Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Package from Germany

    This past weekend I took a course for professional development. It was about film scoring in the music classroom. I was excited to take it because I knew it would be interesting, but I was apprehensive because I knew it would all be new to me. The course was Friday night and all day Saturday. When I arrived home on Friday I was greeted with this by the kids:
(Not the ink- that was a gift to myself after I received this pen from a student who brought it from Italy to me!)

     The package was from a penpal, Christina in Germany. Her son Tobi writes to Timmy. They sent him a birthday gift and note from Tobi. David even got a nice book in German. (I can read most of it Christina. I will have to look up a few words, but I read better than I write my own ideas!) Then, in addition to my letter, she sent these treats for us:
     These taste like little crackers covered in chocolate. (Like puffed rice a little). Timmy thought they were pretty good and I liked the contrast of the sweet with the ... not sweet.
 Gummy snacks. Haven't tried yet.
 Tea. Can't wait to try the Roobois.
 Black licorice. Traditionally, I don't usually like black licorice, but I like the black licorice from The Netherlands WAY more than here in the US, so I'll probably at least give it a try.
 Chocolate pudding.
 Not quite sure what these are yet. It will be a surprise.
 "Kisses" with hazelnuts. Can't wait to try these too.
We have Werther's here too. Delicious.
 I treated myself to this chocolate bar. it was sweet but light. I liked it a lot. I liked the crunchy bits too.
Cute little erasers. I like the "decision eraser." It has answers like yes, no, maybe, later, etc. in German. I would put it on my desk at work but I know some student would "accidentally" take it.

      I loved being surprised by this sweet treat! Thanks Christina and family!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Fall "To Do" List

     I love autumn! The past 2 days have actually been chilly enough for me to 1) have a nice cup of tea in the morning instead of an iced coffee (apparently iced coffee all the time is a very New England thing), 2) put on warm, fuzzy socks and 3) wear a jacket on my way to work.

Family Fall "To Do" List
- Bake apple pie/ Apple crisp
- Make a leaf fort and jump in it
- Celebrate Tim's birthday (10/4)
- Celebrate my birthday (10/13)
- Go to look at the colors of the leaves ("leaf peeping")
- Have a fire pit and make s'mores
- Visit nana (My grandmother on the South Shore of MA)
- Visit Grammy and Papa (My parents in Maine)
- Visit Grammy and Grandpa (Matt's parents in Boston) 
- Snuggle in a cozy blanket
- Drink hot chocolate
- Find some yummy warm drink recipes
- Learn how to make shoo-fly pie
- Go apple picking
- Go hiking/ a walk
- Prepare for my "Thanksgiving tree" at school
- Celebrate Thanksgiving
- Decorate the house for fall
- Have a girls night
- Have a girls breakfast
-Hang out with the Davenports (friends of ours)
-Bring friends for a sundae at Putnam Pantry. 
- Go see a high school football game (and the band at halftime- woohoo!) 
- Make a meal in the crockpot
- Watch a football game on tv and eat snacks (AKA- eat snacks, blame football.. lol)
- Go to a fair/ autumn themed event
- Burn a candle/potpourri that smells like fall
- Enjoy a cup of tea on a chilly morning or evening
- Go trick or treating
- Eat a caramel apple (boys only. I don't like them)
-Watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"
-Meet my new niece (coming in October :) )
-Get a massage
-Camp for 1 night (Matt's idea.. SO cold. We'll see.) 
- Make a casserole for dinner.
- Eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast
 - Catch up on my letters

     What are some things your family likes to do in the fall? (Can you tell we like to eat and to cook?) Are there any traditions/events that take place in your area? 

     Speaking of different areas, I've been noticing some interesting visits to my blog lately. I had my first and only visitor from the Isle of Man today. I would love to hear from anyone who visits. Please feel free to comment or send me a message. I'm always interested to read how people got here. 

