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Monday, February 22, 2016

Finally a great mail day

    Today was the first day back to school after February school vacation. Although it was a great day of teaching and the students were really good considering they have had a week off, I ended my day with a rehearsal of my "elite" group. Unfortunately, we were missing a bunch of them and 2 of the boys were lacking any self-control. I ended my day feeling frustrated and disgruntled (and curious about what I should do about the 2 boys. It's hard to balance caring and merciful with having clear expectations after giving ample opportunities to fix behavior.) What I'm getting at is that it was delightful to trudge out to my mailbox expecting at least 1 piece of mail and finding 4 unexpected pieces. I also got a magazine and 2 (really inexpensive bills.)  Sorry for the low quality, we're having issues with our camera.
   The postcard on the left is a Postcrossing card from Iowa, which I visited for the first time this summer. It is from a woman named Nancy.  The card shows a lithograph by the artist Grant Wood (1891-1942)

     The postcard on the right was a surprise from Saskia in The Netherlands. She belongs to Penpalling & Letters with me. We could sign up for a New Years event where you sent at least 1 person wishes for a happy new year. You may or may not get any cards back. I was really appreciative to receive this. It also reminded me that I need to clean my apartment. I wish I looked that happy when I tidy up!
      The 2 envelopes under the postcards I received from Lettermo participants. These are both introduction letters. I have had a few people on Interpals ask to write lately so I was expecting a few intro letters there but I wasn't expecting any from Lettermo. These women are from Texas and Virginia. I am looking forward to writing back. They both sounded really interesting and kind. Marilyn also sent me the most adorable bookmark that she made. Thanks!

      All this good mail has inspired me to go write a few letters tonight and get creative with them. I also have to bake a cake for a small party I'm having tomorrow at school.

Friday, February 19, 2016

February break

Hi all,
     This week is February school vacation for me and my boys. We had a nice balance of relaxing, doing things that were out of the ordinary and just spending time together. I should also remind you that it's Lettermo, so everyday I have written at least 1 letter/postcard. Most slow days I have written numerous correspondences.
      Sat 2/13- We had David's last basketball clinic for this session. Out recreation department has a fun, non-competitive clinic to teach the basics of the sport. David loves being part of a team and playing, but he doesn't care about winning. Eventually maybe we will find him a team to play on, but for now, he's just happy playing with his friends.
     Sun 2/14- Valentine's Day here in the US. We don't "celebrate" it much. If you love someone, you should attempt to show them every day, not just when the roses cost more. lol. We got the boys a little treat, but that's about it. My parents own a timeshare on Cape Cod and they offered for us to go down and spend a few days there. Unfortunately, Matt had to work, I decided I would go down with the boys anyway just for the time off.
     We headed down fairly early on Sunday, which was great because we were able to visit with my parents for a while. We chatted in the room for a while then visited the pool- which is always a favorite for my kids. (Matt too.. lol) Unfortunately, about an hour in, it was discovered that a little kid had gone to the bathroom in the pool, so it was closed for the rest of the day. We made the best of it and went out to lunch at a local Papa Gino's. I had a sub, Timmy had a hamburger and David had his traditional cheese pizza. We visited the store for snacks and a few groceries. (There is a microwave there but no stove. We decided to eat out once a day and then buy for the rest of the time we were there.) At night we watched television, stayed up late and I wrote a letter or 2.

