August 30, 2009

Cousin Bill

A couple weeks ago, my brother received a friend request on Facebook from Bill. With that request came an intriguing question, "Are you related to Mike?"

Mike, for those that don't know, is my father. And through a series of conversations, we learned that Bill is the son of our father's cousin, which makes him our second cousin.

Though we had never met (well... my mom said we met when we were babies, but that doesn't count), it was obvious we were related. As soon as I accepted his friend request, I could see the family resemblance in his pictures.

My father is an only child, so I was very excited about discovering cousins on his side of the family. Even more exciting is the fact that Bill is my age (3 years older) and lives within an hour. He called me last night to invite me to meet him and his wife. So, this morning, my sister, brother-in-law, and I drove to the marina on the Fox River and met them for some boating and brunch. It was a beautiful day (though a bit chilly on the speedboat) for a little relaxation on the lake, and we had a great time laughing together and learning about each other.

I hope this is the beginning of a long friendship with our newly found family members! :)

August 26, 2009

On Day One

On the first day of school (one week ago), my team was informed about a student that was to be on a strict supervision schedule. We were told from our principal that this child must never be out of our sight; someone has to be assigned to him from the moment he arrives at school until the moment he leaves.

We met as a team to devise a plan and agreed upon who would take him from one class to the next and how to best "hand him off" to another staff member while still being inconspicuous. I'm not going to lie, there was definitely some hesitation in the group about this immense responsibility. None of us had ever dealt with an issue like this before, and there was some concern about being able to watch him so closely while also trying to monitor the rest of our students. Nevertheless, we knew we had to move forward and try our best.

I have this student in two of my classes back to back. When the bell rang for the passing period between those classes, the student exited my room (with his classmates) and snaked his way through the crowded halls to find his friends for a few moments of socializing.

Try as I did, I lost the one kid I'm not supposed to lose on the first day of school!!!

What a great start to the year!

August 16, 2009

The Time Has Come

This past week was my last week of summer. It is bittersweet that I must return to school tomorrow for the first institute day of the school year. Though I am excited about what this year will bring, I am certainly sad to say farewell to the carefree days of summer.

For the past week, I have been a busy little bee setting up my new classroom. It was quite stressful (in a good way) finding just the right place for each piece of furniture, picking the perfect bulletin board trim, and creating a smooth flow to my classroom. Honestly, I lost sleep over these decisions. On more than one occasion, I got out of bed to sketch a classroom layout idea in an effort to quiet my mind enough to finally fall asleep! :)

When I arrived at school on Wednesday, I was surprised to see a full parking lot. For a minute, I thought I had missed an important meeting or something along those lines, but alas, it was just Schedule Day. Within minutes of entering my classroom, word got around that I was in the building, and I was enthusiastically greeted several of my former students. Although it was not a very productive time, it was so much fun to catch up with my kiddos. I truly loved the group I had last year, and I hope I love this year's group just as much (though I wonder if it is possible).

I'm going to try with all my might to fall asleep tonight at a decent time so I can get up with the birds tomorrow morning for our first institute day of the new school year. Wish me luck!

August 6, 2009

Bachelorette Weekend

I spent this past weekend in Apple Canyon Lake for Martha's bachelorette weekend. For those that don't know, Apple Canyon is located in beautiful western Illinois near Galena. If you haven't visited, you should. It's gorgeous!

We arrived around 5:00 PM Friday after a 2.5 hour drive and immediately grabbed our drinks for our golf cart excursion. Apple Canyon has a private trail that surrounds the lake, which was a ton of fun to explore. It was a great bonding experience - especially when we arrived at the flooded part and had to push the carts to the other side.

After our golf cart tour, we were invited to take a sunset tour of the lake on Annette's (a neighbor) boat. Despite the chill, it was a great tour. I seriously need to get a house on a lake with a boat. I would spend my entire day there!
When we got home, we were all exhausted (and tipsy). We had to force ourselves to make a fire because we didn't want to miss the opportunity, but we never got around to eating our s'mores. We all crashed in bed before 12:00!

The clouds threatened rain Saturday morning, so we were concerned about our beach plans for the day. We took a quick trip into town for some orange juice and ended up at a townie bar at 10:00 AM drinking mimosas in our pajamas. We were all shocked to see how packed the bar was so early in the morning, though most of the crowd was eating breakfast. We played a little shuffleboard while waiting for the clouds to clear.

At the bar, we made friends with some of the locals, and one offered to take us to see his friend's horses (Carla is a huge animal lover)... whom, by the way, was out of town for the weekend but gave him permission to bring us by nonetheless. People are so friendly in the country!

Once the skies cleared, we made our way to Galena Cellars, the winery and vineyard for a little tour and wine tasting. The vineyard itself was small but beautiful. The weather ended up being beautiful as well, so we sat in the yard with our wine and some snacks. It was such a relaxing afternoon. We learned the proper way to taste our wines and enjoyed tasting several. Until this point, I had only ever liked one kind of wine, but I walked away from this tasting with a whole list of tasty drinks. I even purchased three bottles to take home!

When we got home, we grilled some burgers and hot dogs, played a little Partini and enjoyed our second campfire - this time with s'mores. I could seriously get used to this lifestyle!

On Sunday, we spent the day lounging in the sun and playing ping pong and ladder golf. The weather was perfect, so we decided to head down to the beach and take a dip in the lake. It was a great way to wrap up our relaxing weekend. I already want to go back!