Saturday, September 29, 2012

Early Arrival

Arriving 30+ days earlier than last year, we woke up this morning to our first snow fall of the season. 
 To say the least, I was not prepared mentally to see the white stuff.
 Yard toys, summer gear & hoses are still out... needless to say, we will be "winterizing" immediately.
 As much as I like snow, when you have 6 months of it up here in Alaska, I'm not anxious about it arriving earlier than usual.
The good news is by early afternoon it had all melted.
However, we have a lasting reminder, as we look at the snow-covered mountains, that autumn is indeed on its way out and mother nature is sending winter our way.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers (Picture dump edition)

Hi weekend.  Have I told you lately that "I love you"? :)
  • Despite Brian missing a moose hunting trip last weekend, his buddies dropped off a table-size chunk of moose meat when they rolled back in town.  Did I mention it still had hair, blood & leaves stuck all over it?  Yep... Brian cleaned it all in our kitchen & portioned it out completely.  Yeah for a full freezer!
  • If you know me well, you know that I like things organized.  Kindergarten & Preschool folders, paperwork, artwork, book orders, backpacks and everything else that pertains to Thomas & Abbigail in school does not yet have a home... instead, there are various piles that just move from one counter top to another.  I'm fed up and I plan on fixing this ASAP.
  • The snow on the mountain tops is slowly creepy down the mountain side.  Last year, Halloween marked the first snow fall but the rule of thumb here in Anchorage is anytime in October is fair game.  Matter of fact, this weekend we are expected to see our first snow showers.  Let's hope there is no accumulation!
  • It seems like overnight, Abby has become a fashionista complete with skirts, tights and bows in her hair!  It appears now I have a girly-girly on my hand.

  • I mentioned that Thomas was left-handed the other week.  I'm positive Abbigail is also left-handed.  See for yourself...
  • There is no doubt that Marilyn is going to be a lover of books just like Thomas & Abbigail.  She already loves to get cozy and just "read!"
  • Lately, the days have been pretty wet & cold up here.  It's pretty clear that winter is coming quickly, so we cleaned & moved some of the outdoor play equipment (basketball net is coming soon too) into the playroom.  Can you tell that everyone was excited as they danced & partied?


 Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall Ball

It's no secret that my kids have grown up with a soccer ball (or 2-3 of them) at their every disposal - they've been kicking one around since they could walk.  Go figure, their mama played soccer from the age of 5 through college and then coached for many years at the high school level.  Heck, Thomas has already played 2 seasons of soccer and will soon be enjoying an indoor soccer season later this winter.
But now we have added a new sport - basketball.  Having grown up in Baltimore much of his childhood & playing plenty of basketball, this is more of Daddy's territory than mine.
I wish I had played this sport growing up - frankly, I'm not really sure why I never got into it.  Sorry... I digress.  When Thomas showed an interest in giving it a try, we said sure and signed him up.  However, we quickly realized that he knew far less about basketball than soccer and the fact that we didn't even own a basketball was a glaring problem.  With limited practices so far & games starting this weekend, we figured we ought to spend some time on the nearby basketball court and practice the basics (after running out to the sports store)... dribbling, bounce passes, shooting and rebounding.  Here's some pictures from last night's Fall Ball session down the street:



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Disguised

It's a sure sign

... that your day is off to a bad start if 1) your 1st cup of coffee of the morning was missing yummy hazelnut creamer and 2) you showed up to work with mismatched boots - 1 brown, 1 black. 


Truthfully... I'm not sure which was worse today.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Family Art

Artwork by Thomas
This is the best picture that I have EVER seen of our family.
(L to R): Daddy, Mommy, Abby, Thomas & Marilyn
Note: Please notice my poofy hair & large size.  I don't care... I absolutely love this!

Michelle, the intern

It feels odd telling people that I'm doing an internship.  To someone who doesn't know me, it sounds like I'm in college, with no work experience, no real world/life experience, trying to figure out if this is something that I really want to do with the rest of my life.  To those that do know me, my 12 years of teaching history to high school teenagers, coaching girls soccer, and every other experience that happens with public education, I'm certain has been a great foundation for me as I finish my M.Ed in Education Administration and look to future opportunities to step into the role of school administrator. 
Let me explain what my current situation looks like when it comes to me being "Michelle, the Intern."  Unlike most of my peers who are in their internship, I am not currently teaching in a school.  With the Air Force relocating us from Florida to Alaska this last year and after teaching for 12 years in the same school (except for a short 2 year assignment overseas in the middle), I found myself in an odd predicament with trying to finish the final piece of this M.Ed without having a school to be in or a leadership team to learn from up here in Alaska.  This past summer, I approached the principal of a local high school who was eager & willing to take me on as a principal intern for this fall semester.  Thank goodness.

Because I do not have any teaching responsibilities, my schedule allows me to work whole days with my administrators, as opposed to just an hour before school, my planning period, after school or in the evenings at school events.  I am at school two days a week, all day.  Over the course of the 16 weeks this semester, my principal has me working closely with each of the four Assistant Principals (AP) so that I can observe, participate and even lead with the responsibilities of each of the APs.  Again... invaluable experience for sure.

