Saturday, March 21, 2015


This was, by far, my hardest good-bye.  I loved this school, loved my students, loved the people I worked with and for.  Truly.  It wasn't all sugar and spice and whipped cream and cherries on top -- and those who know me well understand how *difficult* these last years have been here -- but when all is said and done, my children were educated well here and it gave me life.  I spent more time here than I did in my own home (awake) and that is one of the reasons it was time to leave the classroom.  I took a quiz the other night and one of the sections summed me up perfectly -- I invest too much effort in things with a low return rate.  I BELIEVE EACH OF MY STUDENTS HAVE A VERY HIGH RETURN RATE, however, when judged against the impossibly unfair standards that the 2010's have ushered in, this trait in me is what made my family crazy.  So. . .among the many, many who have asked if I will go back to the classroom. . ."I don't know".  I just don't.  I know my family hopes I don't, but not because I'm not good at what I do or love it, but because it consumes me.  We shall see. . .I will miss it, but NOT the grading - ha!

Speaking of grading, this was the last of it, as I spread out and finalized all my student's grades before turning in my computer and keys on Friday.  And really, it's not all the grading. . .it's the make-up work, re-do work, and lack of time during the "school day" to complete any of it in one sitting.  Sigh.

(And yes, many things get tossed. . .but that took me *years* to understand. . .in this case it was the pile surrounding the popcorn.)

Our last day of school (3/13/15)
This is how it all began. . .in January 2012. . .

As is always the case, you never know what "life" is going to bring you :)

These kids are such champs. . .Thomas moved from Centerville to Cookeville between first and second grade.  In January 2011 we pulled them all out of their elementary school to homeschool through a local umbrella school.  A year later the above picture was taken as they began yet another elementary/middle school school adventure.  On Monday the younger three will start over AGAIN.
Thomas left his middle school (the one he was attending when pictured above) after 1.5 years to begin high school.  This January, 1.5 years after beginning HS here in Cookeville, he moved with Tom to our new town and began another new school there.  I attended many schools growing up and only had trouble saying goodbye to one of them. . .these four ebb and flow so well and Tom & I couldn't be more proud of them!!!

 Some teachers got together and had all the 5th graders sign this. . .we were in 3 teams this year -- I only had 50ish of the 180 students at our grade level at AMS.

I think this one was blurred just enough to give this sweet student some privacy.  We took lots of pics together. . .the thing is, with the internet, it will be easy to keep in touch with those that want to.  Fifth grade was a wonderful grade to teach -- I would have wanted to stay there for another few years just to get better at it :)  I'm a middle school teacher through-and-through (our MS starts at 5th grade) and am glad I had the opportunity to move down a couple of grades and teach my favorite subject, MATH.

The school really overwhelmed me on Friday with all the good-byes and well-wishes -- not only for me, but for my children too.  Numerous teachers telling me that my children will be missed. . .in the classroom and on the soccer field.  Students wrote me cards and sent me off with gifts -- so unexpected and sweet.  I told Tom that I sincerely did not know that we "mattered" that much.  Onward and forward!!!  My replacement was hired at 10 a.m. that day. . .she has been with the school for several years and just finished her student teaching in October so it should be a smooth transition for all involved.

I think I will miss this person the most. . .Ms. Loggins.  She was my teaching partner this year. . .a new teacher that has done amazing things with our little group of kids.  She very much wanted us to have Super Hero costumes for our spirit week (I don't normally dress up) and I'm so glad she insisted!!!  I feel like we worked amazingly well together (both new to the 5th grade!) and am sorry we're not seeing the year-end together.  I'm so glad that our students will have her to come back to after Spring Break!

There were other good-byes this week too. . .

Last Saturday night Frederick had some of his "best Cookeville friends" together to play laser tag and go down to Ralph's Donuts for some giant butter twists.  I left my "good" camera in the car and forgot to take any other pictures!!
Margaret also had a going-away party and I did take those pictures on my camera (rather than my phone) but we've already moved that stuff so I don't have the crowd and cake to post here.  I'll try to come back and do it when I have a chance.

Marie and Thomas didn't want any fuss. . .I know that some of Marie's best friends had a pizza lunch for her on the last day of school and one of the teachers let them eat in her room together.  It makes my heart so warm that our children were loved by others for who they are.
Here is a picture of some of Marie's "best buds" (taken from FB, of course. . .Marie doesn't smile like this for me -- ha!)

Another goodbye we had in the last couple of weeks is Duke.
He was a part of my dad's life for 12 years.  My dad came down in January to stay with us while the boys left for their new job and new school. . .although Duke has visited many times and we have taken care of him on occasion, we grew very close to him these last months.  Margaret especially. . .she has a real heart for animals and when my dad left to go on a golf outing and, then again to head home one weekend for a few things, she was the one who cared for Dukie.  

 He will be missed.  My dad was able to take him back home with him this week when we had to say goodbye to him too. . .he has a home to get back to -- it was wonderful of him to spend the last three months helping me run kids around, run various errands, make dinner (!!!) and, on his last day, PAINT!  We had some fun too. . .it was hard being separated from my husband and son, but nice to have this time with my dad.
I just noticed he doesn't look very happy in this picture. . .I think we were all just tired from a busy Spring Break and then pushing the living room painting job in also.

We had some super weather earlier in the week and I got to play a final (for now) game of tennis with one of many wonderful women in this community, Jeanette.  I wish all of us that used to regularly play could have gotten together -- life has really become hectic and schedules busier as kids grow up. . .I am thankful to the tennis community here and what they added to my life these last years.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to our church. . .our anchor these past couple of years.  The kids have grown tremendously there and we are thankful for Vine Branch Community Church and its leaders and members.  At least we know this goodbye is temporary for we will ALL be together in the Kingdom again one day.  And, with the twists and turns life makes. . .some of these "goodbyes" may just be "until we meet again".

