Category Archives: ♦♦School Experiences♦♦

Another Anniversary

Amazingly, a year ago today we moved into our new (temporary) house here in Florida.  Moving to a new place always distracts me. I have to unpack, learn a new city, make new friends, get into a new routine, etc. This move has been different in that we weren’t able to unpack everything because we are building a new house – our final dream house. We are in a house, but it just isn’t quite big enough for all of the wonderful things we’ve collected over the years. So, we built a garage on our new property which is packed full of many things I miss on occasion but I know I will see again one day.

I continued blogging when we moved here last year, but somehow things distracted me more and more, and I stopped.  And soon I will have a huge distraction – I will start a full-time job in 2 weeks.  I haven’t worked full time in a very long time.  Since we moved so often with the military, we decided that I would stay home with the kids – which began 18 years ago when our oldest son was born.  I had part-time work here and there, mainly when the kids were in school. 

I can’t believe it has actually been a whole year.  And so much has happened, and I did not blog about it.  To pick up from last fall’s blog, the kids of course continued to their next sports:  soccer, basketball, and soccer and my oldest earned MVP for the season.  My sister and her family came and spent Thanksgiving week with us – that was a wild week with 9 people in our house.  I decided to try out a little volunteer work and became the secretary of the Fort White Middle and High School PTO.  I also decided to start a bunco group with my mil and sil and are slowly getting a group of us together once a month.  It is a lot of fun to take a break from life and goof off a bit.

The new year started at the county science fair where my youngest won overall best of fair for middle school; he then went to regionals a month later and won the same thing.  Spring sports were baseball, track and field, and track and field.  All 3 lettered in the varsity sports they played, even my youngest as a 7th grader in track and field – he was so excited.  In March, I became the mother of 3 teenagers when my youngest turned 13.  He is nearly 6′ 2″ tall and may act like he’s 13 but looks nothing like it.  During this whole time period, I searched for jobs and interviewed for 3.  The day before my 40th birthday in April, I applied for one last job before my sisters and mother surprised me with a visit from their homes in Arizona and Louisiana.  They all flew in and arrived at my oldest’s baseball game with balloons and presents in hand.  The biggest surprise was that they had arranged for the 4 of us to go on a weekend cruise.  It was awesome! 

A month and a half later, I received a phone call for an interview at a local college for the position I had applied for the day before my birthday.  I spent an entire day interviewing with 6 different people.  I was told it would probably be 2 weeks before they’d make a decision – less than a week later, they called and asked if I’d like to join the team.    The best part of it all, is that my boss-to-be is on vacation, so I don’t start for another 2 weeks.  So I’ve had the chance to wrap things up around the house that I’ve been putting off, and I also get to spend time with my mother, who flew back in a month ago to spend part of the summer with us.

Many other things have happened over the past 8 months or so (we discovered my youngest has a freckle on one of his eyes, my daughter got her learner’s permit and is now taking driver’s ed, my oldest graduated from high school and got a partial scholarship to college, my kids earned straight A’s all year – except one B one semester from my youngest, our Corgi was hit by a car and died a week before his first birthday, we adopted a sweet abandoned American Bulldog puppy who fought parvovirus, and we are adopting another Corgi in a couple of weeks who is the half sister of our first one.)

And life goes on …

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One Year Anniversary

Wow.  I started this blog 365 days ago.   It’s interesting to look back and see what we did over the past year.  I didn’t write much in the past couple of months as we have been settling in here in our new home in Florida.  We’ve been here 2 months now.  And we are learning how to live in the country.  We got our first real pets – we’ve had fish over the years – but now we have a puppy and two mares.  The dog has become a member of the family; he’s just too cute.  And we are gradually learning how to take care of horses.  We are hoping to ride them soon, but it’s been a while, so I’m taking it slowly. 

