Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Catching Up With Old Friends

Tonight I was finally able to go out with Jen Jorczak.  We last went out in August and made plans to get together in November.  This was the best night for both of us and we made our November deadline.  She picked the place this time.  It was a new Italian restaurant in Warsaw.  The food was very good.  I tried the cheese ravioli, but had a hard time choosing as their were a lot of delicious pasta dishes on the menu.  Jen and I spent several hours talking and catching up.  It sounds like her daughter, Grace, is going to go to IU next year so I was able to fill her in on our experiences.  Jen and I have been friends for a long time and I am very glad that we have found time to reconnect.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Night at Bethany Christian

What a busy night for the Heinisch family at Bethany Christian.  First Cameron had a basketball game against Milford.  There was a mixup as it was supposed to be a B game only, but Milford never got the message.  At halftime I had Meg go in the locker room and tell Mr. Voirol.  Bethany agreed to a 5 quarter running clock and all of the boys played at least a quarter and a half.  Cam played very well and the whole team improved from their last meeting.

After the game Doug, Meg and I drove back home to drop off the CR-V and pick up Brett.  He had an interview at 3:30, so he wasn’t able to go with us to the game.  We also wanted to have only one vehicle in Goshen.  Cam stayed at Bethany to change for his choir concert and to practice with Mr. Thomas.  Mom and Dad stayed in Goshen in case he needed anything.  We were back by 6:45 just as the doors opened.  The auditorium was packed by the time the concert started.  The Agape Bell Ringers were first.  We were impressed with their playing.  It has been a wonderful experience for Cam.  The sixth grade was next and they did a great job as well, finishing with the Dum Dum song, a crowd favorite.  After the concert we went to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings.  We hadn’t gone in awhile.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate Cam and his achievements.

Monday, November 28, 2016


It was hard getting back into the swing of school, but we all survived.  Cal texted me around 10:30 last night to let me know that he made it.  He did have to take an alternate route, but overall it wasn’t too bad.  Brett spent his day working on applications.  I left as soon as school ended so that I could get Meg to tennis.  Mom picked up Cam for me.  I then met them at Walmart.  Cam wanted to purchase his items for the Bethany Food & Toy Drive.  

Once we loaded up the van, Cam, Brett and I went to see the movie Trolls.  It was a lot better than I thought it would be.  I knew nothing about it going in except that it had gotten good reviews and Parce liked it.  The three of us were the only ones in the movie theater.  That was a lot of fun.  We got home well before Doug and Meg.  After tennis they had soccer at the middle school.  It has been a disappointing year for indoor soccer as very few girls come to open gym and they have had to cancel the last two games because of lack of attendance.  Hopefully, that will change soon.  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Last Day of Thanksgiving Break

We spent today finishing the Christmas decorations, helping Cal pack and setting up the last of the tv stands.  By the end of the day the house looked wonderful and we even got in a few rounds of Mario Kart.  The sad part was getting Cal out the door.  We all enjoyed having him home and look forward to him coming back at Christmas break.  He was dreading the drive with all of the construction, but made pretty good time.  The weeks will go by quickly, but they will be challenging ones for him.

Meg told me today that she was not looking forward to going back.  I don’t blame her.  We have a strange winter break this year as we go to school until the 22nd and get out on a Wednesday.  We then go back on a Thursday.  Cameron will be out three full days before we are.  It will be a tough 18 days to keep students motivated, but it too shall go by quickly.  At least now we can play Mario on the big screen to help pass the time.  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Happy Birthday Grandma Jane!

Today was Grandma Jane’s birthday, so we decided to all go and see A Christmas Story at the Round Barn Theater.  It was actually a lot better than I thought it would be and a good one for the holiday season.  I couldn’t envision it as a musical, but it worked and we all had fun.

After the musical Cam had to serve at mass.  Doug was a lector so he went ahead of us as we weren’t quite sure what time the play would let out.  We all made it, however, and Cam did a great job serving by himself.  He was supposed to work with one of the younger servers, but she never showed up.  

Meg went to Kaitlin’s after mass.  They each made a dish to share and she spent the night with her.  Meg made mac and cheese from her culinary arts class recipe book.  The rest of us ordered Chinese.  Most of the leftovers from Thanksgiving were gone except for the turkey, so we were ready for something else.  Mom and Dad came over after dinner for cake, ice cream and pie.  Mom liked her gift card and Christmas sweater.  We spent the rest of the evening playing Trumpet and Sequence.  It was a nice way to celebrate.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Oh Christmas Tree!