I've said this before - kids are kids regardless of where you live.  But I would be remiss if I didn't admit that there is a noticeable difference between suburban NW Florida schools and an inner-city school in Anchorage.  For example, with a student population of approximately 1,600 - 65% of students are minorities, 44 different languages are spoken, 55% of students are economically disadvantaged (ie: live in poverty), there is only a 68% graduation rate, almost 10% of students drop out annually, and weekly there are alcohol/drug and assault incidents that result in suspensions and expulsions.  To say the least, I'm in a different environment than where I've been for the last 12 years.  But different is not bad; if anything, its necessary.  It's eye opening.  And working with such a diverse student (and faculty) population is such a learning experience for me.  Already, I've learned so much about different Alaskan, Asian and Island Pacific cultures.  The opportunity I have been afforded with this M.Ed internship is invaluable... in countless ways... all of which I will be able to take with me when I return to Florida when the Air Force sends us home.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Squeeky Clean!

Friday Night Leftovers (water logged edition)

Hi Weekend.
  • The rain up here in Frontier Land has been ridiculous.  Seriously.  We have had almost 19 days of straight rain. Water logged is an understatement.  Thank god we got to see some sunshine today & dry out a bit.
  • I have worn my rain boots so much this month that I have put all of my other shoes away in my closet.
  • Speaking of rain boots, Marilyn has started wearing hers so she too can jump in the puddles.  This is just an observation but toddlers waddling around in boots (size 4/5) is absolutely hilarious to watch.
  • High school kids are high school kids regardless of where you live.  But I would be remiss if I didn't admit that there is a noticeable difference between suburban NW Florida schools and an inner-city school in Anchorage.  More to come on this.
  • Brian was *this close* from going moose hunting this weekend.  Unfortunately for him {and our empty freezer}, his work schedule got in the way.
  • I will fully admit to be extremely blessed in many ways.  Case in point, as a mother of 3 young kiddos, ALL of mine are rock star sleepers who sleep in their own beds, all night long.  That equates to a solid night sleep for this mommy & daddy.  Can I get an amen?
  • Thomas has always enjoyed music (especially singing favorite songs from movies), but ever since school started and he has music class 2x week... he has been a nonstop singing fool.  It makes Brian & I just crack up.
Have a great weekend. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Speech Update: Preschool with perks

Most of you know that Abby has had speech delays in her short 3 years. To give you a better picture of her struggle for words, a year ago (at age of 24 months) she barely had 10 muttered words to her vocabulary.  Fortunately though, for the last year she has been receiving speech therapy 3x week with a therapist that she has adored, Ms. Amy.  She has made enormous strides and we are confident she will continue to make progress with her sounds, words and speaking in longer sentences.
Abby was recently evaluated in our local school district for Early Intervention Services (which is an agency that provides necessary education services to kids who are not school-age yet, 3 to 5 year-olds).  As expected, Abby's challenges are with her language and articulation and her deficiencies in those areas qualify her for preschool special education services in our school district. Beginning this past week, she has started preschool where she attends the Communication Classroom at a nearby elementary school on Mondays & Tuesdays mornings for 2 hours each of those days.  The class is made up of 8 students (almost all 3 year-olds), who all have a speech delay similar to Abby's. There is 1 special education teacher, 1 TA, 1 speech-language pathologist and her TA working with those 8 students.    Talk about an unbelievable teacher-student ratio!  Abby also now has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) which was written with specific goals for Abby to achieve this school year focused around her articulation & language use.
We are so happy that Abby will get additional opportunities to strengthen her language skills each week and throughout this school year. She will continue to go to private speech therapy 2x week. I would be remiss & lying if I didn't admit that Brian and I both had a moment when we second guessed ourselves about putting Abby in a special education class.  We live in a cruel world where labels can unjustly define someone.  But being Abby's biggest advocates & even bigger fans, we knew in our heart of hearts that having an opportunity like this with individualized attention in a classroom that is focused around sounds, articulation, pre-reading, socialization and making learning fun was for the best!  Truthfully, this preschool has all the benefits of any other preschool class... except it has all those perks! We know that Abby is excited to go to "big girl school" and make new friends, play and learn even more.
We have been waiting for many, many months for her big day!
Getting ready to go to school with the big kids.
I actually drive Abby to school shortly after Thomas' bus comes and picks him up.

Ms. Tiffani shows Abby her very own cubby & hook for her things.

As I'm leaving...

Although there is a smile on my face with Marilyn, there is part of me that is just sad to not be with Abby.  I know, I know... she is in great hands & is going to be learning even more... but I just can't help but miss Abby when she is not around.

Two hours later, we returned to find Abby finishing up circle time on the reading rug and putting her folder in her backpack as she got ready to leave.  She was all smiles!
After nap/quiet time, her and I made & decorated cookies together to celebrate her big day!
Obviously, I let her be in charge!