Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Day in the Life of a 4th Grade Teacher

I've been having a blast in the 4th grade. Each day I feel a little bit more confident in the classroom, and I've taken over the subjects of Reading, Writing, and Social Studies so far. I'm teaching Science and Math every now and then when my teacher has a meeting or something, and I'll probably take those subjects over after the holiday. I can't believe we only have a half a week until we get 2 weeks off for Christmas!! I could get used to this... :)

Last week, our class joined other 4th graders from all over San Diego on a week-long field trip to Old Town State Park. They have certified teachers there who lead the kids in small groups and teach them about different time periods in California history. Then the groups get to tour the buildings and museums in Old Town that are associated with that time period. It's a very cool experience.

Here are a couple of pictures I have of me "in action." I'm looking forward to the holiday break, but I'll miss those little rascals!

Here's a photo of me teaching the kids in Presidio Park during our Old Town field trip (you can click on the photo to enlarge it). The lady to the right in the photo is my teacher, Jackie O'Donovan. The man to the left is the other 4th grade teacher at our school. I think I was actually in the middle of teaching the kids about how many of the immigrants to California were stricken with scurvy because of a vitamin C deficiency in their diets while they were sailing. Nice, I know...

This photo was taken on Halloween - obviously. My favorite costume was the kid in the middle of the back row...Steve Urkel. He really got into character that day, too! :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The two most important things in the world...

Hockey and family. (Not in that particular order.)

We got a little of both last weekend when we decided to drive to Phoenix on Saturday to see the Coyotes play the Detroit Red Wings that night. I guess we're getting antsy about getting away for the holidays because we both just wanted to hit the road and go somewhere for a couple of days. A huge bonus is that my Aunt Wanda and Uncle Larry live in Phoenix and we got to go to their church, First Baptist in Sun City West, on Sunday morning and eat lunch with them afterwards. They're the closest family we have, geographically, and it's always a treat to spend time with them.

Then we had to get back to the real world again on Monday, but it was fun while it lasted!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend! We spent the holiday in some beautiful areas of northern CA. Dan was originally scheduled to work through Wednesday, but his boss told him at the last minute on Tuesday that he didn't need to come into work on Wed! It was awesome, because there was a San Jose Sharks hockey game that Dan really wanted to get to on Wed. night to celebrate his birthday a little early. So we started driving on Tues. night after work, spent the night north of L.A., and continued driving on Wed.

When we got to San Jose, we took a tour of the Winchester Mystery House, a strange mansion that was built in the late 1800's by the Winchester Rifle heiress. Rumor has it that she believed she was haunted by the victims who were killed by her company's rifles, and the only way to keep them at bay was to continue building onto her house 24/7. It's an interesting mansion with several oddities, such as a staircase that leads up to the ceiling and a door that opens to nothing but a 3-story drop outside the house!

That night, we got to the San Jose Sharks stadium nice and early to buy tickets, only to discover that the game was sold out! We were pretty much on our sad way out when we found a scalper who had two tickets! He made some money off of us, but we were just excited to get into the game!

Dan is happy

Here's a fun picture of the remote controlled shark "blimps" that were released to fly around the stadium

On Thanksgiving Day, we drove north to tour the wine country in Napa and Sonoma Valleys, then we headed over to Lake Tahoe that night. The wineries weren't open for tours that day, but the scenery around Napa and Sonoma was absolutely beautiful and it was worth it just to drive through the area! We loved the rolling landscape and we'd never seen so many vineyards!

Friday was opening day at Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe, so we took advantage of the chance to break out our ski gear again! We realized how out of shape we were after just a few hours, and called it quits to spent the rest of the afternoon driving around Lake Tahoe and soaking in the gorgeous views.

The view of Lake Tahoe from the gondola on the way up to the ski lifts

Skiing at Heavenly

Some scenes from beautiful Lake Tahoe

We had a blast together, and we both got some refreshing time with our favorite things (Dan=hockey, Debby=the mountains). We hope that Thanksgiving was a fun and relaxing time for you, too!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back to School!

