Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Friends

Almost everyday after school I pick up Cal and his best friend, Cameron Adams, from school to drive them ten minutes to golf practice.  I have to say that this is one of the favorite parts of my day.  They are always happy to be done with school for the day, and one of them always has a great story to tell me about a teacher, student or something funny that happened during the day.

Cal and Cameron became friends in 6th grade when their elementary schools combined for the middle school years.  They both are great kids, good students and share the same sense of humor.  I believe it is the last part that has cemented their friendship.  Cameron gets along well with the rest of our family as well, and of all of the Heinisch children's friends he is the family favorite.

So tomorrow at  3:03 p.m. I will bring them a Gatorade and one of Grandma Jane's cookies.  It is a small price to pay for all of the great stories that I will hear on the way to practice.  I have thanked God many times that Cameron chose to give up baseball to be a part of the golf team.  The Heinisch family have become his biggest fans!


Monday, April 29, 2013

Flexibility

When asked what I think is the best quality that a teacher can have, I answer, "Stucture with a side of flexibility."  Sounds strange, but I can't imagine a classroom without some type of structure - a place for supplies, an outline of classroom expectations, daily lesson plans, seating charts, etc.  Yet, there has to be room for flexibility as well, since the best laid plans at times go awry.

Today was one of those days in my life as a teacher.   We started our day with a two hour delay which changed the time of my classes to 30 minutes from 45.  Thus, I had to change what I was teaching.  The schedule for ISTEP was changed as well, which meant that my 8th graders would not have my class today.  The test was not working correctly on the computers, so the 8th graders had to wait patiently for it to load.  I found out that we cannot overload the wireless system because of testing demands, so I had to change the unit I am teaching to exclude a lot of technology.  Thus, flexibility was the theme of the day.

I am not complaining as I do not mind change.  One of the best parts of teaching is knowing that no two days are alike.  I have found that the best way to handle it all is to remain positive and try to find humor during these situations.  It helps the students relax and handle whatever comes their way.

The schedule is up in the air for tomorrow.  The forecast calls for fog and the state will decide in the morning about testing.  So on days like today I think of the following scene from Shakespeare in Love:  

   Philip Henslowe:  The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent 
                                 disaster.
Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Philip Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery.



Sunday, April 28, 2013

First Communion

Today was a wonderful celebration of Cameron's First Communion.  He and his five classmates having been working towards this goal since September.  Their teacher has led them through prayers, first reconciliation, a retreat and much more.  We encouraged him along the way and were proud to stand up with him this morning.

Cameron received a lot of support today as those coming to celebrate with him filled two pews.   Along with our families, both sets of grandparents, Uncle Phil, and his Godmother Alexia with her husband and three daughters were there to share this moment.  The afternoon followed with many pictures, a delicious cookout, lively conversation and many new memories created.  Only one minor incident occurred.  That was when Cal realized that his Grandpa Cutes did not have to wear a tie.  He was sure that he should be tie-free as well.  After a little bit of negotiating, we all agreed on a sweater vest and the morning was saved.

Doug and I both appreciated all of those who made this celebration a success.  It was just as wonderful as Brett, Cal and Meg's.  As this part of our life passes we will look forward to other celebrations to come in the lives of the Heinisch children.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Full Day

Today was an extremely busy Heinisch day that consisted of the following:

One golf invitational
Two soccer games
Studying for Academic Superbowl at the middle school state tournament
Heinisch grandparents arrive
Golf practice
Uncle Phil arrives with his new dog, Molly
Pizza King
Bonfire
NBA2K13
Academic Hall of Fame dinner
Cameron's Godmother's Family arrive

OK, I admit it.  I am exhausted, but it's a good feeling.  Proud of Cal for rebounding in his first Varsity invitational.  Proud of Meg for being a dog whisperer.  Proud of Cam as he has his First Communion in the morning.  Proud of Brett for being a member of the WHS Academic Hall of Fame.  It was a good day!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Les Miserables

Brett is at my parents tonight watching the newest version of Les Miserables with my parents.  He and I saw it in the movie theater in December and we watched it again with Doug this week.  Needless to say Brett really enjoyed this movie as did I.  When I came home from seeing it the first time I remember telling Doug how sad it was.  He pointed out the title has "miserable" in it, so I probably should have expected it.

He is correct, but I believe all stories should have a happy ending.  This one did for one or two of its characters, but most of them could relate to the words sung by Fantine -

But there are dreams that cannot be

And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So much different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed.

