Sunday, August 23, 2015

Moving Kara to APSU-I cried a little and my class this year :)

We moved Kara into Austin Peay State University this past Thursday. She is rooming with a friend from home and there are several of her friends that are also attending there. It is always nice to have a familiar face around.:) She has stayed busy all weekend with orientation activities and having a blast already. Classes start tomorrow so she will continue to have a busy schedule. Part of her scholarship requires her to work at the child care center there on campus a few hours a week so she is hoping to make some connections there and at church for some babysitting opportunities. She has already made new friends and connected with the Baptist Campus Ministry. She will go through Greek recruitment the week of Labor Day. I miss her and I cried when she turned to leave for us to go back home Thursday night. And I cried some last night but I'm happy that she is happy. I just miss seeing her sweet smiling face and her contagious laughter!

Kirk begins his fall semester at University of Memphis Lambuth Campus tomorrow. He has a busy schedule too with classes and work and I pray it goes well for him and Kara too.

Kali is off to a great start and loving all the extracurricular fun things that come with being in junior high like student council, ab club, ball games and friends over quite often. She is thrilled that she is old enough now to be a part of our church youth group and also attend Wednesday night at The Zone for youth sponsored by FBC. We just got back from our first youth outing this afternoon to redneck island (what all the locals call it) which is at our county lake and has all the inflatable slides and tons of things to climb on in the lake. She will definitely sleep well tonight.

I am enjoying my sweet kinders this year. This week our routine seemed to click with them and we all seem to be getting in the groove of things. I always look forward to spending my days with them because let's face it they do say the darndest  things and they can be quite entertaining.

Praying blessings to all!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Back to School

Kara had a wonderful and memorable mission trip to Puerto Rico and is already looking into other mission opportunities in the coming year and years. She was very happy with her decision to go through Adventures in Mission. She is also very excited and a little nervous that we are on the countdown now until college move in day. I am really going to miss her but I am so happy for her and thankful for all of her accomplishments thus far. I know she will love college and her new friends that have yet to be made.
Marty and I enjoyed a couple of days away when we picked her up in Atlanta when she arrived home from Puerto Rico. After making sure the kids got where they needed to be for all their summer trips, it was nice to finally take a mini vacation ourselves.:)

Kirk has stayed very busy with work and did very well with his online Spanish course he took this summer. He is flying down to Orlando next week for a few days to visit with some of his friends he made their through the disney college program. Glad he is not driving as I would be concerned if he would come back or not since he loved the area so much.

Today was the first day of school and Kali started 7th grade. It didn't dawn on me until I went to take her first day picture that it was just her starting back. No one else in the picture.:( wow!

I met most of my kinder families last night at open house and all my sweeties this morning for the first day of school. I am so excited about this year! They are so sweet and as of now I only have 14 students. I have never had that low of a number in my class. I am looking forward to being able to meet their needs better with the low student teacher ratio.

Wishing everyone the best school year ever!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer and my thoughts on getting ready for Kindergarten. Warning: This is a long post!

Summer! Such a sweet word! I love it when people make a comment that they wish they were a teacher because of our summer break. I use that as an opportunity to assure them that it is not 3 months off because we  usually start putting in inservice days soon after school is out (I've already put in 2 1/2  of the 5 that we have to do) and that even though we do not have to report to work our mind is already tossing around ideas for the coming school year. I also tell them that soon there will be a teacher shortage and we welcome all to wish to pursue the career. :) I must admit that for me I have a very difficult time decompressing after the school year. By the time, I'm able to come off a school year it is time to gear back up again. It is hard for me to not be on a schedule so I make myself get up about the usual time and go to bed (a little later) although my kids might argue with that. :) I wish I could handle being out in the sun for extended periods of time just lounging by the pool but I simply cannot. It makes me light headed and some of the medicine I am having to take makes me burn easily. I do enjoy getting out and mowing and doing around outside the house. Now if I were at the beach it might be a different story!!! Yeah, I think I could manage staying out all day at the beach. :)

My mom, Kara, Kali and myself headed out to Disney World on Memorial Day. We spent Tuesday-Friday at the parks of that week and then flew home on Saturday. My aunt, my mom's sister, flew down so we got to spend time with her and her daughter while there. We had a great time-the weather was great, we got to do all we wanted to plus more, spend quality time with family, eat some great food, relax at the pool- and lots of other good stuff.