I had an extreme career change two weeks ago when I took a leave of absence from my job and started student teaching in the 4th grade! It's actually been a long time coming, since Dan and I started our master's degrees in elementary education 5 years ago in Denver. We took all the coursework together, but when it was time to student teach, I kept working while he finished the program. This year is my deadline for finishing my degree, so my boss and I came to an agreement for me to take a leave of absence as long as I: 1) stuck around long enough for him to hire someone else and have me train them to take my place, and 2) promised to hate everything about the teaching profession and come back to work the minute I finished my student teaching! Fortunately for me, #2 didn't come true, because I'm having a blast in the classroom so far!
There are 28 kids in the class, and my teacher is fantastic. 4th grade was my top choice, because they're at that glorious age where they're old enough to be pretty independent, but they're still really sweet kids who love their teacher. :) The school where I'm working (Kate Sessions Elementary) is only about a mile from our house, so I can bike there when I feel like it (it hardly ever happens).
I haven't started officially teaching anything yet, but I think I'll need to in the next week or so. My teacher really loves her job and doesn't seem to be in a big hurry to pass things off to me. But I'm supposed to take over the subjects little by little until I'm running the show at the end of my 15 weeks in the classroom. Then I'll earn my CO teaching license, and who knows when I'll do anything with it, but it'll be great to have it as an option and it's fun to do something completely different for a while! I'll be done student teaching in early March, and it's a blessing to know that I've got my job waiting for me when I'm finished - especially with the job market so tough right now. God is good!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"The Mysteries Of Women"

Since Dan and I got married, I think he's created a new mental category called "The Mysteries Of Women." One of the things that definitely fall in this category are baby showers. I've gone to three baby showers for our friends in the past two months, and when I come home and tell him about how we tasted baby food to guess the flavor and raced to dress each other in "diapers" made of toilet paper, he cannot understand what possesses me to go to another baby shower ever again. But I had a fun time, and he just chalks it up to "The Mysteries Of Women." So when the fourth baby shower for our friends Trish and Briklyn was a co-ed shower, he was really apprehensive but decided to go and lend moral support to Briklyn, if nothing else. The shower was at the Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disneyland, which was a cool venue, the food was fantastic, there were plenty of other guys there, and we had a really good time. They had a game planned where we "made babies" by shaping pieces of Hubba Bubba gum, and Dan discovered his untapped raw talent for bubble gum sculpting and won the game! I don't think he's found a new passion (in baby showers or bubble gum sculpting, although if I find "Still Life in Hubba Bubba" lying around the house I'll let you know), but I think he now understands a little bit of why I enjoy the showers for our friends.

Trish and Briklyn's baby shower
Dan's bubble gum baby
"The Mysteries Of Women" Part 2: Yesterday, I was digging through boxes to find some paperwork for my master's degree, and came across a box labeled "Wedding Stuff." Of course I had to open it and see what kind of wedding stuff we were talking about here, and this is what I found.

All the pink boxes are full of little bubbles, which we had given our guests to blow when we left the church after our wedding ceremony. I obviously had ordered way too many of these, and for some reason I can't remember now, I decided we should keep them in a box for 5 years. The other thing was a big stack of napkins that say "Dan and Debby - May 3, 2003."

Dan, seeing the stack by the door when he came home from work, asks "You mean we've been lugging those things around the country for the past 5 years??" I smile sheepishly. Dan sighs and files yet another eccentricity away in the "The Mysteries Of Women" category.

On the upside, we're all set on napkins for about the next 6 months! I'll probably give the bubbles away to Dan's school or a thrift store or something. But we're one box lighter for our next move!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cool September Stuff

It's been a while since I've posted, but there were some very cool things that happened this month, so here's a run-down!

Dan's school (Calvary Christian Academy) started on Aug. 27th, and so far, it's been going amazingly smoothly. He worked really hard to have everything in order this summer, and God has blessed his efforts! His teachers and staff are great and the kids have good attitudes & behavior so far. His only constant challenge is that the cheerleading advisor stepped down, and no one else volunteered, so guess who got the job? Don't get any weird pictures in your head of Dan in a skirt with pom-poms (haha! I did that on purpose - you can't get it out of your mind now, can you?). He's just the final decision-maker for the team on things like uniforms, out of town schedules, fund raisers, etc. But it's way out of his comfort zone and he's already recruiting other people to take it on next year!