      Mon 2/15-     The boys were excited to go out for breakfast this day. We went to The Pancake Man in Yarmouth. David is a timid eater but he LOVES breakfast and will often eat a surprising amount of food! Both boys chose chocolate chip pancakes with homemade whipped cream and a glass of juice. I had a ham and cheese omelette, toast and homefries. We had never eaten here. It was delicious.
      After breakfast we drove around a little, visited a few stores and went back to the room for a bit. After lunch we went swimming- A LOT... for at least 3 hours. After I swam, I took some time to read and write another letter. We took a break for about an hour and then returned to the pool area for more fun. The place we stay has an activity director who plans a few things during the week. This night they had planned a clam chowder dinner. Each of us got a cup of chowder and some crackers. The boys jumped in the pool again and played until the activity director ran some games- Bingo, Pirate Farkle and Left, Right, Center. It was fun and nice to catch up with people we have met in previous years.
     Tues 2/16- We packed up the room so we would be ready to leave when we were ready to.  Every year the boys look forward to buying "penny candy" (for a small fortune) at a local candy company. It's ironic since Matt works at a candy store.  David got a Push Pop, a whistle pop, Warheads Sour Dipper, bullseyes and a few other things. Timmy got a few packages of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, bottlecaps, BubbleTape and I think that's it. Have you ever had these jellybeans? Gross. (The normal flavors are good.)
    Bet you can't guess what they did next- We actually ran to the post office since my local post office was out of international stamps. THEN we went to the pool.... again. At about 2, we had a snack and got ready to head home. 
      Cape Cod is a few hours south of where I live. We pass by the town my grandmother lives in so we called to ask her if she would like to have an early dinner with us. It has been way too long since I've seen her last. We visited with her and then headed out to a restaurant for dinner. (I don't eat out once a day during a normal week.) Lucky for me, the special was Prime Rib that night. I ordered that with mashed potatoes and broccoli, David had chicken fingers and Timmy had fish and mashed potatoes. It was delicious and we had a really nice time with my nana.
      The boys were super excited about coming home and seeing dad after 3 days.  They were pretty exhausted but rested at the same time. I was saying to a friend of mine that it's amazing that I, as a very schedule-oriented person, had such a nice time with no schedule at all. 
      Wed 2/17- Nothing at all during the day. We just hung out at home. A  contractor was here working on our bathroom, which needed a new shower and a new floor. I had practice for a symphonic band that I play in. I invited Timmy to come along. It was a long rehearsal but I thought it would be a great time for him to come since he had no school Thursday.
         The people in the band were really sweet to him. The band is based out of the Christian college that I went to and I loved introducing my son to one of the most influential teachers and mentors of my life. He got to see what a band rehearsal is like when you are working with experienced musicians. Music teacher win- His favorite piece that we played was the Moorside Suite by Gustav Holst. Nice. We're also playing Tanczi by Van der Roost, Pulse by Standridge and Prelude on Three Welsh Hymn Tunes by Vaughan Williams.  Concert is in 2 weeks.
      Thursday 2/18- Recently one of our friends moved to another state. She and her son planned an overnight visit and we went to breakfast at one of my favorite local businesses. I miss seeing her every week at baseball and having the luxury of just getting together for a cup of coffee (or tea in her case, she moved from England) whenever we want to. It was nice for the boys to catch up too, but probably more nice for us. :)
      The rest of the day was pretty slow but I did have a rehearsal with my church's worship team. I'm singing and playing piano on Sunday. I enjoyed our devotions and rehearsal time. 
     Friday 2/19- Today is my sister's 35th birthday. Happy birthday, Kristen! As a last hurrah for the boys, I planned a surprise "Mommy Date" to go see Blue Man Group in Boston. Timmy had seen it once but it was David's first time. 
    David kept leaning over and telling me things like "I'm so happy you brought me here" and "I really like this. Thank you!" He's a sweet, sweet boy. They both loved the show. Awkward selfie with one of the Blue Men. Well, I look okay at least. lol.
     Tonight we have baseball clinic. I love watching the boys play and learn (and chatting with some friends too!) 

      I'm preparing for the weekend and returning back to school. This weekend I have an orchestra rehearsal, a "performance" at church and an orchestra concert. I'm performing with a woman who used to be a newscaster. I taught her children so I'm kind of hoping that I will get to say hello to them. Another former student and her husband are  coming to hear the concert. I also have make a rehearsal schedule for our musical. A student that I'm close to is moving within the next few weeks too, Boo. 
      One thing I haven't done as much as I would like to during this vacation is to read. I am in the middle of a book I read on Goodreads and I am not invested. This is the 2nd book this month that I've just not had interest in. This never happens to me. Might have to start a new book tonight. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Happy February (Any other friends participating in Lettermo?)

