what's in a place?

For Christmas this year a dear family friend gave me a "journal jar." She was afraid I might think it was a little dorky or something, but boy was she wrong! I love it! I just have to reach in and pull out one of the hundreds of writing prompts. I can use them in my classroom, and had hoped to use them a little more in my own life too. And so I decided to give one a shot. So I reached in and the prompt I pulled out was, "Do you have a favorite place? Tell about it." Here is what I wrote:

I have learned that a favorite place doesn't necessarily evoke excitement, or any emotion too extreme; a favorite place is usually a place where one feels safe. I know I have lived a very blessed life, and my memories are filled with places big and small, ordinary and quite UNordinary. These places have been loud, quiet, brimming with people, or a lonely corner in the woods. But there has always been one place that I have been able to make my own; a place where I have always felt safe. In this particular place I have always expressed my emotions and my creativity. Yes, in my room I have often sang the tune from an old Cinderella video I had when I was a girl: "In my own little corner, in my own little room, I can be whatever I want to be."

My room started a nice, cheery yellow when I was young. My parents did not know the sex of either my sister or me until we were born, thus the room had been painted a color deemed "unisex." This fit my personality for awhile and my Barbies and I would spend hours together in the sunlight that shone brightly off my yellow walls. Hours of "school" passed in that small room above the kitchen; role and lunch counts were taken and teddy bears were read to about the dangers of drugs and the adventures of Mrs. Gigglebelly. Porcelain dolls with brunette ringlets sat smiling on my shelves. At night I would plop on my belly, my Peepers bear in tow, and prop up on my elbows to look out the window at the head of my twin bed. My neighbor, Billy, would always be doing dishes and I would watch her in the orange glow of her kitchen light before rolling over and saying my prayers. I had a rote prayer at this age which started with the tried and true "Now I lay me down to sleep…" I had always said it with Mom and Dad when I was really little and, now that I was becoming a little more in tune with the world around me, I added my own lines at the end: "And keep me safe from fires, tornadoes, murderers, and ax murderers. Amen." I didn't know what an ax murderer was, but it sure didn't sound like something I wanted in my room at night!

As time passed the Barbies were shoved under the bed and the wall was painted a pale purple. As my clothes got bigger, my floor got messier and the constant "keep your room picked up" battle began. I kept my "pet net" up in the corner, not because I still played with the stuffed animals tossed in its bowels, but because I had rigged up sheer drapes that hung from its every corner. These created an escape inside my escape; a room within a room. Ribbon streamers and beads were added, and a pillow to sit on, and a lamp to read by, and in my little den many Babysitters Club books were devoured. On restless nights when I couldn't sleep, I discovered a slight tear in one of the quilt squares on my bedspread. I soon figured out it was large enough to fit a few pieces of paper into and began keeping little notes tucked in its folds.

As a teenager my parents were always very good about letting me "express" myself. Translation: I could put as many holes in and as much tape on the wall as I wanted! The purple walls were soon plastered with my newest collection: "Got Milk" ads. Every inch was filled. My walls, from corner to corner, as well as my entire ceiling, were covered with glossy pages from magazines of various celebrities with milk mustaches. Larry King and Tony Hawk were above my bed, next to a large cow poster, and looked down at me with a white upper lip every night. I never had a tv or phone in my room like many of my hormonal counterparts, but I never really saw much of the need. I still enjoyed reading-- even though this usually meant having to turn on a light since it was a dark den with all the ads-- and I still liked to sit on my bed and dream big dreams. I also started cutting out other slogans and pictures from magazines and these began to cover my dressers. Pictures of friends were strategically placed throughout the space as well, and if one were to walk down the hallway, they would have known which door belonged to me.

I say "belonged to me" lightly though, for I always was well aware that my parents could enter this sanctuary of mine whenever they chose to. However, they respected my space and usually let me be if I hadn't proved too suspicious, rebellious, or otherwise teenagery. This was part of the safety of the space though; I knew they would never allow me past unhealthy boundaries, and would not allow me the privacy in which so many teens crossed them.

My sophomore year the physical location of my room moved about three miles outside of town. I spent hours taking down pictures and unsticking tape and wiping off goo. I wondered if I would ever be able to recapture the essence of that room in our new house. But as I unpacked boxes in my lime green and yellow room, I knew it was mine just as much as the last one. In this room my body grew and changed more, and Grandpa built me a desk and I sat at in front of the window crying over Algebra homework and boys. And it was in this room that I repacked my belongings as an 18 year old and headed off to college, trying to figure out once again how to recreate safety and belonging in a square space.

