Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Big Girl on a Little Bike

This evening after dinner Zoe wanted to ride her bike in the driveway. So Paul opened the garage door so she could get her bicycle out. To our surprise, she rides out her tricycle. It was funny watching her "try" to ride it. She was way too big for it. In fact, her knees touched the handlebars which caused her to fall off a couple of times.

At one point I asked her if she was having fun. Her reply? "Yes. Now this is what you'd call a Big Girl on a Little Bike!!!!"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Take Your Kid to Work Day

For the second year in a row, Zoe went to school with me for Take Your Kid to Work Day last Thursday. Several of my co-workers also brought their kids so so it ended up being a lot of fun. As most of you know, I teach jr. high science. So, my superintendent & I made a deal earlier in the week that if I would come up with fun activities for the kids to do all day long then he would buy lunch for all of the kiddos. Sounded like a great plan to me! So, my science students left their books in their lockers & mine stayed on my desk. We really had a great time designing & constructing our different activities. The little kids enjoyed it too.

First Hour - Penny Boats
Students (paired with a little friend) designed boats out of aluminum foil. We then placed each boat in a sink of water. Each group guessed how many pennies its boat would hold before sinking. The best group's boat held 127 pennies.

Ethan working with his group.

Jadyn taking time out for a picture!

2nd Hour - Gumdrop Domes

Each group, consisting of a couple of students & a little friend, used gumdrops & toothpicks to design a dome that they thought would hold the most weight. Unfortunately several groups' domes collapsed with the first book being placed on their creation. However, the winning group's dome held 12 textbooks & 3 binders. Pretty cool, huh?

Zoe hard at work.

Ravyn showing off her masterpiece!

Brothers Bryson & Ethan ate more than their share of gumdrops!

Morgan trying to stick a toothpick in a gumdrop.

Zoe made her own dome after helping the group.

The finished product - Zoe style!

3rd Hour - Playing Card Fences

Once again in groups, students had to take 26 playing cards & build a fence with the most area in it. Cards had to touch each other & could not lay flat on the desk. I was very surprised how creative my students were.

Zoe building her own little fence.
4th Hour - Coloring & Picture Frames

My homeroom students had study hall so the little kids colored & made foam picture frames. (I took a group picture of the little kids for their frames.)

Lilly (with her daddy) deciding what to color.

Morgan posing by her picture frame.

Ravyn gluing a foam basketball to her frame.

Zoe & Lilly coloring the D*sney Princesses.

A group picture!!!!!

5th Hour - Cereal Box Guitars

Using a cereal box, a paper towel roll, scissors, & rubber bands, students made guitars. The little kids had a blast decorating the boxes while my students did the cutting. The guitars turned out so cute. (Wouldn't you know I forgot to take pictures of them?!)

Zander waiting for his guitar to get its strings.

Zoe smiling at her decorated guitar.


The little kids enjoyed their lunch from McD*nalds while watching a movie. Afterwards, they went outside for some playground fun.

6th Hour - Newspaper Chairs

Students were given 2 items - newspapers & masking tape. Each group was to design a chair that they thought would hold an adult. Once they were completed, my aide Laurie went around the room trying out each chair. We actually had two chairs that held up. Again, I didn't get any pictures. Sorry!

Morgan hoping her group's chair will hold up.

7th Hour - Free Period

During my planning period the kiddos danced, wrote on my white board, colored, etc. in my classroom.

Here's Ravyn teaching Zoe, Morgan, & Zander a cheer!

Dismissal - 2:45 PM

Before we knew it the day was over. I think all of the kids had a great time with Mom or Dad at work. Can't wait to see what's in store for next year. Zoe's already talking about it!!!!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ian & Meridith

My cousin Ian & his girlfriend Meridith spent last night with us. Zoe had a blast hanging out with them. They colored, wrestled, etc. Here they were playing board games in the living room. Ian wouldn't smile so Zoe tried a little magic to get him to. Not sure it worked to well!

My computer is back home - Yahoo! Hope to post some more pictures from this past week - Zoe with me on Take Your Kid to Work Day, Zoe modeling Brandy's clothes, etc. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Letter Writing Campaign

This past week three I was made aware of two very important issues that my state legislature & congress have before them. Neither issue has been called for a vote yet, but both are within reach. So, of course, I had to write my legislatures & congressmen asking for their support on each issue.