The kids started school last week and are trying to find their places in yet another new school.  Our oldest joined the football team over the summer before school started so got a jump-start on making new friends.  Since this is his senior year, I’m glad he was able to do that.  Our daughter joined the volleyball team when school started and is learning the in’s and out’s of another new sport.  Our youngest  joined the middle school football team and may be our quarterback.  I am really looking forward to seeing them play ball this fall.  I love to watch my kids play.

My husband got a job at the middle school as an 8th grade math teacher.  He is finding it to be more challenging than he first thought.  It is much different than the 28 years he did in the military.  I am also trying to find my place here as well.  I thought that I would already be looking for a job, but it has worked out that it’s been good that I am still at home.  I actually have not quite gotten the house unpacked as we are waiting for our house-builders to repair/finish a few things that weren’t complete when we moved in.  Things like no shelves in our kitchen pantry, rips in the wall paper, legs missing on the stove, holes in the linoleum, and scratches on the counter tops have held me up from unpacking some boxes.  I just got a call that they are finally coming tomorrow to take care of these things – 2 months after we moved in.

Happy Anniversary to me.  Happy “New” Year to all.

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Americans in Paris: 2006

After leaving Guam in June of 2005, we began a new journey towards the other side of the world.  But first, a pit stop in Monterey, California to learn the language of love, le français.  My husband and I went to school just like our kids from 8 am – 3 pm Monday through Friday for 6 months.  The  differences were my husband and I lived, breathed, and dreamed in French 24/7 for those 6 months, AND I still had all of my mommy/housewife duties too.  Everyone tried to chip in and help, but overall, I was stressed out with wanting to be the perfect French student, mom, and wife. 

Miraculoulsy, we all made it through those 6 months and packed up all our household goods to be shipped overseas to Paris, France.

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A New School Year in Japan

Continued from my earlier post Our First Overseas Adventure:  Japan 2000 (part 6). 

“10/2/00  Konnichiwa to you all!  I wanted to send a quick message to each of you and thought this would be the easiest way (for me).  If you haven’t heard from us in a while, we have been unusually busy lately.  G8r left the first of September with his new ship, the USS Essex.  I’m sure he would love to hear from you.  He comes home Oct. 15 for a few days for a change of command for the ship’s captain.  Then they are back out until Thanksgiving.  The kids started school just before he left, and I went back to school with them.  The elementary school here in our military housing had hired a new kindergarten teacher, but she was not to arrive for 2-3 weeks after school started.  Lulu was in one of the 4 kindergarten classes (taught by 2 teachers – they have half-day kindergarten here) last year in which I volunteered a couple of days a week.  I also applied to be a substitute last March (you would not believe the paperwork I filled out to do that!).  Well, the other kindergarten teacher asked if I would like to fill in until the new teacher arrived.  And actually, I was a little more than just a substitute; I created bulletin boards and lesson plans, had parent-teacher meetings, etc.  It also lasted a little longer than a couple of weeks.  Today (6 weeks later) was my last day as ‘teacher,’ ‘hey you,’ and ‘Mrs. Wose!’ I have had so much fun doing this, I am rethinking my plans after Mr DL is out of the house in 15 years from now.  The experience I gained as a preschool director at our church in Florida really helped me a lot too.  But I have also learned that I try to stretch myself too thinly.  With G8r being gone, having a full-time job, and taking care of the kids and house has been exhausting.  I am looking forward to the next few days to get the house back in shape.  The new teacher will be having training classes and moving into her new house, so I have already been asked to fill in for her some more later in the month, and I will be glad to see the kids again and see how they are doing.  And that is not all…Jay is still playing with the Japanese Little League baseball team.  He has a big tournament the last weekend of the month near Nagasaki.  He is also playing flag-football on base, which I love watching.  Lulu is on the cheerleading squad, and they cheer for each of the football teams, a different one each weekend.  She is also still going to her dance classes once a week.  Mr DL’s gymnastic classes were temporarily stopped as they are looking for a new teacher to replace our last one who recently moved.  Poor little guy can’t get a break!  He’ll get to play t-ball in the spring and cannot wait for that.  I hope all is well with each of you.  SR”

Wow, to think that was almost 9 years ago!  And now we are looking towards Jay’s senior year next year.  This school in Japan was his second school; next year he will be attending his eighth.

