Before we head back to Louisville tomorrow (way too soon, if you ask me), I just wanted to give a quick update of our break. We (Kali, Dan, Brent, and I) rolled up our driveway at about 3:30 am on Wednesday morning, but it was so nice to wake up and BE HOME! Brent and I have kept busy sharing time between two families...

AND... early Thanksgiving morning (at about 4 am) I woke up and felt horribly sick. My throat had been huring me but at this point I could barely swallow, felt sick to my stomach, was running a fever, and had aches all over. So at about 5 am the decision was made to head to the ER room (what else would be open on Thanksgiving), and at about 7 am we were headed back home with antibiotics in hand for strep throat. I still don't feel like they have completely kicked in, and I'm a little worried about my next observation at school coming up on Wednesday.

All in all though, I would rather be sick at home than healthy anywhere else. I had many pairs of hands working to make sure I was comfortable. Our big family THanksgiving was a little overwhelming as I couldn't really talk to anyone becuase it hurts to speak, but it was so nice to see everyone.

I'll post the few pictures I've been able to take when we get back, but until then, please keep us in your prayers over the next few days (that I would have a speedier recovery and that Brent would stay healthy -- he is prone to get Strep every year!). We plan on heading out early afternoon tomorrow (pray about that too...I really don't want to leave :)

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Even in the midst of sickness I have so much to be thankful for.


too far behind

Wow... I lied when I said I would update you all soon, huh?!

I'll throw some pictures up here from Renae and Jared's visit (which was fantastic, by the way), and then I'm afraid I have to get PACKING!!! We are meeting Kali and Dan in a few hours to HEAD HOME! We could not be more excited. This will be the first time home since we moved here and I need me some Missouri! :)

However, I do want to post when I get back about some things my students wrote about writing. They literally moved me to tears and left me inspired and THANKFUL :)

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, wherever it may be...


I realized I never put this picture up from our trip to Nashville in October.
We went to the Louisville Slugger Museum with Jared and Renae.

On Sunday we, of course, had to watch the Packer's game :)Last Friday was Brent's birthday and we went out for Pizza! Happy Birthday!

This was my present to him...new golf shoes!! He has been wearing them around the house since the weather hasn't exactly been cooperating.


oh this week...but oh the weekend...

Very quickly (which unfortunately has become a mantra of mine lately), here is a run-down of my week:

Monday: Staff meeting after school, then at church until 8 (and it was a Monday...yuck)
Tuesday: Meeting before school, meeting during planning, meeting after school...at church until 9
Wednesday: Meeting during planning ... at home by 6. Beautiful.
Thursday: FCA in morning at 7:30, meeting during planning, meeting after school, at church for basketball until 8:30.
Friday: Supposed to have meeting during planning...CANCELLED, beautiful. Left school by 4 to go to grocery store. Home by 6. Good work.

Renae and Jared are coming tonight (around 9:30) and staying through the weekend. Brent had the day off and did a rockin' job of cleaning the apartment. He also went in for an eye checkup, had to have his eyes dilated, and could hardly see all day! :) What a trooper. There are still a few things to be done, and although I won't just be chillin' like I do most weekends, I will so enjoy this time with a dear and loved friend and know it will be good for my soul.... and next week are student-led conferences (our version of parent-teacher conferences), a few more meetings, and grades are due on Friday (but the beauty of Thanksgiving and home just around the corner gives me hope :)

I will most like be "out" this weekend, and hope to update with pictures next week. Hope you all are staying blessed.


poetry, cold, soap, and puke

I've decided to break this post up into four categories for your reading pleasure. A few highlights of my life since I last posted:

It's November now here and apparently in Kentucky this means it is officially nearing the end of fall. We were on quite the streak for awhile, but I mentioned to Brent the other day that we should turn the heat on. We haven't yet, but I think we will within the next couple of weeks (those of you that already have snow...I'm sorry). We've truly enjoyed the warmer weather and beauty of fall. I've forgotten how long a normal fall lasts...instead of in Iowa where the trees change one day, you rake the leaves the next (in case the snow comes that night!), and then it snows within the next few days! Yikes. Here the colors have been so intense and have lasted so long. There are still so many trees holding onto their leaves in brilliant reds and burnt oranges...it is so peaceful and beautiful.

