Monday, November 11, 2013

The Last 2 Weeks - Part I

I'm going to try to do a little catch-up over the next few days.  We have had about 2 weeks of intense activity and we should "quiet down" now for a week or two (hahaha - I say that to convince myself that it's not too bad).  Travis is off to Detroit permanently, except for when he's here.  So, here are some things that have happened:

Maddie had her first chorus concert.  You are now confused as you see her playing her violin.  The chorus did a folk music concert and Maddie and Kyle accompanied one song.  Kyle went on to play for a number of other songs.  It was pretty great to see them play together.
Maddie used to sit and give Kyle dirty looks during Rozzie's and Morgie's lessons.  
Halloween happened.  Rozzie led the family in celebrations.  She carved our pumpkin.  Then we watched it mold and attract fruit flies for 3 days before we threw it into the jungle.  

Rozzie is a working woman, you know, and her employers threw a big Halloween Party.  Since her employer is basically a child-care center with added amenities, it was all hands on deck for the party.  Rozzie borrowed my Snow White costume and was adorable.
Then there was the YM/YW Halloween party at church.  Maddie is a zombie and Rozzie is a peacock. Halloween isn't quite like it used to be, but we still enjoy it all!!
Last Saturday as I taught a pillowcase class at church, Travis took the girls to Columbia, South Carolina, to a Gamecock football game.  Travis works with a lady whose son plays there, and she gave him some tickets.  The girls were so excited to go out of town!  They got all dressed up in burgundy and black for the day.  Lauren went along.  They had such a good time!!  After the game, they met Missy's son Ahmad (#4).  
In sunny South Carolina - it was a win for the Gamecocks
Pictured with Ahmad post-game
Stay tuned and hopefully I'll get homecoming and senior night pictures posted for everyone's enjoyment!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Little Side Trip

There was another side trip that I did not post about.  Travis and I went to Detroit for our 24th anniversary and found a little house for him to live in.  It is in Dearborn and we are really happy with this find.  It was a little scary there for a while...  But we found something that had been completely renovated and brought up to code for $20,000 cheaper than anything we looked at.
Welcome to our home!
Detroit isn't known for its romantic getaways, but we managed to enjoy ourselves.  We stayed at the Dearborn Inn right by the Ford Campus.  It is a very historic place and was just beautiful.  We had a nice dinner.  And we looked at houses.  I have to say, I can't wait to move on to this new chapter!!
Happy 24th Anniversary to us!
 Back at home, football season is underway and the girls are busy dancing, dancing, and dancing.

Pep Rally
On the field with both Rozzie and Maddie in one picture!!
 So now we are in Utah.  Travis is on a board at the BYU School of Management.  The dean is a former bishop and upon finding out Travis was in the rail industry, he asked him to be on this board.  Travis had to go to BYU for a day of meetings and such, so I decided to tag along.  We are staying at the Rick and Holly's.  Morgan's roommate came up with Morgan on Friday night.  Morgan forgot to tell her the general rule - you never know what's going to happen when you spend time with Rick and Holly.  Well, we went for a ride on the Ranger.  As they live up in the mountains, it is fun to go riding around seeing amazing views.
The Ranger
Travis drove up to the tip-top of the ski resort.  It was very windy, but so beautiful.  It was a perfect day.  Rick suggested that we hike the last 100 yards up to the VERY TIPPY-TIPPY TOP.  Morgan was a little nervous (as was I) but we did it.  This was very difficult.  First of all, I am used to an altitude of 2 ft.  We hiked up to about 10,000 ft.  My heart was pumping fast.  My legs were straining a bit, too.  I'm not used to hiking up such steep terrain.  It was pretty windy.  But...WOW!!  Standing on top and seeing the view of both sides of the mountain!!!  We took pictures and enjoyed it.  However, it was very scary standing there because there really wasn't anywhere to stand!  It was literally a tip!  A couple of times the wind nearly took me down one side or the other.  This is an interesting shot in that we are hiking down the spine of the mountain, Holly leading the way.  The chairlift you see in the distance is the end of the line for the resort and the runs from up here are double black diamonds.  
On the spine headed down.
Looking the other way, you see the yellowish expance of the Great Salt Lake.
Travis drove us back down the mountain at a nice safe speed.  We stopped at the mountain resort and had lunch.  Can I just say once again that it was a beautiful day?  It was a beautiful day!!  Then Rick drove us back to the house.  It was the wildest ride I have ever been on.  No roller coaster anywhere has anything on Rick's mountain driving.  I have no pictures or video because I was hanging on for dear life and screaming the entire time.  As we were off -roading it a bit, we went through all these weeds and the seed heads were flying at us like missiles!!  We had to keep our mouths and eyes shut, but we peeked and screamed and laughed.  I think I was still recovering this morning as I woke up.  Morgan's roommate, Amber, was just beside herself.  Morgan was right there, too.  They were laughing so hard.  We had to pick all those seeds out of our hair.  They weren't just on TOP of our hair, but nearly embedded in our scalps.  About four hours later, I felt a tickle in my nose, wiped it, and pulled out a seed!!  Travis pulled one out of his ear.  Truly a day to remember!!