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Flat Stanley’s Trip from Japan to Florida and Back

Continued from my earlier post Our First Overseas Adventure:  Japan 2000 (part 2).  After taking a couple of months to settle in, we got into a routine and the kids started making new friends at school, and I also did with neighbors and the spouse support groups.  My husband’s ship continued its comings and goings, and we got used to working around that.

“3/22/00  Hi, G8r!  Did you hear about the project Jay’s* class is doing?  He sent me a colored picture of a little boy cut out of construction paper.  The figure is about 12″ high.  Seems that a bulletin board fell on him; that is why he is flat.  Anyway he came to visit and I was supposed to write a letter back  telling the class where he went and what he saw.  Plus send pictures.  I had a good time with this one.  I guess the publisher in me came out. I ended up sending a 17-page booklet.  I took Stanley to the post office and taped him to the door and took a picture.  Then we visited the hardware store and feed store.  I put in a picture of the school where Jay’s daddy went to school and a picture of the old school where Jay’s granddad and great-grandmother went to school.  On the tour of the farm, Stanley played on the hay in the barn, on hay rolls and looked down a gopher hole.  He visted Mammo (great-grandmother) and saw her birds.  He visited cousins, sat in a chair on the front porch of his uncle’s new house and helped me feed the horse (he got knocked over when the horse jumped when the flash went off!) and the dogs.  We ended with a 4-wheeler (bicycle) ride.  It was fun.  Love you, Mama”

“4/4/00  Grandma, Flat Stanley got to my school last week.  The book was neat.  I hope you had a lot of fun with Stanley at your house.  I wish you could come after spring break because I miss you very much.  The End.  Love, Jay Goofy-head”

The place that Mama/Grandma (my mil) is speaking of in her letter to my husband (while he was on one of his cruises) is where we are moving to this summer.  My husband’s family owns a large farm where they have a herd of cows and bale hay on a lot of the land.  Mamoo is the matriarch of the family and farm and has given parcels to the children and grandchildren to build homes on, if they so choose.  We are hoping to start building our dream home on a parcel when we get there this summer.  Jay will graduate from the same high school (rebuilt in 2000) that his grandfather and great-grandmother graduated from.  My husband was not able to go to that high school as it was shut down at the time, and he had to go to another school in the county.

  • Jay=our oldest son (Jay=Juggling8r, as he likes to be called sometimes.  He loves to juggle and of course he’s a Gator fan – what else in our house?!)

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The Wheels on the Bus

Last Friday I got to ride in a big yellow school bus.  It’s been a couple of years.  I’ve gone on numerous field trips with my kids when they were in elementary school.  This time,  it was with my son’s sixth grade civics class.

Initially I thought, Oh, how easy!  They’re not 5-year-olds.  I don’t need to hold anyone’s hand or tell them to stop running around or remind them to keep their hands to themselves.  And I didn’t have to do any of those things.  But I did have get to listen to them talk.  Eleven-year-old conversations are quite interesting.  They want desperately to appear grown-up and yet at the same time can’t quite stop acting juvenile.  We went to an art museum to relate certain works with the topics they are studying about in government.  We looked at photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr. and busts of several former presidents and paintings by American Indians.  Sculptures ended up being one of the topics of (whispered) conversations – specifically the nude ones. 

All the students were divided into groups of about 15, and each group was assigned a parent or teacher and then a museum docent as well.  Our docent was a woman of around 70 who did an excellent job of making the tour interesting with her descriptions and explanations;  she kept the children involved with questions and also answered their many queries.  When the question came up as to why there were nude statues, she handled it quite well.  She asked if any of them had ever tried to draw a person and asked if it was difficult.  Yes, some replied.  She explained that the human body is hard to create in art and that ancient artists took the challenge seriously.  It seemed to hush the whisperings, for then.

