Monday, September 29, 2008

ice cream & ida

Wish I had some delicious photos to put with this post... I know I have all your taste buds salivating with just the thought of ice cream. Erik and I met up with Ida for some peanut butter ice cream from the Marble Slab creamery. It was some serious yum! I did however manage to take photos of the strange bean?-pods hanging from the trellis where we sat.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

had a fehrenbachin' time

Dad made some homemade German-potato salad... it was delicious!

Just a little get together with Dad & Ida while Mom was away in Pennsylvania visiting Grandma.

And with some inspiration from Ida, I started playing with the food...

and went in for a detail on this fuzzy flower...

Then ran out to the backyard for some more photos:

[sadly, as part of the blogging back-stroke style... I can't remember this date. :( ]

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Lately I have been enjoying a glimpse of the sunrise on my arrival to various elementary schools... Sadly, this first shot just can't do justice the the colors I was seeing, plus the telephone wires were all in the way.

On our way down to dinner in San Marcus with our friends the Grace's we saw this incredible sunset! The clouds were perfect.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

'cuz working out is hard to do

I just spent a week as: Coach Fehrenbach. That's right, I taught P.E. (K-6th) for a teacher (Mr. E-) who was called for jury duty. Originally he just called for a one day replacement because he was positive that as a teacher he couldn't possibly be selected for jury duty. But one day turned to three, and three into four with a promise to be finished, and four into... in the end SIX days! Thursday night I was called for an additional day to finish up the week. By the end of the day on Friday I was suffering from a very sore throat and a semi-lost voice. My cousin's comment to all this was 'school kids: filthy ecosystems.' I don't know exactly where it all came from, but for sure it could be a mixture of being surrounded by sniffling children with the possibility of my body's weakening resistance to all of Austin's high allergenic moods. What luck! At any rate, on Saturday Mr. E- called again to request me for Monday as well and was convinced that after that the jury would be hung and a retrial would be called. I don't know how many more days he had to spend on this trial because I wasn't able to sub any further than that for him due to some other teaching commitments (which unfortunately eventually fell through in order for me to get over this icky cold that had developed).

What did I teach? In addition to health discussions involving 'Go! Slow! & Woah!' foods that we discussed in their first round of classes, the second time around we had in depth discussions regarding vocab related to Cardiovascular Exercise. One kindergartner boy started to hide his eyes and ears and begged me to stop talking about such gross things like blood vessels and hearts. It was too cute. I ask him if a valentine heart was scary? He said no, so I just told him to think about that every time I said 'heart'. Don't know if I made it tougher for the teacher in the future, but it helped him come out from under his shirt-tails. :)

We also played two Go-Activity games. One was a sports-themed 'freeze' tag where after someone was tagged they had to pretend to do a sport in-place until they were joined by another student in that activity for 5 seconds in order to become un'frozen'. After demonstrating some activities they might do, swimming, soccer, golf, riding your bike, I asked them for some of their favorite things to do and got a wide assortment. Hockey! Darts! Football! Tennis! Cheerleading! Baseball! Cricket! Frisbee! and each time I had the student stand up and show us what they would do 'in-place' to demonstrate that activity. Then during the sports-themed freeze tag I spied children doing the hula (totally adorable, she was good!), the robot (that boy was a crack up!), and even another little girl was caught 'walking the isle with a bouquet in her hand'. I was totally amused.

The other Go-Activity was called: Veins & Arteries. (Veins help blood travel from the body into or toward the heart, while arteries help blood travel away from the heart into the body!). It was another tag-like game where all the students were 'blood cells' and they had to travel safely from the body (the area around the edges of the gym) to the heart (a designated area in the center of the gym) and back again through the veins and arteries (the in-between area) on cue: Veins! (toward the heart) & Arteries! (away from the heart!). The "it" students (holding yarn balls) were designated as 'fat-cells' and had to stay in the area of the veins and arteries and could not enter the safe-areas of the heart & body. To make it increasingly more difficult, as the 'blood cells' were tagged they also became 'fat-cells' (retrieving a yarn ball from the hula hoops in the corners of the room). When it got down to two or three students left as blood cells I would get them all to freeze and gather as a 'cluster of grapes' at my feet to discuss with them how our veins and arteries suffer from the accumulation of fat (from the food we eat) and can eventually cause the flood of blood to stop hence causing strokes and heart attacks. It was pretty convincing. I think most of the kiddos got the gist of it.

