Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Bittersweet Year

Usually by this time of year, I am MORE than ready for summer vacation.  I'm tired of grading essays; I'm tired of ARDs, I'm tired of paperwork, but mostly?  I'm tired of kids trying to chew gum in my class.

But this year, I find that I'm not craving summer like I usually am.  I've only felt this way once before - May of 2008 - when I was packing up and leaving Cameron...& some of the best kids I've taught in my career.

In the fall of 2008, I started teaching at Consol:  2 sophomore & 3 freshmen classes.  I hated the thought of teaching freshmen & I wasn't looking forward to it.  Little did I know, that I would fall in love with those kids and move up with them every year.

Fall of 2009, I had 2 sophomore classes and 3 senior classes.  I had some repeater kids in my 10th grade class and it was fun teaching kids I'd taught before.  It was my first year teaching seniors and they were challenging, so my sophomores became my comfort zone.  I adored them and thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend my time with them.

Fall of 2010, I got my wish:  all juniors all day!  My favorite age group & my favorite group of kids.  I had some old kids from my previous 2 years and it was one of my best years ever.  

Fall of 2011, I was back to a split:  honors juniors (3 classes) & seniors (2 classes).  I wasn't happy about the honors classes (more on that later), but I was tickled to be teaching seniors.  This would be my 4th year with this class and when I looked at my rolls, I noticed that I had taught half of the kids before.  I actually have taught one kid all 4 years!

The year started great & then my dad had his stroke in September.  I remember thinking that I wouldn't have the energy or the patience to deal with things and I wondered how in the world I was going to get through an entire teaching year when I had to deal with the health issues of my dad.  

I shouldn't have worried.  I'm a firm believer in the fact that God puts people in your life when & where you need them.  These kids were who I needed to be around for 9 months while I dealt with his health issues & subsequent passing.  They brought me cokes, coffee, chocolate...all sorts of things.  I rec'd handwritten notes and texts from them asking about me and checking on me in the early days of his hospital stays.  I even rec'd messages from parents asking about me and letting me know that they were praying for me.  

The health issues with my dad prompted Stan & I to get our lives on track and get healthy.  Since mid-October, he has lost 135 lbs. and I've lost 50 lbs.  I've enjoyed our lifestyle shift.  Where we used to come home, sit on the couch, & watch TV, we now come home and work out, go on walks; we're much more active now.  I hate that the impetus was so tragic, but I'm thankful that we're healthier and we're making sure Caden is growing up healthier as well.

Having somewhere to go and something to focus on has made my days, not just bearable, but exciting.  For 8 hours a day, I get to be Mrs. Aalbers and enter full 'teacher-mode.'  And these kids have made it easy.  I saw kids who struggled as freshmen and sophomores blossom this year.  I've seen kids I thought would drop out, enter the military or start making plans to go to college.  I've written countless recommendation letters and received countless thank you letters this year.   

I thank God every day for my job and the chance to catch these kids at the end of the 'assembly line' before they go off into the world on their own.  I hope that I've given them as much as they've given me this year.  I am thankful that God put me with my seniors and the honors kids this year.  My honors classes weren't where I wanted to be & I didn't go into it open-minded, but I learned so much about myself as a teacher and I loved the challenge.  They presented their own challenges, but they're so smart & fun; I LOVED them!

All of this is to say that this has been both the worst year, & the best year.  And I'm sad that it's ending and I have to say goodbye to my kids.  Because that's how I feel about them - that they're my kids.  I'm so excited for them and proud of them, but I feel like a parent watching the birds leave the nest.  I am thankful for what they've meant to me this year and I wish them nothing but the best.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Melatonin Review

So, Caden & I get home yesterday afternoon & the melatonin landed on the counter.

Don't you like my organization style?

Later, Stan got testy b/c the kitchen wasn't spic & span for him to create his lasagna masterpiece (Wednesdays are 'eat what we want' dinners...God bless Wednesdays.)

After cleaning things up for him (I'm a great wife), we (HE) got down to business & the house started smelling great.

Fast forward a couple of hours...