I cried at the end as I am sure most of the audience did.  There is so much struggle and strife, but yet at times there is also the face of God.  So if you are not familiar with the story of "24601," I highly recommend it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Heinisch Pigs



"Mom, get a picture of the Hobos!" Meg said to me one morning.  I had to laugh as the guinea pigs sat there obediently waiting on me.  I know they can't really understand Meg, but they sure do love her attention.  

Cosmo is the one on the right.  He was the first Heinisch pig.  Meg received him two years ago for her tenth birthday and they have been the best of friends ever since.  Cosmo has been dressed as a doll, had his hair styled many times, skateboarded, acted in several of Meg's movies, and lived through it all.  

One night several months after Cosmo came to live in the Heinisch home, a fuzzy, brown pig caught Cameron's eye.  He was half price at the pet store and the youngest Heinischs were sure that Cosmo needed a friend.  Thus, Apollo came to live in the Heinisch home.  Doug and Cal were most surprised as they were on the 8th grade field trip to DC when we adopted him.  I believe that they warmed up to Apollo well before Cosmo did.

When my Mom suggested getting her a guinea pig, I wasn't sure.  We had tried hamsters and gerbils, but none lived longer than a week.  Over the past two years I have grown to love those little guys.  No matter the time of day, they are always glad to see me.  It only takes a couple of carrots to make them happy.  Meg, Cam and I would have a small barn full of those cute little guys if Doug would let us, but for now we will enjoy the two Heinisch Hobos!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Soccer

Today starts a new era for the Heinisch family.  Doug was offered the head coaching position for our high school girls' soccer team.  He readily excepted and has already begun working on his plans for practice, summer leagues, etc.

Soccer is not new to the Heinisch family.  Doug played in high school and ever since I met him I have heard countless arguments between him and his brother, Phil, on which of their teams were better.  Doug coached a YMCA youth team in college and has been actively involved in our local youth soccer program for fourteen years.  All four Heinisch children have played in this league - Cam and Meg still do.  Cal even played on the JV team last fall.

It will be busy for us as Doug still coaches Cam and Meg, but I am happy for him.  I know he will do a great job.  I am excited that he'll be coaching Meg when she reaches high school age.  The girls' team is in a rebuilding stage.  It will be fun to watch them grow.  Glad that he accepted the challenge.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tutoring

I started tutoring last year in math for several children of friends of mine.  They were struggling and I had time to help.  I also volunteered to help the Algebra students during "Warrior Time" at the high school and with the Pre-Algebra students at the end of the day.  I absolutely loved it and if I could have made money to put away for college I would have continued doing this forever.

This year I was able to secure a position at the school of my youngest two and I also absolutely love it.  Since me working was new to us, I declined all tutoring jobs.  That is until one of Cal's classmates and Cameron's friends brother needed help.  I agreed to take on the challenge and tonight we had another of our math sessions.  He is taking Geometry and I have to admit it is a very challenging subject to tutor.  The student not only has to understand the concepts, but also apply the knowledge that he/she has learned.  Tonight we muddled through.  I hope he does well tomorrow on his test.  I hope I am making a difference.  I have my fingers crossed and nighttime prayers ready.

 Luckily students only have to take Geometry one time in their lifetime!  I wish I could tell them that they will use it later in life, but they realize that they most likely never will.  Sometimes in life we just have to muddle through.  I guess that is the life lesson learned tonight!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Plaids & Stripes

When Brett and Cal were younger, I made sure that all of their outfits were colored coordinated and even went to the trouble to make sure they matched with one another.  They never complained and I felt a sense of pride in how they looked.  That is until one day the three of us were watching the Jimmy Neutron Movie.  In one scene all of the parents are abducted by aliens and the children are celebrating their new found freedom by over eating and running in the streets.  A boy starts chanting, "I'm outside and my clothes don't match . . ."  Cal looks at me and says, "That's me, Mom!  The first thing I am going to do when you and Dad are abducted by aliens is wear red shorts with my red shirt!"

I laugh now when I think of that comment so many years ago.  I have to say that at the time it was a lightbulb moment for me.  For the first I realized that my children are not for show.  Since that time I have worked hard to back off making them do things just to appease me.  Unless it is an important occasion I do not have any say in how they dress.  When someone asks about their unusual attire I always say that I am just happy they are clothed with their teeth brushed and where they need to be.

So when Cal came downstairs last week dressed for his first varsity golf match with his striped green team shirt and plaid shorts I had to laugh.  He said he thought it would confuse his opponents.  Must have worked as he played well and even got his picture in the paper - stripes, plaid and all.  Tonight's attire was red shorts with his green shirt.  I can't complain about that either as he was easy to spot on the course.

