignoring my emails. Panic mode set in filling in the numbers and realized that there wasn’t anything on vision listed on the plan. Now I had to hold off and look for more information. Mistake #3. And on and on it went. I went to bed in an attempt to relax but couldn’t stop the tears. Refer back to Mistake #1.

LOL!!!:

Needless to say, it was a rough night. My first thought when I awoke was “Oh, no, here we go again”. A song popped into my head, “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.

Yes, God is constantly giving me reminders that He is with me and that I don’t have to do this thing called LIFE alone. On my drive to work this morning, another long day of conferences, I not only heard “Eye of the Storm” again, but “Fix My Eyes” by King and Country and “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. One thing I miss about being married is physical touch. After a long day of work it’s nice to be listened to, someone to brew a cup of tea for me, and hold me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that affection. I think last night would have gone much smoother if God could have physically held me. I don’t need a man, though, just God. Even as I’m typing this post WAY-FM is playing “In My Arms” by Plumb. Just what I needed. Thank you, WAY-FM and thank you, God.

God is big enough to handle our disappointments, even when we feel like it is Him who disappointed us.:

God is good.:

Only God can fill an empty heart. Psalm 4:

My 2016-17 Classroom: AKA Home Away From Home

0dc4a12d-f8d4-44a8-8945-8613a86be345

Dogs. Ladybugs. Camping. Sports. Owls. Space. Sports heroes. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So many teachers do an entire theme in their classroom, some to the point of being ridiculous. Me? I like to keep things streamlined and simple, primarily because I don’t want it too busy for the students. After all, the focus of my classroom should be the learning that is taking place, not the cutesie pictures on the wall!  I also add posters and anchor charts as we learn different concepts, so some walls look a little bare at the beginning of the year.

This year was no different, although I did find some new borders and tags at Target that I really liked, so I thought I would combine that with the black fabric that I’ve been using for years. (It’s so much easier to put up and doesn’t waste paper every year!) Even better, I got it when it was Buy One, Get One 50% off! I did, however, neglect to buy enough so one weekend I went to 3 different Targets looking for more. Luckily, the last one I went to had what I needed, but, alas, it was no longer on sale. 😦

20160815_121258.jpg

Isn’t this a cool border? Came with gold to go with it, too!

d083866d40c9b1d4315dacd55ecae882   20160826_104926.jpg

Pinterest door on the left that I pinned — My door on the right. Need to add another name for the new student I’ll be getting on Monday! I used black construction paper and metallic markers that I already had to make these. I loved the way that it turned out and was very different from years past when I put a pencil on the door with the child’s name!

20160826_112642.jpg

The view from the back corner of my classroom. I use my Smartboard all. of. the.time.

20160826_112617.jpg

I’m using a pocket folder that I earned from turning in Highlights  interest forms (FREE!) this year to avoid more file folders on my counter. 

20160826_112625.jpg

A blurry picture of a portion of my library. The shelves on the left house more fiction and nonfiction books, all categorized by either reading level or topic. I redid the labels to match the colors of the border shown above. My calendar and Today is: poster is also new and matches the border.

20160826_112608.jpg

Calendar and job chart info (jobs were added yesterday for the new week). I do Class Dojo for a reward system in my room and the prizes will be added to this board.  My classroom houses the Xerox Color Qube printer that is shared for our 2nd/3rd grade hallway. I’m lucky to have it since I’m the Assessment Coordinator and have to print reports in color for testing. Yay me! Multiplication anchor chart was from that day’s math lesson and will be moved to my “Math” wall for our next lesson.

20160826_112717.jpg

This is my desk area. My desk is not normally this messy but I decided to take these pictures in the middle of my plan time (hmm, a little distracted, perhaps?!), hence all of the papers on my desk (I spread out , A LOT!).  I love the bookshelf with my teacher manuals!  My homey touch this year – an old lamp and clock since I can’t see the other one very clearly!

So, the only wall you don’t see is the one with all of my glorious windows overlooking the courtyard.  I showed a picture of them HERE if you want to see them again. I love my classroom as I spend A LOT of time in here.  I really like the color choices I used this year and didn’t spend a lot of money to update a few things here and there. It truly is my home away from home.

Finish All Books on W.A.W. List – check!

It’s only been a week since I went back to school with meetings galore and I’m already missing the feel of a book in my hands and my head in another world of stories.  I have a tendency to get lost in the author’s characters and their lives and this summer was no different!  Our school librarian did another book club of the William Allen White Children’s Book Award 3rd-5th Grade Master List for 2016-17 and this summer I attended all but one of the meetings.  I did, however, read ALL of the books!

20160620_115519.jpg

I didn’t start in any particular order although I didn’t want to overwhelm myself by choosing several novels to read in a 2 week time-frame before our club met. That would be mean of me to hog all of the books!  I’ll give you a run-down of each title based on the list.