Most of the upper grade students (3rd-6th) were supposed to practice for their FitnessGram test that Mr E- was going to give them 'the next time he saw them.' For this I had to get down and give some demonstration of proper push ups and curl a tape-recorded cadence. And to be honest by the end of a full day of such exercise I was indeed in pain, not to mention after a whole week+one! I'm such a WIMP!

Despite the icky cold, a few good things has come of this week+one day long job at this particular elementary school. For one, I got a chance to get to work with every single class of the entire school twice. So not only were the kids becoming more familiar to me and I with them, but their teachers were coming to know me as well. By the end of my time there different teachers were asking if I only subbed P.E., of course I told them I do it all... so there was a lot of connections made that week and my name, phone number, and sub ID# was posted in the teacher's lounge. I've already got something set up for end of this month and the school called me this week in the morning to see if I could come in (of course I've been sick, so I had to decline). The other good thing, even though I've totally been paying for it, the chance to exercise again has strengthened my poor excuse for arm muscles. :P

Sunday, September 14, 2008

i've got rivers of...


Late last night just before we headed off to bed we heard a very inviting sound... it was raining!!!! Without warning rain began to fall in the area around our apartment complex. Earlier my husband had religiously been checking the web weather channel and even it had not predicted this. We opened our living room slider and gleefully stepped out onto our balcony patio. Our neighbors to the left were already sitting out on their patio enjoying the sight. I quickly grabbed the only semi-dry spot on the balcony and perched on the bar stool we had sitting out there. I shot a smile and a neighborly wave in their direction, only to notice that the wind was directing the rain deeper into their balcony, they huddled together shrinking back to their door before eventually deciding to go inside. The wind was blowing to the east and thankfully we were protected from the rain by a wall to our right, but the mist still made it's way to us. It felt soooo good. Oh the wondrous glorious rain! It was awesome. Still I shuttered to think that both the wind and the rain was much more powerful just to the southwest of us along the coast. Lord, take care of all those who were(and are) affected by the storm. But thank You for the rain!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

music to my ears

Yesterday at the 'if-fy' school, I met one of the music teachers and she was really happy to meet a sub who had music-knowledge and asked if I could cover for her three days in a row the week after this next while she's having and recovering from surgery. We exchanged numbers and I heard back from her Friday afternoon and we confirmed the job today. The job will require that I go to two different schools over the course of those three days, but getting a pre-arranged W/Th/F* job all lined up I was sold! (*We get an extra $5 for working a Friday).

And to make things even better I got a postcard in the mail today from AISD saying that the substitute pay raise was approved for the 2008-2009 school year!!! YES! It's only $3 extra a day, but it's better than no raise. :) Now that's music to my ears!

While the rain never came we did get a little wind (not to be mistaken as a heavy breeze created by the speedy freeway nearby) as well as some interesting clouds from the the outskirts of Hurricane Ike. Didn't have my camera handy, sorry folks. It's been super HOT outside and pretty muggy. Two things I dread about TX weather. You know, it may as well rain, at least that would give meaning to the mugginess that's already here and would certainly give us a change in scenery. I'm still hoping by some miracle that I'll wake up tonight by the sound of heavy rainfall. It's funny, but I do miss the rain, especially the sound of it and how refreshing it can be. However unfortunately in TX we very rarely get the refreshing rain that I grew up with in the NW. Still my prayers are going out for those who dwell in the coastal cities of TX, be safe y'all!

Friday, September 12, 2008

iffy & ike

There was a big stir about the amount of traffic Austin would be expecting from the refugees from Hurricane Ike that is supposed to hit Texas's coastal cities of Houston and Beaumont. As a result the superintendent of AISD decided to let school out early today to get a head start on the traffic. Some businesses were let out early as well. Guess everyone just wanted traffic to last all day long. With the news of an anticipated early dismissal (but getting paid for a full day plus the Friday Bonus pay) I decided I could definitely take a subbing position at an 'if-fy' school. Not the best area of Austin, known to have pretty tough kids. But this was 1st grade, couldn't be too bad right? Well, I could have had 24 kids. All I can say is that I'm glad that I had over 5 absent. 'Cus while they were cute, I think the news of a hurricane hitting any part of Texas was freaking some of them out, and a few of them complained about not getting enough sleep the night before and insisted upon curling up on the beanbag in the reading corner for half the morning. It was then that I remembered that that these were 1st graders, and not only so, but it was the beginning of the year, so these kiddos are still getting adjusted to full-days of school. But with the few of them who decidedly were being quite defiant I was happy there were at least half doing what they were told.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