So if you see any of the mismatched Heinisch children around town, know that they are proud of their style, and that there is hope for them yet.  Brett and I went shopping for PROM and his Academic Hall of Fame dinner last weekend.  Brett was able to pick a vest and tie that matches Anastsia's dress
and did a lot better job then I matching his new dress shirts with color coordinated ties.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Nice Night for A Walk

After a day of catching up on projects around the home, Doug and I were able to take some time out to go for a walk.  The weather was perfect for it and I always enjoy Doug's company on these excursions.  A lot of our neighbors had the same idea and we were able to catch up with several of them while we were out.  I remember not to long ago that it was challenging for both of us to get away at the same time.  Now that the Heinisch children are older, we have been able to spend more time together on walks or out to dinner and such.  I appreciate this time as we are able to share the highlights of our week at work and school, plan our schedule for the next few days and just enjoy the quiet end of an evening.

The Heinisch children survived the hour without us quite well.  When we arrived home Cal and Cam were trash talking each other over a game of NBA2K13, Brett was busy writing the next chapter in his new novel, and Meg was cleaning the basement (i.e. texting her friends about what they were wearing to school tomorrow.)  I enjoyed each and everyone of them as a baby, toddler and preschooler, but this new phase is a lot of fun too.  I am glad that I have Doug to share it with me.  He is a great father and husband.  We all rely on him greatly and probably do not tell him enough.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Senioritis

Today I went with Brett to order his tux for PROM.  It was a lot less painful experience than either he or I expected.  I thought we would have a lot of different books to look through and colors to pick from, but the man who waited on us was great.  He showed us what he thought and with a few minor adjustements and some easy measurements we were finished.  I should have know it would be that way as Brett is very low maintennance.

In saying that, however, these past few weeks Brett has been frustrated with his AP Calculus class and for lack of a better term has a huge case of senioritis.  I am proud of him for making it this far.  He has been ready to graduate since we went on college visits last Spring.  I know his Dad and I were both done with high school by Christmas of our senior years. 

So this afternoon when we read through his senior newsletter, I believe he was finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  He has 31 days left of classes and after May 20th the days are filled with fun activities for the seniors and graduation practice.   It should be a great time and I am looking forward to sharing it with him.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cameron

Today we celebrated Cameron's achievements at his elementary awards program.  He was honored for outstanding attendance and received a trophy for earning 100 points in Accelerated Reader.  I am proud of him.  Not so much for the hardware he received, but more so for his ability to carve his own way in life.

It is challenging to be the youngest in a family of achievers.  Cameron, not only has to be successful in life, but he has to do it in his own way.  By attending a different elementary than his siblings, participating in chess tournaments and learning to be a goalie in soccer, Cameron has been able to stand out from his brothers and sisters and to earn his own rewards.  He has also learned to be a gracious loser, which is an extremely important life skill.

So as he held up his trophy today for me to take a picture, I celebrated with him.  He has worked hard to earn his reward.  I hope he continues to make his own way in life.  He has five other Heinisch's cheering him on.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rain, Rain, Go Away!!

I hate to complain, but I am tired of the weather this Spring.  The downpours today cancelled not only the outside activities at school, but also the indoor ones.  Tornado watches and severe thunderstorm warnings were texted to me all day from our local weather service.  No sign of the sun and it feels as though we will never see it.

The rain is to supposed to subside tomorrow.  We may even have sunshine on Saturday, although the temperature will probably remain in the 40s.  I did have my white winter coat dry cleaned and put away for the season. No matter what, I will not bring it out until October!!  Guess I will be watching soccer from my van again this weekend. 

Cal is excited as he has never lived through a flood and the news can talk of nothing else.  A teacher at school told me to be thankful for as soon as the weather turns more summerlike the students will lose all focus.  Brett said last night that this is the first time he remembers a month when the weather was correct - "April Showers . . ."  If I look at it through Brett's optimistic eyes, then May flowers cannot be far off.  I will try and make it until then. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

4 in a Row

For the fourth year in a row, Brett's Social Studies Academic Superbowl Team qualified for the state tournament in West LaFayette.  At last night's regional there were 55 teams from around the state competing for the coveted top five spots.  I nervously checked the website for the results several times today before it was posted this afternoon.  I was pleased to find out that they finished fourth.  How wonderful for the young men dedicated to the commitment that this endeavor entails.   

I have to admit that I wasn't sure if they would make it in, but I was hopeful. Last evening the boys started off slow, but then gained momentum answering twelve questions in a row.  I thought they would fly through the rest of the questions, but they stalled during the last, most challenging five questions.  A neighboring school was able to catch them in total as both teams answered 17 out of the 25 questions correctly.  There is a complicated tie breaking scoring system and the boys fell short, finishing in 2nd place in their regional.  The waiting game began as all regional scores have to be reported to Purdue University, and they then have to verify all results before the finalists are named. 