Doug and I were both up early.  We hadn't planned that, but it worked out well as we had a lot that we wanted to get done today.  Most of it revolved around getting out the Christmas decorations.  He had the tree ready to decorate before Meg and Cam got up and I put all of the Thanksgiving away and dusted before lunch.  We spent most of the afternoon decorating as well.  Meg and Cam helped with the ornaments on the tree.  Brett missed out on most of it as he went to lunch, bowling and a movie with his friend, Seth.  Cal was also in and out most of the day as HM came over after practice and they then went to Warsaw to see the Christmas lights at Center Lake.

Doug and I decided to take a break around 4 to try the Tippy Winery.  We hadn't been there since the summer and both enjoyed it.  When we got back Brett was home and Preston and Aaron were here.  It was loud in our home, but everyone was having fun.  Brett and Cam decided to go to Grandma's Jane for dinner and to play games.  We dropped Meg, Preston and Aaron off at the movie uptown.  We then headed to Target to pick up two new TV stands.

Cam and Brett were home by the time we got back.  Cam couldn't believe what we had with us - a purple tinsel hippo.  He and I added it to our collection of lighted figures in the front yard.  I know that it wasn't Doug's favorite purchase, but the rest of us thought it was a great find.  We had a mishap with the TV stands, but once we figured that out we came up with a plan for tomorrow's projects.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Doug spent the morning in the kitchen making all of our favorite Thanksgiving foods.  Although I am not a fan of turkey or oyster dressing, the mashed potatoes went well with Grandma Jane's noodles.  We also enjoyed green bean casserole, corn, homemade bread and plenty of desserts.  Renegade provides us with a turkey every year and this was the biggest one yet - 15 pounds.

Before dinner Cal, Meg, Brett, Cam and I watched A Garfield's Thanksgiving.  Not sure Doug appreciated it as much as we did, but it set the mood for lunch.  Once we were done eating the guys all headed to the basement for pool.  Mom and I were able to get the kitchen cleaned up by the time they were done.  We offered to play games, but they wanted to head to Shopko for Thanksgiving Day specials.  Instead we played a couple of rounds of Mario Kart before heading out on our own shopping spree.

Our first stop of the night was Target.  We were about fifteen minutes early and there wasn't much of a line.  We took time to study the maps before entering.  Our plan was to pickup a new TV for the living room and one for Brett.  Doug and Brett found his 32 inch easily and were happy with the price. The rest of us were on a quest to get a 55 inch 4K ultra definition TV.  We saw on the map that there were deals in the store not listed on the Black Friday flyer.  At first we thought we had scored big - a Polaroid 55 inch for less than $400.  As we were tracking down Doug I happened across an even better deal - a Westinghouse for less than $350.  It even had all of the bells and whistles that we were looking for.  As I waited for Doug to move over to where I was standing another customer asked me where I found the TV.  Before I could tell him one of the Target employees mentioned to him that I got the only one in the store.  I was even more thrilled when I heard that.  Before we left we also found a Blu Ray Player on sale and several gifts for Christmas.

From Target we drove to University Park Mall.  Forever 21 and Hollister had some great sales going on.  Brett and Cam toured the mall checking out a few stores while Meg and I were shopping.  It was absolutely packed.  We decided to head out after stopping in Yankee Candle.  We were home by 9 p.m. and started on the TV set up.  It took quite awhile, but Doug did get the new TV connected in the living room and moved our bedroom TV to Meg's room and the old living room TV to our bedroom.  We even got Brett's set up in the basement all before 1 a.m.  Cal was home from his own Black Friday excursion well before we were done.  He took Alex, Jayce, David and Brian Clark to Fort Wayne.  He said they had a great time and he was happy with all that he found including a new pair of Darth Vader socks.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Best Dinner Ever!

What a great first day of Thanksgiving break.  All of us kept busy, enjoyed the day and even got some work done.  Brett made it to the dentist, which probably wasn't the highlight for him, but at least it was uneventful.  He then met Mrs. Dixon and Andrew Anchor for lunch in North Webster.  He hadn't seen either in quite some time and thoroughly enjoyed his visit with them.  Once he got home Cam and I talked him into a game of Pay Day and for the first time since he arrived from the East Coast he actually lost at a board game.  It was close, but I was able to keep my undefeated streak at Pay Day alive.

