Monday, December 29, 2008

The Man Tree

I bought a new Christmas tree after Christmas last year, so Mike took our old one in to the office. Once set up, him and my dad quickly solved the problem of not having any ornaments by putting on whatever they could find - thus the Man Tree was born. Here are just a few ornaments they came up with:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

LIFE library now available on Google Images

Just a quick note to let you know that LIFE has partnered with Google to digitize and share their entire library with the world. I've spent the last hour looking through them and WOW! There's some I recognized immediately because the LIFE images are so iconic, and amazing new ones that have never been published. LIFE has been responsible for some of the most recognizable images of our time, so it's worth taking a look-see!
Merry Christmas to me!!

Meet my Christmas present:

A Nikon D60 digital SLR camera. Ohhhhhhhhh yeah...I've been good this year!

Some pictures I've taken since getting my new baby. As you can see, I need a lot of practice :)

Many, many more pictures to come!

Friday, December 26, 2008

December: One for the Books

This month is not even over, but I can tell you that is has been an absolute roller coaster of emotions. I've held off writing about whats going on in my head for awhile because I was unable to wrap my mind around it, but I will make my best attempt.

Teaching is hard - that's all there is to it. I have never been so ready for a break in my life! I honestly don't know how I made it through that last week; I was beyond even running on caffiene. In my first half-year of teaching, I have learned that teaching is a profession of BUTS...teaching is incredibly fun and rewarding, BUT it's exhausting and thankless in a way that is hard to explain to someone not involved in education. My students make me laugh and love every day, BUT they also make me want to scream sometimes. Who in the world thought that I was qualified to profoundly influence 20 young lives, anyway?!? I have the unique opportunity to work with and observe some parents who show me how I want to raise my kids someday, BUT I also see some parents who have absolutely no business having kids. I come home each day too tired to do anything but collapse in bed (and there have been days where I've gone straight from the car to bed!), BUT I am still glad I am a teacher. I cannot imagine myself being satisfied in any other career other than full-time motherhood. I guess I've always been one of those people who is never satisfied unless I have given everything I have, and I can say that I have put everything I have into my first semester. I don't think I've done any permanent damage to any of my kids, so I guess you can say that my first semester was a success!

In other news, Sophie has been sick for several weeks. We spent the night of Mike's birthday, December 8th, in the doggie ER, and we're still not quite sure what's wrong with her. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that my dog, whom in many ways I consider to be my child, has been a very sick doggie. She is finally starting to act like she feels better, but the hardest part of all this has been coming to terms with the fact that someday I will lose her. I think that every time a person gets a young dog, they spend the first few years of the pet's life in a sort of denial, thinking that the animal will live forever. You know in your head that, at best, you've only got 14 or 15 years, but your heard holds out hope that YOUR baby will be the exception, even though that makes absolutely no sense. But there comes a time when you have to buck up and accept the mortality of a being that has completely stolen your heart. I've been through this once before, and this time was no less heart-wrenching. In many ways, this coincides with what I've been feeling about Nils lately - he's been here for almost 4 months now, and I can no longer pretend that he's going to be with us forever - he's going to have to go home this summer, and it will probably be one of the hardest things I have ever done to let him go. And yet I knew I would go through this when I signed up to get a foreign exchange student, and I wouldn't go back on it if I had the chance.

This may just be the longest post I have ever written. I wonder if there's a way to check on that. I think that having time to actually collect my thoughts has done me a world of good, but all of them have been pouring out of me at warp speed over the past couple of days! I realize that this post makes me seem like a whiny whimp who spends much of her time in denial, but I'll keep it real here and post it anyway.
Sea World!

To celebrate our temporary freedom from school, (for Nils and I at least!), we went to Sea World. We were able to score some free tickets, thanks to a very generous friend-of-a-friend, which makes it all the more fun! First, some photos that weren't loading right on the slide show:

Nils wanted to get his picture taken next to the Christmas tree while wearing shorts. Being from Northern Germany, this is very strange for him, but it wouldn't have even occurred to me, a Floridian, to be a thing worth taking a picture of!

Waiting for the Whale/Dolphin show to start. It was excellent, even better than Shamu's Believe!
And now for the pictures that were cooperating:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Someone is on the Naughty List...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

What We've Been Up To

I have a bunch of random pictures in my camera that have been itching to be posted, so here's what we've been up to:

Nils made apfel kuchen to share over Thanksgiving. Yummy!

Here he is, pondering life on the Rainbow River on Thanksgiving Day.

We also went to visit Mike's family over Thanksgiving weekend. We decided to go ice skating, or rather, Nils ACTUALLY ice skated and I made a feeble attempt at it.

He was really good! I shouldn't be surprised; he seems to be a natural at anything that involved physical activity.

Speaking of physical activity, here's some video of his most recent soccer game. It's so neat to watch him play!

Mike's been spending some quality time with the animals....

And I went on my very first field trip this week. We went to beautiful Mount Dora to ride on a train and meet Santa. It was fun, but BOY was I tired!!

