Tuesday, January 19, 2010

ARF Concert and Stripes

Sunday night, Bruce and I went to Tony LaRussa's ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation) concert on the campus of St. Louis University. This was a first for us.....we had never been to this benefit concert before. He ordered tickets for it back in December when we found out that his favorite, Dierks Bentley, would be the headliner. Little did I know then that some of the other performers would be awesome too!

The show started at 6:30pm with a band called the Lovehammers. They are a Chicago (boo!)-based alternative rock band and honestly, I didn't enjoy their music very much at all. But you know, you go to a concert and you know you are going to love a certain act in the show, so you sit there and tolerate the others. This is what I figured would happen until we heard Dierks, or until I looked at the program.

Next up: David Nail, a native Missourian. He mixed a bit of country with a little pop, etc. He was enjoyable and come to find out, his sister and niece were sitting in our row. We figured this out when he sent a tribute out to his 5-year old niece who was seeing him perform for the first time that night and the sister reacted by bursting out in tears!

The next performer was Jonathan Cain and his 16-year old daughter Madison. Jonathan was a member of Journey. So, after Madison (who is very talented) sang about 3 songs, she and her brother (who had been playing drums) left the stage and Jonathan remained at the piano. He did a medley of Journey songs which I absolutely loved! I graduated from elementary school in 1982, high school in 1986, and college in 1990. So I was definitely a child of the 80's and Journey was HUGE then! That was a trip down memory lane!

We then had intermission and Bruce went out to get us some nachos. Texting was actually encouraged during this concert because one of the sponsors was AT&T! LOL! So I called the girls to check on them and then texted some people to let them know where I was and what I was doing. I asked one of my students who loves Dierks Bentley if she wanted me to call her when he was on and let her hear a song. She did! We also looked around while the lights were up for "stars" in the crowd. There were several current and former Cardinal baseball players there (this concert is held every year in conjunction with Cardinal Winter Warm-Up) including Mark McGwire. Tony LaRussa mentioned a lot of names of people and when he said Mark's name, everyone gave a huge cheer, which was kind of a sigh of relief given the news about him this past week.

The next performer was Dennis DeYoung from Styx fame. Wow! This guy is 62 years old and has white hair. But man, can he still perform! His voice sounds great, he can play the keyboard wonderfully, and he has a great sense of humor. He was a true entertainer, not just a musician. He and 5 musicians are going to be at the St. Louis Family arena on Feb. 12. If we didn't already have Blues hockey tickets that night, I might think about going to that show now that I have seen what he can do. He, of course, sang some of the old Styx songs that I love and again......memory lane!

Then it was time for Kathleen Madigan, a comedian. She was hilarious. She was kind of like the girl next door, only really funny! We laughed a lot at her.

Dierks then came out and performed with another guitarist and a banjo player. He did not have his full band and the 3 of them sat on stools on the stage. It wasn't quite the energy-filled Dierks we are used to seeing. But it was very nice. He sang about 6 songs, joked with the crowd, and wished someone a happy birthday. He got done playing and it was like 10:15! Time flew by.

We really enjoyed the show and will probably try to go back next year.

Yesterday, on my day off, I got some stripes put on my Honda Pilot. It is over 8 months old now and doesn't have 2000 miles on it yet! :-) I chose red because of Triad and the Cardinals. I think it looks pretty darn good and it really wasn't all that expensive.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Goodbye Airman Bradley Smith

Yesterday, my daughters and I took part in saying goodbye to one of my former students who died defending our country. Senior Airman Bradley Smith from Troy, IL died from the result of a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on January 3. He left behind a wife and a 3 month old daughter as well as his parents, brother, and many many other family members and friends. You can read an article about him here.

I had Brad in geometry class when he was a sophomore at Triad High School. He graduated in 2004 and honestly, the Class of 2004 has been one of my favorite classes to come through THS in my 11 years there. I remember him as being fun-loving and getting along with just about everyone. He had a great personality and liked to joke with me and other students. He was always smiling. It seemed like it would take a lot to get Brad down. One time when I did see him down was when he met me at the top of the stairs one Monday morning (3/17/03 to be exact) to give me the sad news of another man who had passed away. The man who had died had been a classmate of mine during my school years and was a friend of Brad's through church. Brad knew that I would want to know about this man's passing and he especially met me that morning to give me this news. Brad was a great kid.

The Triad School District is composed of students who live in one of three towns. Most of these students live in Troy, as Troy is about 10 times larger than either of the other two towns. Our three towns, however, are tied together by the school system. Because of that, the other two smaller towns, as well as Brad's hometown of Troy, came out in support of his homecoming yesterday. These pictures were taken while B1, B2, and I stood with other people from our small town and watched the processional pass by.

Firefighters and the emergency truck

B1 and B2 waiting.....

Other folks waiting.....

Coming across the bridge.....

and down the road.

Some of the other vehicles in the procession


This is what living in a small town is all about. We honor each other and help each other during occasions such as these. Last night, on our way to St. Louis, my family and I drove through Troy. The American flags still lined the roads and on many of the business signs in town, messages were written about Brad or his family. It is very sad and touching, yet really makes me feel proud to be an American and proud to say that I knew him. I will continue to pray for his soul and for his family.

There was an article in this morning's newspaper which can be read here. Ths article talks not only about Brad, but about the processional yesterday afternoon.