looking for jobs in all the wrong places

Things are still getting sorted out with regards to the Sub-job I took for the first three days of this week. I finally heard back from the sub-office. Apparently I should have called them at the office directly, instead of emailing the main-lady-in-charge. (Why does the Sub-coordinator have her name and number/email at the top of things if she's not the person we're suppose to contact!? That boggles me.) So they contacted the school's sub coordinator (I didn't even know those people existed) and she knew nothing of my not being needed and was pretty upset about it and was going to look into it and then get back to me somehow. Sounds like a huge miscommunication between the teachers and their office staff. (Ugh, I'm becoming more and more apprehensive about showing up there tomorrow for a different position, but seriously people, this was not my fault. I don't put the jobs in the system, you do.) Still don't know if my pay check is going to be stunted by all this. Grrr. I think perhaps I need another job...

On that note, I got my postcard from the Central Market job I was applying for telling me that they won't be able to give me a position with their company. I guess I didn't have any tattoos to mention in the lengthy essay-ish application. Might have helped if I had gotten a "I LOVE ZUCCHINI!" or "BASIL FOR LIFE" or better yet, "WILL WORK FOR FOOD" tattoo to show my enthusiasm for FOOD. :) Whatever, it's water under the bridge, and the good Lord knows what He's doing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

in God we trust

Was reminded today in a time with an old friend, to:
Trust in the Lord with all my heart, and to
Lean not on my own understanding, but
In all my ways acknowledge Him, and
He will make my path straight.
This was particularily helpful because I feel like I'm constantly struggling with the flip-flop of doing what I know (from playing life over in my head, like a game of chess, if I do this, I know this will happen, or if I do that, I know this will happen) or doing what is unknown (the Lord often only let's us see less than one step before us, and so we cannot lean on what we think would be the outcome, but rather trust in Him. This is truly a life-long lesson that we Christians face day after day, moment by moment.

Monday, September 8, 2008

if not for you...

I do have to say, the day definitely went better than I could have hoped. And I'm thankful for all the prayer with and encouragement of my husband. Thank you, dear.

ey' carumba!

So I survived my first day of bi-lingual 5th grade Language Arts class. Thankfully the other two classes that shuffle through my doors were not bi-lingual. That made the day go with a lot more ease. I was, however, pretty disappointed by the teacher's lack of lesson plans. Don't get me wrong, she did supply me with a piece of print out, mostly what I would observe as 'TAKs" copy and pasted right out of some online catalog. But I was never given any page numbers for the textbooks, nor a teacher's handbook, or anything like that. Thankfully the students did have somewhat of a routine as far as copying down a writing prompt from the board and having to write that in cursive (was like pulling teeth for some of them). And I suppose I can be thankful that they used most of their class time doing that, but I really wanted to actually get to TEACH something. Needless to say, I am not that excited about filling in for this teacher on Thursday. I managed to get through my day anticipating getting to see the other 5th grade teacher's teaching styles in the following two days. One taught Math and the other taught Science, but about three-fourths the way through my day, my bubble got popped. One of the other 5th grade teachers tells me during recess that he and the other teacher won't be needing me Tuesday or Wednesday because they won't be testing their kids yet.

"Didn't Mrs. G tell you?"

"No, she did not."

You have to realize that at this point I was pretty upset, because my SubFinder system already had me locked in with a job code for this school for Mon-Weds (and when that happens you can't shop for other jobs on those days). So I was totally confused as to what I was supposed to do, and if I was still going to get paid for those days that they locked me in for. I have emailed the substitute services coordinator at the substitute office to find out what will happen, but she still hasn't replied. Ugh! So frustrating! I have half a nerve to cancel on Mrs. G for Thursday and to never go back to that school, but the other half of nerve reminds me that I need the income, and I'm not guaranteed to find a job on SubFinder for those last two days of this pay period.

Así es la vida.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

be careful what you ask for...

Took my first substitute position for this school year this morning for AISD. The school was off Rundberg and I35, kinda far but I was desperately asking the Lord to step up the availability of sub jobs for these first two weeks of Sept (at the end of which is the first pay period for this school year, but that check won't come until the end of Sept, so needless to say, the number of days worked these two weeks determines my income for the month, ugh!). It was a supplementary assignment, filling in for teachers while they were in their ARD meetings (meeting with the special ed teachers regarding their SpE students). I got there at the 7:30 start time to find out that my first of only three 'fill-ins' was not til 8:45am. So I was sent off to the library to help the librarian with whatever she may need help with.