Next, we needed to head to Provo for the BYU vs. Utah game.  I'll just say now that Utah won 20-13; however, BYU scored 2 TD's that were solid, but the refs called them back.  The refs did BYU no favors and it was pretty obvious.  Aside from the loss, we had a great night.  It was a "Royal Blue-Out" meaning to wear the royal blue color that used to be the official color until it was changed to navy for reasons unknown to me and I wish they would change back.  The stadium was sold out.  It was a gorgeous night for football.  

Waiting for the marching band.  This was the current logo when we were at BYU.  
Finally we heard the drums and knew that the band was on their way!  Most of our friends who have kids in the college marching band in Florida go see their kids march at every home game.  In Morgan's three years of marching for BYU, this is the 2nd time we have seen her march.  However, I have never wished her closer to us.  It is always a little teary when I see the tubas coming.
I love seeing this!!
When BYU and Utah play each other, the bands combine and play music on a topic they can both agree on - America.  Plus, their combined colors are red, white, and blue!  It really looks cool with the silver and gold tubas, too.  
Morgan is the very corner tubist

Last but not least, Rick and Travis decided to go on a little plane ride.  Rick has a plane and so they flew down to St. George to see Mom and Dad Smith!  We kept the secret so that Travis just showed up at the house and surprised them!  How fantastic!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Start of Something Special

Last week was the hottest week of the summer.  That can only mean one thing:  BACK TO SCHOOL!!!  YAYAYAYAYAY!!!  And what a week we had!  On Monday, Rozzie's friend Hannah went off to Utah State to play volleyball.  When we first met Hannah and her mom, Donna pointed and said, "My daughter is 4 also."  On the way home, Morgan commented that she didn't see any 4-year-olds.  That week, their family met up with us at the pool and the kids played and had a good time.  On the way home, Morgan commented, "I have never met a 4-year-old who is taller than me!"  Hannah continues to be taller than most of us.  We will miss her SO MUCH! (by the way, Rozzie is 5'6")
This combination spelled lots and lots of laughs
Off to seminary & school in Celia.  She's been a good car.
 Tuesday was the first day of school and seminary for us.  Rozzie is a senior and Maddie is a sophomore.
When I first started working at Fleming Island High School, the school was new and kids had been relocated from 4 other schools:  Clay, Orange Park, Middleburg, and Ridgeview.  All the kids complained about the school and wanted to go back to their original high school.  Thank heavens they are all gone now (although one of them is my JV coach!!) and these kids know what a great place they have in Fleming Island High School.  School spirit has just increased every year and traditions continue to grow and strengthen.  On the first day of school, no one worries about what to wear.  All the classes (except freshmen) organize and get t-shirts made.  The juniors also wear a bandanna (see it in Rozzie's car).  The seniors get Burger King crowns.  They paint and be-jewel them and wear them all day.  It is the one hat we allow kids to wear in school!!  All the kids get to school early and take pictures and pictures and pictures.  Our new principal is out in the parking lot with them taking pictures and welcoming them to their school.  Then the seniors all enter the school together through the front door and head to class.  
Rozzie and Nora - bestest friends.  These shirts have the names of everyone in the class on the back.

Many of the seniors.  The principal took this picture.  They really try to get as many of the kids to wear the shirt as possible.  
 The sophomores had the most clever t-shirt - it even impressed the seniors.  On the back, it has DJ mix bars and the phrase "Class of 1-6".  It is a really fun way to start the day.  It brings a sense of unity to the classes.
Maddie and Ciera (center) were in Kindergarten together!!
 Another tradition is the senior football, dance, and cheer picture out at the front sign.  The kids really look forward to being part of this and having their moment.
Rozzie is just to the right of the very center
We all had a good week.  It is still pretty crazy for me, just getting organized and staying on top of everything.  Once a lot of the paperwork is done, it should mellow out.  I have large classes.  My 4th period is my Sweathog class.  There are a few "rough" ones there, and it is very large.  But they seem to cooperate pretty well if I don't give them a chance to rest.  Cheer is in full swing - we have our pre-season game this coming Friday!!  Be prepared for lots of Rozzie and Maddie dance pictures!!

