Sunday, October 23, 2011

58th Birthday!

Living in Blacksburg, VA almost mandates that you need to attend a VT football game at some point. Being that my dad is the biggest sports enthusiast I know, it was only a matter of time before he needed to partake in the "Hokie Nation," as they call it. And what better time to go but for his birthday!

And he truly soaked it all in. From the walk from VCOM, to viewing the airstrip with planes coming in, to watching the many RVs full of tailgaters play cornhole, to observing the flow of maroon and orange pour into Lane Stadium, to watching the whole stadium shake and dance the "Hokie Pokie," he enjoyed it all. And through watching his amazement, I enjoyed it too.

I was even brought back to my childhood when he returned from the vendor with some Cracker Jacks!!! That used to be a treat we'd have together. And as I got to the end of the bag (no, it wasn't in a box) I remembered that I used to eat all of the peanuts first, to savor the caramelized popcorn. The things you forget :)

But the best was that he said he had never been to anything like this before. The spirit and kindness of the fans and the gorgeous day made for a wonderful experience! Not only that, but it was a great game. The Hokies were down at the half and game back to win it all 30-14!

We had a blast.

And it didn't stop there. Jim had spent the morning preparing a gumbo, which he let simmer while we were at the game. He also made homemade bread! What a feast to have after a chilly day outside watching football. We spent the evening around a fire in the fireplace, as any good fall day should end.

Today is his actual birthday and therefore he got a few more presents. His favorite present was his ENO hammock!

And, much too soon, they packed up and were on their way back to Paris. What a lovely weekend!

Come back soon! We loved hosting you. Miss you both.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Catching Camaraderie

Frisbee, as I have heard and witnessed, is certainly a sport that exemplifies camaraderie and teamwork. Phoebe, my sister, joined the frisbee team at her university last year and that was all she wrote; she's in love with the sport and crazy about her friends. And it shows through her conversations and busy schedule.

This weekend we all traveled to see her and her team play their first tournament of the year. Not only was it a beautiful weekend, but it was wonderful to see her in her element. Playing a sport she loves, with people she loves, while being loved by everyone around her- she practically glowed!

And, as normally happens when you're around Phoebe, we all caught the enthusiasm!

Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

I didn't catch any of our wonderful host, David, but we had a great time catching up with a great friend. We also got to go to Capital Ale House two times in one weekend- who can complain about that? Not me! The first time we went with our friends and the second time we introduced our parents to the Richmond treasure.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fostering Reading

Yesterday, during lunch, my colleagues and I had a great conversation about reading. Specifically, reading and how it needs to be fostered within the home. If the children don't see their parents reading, then what's the point? Why do they need to read for homework while their parents sit and watch TV? It's not a skill they see used, so why is it really that important?

And, if they weren't read to throughout their childhood, then their road to literacy has had many cracks, potholes, and obstructions from the beginning. We've got to interfere before they come to the dead end.

My mom just happened to have posted these pictures this morning, reminding me of just how much reading was fostered in our household. Admittedly, I was not the biggest fan of reading. Give me an afternoon of freedom and you'd find me down in the creek or up in a tree. My siblings are incredible readers, quick readers, and analytical readers.

I was surrounded by literature, encouraged to read books that interest me, taken to the library, and read to at night. Not only that, but you would/will never find a night when my parents weren't/aren't reading. Newspapers, magazines, books, plays, and more books fill my parents' house.

I am growing into that more and more each year and being an English teacher has definitely molded me into a lover of rich texts. I never would have chosen this job for myself, that's for sure! But it wasn't because the foundation wasn't in place in my house. And I still received all of the skills I needed to make it through college and now to begin enjoying... yes, enjoying reading for pleasure and with students!!!

It's sometimes dismal for me to teach English due to the fact that we've already lost so much ground. The foundations, for these children, are still in shambles after 11 years. Construction needs to be fast, but often seems too slow and delayed. Or worse yet, they regress, for one reason or another. Many leap forward, but it's the ones we lose...

Time lost. Wasted moments. Books closed. TV on. Worlds, plots, characters left unexplored.

Tomorrow we'll finish the novel we've been reading for the last few weeks. It's a mystery and the students, both avid and lazy readers, are exploding with ideas for the suspects and how the plot is unfolding! It's truly a joy to be a part of this experience with them. Some who started out paying little attention to the novel are now the most active in the investigation and pulling pieces of the text together in their Reader's Journal or in classroom discussions. I always get a bit sad when we finish a novel, for it brings such unity to the classroom. But it's a reminder of how far we've come and drives my need/love for fostering a love for reading.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Woodsman

This week we received a HUGE and unexpected gift. A gift that Jim appreciated much more than I ever could. A gift that served as a leisure and study break, as well as a source of warmth in days to come, and an opportunity to buy new toys tools.

Yes, this week our landlord decided to take down a massive oak tree right next to our house. And, when asked, allowed us to take the fallen wood for ourselves, as long as we split it ourselves.

I came home to my husband grinning from ear to ear. He brought me outside like it was Christmas morning and showed me his new ax and his new splitter. Mind you, this medical student was in the middle of two weeks of finals, but this did not stop his drive to chop all of the wood. (It helped that another neighbor was vying for the same load of wood, too ;)

You wouldn't believe how many pictures I tried to snap of this man cutting wood. He never stopped moving, they're all blurry, and none of them catch the childish grin pasted on his face.

One day he came inside and said, "I don't know if I'll be able to move my hands in the OMM (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine) practical tomorrow." He yearns for hard labor and exercise and opportunities to use his tools to complete a necessary task. Never seeking to something impractical or to spend extraneous money, he is known to go to some extremes. Nothing would stop him from enjoying the cutting of this wood and splitting of kindling. And, let it be known, his practical went without a flaw.

Another extreme has to do with his search for wooden pallets. This summer we went to the school board office so that I could sign my contract and Jim waited in the car while I went inside. When I got back in the car there was a pallet of wood from a parking lot across the street. He used this to make us a beautiful three-drawer dresser for the bathroom. I say beautiful, yes. That's definitely how I would describe this pallet wood furniture because he sanded it and chose pieces with a beautiful orange and blue tint. A new and prized furniture item in our house.

But most of the time he gets his pallets from the dumpster in a parking lot of a company on his bike ride home from school. It's free and it assists him in his passion for woodworking on a low budget!

This man is also finishing a dog house for our dogs. The house is made out of MANY things and all of them haven't cost us a cent. Well, all except the $6.00 straw bale I picked up from Southern States. It's made of straw, sawdust (from my school's wood shop), wooden pallets, cardboard (many, many of our old cereal boxes, shoe boxes, and whatnot), wine bottles, dirt, and mud.

To go with the theme of this week we attended the Highlander Festival in Radford, VA yesterday morning. It was a true treat to walk around the Scottish, Irish, and Celtic craft booths, hear the bagpipes, and watch the athletes in kilts compete in throwing a 17 pound rock the largest distance. Back to Jim's Scottish roots and back to his love for hard, rough tasks.

All while completing two weeks of finals. He knows how to balance. Never ceases to amaze me.