       Happy autumn! 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

David's surprise baptism

    We had a baptism service at church this week. There were 4 people who were getting baptized, 2 whom I've worked with in the youth program before. I always enjoy the baptism services because we usually take a video telling the testimony of the people being baptized and are able to hear why they want to profess their faith in Christ. Today was extra special for me.
      When the pastor called people up to the baptismal tank, 1 by 1, I noticed that things were going slightly out of order than normally. It turns out that the church didn't make the testimony videos this time around, I'm not 100% sure why. However, when they were done baptizing the 4, he invited anyone who had not been baptized before, but would like to, to come up and be baptized right then.
      The kids had gone to kids church and then they brought all of them in to watch the baptisms. There was a 10 year old boy sitting by us (who didn't go to the kids church portion) who asked his mom and volunteered right away.  Then, David (from across the room) surprised us by asking to be baptized. He walked right up there to the front of the church, took his sweatshirt and sneakers off and jumped right in.  David is a bit of a shy kid, but when asked what role Jesus plays in his life, and why he wanted to be baptized, he said "Well, when I was 3, I was attacked by a rabid skunk. I think it was Jesus who protected me and kept me healthy." He said he wanted to know Jesus/God more. It was a pretty cool morning.


God is good!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Currently 9/17

     This autumn, Tim will be playing flag football for the first time. Today was his first scrimmage. It was alright. They won and he had a good time. I don't know the rules well enough to really enjoy watching it. It will be fun to watch him get better at the sport. 

  World Without End (The Pillars of the Earth, #2)
      I just finished World Without End by Ken Follett. It is the second book of The Pillars of the Earth series.  I liked it a lot. It's over 1000 pages, but I stayed interested in the lives of all of the characters and of the town of Kingsbridge.
The President Is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman Who Dared Expose the Truth
      I am currently reading The President is a Sick Man by Matthew Algeo. The book is a few years old but I won a signed copy on Goodreads. I am generally not a political person but I love biographies. I had not heard of this event before (President Cleveland basically disappeared for 5 days and nobody said where he was) so I thought it might be interesting. I'm also enjoying some of the facts about how life was in the 1890s. Perhaps it is appealing to the same part of me that enjoys penpalling. I enjoy seeing snippets of every day life in different time periods and places. Come to think of it, that's probably what I enjoyed about the Follett book as well.

      Did I mention that I love to read? Or that my "to read bookshelf" is overflowing into a nicely stacked pile on my bedroom floor?   Or that I had to come up with some rules in fear that someday you may discover my body reading a book surrounded by a stack of "to read" books? So, the other day I walked into the teacher's room at school, I saw that the bookswap shelf had been updated. Yes! No! As I was about to run by it so I wouldn't be tempted, I noticed this placed on top:
The Kite Runner
    I have heard lots of good things about this book. I have wanted to read it for a long time. I have only listened to 1 or 2 audio books before so I decided I'd try it on my way to and from work. I'm loving it. My only 2 regrets are: 1) I'd love to see the spellings of all the names, etc because the author pronounces all of them correctly and 2) sometimes I don't want to get out of my car because I want to know what will happen next.

     I've been editing lesson plans and working hard at school. I feel like I have been making some of my teaching more effective. So far this year has been very enjoyable.

     Busy, yet happy. We just started our church community group. Tim has practice once a week for football, plus a practice before the game. I'm playing in a concert band and then Matt and I serve in church. When you add homework, relationships and life on, things get busy.
     One of my goals at school is to be an encourager. I am already okay at this, but I'd like to increase my efforts- to students, families and staff. So far so good I think. I'm jotting down some notes for my Thanksgiving project, and I should probably start cutting out leaves and doing the artwork.

      Today is the first day that it is feeling more like autumn. I despise being hot and my classroom is like a sauna. I love the cool breeze on my face while still being able to feel sunshine too. I like snuggling up in a blanket at the end of the day or having a nice cup of cocoa or hot chocolate. I'm looking forward to the next few months.

     I plan to write about our fall goals later in the week.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Last updated summer list

Today I started my 17th year of teaching. Students will start on Wed. Today was professional development about mental health and emergency situations. (Kind of a sober 1st day.) I would love to spend some time catching up but I'm exhausted and want to read for a few minutes before going to bed. So, here's my updated summer list. I did WAY less things than I had hoped, BUT it was still a nice summer and I really enjoyed the time spent at home with my kids. It was very hot and humid here this summer (and I intensely dislike heat), so we spent a lot of time inside.