 

  1.  El Deafo by Cece Bell – This was an interesting book format like a comic book.  It told the story of a girl who had a hearing disability as she went to school and made new friends. Visually pleasing and a well-told story.
  2. Life on Mars by Jennifer Brown – Although this story was a little hard to get into it, once you did, it was a great read. I learned things through the characters in this story that I didn’t know about space.  I would think this would be easier for a 5th grader to read than some of my 3rd graders.
  3. The Map Trap by Andrew Clements – Ahh, who doesn’t like a book by Andrew Clements? Frindle is one of my favorites and this one ranks up there with it. I would love to be able to read this during Social Studies when I’m teaching about maps!
  4. Absolutely Truly: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick – This might be my favorite on the list.  Great characters, great story, and who doesn’t love a mystery? I would say that this one is also targeted to a higher level reader.
  5. Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord – I really got into the characters of this one – friends and multi-generational with photography, lakes, loons, and canoes. Refreshing summer read.
  6. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin – Dare I say that this was my least favorite?  Not because it wasn’t well-written because it was.  I think it hit a little closer to home based on a student experience of my own that I had had. The title was catchy and I loved the way the character focused on homonyms.
  7. Hello, I’m Johnny Cash by G. Neri – Written like song lyrics, this book was good. I had previous knowledge of Johnny Cash as my son loves his song “Boy Named Sue” and I’d seen movies about this infamous “Man in Black“.  In this story I learned some different facts that I didn’t know before!
  8. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell – A very inspiring book of a gal who followed her dreams.
  9. Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with Great Whites of California Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy – I not only read this book during Shark Week but I was also going to San Francisco this summer!  Alas, I didn’t see the Islands or any sharks on my visit but I sure learned a lot by readings this book!
  10. Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh – Usually when you hear about desegregation you think of Rosa Parks. I enjoyed learning about a different family and their struggle from a different view point.

20160821_210326.jpg

So, not only can I recommend these books to my own students, but I also completed a “review” for the library!  I mean, how I can expect my students to read them if I don’t?

P.S.  I not only read these 10 books this summer but 12 other novels. Now do you see why I’m missing getting lost in my fantasy world?  Time to get back to real life!

And Just Like That, Another School Year Is Over

I honestly can’t believe that another school year has come and gone.  My mother once told me not to wish time away as before I’ll know it, it will have just zoomed by.  Well, maybe not exactly in those words but you get the point.  Granted, due to budget issues the school ended a couple of days early for the students, which might have made it seem a little shorter but it didn’t shorten my days by much! I still have at least 1 1/2 days next week. Now dreams of summer are a reality.

So this morning I awoke to put my 8th grader on the bus for the last time before he became a high schooler and my 10th grader finished up her finals.  They have grown SO much this year!

IMG_5389    IMG_5812

IMG_5397    IMG_5815

Pics on the left are from August 2015, pics on the right from May 2016.

IMG_5830.JPG

My 2 handsome boys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can I brag a moment about my son’s promotional clothing?  He had a hard time deciding what to wear but finally decided on something simple and classic.  I paid $12.99 for the shirt from TJMaxx, $5.99 (not including the 10% discount) for the pants from Goodwill, and $3.48 for the black dress shoes from the DAV. He already had the belt (required dress uniform from school) and borrowed the black tie from big bro.  We had picked out another one but didn’t realize it was navy so the navy/black combo didn’t look good.  Not to worry, the tie was only $0.95 from the DAV. He looked just as handsome and polished as the fellow student whose parents spent over $500 for their son’s attire. My son was very happy with his classy wear, and so was I – and my wallet!

IMG_5809

Being goofy with the dogs photobombing in the background before going to school

IMG_5820.JPG

My beautiful daughter and I before she went off to finish her finals.

a blessing   god-has-plans-jeremiah-29-11

The above Bible verses say it nicely – a blessing from Numbers and one of my favorites, Jeremiah 29:11. Many blessings to you and yours today on this special day/season of promotions/graduations and always!

 

 

We’re Off to See the Wizard . . .ROAD TRIP!

Screenshot_2016-02-15-17-19-11

Yep, one of my Bucket List items – check!  A long weekend due to President’s Day and I couldn’t resist a road trip to Wamego, KS with my 3 kiddos. I mean, really, would I rather do chores or go somewhere fun? Exactly. We left the house before 9 am as it was supposed to take us about 2 1/2 hours to arrive.  We did, of course, stop by QuikTrip for the necessary refreshments prior to hitting the highway!

IMG_5737.JPG

Hwy 77 has plenty of farms and this kind of scenery.

When we arrived the teenagers were more than ready for lunch.  Two of them wanted Subway but my oldest said that was like driving 3 hours to go to Walmart. Good point.  So we looked at Friendship House (not the kids’ idea of a good place to eat: “It looks like someone’s house!”) or Kreem Kup, which ultimately won. Yummy food, that’s for sure!  With full bellies, the museum was next.

IMG_5767

The front of the museum. Very easy to find with front row parking.

When you first enter the museum you go right into what looks like a farmyard shop at Auntie Em’s.  Very friendly staff who not only helped me get as good a deal as I could get on the admission (yay for a college ID!), but she even volunteered to take pictures of us in the museum should we want!

The museum was full of artifacts, characters and a few videos about the making of the movie and the history — in other words, a plethora of information about the Wizard of Oz. We read oodles of signs and even watched part of the movie while we were there.  Here are a few pics of our fun trip.

IMG_5743   IMG_5742.JPG

IMG_5747   IMG_5753

 

IMG_5756

IMG_5766

Perfect photo opp!