This time, though, I had to share my space. I had various roommates in college, and all of them tolerated my wacky sense of style and my undulating mood in room arrangements. I often craved a space that was just mine, but learned the balance needed to live with someone else. I took this balance, and my more sophisticated picture frames, and brought them to Kentucky with me the first year I was married. As I put new holes in the wall and hung wedding pictures in our bedroom, I realized that sense of safety I had felt tucked away in my corner with sheer drapes was still there. It looked much different than my purple, teenage room, but it was present.

And a year ago I was patching those holes, moving, and picking out paint color for another bedroom. And in this bedroom, now painted a light and mature gray, I still read and dream big in my bed. I still tuck notes under the pillow case sometimes, not as a secret quilt diary but for my husband to find later. I still laugh and cry in my room. This bedroom also just so happens to be a bedroom I was spanked in when I was a child; a room filled with great, happy memories of old friendships and lost faces; a room just across the street, about 500 yards away, from the yellow room of my childhood.

It is funny how things have a way of coming around full circle and surprising us. It's funny how change is so woven throughout all of our stories. But it is beautiful to have a place, all of your life, where you feel safe and comfortable; a place where you can hum and sing, "I can be whatever I want to be."


growing up

It is a rainy Monday, but I am not at work. Another reason to be thankful for the Resurrection :).

I had some errands to run in "town" [I can use this term now that I'm back in my little midwest "nothing-town", and saying you have to go to "town" means you really have to get to a bigger city to accomplish anything!]. I had to find a movie that I plan on using in my classroom, return a couple things, make good on a coupon…you know. So now that I have been industrious I'm at Starbucks, stealing their wi-fi, drinking their expensive coffee [thank you, gift cards], and debating if I should read or work on a project for my kids. Ahhh…sigh. This is the life. [And I believe this is the ONLY part of me that is "city" in any way…well, and SHOES!] :)

But, here is the beauty. I am looking around at the three other people that are on their laptops. One man has his coffee and a tub of sour cream next to him…seriously. I'm really hoping it's not sour cream. A girl to his left has a business text book, and a Kansas City paper open and is taking notes and typing viciously. And the guy to my left…well this poor kid has roughly 8 text books, a clipboard, a laptop, a HUGE cup of coffee, a million highlighters, and a look of utter stress.

Why are these observations important? Because it reminds me that I have done the work already and I have a job I LOVE. Yes, I have the same look of stress many days that those around me have right now, but I don't have to read textbooks and highlights notes and sort through notecards for a research paper. I get to instead read my students writing, highlight their witty sayings or incorrect grammar, and read novels with them. And that, my friends, is joy.

Yes, there are days I want to bang my head against a cement wall because the stress level is so unbearably high and that kid just CANNOT get the difference between YOUR and YOU'RE and basketball practice is after school and then there is a jv game away and I have 50 five page papers from my juniors to grade and what is Brent going to eat for supper!?! But then…most days… I just think to myself, "I can't believe that people are actually PAYING ME TO DO THIS?!" As I sit around and discuss Atticus Finch or read a creative story that my 15 year old jock student wrote, or hear them read poetry with a smile on their faces.

Maybe it's a little easier for me to say this today. There are 18 days of school left and I've had a four day weekend. I know the cement-head-banging days will come, but today I am going to drink my white chocolate raspberry mocha and savor with each sip that I have a job that is more than a job.



Yesterday in my class we were doing a little review game. And here is how one moment in particular went down: [note: names have been changed…obviously… I will from here forward go by "me." :)]

