Thursday, August 30, 2007

Random Thoughts

Well, it's almost Labor Day weekend, the first official holiday weekend of the school year! Yippeee!!! And the great thing about THIS Labor Day weekend is that I/we already have 3 entire weeks of school completed! Next year at this time, we will only be beginning school, but this year, there are 3 weeks down and only 33 to go.

I realized yesterday that 11 months from right now, the 4 of us will be on our Disney Cruise. Yeah, I'm a bit excited about that but I wouldn't say that I "can't wait" because I most certainly can. There are many moments of life to live and hopefully lots of good things that are going to happen between now and 11 months from now. But I can still imagine what it's going to be like.............I just love Disney World and everything about it and I anticipate our Disney vacations more than any others. In addition to the cruise, we will also spend a good bit of time in all the Disney parks, water parks, and Universal! And the great part is that even after we get back home, there will still be a good 3 weeks of summer vacation left before school starts.

It was announced today at school that we will return to the regular schedule next week! Thank God! I really hate having to get my girls up at 5:40am. That's just not fair for a 10 and 7 year old. I am also happy for my own students; now they won't have to listen to me until 7:45am instead of 6:45! And tomorrow is "Football Friday," as B1, B2, and I like to call it. Triad plays at Collisnville tomorrow night. Hopefully we can secure a win after the week 1 loss to Chatham.

Looking forward to a somewhat relaxing tomorrow night, SLEEP on Saturday morning, a birthday party Saturday at noon, family party Saturday afternoon/evening, and ????? on Sunday and Monday. I am hoping the weather is nice enough to take the girls fishing on Sunday. They earned a fishing afternoon over the summer and still have not redeemed it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Friendship Bread???

I have a student teacher this semester and today, she brought me a starter portion of "Amish Friendship Bread." I have heard of this in the past, but never actually tried it. I must admit that I am skeptical. Has anyone out there ever made this bread before? The bag she gave me contains a yellowish liquid that is made up of sugar, flour, eggs, and milk.......I think. I am NOT supposed to put this mixture in the fridge. Milk not in the fridge? Hmmm.......that just doesn't sound very appetizing. On Wednesday, I add some more sugar, flour, and milk again and still don't put it in the fridge. On Monday, Sept. 3, I add a bunch more ingredients, make up 4 new bags of "stuff" to give to other people who may want this goo, and then bake what I have left to make 2 loaves of supposedly very yummy bread. I just have issues with the thought of milk not being refrigerated. I am going to go ahead and proceed with the whole thing because I want to experience this and see what it's all about and see if the bread is as good as I have heard. But I still am a bit grossed out. What do you think?

Friday, August 24, 2007

1300+ Big Sighs All At Once

Yeah, so today during 6th hour, we hear the announcement that we will be CONTINUING our wonderful heat schedule for another week. Yep, that's right, I get to continue to start teaching at 6:45am for another week. My student teacher (who has about a 40 minute drive every morning) about had a coronary when she heard the news. And I swear that you could hear just about every student at Triad High School all sigh or cry at once. Honestly, now that I've sort of gotten used to the schedule, I don't mind it so much. I have a big chunk of my own day left even after the school day is over, which is nice. I'm not real fond of getting my own children up at 5:40am though so we can leave by 6:10. That part isn't fun at all. When I tucked them in just a little while ago, I reminded them that they could sleep until noon tomorrow if they wish, and even as young as they are, they were pretty darn happy about that!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tag, You're It!

Here's the idea.....if I tag you (at the end of this post), you must do a post with the same questions about yourself and tag 4 new people. So here we go:

Four things about me you may not have known:
1. I cannot even hardly sew on a button
2. I have visited 43 of the United States
3. I took piano lessons for 10 years
4. I hate listening to the sound of people chewing food

Four jobs I've had:
1. Food service at Eastern Illinois University
2. Highland Dairy Queen
3. ITT Financial Services
4. Triad High School math teacher

Four movies I could watch over and over again:
1. The Silence of the Lambs
2. A Christmas Story
3. Grease
4. Titanic

Four favorite TV shows:
1. Friends (even though it's only reruns)
2. Friday Night Lights
3. Grey's Anatomy
4. Deal or No Deal (waiting for it to start back up again!)