Of course I was proud of them no matter how they placed.  Ancient Greece is a difficult subject to study and I know they worked hard.   Qualifying four years in a row is a great accomplishment and I am glad that Brett has been able to compete in a manner of which he enjoys.  They have 2 second place finishes at state and were champions two years ago, but no matter how they finish on May 4th, I know that they are all winners already. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pride

Sometimes in life, your children tell you that they are proud of themselves.  As a parent, that is the best feeling in the world.  I know that I am always proud of the Heinisch children.  They do not always make the right choice, but at least they always learn from their mistakes and move on pretty quickly.  It means so much more when they realize that they did something worth praise.  I am so happy tonight that they were able to recognize that feeling of pride and to verbalize it with me.

Yes, both Brett and Cal told me they were proud of themselves tonight.  They had set a goal and had reached it through hard work and perseverance.  Of course, I am very proud of them.  Tonight, however, I am most proud of a non-Heinisch child.  One that chose to step up and let one of mine compete, even though it meant he would have to take a lesser role in a competition.   As a teacher and mother, I know that we are always trying to teach our children and students to "do the right thing."  Thank you to the young man who did!  You made our whole night and we are all proud of you!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Disbelief

I watch in disbelief tonight as the tragedy in Boston unfolds.  Two weeks ago we were enjoying the sights of this historic city, and now it looks like a war zone.  The Freedom Trail that we walked starts at Boston Common, a beautiful park established hundreds of years ago for the people of Boston to enjoy.  Today it was being used as headquarters for the National Guard.  I cannot imagine what it was like for those attending the Marathon.  I think of the many visitors that must be there.  Families like ours, who came to see the sights, but are now in the middle of this drama.

The news talks of the injured, many of whom who have lost one or more limbs.  The hardest part for me to listen to is the fact that an 8 year old boy is among those who were killed.  Cameron is eight.  I can't imagine.  I will pray for those who are in Boston tonight and for all who have been touched by this tragedy.  For us it is a news event, for them it is a new reality.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Just Go With It

                    "Hey Mom, I didn't know Cal got glasses."  - Brett
                    "He didn't.  Why do you ask?" - Me
                    "He had them on at lunch today." - Brett
                    "Did you ask him why he was wearing glasses? - Me
                    "No, Mom, it's Cal.  I just go with it." - Brett

That last line just cracked me up.  If anyone would know Cal, it would be the person who shared a room with him for fourteen years and did everything with him for the first 12 years of Cal's life.  Brett was there when Cal at age 4 showed up to his seat after intermission with one of the concession signs.  When his Grandpa asked him what he was doing, Cal replied, "It said FREE!"  (He left out the fact that it was the popcorn that was free, not the sign.)

Brett was also there when Cal was in third grade and wore his hair slicked back with gel to look like his idol, Elvis Presely.  When Cal tried to pick up my Dad at my Grandma's funeral and they both fell to the ground in a loud thump, Brett was there to say what everyone was thinking, "Oh, it's just Cal and Grandpa."  He was also witness to the box incident - Cal and his buddies wore boxes on their heads to a middle school girls basketball game to support one of their friends (from the opposing school) whose last name was Box.

As Cal, wearing his NBA Denver Nuggets hat, led his team to a "Putters" chant on the practice green before the NLC golf match, Brett was there.  He can also vouch for Cal's after game basketball attire - tennis shoes without socks, basketball shorts and a sweater vest with nothing underneath.  So, wearing someone else's glasses at lunch just to see if the guy would notice shouldn't surprise Brett.  I'm glad to know that it didn't!



Saturday, April 13, 2013

Enjoy the Good Days

Today was a great day for the Heinisch children in the world of sports.  This is not always the case, as we have found in participating in youth sports there are a lot more loses than wins.  So, today I have encouraged them to bask in the glory of their achievements, because all too soon the agony of defeat may well be upon us.

The day started bright and early as Cal and his golf team headed out at 7 a.m. for an early morning tee time.  This would be his first tournament as a high school student and I know he was feeling a lot of pressure.  The coach was smart enough to put him on the JV team for this one.  None of us were able to attend the invitational, but we talked of him all day, especially when it was sleeting and hailing here.  Golf is challenging to play when the temperature is below 45 degrees.

Once Doug made sure Cal was on the bus, he and Meg got ready for their first soccer game of the spring season.  Because she is twelve, Meg moved up to the big field.  She was a little nervous having to play against 8th grade boys, but she did very well.  Most of her team is young, but the two 8th graders on her team were a big help and very supportive of the younger players.  They were able to win 7-2 despite the wind, rain and cold.  I have to admit that I watched the game from the heated seats of our van.  The Heinisch children enjoy calling me a wimp, and I will not disagree when it comes to cold weather.