One of my co-workers, Oz Sanchez, competed in the Paralympics in Beijing from Sept. 12th-14th, and he came home with the gold medal in the Handcycling Time Trial and the bronze medal in the Handcycling Road Race! He's pretty much the coolest person I know right now.

Oz Sanchez, the fastest man in the world on a handcycle!

I got to walk and raise funds for the American Heart Association at the START! Walk on Sept. 20th with a group of my co-workers. It's the first time I've done a charity walk, and it was fun to hang out with everyone and represent our company for a good cause.

The Epsilon Systems Solutions Team at the AHA START! Walk

Our friends have been on a mission to increase the American population recently! There have been nine beautiful babies born to our friends this year (one couple had triplets, so they bumped up the number!), and there are at least three more babies due before the year's over! We got to visit two baby boys in the hospital who were born on Sept. 18th & 20th - one was born several weeks early and weighed 5.5 pounds, and the other one was full-term and weighed 9.5 pounds! They are both so cute! There's nothing like holding a newborn to remind you that God performs miracles every day!

Dan went to the Chargers vs. Jets game with his friends, Eric and Dave, on Sept. 22nd. It was his first pro football game, and he enjoyed it a lot. They had decent seats, it was a high scoring game, and the Chargers won!! He said he could've done without the halftime band and the drunk people, but it's all part of the experience. :)

Last weekend, I went to our church's women's retreat, which was phenomenal. We studied what Scripture says about our identity as God's children, and talked about how we often act like we're still spiritual orphans (feeling unloved, trying to be self-sufficient, etc.) even though we know that we're adopted as sons and daughters of God through Christ. The retreat was at the Murrieta Hot Springs Conference Center, and it was beautiful and relaxing.

The Kaleo Church Women's Retreat

So that's what's been going on with us! It's been a fun month!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

And They're Off!

We went to the Del Mar Fairgrounds ("Where the Surf Meets the Turf") today to watch the horse races with our friends Eric, Jenn, Paul, and Ann. This was the first time any of us had gone, even though the races are held here every summer. I was a little nervous that one of the horses or jockeys would get injured, because I've heard that they will euthanize a horse if the injury is bad enough. There was one moment when a nervous horse reared up inside the starting gate and got its front legs hooked over the top of the gate. Of course some of the other horses got upset and started getting crazy, too. They had to get all the horses out of the gates until everyone calmed down again. Two of them were either mildly injured or too skittish to run that race, and one of the jockeys came out limping, too. But everyone else was fine to run, and there were no incidents after that.

It was a gorgeous day, and we all enjoyed picking a horse to cheer for during each race. The names they come up with are pretty funny. One of our favorites was "Return of the King," who was 7 years old (I think he was the oldest horse we saw run all day) and he won his race! We didn't gamble any money, which was a good thing for me because I chose LOSERS every time! My strategy of picking the one with the craziest name didn't work out so well. Jenn, on the other hand, could've been a millionaire by the end of the day - so next time I'll stick with her!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

San Diego Visitors

The Total Church North America Conference was held in San Diego last week, and our church, Kaleo, helped to organize it and host church leaders who were flying in from out of town. Dan and I had the privilege of hosting Murray McLellan and Sammy Whitehawk from Grace Fellowship of Saskatoon, which is in Saskatchewan, Canada. Since we weren't able to attend the conference, it was nice to be able to discuss the session topics with Murray and Sammy at the end of each day. And Dan actually had someone around the house who could talk hockey trivia with him! We also introduced them to one of our favorite foods - the Chipotle burrito! They only have one fast food place like Taco Bell in Saskatoon, so it was definitely a step up in quality, despite not being quite "authentic."

Midway through the week, we got an e-mail from Dan's cousin, Jon, saying that he was in Los Angeles for a missions conference. So we got to meet him and his pastor, Shane, for dinner on Sunday afternoon after church.

