Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving at Home and at School

What a fun and exhausting week of Thanksgiving we have had!

 We started off Tuesday with a fun turkey breakfast and headed off to school!  Cinnamon rolls with bacon feathers!  The candy eyeballs are a little freaky but still a hit with the kids!

We have spent a lot of our time at school learning about the Pilgrims and Native Americans!  We have also spent lots of time crafting and writing.  The idea for these cute little turkeys came from First Grade Parade.  The kids LOVED them and they turned out super cute!

 The kids had a writing assignment to write what they would pack if they were going on the Mayflower.  These kids crack me up!  PRECIOUS!!!!

Good hygiene is important!

These boats turned out super cute too!

The kids filled them with facts they have learned about the Mayflower!

Tuesday before our class party started the kids presented their Native American projects....

Some of the kids dressed up.  I loved seeing their costumes and hearing all that they learned.  They all did such a great job!

 I love seeing how each of the kids did their projects.  GREAT!

 Then it was time to party!
My class had cute little wigwams to munch on!
So grateful to all the parents in my class!  They all pitched in and I was able to visit in my kids classes and participate in their parties!
Thank you first grade parents!
You are the best!

Sophie's Class

 Second Grade Class Party gearing up to start!

Third Grade Party Time!

After providing paper products for my class and Sophia's class, making cupcakes for the Juniors so Andrew's class would have something special, making a turkey shaped vegetable tray for Jackson and Audrey's class, and hosting Lydia's class party with food, games,decorations, and crafts, and teaching that morning......I WAS TIRED!

But not quite done.....we had cleanup and then changed the classroom to get ready for Christmas!

It was a team effort.  It was much more fun because the Reynold's were there too!

Randy and Andrew hung lights!

We setup some of our Christmas decorations

We left Wednesday night after 7:00 and we were WORN OUT!

We took the kids out for a late dinner at Pizza Inn.
So nice to not have to cook.

I'm thankful for my sweet husband for all his help getting my room ready.

I'm thankful for my good natured kiddos and their help.

I'm thankful for sweet colleagues and their sweet families that make long days a lot more fun!

Wednesday was spent cleaning house.  Resting.  Cooking.

It was a blessing to have a quiet day at home doing more domestic type things that have been neglected!

Here is a fun photo.....

 Did you know brussel sprouts grew on a tree like stick thing?

Thursday morning was spent at home with these funny ones!

Audrey as Elsa Frankenstein!
 Then we headed to Mama's






Gobble, gobble, gobble!

After we rested a bit and woke up from our food coma we did go for a little walk.  It was nice. 

We stopped by to checkout the  Crabtree's new house.
(my brother and his family are building near my parents house)

Then we colored

Watched football

Played games

We had round two on food.....
After staying most of the day at Mama's we headed home.  We tucked the little ones into bed and  the big kids watched a movie with Randy and I.

 It was a great day.

I'm so thankful for the blessing of family.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Grandma Halsey

Randy's Grandma died today.  She was 92.  So it wasn't shocking, yet it was still somehow unexpected.  She still lived fairly independently.  She had an apartment adjoining Bob and Ruth;s home.  She was sharp as a tack.  She could talk sports and never messed up a great grandchild's name and she had like 10 or so.  She played cards and taught so many others to play; her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, her daughter in--laws....She was the BEST!  What a trove of precious memories.  I remember traveling to Pennsylvania as a teenager with Randy's family for Thanksgiving.  I always could count on good food, card games, and sweet fellowship.  She and Grandpa Halsey just took me right in.  I always felt like a part of the family.  So loved and accepted. 

She was so kind.  I never heard her speak ill of anyone....ever.  She taught me how to peel hard boiled eggs without destroying the white of the egg in the process.  She would always tell me how much she liked my grandparents.  Which meant a lot to me.  Especially once they passed away and she always made a point of saying how much she enjoyed them.  I'm gonna miss Grandma.

My kids will miss her too.  Andrew could often be found on Grandma's couch visiting or watching a game or playing cards.  He really loved her.  She would listen to him.  She would get excited about sports with him  Before he started school at Cresset he would often go by and visit during the day.  They had a unique and special relationship.  They were buddies.  It was the same with Randy.  My guys loved her and she loved them.  Grandma had a gift for making others feel accepted and unconditionally loved. 