Cam ran out onto his soccer field as Meg headed to the van.  Her AAU basketball team had a shoot out 45 minutes away and we wanted to see if she could catch part of the first game.  I was kept abreast of the happenings of Cameron's team by Doug and my parents.  Cameron was happy to record a win, and even happier to report that he scored a penalty kick that put his team in the lead.

Meg made it to her game in time to play the second half.  It was their first win of the season as well, so she was glad that she was able to participate.  The next two games did not go in their favor, but she was thrilled to have a new shootout shirt to add to her wardrobe with her name and number on the back.  It was fun for me to watch the girls eat lunch together, giggle and enjoy the day.

It was late into the afternoon by the time we heard from Cal.  As I watched him walk off of the bus with two medals around his neck, I couldn't help but feeling a sense of pride.  He is not much for talking, but was quite pleased to tell me that his JV team won the invitational and he placed 4th out of 54 golfers.

Although you may not realize it by this post, once you get to know me, you soon realize that I am not a "soccer mom."  My children play sports because they love it, never to please me or Doug.  I am the one sitting in the stands nervous for all, feeling sad for the losers and steering clear of the fanatics.  Today, however, I do have to say I am extremely proud of their sports achievements.  It is not because they won, but because they worked hard, set goals and reached them.  Next Saturday may be completely different as there will be new games and invitationals.  Thus, today we will celebrate.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Patience

Tonight Brett and I spent several hours making a photo DVD for graduation.  We found great pictures, quotes and special effects.  Unfortunately, we have spent an equal amount of time trying to get it transferred to our DVD player connected to the TV.  As I type this, Brett is trying one more thing before we call it a night!  Fingers crossed that it works!  Luckily, we still have 8 weeks until graduation to figure this out!  Wish us luck!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Maybe It Is Enough

In November one of the freshmen girls in Cal's class committed suicide by stepping in front of a train.  Obviously, that was a horrible event for the students.  I had known the girl since she was in early elementary school and I felt awful for her friends and family.  We talked to the boys about suicide, feelings of despair and let them know there is nothing that we couldn't or wouldn't help them with.  The high school sent home a letter and provided counseling for anyone who needed extra help dealing with this situation.

Then the Sandy Hook tragedy took place.  Another sad topic that was all over the news.  I decided not to watch TV during that time period.  It was too sad to think about.  School safety was a big topic and classroom doors are now locked at all times.  My students and I talked about what they should do in that situation and where they would go.  What my classes felt they learned from that horrible event was  to listen to the teacher and trust him/her if she tells you to hide in closet, crawl out of the window, etc.

In January, the unbelievable happened as a sophomore at our high school committed suicide.  News traveled fast as the story broke during a Friday night basketball game - more sad news in such a small town.  Administrators met and decided to bring a motivational speaker to our town to help our community cope.  Meg and I went to hear him speak and the boys listened to him at an assembly during the school day.  He did a great job, told some fun stories and was very encouraging.  Within a week after this visit another student at the high school tried to take his life as well.

So many feelings were expressed by members of our community - panic, sadness, shock.  I just kept thinking Spring would come, then maybe we could all start feeling happy again.  This week the ministerial society brought in a motivational group that sang, put on skits and encouraged the middle
school and high school students.  I listened to some of my students talk afterward and they expressed
the same thoughts that my own children had - "It was nice to have a convocation, but we are ready to be happy again."  Maybe it is enough - we have talked, cried, and stood together.  Now we can move on, not forget, but live outside of the fear, panic and grief.  Spring is a time of renewal.  I am glad that it is here.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Memories

Last Saturday night I started going through five years of newspaper clippings that I had saved.  First, I went through and organized them by school year.  Once that part of my project was complete, I then opened up the bookcase doors and started searching through all of our photo albums starting with the year Brett was born.  I knew I was looking for items for Brett's graduation party, but wasn't sure what I wanted.  As I searched, several themes to our lives in the last 18 years became very apparent.  The most noticeable was the trips to Bloomington and Disney World, so I started piles of pictures from those events.

Next, I looked at Brett's school pictures, but I am not a big fan of head shots.  They feel so artificial.  Instead I realized that every year I had taken a picture of the Heinisch children on the first day of school, so another theme tackled.  As much as I enjoy Christmas and Easter, the pictures that stood out next were the ones from Halloween.  I loved all of the different costumes that my children have picked out over the years.  Brett's have always been the most unique - King K.Rool from Donkey Kong, the Headless Horseman, Goldfinger, etc.  Thus, another group of photos were placed on the table.  Piles of our Christmas picture cards and some of my favorite family/sibling pictures rounded out my search.