Cal invited HM over to hang out.  Since Brett was out for lunch and doesn't care that much for Subway, I thought that it would be the best day to try it.  Meg went with me and we were also able to pick up supplies to fix our coat shelf that fell off the wall last night.  It definitely created a loud boom when it came down at 1:45 a.m.  Brett and I were sure that someone had knocked over a large piece of furniture or even hit the garage door because it was that loud.  Once we finally found the cooler lid in the kitchen we were able to follow the trail of coats to the culprit.  Doug, Meg and Cam slept through it all.  Brett and I laughed about that all day today.  We were sure that the house could have exploded and they never would have known.

Besides fixing the coat shelf, I also caught up on my blog, did some laundry, graded the last of my students' work and got a haircut.  For the first time in a long time I actually cut 4 inches off the length of my hair.  It seemed the perfect time to do so and I really liked how it looked.  The day wasn't all about working, however.  Besides the board game we were also able to play Mario Kart.  I would love to say I won, but that would be unrealistic.   Doug did have to work today.  He said he didn't mind as there were not a lot of people in the office so he was able to catch up on several items.  They were allowed to leave at 3:30 today, so he was home pretty early.

We had asked the Heinisch children to pick a night to go out to dinner and they all said Wednesday.  Doug made reservations at Kelly Jae's in Goshen as Cal, Brett and Hannah-Marie had never been there.  We used Doug's approach for ordering and made it more of a buffet which each person choosing an item or two to share.  Although the food was delicious the best part of the dinner was spending time together.  There was so much lively conversation and plenty to catch up on.  I am truly thankful that everyone wanted to spend the evening together.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The End of the Week

Last year the Wawasee school board decided to add an extra day to our Thanksgiving break by giving us Wednesday before the holiday off.  I wasn't sure what I thought about it when it was first proposed, but this year it was much appreciated.  On Sunday I wasn't sure I could make it through these two days, but knowing that was all it was made it a lot easier.  It wasn't that I disliked my classes, but more than I was just ready to be home with my family.

Brett brought Meg to me after school so that we could go grocery shopping at Walmart.  It was also $2 Tuesdays at Ben's Pretzels, so we took advantage of that as well.  Cam stayed after school for basketball and chess.  He then went to the A and boys basketball games.   I picked him up afterward.  He had texted me "20 minutes" just as I dropped Meg off at the Wawasee boys game.

Cal went out with his friends tonight.  HM had to work concessions at the game.  It was dress as Thanksgiving tonight and she was my favorite - a Thanksgiving table complete with tablecloth and plates.  Brett and Cam stayed home and played Jenga and Life while Doug and I went to dinner.  We were home well before nine.  Doug had a church finance meeting, so we couldn't go out until that was over.  It was a great start to the Thanksgiving break.

Monday, November 21, 2016

My Three Sons

For the first time every I spent the evening out with just my three sons.  Cal had said that he wanted to do something with Brett and I while he was home and tonight was the perfect night for it as Doug and Meg were at tennis and soccer.  I let the boys pick what we did together and they all wanted to see the new Harry Potter movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."  We really enjoyed the movie.  It didn't quite feel like a Harry Potter one, but it was still entertaining.

My favorite part of the evening, however, was not the movie.  It was actually just spending time with my boys.  They kept me laughing and all got along very well.  I learned this evening that it doesn't matter who calls shotgun once someone's "butt is in the seat."  I also found out that it is preferable to forget one's coat over drinking too much "soda."  So much fun!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Our Town

This afternoon Meg, Brett, Cam and I all went to see "Our Town" at Bethany Christian.  Meg was supposed to have soccer, but a majority of her team was unavailable today, so Doug had to postpone the match.  We were glad that she was able to join us.  We all really enjoyed the play.  I had seen it when I was in high school, but didn't remember a lot of it.  The first act was slow, but the second and third were really good.