The directions for the melatonin say to take it 30 minutes before bedtime. My body has always had different timing, so I wanted to take it at 7:30. I went into the kitchen & looked on the counter.

No melatonin.

I asked Caden where he put it b/c he brought the bottle in when we got home. He walked around and then got upset b/c he couldn't find them & he thought it was his fault. Bless his sensitive heart.

I got Stan on the job b/c seriously, the man is a bloodhound. You need to sniff something out? Stan's the man.

We looked in every room in the house, even the LAUNDRY go.

I am FREAKING out b/c this is the miracle drug everyone recommended AND WE CAN'T FIND IT!!!!

Stan keeps his calm & opens the cabinet where we keep our medicine, & the melatonin bottle.

I had put it up when he was being snarky about the kitchen.

Ladies & gentlemen: I have been SOOOOO tired the past few days; I had NOOO idea I'd put them up.

Le sigh...

REVIEW: I give it a B- & here's why:

  • It helped me go to sleep, but my mind was still racing.
  • I got up at 3:30 to go to the bathroom & couldn't go back to sleep, BUT...
  • I felt rested.

I got up & cleaned the kitchen.

Is it just me or am I always cleaning the kitchen???

I did 2 loads of laundry.

And Stan & I got to spend some quality kidless time together.

So...I will take it again tonight & give it another shot. I can't fully blame the melatonin for not being able to go back to sleep. 'Anything Goes for Dinner' Wednesdays aren't really as fun as they sound & I wasn't feeling good when I woke up so that probably had more to do with it than anything else.

Stay tuned for 'Melatonin - the Sequel'


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Still Learning

Working on night 3 of insomnia & trying not to play the 'If I go to sleep right this second, I'll get x hours of sleep.'

I do really well until about 10 or so. I get tired, turn off the laptop, lie down, then try to relax.

And then the brain starts going into overdrive: lesson plans, how to engage seniors after Spring Break, oh wow, I need to write that rec letter, & I need to read the novel that we assigned as extra credit over the break for the honors kids. WHY did we assign a novel??? Now I have to read it too!

And the list goes on.

After tossing and turning for 2 hours, I pulled out my bible & sat on my couch. Why is it, that this is my go-to fix-it when all else has failed?

Sleeping pills? Check
Relaxing music? Check
Aromatherapy? Check

Only after I've checked off the other, ME-centered items, do I choose to look at what I know is going to work.

I have a proven track record of going to the Word as a last ditch effort to solve a crisis, only to turn to the page of reading, and find the verse I need staring up at me. Tonight was no different, except it was a note I took in Sunday School a while back:

Rest cannot be achieved without faith and obedience.


Now, let me explain something. I do a lot of things right and I know I'm going to Heaven, but (& this is a biggie) I want to do things on my timetable, on my schedule, and for my reasons.

I've learned a lot & grown significantly in my walk with Christ since I walked the aisle at FBC Bryan at 16...but this is an ongoing battle with me.

I am not always faithful. I am not always obedient.

And right now, I most certainly am not achieving rest.

But I leave you with this verse I found as I scoured my bible for all references to rest:

Jer 6:16

Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, & walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Getting My Feet Wet Again

Wow - it's been quite awhile since I used this blog.  Once I found Facebook, I really never looked back & I stopped posting on here.  I think I'd like to get back to it; I've missed writing (in detail) my thoughts on teaching, parenting, & 'wife'ing :)

I have big plans for 2012 - stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The boys in my life

Caden has decided that he needs a "big truck with a hooker on the back". I am hoping and praying that he's just mispronouncing 'hook'.

I am married to a 10-year-old. We're driving along the other day (Stan at the wheel)in the rain, when I feel a nearly imperceptible shift to the right of the road. Where there was a puddle. I didn't think too much of it...until he did it again. I asked him about it & he nonchalantly told me he likes puddles. All day long, if it didn't impede other motorists, we swerved to hit the puddles.