It was really fun to have visitors in San Diego! Keep it up! :)

We went to a Padres game with Murray, Sammy, and Michael from Grace Fellowship of Saskatoon, and Fox, who attends Kaleo with us.
Eating dinner with Jon and Shane.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"The Greatest Show on Earth"

Dan surprised me this weekend by taking me to my very first Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus! It was so much fun! We went an hour before the show started so we could meet some of the performers and animals. The circus was really fun, and we were surrounded by lots of young kids in the audience, which made it even better! Dan remembers the "three ring" circus from his childhood, where they had three acts going on at the same time, and you had to choose one to watch. At this one, they usually only had one main act going on at a time, which was better for me since I didn't want to miss anything!

We make pretty good clowns, don't you think?
The elephants were my favorite part of the show - so adorable!
This was the grand finale with most of the performers out on stage - you can blow up the photo if you click on it

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fun Weekend in Denver

Last weekend, we flew to Denver and stayed with our friends Molly and Jeremy. It's the first time we've been back to Denver since we moved 3 years ago! On Saturday, we visited Debby's mentor from Mission Hills Church, Norma, and her husband John. Debby also ate lunch with a couple of girls she used to work with, Rebecca and Gina. On Saturday night and on Sunday, we got together with groups of friends from our old "20-something" church group at Mission Hills. It was so fun to get the gang back together and reminisce about old times. It was like no time had ever passed. We also got to meet several new members of their families, too, since there's been a baby boom among our friends recently! It was definitely the highlight of our summer, and we really miss everyone. Here are a few photos from the weekend.

Debby with Gina and Rebecca, who Debby used to work with at the College for Financial Planning
The "boys' table" at Matt and Kristina's house on Saturday
The group is multiplying!
Kristina and her beautiful girls, Hannah and Chloe
A sweet picture of the two littlest babies, Audrey and Charlotte
We spent lunchtime on Sunday at the Haas House

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Florida Road Trip

From July 4-19, we took an awesome road trip around the coast of Florida. We flew into Panama City Beach and drove down the west coast all the way to Naples. The beaches and the water on the gulf coast were amazing! I discovered on this trip that I don't hate the ocean ... I just hate the Pacific Ocean!! Serously! As much as we love living close to the beach in San Diego, we never go swimming in the ocean here. The water is always freezing cold and murky, and there's monster-sized seaweed everywhere! In contrast, the water in Florida was warm and clear, the beaches have gorgeous white sand, and if there's anything floating around you in the water you can see what it is! This was awesome for me, because I always think that anything touching me in the ocean is JAWS!!

From Naples, we drove over to the east coast and spent several days in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami/Keys area. We loved driving down to Key West - it was gorgeous on the long bridges in the middle of such beautiful colorful water! Key West was a fun town, too. They have a Sunset Celebration every night where they put on a street fair with performers and vendors and live music and everyone gathers by the piers to watch the sun set. We also went snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, which was amazing! It felt like we were in the middle of an aquarium, swimming with the most gorgeous colorful fish and coral! They have a statue of Jesus in the water called "Christ of the Abyss," and you could swim down and touch his hands.

After we left the Miami area, we spent a day touring the Kennedy Space Center. And of course we had to have our DisneyWorld fix! We spent our last couple of days at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom before driving back up to Panama City Beach to fly home. We were fortunate to find a condo to rent just 5 minutes from DisneyWorld, because it POURED both days we were there! So we could go back to the condo and throw all our clothes in the dryer before getting back out there again.

We had a blast, and we still love spending every day together for two weeks straight - especially when it involves a road trip in a beautiful place! Here are a few of our favorite pics.

At Panama City Beach

Our rental car and the fireworks on the 4th of July
Dan remembered how to get to his grandparent's old house in Port Richie! His memory & sense of direction never cease to amaze me, since I am perpetually lost!
Collecting seashells on Sanibel Island
Eating frozen chocolate-covered key lime pie on a stick in Key West. MMMMMM!!

