Friday, August 29, 2008

First week of school

Well, my first FULL week of school is over. I now only have 6 children, because one never showed up. Six students. I wish it were more, for the sake of the school, but I'm not complaining. I was surprised, though, at some of the challenges with only six kids. To start, they all know each other, so they came in talkative on the very first day. Usually you get a pass on the first day. I quickly solved that problem by rearranging their seats with an empty desk between each one.

Another problem is planning. Since I'm in a private school, I don't have any planning time, and I'm finding I have to plan way more than I thought. With such a small number, I go through the lessons faster. Good for them, but more work for me. I'm also struggling with special area - I have to teach art, music, and PE. It's harder than I expected because 45 minutes is a long time for music and art. Even PE. The kids have been begging for PE, and when we finally had it today, in about 10 minutes they were hot and asking to go in. Luckily for them we were using the parachute, which gave a bit of a breeze. For special area, I have all of the first and second graders, for a total of 16. This works well, especially for PE. It would be hard to play kickball with just my class.

As far as the boys go, we've had some issues with their school. The bus situation was a pain to figure out, and they just changed the pick-up time again. Jonathan now has 27 (!!!!!!!!!) in his Kindergarten class. If they don't hire a new teacher at the "9 day count," I'm seriously considering taking him with me to school. Finally, they have cancelled recess for the whole school, which I have been protesting in every way I can. Nothing so far, but I keep asking other parents to call, too.

Craig and Liz are here visiting, so we spent the afternoon at Daytona Lagoon with them. After dinner at Jonathan's, we're ready to crash for the night.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Obama Encounter!

Yesterday we got a call from our friends in Wisconsin. Jeff was our pastor until he took a call in Rice Lake. Jennifer is also a pastor, serving a congregation in Eau Clair, WI. Imagine Jennifer's surprise when Barack Obama's campaign called her church on Saturday and asked if it would be okay for him to attend on Sunday. She said yes, and the next morning, there he (and his secret service) was. Jennifer presided over a baptism and even communed Barack. They forwarded us these pictures, from a New York Post article! I am so jealous!!!!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Our Europe Trip!!!!

After two days of hard work (we had to put our days off to good use), Chris has completed an online book all about the first two weeks of our Europe trip. We're going to also order a copy for us. Follow this link to access it, and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Benjamin has a blog!

Today Benjamin got his own blog. I used my account, so his entries will say "posted by Karen and Chris," but they were actually done by him. Check it out, and don't forget to leave comments!!

Jonathan's artwork

Here's what Jonathan brought home from his first day of school. What an artist!! I love the fingers and toes on everyone. He says he "messed up a little" on Daddy because he is smaller than Mommy. I like it just the way it is.

What to do on a rainy day?

Although the boys were excited to have two days off from school, I was a bit apprehensive. What do three boys do, stuck in the house all day? The answer usually is to make a huge mess, be loud, and occasionally fight with each other. This time, however, they exceeded our expectations.

After lunch, we went to their friend Nikki's house so they could help splash water out of her pool. After about an hour or so, they were getting cold (it is rather windy, after all), so I brought all of them back to our house to play. I think it's always better to have extra kids around - they seem to play better. I warned them about being quiet in the house, so they came up with their own solution - play outside. We let them, since we have been getting rain and wind but no lightning. The four of them spent the next two hours playing "olympics outside. Above, they are doing relay races. Below, Alexander is doing "javelin."

After each event, they gave out gold, silver, and bronze medals (from the school's Reading Counts program) and stood on a "podium." I am constantly impressed with how creative they are in their playing. They went through the garage and found all sorts of equipment to use for each event. Even more amazing, they didn't break anything or get hurt!! Today we're out of school again and they are already asking to call Nikki. We just may let them do that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Odense pictures

We spent two days in Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. These pictures are from their children's center. It was attached to the H.C. Andersen museum, and we almost didn't pay extra to go in. Good thing we did-it was one of their favorite places. Here Jonathan is working in the woodworking area.
The name of the place - don't ask me to pronounce it
Everyone, adults included, picked a cloak to wear before entering. We also chose things to put in our pockets, that would be used later. The boys chose to get their faces painted
This is what the play section looked like - a literal fairy tale land. It's almost indescribable.
Alexander's face painting was frightening, in a way. He sure looked older and scary!

Monday, August 18, 2008

First day of school...for a day!!

Today was our first day of school here in Volusia County! As you can see from the picture, I had two excited boys and one unhappy one. Alexander cried until about 5 minutes before he got on the bus, and then was fine.
When I picked the boys up from afterschool, I got a (literal) thumbs up from Jonathan, along with happy smiles from the other boys. They are all happy with their teachers and had a great day.
I, too, had my first day of school. Six of my seven children arrived, and I had a pretty good day overall. I made a few first year teacher type mistakes, but I have two days to work on them since we have NO SCHOOL for the next two days. Yup, we have two hurricane days coming up. Go to for the latest information on Tropical Storm Fay. Two days off on the first day of school. Not quite the way I had pictured my first week of school, but we'll deal with it. Two days home with the boys, and unable to go outside. Ugh.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Legoland pictures

Here are some of my favorite pictures from our trip. We were at Legoland for just a day and a half, but it was very memorable. We had to take an intercity train to a local train to a bus to foot to get there. When we walked up, this is what we saw - a hotel under construction. I asked them if they gave a discount. Instead of money, we got a bottle of wine and a pack of gummy bears.