After the play we dropped Meg off at youth group.   She was happy to go, but bummed that Aaron wouldn't be able to join them.  He has been ill and has missed a lot of school this trimester.  When he has been able to attend, he and Meg eat lunch together.  While Meg was at church we started "Dial M for Murder" with Cam.  It was one of my favorite Hitchcock movies and I had been wanting to watch it with Cam.  So far he has really liked it.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Christmas Shopping

Today Cam had a chess tournament in Warsaw.  He did well, but it has been rough moving up to the rated section.  He used to destroy everyone in his age group, but definitely has run into tougher competition this year.  It's been good for him from a learning aspect, but I feel bad that he did not bring home a trophy today.  He seemed to handle it very well and had fun with JJ and Kayden.

Tonight Doug and I went to Fort Wayne to start our Christmas shopping.  I also wanted to spend my birthday money.  I found a new pair of boots and several candles at Yankee Candle that I liked.  We didn't do as well on our Christmas list, but plan on going Black Friday shopping and will also join in on the cyber Monday craze.

We went to Chop's for dinner afterward.  It was very good.  I was disappointed to hear that the egg nog cheesecake will not be back on the menu this season, but almost everything they serve is delicious.  Thus, we were well pleased this evening.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Tonight Brett, Cam, Dad and I all went to see Wawasee's version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Meg went as well, but left earlier than we did so that she Graham and Preston could sit together.  Paula saved us a seat in the front row and we all enjoyed watching Gabby as an Oompa Lump-a and Alex as the narrator.  The play actually featured a lot of Milford students and we all enjoyed it especially the role of Willy Wonka.  The only thing missing was the Oompa Lump-a songs!

Cal made it home last night without problem.  He had plans to go to dinner with Jayce, but Jayce had car problems so they postponed it.  Instead Cal went over to HM's for a little while.  Tonight they went to dinner after she finished basketball practice.  Cal has talked of nothing else but Thanksgiving break since we saw him in October.  He was ready for a break and some time at home.  I know that he was a little stressed when he got here as he had just finished tests in Econ and Finite. He found out today that he has B's in both, so he felt a lot better.  He does plan to spend a lot of his time over break studying both as he would like to do well on his finals.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Milford vs Bethany Christian

For the first time in years Bethany Christian had enough 6th graders playing basketball to have a C team.  When I heard that they were working on scheduling games I instantly contacted Bethany's AD and Ryan at Milford in the hope that our 6th grade would be able to play Bethany.  Both schools were more than interested in a game against one another and tonight was the cumulation of this.  

It was a tough one for Bethany, but the boys all had fun.  Cam was a starter on the A team and played well.  He even scored a long two.  I was able to keep the book for Bethany and was glad to be a part of the evening.  I always enjoy supporting the Heinisch children, but I know that they Milford boys were appreciative of having me there as well.  I was most impressed with the two teams afterward as they were shaking hands.  All of the Milford boys congratulated Cam and said they were happy to see him.  It was a fun night to be a part of.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Christmas Music

Tonight Meg and Cam had piano after his basketball practice.  Mrs. Meek will be having surgery next week, so they decided to bring their Christmas music with them.  I love that they can play their favorite holiday songs on the piano.  Meg is working on several including "What Child is This."  Cam has also picked out several to try this year and is working on the same book as Meg.  What a joyous time of year.  I will enjoy listening to them practice.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Happy 48th or 49th, it's all the same!

Today was my 48th birthday.  Years do not make me sad.  I always appreciate the fact that I am one year older as there are plenty of people who do not make it into their 40's.  Therefore, I do not feel that I should ever moan about my age.  A couple of weeks ago I realized that when anyone asked me my age, I naturally said 48.  It wasn't until Cam said, "So you'll be 48, Mom, right?" that I realized that I actually was only 47 and would just be turning 48.  I kept thinking I would be 49, so I it's almost like I gained a year.

We decided to stay in tonight and have my favorite - Doug's spaghetti.  Mom came up later with dessert - angel food cake, ice cream and a big cookie.  As much as I enjoyed all of the delicious food, my favorite part of tonight might have been opening my gifts.  Brett gave me the book "Hunchback of Notre Dame."  I loved Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, so he knew I would love this as well.  Cam and Meg gave me some fun jewelry from Morocco in Epcot and Doug scored big with purple luggage.  I had been hinting that I need it for quite some time.  Now I will be able to travel in style.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Great News!