And this is where we are temporarily landing:
Much love,

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Day in the Life - January Saturday

A couple of weeks ago I was reading some Day in the Life posts. . .I really like them.  Of course, when I went back to link some I realized that it wasn't "a couple of weeks ago" but a few MONTHS ago. . .!!!  So. . .since life does speed by like this, I wanted to make a little diary of a "normal" Saturday in January around here. . .
 A good Saturday always starts with me up, alone, with all my blogs, catching up on what happened with those in my right sidebar during the week.  "Everyday life" has always been interesting to me and I enjoy doing this way more than watching TV or movies.  People interest me.

The dog doesn't usually even get up with me. . .she just lays over there, waiting for someone more interesting (or maybe more interested in her) to get up.  I usually have a chai tea or hot chocolate with me. . .even though water should be the first thing I ingest each morning -- I KNOW!

I really, really like my fitbit.  Mom gave both Tom and me one for Christmas and it is great for tracking sleep, calories (you manually enter), steps, and water intake (again, you have to enter).  I never drink enough water (!!!) and like to track my calories, watching my "allowance" go up during the day, depending on my activity level.

Below is an image from earlier in the week of my sleep pattern that night. . . I like knowing if I slept soundly or not and since it keeps records over a period of time I can really tell if I'm not getting enough sleep or whatever.
 Tom's a fairly-early riser too and tries to catch up on bills and soccer on Saturday mornings.  Since we took the desk out of the living room he either sits at the dining room table or here on the sofa with me in the living room :)

Apparently I recognized the beautiful sunrise that morning and snapped a picture of it :)

My dad is staying with us right now and this is his "morning chair".  He and his dog, Duke, check messages, drink coffee, and usually do some puzzles he's printed up at the library together.  It's a quiet, comfortable routine.
Frederick was NOT thrilled at 7:31 when I snapped this pic -- the kids don't much appreciate my "daily life" pictures. . .maybe they'll never see the value in them but every time I go back and read through a blog post or look at a scrapbook I'm so thankful for an abundance of visual memories of our good life.
It looks like he'd made himself some toast and scrambled eggs -- he's a good little cook! He and Tom were on their way out the door for his Saturday morning soccer (indoor) practice.

Marie at 8:11. . .Chelsea was waking the older ones  up. . .
 She headed in to get Thomas at 8:16. . .
 And then she was really excited about something outside and ran from window-to-window to check it out. . .I really don't remember what it was. . .probably a stray in our yard or something.
 I was *amazed* at how TALL Thomas has become (all of a sudden?!?). . .really can't believe it. . .
 . . .and also amazed at the pile of laundry that is *ALWAYS* there.
(Actually, that picture is pretty good for a weekend morning. . .trying to do more during the week.)
 Margaret was still sound asleep at 8:54 but that didn't really matter since she didn't want to go to the soccer games that morning that the others wanted to see (our club's U16 girls were playing in town).
Thomas wanted a haircut but, of course, would not allow a before OR after pic. . .

 . . .and while he was there Marie and I ran to Kroger for a "few" things. . .
 Then I dropped them off to watch the soccer game and picked up my dad (he had gone to the Y to work out) and we headed to Sam's Club for MORE grocery shopping. . .
I love these two and the relationship they have together!!!

 Guess I needed gas while at Sam's too. . .glad Dad was there to fill it up for me!!!
 Our Sam's basket with our "regular" staples. . .off to run through the Chick-fil-A drive-through to take food to everyone at the game (Frederick and Tom had joined them there by then)
 And a treat for this one since I had called ahead and asked her to prep potatoes for dinner that night. . .she's a good girl.  Our main course is in the middle. . .stay tuned. . . .

Margaret and I took the dog down to the creek in our neighborhood to run around a bit. . .

 She's a good girl -- so glad she adopted us :)

 Back to town for soccer training. . .

Tom even jumped in to play goalie :)

After training we went home and saw a boy out in the driveway practicing before his game. . .
 We love Upwards Ball. . .we took the last two seasons off but were so happy to re-join the league this year.  Frederick was the only Bell kid who decided to play.

I was given the job of keeping stats for this game. . .
Frederick's enthusiastic fans - I was trying to get a Picture of the Day

So far so good in the fitbit department. . .

And a little live action. . .
We headed home for a dinner that had been warming in the oven for a few hours. . .

 We don't *always* eat this well on a Saturday night (especially a Saturday night when we've been running most of the day) but this was a fundraiser Boston Butt.  It was *so* good!!!  Marie's coach smokes them for us/the team.  And Margaret's wrapped potatoes turned out great too :)

Margaret also surprised us with cupcakes!!
 Cards for some, relaxing for Tom, and Margaret working on an ELA assignment.  Yes, on a Saturday night.  When we say "no screens" she can usually find a reason she *has* to look at one -- ha!  She has a great teacher this year who has put a lot of their classwork online, which I personally love.
I was working on filling out applications for some private schools in our new city. . .

Time for bed!!!

Dishwasher running. . .laundry getting caught up. . .
Time to call it a day!  I was over on calories but hit my 10,000 steps.  I love my fitbit!!!

And I do realize this is March.  It has taken me weeks to write this. . .pathetic, I know.  But I want to remember these details in a life that passes/goes by much too quickly.

~ Jenni