The 1st One: H.R. 213: Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act of 2009

For those in the adoption community, this piece of federal legislation is very important. Currently, a tax credit (around $11,000) is given in the year that an adoption is finalized. This credit is a huge benefit with overall adoption costs. Many couples rely on this credit to offset their expenses. This current tax credit is set to expire in December 2010 unless Congress votes to continue it.

As you can imagine, Paul & I can both testify that the adoption credit we were able to take in 2005 helped us tremendously with our overall adoption expenses of Zoe. Without some type of similar tax credit/assistance, numerous couples will not be able to fulfill their dreams of being parents. In fact, many prospective parents whose paperwork has already been submitted may have to withdrawal their "letter of intent to adopt". This is because of the current time frame in which adoptions are occurring.

If this tax credit deceases adoptions in general - domestic & internationally - will decrease. As a those children who currently reside in foster/children's homes & orphanages will be dependent on the government(s) for food, shelter, medicine, etc. for many years. When, in reality, those children just long to be part of a forever family.

(If interested in supporting this issue, please click on the button above. It will direct you to more information as well as a link for finding your congressmen to write them as well. And just in case you are not a "snail mail" letter writer, no worries, it's all by e-mail. Quick & easy!)

The 2nd One: Help Protect Education & Pensions

As many of you know, I am a teacher in the state of Illinois. Our wonderful ex-governor (need I say more?!) - Rod Blagojevich - (name rings a bell, huh?!) led the legislature in dipping into the Teacher Retirement System to borrow money to help bail the state of Illinois out of debt. Well, guess what? The state of Illinois is still in debt. In fact, more than ever. AND the original money borrowed has NEVER been paid back. So now our new governor, Pat Quinn, has decided that his economic recovery plan includes once again dipping into the Teacher Retirement System & borrowing more money. What does this mean for teachers in Illinois? Retirement age will increase to age 67 & full-retirement benefits (currently at 70%) will decrease. Stinks huh? Especially when you think that teachers in Illinois have to by law contribute a certain percentage of their salary to the Teacher Retirement System without it being matched. Plus, most people don't know that Illinois is one of four states where teachers are not allowed to collect Social Security. (Thank you, Ronald Reagan!) So, as you can imagine, if Gov. Quinn has his way, there will be numerous retired teachers in the coming years who will be struggling to make ends meet. Is that fair - all because the State of Illinois is in billions of dollars in debt?

Now, I did write two more letters this week, but they were both nominating someone else for something positive. You see, CBS is seeking "Angels" who have:

~ Done extraordinary things for others
~ Sacrificed so others could thrive
~ Fallen on hard times due to current economic circumstances, but are persevering against all odds

So, I wrote a little somethin somethin up about two people who I think have/are changing the world. Who you ask?

Gunner Gillespie. For those of you who are new to my blog, Gunner was an 8 year old boy from Marshall County, KY whose life was cut very short by an inoperable brain tumor on his brain stem. The type of tumor he had was called a pontine glioma (DIPG) - highly aggressive, highly malignant, treatment resistant and recurrent. This is an exceedingly rare form of terminal cancer that mostly affects children between the ages of 4-10 years old. There are only about 200 cases diagnosed each year. Due to the diffuse nature of the cancer there are no surgical options, and current chemotherapies have been found to be ineffective. With treatment, the median survival rate is less than 12 months. The chance of continued survival beyond 1 year is less than 8%. Because of Gunner's fight to live, he was such an inspiration to others. Thousands of people checked his website each day leaving comments & messages of hope. I would love for Gunner & the other DIPG kiddos to be the subject of one of CBS's shows. Perhaps it would bring some awareness to this type of cancer, generate some interest in research, & showcase the courage these kiddos have.
Katie Davis in Uganda. If you have never been to this site. Check it out. You will not be disappointed. This is Katie's blog. She is an inspiration to many. She is 19 years old from Brentwood, TN & has left her cushy life (as she describes it) & is living in East Africa mothering 13 children. I can't even find the words to describe Katie. You just have to check it out for yourself. You will be amazed.
Okay, so enough babbling. As I've been told many times - If you don't speak up for what you believe in, no one will!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fun with Family & Friends

Zoe had a great weekend. Several of our neighbor kids were home from college so they stopped by for a visit. Here is picture of Jess. He attends Belmont University in Nashville, TN. He was actually a finalist on American Id*l two years ago. He's a great guy, just trying to make it big.

Zoe was so proud of what Jess drew on her Magna Doodle!