Kali left for camp at Lakeshore the day after we got back. She had a fabulous week and is signed up to go back for another week in July. We are so fortunate to Lakeshore UMA so close to us and it is such a wonderful facility that has such special meaning to our family. I attended camp there as a teenager and also served as a volunteer counselor there some during one of college summers and made lifelong friends who many I attended Lambuth College with. Kirk and Kara also attended for several summers when they were younger and were both baptized there in the river. I am thankful Kali holds it dear to her heart too.

Kara has been busy babysitting this summer for the sweet family she has kept for the last 7 years. I am taking her to Gainesville, Georgia this Friday to meet up with the group from Adventures in Mission that she will be working with in Puerto Rico for two weeks. She is obviously very excited and a little apprehensive since she has always done mission work with groups from home and she is stepping out of her comfort zone. She is such an example for me to follow!

Kirk is busy with work and taking an online summer class. He is signed up for another full load this fall and is excited because most of all his classes deal with his major now and he enjoys those classes much more than simply the classes that are required to take. He is more focused on his schoolwork than ever before it seems and anxious to finish his degree and hopefully move back to Florida.

Marty just completed his first week of his annual training with the TN National Guard. Thankfully, it was in Nashville and Kara and I had a place to stay last week overnight for her to visit with her FBLA BFF. Just a quick trip but lots of fun! He was able to come home for Father's Day weekend and get caught up on a few odds and ends. He headed back last night and Kara and I will stop off overnight again on our way to Gainesville, GA Thursday night to break up the drive.

My friend Crystle from posted a great article on June 17 about preparing your child for Kindergarten. I met Crystle two summers ago at ITeachK!  Please read it as I am simply adding to her list and not going to retype/post everything she has already said in her post. Please share with those who have children getting ready to attend Kindergarten this fall or a child of any age in fact. I decided to add some things to it that I have noticed with children at our school and wanted to share with you. Here goes:

1. Teach them to tie their shoes!!!!!!!! OR IF THEY CAN'T BUY VELCRO SHOES PLEEEEEAAAASSSSEEE!!! Don't get me wrong-I will tie shoes BUT it becomes a problem when I tie shoes and they magically and unknowingly become untied within moments after I just tied them! I vividly recall with my own children that I put them in Velcro until they learned how to tie their shoes. I can not tell you how many children have LONG shoestrings tagging along and it is the source of many falls for them and OTHERS. TEACH THEM PLEASE OR BUY THE VELCRO! :)
2. Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way-Bathroom Issues....
Ok so you would assume that most of this goes without saying BUT you would be and not so pleasantly surprised at some of the following things I need to say and address. Amazingly, I always see students who have to go immediately to bathroom as soon as they walk in the classroom-why, you ask?-because they don't go at home before school! Can you believe it?! Me either but apparently some are literally gotten out of bed, hopefully dressed appropriately (not always) and put on the bus. Forget using the bathroom, brushing your hair or teeth and certainly not eating breakfast. Now, breakfast is served at school so they can eat there JUST GET THEM THERE EARLY ENOUGH TO EAT IT WITHOUT RUNNING LATE TO CLASS. Back to the bathroom, excuse me but I think it goes without saying that most human beings especially we old folks PLUS anyone who has been asleep for an extended period of time need to go to the bathroom when they wake up. HELLO! So, tell your child to go use bathroom first thing after they get out of bed.
Now as far as using the bathroom. Teach them that ONLY pee or poop goes in the commode/toilet not in the floor, on the wall, not on anyone else and only pee goes in the urinal (for boys). DO NOT PUT ANYTHING ELSE IN THE URINAL OR COMMODE. NO ROCKS, STICKS, TOYS OR ANYTHING THEY SNUCK IN THEIR POCKET! If they see anyone putting those things in the commode, go tell a teacher. After they use the bathroom, PLEASE REMIND THEM TO FLUSH IT! I agree this is all gross. Makes me nauseous just typing and thinking about it but folks as you know a public bathroom can be one of the nastiest things on the planet. And the SMELL-OH MY WORD!!!! After flushing it, WASH YOUR HANDS. Last but not least have your child say I need to go to bathroom or restroom when asking to go. Potty is a word used for babies and toddlers. One of my pet peeves is to hear I have to go potty.  
Now, if you need to go take a break from reading this and throw up I understand. Go take a break!
3. Give your child paper, pencils, crayons, markers, play dough, dry erase boards, blocks,etc. and let them draw, color, build, create, mold and have fun! Coloring books are actually still sold in stores and my own 3 kids grew up on them! How will they know if they like to color or draw or write if you never provide them opportunities to do so.
4. Check your child's work every night and help them complete homework if they have any, check for reminders, notes from teachers, etc. and see what they did at school that day. If you have a question about something, contact their teacher about it either by email, write a note or call them at school the next day. Don't freak out and start making posts all over social media about a question you have. The teacher and/or school will be happy to answer your questions-just give us time.
5. If you are constantly changing the bus that your child will ride home in the afternoon or if they will be picked up or ride the bus or if so and so will pick them up today and so and so the next day, etc. well guess what? the odds are they will get sent home the wrong way at least once that year. whew!!! Try to be consistent with how they go home.
6. READ BOOKS TO THEM. After reading them, ask them questions to see if they were listening and check their understanding of what you read. This is a BIG standard that we work on in Kindergarten in Reading! What is the story about, who are the characters, what happened at the beginning, middle and end, if you could change the story what would you change about it, where does the story take place, etc. I mean you can have a child read anything you put in front of them and know every single sight word there is but if they can't answer simple questions about a story what good is the rest of it?.....
7. In the words of my favorite, most loved, a teacher rockstar, bff,  I wanna be her, the one and only Dr. Jean, every child needs a laptop. Did you hear that a laptop? But guess what you don't have to go out and buy one. You have it already! Put that child in your lap and READ, READ, READ  BOOKS!!! Also, teach them songs and nursery rhymes and tell them fairy tales and TALK TO THEM. Put up your cell phones, your ipods, ipads, TV's,  computers and video games and have a real conversation with your child. Electronics are literally raising some of these children. SO SAD!!!