There is also a video which I believe one of the local firemen put together. It is about 12 minutes long and very moving. Click below to watch; it's worth your time.
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Goodbye, Brad. You will be missed. Thank you for what you did for all of us.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sweet Sweet Days

A snow day has got to be one of best perks of being a teacher. Usually, you have some idea that it is coming. Districts located close by start showing up on the bottom of your TV screen with the word "closed" next to them and your adrenalin starts to race! Students begin texting you, asking if we are off yet. Heck, I don't know - they usually know before me! People start posting on Facebook that this district and that district are off. My kids start doing the "snow dance." I keep looking outside up at the street light to see just how hard the snow (or ice) is coming down. I honestly think the build-up to finally KNOWING that you are off for sure is just so much fun!

Now don't get me wrong; I love my job. I really do.

When someone chooses to go to college, major in education, student teach, and finally acquire a teaching position all their own, it is pretty much given that they are going to have at least 10 weeks off sometime between May and August. We also get a nice Winter vacation and usually a few days off around Easter time. We also get bank/post office holidays. It's not a bad gig, really. Like I pointed out to someone today, however, if you are a GOOD teacher, you do just about as much work at home as what you do at school. And that's what "other" people often don't understand. But that's another story.

It's the days like yesterday and today that are so so sweet! When you think you are going to have to work and then poof! you don't - wow, that is AWESOME! It's like giving yourself 8 hours of nothing specific to do! When else does that ever happen? Shutting off the alarm and rolling back over after an early wake-up call announcing school is cancelled is one of the best feelings in the world for me. Knowing about it the night before is great too because you can stay up waaaayyy too late and do whatever! LOL!

Happy Snow Day everyone!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Relaxxxxxxing Break!

This Christmas break has been one of the more relaxing ones I can remember during my years of teaching. I think that there were several different things that attributed to it:

* I made sure my school work was caught up BEFORE the break began. I worked hard to make this happen but because of it, I have not had to do ANYTHING for school while I have been off. I haven't even had a little thought in the back of my head saying "you really should be doing this" or "you should spend some time doing that." How nice!

* Most everything was bought and wrapped prior to my first day off.

* We host Christmas Eve for Bruce's side of the family. My first day off was Dec. 23. I therefore had this entire day to spend preparing some of the dishes I served on Dec. 24. The girls helped me too. Also, before everyone left on the 24th, they pitched in to clean up (dishes, putting chairs away, etc.). That was a big help!

* Besides Santa gifts on Christmas morning, we had only ONE other place to go on 12/25. This is a first for us and it was WONDERFUL! We completely relaxed after opening gifts! Bruce did make breakfast, but (like I said in a previous post) from 10am - noon, he and I both took a nap in our couch recliners!

* We spent one night at the Ameristar Hotel and casino. There was a teeny tiny bit of stress involved there because we kept this a secret from the girls and I had to pack for them without them knowing. We snuck their bags into the back of the van. But once we were there, all I had to do was read magazines, swim in the pool, sit in the hot tub, enjoy the suite we had for a room, eat, and gamble. And winning $125 at the blackjack table didn't hurt either!

* This one is HUGE: The girls did not have any basketball (that's 3 teams total) practice OR games over break. Neither of them had pitching lessons (this is a twice-a-week activity; those coaches need time off too!). Sunday School was on break for 2 Sundays. B2 was supposed to go to gymnastics on 12/28 but that was the night we were at Ameristar, so we skipped it. Usually, we are running to these places Sunday - Thursday (yep, 5 days of the week!) but we had NOTHING during break! I love my kids and their activities but this time off from them truly helped make the break into somewhat of a "vacation."

* Although it seemed that I fixed a lot of dishes, we didn't eat many meals at home. One of the ones we did have at home was prepared by B1 and B2 using a cookbook they purchased with some of their Christmas money. Here are the things they made:

Main course: Chicken and Dumplings

Side: Chicken Quesidillas

Side: Fruit smoothies made with bananas, strawberries, and blueberries

Dessert: Cinnamon bears

Honestly, they did a fantastic job! Everything tasted really good. I was impressed with all of it, but especially the bears because they had to use yeast and let it rise, then punch it back, and let it rise again! Little chefs I have on my hands here! They were missing a vegtable in the meal, but at least we had some fruit in the smoothies! LOL!

* Bruce is good about helping take down the Christmas decorations, especially those outside. I am the main "putter upper" but he takes charge in getting it down and put away. He is also very good about taking ornaments off the tree and putting them back in their boxes, as well as fitting as many little ornament boxes into one big rubbermaind container as he can!

* New Year's Eve was planned a long time ago with people I knew are reliable and would definitely not have a change of plans at the last minute.

* We rented movies a couple times - once from the Red Box and once from a video store. We NEVER do that otherwise. At the video store, the sales person was trying to talk us into purchasing some deal where you rent a certain # of movies, collect points, get a certain # of movies free, etc. We declined because as I told Bruce, come Monday, life goes "back to normal" and we will most likely not be renting any movies until summer!

* We didn't have to go back to school right away on Jan. 2. I see this happening in a couple years when Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday. I can remember in the past having to go back on Jan. 2. Not fun!

That's about it for now. Monday, it's back to reality! Happy New Year to all of you!