Four favorite hobbies:
1. Scrapbooking
2. Taking pictures
3. Traveling
4. watching my kids do their activities

Four places I have lived:
1. Kirkwood, MO (born there)
2. St. Jacob, IL
3. Charleston, IL (college)
4. Troy, IL (1st year of our marriage)

Four favorite foods:
1. Turtle Pie from the House of Plenty in Highland
2. my mom's Caesar salad
3. mushrooms (prepared almost any way)
4. white wedding cake with lots of icing

Four websites I check daily
1. The blogs listed at the bottom of mine
2. Triad
3. e-bay
4. ???????

Four people I tag:
1. Becky
2. Jenn
3. Nancy
4. The Carters

Monday, August 20, 2007

Early Risers

Question: What do high school students not want to be doing at 6:45am?

Answer: Sitting in a classroom, STARTING their school day!

Yep, since we are on a heat schedule, I get to start teaching advanced algebra at 6:45 in the morning! Yipppeeee!!! Well, seriously, it really has not been so bad. We started this schedule last Thursday and continue it through this week. Once you get used to it, it's not all that awful. The kids are definitely quiet at that time of the day. And.....the good part is that the school day is over at 1:30 in the afternoon, so you really have a good chunk of the day left to do other stuff.

I still think that they will be happy next week though when we go back to "normal" and start an hour later. 7:45am will seem like noon to them!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Little Bit of the Blues

I must admit, I have felt a little apprehensive and sad these past couple of days. I don't really know why but I am pretty sure it has something to do with the beginning of the school year. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and really can't imagine doing anything else. However, back in May, when I looked out at all of my classes (I teach high school math, about 140 students per day), they had become so familiar to me. I knew the kids, knew many of their parents, knew some of their interests, which sports they played and which clubs they were in. Now. I feel like I have a new group of strangers sitting before me. And yes, this happens every year. It is exciting as well as scary. I always wonder if I'm going to bond with this new group. What are their grades going to be like? Are they going to work hard or am I going to have to keep after them to constantly do their work? Every teacher faces these questions at the beginning of each new year I'm sure. It's something that is unavoidable, but still a bit scary.

Another factor is that even though my own biological children are only 10 and 7 years old and have just entered 5th and 2nd grades, every year is another year closer to them being grown and leaving. I also realize that as parents, raising them to be good, independent individuals is what God wants us to do and why He gave them to us in the first place. And don't get me wrong either, when the day comes for college, I will encourage my girls to go somewhere away from home. I went to college away from home and honestly feel that by doing it the way I did, I got the "full" college experience. I think it just makes me appreciate them a little more right now. Even when they are whining and fighting, I thank God for them every day.

I have also read a couple of articles recently about people who would once have been called "empty-nesters" who found a whole new life once their children left home. I'm not sure that I will do that, but I do hope that my husband and I are both healthy and active and able to enjoy at least some years of retirement together after our teaching careers are over. We have said that we will buy some sort of motor home and travel in it during the winter months while working as ushers at Busch Stadium during the summer months! That would be pretty cool!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Swimming Pictures

Even though right now it seems that summer will be with us for a long time to come, reality says that it won't. Probably within the next month, our back yard pool will be closed! So we are going to try to suck up every last minute we can get before closing day arrives. Today was my first day of school but their first day isn't until Wednesday. So, after I got home today, the girls and I swam for an hour or so before coming in to prepare dinner. The picture of B1 "throwing" B2 turned out pretty good! And why B1 wants to get into the hot tub on a day like today I'll never understand. Must be the blonde roots! Ha ha!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I Love Kenny Chesney!!!