The movers came this past week and boxed up most of our belongings.  The house is clean and on the market!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Summer: Part 2

In which Travis finally gets the job in Detriot!!

That sums up the 2nd half of the summer.  I really don't have any pictures to post.  We got home from camp and Travis got the job and we started getting ready to move and go back to school.  Here are the finer points:

1.  Travis will move to Detroit in Novemberish.
2.  No, we don't know where he will live yet; however, I believe that something will happen and he will live somewhere.  We just haven't gotten there yet.
3.  Rozzie, Maddie, and I will stay here in Florida and finish the school year.
4.  I have started my last year of teaching.
5.  I will not teach up north as most places require a master's degree and either the bachelor's or master's needs to be in education.  I have neither.
6.  No, I do not want to go back to school
7.  Travis will have the GM account for CSX in Detroit and he is extremely happy about that.  So am I.
8.  The movers are coming on Monday and Tuesday of this coming week to pack up everything going to Detroit.  We figured this was the easiest way to declutter the house.
9.  The house will go on the market on August 16th.
10. We will then move to a local townhouse, or apartment, or something.  Whitey's, maybe?
11. Once Travis moves, he will fly down for a visit about every 2 weeks, depending on his schedule.
12. It will be ok.  We know many people who have done and still do this - with fewer visits.
13. Next year, the plan is to take Maddie to Minnesota, where she will attend Minnetonka High School.
14. Because it is closer to Detroit than Jacksonville.
15. We don't like the prospect of Detroit schools right now.
16. We are really excited for these changes.
17. I have my room and classes all set to go for next week - MY LAST YEAR TEACHING!!!
18. Rozzie starts her senior year on Tuesday.
19. Maddie is a sophomore and is really excited about moving to Minnesota next year.
20. She has researched the schools on her own!

That's about it.  It was a very long, busy week at school.  I feel ready for the year.  I am teaching a new class this year.  I have always had English IV, but they changed it to a College Readiness English class.    This means all new stuff for me.  Some will remain the same, but it is layered differently and will be taught differently.  I'm looking forward to it!!  I'm still teaching English III, and Design 1-2-3 (no level 4s this year).

Happy back to school!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer: Part 1

