Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fun Weekend with Friends

Nick and I had a great weekend catching up with friends. We basically ate our way through Dallas this weekend, but we have hard time turning down a good meal. Friday evening our friends Chad and Jeneille came into town from Longview and we met up with them along with Stephen and Jennifer who live in the Dallas area. Stephen, Chad and Nick have been best friends since high school (Nick and Chad before that) and they love when they get a chance to all get together. Of course it helps that they have super sweet wives as well. We met up at PF Changs and enjoyed drinks and an awesome meal together. It was so nice to get a chance to catch up, see updated pics of Chad and Jeneille's cute little son Graysen, and enjoy each others company.

Saturday, Nick mowed the lawn and worked in the yard while I tried to get ahead on school work. I know once this week starts and I have to teach and schedule in my first round of testing, I'm going to feel like I'm in a whirlwind. So I have been working hard to get things done ahead of time, and hopefully make my life a little easier this first six weeks. In the evening, we took advantage of "Restaurant Week" in Dallas and headed to our favorite steakhouse, Pappas Bros., with my sister Meagan and her husband Jason. For $35 (which is normally the price of one steak there) we enjoyed salad, steak, potatoes, green beans and a dessert. In fact it was so much food, we will be enjoying our leftovers for dinner tonight.

Then on Sunday, we had a chance to meet up with our friends Stephen and Stacy for brunch at Blue Mesa in Addison. They moved here recently from New York and we are SOOO excited for them to be here in Dallas. We love hanging out with them and can't wait to spend more time with them this year! Even though we had a huge meal the night before, we couldn't turn down Blue Mesa's DELICIOUS brunch. We are ready to relax this evening, but it was fun to get to spend so much time with friends after a great first week of school. We are blessed to have such wonderful friendships!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Great Start to the School Year

A typical start to the school year for me includes many sleepless nights spent tossing and turning, wondering what my class is going to be like and if they will behave themselves. I normally have the back to school teacher "nightmare" that the kids are running around, screaming, that all my desks are missing and not one of the little rascals is listening to me. Then there are the stress filled days, spent prepping, preparing and decorating so that the first day goes perfectly smooth (which never actually happens).

Now that I am teaching LEAP all that has changed. I didn't have students this week at all, so I really didn't have much to stress out or prepare for. I got a full 8 hours of sleep before the first day of school, a HUGE change from the 3 I normally get. All week, I could work on things that had to do with my classroom or some of my other school responsibilities. It was nice to have the time to prepare, but there were times I found myself missing having little kiddos of my own. Though I will have most of the students in LEAP for many years in a row, there's just something about having your own class. I know once classes start next week and I get into the swing of things, I will start to feel a greater connection and attachment to my new group of 45 kids. But this week I have found myself wandering back down the 3rd grade hallway, chatting up the teachers and staring into the classrooms to catch a glimpse of what I am missing.

Good thing my principal wanted us to change our morning announcements and I had plenty to keep me distracted. I am now in charge of running a morning announcement program called KKIDS News. Teams of students act as the anchors, camera crew, producers and technical experts to put together a news program that is viewed each morning from the classrooms. This year, instead of simply filming a live news broadcast we will also be using a green screen as our backdrop. We will film in front of the screen, choose the image we want to show in the backgroud, and when teachers and students watch it in the classroom, they will see the students standing in front of our chosen image. It's a very cool concept and very innovative for an elementary school. In fact, I ran into a lot of trouble this week, because technology has never set up a system quite like it. I troubleshooted much of the technical stuff myself (which included MANY hours of trial and error) and finally someone from our district's technology department with a good attitude came out and made sure everything was working smoothly. So starting Monday, we will be going live with our first news team. Wish me luck...getting 5th graders to act professional might be a bit of a challenge, but I think I can handle it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Streets of London

I love London! We began our tour of Europe with 3 days in London and I couldn't wait to get back. The last time Nick and I came, we were on a layover on our way to Paris, so we only got a chance to spend a days and a half there. This time we went in with a detailed plan of all the sights we wanted to see, Windsor Castle being at the top of my list. I am fascinated with any historic building, but I especially love to see historic homes. There was no doubt in my mind that once I saw my first castle I would be hooked. Nick and I were able to sleep our whole 9 hour flight, so when we arrived in London around 10:30 we were ready to hit the ground running. I think Meagan and Jason were going on straight adrenaline at this point, because neither of them slept much on the flight over. After we checked into our hotel, the Novotel West, we headed for the underground station near our hotel. We took the train to the center of London and down Westminster, taking in many historic sights. I love the hustle and bustle of Trafalgar Square. Everywhere you look there are cars, people, and of course the famous double decker red tourist buses. We stopped a grabbed a London pass, which paid for our entry to many of London's most popular sights as well as our transportation passes.

We walked to the Thames River, where we boarded a river cruise that carried us from the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, all the way to the Tower of London.

Summer's Almost Over

After spending 20 days in Europe, I felt ready to come home and begin preparing for the new school year. After 6 years teaching 3rd grade, I have moved to a new position on my campus. I will be the new LEAP teacher, which means that I am in charge of the gifted education program for grades K-5. I am very enthusiatic about this new beginning, but there is a part of me that feels as if I'm a first year teacher all over again.

Here are some pictures of my new classroom. I have so much fun organizing, so even though putting together a new room was a lot of work, I really enjoyed it.
This year I am also in charge of our school's video announcement program. Each morning a group of student act as the anchor, camera crew, and producers of a morning news program. This year we are attempting to use a green screen during filming, so I have been working hard to figure out exactly how to get all the equipment to work properly. If everything works out like it should, it is going to be unbelievable and we will be the first elementary school in our district to do announcements this way. So it's looking like it's going to be a great start to school. I can't wait to see those sweet, smiling faces cross my threshold each day. It truly is a blessing to be a teacher!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back From Europe

Nick and I returned home this week after a WONDERFUL 20 days in Europe. We traveled to six countries and more than 18 cities. It was truly the trip of a lifetime. I can't believe all the things that we had the opportunity to see. Just walking through the streets of Europe, you get the sense that you are standing in a place where history was made. Each street, each building seems to have it's own story to tell. Each place we visited had ways that it left it's mark on history. Since there is so much to share, I'm going to break my blogs down to one place at a time, to share with you Nick and I's fondest memories of the our European vacation.
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