My husband and I, along with one of my best friends and one of my favorite students from last year, went to the Kenny Chesney concert in St. Louis last night! Wow, what an awesome show. First of all, I absolutely love Kenny Chesney so my feelings are already biased. However, regardless whether you are a fan or not, he puts on one hell of a show. His songs mean a lot to me. I am one of those people who reads into things, sometimes too much. But I look at song lyrics and try to decipher what they really mean. Part of the reason I like KC so much is because he is my age. Therefore, when he sings "I Go Back" and I hear the line that goes "Jack and Diane painted a picture of my life and my dreams.....suddenly this crazy world made more sense to me", I totally know what he means! "Jack and Diane" came out my freshman year of high school, when the world was becoming a confusing place to me and then it seemed to be more clear after listening to John (Cougar at that time) Mellencamp sing about high school love. Also, in KC's song "Keg in the Closet," he sings about the fact that back in '89, he was in college and there was a keg in the closet and pizza on the floor. Well, 1989 was also the year that I turned 21 and I can so relate to all those awesome college experiences. During the past few KC concerts that I have attended, he has signed a guitar at the end of the show and given it out to a child in the audience. He did so again last night, pulling a little girl who looked to be about 8 years old up on stage with him and eventually kissing her on the top of the head while presenting her with the signed guitar. You don't see many performers doing things like that. After seeing him in concert, I am always reminded why he continues to win Entertainer of the Year honors over and over again.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

All In One Day

Yes, I picked ALL of these tomtoes today. Apparantly, while were were gone on vacation, those people who I encouraged to come and pick things out of my garden didn't think that these little cherry/grape tomatoes were worth the hassle. But let me tell you, if you are a tomato lover like I am, they most certainly are worth it! These little guys are awesome. I think I seriously had over 200 of them that I washed today and put in a big bowl in my fridge. They are a great snack! With this wonderful weather we are having though, unfortunately I am not getting many bigger sized tomatoes at all. My dad told me that it's a good thing I didn't plan to make any salsa this year, which is very true. Most of the garden is a dried up mess and it doesn't look as if we will be getting any watermelons, which is a bummer.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Finally some pictures!

Here are some misc. pictures of us at Niagara Falls. B1 says her favorite part of the trip has been the Maid of the Mist ride and B2 just says Niagara Falls in general. I think my favorite part was Cedar Point, simply because I had never been there before and I love roller coasters. Had I never been at Niagara Falls, that would have been my favorite. It is simply amazing and just mesmerizing to watch.
My mother-in-law says our new kitchen looks "beautiful." I can't wait to get home to see it!

Friday, August 3, 2007

.....Two More Days.....

Mom was talking tonight about something that she had done last week as if it was last month. It seems like last week was a long time ago. I can't decide if that is good or bad!?! It does seem as if we have been gone a long time! I am sort of anxious to get home to see my new kitchen but then again, school starts exactly 1 week after we get home and I don't think I'm ready for that yet. People who know me know how much I love my students and I will enjoy seeing them again, but this summer went by so quickly with all the improvements we are trying to make at home. I could use a little more time........... BUT it will all work out as it always does. I must say that B1 and B2 have been good little travels. They always have been really. We took B1 to Florida at 6 mos. of age and then to Colorado at 18 mos. They are almost better travels for long distances then for short ones around home. They get a little squirly at times and we must correct them, but for the most part, we can't ask for much more.

As you can see, I still have not posted any pictures. Every time I think about doing so, the digital camera is in the van and I am in my PJ's and simply don't feel like going to get it. I will get some pictures eventually. Here is what we have been up to these past 2 days:

August 2, 2007: Today we slept late, which felt great! Once we were all up and showered, etc., we went downstairs to the Denny’s that is in our hotel and ate brunch. Some of us had breakfast and some of us had lunch. We drove into Canada again and drove a little ways down the Niagara River, towards the Ariel tram ride. We didn’t ride the tram, only looked at it. Then we stopped at a souvenir store so Mom could buy a sweatshirt. Mom and Dad came back to the hotel while the 4 of us headed to “Journey Behind the Falls.” We didn’t get there until about 2:30pm and they were selling tickets for 5pm. We bought some and then went to the mall for awhile to waste some time. The mall is connected to a casino, so my hubby and I each took turns gambling while the other one stayed with the girls. Then we went behind the falls at 5pm. It was nice but not as great as we expected it to be. But the girls liked it so I guess that’s what matters. We ate dinner at a TGI Friday’s Restaurant and then came back to the US side. We went to Goat Island and got some pictures and some really close up views of both the US and Canadian Falls. Finally we got back to the room about 9pm. The girls stayed here with Mom and Dad while my hubby and I went to the casino a couple blocks away to gamble some more. We got back to the hotel room about 11:45 and went to bed.