Lots of tears were shed by many today.  She was well loved.  I want to record a few memories from today before I forget them.  Randy was off work today.  Which was a blessing.  Jackson stayed home from school today too.  He just wasn't feeling 100%.  It turns out Jackson was a blessing today as Randy and Rhonda and Ruth dealt with a lot of the details of death and loss. 

Jackson's response on hearing Grandmas had died was, "but I loved her!"  Later at the funeral home as they talked funeral prices Jackson looked the funeral director in the eye and posed an important question, "Let's say an 8 year old kids parents both died.....Who would pay for the funeral?" After being assured they didn't bill 8 year old kids he followed up with, "What if they have a 16 year old brother?"  To his relief they don't charge 16 year old children either.  Love my boy.

Then they were off to the cemetery where they were picking a plot for Grandma Halsey.  It was between Grandpa Halsey and Matthew, Jackson's brother that he never got to meet.  I guess this raised some questions for Jackson and after hearing about Matthew's death he told aunt Rhonda he was going to be a scientist so that he could figure out what happened to Matthew and help it to not happen to anyone else.  I love my sweet boy and am glad he was there to minister in his own little way to his Grandma and aunt and Daddy today. 

Finally, I want to remember God's goodness today.  This was a sad time.  Yet God was so in the details.  Ruth found Grandma this morning and it was Thursday so Randy was already at home and available to be with his family.  I also was able to grieve and process and be in touch with Randy throughout they day because I had a student teacher in my classroom for the day.  God's timing and provision is so perfect.  Then both Sophie and Andrew's after school practices were canceled for various reasons today.  Again freeing us up to go home right after school. I don't think these were all coincidences, I think this is the work of good God who lays out the details of our days.   I already mentioned how Jack was a blessing throughout the day.  God really is in the details.

We had a nice evening visiting with Randy's family and went out to dinner and laughed and cried a little and shared some memories.  We will hold a memorial service for the family around Christmas when out of town relatives will be here.  So grateful for Grandma's life.  Thankful she knew the Lord and is now pain free and whole and healthy.  So happy I got to share a bit of life with this precious woman.  She was a treasure.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Stewart Family Update

I am such a bad blogger!  It's been so long since I did an update on my crew and so much has changed I thought it was probably about that time!  Randy is doing well.  He completed his first half marathon in 1 hour and 45 minutes (or there abouts) and is toying with the idea of training for a marathon.  He is amazing!

Andrew has had the most changes as of late.  He has joined us at Cresset!  He made the decision to stay home schooled because of some basketball plans that did not work out as he had hoped.  It was disappointing but I think one of the main reasons may have been to get him where he is right now.  I never would have guessed that Andrew would be at Cresset.  However, he is and he LOVES it. I am thrilled to have us all together and under one schoolhouse roof again.   He is thrilled to be swimming on the Varsity swim team.  Waking himslef up at 5:00 Monday-Thursday.  He picks up a friend and goes to practice for an hour before school starts, then he goes to school, hangs out with his friends, does homework, works out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Crossfit.  Does dry land swim team practice Tuesday and Thursday.  Works a shift Friday, Saturday, and Sunday life guarding at Duke.  He stays busy.  He sleeps well.  No late nights up with nothing to do.....He is worn flat out and I like it!  He is still doing dual enrollment at Durham Tech he is able to leave campus and attend his History class  He's taking Pre-Calculus, Bible, AP Language, and Health at Cresset, He also serves as a Teachers Assistant for me and the Kindergarten teacher during a free period, which is VERY helpful and his Mama LOVES seeing him and so do my students!  He also has an elective of board games.  How fun is that?  And is on the Tech Team that helps out with the schools Drama's and performances.  When I asked if he was happy with his decision or if he was disappointed or sad he immediately responded that he just wishes he had started earlier.  So glad that he is with us and that he is so happy and doing so well.  Love my boy. 