I have a few faceless pictures I can show you. The kids had a BLAST, especially when Santa landed his sleigh in an orange grove and boarded the train! Waving to his fans :)

Those are OPEN windows they're peering out about sky-rocketing blood pressure!! "IT'S SANTA!!!!"

I have never seen a group of kids so excited!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If the boat's a'knockin...

I haven't really talked much about teaching on this blog for several reasons, mainly because my job consumes most of my real life, so by the time I sit down to blog (which isn't very often, I know!) I don't have many words left. Plus it's hard to sum up what I feel in writing. Sometimes I wish I could leave all the paperwork, bureaucracy, and PARENTS behind and just do my job, but I am completely blessed to be in the position that I'm in.

I somehow wound up on the best team in the best school ever, pretty much by luck. I have a great group of kids, who are too smart for their own good. I'll give you an example, but I have to give you some background information first:

Today I had my BIG observation, which was both nerve-wracking and awkward. Nerve wracking because my job depends on this thing, awkward because the person who observed my is not only the assistant principal of the school, but also just happened to be my fourth grade teacher.

Anyhoo, she's in my room, sitting at my desk, and my lesson is going great. We're talking about one of our vocabulary words (which happened to be "awkward"), and one of my kids says that it would be awkward to be on a boat in rough seas (because the boat would be rocking). I was pretty elated because that's a really smart thing for a first grader to say.

So this kid goes to illustrate the word awkward, and when I walk over to his desk to check his work, he's drawn an awesome picture of a boat. I said, "Wow, I see you wrote a caption, too....'the boat is rocking.'" And the kid next to him (within earshot of my observer) interjects and says.......................

"So don't come a'knockin!!"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

One More Reason Why I Love Teaching...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Loot...

We had a trade show for our family business recently in Orlando, and I came away with some great loot! In case you didn't know, my family owns a horticultural supply business. In other words, we deal in dirt and poop. Oh yeah.

Exhibit A: two Lantanas, which have the added bonus of being native to Florida. I have always felt that the yellow variety is more hardy than the other colors (it's the original that the other colors were hybridized out of). I stuck them in the ground, and after they're established, I won't have to worry about them unless we have a REALLY hard freeze!

Now for the good stuff: I was able to get two bee-yoo-tee-ful orchids for 6 bucks each! I won't risk sounding stupid by trying to name them, since I know Dee will do the honors! I'll just let you enjoy the pictures :)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Let's Play A Game....

Sometimes I like to play a little game. It's called Make Nils Smile. It's pretty simple, really. Take these pictures, for example, taken on Homecoming Day.

He wasn't too thrilled when I made him stand by himself to take his picture. Maybe posing with the group will get a smile out of him?

That's a smile, but not a real one. How about with his physics buddies?

Okay, time for the big guns. Let's try posing him with a hot girl:

Nope, just a pseudo-smile of the part-the-teeth variety. If one hot girl won't do it, let's try TWO:

Okay, now he's just uncomfortable!!

Hey, I found it! If nothing else, his two dorky host parents will do the trick!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fact: Never pile clean laundry in Sophie's Chair!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First Grade is Frying My Brain

The other day I forgot how old I was for almost a full minute. I am not making this up. I had to do the math in my head. And if you know me, you know why it took me almost a full minute to figure it out. It's been like this since I started teaching - unless I write something down, it flies right out of my head. Why do you think I wear my name badge every day? Because it's only a short glance down to check my name.

But really, first grade is the hardest job I've ever loved. They make me laugh and smile every day. And in closing, I'd like to share something that didn't happen to me, but it's so funny I just have to share. One of my fellow teachers got so annoyed by her kids one day that she threatened that they were going to make her "horns" stick out. Apparently, she actually has a pair of novelty horns she brings out sometimes. Anyhoo, the next day one of her boys was being especially difficult, so finally she asked him why he was behaving so badly. And he said.............

"I'm triying to make your nipples stick out!"

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Video Time: Howie Gets a Skritch

Howie recently started doing this super-cute rabbit-kicking thing whenever I hit "the spot" behind his ear. I find it funny because he's never done this in all his six years. Enjoy!

*for some reason Blogger is not letting me embed the video, but just follow the link to see the video. I'll try again later!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Real Florida

We took advantage of the Labor Day holiday to experience the "Real Florida" with Nils. To me, this is the real Florida: no timeshares, no Mickey Mouse ears, no fat guys in Speedos....

So we grabbed out fishing poles and the dog to find the perfect fishing spot.

Sophie did not think too much of traipsing through the grass and eventually decided to guard the car instead.

She did indulge me in posing for a few pictures:

My favorite

This butterfly also caught my eye, although he wasn't quite as patient as Sophie:


...THERE it is!

I've learned that Nils takes better candids than posed pictures.

Like this one - I think it's one of my new favorites!

Or this one - click on it so you can get a load of the look on his face.

Like I said, no Mickey Mouse ears.... overpriced condos....
....and absolutely NO speedos!!