My students have been working on their poetry unit for the past few weeks. Today officially marked the last day of their writing of poetry, although we'll have a few more reading/elements of poetry to cover. I decided since they have been working their hineys off (or most of them anyway), that it would be fun to wrap up this unit with a "coffee house poetry reading." So today, as they filed in to class with their typed up poems in tow, I turned on the lamps, put on some music, and even pulled up a picture of a coffee house on the projector for a backdrop. It was really great listening to them share their writing, and I hope to post some here in the future. I thought about getting some hot chocolate to share with them for the occassion, but calculated the cost (both in dollars and in time and in spills) and decided against it. I mentioned it to my veteran teacher collegue across the hall who has been teaching for about 30 years now and his response to the hot chocolate idea: Are you crazy!?! Overall the kids seemed to enjoy listening to fellow classmates, and it was nice to sit in the back of the room and just listen for a day. We even snapped for each other when we finished reading, just like the pros!

Last year when I shared an apartment at college with 3 other girls we decided we would be wise and buy the huge bottle of refill soap for our hand dispensers in the kitchen and bathroom. We bought the big refill bottle in September or October of 2007. I was the last to move out at the end of the school year, and found that all three of them had left the refill bottle behind. There was still about a third of the bottle left, so I decided to pack up the little dispensers (which, yes, cost about 90 cents at WalMart) and the big refill bottle. I first hauled all this home, and then I packed up and hauled it to Kentucky. Yesterday the dispenser in the bathroom ran out, and I noticed the one in the kitchen only has a few squirts left in it. That dang refill bottle lasted us this long! Man...my roommates sure missed out! :)

And last but not least...puke
For those of you that don't know...I don't do puke. This was seriously one of the deciding factors for me when I was deciding between secondary and elementary. I figured secondary students know, and can get out of the classroom when they "feel it coming..." Well, sickness is starting to go around and I am clorox wiping and hand sanitizing all around me (thanks a lot Mrs. Sandbulte), and lucky for me, have have not even gotten the hint of a cold yet. However, today I had about 15 students gone over all, and in my first class of the day this scenario played out:
The bell rang, the students were getting situated and student #1 approaches me.
#1: "Umm... Mrs. Irwin, umm...I just threw up."
She continues to look at me. What she was looking for...?? Seriously.
Me: "Okay...go to the nurse."
She proceeds to the back of the classroom where I have a sign out sheet and passes and begins the process when I interupt her efforts...
Me: "Just leave."

about 5 minutes later...the students have begun writing in their Writer's Notebooks and student #2 approaches me.
#2: "Umm...Mrs. Irwin?" (looking very...very ... very pale)
Me: "Yes." (Why they come up to me, say my name, and then wait for a response is still beyond me...)
#2: I feel like I'm going to puke."
Me: (Immediately averting eye contact and distancing my body from student) "Then get out of here" (said in a voice not near as loving as it should have been said in).
#2 proceeds to the back of the classroom where I have a sign out sheet and....
Me. "Just leave."

(IN the meantime, #1 returns, says she is staying...wonderful)

About 5 minutes later #2 comes back.
Approaches me...I back peddle.
#2: "I threw up."
Me: "Go to the nurse." (No, not..'I'm sorry. Are you okay? Can I get you anything...but go to the nurse.)

About 20 minutes later. #2 returns, yet again to the classroom, and says the office told him to just wait in the classroom until his ride comes.

...and my stomach is turning just thinking about it.

Whew...am I cut out for this!?


...what else is there to talk about?

Well, the fat lady has sung, I suppose.