The first half of my summer is over.  In one month, I will be welcoming my new students to my classroom.  Thoughts of panic are creeping into my mind, so I will stop right there.  It has been a busy summer, and I have really enjoyed all of it.  Right off the bat, I took my cheerleaders to camp at UCF (University of Central Florida in Orlando).  Other than one of my boys getting his teeth knocked out the first night, it was a great camp.  I got to take him to the hospital and then there was the drive around Orlando to find an all night pharmacy.  He was great about it all and I spent the rest of the weekend trying to keep him off the mats and away from flying elbows!!
The girls sang him "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth!"
For our Flashback night, we dressed up "Rosie the Riveter" style to represent the 1940s.  The boys were sailors coming home from the war.  I really wanted to do something different.  The kids loved the look and had a lot of fun taking cute pictures.  I really had a great time with my kids.  They worked hard and were easy to deal with.  
Varsity and JV - 47 kids!!
I went from Cheer camp straight to McCall's wedding.  Lani had asked me to be the "Day of the Event" coordinator.  I've never done that so I was rather nervous going in.  But the day came and everything went well.  I was exhausted.  We went early to help set up.  Rozzie and Maddie were a big help.  I had been at the rehearsal dinner the night before and one of Scott's friends is a magician and he did a really cool fork bending trick.  When Rozzie heard about it, she was so excited to go to the wedding and see a magician.  When he made it to her table and did his trick for her and Maddie, they were both enthralled (here was Harry Potter right at her table!!!)  We all had a nice time
Maddie, Travis, and Rozzie looking fancy for the wedding
I'm posting the next picture for a few reasons.  The first reason is that Lani's mom (Barbara "Bobbie" Baron), pictured here at the wedding, never walked again after these pictures.  She walked to the car (she didn't stay for the reception) and went to the hospital the next day.  She came out for McCall's wedding with her doctor's permission.  She had lung cancer that metastasized to her brain and liver.  She was very frail, but really wanted to be at the wedding.  While here, she had blood clots in her lungs and was hospitalized.  Due to the cancer, she was very weak and she passed away two weeks after the wedding.  They are so happy to have these beautiful pictures with her at the wedding.  She was a wonderful lady.  She was from Hawaii and was always very complimentary of others.  I went to see her at the hospital the day before she went to hospice and she held my hand and told me thank you for being Lani's friend and loving her so much.  It was a very special time with her.  The second reason I'm posting this is for Mom Smith.  After Bobbie's passing, we went over to the Collard's to chat.  We were leaving for Girl's Camp and Lani and her father were leaving for Boise and taking Bobbie home for her funeral.  We were talking about lots of different things and somehow it came up that Lani's father Ron went to West High School in Salt Lake City.  Travis mentioned that his mother went there to, class of 1953.  Ron was in the same graduation class and knew Barbara Graham!!  He said she was always a classy lady.  She was pretty and popular and always very kind - of course!!  He had tears in his eyes as he remembered.  Mom Smith, if you click on this picture, it should enlarge and you can see it more clearly.  Ron said that she would remember him by the name "Moon".  Sure enough, when Travis called his mom, she said, "We called him 'Moon.'"
Clint Collard, Ron and Bobbie Baron, McCall and Scott Shipley, Lani and Roger Collard
Right after the wedding, but before Girl's Camp, the great FIDT kidnapping took place.  Maddie was thrilled to be kidnapped by her big sister Morgan.  Now mind you, this is not her biological sister, Morgan.  So now Maddie has two big sisters named Morgan.
Maddie's 5:15 wake up call!!
Next, they were off to Dance Camp at Stetson University in Deland, Florida.  It was really strange to be home without any kids!!  I stuck around the first day to see them dance.  Rozzie is co-captain of the team this year.  It was handy that both girls were in the same section of the dance for picture taking purposes.
Rozzie and Maddie started a trend on the team:  There are now three sets of sisters!!
All of their lots of many awards
And next on the summer list of fun things was Girl's Camp.  Once again, it was a family affair, although we never got around to taking a family photo.  Rozzie didn't have her usual henchgirls with her so she branched out and made better friends with lots of girls.  It was good for her to experience that.  Rozzie was a 2nd year YCL (Youth Camp Leader).  The YCLs help the leaders run the camp and with that, they have many privileges, like late night karaoke.  They 4th year girls (Maddie's cabin) had a little pirate skeleton hanging at their cabin.  The YCLs immediately noted it and proceeded to steal him at night.  One night they took him off on adventures similar to the Flat Stanley adventures you know about.  It was just hilarious.  They took pictures of everything he did.
Capt. E. Bones sings karaoke
Capt. E. Bones snuggles with Carol June, the Camp Director

Capt. E. Bones takes a shower
Maddie was a 4th level camper and graduated this year.  She said it was her best year ever.
Fleming Island 1st Ward contingent
Skit night is always a high-light.  The 4th level always does the same skit.  They sing a song where everyone has a part and it builds.  It starts:  If I were not at Girl's Camp, I know just where I'd be.  If I were not at Girl's Camp, a _____________ I would be.  It starts with a chicken plucker (always a girl from Palatka).  Maddie was an obsessive Internet stalker.  By the end of the song, everyone is yelling their part at the same time and it is really fun!!
"Jacob, Johnny, Billy, Jack.  Why won't someone call me back?"
Rozzie reprised her roll as Carol June, the Camp Director with her thick Southern Accent.  This year, Carol June dressed as Bunny Foo Foo and bopped people on the head with her "mallet" to get them up.

The YCLs played a dirty prank on the leaders.  They put open cans of sardines in our cabin to stink it up!!  It took a long time to find them, too.  It was so stinky!!  We got them back, though with the craziest interrogations ever held at camp.  I think it surprised them that we'd do something like that.  There was a "Lord of the Flies" feeling to it...just a little!!  It was a really fun week.  Travis enjoyed his time at the pool and in the kitchen.  It was great to be there as a family again, but we sure missed Morgie.  Last year she was able to visit us for an evening.  Not so this year.