And you know what? It WAS fun!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My prayer for the year


Please help me to be the teacher that each of my kids needs. Please help me to see that they are in my room for Your purpose, that for a reason maybe unknown to anyone but You, they need me for that 50 minutes per day. Please help me to show love and patience to each of the babies placed in my care. Please make them feel welcome and safe. Please help me to show Your love and kindness and be with me because I can't make it on my own. Guide me as I try to make them better students and people, all the while being a mama, counselor, friend, confidante, referee, etc. And more than anything, let them see You & not me.

In Jesus' name,


Saturday, August 15, 2009

What Matters

I've had a lot of opportunity the last few weeks to reflect on what's important & what's not. This has been one of the best summers I've ever had for many reasons, one of which that may surprise some people.

I am so thankful we lost our Mountaineer. Seriously. We have found out that God is taking care of us & we are going to be just fine. We never would've sold it, but God knew we could live without it & He was right. We received more money from the insurance settlement than we ever would've gotten for trading it in down the line & paying off bills feels great! Having one car isn't going to be the hardship we thought & we're glad God forced it on us.

I am developing some great friendships in my Sunday School class. The ladies have been having a lot of social time this summer and getting to know different people has been a huge blessing for me. Between the ladies nights, slumber party(parties hopefully!), & the book club (that will meet for the first time in September), I am getting to know & love a lot of awesome gals!

I am so excited to get back to school! Knowing my colleagues & getting hugs Friday (our first day back) was awesome!! I get to teach 3 senior classes this year also, & I am so ready to go & tackle this new mountain (I LOOOVE British Lit in an almost obsessive way)! Teacher Field Day was great & even recovering from surgery, I got to participate.

I had a great teacher's conference in Dallas. There are some "What happens in Dallas, stays in Dallas" moments, but what I can say is this - getting to hang out with these people for a week (& ride in a convertible!) & teach with them during the year is a huge blessing. They make me want to be better for my kids.

I celebrated 13 years of wedded bliss with Stan. I canNOT believe it has been thirteen years!!! He, of course, looks more handsome and incredible as the years go by while I need a bit more...enhancement, shall we say, than I did at 22.

The product of that wedded bliss turned 4 this summer. He will be an only child. I had the 'no more kids' surgery last week...more on that next post.

Most of all, I am so thankful that God has surrounded me with people who don't judge my worth by my hip size. For the most part, I get to be with people on a daily basis who love me and accept me and 'get' me. I am terribly excited about the upcoming school year and all the chaos and activities that a new year always brings: football games, new kids to love, old kids to hug, books to read, family to see, & friends to hang out with.

Have a great year!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Thank you God Part II

Stan left this afternoon to get money from the ATM for me, laundry detergent (for me as well) & something to eat. Caden decided to stay home with me (Thank you GOD!!).

I get a call about 15 minutes later from Stan. "I need you to come get me at Longmire & Brothers. I got hit. I'm okay. And you need to know that the truck is upside down right now."
I'm so glad he told me. Even knowing that, it was very difficult driving up to the scene, seeing the ambulance (with lights on), the firetruck, and all the cop cars. I threw the car into a parking place & I grabbed Caden's hand and probably dragged him across the street. Stan assured me that the blood I saw on his head and arm were from the window when he climbed out. He said a nice man cut his seatbelt for him so he didn't have to hang in the air. And no, I canNOT believe I just wrote that sentence.

One of the firemen immediately came over and asked Caden if he wanted to see the firetruck. Caden grabbed my hand and held onto the fireman with the other. He was interested in the truck, but didn't want to get into it - he's not a fan of the noise.

Later when I told him we needed to thank God for keeping Daddy safe, he asked me, "Are the firemen God, Mama?" I teared up a little and said, "No. But God is with them all of the time and He helps them help other people."
After we took some more pictures with Stan's phone (the camera died), he said he was still hungry and with a bleeding head and arm, he said he wanted a Freebird's burrito.

We're down to one car & we're not sure about a lot of things right now. But - Stan is safe and at home with us - he didn't even need to go to the hospital.

Thank you nice man who cut his seatbelt.

Thank you policeman for telling us what was going to happen step by step.

