Saturday, February 14, 2015

The wonderful world of NHD

In two weeks, the 8th grader and her partner (and best friend) take their national history day (NHD) exhibit to compete in regionals. It has been revised and edited and rearranged. We've chauffeured them to the public and college libraries for research. They've ordered books from Amazon. The exhibit board has required numerous trips to the local DIY and craft stores. The girls have purchased a variety of vintage items from eBay that have arrived from all over the US. And we've bought enough adhesive to wrap Christmas presents for the entire state of Texas for the next decade.

As much as I enjoy history, I wasn't particularly jazzed about this project. But I've really enjoyed watching it take shape and evolve over the course of the past few months. Walt Disney was a wonderful topic for the theme of leadership and legacy. Only the top two winners in their category of group exhibit will move forward to the state contest, so the girls are at the mercy of a rather subjective judging process with a fun topic rather than a more serious one. Disney wasn't awarded a Nobel prize. He didn't cure a horrific disease. And he didn't bring about world peace. But he spent his career doing his level best to entertain folks and make them smile. 

Who can resist Mickey Mouse? Or turn up their nose at Space Mountain? And Dole whips - best theme park treat EVER.

The front of the board is the "meat" of the project where the girls addressed the theme in Mickey's colors. The back of the board pays homage to Disney's groundbreaking classic Snow White, featuring movie pics as well as Disney quotes. 

I better not be seeing any pics of our board on Pinterest… though it was a useful resource when the girls first started brainstorming ideas for this project. Best of luck to our own little historian at competition!


Today the 8th grader wrapped up academic UIL season. It seems she definitely inherited the spelling gene. She placed first in all three meets she attended. She was all excited at the thought of continuing UIL next year in high school, expanding into the writing events since it's something she enjoys. Then it dawned on her she would be competing against upperclassmen. I explained the importance of getting her feet wet at the next level so she'll be a lean, mean UIL machine by the time she's a junior and senior. Here she is posing with me and her best bud Leighton, who also competes in UIL. I'm glad the 8th grader experienced the thrill of winning, but I won't miss the rude 5 am alarm on Saturday morning to get us up and outta the house to catch the big yellow school bus to the competitions at such an ungodly hour.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Travel Plans 2015

Hi, my name is Carrie and I'm a planner. That's my middle name, my mantra, my own little compulsion. Sure, it's still 11 months 'til Christmas 2015, but I already know where we're headed. It will be a Smoky Mountain holiday for the family since I just put down a deposit on a really pretty lodge. 

In other travel news, we'll be heading to a pretty villa near Orvieto, Italy, for spring break in about six weeks. The Italian countryside should be a fun change of pace since we've done many of the major Italian cities. This is an aerial view of the place. In the distance you can just make out a small olive grove on the property. The 8th grader and kids of the couple traveling with us will no doubt have a blast exploring everything.

That just leaves summer. I've put a deposit on a Mekong River cruise through Cambodia and Vietnam for me and the husband, but we're not fully committed. The college coed is thinking about study abroad in Costa Rica and we've never been there. It seems Spain wasn't too appealing since she has already visited a few times. Plus Costa Rica would give her the opportunity to do some scuba diving, an item on her bucket list. What 20-year-old doesn't want to have pretty beach access in a country where she can buy her own wine for 10 weeks this summer? 

So who knows. Maybe we'll end up in Asia. Or maybe Costa Rica. The 8th grader has expressed interest in a Spanish immersion program in Puerto Rico since her best bud from her former school in England is also considering it. We've all been bitten by the travel bug, it seems. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015

Happy New Year! Where oh where did the last year go… and so danged quickly. At this rate, I'll be dead and buried in the blink of an eye if time doesn't slow down a bit.

We braved the cold, drizzly weather to meet up with the husband's family in Lampasas at the ranch. I spent most of the day parked in a chair near the fireplace in the cook house, alternately watching bowl games and reading my Kindle.