Last night we had some friends over and watched the states turn red and blue...and blue...and blue. A fellow teacher at school (yes, surprising enough there are a few conservative teachers left) sent me a text that said, "Well, I think I'm leaving the country." I know many have agreed with his statement or jokingly said the same thing once the news was in that Obama was officially our president-elect.

I followed this election closely and really read up on each of the candidates. I feel like I did my part. And now I am left asking, "What do I do next? How do I respond?" Much wiser people (my family) have sent me emails today, and I want to glean from these words and share with you all my mixture of thoughts, via their well said words:
Mom says to me:
Hey, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri all went to McCain; we did what we needed to do. I did notice that the sun is up this morning! Am I apprehensive about the next four years? Absolutely. Am I incredulous that a man named Barack Hussein Obama is going to be my President? Can't even go there! Do I still live in the greatest country in the world? At the moment I sure do. And ultimately, is my Great God still in control? Praise the Lord, yes he is! Ezekiel 7:27 says, "The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the LORD."! Wow. I think I choose to not be depressed.

Kali says to me:
I KNOW God is Sovereign, I KNOW He knew the outcome of this election before the campaigning even began, I KNOW He holds me safely in the palm of His hand. But I also know that Obama does not follow our God – which leaves me a little dumbfounded as I try and think how on earth I’m supposed to pray for this man. I can pray that God will give him wisdom & guidance…but does God grant that to those who don’t follow Him? I guess we pray that God would protect our country. I’m praying that God would teach me what it means to respect him as my president ...
I think it's great and historic that we were able to elect a black man. My generation is often criticized (and rightly so) for being lazy, idealistic, etc. But this is something we can be proud of- we really are "post-radical." Now, let's move on folks! I found it ironic that leading up to the election we just kept hearing that "it's not about race..." up until he was officially elected, then that's all we hear.
God is still sovereign, and I am thankful that I am first and foremost a citizen of His everlasting Kingdom!
"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders." (Deuteronomy 33:12)

Dad says to me:
Well, we got thumped. It is no fun to lose and we are definitely in a scarier place today than we were yesterday but all is not lost.
#1 It looks like Amendment 8 has won in California. That is huge. If we had a choice on election night and we were told we could only have one big win, the presidency, or 8 in California, I would have taken 8 in California.
The country is not suddenly a bunch of leftists if Marriage can still win in California. We get another shot at the presidency in four years and Congress in two. We would not have had another chance to save marriage if California went by the wayside.
#2 Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri at least had their heads screwed on right!
#3 Obama is now confronted with reality, not just hope,change, blah, blah, blah. He will have to go slow and we can fight things as they come up, start to win back some seats in 2010 and hold him to one term hopefully.
#4 We don't have to hear about how great it would be to elect a black guy any more.

McCain blew it from the start. He tried to distance himself from conservatives and other republicans. He also thought he could win by getting Independents and people who were Hillary supporters upset with Obama. As Doctor Phil would say, "how's that workin' out for you John?" That was not ever going to happen.
Hang in there.

There are still deer in the woods and the sun will come out. I think I will go sit in a tree. (Now that is wisdom, Dad, :) thank you!)

One more person...Kali and Dan's friend Jenny. She blogs and I occasionally check out her blog through Kali's. Her husband is in the military and her view of this election has been inspiring. Her words today:
I do rejoice and marvel in the fact that last night we elected the nation's first African-American man for president! What a far cry this is from 100 years ago, no, just 50 years ago! ...

Yet, in the same sense, I felt as though his skin is the only thing that matters. Watching NBC last night, after they announced his victory, his skin color was the main topic - no, the ONLY topic. I wanted to yell at Brian Williams: "We all are rejoicing that he's black! But, let's get to his policies... his morals... his leadership...!!!"

What about the millions of unborn babies that will be murdered?

What about the socialist/Marxist government that Obama wants to implement?

What about the disrespect for the military and his lack of knowledge/experience in that area?

What about his lack of experience overall?

What about his many anti-American/terrorist "acquaintances" (friends)?

What about his wavering stance on our relationship with Israel?