Me: Write down an example of a literary device…
students scribble furiously in expo markers on their desk. [carol, this is awesome. thanks for the tip.] I think to myself: Keep this in mind…they will really participate if I can make them feel like they are defacing property.
Me: Alright, Johnny, what did you come up with?
Johnny: Personification-- giving human qualities to nonhuman things.
Me: Excellent. The next thing we need to talk about is that you know how to write a good summary. This is how I always think of it: A good summary is like a good mini skirt-- too short, and it doesn't cover enough; too long, and it's just boring!
Students: laughter and giggles
Me: Note to self: use the miniskirt analogy again.
Me: Alright, next on the list: Literary elements. I want you to think of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and everything we talked about. Write down as many things as you can remember. GO!
students again scribble frantically on their desks. I walk around and see things such as "plot, foreshadowing, symbolism, characterization, internal conflict…" and think to myself, "excellent…they remember the big stuff…"
Me: This looks great. Now let's see if you remember all the parts of the plot. What is the beginning part of a story?
Susy: The exposition!
Me: Perfect. And what four parts make up the exposition?
Madison: Conflict.
Marcus: Characterization.
Mo: Background knowledge.
Me: And one other thing? Who has it?
Henry: Setting! Boom! Nailed it!
Me: Yes, great job. Now remember setting is not just place but also the TIME the story takes place. Alright. The next part of the story is…?
Random shouting from the right side of the room: RISING ACTION!
Me: And the highest point of tension in the story?
Sam: The climax.
Me: And after the climax?
Margie: The falling action.
Me: And the last part of the story where everything is wrapped up?
A girl in the back of the room nearly jumps from her seat, hand in the air, and shouts: THE RESURRECTION!!!
Me: laughing Well, my dear, that actually takes place on Sunday…
She starts laughing and corrects herself: Oh…hahaha… I meant the resolution!

end scene.

As Christians maybe we are allowed to call the end of the story the resurrection…and what a good ending it is! It is a story filled with conflict, and tough characterization, and a pretty intense climax… but the ending…oh that glorious ending! He is RISEN! He is RISEN INDEED! And by His wounds we are HEALED.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend.


Our Story: Part VI

To read this story from the beginning, click HERE and scroll to the bottom! Enjoy.

The situation seemed all too familiar. The vans were being loaded and I stood and watched the frantic last minute details fall into place.

"It's too bad Brandon won't be on this trip." Micah sat beside me on the yellow painted curb. "We'll have to adopt a new quad member or something."

I took a drink of the gas station coffee in my hands and shrugged my shoulders as the lukewarm liquid rushed down my throat.

"Well, I know you wish he would have come for other reasons too," she said, nudging me in the arm.

"Yeah. I guess." My voice was weak and she picked up on my hesitation. Brandon and I had gone to prom together a little over a month ago. He had opened the car door for me, worn a tux, and even smelled good. I didn't have the heart to tell him then or now that it was not him I was interested in; that maybe his proximity to the one I did like had caused some confusion. But he was cute, and his interest was flattering and so we called each other occasionally and met up once or twice. We were semi-official, and as I sat in the humid air of that June morning I tried to avoid eye contact with the one that wouldn't go to Worlds of Fun with me. And even though Brandon and I were nothing serious, the butterflies in my stomach seemed like a betrayal.

Before Micah could question my disinterest, our leader bellowed out a roll call and we formed a circle. said a prayer, and loaded the vans for the long trip across Nebraska to our destination: Colorado. I pulled my backpack over my shoulders and made my way to the second van. I knew I liked the driver, and the backseat was empty. Perfect. Micah and I had stayed up all night with the plan that we would sleep during the trip. I was making the backseat comfortable when I heard his voice.

"Hey! Guess the quad is back together!" I shot a smile and acted like my pillow placement was very important.

"We can't be a quad without four," Micah, ever the science/math brain, informed him.

"Well that's why I've got Derek here with me," Brent retorted without missing a beat. They plopped in the seat in front of us and I knew I wouldn't be getting as much sleep as I had hoped.

* * *
I arrived in Colorado exhausted and elated. I had finally been able to catch some sleep, but that was after playing cards, being nicknamed "chicken skin," and having my hair put in frizzy pigtails by Derek. I shoved all of my belongings that were scattered about the backseat into my backpack and tumbled out into the crisp mountain air. I stretched my legs, and was twisting my neck when Brent walked past me. He turned around, his shaggy, long hair brushing the bottoms of his ears, and said, "Let's make sure the quad gets to ride together for the rest of the trip."

"Yeah, that sounds great." I tried to sound nonchalant as I reached my arm over my head to stretch it out. As he walked away, I hid my smile in my shirt sleeve.

* * *
Again we were split into groups for our day camps, and again Brent and I were in opposite locations. I figured this was for the best, as I was still trying to figure out exactly what I was supposed to feel about Brandon while in Colorado with Brent. So I busied myself with the kids. We did crafts. I read them Bible stories. We sang songs that had ridiculous actions. And in their presence there was no need for Brandon or Brent. I was loved.