Sophia is LOVING school and working VERY hard.  She is so faithful in her work.  She does her work and she turns it in on time.  She has a fabulous teacher who gives them lots of fun projects.  So far she has done a mammal poster for science which involved lots of research culminating in a poster and presentation on panda bears.  She has done several book reports.  She has done a missions project on Australia.  She is currently working on developing a math game for a math game day her class is having before Thanksgiving.  Socially she is thoroughly enjoying life.  She loves her classmates, she loves her youth group,  she loves people.  She is growing up so fast and is becoming a beautiful young lady!

Jackson has been the biggest success story.  Transitioning to Cresset has been hard on him.  He is not a morning person.  He is not a sit still in your seat person.  He is not a wear a shirt person.  All of which Cresset requires!  However, a young man who struggled to read and write when he began school has finished his first quarter with an A in math and a B in phonics and spelling.  He did not recieve ANY discipline slips and his teacher raves about him.  He has also come off his ADHD medication completely.  So far this quarter he has straight A's.  His reading has exploded.  To say I am proud of him would be a HUGE understatement.  He has even started getting up and getting dressed without much hastle most mornings.  He is the first to get his homework done each afternoon and rarely watches TV.  He plays outsde or face times his friends whenever he has a free moment.  He has made several friends and still has his contangeous joyful spunk!  He ofen volunteers to lead his class in prayer and his teacher told me he prays that we can tell more people about Jesus.  I love that boy.

Sweet Lydia said she thinks she may be the class pet.  Randy asked if she meant teachers pet.....and told her there was a BIG difference!  Well class pet or teachers pet she is a doll!  She is doing very well in school and first quarter received staright A's.  She LOVES to read and for Christmas has asked for 3 different Little House books.  She is reading one at school and LOVES it.  She started writing her first chapter book yesterday.  When my friend Sarah, a fellow teacher, asked Lydia what she writing about she responded, "about when I was a little girl."  I can't wait to read it!  Lydia goes back and forth about if she likes Cresset or homeschool better.  She likes both.  Yesterday Cresset was her favorite.  Today, we shall see!  She is planning to tryout for the roll of Jane Banks in Mary Poppins.  I think almost every little girl in the elementary school is trying out....but I'm excited for her to try.  She has to say lines, sing solos, and dance at the tryout.

Audrey is also doing very well at school.  She too made straight A's.  She has lots of friends.  She seems very happy.  However, she misses homeschooling the most.  She misses her dog.  She misses her mommy.  She spends most of recess snuggled up next to me on the bench.  She's not unhappy.  She is smiling and laughing and chatting away at lunch.  She talks about friends and fun....she just misses being at home.  Which makes me sad. 

I am doing well.  I love my job.  I enjoy pouring into kids lives.  I enjoy meeting sweet families.  I enjoy developing relationhips with fellow teachers and administrators and staff.  I miss my friends.  That has suffered the most with my working.  And my blog.  It has also suffered!  I just don't have the same amount of flexibility with my time.  My days are very full.  I'm trying to figure out how to manage family, work, household duties, and friendships, while maintaining time for quiet time and church involvement and exercise and errands!  There is a definate learning curve!  The first few months were a bit overwhelming, but still good.  Now life seems more manageable although still very busy.  One of the biggest changes has been we don't do extra activities and practices.  Andrew does swim and take guitar still but he can drive himself.  The girls are clogging but they ride with Randy's I'm not running anybody anywhere.  BLESSING!  When we get home....we are home!  Genius!

We go to bed MUCH earlier and we hold dinner time as sacred.  We practice a lot more team work in getting things done at home and for the home along with giving homework assistance. 

I really am enjoying this new phase. Love seeing my kids learn, grow, and mature.
(Sorry there are no phone is being repaired)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

School Days

Oh my Wow!  School is going full swing.  We are B-U-S-Y as bees!  I LOVE it!  L-O-V-E Love it! 

I have the sweetest little class you can imagine.  Every single one of them is pure SWEETNESS!  They have their moments, so does their teacher, and can be little rascals BUT each one of them is a really nice kid.  I just LOVE them!

The first day of school one of my little sweeties brought me an apple.  How cute is that?

The teacher across the hall is WONDERFUL!  She answers my gazillion questions.  She watches my class when I need a potty break.  She is such a nice person.  I really like her.  My own children LOVE her.  They all run up and hug her at school....not me!  For real.

