Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday evening 9/29

Just a quick post.........seriously this time!  :-D

School has kept us busy this week, for the most part.  Emily was down over the weekend with a nasty cold.  This kept her home from Friday night until Tuesday morning.  She missed school Monday, and, since she cannot stay home by herself (can you imagine a six-year old at home alone?!), someone needed to stay with her.  Amanda volunteered, as the headache that had sent her to bed early after Sunday night church was lingering Monday morning.  Then, Katie got sick.  She had felt unwell Sunday night as well, but I had hoped that a good night's rest would cure her ills.  She made a valiant effort to get ready for school Monday morning, but three minutes before we were to walk out the door, she had to make a run for the bathroom.  And it wasn't to throw up.  >:-[  So, Katie, Amanda, and Emily all stayed home Monday from school.  Ashley came with me, though fighting a stomach ailment as well, but only made it half a day before checking out of school early and spending the rest of the day in my classroom resting.

Thankfully, by Tuesday morning, all of my girls except Katie were well and able to accompany Dale and I to school.  Emily, it seemed, shared her cold with her older sister Katie, who was then down for the rest of the week!  Katie's sinuses became swollen and clogged, making it difficult to breathe and making her downright miserable.  She actually came to school Wednesday morning but had to go home early because she was sick, tired, and weak.  Thursday night, we began steam treatments with her and put a humidifier in her room overnight to try to help open up her nasal passages.  I also had her start taking ibuprofen, an expectorant, and a nasal spray to relieve her symptoms.  She could tell a difference Friday morning but was still unable to stand for long before becoming dizzy.  I made the decision to keep her home from school one more day to allow her to fully recover before going back to school next Monday.  Katie is still suffering somewhat but is definitely on the road to recovery.

The school office handed out mid-quarter grades this week.  My kids are doing pretty well overall, but Dale is struggling in a couple of subjects---history and science.  He sits in class, does his homework (usually!), and answers questions, but does not seem to be retaining any learning.  It's as if the homework questions he answers are just words to him, not a lesson to be learned and remembered.  Plus, he spends so much time doing homework that he has no time left in which to actually study for upcoming tests and quizzes.  So he's not getting the material, and he's not performing well on his tests.  Chad and I have talked repeatedly about this, and we agree that his homework time needs to be limited while his study time needs to increase.  Part of this is Dale's responsibility; his teachers and parents and even classmates are all working so hard to make his eighth grade year successful, but Dale himself doesn't seem to be making any effort.  It's kind of like........he thinks he gets a free pass just for showing up.  Chad and I had a talk with Dale this afternoon about taking charge of his time and studying for his tests and quizzes, and he seemed to understand where he needs to improve.  I don't want to take him out of the classroom and just tutor him or have him do PACES, but neither do I want him to fail eighth grade!  Or the rest of high school!  Please pray with us as we once again tweak Dale's education plan to help him do his very best.

I find myself getting upset with Dale frequently when he talks slowly or takes forever doing his work.  I realized today that I am not actually upset with Dale, although he bears the brunt of my attitude.  I am upset with God, as if God didn't have the right to change my plan for my son's life without my permission.  I chided myself for this foolish thinking, reminding myself that God knows what is best.  His new plan for Dale is not a worse choice than before; Dale does not now have to endure God's second best plan.  He will be exactly who God wants him to be, no matter my attitude.  I'd best get on board with God's plan; otherwise I'll make myself and everyone around me miserable because of my discontent.  And the amazing thing is---God already knows the reason for my grumpy spirit and has forgiveness waiting for me as soon as I ask for it.  Lord, please forgive me for not accepting Your will for me and my family, for thinking You are being unfair to me or my son.  Thank you for Your goodness and love, even when I am unlovely.  I trust You, Father.

Praise the Lord for His continual goodness to our family.  He is most wonderful and loving toward us at all times, and we are thankful for His presence in our lives.  God be with each of you always.

Joshua 6: 20  "So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets:  and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday evening 9/22

I have time to write this entry only now while Dale is in the tub.  He still needs assistance getting in/out of the tub, and I feel better being nearby in case he needs other help---so I'm upstairs for the next three-quarters of an hour or so.  Perfect time to update the blog!  ;-)

Seriously, trying to find time during the week to blog is getting to be rather hard to do!  I'm completely tied up during the day while at school with teaching, testing, and grading; and by the time I get home in the (late) afternoon, I just want to collapse on the couch and relax.  I don't have a computer in my classroom yet, so updating the blog during my break at school isn't an option, either.
And, so, here I am, FINALLY, on Saturday night, letting you folks know how our week went.

It went well.

Just kidding!  We had a great week, both at church and at school.  I am more focused on school right now, so forgive me if I fail to mention any church news.  Our church buses are doing particularly well right now, which is encouraging seeing as how we are not starting our Fall Campaign for another couple of weeks.  Church attendance has been up, too, and that is encouraging as well.