Meg texted me today that she had good news.  I am happy to say that she was totally correct.  Meg informed us that she found out today that she was ranked 3rd in her class!!  We were very happy for her.  She has worked hard in high school, especially last trimester as she had a really challenging core group of classes.  She continued her streak of all A's finishing with a 12.0.  This trimester may be different.  I am sure she will earn all A's, but most of her classes are not AP or Honors classes, so getting a 12.0 will be a lot more difficult.  No matter what we are extremely proud of her and her effort.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

He's Home!!

Brett called several times yesterday to let us know that he would be arriving home earlier than planned.  I was excited that he would be here, but wasn't expecting him until Tuesday.  I hadn't cleared a spot in the basement for him yet.  I had planned on spending Sunday doing that with Doug's help.  It worked out fine, however, as Meg didn't have much homework with the trimester just starting.  She and I cleaned and organized for about 3 hours Saturday afternoon finishing in plenty of time for Brett's arrival.  He was thrilled to be home and out of the car.  We were very happy to see him.

Today we started on the unpacking.  Brett didn't have as much with him as I remembered, so we could get through what he needed and saved some for tomorrow.  Laundry was the first priority and I spent quite a bit of time getting that done.  No complaints from me, however.  I was glad to help.  I know that he has been swamped these past few weeks with the election.  As he doesn't know what the future holds for him in Maine, he said he was going to start the job search process on Monday.  We know that it may take awhile to find exactly what he wants.

Doug spent his Sunday raking leaves.  It was a late fall and until this week we really did not have very many down.  I was impressed with how many piles he was able to burn.  His plan for now was to finish up on Wednesday as the weather should still be nice.  We ended the day by taking Brett, Meg and Cam to Buffalo Wild Wings.  It was a wonderful way to end a very busy weekend.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Semi Formal & Bloomington

Today Cam and Doug left for Bloomington at 6 a.m.  They wanted to beat the traffic for the IU football game and make it in plenty of time to tailgate with Parce and Chokey.  They had no problems driving down and were even able to Pokemon hunt before they met up with everyone.  IU played Penn State and the game was a close one with IU leading a good portion of it.  Despite the loss Cam and Doug enjoyed the experience.  They were even able to meet up with Cal for a little while.  They weren't sure if they would be able to as he had friends from Purdue and the University of Indy coming down.  They stopped at Pizza Express on the way back, so we could all enjoy late night breadsticks.

Originally, Meg and I were going to go with them and see White Christmas at the IU auditorium.  Meg found out a couple of weeks ago, however, that semi-formal was tonight and she didn't want to miss it.  Paula invited the girls to her home for appetizers before the dance and to take pictures.  Meg wore a black dress and looked lovely.  I am not great with braiding, so Paula took over once we got there.  Meg had a wonderful time with her friends.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Night Out

Tonight I went out with the teachers from Milford to celebrate the November birthdays in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade team.  Paula and I talked everyone into trying Kelly Jae's in Goshen.  We both loved it.  I'm not sure if everyone else thought it was as wonderful as we did, but it was nice to go.  I have not been on a girls night out since the summer.

Doug and Cam went to an oboe lesson while I was gone.  Cam hasn't been able to go because of soccer and basketball.  It really helped with his music for the December program.  Meg invited Preston over.  His family just arrived when I got home.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Awards Night

Last night was fall sports award night at the high school.  I decided to stay at home as Meg wasn't getting an award and Cameron did not want to go.  Meg and Doug enjoyed the event although they both thought the video was way too long this year.  The soccer girls were surprised by some awards and not by others.  I know that Doug always puts a lot of thought into the selection process.  They arrived home by 8 p.m. with good news.  Meg didn't win an award, but Hannah-Marie was name the Warrior Way Award winner for volleyball.  That was great to hear.

Tonight Doug had county council.  It was also Bethany night at Hacienda.  Thus, Cam, Meg and I decided to go there for dinner.  We hadn't been in awhile and everyone liked the food.  It was definitely packed with Bethany Christian families.  As we had gone shopping at Target and Kohl's beforehand we almost didn't beat Doug home.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Complete Upset!

Brett and Doug went to bed before I did last night.  I woke Doug up at 10:30 p.m. to let him know that it looked like Trump would win Ohio and Florida.  Neither of us expected him to carry both states, but Brett did.  Cam had been following the election all night.  We sent him to bed around 10:00 as he had Agape Bell Ringers in the morning.  He told me that he couldn't sleep so he came down at 11:30 p.m. and saw that Ohio had been called for Trump.  He had a good feeling about the election after that.  