After eating dinner, we walked over to Legoland. You can get in free from 6 -8 PM! Jonathan had the time of his life. He kept walking from place to place, saying "this is so adorable!" The next pictures are things made totally out of legos.

Later in our trip, we would see this exact street in Copenhagen.

The next day, we rode all the rides. The boys met Nash, an American who currently lives in Finland. He went on all the water rides with them.
Jonathan enjoyed the kiddie rides. This one is empty because we were the first people in the park. He rode all the kiddie rides within about an hour.
The safari was his favorite.
This one was fun!!!

Boy, were we glad Nash would to on the rides with them. They are soaked!


Well, I finished my week of "preplanning." My classroom is ready, as our all of my plans. On Monday morning I will welcome my SEVEN students. Yes, seven. I am so excited to begin teaching, and it's not simply because of the class size. It's a wonderful work environment. There are 11 people on staff. We went out for dinner and drinks after open house, and they are a fun group. Plus, I don't have to deal with all of the crap that is going on in the public schools at the moment. Thanks to No Child Left Behind and a bunch of regulations from the state, my children with have NO RECESS this year. That's right, NO RECESS. It takes away from instructional time. They, of course, were devastated. I told them the bright side - since they now have to go to the afterschool program, they are the only children who will get to use the playground equipment this year. I asked the principal to whom I should complain, and he said "the state." Ugh. They all have good teachers, so hopefully everything will go well this year. I'm hoping to take some pics of my classroom to post...stay tuned!

Bremen pictures

Well, we finally have internet access again (long, frustrating story- I won't bore you!) and I'm hoping to get the rest of our Europe pics up soon. These are all from the city of Bremen, which is about 30 minutes outside of Ottersberg. We visited the city twice, once to go to the science cetner ( that funny shaped building ) and once to see the city.
The Science Center had a great exhibit all about CHOCOLATE!! At the end , we got free samples - liquid chocolate in ice cream cones.
We ate dinner at Admiral Nelson's - took this picture for dad.
This is the restaurant. We had to wait awhile, but it was worth it - the pancakes were delicious.
A very cool water play area at the Science Center. They pumped the water at the top of the "mountain," and then tried to control the flow of the "river." The dads enjoyed it, too.

The Bremen town musicians, of course. Next to it is the Bremen Dom. We didn't get a chance to go inside because there was a wedding.

Look at our pirates!! Arrgggghhh!

Here is Jonathan waiting outside Lisa's house - one of my favorite pictures. I also like this one of Alexander in front of the HUGE door on the Dom. The size of everything is simply amazing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We're home!!

We are finally back in Florida. We drove on Friday from Richmond. Pretty uneventful drive, except for 3 thunderstorms. It took us about 11 1/2 hours, and we made it home in time for the Olymics. Yea! Unfortunately, when we turned on the computer, we couldn't get internet. The modem is broken and needs to be replaced, which will hopefully be completed tomorrow afternoon.

Yesterday we all went to my school and rearranged the furniture, cleaned, and then hauled in a bunch of boxes. We brought 5 boxes of school stuff back from Allentown, plus I have a ton at home. Today Chris' mom and I returned to do some further work, but were thwarted a little by the lack of airconditioning. It went out this morning during early church and still isn't working. After 2 1/2 hours, we were done, and returned back here to swim and cool off.

We have accomplished a lot - the whole room has been cleaned, I have gone through all of my teachers' manuals, the closets are organized, and I have started to put everything back. I start tomorrow with an all day meeting, and then "meet the teacher" is on Thursday. Everything should be ready by then!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More scenes from Pennsylvania.

For my third and last post of the day (it's almost time to get the boys out of the pool), I have some pictures from the last two weeks.

As you may know, Alexander went to camp last summer for half a week and had a great time. This year, however, he convinced himself he didn't like it and did not want to go. This was, of course, after camp was already paid for! We made him go, and had to leave him screaming at camp. I anxiously awaited a letter from him every day, but none ever came. Turns out he was having a blast. He was in the same cabin as his cousin Jack, and Benjamin was right next door. Here are pictures with their respective counselors.

When we picked him up on Saturday, all of the campers performed two songs for the parents. We also saw a slide show of the week. Alexander is in the middle.
Cindi brought the kids back to Allentown for the day, and Bob, Denise, and Becky joined us for a picnic. With Joey and Jonathan wearing the same shirt, it was hard to tell them apart!

The next day, we worshiped at St. John's, where we saw Craig and Liz. Here they are at the top of a parking garage, where we went to "see" New York City. Despite the haze, we were able to make out the Empire State Building and the skyline. Benjamin was happy - he's been begging to see New York City, and now he can say that he has (sort of).

Pictures from Penn State

Enjoy these pictures from last week's trip to State College. After driving around the HUGE campus, we walked to some buildings and found this squirrel. I think he was licking ice cream off the ground. It reminded us of one of the characters from Ice Age.
We also saw a mouse running across the steps of one of the buildings!!!
Jeff insisted we had to have this famous ice cream. I had "death by chocolate," which did not kill me. It was good, but not quite as rich as the ice cream in Europe.

Here is Jeff with the famous Nitany Lion statue, being his usual self.
Here we are, a bit more dignified.
This is the music building, where Jeff spends most of his time.
He'll have his own office next year. He is teaching two classes and grading for one. We also met one of his professors who had great things to say about him.

We thought these balconies were funny - don't try to step out on them!!!