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Monday, October 31, 2016

Japanese Candy II

     Happy Halloween! We just got home from trick or treating and I decided to do a few more candy trials so I didn't steal candy from my kids. lol.
      Big Thunder II:
     The cookie pieces inside reminded me of a mix between Oreos and the "chocolate crunch" pieces in Dairy Queen's ice cream cakes.

      Frankenstein Candy- no English on the package.

    Excuse my oldest son in the background. Apparently the dog costume and seeing himself on a screen was too much to handle.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Something new in the spirit of Halloween

     Our family will "celebrate" Halloween tomorrow. In the spirit of Halloween, and because I don't understand Japanese, I thought I would try something (scary for me) different.  Recently I received a package from Japan that had many different types of candy. Fortunately/unfortunately, most of the text is in Japanese so I have no idea what I'm eating. (Fortunate because I feel fine trying something new. Unfortunate because Tim has food allergies and now I can't share.) So, David and I decided to make a few videos telling what we thought.  Disclaimer: I'm swapping with someone that I trust and intelligently packed. Obviously, be careful about swapping and eating things you get through the mail.
    We tried 3 different candy bars tonight. The first one was Tirol Chocolate.
    This is my first attempt ever recording a video for the blog and it was spontaneous, so I apologize I'm not all dressed up with makeup, wonderful lighting, etc. This is a pretty good representation of just every day me at the end of a long day.
    Overall, this was pretty good. I think Japanese chocolate tastes a little more sweet to me than American chocolate. It also tastes a little creamier.

Next up... Sequioa?

   Very tasty. Kit Kats are one of my favorite candies here in the US. Ironically, that leads us to the candy I saved for last in hopes that it would be delicious.  I forgot to take a picture.
   Well, that was interesting. This led me to research other types of Kit Kats. I knew there were some crazy ones. Check out this article that tells about "weird and wacky flavors" of Kit Kats in Japan. I will have to steal all the American Kit Kats from my children's Halloween treats to purge this taste from my memory.

      This was a lot of fun. I still have 6 pieces to try so I'll save 3 for one day and the last 3 for another.  People reading from other countries- have you ever had an American candy/sweet that you really disliked?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Currently 10/23


     Life has been pretty busy so I have not really been watching anything on TV. I have seen a few little Halloween specials with the boys. I have enjoyed watching all of the beautiful New England foliage. Our back woods are currently filled with gorgeous yellows, reds, oranges and even a few pretty browns. If it's not raining tomorrow, I will try to go snap a picture.

Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul
     I am enjoying this book a lot right now. This year has felt a little overwhelming to me. I don't think I'm really doing anything too out of the ordinary, but I have just been mentally and physically tired for a while now. I choose my next "to read" book in a sort of random way so this one came at just the right time. I think I am going through a season of life where some former priorities and not as important to me and some things I felt I "had to do" aren't obligations to me. This doesn't mean that I'm necessarily taking more time for myself, which maybe I should, but that the time I am choosing to protect is spent doing meaningful things. Here are some quotes from the book that have made me think over the past few weeks:

     "Without conscious intervention, this pattern of chronically overscheduling ensures that the priorities you care about most will take a backseat to the urgent priorities of others every time." (Hear me, Sarah?)    I am guilty of this a lot- every day in fact. How often do I stay after to help a student or to chat with a kid who just wants to hang out for a minute while my own kids are home hoping I will have some "free time" for them? It's painful to think about- especially since I really enjoy my job too.  I have recently attempted to fix some of these imbalances.

      "Put more simply, one of the greatest blessings in life is to love your work, to be satisfied in your daily labors." Amen. My job is hard and has many challenges, but I feel that it is my calling so it makes the little stuff easier to deal with. It is also greatly rewarding to follow through what I feel God has prepared me to do and to use my gifts/talents for His glory.

     "Relationships, like every other area of life, require regular evaluation, pruning, and strengthening." Hybels says that there are 3 levels of friendship- circumstancial friends, true friends- for a season and lifelong friends. This chapter challenged me. There have been some friends that have hurt me recently. I thought they were lifelong friends, but perhaps they were just friends for a season. Again, they were good friends and I'm not quite sure what happened, but this chapter has made me feel more at peace. I also have some friends who probably feel the same way about me. Truth is, there are sometimes where people just grow apart- especially if they have different values or motives in life.  Examining my friendships and potential friendships has been a healthy activity for me this week.

      My normal Pandora mixes. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Scala & Kolacny Brothers. I really like their sound.

      David and I just made Apple Betty- one for us and one for our neighbors. It is currently baking and I cannot wait to smell the delicious scent of the cinnamon-y apples.  *I may or may not let my kids stay up to eat a piece.

    Physically I have been struggling. I think whatever was causing the hives last spring is acting up. This weekend my whole body hurt. My feet are freezing. My knee and left leg are hurting a lot. (Remember that bursitis and plantar fasciitis? I think they are going to revisit me). It was so painful todaythat I laid down "for a few minutes" and fell asleep for 3 hours. I feel a little better now, but I'm hoping that things don't get worse before they get better. All of these things could be caused by the inflammation that was going on with the hives.  I have an appointment with the allergist in a few weeks. She will then take me off the medicine I've been on gradually. If things are going to return, it will be then. Wish me luck.

   It's getting late tonight, but I would like to correct a lot and finish a letter to Monique in The Netherlands!