Cam was right and Brett's prediction was spot on.  Trump won fairly easily and by the time I woke I had multiple texts from Cal declaring his excitement.  He was the only one of the Heinisch family that made it through the night watching the returns until 4 a.m.  Trump was officially declared at 2:30 and won Wisconsin and Pennsylvania which hadn't even been listed as swing states earlier in the week.  

All of the Heinisch family members were happy.  I did not realize how much I did not want Hillary to win until I thought that she might actually lose.  I was absolutely thrilled when I woke up and realized that she would not be our next president.  It was almost a relief.  I do not believe that she was the best candidate for the job and I am glad that the electoral college agreed with me.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day

It is finally here - election day!  It is all that everyone has been talking about and all that Brett has been working toward.  Doug voted at 6 a.m. and had to wait in line.  I got there around 6:45 and didn't have too long to wait.  There were a lot of other teachers and administrators there as well.  Talked to Brett late in the evening.  He and Cal had both voted by absentee ballot.  Today Brett spent nine hours outside a polling station supporting a candidate.  He was cold, tired and hungry by the end of the day, but happy to be a part of the process.

My students and I spent the day looking at the electoral college and their predictions for this year.  Most polls have Hillary winning, but Brett predicted last night that Trump would win.  Once we got home from piano all Cam and I did was watch the news.  By the time he went to bed only a few states had been called.  Trump was in the lead, but there were some key states still out.  I was absolutely wiped out so I decided to call it a night at 10:30.  Originally, I thought that Hillary would have already been declared President, but that was not the case.  In fact as I listened to the news Ohio and Florida were both looking as though they would go Trump's way.  That would be a huge discrepancy from the poll predictions.  I thought about staying awake to see what would happen, but it will be a long day tomorrow if I do.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Teacher Work Day

I returned to school on a teacher work day, so I had some time to catch up in my classroom before the new trimester started.  The morning was taken up with a tour of the CTE department at the high school.  It was long and I was more than ready to get back to my own agenda, but I made it through.  Meg and Preston came over in the afternoon to help in my class.  We got a lot done and I'm pretty much ready for students tomorrow.

After school we drove to Walmart to buy groceries.  We were glad we talked Preston into coming along as we needed help carrying the water and Little Hugs.  We dropped him off when we were done shopping and headed to North Webster.  Meg had been wanting a haircut and this was the first opportunity we've had to get her one.  She had about 3 inches cut off.  It will be hard for her friends to tell, but it was quite a bit of hair.

Doug and Meg had soccer tonight at the middle school.  Only five players showed up, but Doug reminded me that although the numbers are down it was more touches on ball for those that did show up.  They had their first indoor game last night in Elkhart.  Meg was excited as she scored a goal with five seconds left in the game.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Wonderful Experience

Today Doug and I were up early.  We wanted to get our luggage dropped off at the airline check-in before heading to Hollywood Studios.  I am so glad that we did.  There was a long line as a lot of other teachers were checking their luggage as well.  Doug waited while I put our carry on bags in a different area.  It went a lot quicker than either one of us expected it to.

Our luck with busses continued as the one to Hollywood Studios arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule.  Therefore, we were able to make it to the park before it opened at 8 a.m.  We headed with the crowd to Toy Story Mania.  With all of the closings and additions coming to the park there isn't a lot of big ticket rides to go on and the crowd was heavy.  We made it on, however, with very little wait and were able to circle back and ride again before we left.  I was happy as it is one of my favorites and I found out that by riding with Doug I have a better chance at a high score (according to Meg.)

We ate lunch at the hotel while waiting for the Magical Express.  It was a beautiful day to sit by the lake and enjoy the sunshine.  The trip home was uneventful.  The plane was on time and the Magical Express was full so we did not have to stop at another resort before heading to the airport.  I spent the time catching up on several items for school and home.  I had quite a bit of time to reflect on my experience.  I learned so much while at the conference about teaching high ability students and parenting my own.  I hope to put both into practice.  I also learned that I can travel on my own with relatively no problems.  I was extremely proud of that as I do not believe that I could have done so several years ago.  Finally, it was wonderful to spend the time with Doug.  He was a great travel partner and made the trip even more special.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

NAGC Day 2

I knew after last night's social event that I would have no problem getting into the first session this morning as many teachers arrived back to the hotel pretty late tonight.  I was right and enjoyed listening to a speaker discussing Growth Mindset.  She had a lot of resources for us that I  gathered after the meeting.  The keynote speaker today was enthusiastic, but a little more generic.  I enjoyed listening to her, but appreciated the one from yesterday even more.  Today's speaker ended early and I was able to meet Doug for lunch by 11:15.  We headed straight to the pool as we knew that it would become packed soon.  We were glad that we did as we were the second one to order.