August 3, 2007: We slept in today! Yay! When we got up, we opened the adjoining door to Mom and Dad’s room and found a note that said they had to go get some coffee at the casino! Yeah, right! Anyway, my hubby took the girls to the pool and I went to the treadmill in the fitness room. It sucked! The room doesn’t have an air vent and I think I would have broken a sweat just sitting in there for 40 minutes. But I walked and felt much better about it once it was done. We got cleaned up and packed our stuff into our car, had lunch at Denny’s, and then once again headed across the bridge into Canada. It’s funny how the customs people treat you differently every time. They all ask to see your ID of course, but the questions they ask are always different. We took a good look at the falls one last time and then headed for Toronto. It didn’t take too long to get here. We are staying together in a Quality Suites Hotel. Mom and Dad have the king bed, my hubby and I have the double bed, and the girls have the pull-out sofa bed. We went downtown via some side streets and found it to be very interesting. It was amazing to us how many little restaurants, shops, stores, etc. are along the streets here. You could find almost any kind of food you desire! Bruce went to the Hockey Hall of Fame and the 5 of us just found a few little shops in which to kill some time. Once Bruce was back with us, we drove back towards our hotel and found a mall with a movie theatre. We all went to see the movie “No Reservations” with Catherine Zeta-Jones. It was good and we all liked it, the girls more so than the guys. We ate dinner in the mall after that at the Rainforest Café, which Mom and Dad had never been to. We all enjoyed our food. We came back to the room and went to bed about 11:30pm.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

.....And The Next Four.....

I will try to post some pictures tomorrow...............

We are having a great time on this's funny how some things bring back memories from vacations when I was a kid. I am sorry for not being able to read more of your blogs recently and comment on them, but I promise I will do so once we get home and get settled back in. Trouble is, that while we are gone, my kitchen is being completely re-done and therefore, we also have to "move back into" our new kitchen. All of our kitchen stuff is right now in our living room. That will be a fun time, I'm sure! But it will be exciting to walk in to see all the new stuff in place! Anyway, here are 4 more of our days.....

July 29, 2007: Today was pretty much just a driving day. We left our hotel at about 7am, grabbed some breakfast (at McDonald’s again!) and headed for the interstate. We had to drive across about half of Ohio, just a little bit of Pennsylvania, and into New York State. I’d say we drove about 2/3 of the way across New York. Our motel tonight isn’t the greatest one we’ve ever stayed in……to say the least. I think I was lucky to get a motel room at all though, with today being the induction day for the Baseball Hall of Fame and Cooperstown being only 22 miles away. From what we heard tonight at a restaurant, there were over 75,000 people in Cooperstown today. But anyway, we are staying at the Townhouse Motel tonight, in Oneonta, NY. We are about 250 miles from New York City from my calculations. We ate dinner tonight at a Friendly Restaurant, which was similar to Denny’s and very tasty! We went to a Wal-Mart for a little while to kill some time and the girls both found backpacks for this school year. B1's is "High School Musical" and B2's is a pink shoulder bag design.

July 30, 2007: Today we got up and went to a Dunkin’ Doughnuts for breakfast. Then we headed up Hwy. 28 to Cooperstown. We passed by our hotel for tonight on our way into town, which is a Best Western. We got into downtown Cooperstown by 10am and found some places to park, which wasn’t easy. Not only did the Hall of Fame induction ceremony take place yesterday, but there are also many little league baseball teams in town because of Cooperstown Dreams Park, a baseball school just outside of town. The gift shops and card shops were full all day long. We ate lunch at a place called Triple Play Café. I also saw a little diner called the Cooperstown Diner which I remember eating at when I was young, with Mom, Dad, my brother, and of course Grandma Philipine. We took some pictures in front of that place for old time’s sake. We tried to go to the Hall of Fame but it was so crowded that we decided to wait until tomorrow. So we came back to the hotel and I did some laundry while Dad swam with the girls. We all went to Pizza Hut for supper, just across the parking lot. Mom and the girls and I played some Skip-Bo while my hubby walked and Dad sat outside and enjoyed the weather. We all went to bed about 10:30pm. We are all staying in the same room tonight because of the cost, which is $214 for the night!