Once this was accomplished I decided to go back to all of the newspaper clippings that I had sorted by school year and reorganize them by child.  I spent several hours today putting all of Brett's "newsworthy" events into a binder.  I asked him if he wanted to look at it when I was finished this evening.  I loved listening to him exclaim, "No way, I didn't remember Thomas was on my soccer team."  "Hey look, there's Amanda when we were in elementary school."  "Mom, I didn't know I entered a mitten coloring contest at the library.  That's where I got that panda bear book I just loved."  Although my back was sore from bending over photos and articles,  hearing Brett's excitement made it all worthwhile!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Back to Our Routine

This is our second day back to school after Spring Break and so far the transition has went pretty well.  I can't say that any of us were ready for the alarm clock Monday morning, but knowing that this is the last big push before summer break has made it a lot easier.  The weather feels, smells and sounds a lot more like Spring and that definitely helps.  Golf and soccer season are in full swing.  That makes for a lot of running around, especially since Meg and Cal are also playing as much basketball as possible.  The musical is over for Brett, so at least his schedule has calmed down quite a bit.  Cameron has already asked his grandparents when he can go swimming off of their pier.  I love his enthusiasm for summer, but it is not quite warm enough for that yet.

I wasn't sure how school would be after the ten day break, but so far the students are right back at it.  I even gave a test today and all did pretty well.  My writing lab finished up their fantasy story writing yesterday.  I was so happy that my student that was sad to be leaving school for Spring Break greeted me Monday morning by shouting down the hall, "Mrs. Heinisch, I was able to write two more chapters over break.  I can't wait to type them!"  I am glad that all is going well.  Like the students, I am on the count down to summer.  However, it is great to see, that just as the Heinisch children, my students are still enthusiastic and have big plans for a great end to the school year.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Math, Who Needs It?

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard Brett utter the words, "Math, who needs it?"  I always find it funny when he says this, because Brett's knowledge of math as a science is deep.  He meets with his Calculus teacher several times a week just to explain the concepts to her and to make sure he is understanding it all.  She tells him that he does, but he still grumbles anytime the subject is mentioned.

As a math teacher, I do realize that AP Calculus probably isn't an important skill to have for someone who wants to be a lawyer.  However, Doug then reminds me that math teaches us to solve problems and that is a life skill we all need.  Tonight I hope Brett at least could see the benefit of having this knowledge while he was helping Cal understand the concepts of Honors Algebra II, teaching him the value of taking notes, and encouraging him to ask the teacher for help when he doesn't understand something.  I know I could see it and I loved listening to them banter back and forth as they were talking math.

Brett found out on his college visit last year that if he passes the Calculus AP Exam with a score of 4 or 5, he will not have to take math in college to graduate with a political science degree.  I hope he does, but I know he will still need his math skills.  Cal is taking dual credit Pre-Calculus next year and will need all of the FaceTime help Brett will give him!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!  OK, so it is a week late, but since we were in Boston last Sunday, we planned to celebrate Easter with my parents today.  We "left a note" for the Easter Bunny before we left to let him know that he would have to hide the eggs last night.  He was very agreeable and today we woke up to find 48 eggs hidden  around the house.  It was a first for the Heinisch family this year as Cal and Brett did not help us dye the eggs  for our hunt.  Brett decided that since he had turned eighteen he no longer would be participating in this family tradition, and once Cal found out Brett had bailed on us, he agreed that fourteen was too old as well.

Nevertheless, Meg, Cam and I had fun preparing for the event.  We watched "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown" before our trip to put us in the mood.  Peppermint Pattie's quote, "Marcie, you made egg soup!" was said several times while we were getting our PAAS cups ready.  The music was turned off, so we could listen to the colored tablets fizz as they mixed with the vinegar.  Even though the boys did not help, we still colored four dozen eggs and had a great time doing it.  Rubber bands were wrapped around several eggs in intricate design to make an interesting pattern.  We tried the glitter egg packets this year as well as the regular.  None of us were impressed, so we will try something else next year.  One egg had "Cam is awesome" written on it, and one was adorned with the phrase "Cam's a chump."  

At first Cal had said he didn't want to hunt for eggs on "Easter" morning, but once he saw us dying them, the overly competitive Heinisch was all in.  He even let us know that he had helped us out earlier by dying all of the eggs white and writing on them with white crayon for us.  Thus, Sunday morning all four Heinisch children were up and ready for the hunt.  (Brett would have passed on the tradition, but the other three insisted.)  As the race began, we wondered if this was the year that Cal would lose his egg hunting title, but alas for the fourteenth year in a row, he was the first to find all twelves of his eggs first.  