I saw the way the kids looked at me and I felt compassion and kindness towards them, realizing how Jesus must feel when I loved him with childlike passion. I began to remember what it felt like to be in His control, releasing everything to Him. So I got out my pen and paper and, forgetting the boys around me, I wrote once again to the one God had picked out for me:

My companion and friend,
I rest in Christ right now knowing that I don't have to write the script because it's already been written by the master playwright. I rest in Him, but I long for you. I am satisfied in Him, but I want you near me, to hold me and love me and see me with the eyes that God intended only for YOU to see me with. I am secure in Christ, but I want your protection. I am happy, but I want YOU to make me laugh. I rest in Christ: I know all my needs will be met and He will provide us with so much more than either of our wants could dream up.
At rest with my Prince of Peace, waiting for my prince,
* * *
The days passed quickly and were packed with activities. One of our last days we were told we would have the chance to go to Estes Park, a beautiful and scenic state park. So we once again loaded the vans and began driving. Over streams and through bluffs and mountains we drove. I watched the rocks, green and slimy with moss, pass by my window. I was struck with the beauty around me.

More than an hour later, we poured out of the vans like liquid and marveled at the scenery. We chomped our gum viciously, trying to pop our Midwestern ears. We were instructed simply: have an adult in your group and be back at the parking lot by four o'clock. Lucky for my group, since she was in her fourth year of college, Micah was considered an adult. The quad and a few others took off on the nearest trail. We stopped occasionally for pictures, we talked, and at one point Brent even bent down and picked a light purple flower that was growing on the edge of the path. He handed it to me, no real intentions were evident, but I placed it behind my ear wanting to save it forever. We walked on and threw clumps of snow at one another, astonished at the novelty of snow at the end of June! How high up were we?

After passing a place we came to a clearing and got our answer: very high. There was a group ahead of us, and spotting our matching green shirts, they called us over. They were all staring at a rock face to the right of the path that shot up about 50 or 60 yards.

"I'm thinking this would be real easy to climb," Brett, one of the male leaders, told those of us standing around. Before anyone could object, he leaped onto the rock and was at the top in no time. Soon others followed. Since everyone made it look easy, and since Brent was at the top, I stumbled my way up. He's already got me climbing boulders for him? Oh, great! And I'm supposed to be playing it cool right now. Come on, Kels!

I brushed my pant legs off and looked up. I was frozen by the majesty that surrounded me. I looked at the others sharing this moment with me, and realized we were all speechless. Some stood, some sat, some looked dangerously close to the edge, but we were all silent. And then someone to my left began reading from the bible they had brought along in their backpack:
"You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall…for who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights…" [2 Samuel 22]

As I listened to the words the lines from the hymn, "The Wondrous Cross" sprang to my mind: Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all. I realized in that moment that the God that made the trees, the mountains, the lakes, the birds, the rocks, the streams--all of it!-- would rather have me to worship and love Him. Someone started singing "Amazing Love" and as others joined I realized that the God that made the masterpiece around me surely had my love life under control.

We remained upon that rock until we knew we'd be late if we lingered any longer. We crawled back into the vans, refreshed and changed forever by our unique experience. Dusk was setting over the mountains around us, and as we dipped and weaved through the hills the darkness took away my view. With no more entertainment outside the window, I turned to the boy in the seat in front of me. I didn't ask why he had rejected my invitation to Worlds of Fun two years earlier, or what he had seen in Holly last summer on our trip when he wouldn't even talk to me, or why in the world he let me say yes when one of his best friends asked me to go to prom, but instead focused on what this trip had done for our friendship.

I leaned forward onto the speckled gray seat, "Isn't your head hot with all that hair you have now?" Lame. Lame. Lame. I reached over the seat back and tousled his long, dark mane.

"Oh, scratch to the left a little bit?" He said it jokingly, but I did as he asked. Before long he was nearly drooling. We were having a real conversation and he was putty in my hands, so I kept on scratching. And scratching. And scratching. My hands were coated in his hairspray as we pulled into the church parking lot. He thanked me profusely, and I assured him it was nothing. Fear crept up my back as I thought I had maybe laid my cards on the table too soon. He had to know I was interested now. I just couldn't convince myself to worry too much though, because I had had a great conversation and gotten lots of smiles from the quiet boy whom had first intrigued me two years earlier.
* * *
I shoved my empty duffel bag under my bed. We had gotten back the night before, July 3rd. The plan for today was to head over to the small town twenty minutes away, where my new favorite guy friends resided, to watch the firework show. Afterwards we would have a bonfire. My mind raced with a multitude of scenarios-- Brandon would be there. Brent would be there. I was supposed to at least sort of like Brandon, but I hadn't even heard from him since I'd been back. And then there was the hair tousling that had left me even more twitterpatted about the possibility of Brent.