July 31, 2007: This morning I walked outside around our parking lot and the entire complex several times. We all got ready and left the hotel by 9am. We had a hot breakfast at the hotel, which was very good. We headed downtown again and parked on the main street. It wasn’t as busy today as yesterday, which was good, but still there were plenty of people around. We got to the Hall of Fame by 10am and took a self-guided tour. We were through with that by 1pm. It was a nice tour with many interesting things to read and look at. Then we went to a restaurant called TJ’s for lunch. After that, we got in the car and headed out of Cooperstown, north on Hwy 28 towards I-90 west. We drove all afternoon and got into Buffalo, NY by 6:30pm. We found a restaurant that Mom and Dad had heard about called the Anchor Bar and Grill. Supposedly, it is the place where buffalo chicken wings originated. We ate dinner there and found out that their wings are almost exactly like the ones at Alfonzo’s in Maryville! We were done eating there about 8pm and then found our way to our hotel in Niagara Falls, NY. We checked into our rooms, which are adjoining so that’s nice. Mom and Dad went to bed but the 4 of us went exploring. We took a nice night walk and saw the American Falls by night, which was pretty. The girls were amazed at the falls, and they haven’t even seen the Canadian ones yet! Then we played a game of miniature golf. Finally, we came back to the room and went to bed about 12:30am.

August 1, 2007: Today we got up and got going about 9:30am. We did a lot stuff today and spent too much money, but it’s VACATION!!! We went across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada and then had to go through customs, which turned out to be not a big deal at all. We only had to show our driver’s licenses and the girls’ birth certs. We first headed to the Skylon Tower and bought tickets to go to the top to have lunch at 11:30. So then we had about 1.5 hours to kill. We walked down to the falls and got a good look at the Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls. The closer we got, the wetter we got! Then we walked back to the Skylon and headed up for lunch. The Skylon is a tower sort of like the one in Seattle or Toronto, like a point. We ate lunch at their buffet, facing the falls, and then went to the observation deck. After that, we went downstairs and played some games in their arcade. Next, Dad and my hubby went to the casino across the street for a very short time while Mom, the girls and I hung out at the arcade a bit longer. Then we all went to the IMAX movie, which was pretty good. In the IMAX lobby now, they have all the barrels, etc. that people have attempted to go over the falls in. When I was younger, those were in a different location. Mom and Dad separated from us after that. I believe they came back to the hotel room to rest for awhile and then headed to a casino on the US side. We headed for the Maid of the Mist boat, where we rode to the base of the falls and got pretty darn wet! I rode that boat many years ago, probably in 1982, on my first trip here, but haven’t been on it since. Very cool! I especially liked when the captain of the boat said (while were at the base of the Canadian Falls) “Ladies and Gentlemen…..THIS is Niagara Falls!” It was awesome. Then we headed to Clifton Hill and the area of Niagara Falls that is totally commercial, but fun. We ate dinner there at a place called Kelseys, which was OK. We also let the girls go into some funhouse thing, which was a total waste of money but you live and learn, and once again it's vacation! We had dessert there too and I had a piece of frozen turtle cheesecake, dipped in chocolate and then rolled in mini chocolate chips. Talk about heaven! We then went back down to see the falls (both sides) while they were lit up for the night. Bruce dropped us off, drove around the block a time or two, and then picked us up. We came back to the hotel room and met back up with Mom and Dad. Bruce and Dad went to the casino (yeah, my parents and my husband like to gamble) a couple blocks from our hotel (on the US side). I helped the girls write out some post cards to their friends before getting on the computer for the rest of the night.