My parents joined us for Easter dinner.  Doug is a great cook and we all enjoyed his potatoes, ham and  scrambled eggs.  Mom added desserts and several other side dishes, and all left the table happy and full.  The last lone egg was found several hours after the morning hunt began and the dinner dishes were put away.  As is a Heinisch family tradition, all forty-eight eggs were tossed into our wooded lot out back for the raccoon and opossum to enjoy.  All in all, it was a great Easter celebration, even if was delayed.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

An Off Night

Did you ever have a night that was just off?  Nothing seems to go right, and after awhile it actually becomes funny.  That was Meg's and my experience tonight at 5 p.m. mass.  To begin with, the altar server did not show up.  We would have offered for Meg to fill in, but we didn't realize it until a man in his 50's got up to serve.  As most of our altar servers are between 10 and 16 and it was a little different, but very nice of him to pitch in.

Mass continued, and Meg and I noticed that the organ music was different than the song we were singing.  After that we heard chime music playing while Father was reading a prayer.  At first we thought it was the organ, but when it happened a second time we realized that someone had not listened to the pre-mass announcements asking us to please turn off all cell phones.

We did our best to remain focused on the homily and the preparation for communion.  However, a baby kept screaming, and its Grandmother followed up every cry with a loud "Shhhh!"  At that point I started looking around for the Candid Camera crew making sure to never look at Meg or I know we both would have laughed.  We walked to the van after mass and Meg said to me, "I am glad we came to 5 p.m. mass.  It was the funniest and strangest mass I have ever attended!"

Friday, April 5, 2013

"Don't Look, Mom!"

We were resting in our hotel room last Sunday night before dinner, taking a break from our whirlwind tour of New England.  Brett was enjoying a book, Cam and Meg were in the middle of a hot game of Go Fish, and Doug and Cal were watching the men's NCAA elite eight basketball game between Duke and Louisville.  I started out watching the game, but became lost in my blog writing when I heard Cal say, "Don't look, Mom!"   I was smart enough to heed his warning and kept my eyes on my iPad.  He quickly filled me in on the details of Kevin Ware's block that had gone wrong and ended with the player flat on his back, screaming in pain, with a portion of his shin bone sticking out of his leg.  After a long delay in action with a lot of crying from fans, players and coaches, paramedics were able to move Ware onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.  The sports announcers made a casual comment about his girlfriend riding with him to the hospital.  It was then that it dawned on me that his mother was not at the game.  If all of us were in shock watching him, what was she feeling?

I thought about Kevin Ware a lot this week.  He has been interviewed several times since Sunday and is even with the team in Atlanta for the final four, crutches, cast and all.  Yesterday I picked up the mail and there was his picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated surrounded by his teammates, with the quote, "Calm down, Mom.  I'm O.K."  I had to laugh when I read that.

Young men have a special bond with their mothers.  It is the first person they run to as a small child when they are hurt, and it is the last person they want to hurt when they grow up.  These young men act so tough and push us away, but deep down they do really care what we think and how we feel.  Most young men do not express their feelings very well.  I don't know if it is a societal issue or genetics or maybe both.  I have learned to read their language, however, and I know that whether they say, "Calm down, Mom.  I'm O.K." or "Don't look, Mom!" they are really saying, "I love you, Mom!"

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Beautiful Day

Finally, Spring has sprung and we all enjoyed the beautiful day.  Although the high was only in the mid 50's, after this long winter, it felt as great as any sunny, summer day.  Meg and Cam returned to their Baseball Hall of Fame personalities this morning as they practiced their pitching and catching in the backyard.  It was nice to hear the sound of the basketball on the driveway again before Cal and my Dad headed to the golf course.

Even I joined in the outdoor activities, as I surprised the younger Heinisch children by offering to take them on a bike ride.  Normally, Doug is the leader for this excursion.  We stopped at my Mom's about a mile away and decided that was not a long enough trip.  So, we headed around the lake by way of the golf course.  I think our enthusiasm for Spring might have gotten the best of us, however.  Once we stopped by hole number 15 to chat with Grandpa and Cal we decided that three miles was enough.  Luckily, Brett was home and more than willing to bring his truck out to get us.  Although, we didn't make it completely around the lake (6 miles) we were happy to have the weather to give it a try.