I tossed my dirty clothes in the laundry basket, praying for the clarity I had experienced on the mountain top. The phone started to ring and Mom, my own personal caller I.D., picked up downstairs. "Kels! Phone!" She hollered up at me. I grabbed the phone and plopped on the cool tiles of the bathroom floor.

"Hey, Kelsey."

Brandon. My mind froze. Was he calling because he heard I had gotten closer to Brent? Was he calling to make sure I remembered the firework show? Had he missed me? Oh, I hope he didn't miss me too much!

"You there?"
"Yeah…" I stammered. "Sorry."
"How was the trip?" Was he trying to weasel a confession out of me?
"Awesome. Really. It was great. The kids were fantastic and the mountains…oh the mountains…they were beautiful."
"Um, Kelsey?"
"Yeah?" I could feel my heart racing.
"So… um… well, while you were gone I was thinking about stuff and well, this-is-just-weird-since-you're-too-much-of-my-friend." It came out in once jumbled sentence. If he were standing in the room with me, I could have hugged him!
I exhaled the breath I had been holding and, probably too excitedly, said "I was thinking the same thing."
"Well, cool! You should definitely still come to the bonfire tonight, though."
"Oh, totally."
"Cool. See ya there."
And that was that. It was just what I needed: an easy conversation, no hard feelings, and no awkwardness between us.

I jumped in the shower. I needed to shave my legs and wash my face. I had a fireworks show to attend.


the answer to your whys

WHY haven't I been blogging?
WHY do I love my job?

I will answer these questions for you.

WHY HAVEN'T I BEEN BLOGGING? I've been busy with work. Busy being outside in the beautiful weather. Busy starting p90x again [okay, I've done that once]. Busy traveling to Wisconsin to visit one of the dearest friend's in my life [and meet this little schnibble of joy, her son!].
Brent and I took last Friday off and we drove the seven, rainy hours to hang out with my college roommate, Renae, her awesome husband, Jared, and their four month old delight, Jaden. [Oh and their poor dog, Dori, who had to spend most of the weekend in her kennel because of my frantic squeals and panic attacks ! ] It was a wonderful and relaxing and fun weekend in which Renae and I sat around and did not do much except cook, watch Jaden smile, garage sale, and sit and talk for hours. Fabulous. Brent had the chance to golf twice! And hang drywall :) [You know you're with good friends when they ask you to pack your work clothes!!]

In other news…I've been teaching. Not much new with that except it's April. That may not seem like a relevant subject, but let me tell you…this fact changes EVERYTHING!!! The kids gaze longingly out the windows into the sunlit air, they run crazily down the hall like they have become rabid dogs, they bounce off each other, they scream more, they inform you everyday how many days are left of school and that this fact alone means we should do absolutely nothing besides eat bonbons and dance around the room in pure joy. Although I would often like to join them in their excitement, I have a job to do. And I take it serioulsy…meaning, I seriously want to find ways to entertain them while we do our lessons.

And we just had to spend nearly two weeks on GRAMMAR!!! YUCK! PEEEWWWW! I hate it. They hate it. But it is necessary. So I brainstormed activities. And here is how we have spent the last little while in our classroom:

They wanted to be outside. I wanted to be outside. They didn't want to do worksheets. I didn't want to grade worksheets. How I solved the problem: I bought some cheap sidewalk chalk, came up with the sentences they would have had to have worked on anyway, and we traipsed outside into the sunlight. While basking in the sun and spring breeze, I read them sentences. They wrote them on the sidewalk and had to insert commas in the proper locations. As I walked around checking their work, they had to tell me which comma rule they used [i.e. commas in a series, commas after introductory clauses, commas in between adjectives etc.] They enjoyed it. I enjoyed it. And we accomplished something. Fantastic. [Here are some shots I snapped…I tried to keep faces out of the shots for obvious reasons].