The girls had a chance to visit with their cousins and set off a truckload of fireworks well in advance of midnight that no doubt scared the bejesus out of all the various exotic critters at the ranch. Firecracker couple that we are, the husband and I slept through the end of 2014.

No doubt 2015 will be an interesting year for us. The college coed is headed to a large Texas university when the spring semester begins later this month, moving into the sorority house with what will be her first 40ish friends. The 8th grader will (gasp) register for high school next month. I will find out what my teaching fate will be for next year since campuses are in flux. Sixth grade history? Upper elementary special ed? Only the Lord knows at this point where the path will lead.

I wish all of my family and friends a year full of faith and grace, creating lots of wonderful memories with those you hold near and dear.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Junior Cotillion

The 8th grader grumbled and groused when I signed her up for junior cotillion.  I already know which fork to use. I don't wanna learn how to dance. This will be boring. 

Lo and behold, mom was right and she is really enjoying the experience. The refresher course on dining etiquette was helpful and now she knows the proper procedure for buttering a roll. She can waltz and foxtrot with the best of them. Sure, some of the boys are still shorter than her, but they'll eventually catch up.

The best part was the semi-formal a couple weeks ago. I curled her hair into big fat ringlets at her request, while sitting on the floor with her in front of the full length mirror. She's starting to look more like her sister, the college co-ed. Both girls are all about the pretty eye makeup. They obviously inherited this from their grandmothers since I don't give a hoot about that sorta stuff most of the time.

Here she is in all of her party dress glory with part of my Santa collection as her backdrop.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Veteran, veterinarian, whatever...

A tail tale from the teaching trenches! Every year, students make Veteran's Day cards for the ceremony held on campus. These are distributed to the parents and grandparents that attend the ceremony, men and women who served in the armed forces.

Mrs. G, the 5th gr language arts and social studies teacher that I co-teach with, was talking to the kids about making cards for the vets in honor of the upcoming celebration. She led the class in a discussion about the history of the holiday and gave them some guidance on what might be appropriate wording for the card, typical American symbols for the exterior, coloring it a patriotic red-white-blue, etc. 

A couple days later, Mrs. G pulled me aside in class to share a Veteran's Day card that one of my special ed students had created. It seems this student latched onto the VET part of the lesson, but didn't fully grasp the meaning of the holiday. She had decorated the front of her card with a flag and several dogs. I'm thinking to myself, that's good, flags are appropriate, dogs do serve in the military and it was nicely drawn/colored. Then Mrs. G opened up the card to show me the note inside. My sweet little confused special ed student kindly thanked the VET for taking care of her dogs. She even elaborated a bit, mentioning giving them shots and treats when they're good.

It was so wrong, and yet so terribly sweet and heartfelt. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the family vet for keeping our own Ollie healthy. And sure, my husband, brother-in-law, father-in-law, father and grandfather for their service in the army and air force. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

North, north to Alaska

Today, when the high finally stayed below 80, I was reminiscing about our summer cruise to Alaska. With the start of school and insanity that ensued, I never got around to documenting it.

Here is a taste of the majesty that is our northernmost state.

The scenery was truly breathtaking. Witnessing the salmon swimming upriver was great. Seeing eagles soar and then perch to pose for a pic was magical. The freshly steamed crab pulled out of the crab pots earlier in the day was delicious. It was a memorable family trip and I've got the photos to prove it… just no time to post more than this little blurb.

School is going well for the 8th grader, with fabulous grades and fun things like pep squad as well as junior cotillion. The college coed recently made the decision to move back to an excellent in-state university from the one she attends 1200 miles from home. I honestly don't care where she gets her first college degree, so long as it's done in a timely manner rather than on the decade plan. 

Finally, random observations from the teaching trenches: 5th and 6th grade students these days just aren't familiar with the cool idioms we heard from our parents and grandparents when we were their age. Kick the bucket, an arm and a leg, blessing in disguise, piece of cake, once in a blue moon, sitting on the fence. It makes me a tad sad to realize they're missing out on all of this fun figurative language.