On my way through the halls I was discovering that the school was primarily bilingual. Eek! Wish it had said that on subFinder!

Reaching the library after exiting and entering two other buildings on my way, I was greeted by the 6th grade teacher and the up-and-coming elementary school orchestra. Over thirty children behind their newly discovered instruments sitting on chairs strewn about in the largest part of the library. Guess they don't have a band room. After I met the librarian she excitedly placed me behind a stack of new books and told me to stamp the school's name onto the publisher's page, page 15, and the edge of the pages (if the book was fat enough for it). The stamp's ink was a bit gooey so I had to place a torn piece of paper towel, you know, the thin brown ones found in the school restrooms, between the pages in two spots. So this was to be my day in between the three scheduled 45 minute ARD mtg classroom fill-ins.

At 8:45 I found my way to the 5th grade classroom only to find that I had passed the whole class in the hall on the way over. Thank goodness for that straggler student who had to run back to class to get her recorder. Music, PE, and art, the 'special area' classes are classes that the teacher drops their students off for and usually enjoys a nice 45-planning/personal time during their day. Hmm, I was told they weren't going to need me, the ARD meetings could just happen while they were in their special area classes. To make a long story of the day a tad shorter, this happened to EVERY class that I came to 'fill-in' for. They didn't need a substitute, but the librarian was still happy to allow me to assist shelving books and whatnot for most of the day.

During the course of the day I ran into that 5th grade teacher again, found out that she taught Language Arts/Reading (though she didn't mention it was bi-lingual), and told me that she needed a sub for Monday since they were going to be pulling their students for testing, and she then said, "can you also sub Tuesday and Wednesday as well for the other 5th grade teachers, it would be great if we could all get the same teacher. Oh and I also need a personal sub for Thursday." Weary to take on a 5th grade position, I said, "maybe." Then she pressed me regarding my availability next week, and then I was reminded of my request to the Lord for steady work for these two weeks and this would be stead for Monday-Thursday, and said, "YES! I'll do it!" And then asked if I could sit in on her class a little to see how she ran things. Ey' carumba!!!! It's not only 5th grade, it's also bi-lingual! I started to get pretty scared. But I managed to push my fears aside, reminding myself that the teachers would still be in the school Mon-Weds if I had any questions while teaching. And that was that. After trying to meet up with my last class for the day, that teacher also not needing me, sent me to the office, and the office of course, told me I was free to go. So I walked out of the school around 2pm, not having taught a single thing. Weird. What a strange day, but somehow sovereign as well I suppose.

Monday, September 1, 2008

"praise the lord, that's so nice"

I tell you what, this person always makes me smile!

Visit this site and click on the video clip!

---- ---- ---- ---- ----

Given Chris' relationship with God, the question is, does he pray for Texas to win?

"I do pray that the Lord will be expressed through me!" - C.Hall

"Close enough." - R.Doyle (Channel 8 news reporter).

time for a little change

What's going on? Well, I have been considering changing the name of my blog. Since I am the sole contributor to this blog, I have thought of renaming it something more along the lines of: mrs. mynewlastname's blog. But I'm still searching for a better title, so bear with me. :)

you can't spend the rest of your life in the doldrums

I desperately need my work to pick up and get hauling. Last Friday marked the last day of nannying for my two adorable Austinite-nephews, and already I am in a slight funk as to what to do with my time while I'm not working. I'm a substitute teacher, you see, and while I appreciate the flexibility of it all, sometimes there isn't work to be had, which both stresses me and bores me out of my mind. Stress because we need the income, and boredom because my life has become incredibly less eventful on the day to day scale. So much the so, that on days (which are most) when there is absolutely nothing on the agenda, I often would rather just stay in bed lingering longer in dreamland before getting up to do a whole lot of nothing. Sure, sure, there's the occasional laundry to be done, dishes to be washed, 617 sq. ft apt to be cleaned, but that hardly can fully constitute a fulfilling life. I keep thinking I need a healthier occupation. Something to really give myself to and devote all this unused time of my life. In the least I need work to pick up and keep me occupied for the time being... come on AISD throw me some kind of line!

Was reminded of this great movie I watched over and over again as a child: The Phantom Tollbooth, 1970. To read the start of the book go here.

I couldn't resist from including a clip about wasting time... "So don't say there's nothing to do in the doldrums."

"You can do anything as long as it's nothing!"