After lunch Doug caught the bus to EPCOT.  He wanted to tour the countries while I attended the afternoon sessions.  I had really been looking forward to my next session - high ability siblings.  The speaker was excellent and answered so many questions that I have had raising my own high ability children.  My favorite quote was "I'm not underachieving.  I'm just trying to prove that I'm not my sibling."  That summed up Cal's entire high school academic experience.  I felt validated as a parent by the time I left the session.  It has taken a lot of work to raise four high ability children while keeping their autonomy.

My next session was also interesting.  It was entitled "Pobody's Nerfect" and dealt with perfectionism in high ability students.  I appreciated the topic, but most of it I had read before.  I do now know, however, that I am a self-orientated perfectionist.  When I was finished with the afternoon sessions I caught a bus to EPCOT.  I was extremely lucky as the bus came within two minutes and we were at the park within ten minutes.

EPCOT was packed as we expected, but we were still able to tour the countries and sample many of the different treats.  My favorite was France as usual, but there were so many other good ones to try tonight.  Ireland had a delicious chocolate cake/pudding that I really enjoyed as well .  We also had time to do some shopping.  England and Germany had the best stores in the various countries, but China and Africa were fun to shop in as well.  We were going to ride Soarin', but the wait was over 90 minutes and neither of us were up for standing that long.

Instead we caught a ride on the monorail to the Polynesian.  They have several restaurants and we wanted to check them out.  It was absolutely packed.  We stayed for a little while and then headed to Magic Kingdom.  It was crowded, but fortunately we had Fast Passes to ride three of our favorites - Peter Pan, Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean.  Meg and Cam would have thought us lame, but we had fun.  We were also able to ride the Haunted Mansion without too long of a wait.  The park was beautiful tonight as they had already decorated for Christmas.  The Jungle Cruise had even changed to the "Jingle Cruise" complete with Christmas decorations, music and holiday jokes.

The park was open until 1 a.m. but we were too exhausted to stay that long.  Doug waited for me as I did some shopping and we were back at the hotel before 11:30 p.m.  Our luck with buses continued and we appreciated the short ride back.  Doug was still hungry so we stopped at the food market for a Chicken Caesar wrap.  It was a different experience without the Heinisch children, but we still had fun.

Friday, November 4, 2016

NAGC 2016 Conference Day 1

I was up early this morning to navigate the first session of the gifted children's conference.  I didn't know what to expect, but it was a lot more crowded than I imagined.  The first session I wanted to attend was on math and high ability.   It was absolutely packed, so I chose another one on resources for teachers.  There were some great ideas of what to do with a discovery room and also projects for students.  I arrived to the second session early and was able to get a seat without any problem.  It gave great ideas for conferring with students and helping with high ability social and emotional needs.  I came away with several good resources to use in the classroom.

My favorite part of the conference today occurred next.  We all met to listen to the keynote speaker and she did not disappoint.  Her husband was a member of the shuttle Challenger that was to carry the first civilian into space.  On take off the plane exploded and all members of the crew died including the teacher onboard.  The woman who spoke to us today started a Challenger education program for high ability students through NASA in honor of the crew.  As I remember that disaster well and we had just visited the training site and memorial in Houston last April, her story moved me to tears.

After lunch I attended sessions on identifying minority high ability students and supporting free and reduced students.  My favorite of the day was the last one which discussed math tools for high ability classrooms.  They had us solving math problems which was a lot of fun.  We only had about a half hour before our social event for the evening, so I hustled to the room to get ready.  I managed to get back in time to catch the bus with our group to EPCOT.  Disney threw a dessert party for the teachers which included a free night at the park, three food tickets for the Wine & Food Festival and a dessert/dance party.  I spent my time with Chris Noel, an 8th grade language teacher from WMS.  She had not been to EPCOT in quite awhile so I gave her a tour of the countries and then we rode Soarin'  It was a lot of fun.