This man is deeper than his black skin, and I'm afraid that America is simply judging a book by its cover. If Barack Obama's name was Bob Olson and he was just another white guy, with his exact same experiences and acquaintances and socialistic values, I doubt very highly he'd be where he is today...

A few other thoughts:
A friend of mine said, "We kill a Hussein, we elect a Hussein...God help us!" I could not agree more.
In closing, I read a very good article written by a man who worked with Kerry during the 2004 elections regarding Bush's treatment in the last few years-- an excellent read (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122584386627599251.html) that ends, "
Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty -- a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House." I think this is also a good gut-check for us that, regardless of how we voted, Obama is now our president. Let's not be the people others are writing articles about in 2012.


day off...

So I got today off because my school is turned into a voting station. Brent also had the day off...yipee! We waited out the crowds (by sleeping in) then made our way to vote at about 9:45. There wasn't too much of a crowd or too much excitement, although the voting booth did collapse on Brent when he was marking his ballet!

We've been taking it easy for the rest of the day, trying not to watch too much TV until tonight. Some friends are coming over to watch the states turn in their verdicts with us. The unfortunate thing is that we only get CNN, so I have a hard time watching too much of it at a time.

And for those of you that want to know, the observation went really well yesterday. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. I felt them, and the kids responded wonderfully to the lesson!

I think I'm going to go sit on the porch and read for a little bit to enjoy some of this day off (Beck, I am finally getting around to reading "The Shack," and am enjoying it so far...more to come :)


observation...round 2

I know a lot of you check this blog in the morning, so when you check this, please say a prayer for me (Monday). I have my second observation for KTIP during third block (10-11:20 my time). So if you think of it, say a quick prayer for me :) (I'm teaching on extended metaphor in poetry).


why not write 2 posts in one day...there are no rules here in blogland

I just recently discovered that a good friend of mine from college, Katie, has a blog (sorry I didn't know this sooner, Katie). I have spent some time today just browsing her old posts and catching up on her life now. It really is interesting to hear stories from friends about where they are now, what their thoughts are about certain things now, and just to see how they have grown/changed/even returned to old ways. Thanks for all your insight Katie...I miss you dearly.

Now, I didn't receive her permission, but since I have lived a lot of life beside her and cried in her arms, I know that I don't need to ask to steal this idea from her (if you are offended...my bad). I really liked reading one of her posts where she just documented her past years. I thought it would be interesting to do the same here, on my blog. So here we go:

twenty years ago
I was merely two years old and was able to roam about my house all day under the supervision of my wonderful mother, who I know that I exasperated much during this time in my life.

ten years ago:
I was twelve and was living the life of my students' right now. I decided to grow out my bangs, get serious about basketball, and flirt with boys. Mom and dad kept a close watch on who my friends were (thank ya), and I believe (I may have been thirteen) this was the age at which I first held hands with a boy at Lacy's superbowl party (yes, the boy was Jesse who I would also attend many a junior high dance with). I would also meet Brent this summer, and decide Jesse was no longer cool enough for me :)

five years ago:
I was 17 years old and beginning my senior year of high school. My bangs now fit snuggly in my ponytail and the basketball that I had begun to love in junior high was now almost a dot in my past as my last season was starting. My softball team at won conference for a third year in a row (and lost districts by one run for a fourth year in a row...to a Greenwood...ugh). I was prayer journaling incessently about a boy I had met a few years ealier, and asked God to give me this guy as a husband, "or at least give me someone just like him when I go to college." However, at this point in my senior year I was sure that he had no interest in me past friendship, and I was determined to "stay cool" around Brent.

three years ago:
I was nineteen years old, beginning my sophomore year of college. I had survived that challenging freshman year through tears, having a sister just downstairs in my dorm, and finding a consistent friend in the short haired, funny talking girl from Wisconsin down the hall. This is the year I would "survive" a near death experience with Mono :), interview and be accepted for an RA position in my same dorm for the next year, and continue to invest time into Brent, who I was still prayer journalling about like crazy.