So, maybe in addition to Crystle's blog and mine you have some ideas to get you started on the right foot for Kindergarten and school this fall. :) If I think of anything else, I'll add to the list later. Please keep Kara in your prayers while she is on her mission trip. Thanks and Bless you all!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What do you say?

Kara graduated this past Sunday May 17 from high school. She found out on the Friday morning before that she was Valedictorian of her class.๐Ÿ˜ƒ She was ecstatic to say the least and so were we. Kara had worked extremely hard these past years to reach this goal. In addition to her regular course load, she took dual credit classes and has already completed 15 hours of college credit. On Friday night, we went to Clarksville, TN so that we could spend the day Saturday getting registered for fall classes at Austin Peay University. We checked out the mall side of town, the river walk area and downtown. We spent the night on base at Ft. Campbell. It is nice the base is there so we have a good place to stay when we visit at very reasonable rates. We had a great time at registration on Saturday and Kara is still pleased with her decision to attend Austin Peay. She wants to pursue an Elementary Education degree with a K-6 certification. I guess it runs in her blood! Graduation was a success although it rained the entire time and that put a damper on making outside pics. We had a little get together at the house afterwards with family and friends.

Kali completed 6th grade and has a busy summer ahead of her with a Disney trip we have planned for next week, church camp and then a trip to visit her BFF Faith later in the summer.

The title of Kara's speech that she gave at graduation was titled "What do you say?" What do you say to the people you have spent the last 13 years with? Today I sent my Kindergarteners off for the summer and into first grade in the fall. What do I say to them and their parents after the last year? I don't have the words. They have been such a blessing to me and I have enjoyed watching them grow and learn. It is pure joy to hear them read to me!!!!! When they realize they can read, it is such a priceless moment! They will always hold such a special place in my heart and their families too.

Thank you Lord for the blessing of children! Prayers that you and yours have a blessed summer!

Monday, May 11, 2015

When things don't go as planned...

Sometimes I wonder if God thinks to himself when we post things on social media "you probably wouldn't want to post that if you knew what I know." Things don't always work out the way we plan-actually things rarely work out the way we have planned. Maybe the end result is the same but how we reach it is much different than how we thought it would be. And so....

Spring break was the last week of March and first week of April. I had it all planned out or so I thought. I had an outpatient surgery scheduled and would be able to rest during the spring break and during the days to follow. Marty, Kara and Kali would be able to help me and take care of me. I would not have to worry about a thing. The surgery went off great and I was home in just 8 hours from the time I had arrived at the hospital the morning of the surgery (Tuesday). That night-I was a little out of it thanks to modern medicine :) -Kara was starting to feel very bad and began with what we thought was a stomach bug. By Thursday night, she was very very sick and we took her to er. She had seen our primary doctor but was not recovering as she should of been. She was admitted to the hospital for dehydration and we expressed our concern to hospital staff of a spot on her leg that looked infected. They were not as concerned about it and did not give it the attention that we thought it needed. She was released on Saturday from hospital. Due to my surgery, Marty had been the one to stay with her at hospital since I did not need to be up and about any more than necessary. I did go and see her each day at the hospital but didn't stay for long at a time. The spot continued to get worse and by Tuesday we were at a surgeon in Jackson who lanced the spot in his office. It was determined to be staph. They cut a spot 3 inches long, 1 inch wide and 3 inches deep out of her leg which she had to change the dressing and pack twice a day for the last 5 weeks. Up until yesterday she still had to pack it but now it is small enough for a bandaid. Praise The Lord she was able to heal from it. She was quite the trooper and did awesome taking care of her wound.