Of course, there is always the occasional student that just has to stand up and wave at the cars passing by :) [but don't worry, he did well on his quiz]. All in all it was a great activity. My favorite two sentences of the day? I asked students to create a sentence with two adjectives used in such a way that they needed a comma between them. Results: Mrs. Irwin is a beautiful, smart teacher. and This was a fun, educational activity. Boy do they know how to suck up!

Another thing I thought would make the grammar a little less painful was to think of a more creative way to let them take notes. Pen and paper are so yesterday, people!! :)
So I let them write on their desks in sharpie!!! …. sort of…
Okay, not really. I bought clear contact paper, put some on the corner of every desk, and let them go at it. Since I have 3 different sections of LA II, several people were able to contribute to the same "cheat sheet". I was amazed that none of them felt the need to sign their name, or draw pictures, or write other unnecessary messages… they all used it for the correct purpose and took some fabulous notes.
I did make them raise their right hands and promise they would not leave the room with my beloved, and very large, sharpie collection. :) This is something I will definitely use again!

I have used contact paper in my room before though, creating signs for the walls or during other activities. Here is one of my signs :)
I also have had my students sign a square of contact paper since my first year. I took them off my walls in Kentucky and restuck them in my new classroom :) I look forward to adding my new group in a month!
I also used it previously this year with my Juniors. They were struggling with homophones and so I had them partner up, and each "pair" had to do 4 different homophones, creating cheat sheets that we hung around the room for the remainder of the year. There are over a hundred of them stuck in some random places :)
Another activity I did while teaching grammar was the following paragraph. I wrote a really cheesy, goofy paragraph on sentence strips, cut it up, and passed it out to the class [they respond well to cheesiness]. Some students got punctuation; some got conjunctions [one lucky student in each class got "but," and when the time came for the "but" and the students realized it, I'd say, "Alright, who as a but? Come slap your but up here!" We pieced the paragraph together bit by bit, but by but, talking about the rules as we went. They were interacting and it worked very well.
And since I was taking picture in my classroom, I thought I would take a few shots of a couple other projects we've had going on!

Before starting grammar, we were in our poetry unit. We finished it off with a "coffee shop poetry reading" during which students read their poems. I pushed the desks together in tables, provided hot chocolate and cookies, and we snapped as everyone finished reading their poems. It was a very fun way to celebrate the end of the unit. Another end to the unit were their projects. They were asked to find a line from a poem or song that evoked strong IMAGERY. They then had to take that imagery and turn it into a picture. Here are just a few of the excellent results I received:

"I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree."
"I've always treated my city like some shoulder pads."
"Take a trip and fall into the glitter."

"A child said, "What is grass?" fetching it to me with full hands."
And last, but most fun! :) End of the year tests are coming up [the bane of teachers' existences if you ask me], so I figured I should probably do a bit of review. But again, worksheets are so boring!!! SOOOO….
Paper chains it was!!! I turned it into a competition: each link had to contain an "educational nugget" with something they learned from the year. AND they had to take it a step further…they couldn't just write "Simile" on the link, because that doesn't show that they really learned anything…so they had to write a definition or example with it. They raced the clock, and each other: boys against girls.

And man o man did they create some LOOOOOONG "chains of knowledge." They had to work without notes for 20 minutes, and could use notes for the last 5. It was a fury of stapling and writing and chain making for nearly a half hour.
But the best part? The conversations and terms and words I heard flying around the room while they worked. "OH! Remember static and dynamic characters?!" "Yeah! But we need to add personification and dangling modifiers too!" "Okay. And when you get done with that write about foreshadowing and author's purpose."

Yeah, my students are pretty awesome!

And THAT, dear blog world, is what I have been busy doing!
And now it's time to make supper.


picture update

It has been awhile since I have had real pictures on here. So right now, while my crazy husband is playing ultimate frisbee at the park the day after running a half marathon, I'm sitting outside in beautiful weather, uploading pictures and updating you [oh the marvels of laptops and wireless internet!] So here we go….

Brent ran a half marathon yesterday…and then we picked up our nephews on the way home and he proceeded, not to fall into a heap of tears and whining on the living room floor as I would have done, but rather to play baseball and other games with them! What a trooper.