one year ago:
I was twenty-one years old, beginning my senior year of college as an RA in the apartments on campus, and had a ring on my finger from that boy I had met about 9 years before. I was student teaching, planning a wedding, and soaking in everything that was Orange City and Northwestern as I saw this part of my life slowly slipping away. That crazy, shorthaired girl from Wisconsin was now my roommate, along with two all-stars on our college's basketball team who would win Nationals this year and receive all-american recognition. I spent a ton of time with my friend Becker, who I had been placed on the same floor with as an RA the previous year and we realized we were insperably bound by those expereiences together. I continued to do loads of laundry at Aunt Linda and Uncle Al's, and shower only when I decided I had enough energy to do so.

six months ago:

I married my best friend in my grandparent's garden shortly after graduating from college and going to Wisconsin to stand up with my bosom buddy, Renae. In the setting sun we vowed our lives to each other and then whisked away to Colorado for the week. We returned, packed everything we owned, and moved to Louisville. Brent started his job at the church and I unpacked, and unpacked, and unpacked. And never felt so lonely as I did during this time during the days.

3 months ago:

I started my job at school teaching 8th graders Language Arts. We began making some really great friends, and I began missing home and NWC and Orange City and past friends.

five days ago:
I was beginning school after a week's hiatus and teaching 8th graders how to write Haiku poetry.

four days ago:
I did my first sub plans every as I was going to be gone for a conference and realized it is much easier to just be at school then to make sub plans...sheesh!

three days ago:
I went to Lexington for a workshop on On Demand Writing, and spent the previous night away from Brent...only the second time in our marriage. I also settled a weekend with Renae for her and her husband to come visit. Awesome.

two days ago:
I returned to school to find a list of students who had misbehaved while I was away, a fresh stack of paper's to grade, and a classroom full of students who said they missed me. Wonderful. I also played basketball (from which I am still sore), and watched The Office and ate homemade Lasagna at our wonderful friend, Julie's, house with our office-watching buddies.

I dressed as a Starbuck's Barista (see post below) and endured my first Halloween at school...on a Friday..yikes! Then spent the evening hanging out with friends (see post below).

I slept in, finished a book (What is the What by Dave Eggars), caught up on blogs, am doing laundry, and dishes, and then lit my Macintosh Yankee Candle (which I am becoming much more frugal about lighting as it is dwindling quickly), put on a pot of coffee and then sat down to write this blog. Brent will be getting off work in about 5 minutes, and then we are determined to hang up curtains (I knew I would be hanging up curtains with him someday...:)

an update with pictures...

If you happened to check out Kali's post you have heard about our wonderful trip to Nashville to visit her and Dan...and mom and Paige and Torri! It was absolutely wonderful and it couldn't have come at a better time for us. Here are a couple pictures from the trip:
Yesterday was Halloween, and my school encouraged students AND teachers to dress up. I didn't want to do anything over the top, as I still had to be capable of teaching all day, so I borrowed this smock from a friend of mine, donned some khakis and a black shirt, and was a Starbuck's barista! The kids actually really like it...and they all seem to love their Starbucks!
I seemed to get the most comments, however, about my glasses (which are fake...and awesome! Renae always hated them and I emailed her yesterday to tell her I wore them to school and she said this: "Glasses are acceptable if a) you need them or b) it's Halloween" :) So this one is for you, Renae!):
Brent and I didn't have any big plans for the evening, so like most other times like this we had our friends, Shane and Meagan over and played another mean round of nertz.
This picture is of course staged after a game that it looks like Shane had won (surprisingly :) I made way too many calzones (one of my new favorite things to make):... and then we watched what we felt was a good "halloween movie choice," a British flick called "Shaun of the Dead." It was a horribly funny comedy that was so over the top ridiculous that we laughed the entire time and then we called it a night as Brent had to head into work this morning for a youth basketball clinic.

Now it is time to make use of this Saturday and get some laundry done! Hope you all have had a great week!