On the ride back to school, I listened as a boy told his teacher and me about the truck he wishes to have when he is old enough to drive, the body and the engine and how he already knows how to change oil and tires.  He kept us entertained for quite a while, telling us about vehicles we saw on the road as well.  Occasionally, I glanced to the seat behind him, where two boys were whispering and giggling about something.  They would glance back at me and stop until I looked away, and then the whispering and giggling would start up again – probably discussing those statues again.

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Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

Noticing that today is Columbus Day – only because my federally employed husband has the day off while my children got on school buses this morning – I decided to do a little more research on the holiday…or day of observance…or day of protest(?).  First I checked out wikipedia.  I think it’s a great place to start when I want to learn more on a subject because it’s usually simple and to the point.  I remember coloring pictures of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria at this time of year when I was in elementary school.  Reading wikipedia this morning gave me another perspective on the discovery of the Americas.

Apparently not everyone is happy about celebrating Christopher Columbus.  In the US, it’s celebrated as Columbus Day.  Many other countries celebrate (or protest) this day as well but with other names.  It’s Day of Indigenous Resistance (Venezuela), Day of the Race (most of Latin America), and Hispanic Day (Spain).  In Nevada, it’s a day of observance and all government offices remain open (except federal, of course).  In New York, everything closes except the stock markets (I wonder what would happen if they did).  In Colorado, the Columbus Day parades are protested in Denver by Native American groups.  In Hawaii, it’s Discoverer’s Day, and they celebrate more the work of James Cook in the Hawaiian islands than Columbus’s meanderings in the Atlantic.  There are parades and protests all around the world. 

Here in Virginia, it is a legal holiday.  And that makes sense, seeing that a lot of American history happened on the soil here.  So, why are my kids in school then?  I don’t mind; it just seems strange.  Especially since the schools in the city next door are closed.  We live in a pent-city area (is that correct? bi-city, tri-city,…).  In our city, all courts, city offices, libraries and post offices are closed and there’s no trash collection, but school’s in.  Everything’s the same for 3 of the other 4, except 2 of them aren’t opening their school doors today.  And for the fifth city, everything’s open (except federal places).

So even though we are the UNITED States, we still aren’t quite united on this one.  I think, though, that we have a pretty good system of checks and balances here.  They don’t always balance perfectly, but, then, no system is perfect.  When we lived in France, we got to see some of the ways their system works.  We weren’t citizens, but we got to observe for the year and a half we lived there.  And since we’ve also lived in several different states, we’ve seen how the different systems work just within our own country.  Since each state makes some of their own laws and rules, going from one state to the next, we can’t remember if we can drive legally while talking on our cell phones (which is distracting anyway) or who is required by law to wear a bike helmet (I make our whole family wear them no matter what age) or what birth month dictates when a child can start kindergarten. 

Schools have been a big issue for us.  In France, we spoke with a few of the military families that we met there.  We found out, whenever the military transferred their families to another part of the country, their children would know exactly what to expect at school the next day they attended.  The whole country teaches the same curriculum.  If a child is in the 7th grade and is studing world history in Paris then they would be studying world history in Cannes.  Their math classes align; sciences, history, languages… everything is taught at the same level.  And the level is not easy; my children found their studies in France harder than their honors classes here in Virginia, and we are in a very good school system.  It has been frustrating at times for our children to go into yet another school and take the same science class over again.  Or to have to catch up the best they can on that state’s history.  And on top of that, to make new friends and compete with all of the kids who have lived there all of their lives. 

But after next summer, we’ll be back in Florida – permanently – and we won’t have to worry about those things as much.  They’ll finally learn that their state bird is the mocking bird, and the state flower is the orange blossom, and they were born in Pensacola (not Pepsi-Cola). 

In fourteen hundred ninety-two, a lot of things were going on.  Some sad crimes resulted from people expanding around the world.  But hopefully today’s world can learn from all of that history, and we can use that to do better in the future.

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