Summer "To do" list:
-Visit a museum (x)
-Go somewhere touristy- x
 -Have a picnic x
-Make snickerdoodle ice cream sandwiches. (Don't they look delicious? D is most excited about this)
-Go on a local bike trail (maybe this one, which we've never been to.)
-Make s'mores x
- Go camping
- Have a firepit x
- Go fishing (x- Well, Matt and David went)
- Go deep sea fishing (boys have never been) or a whale watch (? Timmy and I went to see the Hokule'a sail out)
- Explore some of the local towns for a day. x (Not local, but new towns)
 -Swim in a lake x
-Swim in a river (x)
- Swim in a pool  (x)
- Learn to surf (T)
- Do a puzzle (x)
-Stay in a hotel x
- Go to a different state x
 - Visit Dogtown
-  Eat at Woodmans (or get fresh seafood somewhere)
-Plan Quebec vacation  (Anyone reading from Quebec? Suggestions for us?) Did not happen this summer. Unsure when it will.
- Try to learn some French for Quebec
- Invite friends for dinner
-Visit relatives x
- Run around in the rain (x)
- Visit a farmer's market (x)
-See The BFG (x)
- Visit Pettingill Farm  (I have relatives that are Pettingills, I'm wondering if there are any relations.)
- Family tree research (Anyone into genealogy research? I'm stuck in a few places.)
-Watch fireworks
- Go to an outdoor concert. x
- Play a board game (x)
- Get an ice cream (x)
-Ride a roller coaster
- Catch fireflies
- Get slushes at Sonic (x)
-Go to a beach x
- Visit the Rochester Fair
- Canoe on the Ipswich River
-Make Brazilian limeade (x- We made this recipe and loved it.)   
- Visit Six Flags  

    I think I will try to make a fall list soon. Enjoy back to school! 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Catching up...

     Summer... where did it go?  I go back to teaching on Monday the 29th. My children still have until September 6th to play. I thought I would just come say hello and catch you up on our recent adventures. (Let me preface this by saying that our adventures weren't incredibly exciting, but out of the ordinary for us.)
     In my normal routine, I have been trying to prepare for school- studying music, planning lessons, thinking of my SMART goals, editing lessons, etc. I am also preparing on mentoring out newest member of the music department. (This year I will be mentoring 2 members of the department. The one I mentored last year is a terrific guy and we get along really well. I'm hoping the 2nd person is just as delightful to work with.)  This week, Matt and I sat down and talked about morning/afternoon and bedtime routines for the boys. Neither one of us feel that we need to strictly adhere EXACTLY to certain routines/schedules, but I tend to be more of a structured person than he is. It calms my "control freak" nature makes me feel more prepared when I have a general idea of how things should be going at different points in the day, especially when I'm at work. We've also discussed chores and allowance. We've decided that our sons will have some chores that they will complete to help contribute to the well-being of the family, but there are some "extra/optional" chores that they can add on if they would like to earn an allowance. This was very exciting to David. When he woke up and learned about our new chore system, he got straight to work. He opted to sweep the kitchen, help make lunch, clean the bathroom sink and wash the bathroom mirror. Tim chose to spend a few minutes dusting. It was nice to see them excited about helping out.
     For the special things- We just spent a little time away from home. Matt and I surprised the boys with a night at Great Wolf Lodge New England. It's a splurge for us, but we know the boys really enjoy it.  We had a good time. The boys were happy with their 1 night there. They swam- a lot, rode the water slides, played at the arcade, and then we went out to dinner. We stayed past check out and swam for a while. I really appreciate that my kids are generally very grateful and do not need many things to keep them happy.  I think our cross country trip last year also changed some of the things they look forward to for a vacation.
   Originally, we had planned to go Quebec this summer but that didn't go as planned. A few things that we had expected this summer didn't happen. Vacation was one of those things. We realized that we might only have a few days to go away so we wanted somewhere somewhat close. We went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (Which felt pretty far away since it was only a few days of vacation- maybe too far.)
    On Saturday, we went to the Turkey Hill Experience. This was pretty fun. We did not get a chance to do the taste lab, but that was okay since we would've been really worried about Timmy's allergies the whole time. Do you have Turkey Hill ice cream where you are? It's delicious. My favorite is double dunker.  We tried free samples of double dunker, cookie butter, orange sherbert, strawberries and cream and I'm sure a few others. They also had free samples of their tea and punch. We learned a lot about the company as well as how the ice cream is made, packaged and distributed.
     We also visited Wilbur Chocolate Shop in Lititz. If you don't know, my husband is now working as a candy maker/chocolatier. (I know, life is rough.) He had WAY more fun then we did here since he knows exactly what each little thing does. Tim was panicking that the woman was giving our samples with cashews in it. I was just hot since the heat index outside was over 105! It was still an interesting shop though. We also accidentally found a HUGE craft fair when we went to Lititz. Unfortunately it was too hot to really enjoy it.
    The unfortunate part of this day was that I really wanted to go to Central Market in Lancaster. Our hotel had a paper that said it was open until 5. When we got there, at 3:30, we saw that it had closed at 2 and would not reopen for the rest of our vacation. Boo.
    The most interesting for me was going to Good N' Plenty, a restaurant with the option to eat "family style," where you are seated with other people until the table is full. Matt was a little apprehensive of this since he's not a big talker, but I loved the idea since I enjoy meeting new people. I had eaten like this in Germany or Austria once. I imagine it can be fascinating sometimes and maybe terrible some other times.  They served us Pennsylvania Dutch food. The table was served a lot: Appetizers: cottage cheese, white bread, wheat bread, apple butter, chow chow (pickled vegetables- new to me), applesauce  Entrees: Fried chicken, ham, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, butter noodles (also new),corn and green beans. Dessert- apple crumb pie, shoo fly pie, ice cream, cherry cheesecake and cracker pudding (New food- not my favorite.)  We ended up sitting with 4 older people from Maryland and a couple from Virginia with their 2 year old. It was a lot of fun.
     For some reason, I didn't think ahead to realize most things in Lancaster (especially Amish related) was closed on Sundays. Dur. We swam a lot and just enjoyed the family time. We rode around and looked at some of the farms too. It was an easy day followed by some yummy take out food.
      On Monday we headed back to Massachusetts. On our way home, we planned to stop at The Crayola Experience. (I know- what's up with all the "experiences?") Other than dealing with a few really loud summer camps, this place was awesome. David was especially excited about coming here.  We played around with many Crayola products and had a lot of time to be creative in many different ways. Honestly, Crayola is a brand that I buy regularly because of the quality of the products and the innovative things I see come from them. David was able to label a crayon "Light pickle green," which was cool since he had written to Crayola to suggest that color. We had tons of fun here and ended up spending more time here than we anticipated.