    I'm loving being grateful for small things. Sometimes the small things in life are bigger than they seem. Here are some things that I've been grateful for: -apples, colorful foliage, dates with all 3 of my boys, a delicious latte I had (usually don't drink them) with creme brulee at a new restaurant, new friends, correspondence with penpals, success of students (especially the ones who don't actually like music but work hard because I have asked them to), talent of the next generation, random acts of kindness, film scores (some music is incredibly beautiful. How do these guys write stuff like this?), cool weather, hot chocolate, people who work with church education programs, previous students, sweet gifts from students (like a Yankee candle I just got- or the flowers sent to me for my birthday), my faith, all of the upcoming holidays.

    What are the "small things" you have been enjoying lately?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How sweet

    Today is my birthday. I got a call during a class today telling me that there was "something special" downstairs. After some speculations from my 5th graders (and them realizing that it is my birthday), another teacher brought me these flowers. The students were convinced they were from my husband and sons. I didn't think they were because I'd be just as happy if the boys went and made me a leaf bouquet as I would if they spent $150 on roses (probably be more happy with the bouquet since we aren't rich). Well, I opened the card and, wouldn't you know, they are from 2 8th grade girls and a 5th grade boy (brother of one of the 8th graders).  How sweet. In addition to that, they gave me a card and each wrote a special letter to me. I'm so blessed.


PS. I was also spoiled at home :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Apple picking- check

Completed another fall event. Every year our family goes apple picking on Columbus Day. We tried a new farm this year. It was fun. Here's me and David :)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Help with a music lesson?

Every rotation, in my 7th grade class, I try to do an activity where I play examples of traditional and popular music from different countries and ask the students to identify where it's from. I listen to hours of music every time I prepare for this lesson. I love that part. However, it would be a lot easier for me if I had a link to your country's popular music charts. I have searched many places but I'm not always sure I have the most legitimate list for the job. If you wouldn't mind helping me, would you leave a link in the comment section? Much appreciated!

PS. This week the kids are listening to music (traditional or on the popular music charts) of Australia, Bali, Brasil, Canada, China,   Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, and the US.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

For you!

    I've mentioned that I'm a musician. Here's my gift to you tonight. I'm in the back playing bells. Sorry if the quality is bad. It was recorded on my cell phone.

   This piece is called Gloriana.

Good for my soul

    This past week was a little rough. It was one of those weeks where you just kind of go through each day waiting to get to the next day. Nothing was great. Nothing was really TOO awful, but things just feel "off."  The week started off well but took a bad turn on Wednesday. Since it wasn't a huge deal, I didn't realize how emotionally weary I felt. The band director suggested I come to the football game to hear the band and just have a night out. In my head I thought, yes, that would be nice. In my heart I thought, one more thing to do- and on Friday night, my only time this weekend that I don't have anything to do. Matt did not want to go. David "doesn't really like football" but Tim, the endless adventurer like me, wanted to come. I thought it would be a special thing for him and I would love to connect him with some of my old students who are in the band.
     So, we went. If you were a band musician in high school, you have most likely played at hundreds of football games. I forgot how much fun they could be. We have a very small band at the moment. Our band director is wonderful and in a few years I bet the band is going to be huge. He's really a classy, nice guy and a wonderful friend to me. It was nice for me to reconnect with families who had "graduated" from the middle school. Many parents came to say hello and to meet my son. Current students said hello on their way by and some stopped to chat. The kids who sang for me and were in band were all happy to see me too. It was a nice (and apparently needed) reminder of the impact of my relationship/teaching to each student. I don't expect that every student will "like" me or that I will be the best match for everyone, but it feels extremely good to see that many of these kids still have a huge amount of respect for me.
     After the game, I was invited to go out to eat with everyone. It was such a blessing to sit with the 25 teens, catch up on their lives, introduce them to Tim and have some great food. I heard good and bad news  about various students (that I didn't always ask for), heard that one of my kids had a 99% average and looks like he might be valedictorian, got invited to other games/events that the kids were taking part in, and reconnected with some kids I was really close with while they were in middle school. One girl, who was very emotionally reserved in middle school and sang for me for 4 years, confessed that she really missed me and thought about me a lot. I confessed that I think about her too every day I have my 7th/8th grade chorus and that I miss her too. I also got a letter from another student that was passed on through the band director. We stayed out until 11:30.
     On my way home, I realized that I had been feeling really low this past week. I was reminded that my involvement with these kids really has influenced who I am as a person and I feel like I am better because of all of them. Last night was a huge blessing for me. I am really thankful my friend "suggested" that I tag along. PS. Tim has been challenged to join the trumpet section in the high school band for next week's game. He is determined to learn the music and give it a try.

      Speaking of teaching, if you are a teacher and have not seen this, check it out. It is important to remind your students that they seen and appreciated. I wish every school would do this or that every child would have a teacher tell them that they are cared about. If you aren't a teacher, check it out anyways. I know that all teachers have felt this way about at least 1 student in their career. I am sure many can name 100s of students they felt this way about.

Update on the fall to do list. Things I've done so far:
Celebrate Tim's birthday
Visit Grammy and Papa
Snuggle in a cozy blanket
Drink hot chocolate
Go see a high school football game
Go hiking/ for a walk
Enjoy a cup of tea on a chilly morning
Get a massage

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Happy October!

      Happy October! October is my favorite month. I get to celebrate my oldest son on his birthday. My birthday is also in October. I'm not a big Halloween fan, but the town I grew up in did not have trick-or- treating, so I enjoy eating my children's candy watching my kids get to go interact with people in our community.
    I love the autumn air. I enjoy the beautiful colors that surround me as the leaves change color. I love sitting down with a warm cup of cocoa (coffee, tea, anything..) while I sit an write my letters or read a book. Baking yummy treats with my family- or eating the ones Matt makes is also fun! School isn't too crazy- except Halloween. Middle school kids are crazy on Halloween.  October just seems like a very balanced month.
     What do you like about October?