The first grade has been working hard!

We have been doing lots of training in: line walking and circle sitting and not swinging our lunch boxes while in line and in using our inside voices.....

We've also worked on our....penmanship....sometimes with pretzels or bubbles.... 

Reading Groups.  Every. single. day.

 But these kids are learning to READ!!!!  That is exciting!

We do Phonics.


They LOVE to play Around the World with their Math facts. 

They are learning about American Symbols in History.

Of course they all love iPad time!

They do a LOT of work but....we do make times for games.

 and painting,

 and having picnics with our Teddy Bear's



 and we dream of our futures.....

cause that is just fun!

We read lots and lots of stories.  I LOVE to read!

We play outside a lot!  Fresh air is so important!

And sometimes after a long day....we all take our shoes off....

because that just makes life more comfortable. 

And Friday we are going on our FIRST FIELD TRIP!!!!  I'm a little excited.

As for MY kids......
Lets see.....they LOVE their teachers.  They LOVE their classmates.  They LOVE Technology time, and Art, and PE and recess, and the cafeteria, and Library, and Singing, and Chapel, and Spanish, and Story time, and Reading Groups, and they HATE getting up early and homework and going to bed early. 

Jackson's famous quote, "I love everything about school........except the learning!" 

But learn he has.  His reading has exploded.  I think school has put a positive peer pressure on him and he is working harder and it is paying off BIG time.  My sweet boy has made 100, 95, and 100 on his spelling tests.  Not bad at all for a kid struggling with dyslexia.  Soooo proud of my boy!

Sophia's famous quote, " You were too easy on me mom."  She L-O-V-E-S school and has tried to make me promise that "No matter what the rest of you do next year, PLEASE let me go to school!" 
Was I that bad?  I'm not going to ask her!
She had strep this week and had to miss two days.  It was a bit overwhelming making up all the work she had to make up but she sure did enjoy all the cards from her classmates.  She is Ms. Social.

Audrey misses Mindy and her blanket she says.......but she sure does seem happy all day at school!  She is doing so well in school and is making friends very quickly.  Her classmates LOVE her.  She's a social butterfly!

Lydia.....was born to go to school.  She loves her teacher.  She loves her class jobs.  She loves her work.  She loves her desk.  She loves her lunchbox.  She loves doing book reports.  She loves history.  She is my school girl.  She does think some of the boys in her class are a bit annoying and noisy! 

Randy thinks school is great.  He has been wonderful.  He cooks dinner as often as I do.  He grocery shops regularly.  He still helps with the laundry.  He's always been helpful with the laundry.  He visits school weekly on his day off and no surprise here, ALL the kids classmates LOVE Randy.  He is soooo funny and soooo nice!  He also is very helpful.  He goes outside the fence (the kids are not allowed to) on the playground and rescues all the stray playground balls and Frisbees.  Instant Playground Hero Status!

I love being there with my kids and seeing them with their friends and on the playground and at lunch.  I love that they are getting what they need educationally and I don't feel all the pressure to give each of them everything.  I was STRESSED out!

As much as I love it I will admit I am exhausted.  It is a lot of work to get a classroom up and running!  My class parents are wonderful so that has been a blessing!  They buy stuff for me and for the class!!!  They volunteer for field trips.  They organize events.  They help me figure out what is going on.  So that has been a blessing.  My co-workers have been life savers from teaching me which side of the hallway to walk on when, and about our heating/air system, and what to do when kids get sick, and who to talk to about what, and how to get the pesky map up.  LOVE all the people I work with.  However, getting 4 kids in the swing of going to school for the first time, getting used to homework, getting used to school hours, starting to work full time after being home for 16 years is an adjustment.  Getting used to not seeing my big kid so much and slowly loosening my grip has been difficult but so far so good.  So tonight I'm nursing the ends of a cold and staying home from Home Fellowship with Audrey who is also on the mend.  She's eating soup and I'm sipping Hot Strawberry Chocolate Tea and taking it easy.   Reflecting on the year so far....and feeling really happy.  God knew what he was doing.  So glad he directs my path and has a plan for our lives!  He really does know what we need and when we need it!