"Big Blue" the world's largest crayon. Ironically, "Big Blue" is also the mascot of the town I teach in. "Big blue what?" is usually the next question. I think that it must be a subtle way they are supporting the arts. lol.

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 So, I look totally goofy in this picture but, if you know me already, you already know I'm weird. This was super cool. That little dragon on David's head is a picture he colored in using special crayons. We then scanned his coloring page into the computer and it became a 3D image which he could put in different backgrounds, interact with by making it fly/move/jump or take a selfie with. We shrunk him down a bit, sat him on David's head and then took this shot. Here is his buddy in the forest.
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Here's Tim's:
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Interesting huh? They used model magic clay, crayons, markers, digital images and design, chalk, paint, etc. If you have young kids who like art, they would love it. They also came home with a few crayons, their art work, a crayon they molded into a dinosaur and some model magic.
      After we got home, we were treated to dinner at a friend's house. It was us and 2 families from church. We had white chicken chili and this decadent, wonderful chocolate cake. Another great night!
     THEN, I took the boys to visit my parents in Maine. My parents recently sold the house I grew up in in MA and made Maine their permanent residence. It has been an adjustment. We stayed there from Thursday to Saturday. It was extremely relaxing since there wasn't anything that really needed doing. We/I hung out with my parents, swam (Can you tell my kids like to swim? Do you know I hate to swim?), relaxed, wrote a few letters and read. One day my mom brought us to the Willowbrook Museum Village, which is very close to their house.  It's a village set up like it would've been in the 19th century. The boys each did a little scavenger hunt as we explored.  We went on this steam powered carousel. (Apparently I cannot find a picture that will display for this tonight)
Interesting facts: This carousel would've been considered an adult only ride. It goes quite fast, and they had it on the slowest setting. (David had athletic shorts on and his little body kept sliding around everywhere. I thought he was going to fall off.) The horses do not go up and down they go from front to back. This carousel used to be broken down and brought from fair to fair.
     A funny thing happened when we were waiting for the carousel to open to give us a ride. They had music playing and Timmy was whistling along. He found that he knew the march and yelled out "Wait!? Is this John Phillip Sousa!?" It was. Music teacher win. Tim is doomed/honored to be a nerd too.
     Another thing I found interesting was their schoolhouse. They had a list of rules up about how many lashes a child would get for doing something wrong- like drinking in class, talking to a girl, coming to school looking untidy, etc. In the school, there were slate chalkboards out on all of the desks. There were at least 3 messages in beautiful writing saying something to the effect of "Isn't it sad that people don't think teaching penmanship is important?" Yes it is. There were also displays of the pens, inks, books, etc. that were used. I kept thinking to myself "I get annoyed when a middle schooler breaks a pen and ink gets all over them or the desk, can you imagine having a small bottle of ink on each desk?"
    Lastly, their houses- the rooms were so much smaller but so much more functional. I would benefit from each of my rooms having a specific purpose- and making that room work. On the other hand, there was no plumbing in the house and there was no kitchen so, I guess I'll live.
    I also found this. It's a mail wagon. Nice! I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I can tell when our mail comes because our mailman's truck has squeaky breaks. I will often go say hello or catch him before he has to get out of the truck with a package. He and I chat often. My kids sometimes laugh when they hear "mail's here" from a few rooms away from the window. I can't imagine I wouldn't know this contraption was coming. :)
         Okay, that's about it for recent adventures. I hope you are well. If your kids are starting back to school, that  everyone feels prepared and excited for the new year. If you wouldn't mind- As I've been typing this blog post, everything keeps reformatting and I'm having major issues. Can you let me know if everything seems okay on your end as a viewer? If not, please let me know what is not coming out right. Thanks in advance!