The boys absolutely love their Uncle Brent :)
While Brent was running his half marathon, I met up with a friend/colleague from Louisville who was in town for her brother's wedding. Small world. It was so great to see an old familiar face. And she brought with her this package which some of my coworkers from Louisville had jammed full of notes and gifts and inside jokes and wonderful memories. It was truly one of the best packages I have ever received in my life. And I went through its contents with tears: tears of joy for all the wonderful memories it contained, tears of blessing of the wonderful friends I gained in my time there, and also some tears of sadness in my missing them so much. I couldn't even explain all the stories it held if I wanted to!

A box full of love.
This was on of the contents of the box: It was a copy of the letter of recommendation one of my colleagues and dear, dear friend, Jenn wrote for me when I was applying for the job here.
These are backward because either Blogger or my Mac is weird. Anyway, here are the marathon pics I promised. Here is a very tired Brent before we got in the car. He is proudly wearing his GOLD medal :) Doesn't it look like SO MUCH FUN to run 13.1 miles all at one time?!! ? Yeah, I don't think so.
Crossing the finish line. 1:41. Unbelievable if you ask me.
This is right before the finish line and he is still moving unbelievably fast. If he had long hair, there would be self-induced wind-in-the-hair happening. And this is up hill. He is my hero.
It pains me too even look at this. Actually, looking at this makes me feel like I need a tall glass of water…excuse me for a moment.
Caroline and Kali were here for a week! and it was wonderful. Her and Torri reunited rather easily [oh and Torri was named to the All-State basketball team this week too…WHAT?! Yeah. I'm surrounded by freaking athletes! Way to go Torri]
Practicing her beautiful smile with Paige
She's learning how to really ham it up for the camera if you can't tell
One evening, Mom and Kali were trying to make supper and it was my job to keep Caroline out of the way. Well, she wanted to be in the kitchen, so I got the laptop and found different songs that she knew on Youtube. We watched other kids sing "This Little Light of Mine" and "Jesus Loves Me" etc for a long time. She didn't quite know what to think of it at first, and she kept making this face. It was cracking me up.
Eventually she loosened up a bit and started singing along
Helping Nana stir
If you know Caroline, then you know she likes to help out/be involved in whatever you are doing. Here she is helping Uncle Brent play the guitar.
Here she is helping Nana make brownies
She also quite enjoys being the star of the show…who doesn't? After bath time she didn't really mind being paraded around the house while her adoring fans ooohed and awwwed. [She also loved the little plastic necklaces that Nana has for her. She immediately wanted to put this one on after getting out of the tub.
One day Papa and CJ went outside and were busy for hours. When she came back in, she was filthy…because Papa had let her dig around in the fire pit for awhile. She was also very thirsty. Those two….
And it's no secret that her favorite reason for visiting Missouri is Scout, Nana and Papa's runaway dog ["runaway" because she showed up at their house one day a year and a half ago, and "runaway" because she follows them to town every single day, running the entire 2 or 3 miles…she's crazy…but I digress]. Caroline absolutely goes ecstatic every time she sees her. Here she is chasing Scout across the yard while squealing with pure delight.

And that is all for now. Thanks for being okay with the random compiling of different topics. In review:
-Caroline and Kali came to visit. They are awesome. She loves Scout. Dad lets her get really dirty.
- Brent ran a 1/2 marathon. He is ridiculous athlete.
- We kept our nephews and had fun.
- M coworkers/friends from Louisville sent me the best package ever. It made me cry.


marathon man

Brent crossed the finish line just before 10 this morning at his first ever 1/2 marathon.

He's been training for a little while…and by training I mean every Saturday he ran. That's about it. He's a freak of nature, athletically speaking, so the rest just came naturally for him.

How did he do?

Well, he finished FIRST in his age bracket and SECOND over all! Awesome. His time was 1:41. Let me do the math for you: That is 7.77 minute miles. Ridiculous.

He did awesome. And is a little sore now. But we await tomorrow when the true pain will probably set in :). But I repeat, he did awesome!

They also had a 10K and a 5K run…Brent thought I maybe should have ran one of those [actually, I believe he suggested the 5k because he is a wise man…] but I decided that I would just drop him off at the start, grab some coffee and breakfast with a friend, then drive back to the finish. It was much more enjoyable for everyone involved that way. [I actually almost missed Brent crossing the finish because I didn't think he would be done that soon! Bad wife award?]

I'm so proud of him and will post the few pictures I was able to get as he whizzed by a little later. We have our nephews right now and 70 degree weather so I'm going to go enjoy those things right now :)

[oh, and I dropped my phone in the toilet.]