Doug had Spring fever as well and once he got home from work he was ready to play tennis with Cam and Meg, and take Cal on in their never ending one-on-one basketball challenge.  Cal got the better of him tonight, so I know they will be back out again tomorrow.  Brett has decided that he is ready to break out the shorts and t-shirts, and I dropped off my white, winter coat at the dry cleaners.  Thus, the Heinisch family is officially calling it the end of winter!  Finally, the ground hog can come out of hiding - we are no longer mad!!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Unpacking

Today is my least favorite day of vacation - unpacking.  We had decided to drive straight back last night and arrived well after midnight.  It was a lot of driving, but it was worth it to sleep in our own beds with no alarm clocks.  I never like unpacking, but this time it was a lot better than most.  Doug still had today off and the Heinisch children are all on Spring Break, so I could ask for help whenever I needed it.

Doug and Brett spent an hour cleaning out the van.  I received a lecture from Brett for letting Cameron leave a root beer in the cup holder of the van.  It had leaked and they were left with a small mess.  They also had a bag full of trash to clean out, but overall it went fairly smoothly, and I was appreciative of a clean vehicle once again.  I also tipped Brett well, so the root beer mess wasn't quite so bad!

Meg entertained Cameron for the day.  They pretended to be Hall of Fame Baseball players and spent the afternoon practicing their skills.  Cal was the first one up as usual.  He called his Grandpa immediately to let him know it was a great day to go golfing as it was beautiful outside.  My Dad didn't quite agree with Cal's weather report (it was only 28 degrees when Cal called), but was a willing participant and they enjoyed their round.  Brett had given up video games for Lent, so he spent some time catching up on his XBOX games. The four ended their day with two at the Republican fish fry with Grandpa Cutes and two with Grandma Jane catching up and bringing their guinea pigs home.

With everyone helping or entertaining themselves today, I was able to unpack, sort eight loads of laundry, cut Doug's hair, make a grocery list, and download all of the pictures.  Doug and I agreed that we would quit doing housework at 4 p.m. so we could get the shopping completed and enjoy a quiet dinner together.  All and all I can't complain.  The day was a lot more enjoyable than most "unpacking" days.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Great End to a Great Trip

We spent a lot of time in the van today.   The boys have been enjoying the 1960's Batman series, betting each other who the next villain will be.  The reward for winning is bragging about it until the next set of episodes begins.  Meg is not as enamored with the Cape Crusaders, but has found a new "dynamic duo" to watch - Cliff and Norm from Cheers.

Our early morning stop at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY was a big hit.  Cal and I helped the younger two with a scavenger hunt through the museum.  Their reward for finding all ten items were baseball cards.  True to form they sat down and immediately started trading them.  Doug and Brett enjoyed the history of the Hall and after two and a half hours we were ready to move on to our next stop.

I have to admit that the highlight of the trip for me happened next.  I thoroughly enjoyed everything we have done, but the look on Cameron's face when we walked out on the observation deck at
Niagara Falls today was priceless.  It was 30 degrees and windy, however, he was all smiles.  Cameron had read a book about the Falls earlier in the year, but when he told all of his friends he was going to visit it, no one believed him.  The Falls are beautiful and awe inspiring - well worth seeing once in a lifetime.  As we walked out of the gift store with his Niagara Falls t-shirt, souvenir book, "Cameron" Niagara Falls mug, and "I survived the observation deck" magnet, Cameron turned to me and said, "Mom, this has been the best vacation ever!"  I have to agree!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Niagara Falls or Bust


We spent day four of our non-Florida vacation finishing all that we wanted to do in Massachusetts before we started back.  Up early we were able to catch the first tour of the season for Buckman Tavern in Lexington.  This is the sight of the "shot heard round the world."  We knew most of the story, but the tour guide was enthusiastic and child friendly which added to the experience.  The highlight of the tour for me was buying "The Art of Teaching" written in the 1840's.

Our next stop was a must for Brett and I - Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott.  The house made the characters of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy come to life, and the history of the Alcott family and the stories of their ties to Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne were fascinating.  The Alcott women were even related to a judge from the Salem Witch Trials, which we all found interesting.

We ended the tour of Massachusetts visiting Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where all of the above mentioned authors are buried, and the North Bridge where the Patriots stopped the British and chased them back to Boston.  We told Cal, the reluctant member of our history tour, that he could pick our lunch stop.  Without hesitation he said, "The Silver Stable" (his nickname for The Golden Corral.).  Much to our surprise the only Golden Corral in the state of Massachusetts was on our drive to New York!

Tonight we rest in a small town close to Copperstown.  After an early morning trip to the National Baseball of Hall of Fame, we will head to Niagara Falls.  Cameron can talk of nothing else.  One of his friends went to the Falls and Cam can't wait to take a picture of himself there as well.  Day four finds us tired, but ready for more adventure!