I had thought I would be the one to be taken care of during this time but not so much. Honestly, those
first couple of weeks are a blur to me. My mind was overloaded with worry for Kara that I really don't  know how I felt through my whole recovery. I am thankful that even though selfishly I thought it would be my time to be taken care of that my mind was kept off myself and on my sweet Kara.
Just days after her procedure we took off to Chattanooga for the TN Future Business leaders of America state conference. Kara was the state Vice President for this year and this was her big finale. We had a great time in Chattanooga and it was a great conference. Kirk and Kara really enjoyed being a part of FBLA during their high school years. We will miss it for the next couple of years but hope our school will still have an active chapter when Kali gets to high school.

While we were in Chattanooga, Kirk started his trek home from Florida. He had told us the week after my surgery and the day before Kara's procedure that he would probably be coming home. He had a shortened stay with the Disney program. He really enjoyed his time there and would like to go back when he finishes his degree and work in a management position. Things didn't work out the way he or we had planned but we have to trust that God has a better plan and trust in his ways. Just in the last 2 weeks I have been reminded of how nice it has been to have Kirk home. He got to attend his
uncle's wedding weekend before last, be with us for homecoming at my home church, be here for the celebration of my Uncle Sammy's life at his funeral this weekend, celebrate Mother's Day with me and be here for Kara's graduation activities. Thank you Lord for unexpected blessings in unexpected ways.

We are down to the last 7 days of school. Where in the world did this year go?!!!! I have really enjoyed my sweeties and they have been such a blessing to me. I will miss them but I feel like they are ready for summer break and ready to move on to first grade.

 Blessings to all and I hope that during the times that things don't go as planned you can see/experience the unexpected blessings that only God can provide. :) May we all have the best summer ever!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

February and March

So we moved Kirk into Disney College program the last weekend of January. He was apprehensive with such a big change but was fine once he got settled in. We were very pleased with his apartment and he and his roommates get along well. It is a gated apartment complex that is only for the Disney college students. He worked about 6 weeks at Magic Kingdom at some of the shops on Main Street. He works in merchandising/retail. His assignment is at Blizzard Beach but it was under renovation during February and the first of this month so he moved there last week. He loved magic kingdom but likes the slower pace at Blizzard beach. He says everybody at Magic Kingdom is on a mission to get to their next meet and greet, a ride, a show, etc. At Blizzard beach they come SPECIFICALLY for a day of relaxation while visiting WDW. :) we are going to WDW in May-me, my mom, Kara and Kali- so Kara is especially excited to go since the last time we did the blizzard beach day was when she was little and she couldn't do the BIG water slides. Kali was just 8 months old so she has no recollection whatsoever. I'll just enjoy relaxing by the water that day.:) I am so happy for Kirk and even though I miss seeing him I am at peace knowing he is in a safe place and is busy with work at the most magical place on Earth!

Kara found out yesterday that she has been accepted into Adventures in Mission program for a 2 week mission trip to Puerto Rico this summer.  She had applied for it and after an online application, several phone interviews, and lots of prayer she was notified yesterday that she had been accepted. :) I am so thankful for her sweet spirit and heart for missions. Please keep her in your prayers in the following months as she prepares for high school graduation, her last FBLA state conference as state Vice President, and her missions trip this summer.

Kali seems to have changed and matured a lot in the last few months. She is turning into a little lady. She is as tall as I am and she and Kara can share clothes.:) It's hard to believe she will soon be a teenager and in Jr. High.

My Kindergarten kiddos are doing great! We are gearing up for Easter/Spring activities!:) I have a student teacher this semester,Mrs. Chelsea Brown and we just love her! She observed with me in the fall of 2013 and I knew she would be a phenomenal student teacher and teacher.๐Ÿ˜„ I forgot how wonderful it is to have another adult in the room and another set of hands!!!! So nice!!!!

If you are not familiar with Sandy Welch and her show and tell aprons check her out on TPT. She is in process of restocking so if they are not listed just be patient. I use her aprons EVERYDAY to highlight our focus skills and popcorn words. She has even made me some one of a kind seasonal aprons๐Ÿ˜.  Of course, I can't imagine a day without Dr. Jean, Shari Sloane, Jack Hartmann, Debbie Clement and Kathy Griffin in my classroom with their songs and ideas! I also use lots of Deanna Jump, Kim Adsit. Alessia Albanese and Fran Kramer ideas in my classroom. The best part is that I can call them all friends! Hope to get a chance to visit with some of them this summer!