Thank you firemen for being there to help and being sweet to my little boy.

...Thank you God.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thank You God

Caden's prayer tonight:

Thank you God. Mama, you're not saying it. Say it
(He repeats) Thank you God. (I solemnly echoed)
Indivisible with liberty and justice for all. (I repeated, albeit a little less solemnly)
Thank you for turning the TV on. (me lauging uncontrollably, barely able to get the words out)
And for not wasting any power. Amen

I'm going to be away this week at a teacher conference. Oh the things I will miss:
1) Caden helping me walk down my dark school hallway because he "has big eyes and he will use them to help Mama."
2) Caden asking me to read him a book and then tell him a story. Now, Caden gives me the basic plotline, characters, & setting so all I need to do is draw them together.
3) Stan giving me a blow-by-blow account of the Tour de France.
4) Reading on my bed while Caden watches TV in our bedroom.
5) Hearing Caden sing the theme song from the Geico commercial, "Let me be myself"
6) Taking Caden to Lowe's & hearing him tell another little boy (who is playing on the riding lawnmowers like Caden) that he will share his (imaginary) tools with him. Caden likes to fix the lawnmowers by lifting the hood, tinkering with the engine, & then the most crucial step - blowing leaves in the engine.

I will miss both of my boys so much!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A boy, a party, & a dog

There's not a trace of my genetic code in that kid!
We had Caden's party yesterday. I was pretty nervous about it because, well, that's just what I do. It was his first party & my first as a birthday boy's mama, so it was a little nerve-racking.

I shouldn't have been nervous. The kids started piling in around 10 & within a few minutes were all outside playing on the moonwalk/bouncy thing we rented for the day. I had to do the girl thing & cut the cake & give it to all the kids. I know it sounds silly, but doing typical girl/mama things doesn't come easily to me.

I hope everyone wasn't expecting a great big show, because at the Aalbers house, we're pretty laidback. The kids were running back & forth, inside & outside playing. Our living room was a wreck with toys! A friend of Caden's gave him a bag filled with all sorts of outdoor games, so a few dads put them together & the kids played with that. Everyone was sweaty and happy when they left.

After the party we went to lunch with Oma & Opa (Stan's parents) and then came back home and recuperated from the party. The moonwalk guy told us we would have the bouncy thing much longer than we had paid for because he had to travel out of town to break down a rental for a VBS going on in Milano. Caden was able to get a few more hours of playtime out of it.

About 6, he shows up at our house & Stan sees a black blur go across our backyard window. The guy brought his dog, Bella! We all sat on the back porch and played fetch with the dog while her daddy broke down the moonwalk. I always think it's hilarious, because the bigger the dog is, the more Caden loves it. He cannot stand little dogs; he's terrified of them. But a great big lab or Weimeraner (sp?) makes him shriek with glee.

I hate to say it & if any of the kiddoes' parents at our party are reading this,I am sorry, but this was the highlight of his day. He laughed and had so much fun with her. Maybe in a year or 2 we'll get him one of his own.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Big Boy

Caden turned 4 on June 20th. We made the deal with him that on his birthday, he would throw away his little boy potty.

He was more than OK with it.

He hasn't missed it at all!

And just because there are never any pictures of the 2 of us (you can tell I'm the photog of the family), here's a few pictures of us playing at a park on his big day.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

It's been how long????

I'm not really sure where to start blogging since it's been sooo long, but here goes.

I apologized to Caden awhile ago for yelling at him. He rubbed my back & kissed me & said it was OK. I wanted to say, 'Are we friends again?' but I don't believe in parents & kids being friends so I asked, "Are we Mommy & Caden again?" I know, pretty lame.

He said yes & then asked me, "What happens if you're not my mama?"

I said I would always be his mama.

He asked, "But what if you're not?"

I replied, "Do you want a new mama?"

He started to say yes but then stated, "Actually, no."

I laughed and thinking we were done, I started to walk away.

But he couldn't let it go. "I always want the old mama...and you're old."

I looked back at him and he grinned like he knew exactly what he had said.