    The other day one of my friends asked if I had updated my blog recently. The answer- no. When I started blogging, I was blogging mainly to document my 366 project. Since I'm not officially doing that anymore, I haven't really written much. Plus, Matt's camera fell and wasn't working correctly so I've been without a camera.  He may have accidentally fixed it today. Yes!

    So, I guess today's post will just be a bunch of randomness from life.
What have I been up to? 
     I cannot believe it is February already. January was very busy and I basically started February feeling completely exhausted. There hasn't really been anything exciting, just a lot of working hard on everything.  I have tried to challenge myself to learn something new so I'm brushing up on my German (took a year of German in college) and to try to learn Russian. Wow. I struggle with languages. So, if you speak either language, please feel free to write me a letter or card in that language. I'm finding that I can't just learn from reading the rules in a book. I also found that I'm petrified to speak Russian to a native speaker- and that I don't know enough yet. On a positive note, my brain is being stretched in ways it hasn't been in a long time.

What's going on currently?
    Work- Starting the musical. We're doing Peter Pan (one of the Jr versions). So, I will have no free time until the end of April. I'm excited to work with the kids. We had a great group of kids audition for the show. Speaking of auditions, I'm also preparing a bunch of kids for 2 separate music festivals. Those kids also worked very hard. 2 girls will be representing our school at a concert in Boston and 6 kids will be singing in festival in Lowell. Both are in March so now is when the preparation happens. I'm working as the manager of the boys chorus at the 2nd festival. We had auditions for that a few weeks ago and all of the boys who tried out seemed like great guys. I'm excited to work with them. On a negative note, a student I'm pretty close to is moving this month. I will definitely miss seeing him around school. 
     Home- I'm preparing for some work to be done in the bathroom of our apartment. I am imagining a ton of disasters happening over the next week of work, but I think it's because I've never really lived in a place while there are renovations being done. This work desperately needs to be done so please pray that it goes well- and quickly. Work starts Monday. 
     The boys are enjoying school and all their activities. I have felt guilty about not being around as much as I'd like, but now that quarter 2 grades are in, I feel caught up and fully available. They have both been participating in a baseball clinic and it has been fun for me to watch them play again. (Indoors of course) David has also started trying basketball and Tim has been in a boys tap class. 
    Hobbies- Penpalling
  It's Lettermo time again!!!! The Month of Letters Challenge, challenged participants to send at least 1 piece of mail for everyday in February and to write back to everybody who writes you. I have been participating for a few years and have met some amazing people. Actually, my first piece of mail received from Lettermo this year was from its founder, Mary Robinette Kowal- super cool. So far I have sent out 3 Valentines Day cards (my 2 ChemoAngels and my nana), 5 Postcrossing cards, a letter to my sponsor child in Ethiopia and a reply to Mary Robinette. If you like to write, check out the challenge. I know February has already started, but you will love participating.  Are any of you participating in Lettermo this year?

     I have 2 concerts that I am playing in this month. 1 is with an orchestra I usually play with during the holiday concerts. The 2nd is for the symphonic band I was in at college. The director is a huge mentor for me and I'm so grateful that I'm working with him again. You know those moments in life where you realize who you are and things/people that got you to the place you are at? Well, I have been thinking about that a lot while I am playing in this group. 
Art+social-  I have not done any socializing or anything fun with art this past month. Actually, I have tried to reach out an make a few new friends, but sometimes that weird as an adult. 

What's next?
    This month I have a week off. I would like to do something out of the ordinary but I don't have anything planned yet. Sometimes we go to Cape Cod for part of the week. My parents have a time share there. (If you've never been to MA- February is NOT an ideal time to visit the Cape, but it's great for us just trying to spend some family time.)  Currently I'm caught up with work. I have lots of rehearsals for various groups. One of my former ("old" lol) students is treating me to go see Pippin at the Boston Opera House this week.  I'm hoping to complete the Lettermo challenge, finish the books I'm currently reading (Flip the Script and Thunderstruck. Penpal/art friends, check out Flip the Script. It's really interesting and written by an acquaintance of mine.) and prepare for the Districts festival in March.  I'm sorry my life sounds so lame but I think this is one of those "put one foot in front of the other and keep going" times in my life.