Happy spring and Happy Easter!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Florida in January

Last weekend the girls and I flew down to Orlando for a long weekend for Zarah-my college BFF Kathy Goldbergs daughter's- bat mitzvah. It was such a memorable weekend and one that we will always treasure in our hearts and minds. My other BFF and Phi Mu sister Robin Summers flew in from KY and met us there for the weekend. I have never attended a bat mitzvah or any Jewish service. I can honestly say that my girls and I felt at home in their temple and very welcomed by everyone there. It was a blessing to see Zarah read the Torah in Hebrew and tell of her journey as a bat mitzvah. We were touched when she shared how much her temple family, her own family and her friends meant to her. When Kathy and Stuart talked about the blessing that their youngest daughter had been to them, we were once again moved to tears. Kathy made sure that everything was just perfect for the whole weekend with a beautiful winter wonderland theme complete with snow, s'mores, and even a hot chocolate bar at the big party Saturday night.  I got to meet Kathy's family and the Goldbergs. It was that feeling that you had known them all along. I love the closeness that they all share and their strong faith that binds them together.  I am sure some people would prefer to spend time debating our differences as Jews and Christians but I instead choose to see how we are all the same. Just as my faith, family and friends are the most important things in my life-so it is the same for Kathy and her family. Kathy is a wonderful mother and she and Stuart have and are raising 3 very well rounded, responsible and faith filled children. Their children are people that I enjoy being around and talking to and they are kids that you would want your kids to be friends with because they are just a lot of fun to be around and talk to. Our friendship was orchestrated by God no doubt. Our bond was in Phi Mu at Lambuth College. We were sisters and friends because we were in the same sorority. Basically that was all we had in common. She was the blonde from Florida-me the small town west Tennessee girl who only traveled 35 miles away from home to college; she was the Kappa Sig lil sis-I was the Sig Ep lil sis wanna be; she carried herself with confidence-I was insecure; she had a boyfriend-I didn't; the friends that we chose to do things with were not the same. So God chose to put these two totally different (or so we thought) girls together many years later in their lives.
Facebook reunited us many years ago and since then we have developed an unbreakable bond that has helped us through the ups and downs of life as we get older and deal with raising children,
marriage, celebrations, milestones, disappointments, etc. I love Kathy and I have a respect and love for the Jewish people that I never understood until last weekend. I stand firm in my faith as Kathy does her and I do believe we will share eternity together in heaven when our life on this Earth is over.

We had Kirk a little going away party before we head out next Saturday to move him into Disney. He was very moved (and so was I)by those who stopped by to wish him well and we are so thankful for friends and family who have played a special role in shaping him into the young man he is and continues to become. Even though, Kirk has been in college for two years and has held part time jobs since he was 12:),this is his first move miles away from home and he will essentially be almost on his own to a certain extent. My prayer is that he will absolutely love the Disney College Program and make the most of his time there. It is also my prayer that he will make wise choices and I pray that he will get involved in a church there. We will head out early Saturday morning and make the drive that day. We will drive down in Kirk's car together. Sunday will be our rest day from traveling and enjoying the Super Bowl at our hotel. I told Kirk we could hang out and watch the super bowl together and he said he had already made plans with some of the other students in the program to meet up that Sunday night to go to Downtown Disney and watch the game. Oh well, glad he's already made some connections with the other students through social media. We will get him registered and moved in Monday and then Marty and I will fly home LATE that Monday night.

Kara continues to stay busy with school, babysitting and FBLA. Her AB activities as president are winding down now that basketball homecoming is over. Of course, the spring will bring basketball banquet, FBLA state conference, prom, graduation and other final events in her high school years. She has also been busy with scholarship applications for college. She and one of her high school classmates are both attending Austin Peay in Clarksville, TN in the fall and have decided to room together.

Kali continues to keep us as young as possible. And as my dear friend Kathy best said in her reflections speech at Zarah's bat mitzvah, Kali like Zarah  is the daughter to two middle aged parents who can neither see or hear very well. :)

Last but not least I must let you know that my Kindergarten sweeties are doing well. We have completed 103 days of Kindergarten. Exciting yet a little bitter sweet when I think that we only have 77 days left together.  They are a sweet group of students and quite entertaining. I love them and I am going to cherish the remainder of the time we have together this year.

I would appreciate your prayers for our family as Kirk begins this new chapter in his life.
Blessings to All!
  Leigh Ann