Dan got his first taste of Waffle House on this trip. He will never eat there again.
Making a serious fashion statement while snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Dan is wowed by a Moon Rock at Kennedy Space Center
In front of "Mt. Everest" at DisneyWorld's Animal Kingdom
A beautiful sunset in Pensicola

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Just a Day in the Life of a High School Principal

Now that the school year's almost over, Dan's life has suddenly become a lot busier! It's easy to forget how many end-of-the-year performances, award ceremonies, and other special events there are in high school - and guess who gets to be involved in everything? That's right - the principal!! So I've been seeing less of him recently and we both can't wait until summer break. This past weekend, we went to the high school's musical, "Uncle Phil's Diner," which was a fun performance. And we also went to prom! Ha! I got all kinds of grief from my co-workers about going, but the guy who asked me was sooo cute, I just couldn't say no! :) It was at a really pretty conference center/marina, so we took this picture in front of the boats. We ended up having a really good time, although I do not miss the drama and awkwardness I experienced at that age. Makes me wonder what all my teachers were thinking about me and my friends when I was in high school. Hmmmm. Maybe it's better not to know! :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Girls' Getaway Weekend (and the Story of the Suicidal Turtle)

For Memorial Day weekend, I flew back home to Nashville to spend Saturday and Sunday with my two best girl friends, Melody and Michelle. It was so awesome to finally get some girl time with them!! We decided to spend our days and nights in Atlanta, since they could both use a nice relaxing weekend away, too. We spent our first day relaxing by the pool at our hotel, since it was in the 80s and sunny. Then we went shopping at IKEA, which is a home furnishing mega-store/warehouse. I have one nearby in San Diego, but Michelle and Melody had never shopped at one before. It's an overwhelming but fun experience just to walk through the store, even if you don't buy anything. We also ate dinner and window-shopped at Atlantic Station mall, which is a really pretty outdoor mall that's built to look like a town square. On Sunday, we spent the whole day at Six Flags Over Georgia and felt like kids again - for the most part. We had to admit that we have "matured" a little bit since high school every time we rode one of those old-school roller coasters that jerk you around a lot! But we had such a great time, and even the long lines weren't a bad thing because we had lots of catching up to do.

As we were leaving Six Flags, we had to swerve to avoid hitting a huge turtle that was crossing the road! Its shell was about as big around as a large pizza, and it probably weighed 30 lbs or so. I got to know this first-hand in the next few minutes, because I made Michelle pull the car over. I wanted to take a picture of it, but then I realized how much danger it was in because of the oncoming traffic. Plus, after it crossed the road, it was headed towards the Six Flags parking lot which was even more dangerous. Now, I really don't like any animals that don't have fur, but I couldn't stand by and watch it risk its life like that. So I stood behind it and grabbed the sides of its shell and lifted it, and I was expecting it to curl up nicely into its shell and maybe pee out of fright like small turtles do when you catch them. But this old guy was feisty, and it kept jerking its whole body and trying to reach back far enough to bite me! So (after a bit of squealing and hopping around) I built up the nerve to pick it up again, and I ran over to the grass with it. Then it gave another big jerk and I lost my grip, and it fell and landed on its back (at least it was in the grass!). I thought I was going to have to help it flip over, but it reached its creepy long neck out and used its head to push itself over again (ick!). It was really mad at me, but at least I saved its life for a few minutes! I have a feeling it just continued on its suicidal path after we left, but I did what I could! (Since I first posted this, I found out that it was a "common" snapping turtle. Apparently if you need to handle one, you're supposed to grab it by its tail and hold it away from your body, since its neck can be long enough to reach most other places and it has a nasty bite. Ha! I'm glad I still have all my fingers!!)

We drove back to Nashville the next day, and I had just enough time to eat some delicious TN barbeque with my family before they took me to the airport. It was such a fun weekend!

My friends, Michelle and Melody
We're in the IKEA store, trying out one of their many couches
This was right in front of the Superman ride, which was AWESOME! They put you in a harness and lift you up until you're belly down and you go through the whole ride like you're flying Superman-style!A very angry snapping turtle. But I'm sure he'll think fondly of me someday as "that psychotic Six Flags parking lot lady." Good barbeque in San Diego is almost non-existent, so my family took me to eat at Famous Dave's before I left.