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Sculpture exhibit

    One of the items on our "Summer Bucket List" was to visit a sculpture exhibit at our local library. Here are some pictures of the sculptures (and my boys, who felt the need to pose with each of the pieces.) I'm not quite sure I understand sculpture fully, but I do appreciate how much work goes into creating a piece of art. I tend to appreciate some art when I know the background of the piece. I'm sorry that I don't have the name of the sculpture or the artist.
    This was made of marble. We liked the symmetry of it.
     Timothy didn't like this one. He said it looked like someone trying to go to the bathroom. It was called "Figure in motion" or something.
 We all liked these polar bears. It was made out of steel.
 David said that the sculpture felt all smooth, kind of like pottery. They also were surprised that it was hollow until I asked how much it would weigh if it was solid.
 The shadows made this a little hard to see. It's made of concrete and kind of reminded me of a sandcastle.
 A dog made of resin and bronze patina. Careful, he bites.
     This one immediately made me think of a solar system (from a different angle). Timmy walked up and said "I bet you like this one, huh? This is really cool. It's really obvious what the artist wanted to make." I asked him what he thought it was and he said "A conductor." The piece's name was "Holst" so- maybe a conductor conducting Holst's Planets?

 "This one looks like a time portal"
This one was titled "Sanctuary."  Again, Timmy with his insightful thoughts (after the potty one of course) said "This is pretty cool. I bet this is God's hand... and that's us, resting in His palm. This is awesome." Then he asked if the artist was a Christian. I don't know if she was or not, but I liked the interpretation of her art. 
 Wood and metal, not quite sure about this one.
 Liked the colors. The boys said that this was a woman.
 We liked the smooth, polished pine in this one.
 David got all excited when he realized that this artist was the same who did "the colorful lady."
 We liked the purple stone at the top of this one. The color didn't come out nicely in this picture. Again, weren't quite sure what it was supposed to be, looked different depending on the angle.
 This one is Timmy's favorite. I think he and I have a lot of the same preferences. I liked that it was very orderly and Tim liked how smooth it was.
 Dragonfly, so...
 I liked the kids in front of the sculpture more than the sculpture by itself. This one was David's favorite. Sorry I didn't make myself into a dragonfly for you all.
 2 rocks...?
 These ones were interesting. They were both hollow and had a hole in the top. Timmy sung into the top and it resonated through the sculpture, which was pretty cool.
 The "Reading Dog" with friends, one who kept giggling.
 The Reading Dog by himself.

      Out town library is beautiful. We come here about once a week during the summer. (The boys get books, I still have my "to read bookshelf.")  The building itself is apparently in the Georgian Revival style. I learned that our original library used to serve 2 towns. Once it was decided that each town needed their own library ("for the promotion of knowledge and morality" apparently), a library was built in 1869. It burnt down in a fire and the one we have now was built in 1892. I just read that there was once an auditorium that held 1, 100 people while the library basically functioned on the 1st floor. I might actually ask the library staff about that. I'd love to see pictures. I can't picture how the upper floors were ever an auditorium.

A brass urn that was recently renovated.
      Then, we just enjoyed the beautiful day under the shade of this giant tree.

   We also took "Going to another state" off our list after going to a Fisher Cats game yesterday with my good friend, Wendy.