So now we have 2 girls who have gone through the camp program for all 6 years.  We are so grateful for really fantastic leaders who put so much time and effort into making the camp program so successful and fun.  We love being part of it.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Race to the Finish

Finally, we are out of school.  And, finally, a post from the purple palace.  The cats are fine.  Spunky doesn't look fine, but her behaves well and eats well.  I hope you don't mind the photo dump, but many different things happened that were photo-worthy.  First of all, we held our annual senior barbecue and kickball game.  My team lost for the first time ever.  We tie-dyed shirts for the two teams and we all looked great.  As always, it was a fun, but hot, afternoon.  Travis came and made funnel cakes - always a hit.  
The 2013 Senior Kickball game
That week, we also got to hand out our state championship rings to the cheer team.  That was lots of fun to see them all so excited about it.  The ring is rather large; it covers knuckle to knuckle!

Then there was that week that Morgan came home!  It was so good to have her here, even if it was just for 6 days.  I let the girls out of school and they drove with me down to Orlando to get Morgan.  She was home specifically for her dear friend JoAnna's wedding.  
As always, Morgan has a good time wherever she goes!  JoAnna was a beautiful bride!!
We were able to go out to lunch for Rozzie's 17th birthday!  Happy Birthday Rozzie!!  Even tho it was Rozzie's birthday, everyone got shoes.  Apparently, Morgan was wearing tennis shoes that Maddie had grown out of in 7th grade!
Lunch at Bahama Breeze
Rozzie is now 17.  This was taken at a Young Women's activity where they learned a little about photography.  This is just a reminder to me to get her senior pictures taken!!  (Jenny - we'll have to coordinate schedules!!)
 On the heels of Rozzie's birthday was graduation.  Rozzie was a graduation marshalI  again; however, she was promoted.  Last year she tied off a rope.  This year she led a row of seniors onto the field and through the graduation process.  Due to her quick thinking and somewhat questionable tact, she was able to lead her friend Lauren's row and also sat just a few seats away from me.  By chance, I ended up seated just a few feet away from our dear Chelsea who is recovering from her brain tumor surgery and doing very well.  The dance coach (Ali) and I discussed what a treat it was to sit so close to her and be grateful for her and her recovery.  What a miracle!!
Lauren, Rozzie & Chelsea
Rozzie takes her work very seriously
Spying on Rozzie

Celebrating Chelsea's graduation moment
 Many of you have heard the story of Matt.  Matt was my student the past two years.  On the first day of school his junior year, he filled out a student information sheet as did all my students.  In response to the sections "Interests", he wrote:  trains and West Virginia.  That was an odd response, but I thought to myself, "I've found a new best friend for Travis!!"  Weeks later in a meeting with Matt's mother and grandmother, it became apparent that Matt was the one who needed a new best friend and mentor.  I was informed of the alcohol and drug abuse in the home.  His parents had been in and out of jail on a variety of charges.  Money was spent on drugs and alcohol rather than food.  All Matt wanted was to get out of high school and the house, and work for the railroad.  My department head worked with Travis to set up a Big Brother program that paired Matt up with Travis to act as a mentor to help Matt attain his goal of working for the railroad.  The past two years have been horrific for Matt and his family.  The one constant (other than Grandma) was Travis.  Matt has now graduated and is on his way in the next few weeks to start a job in Fitzgerald, Georgia, working at a railroad car shop.  He will get his 2 years of experience working outdoors and with heavy machinery so that he can apply to become a railroad conductor.  This has been a life-changing experience for both Matt and Travis (and even me).  I don't know who benefited more.  Matt knew what he wanted (and didn't want); however, he lacked the knowledge and resources to make it happen.  Travis provided him with that.  Matt has not been "given" anything, but will be successful on his own.  I am so proud of him.  He is a humble man who just wanted better than what he had seen in his house.  On the other hand, Travis has seen some of the problems we face at school and has a different understanding of people.  This has been a great source of satisfaction and joy for Travis.  We are really proud of Matt.  His grandma threw him a party with lots of family and friends there.  His mom is trying to clean up.  Dad was shipped off to live with his mom in Oregon the morning of the party.  Apparently, everyone here in Florida is over his antics.  Travis and Matt head to Fitzgerald to get Matt's apartment lined up tomorrow!!
Congratulations to Matt!!
 Then I got this hair-brained idea to make cute pillowcases for the dance team to take to camp.  Rozzie thought they needed their names embroidered on them.
 And let's see what Maddie is up to.  She is driving a lot more, in anticipation of her 16th birthday in November.  I like this picture of us.  The phone camera makes everything backwards.
That is us in a nutshell.  I hope you are all done with school and on your way to a great summer.