We were at the dessert party early.  I was glad as it was packed as well.  Doug arrived in Orlando when we were at the park.  Once he got off the Magical Express he headed straight to EPCOT.  I was very happy to meet him in France at about 9:20.  Only once he got there did I realize that he ran all of the way there.  He had just missed the bus and didn't want to chance not making it.  I was impressed.  We had a great time touring the countries and watching Illuminations.  It was a wonderful way to end a very rewarding day.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

I Did It!

I don't believe that I could have done it two years ago, but today I boarded a plane by myself and flew to Orlando.  I was able to navigate the Magical Express and check into my room by myself.  It helped that we were just here two weeks ago and I knew the area well, but regardless I was pretty proud of myself.

To celebrate my achievement I hurried over to Animal Kingdom and spent the afternoon enjoying the animals in Africa.  I was able to ride the safari and also walk through Gorilla Falls.  We had never done that before and I really wanted to try it.  It was beautiful and there were a lot of animals to see.  My favorite was the Bongo as usually those are so deep in the forest that we can barely find it on the ride.  I also ate lunch and caught the Flights of Wonder bird show.  It may have been corny, but I enjoyed it.  My last stop of the day was It's Tough to Be a Bug - one of Meg's favorites.

I did not make it back to the conference in time for the keynote speaker as the bus ran late.  I heard later that the imagineer lacked public speaking skills.  I did check into the NAGC (National Association of Gifted Children) Conference.  I caught a bus with Dr. Edington and Jordan to Disney Springs to go shopping before our group dinner.  Once I arrived I caught up with other members of our entorage.  I didn't buy anything but enjoyed the atmosphere.

We ate dinner at Splitsville - a bowling alley/restaurant.  The food was very good and I enjoyed listening to the conversation of our group.  I headed back to the hotel after dinner as I was wiped out. I had been up since 4 a.m.  Before I went to bed I heard from everyone at home several times.  They were all doing well.  I loved how Cam started playing trivia crack with me as soon as I left.  I really did miss all of them.  It is rare that I am gone and they are all at home.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Fast Two Weeks

It was a whirlwind of a day at school getting sub plans ready and grades entered.  Since I will not be there on Thursday and Friday I told the students that I would end the trimester today.  Most took me up on the offer to turn in missing work and finish all past due assignments.  We even got the peer reviews of the students’ memoirs done.  Most of math class was focused on the election.  It was a perfect day for it as we had a lawyer come in to talk to the students about voting and politics.

Once I got home I finished the packing, put away the laundry and unloaded the dishwasher.  Meg filled me in on her day while I was getting ready.  She has had an exceptional trimester.  Her lowest grade right now is a 94.5%.  She still has finals to take in several classes, but should do well.  

Cam was excited when he got home.  He had basketball practice after school and that went well.  His big news, however, was his J-term permission slip.  He was excited to fill it out and rank his choices.  All of the classes looked interesting to me.  I had to sign off on it once he completed it.  I told Doug later that Cam and I definitely have different interests as his first pick was science related.  That would have been my last!!

Doug and I drove through a horrible downpour to get to our hotel near Midway.  It lasted for the majority of the trip and Doug was very happy to arrive at our destination.  We ate dinner at Giordano’s.  It was where we took Meg and Cam before we flew out in October.  It sure has been a fast two weeks.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Go Cubs Go!

It sure does not feel like November.  The weather today felt more like June - 74 and sunny.  I even wore capris to school.  Mom brought Meg to me after school so that she could visit with Mr. Larson.  She had a great time catching him up on her life and I know he enjoys keeping in touch with her.  I used the time to work in my classroom and then walked down to talk to them for a few minutes before we had to leave for piano.

Cam had chess after school, so once I dropped Meg off at Mrs. Meek’s I headed to Bethany to pick him up.  Piano went well and we set up a date for next week.  They want to bring Christmas music next week so they are ready for the holiday season.

We stopped at the store on the way home and then spent the rest of the night packing, folding laundry, putting away the Halloween and doing homework.  Doug had to take the investment banker to dinner so he did not get home until 8.  He made it in time to watch the Cubs play game six of the World Series.  They were down 3-1 and won the last game in Chicago to move the series back to Cleveland.  It has been an exciting World Series so far.  The cubs started off scoring early tonight and by the time we went to bed were up 7-1 with a grand slam.