Yesterday Zoe & I enjoyed Easter dinner with Paul's side of the family. (Unfortunately, Paul had gotten a death call & had to make arrangements with the family so he couldn't go with us.) Paul's cousins have children the same age as Zoe so the four of them had a blast hunting empty Easter eggs over & over outside. By the time we were ready to leave, Zoe's shoes were completely caked with mud & her jeans spotted with grass stains! It wasn't far down the road & she was sound asleep. She was completely worn out. (I must confess, I left my camera at home & didn't get any pictures.)

Today is the last day of our Easter break. Zoe has gymnastics this afternoon & we have a few errands to run before hand. Perhaps I'll take my camera & get some updated pictures from gymnastics class.

Oh - by the way - the computer fixer-up store had to order a new mother board for my computer. Should be in & ready to go by tomorrow afternoon. Yahoo! Can't wait to have my laptop back.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Eggs & High Heels

Wednesday evening after dinner, Zoe talked her daddy into dying Easter eggs. This is their thing. Since bringing her home four years ago, the two of them color Easter eggs each year. I do help with the set up & of course, the clean up. But, I must admit, I do enjoy watching the two of them decide what colors, decorations, etc. to use as I snap pictures one right after another. It's so much fun watching the expressions on Zoe's face as she & Paul work through their magic.

Just put a color tablet in each cup.

Getting ready to drop the egg in the cup.

Checking on the purple egg - just happens to be Zoe's favorite color!

Check out how bright the pink one is!

There's the orange!

What a pretty blue!

She's just a little excited!

Showing off some of the masterpieces!

Zoe's two favorites!

The Finished Product!

Guess who came home Thursday night from college for Easter break? If you guessed Brandy (otherwise known as Sissy), you're right. Not only did Brandy come over to hang out, but she decided to spend the night. (Not only did Sissy say that she would sleep over, but that she would sleep with Zoe in her bed.) As you can imagine, Zoe was thrilled. Sissy & Zoe played all night & then stayed up late talking, laughing, & carrying on. It was fun watching the two of them be such girlie girls.

When Brandy arrived at our house, she was dressed up because she had came straight from student teaching. She kicked off her high heels & immediately went to change in the bathroom. Before anyone could notice, Zoe was parading around in Brandy's heels.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring Pictures

So, a few weeks ago (right around St. Patrick's Day) Zoe had spring pictures at pre-school. Wouldn't you know? I hung the note on the fridge so I would be reminded to dress her in a cute outfit & fix her hair all fancy. But, guess what? I forgot all about it. (I guess seeing the note several times a day didn't help either!)

After Paul dropped Zoe off that morning, he left me a message on my cell phone saying - "Hey, I guess you forgot that Zoe had spring pictures today. I figured it out when I saw all of her classmates dressed up. Oh well, she picked out her own clothes today & did her own hair so we'll just have to see how things turn out."

When I got his message I kept thinking - Are you kidding me? How could I have forgot that? It's only been on the fridge for two weeks! I wonder what her teachers are thinking. They probably think I am some nutso mama who can't even remember to send her daughter to school in a decent outfit for pictures.

Well, Friday I picked Zoe up from daycare & sure enough, her spring pictures were in her backpack. As I pulled out the packed, I clinched my teeth & thought - Heather, whatever you do, just smile & tell Zoe they are good. Don't hurt her feelings. Remember, Zoe dressed herself that morning & did her own hair.

Boy, was I surprised!!!......

Not too bad. In fact, I would say her picture turned out pretty good.

When I did get my first glimpse of the picture, Zoe said to me, "Mama, they're good, huh? I have on my St. Patrick's Day shirt & my favorite jeans with the hole in the knee. I think I look pretty hip!" (I had to agree. I have no idea where she's heard the word hip, but yes, she's definitely in style here!)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lovin' the Outdoors

What a beautiful day we had in the Midwest! We found ourselves itching to be outside so we quickly did our inside chores. Then headed to the backyard. Paul & I pulled weeds, cut branches, raked leaves, etc. while Zoe did this......

Played a little golf on the putting green.....

Jumped on the trampoline....

And jumped some more....

However, she stopped long enough for a smile!

After our hard day of labor, Paul cooked bratwursts on the grill & I made Zoe's favorite - homemade french fries. We enjoyed a relaxing dinner outside.

Want a french fry?

Or, how about a smile?!!!!!