At school, we reached the point of our 1st Mid-Quarter.  Progress reports will be going home to parents next week as well as invitations to come meet with teachers if that is the parents' desire.  I am always anxious to view my kids' grades, but I'm especially so this time to see Dale's progress.......or lack of it.  Judging by some quizzes and tests I've seen, he may need to adjust his study habits!  I will also be speaking with each of his teachers, first telling them how much I appreciate all the extra effort they have put into this year for Dale and second possibly tweaking our game plan for his eighth grade education.  This year is our time to figure out the best way to achieve success for Dale academically, physically, and spiritually before the necessity of earning high school credits hits next year.  Chad and I have been discussing this a good bit lately and have agreed that, in order for Dale to succeed this year, his teachers are going to have to treat him differently than their average, ordinary student.  Not that we want preferential treatment given, but Dale certainly cannot perform quite the same way as he used to.  We are all still working to find the best kind of testing to use with him, the most effective method of conveying notes and information, and even how best to get him from class to class.  I cannot express enough how thankful I am for each of his teachers who are bending over backwards to help make his reentry to school (and life!) as doable as possible.  They are listening to what I have to say; they are changing the way they teach sometimes; they are doing what they can to make him successful right now.  What a blessing and a relief to have godly people in our classrooms who are willing to be flexible and helpful! 

We don't know what the future holds for any of us, especially Dale.  We are trusting God to show us His plan as it unfolds, and we are taking each day in faith that He knows exactly what He is doing and what we need that day.  Can you imagine if we didn't have God at the center of our lives, our thoughts each day?  Can you imagine trying to face Dale's accident, the traumatic weeks in the hospital, and these months following without knowing without a doubt that He is not only in control but has a definite purpose for all this?  I don't have that kind of strength or determined attitude on my own.  I wouldn't be able to face the unknown future, having had my plans for my children changed so drastically, without the grace and comfort of my Heavenly Father surrounding my very being.  We are so blessed to have our Lord, not just as a Sunday morning figurehead, but as a daily part of our existence.  Thank You so much, Father, for calling us Your children.  Thank You for Your presence and help.

One last silly thing:  Yesterday we hosted a football jamboree at our school which began around 11:00 a.m. and didn't end until after 6:00 p.m.  Teachers were encouraged to take their classes to the bottom of the hill (where the football field is) to watch the games and cheer our team to victory.  About 1/3 of the way down the hill, we built a drainage area and surrounded it with a fence.  The hill then continues after this drainage area for a short space, and a lot of the kids were clambering to the top and rolling down the hill.  This is a very popular occupation and, frankly, looks like a lot of fun!  Dale wanted to roll down the hill and spent at least two hours trying to convince me, his sisters, or anybody who would listen to take him up the hill so he could roll down.  I finally gave in, despite Katie's concern that Dale would spaz out and Mandie's concern that he would have a seizure.  I told Dale, "If you have a seizure, I'm telling Dad it was your fault!"  (I wasn't truly concerned that would actually happen, or I would never have agreed to it.)  So, I helped him up the rather steep incline---I nearly fell myself---waited until he got seated, and then made my way back to the bottom.  Dale lay down and began his roll.  I have to say, he did pretty well!  I could tell he was in control of himself all the way down, except for one thing---he couldn't keep his face from smacking the ground each time he rolled over!!!  He wound up at the bottom with grass in his mouth, a few scrapes on his nose and forehead, and a cut on his lip!  He, of course, started to cry, but I told him to dry up quick; he wanted to roll down the hill, so a few bumps and bruises are a small price to pay for getting to do what he wanted.  It took us a few minutes to make our way over to the bleachers to sit down, and by that time Dale had composed himself enough to accept the congratulations of those who had watched his rapid rolling descent.  It's times like these that make me glad Dale still has his desire for life.  He's not so scared of consequences that he's content to sit on the sidelines (pardon the football pun) but is willing to take risks in order to just have fun.  On a side note:  I really thought Chad would be upset that I had allowed Dale to roll down the hill (you know, seizure scare and all that) and even more upset that Dale had been slightly injured in the process.  When we told Dad about it that night, Chad sat there and laughed his head off!!!  I guess the image of Dale's face bouncing off the ground each revolution was too much for him to contain his laughter.  As always, thank God for silly moments!

Matthew 20: 28  "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday afternoon 9/15

Thank God for weekends!  Especially for teachers, the weekend is important, a time to relax, review, research, and recharge.  Our school week was even shorter due to three things:  an assembly for our cookie dough fundraiser, Fair Day, and a one-hour late start on Friday.  So, it's not as if we Ostranders have been overly stressed this week due to too much school!  However, we still have our problems and major/minor complaints.  :-{

Every year, our school spends two weeks selling cookie dough to raise money for various projects.  One year we invested in new playground equipment, and that has been a blessing to us teachers and a wonderful improvement to our recess times.  One year the money was used for our sport teams, I think, and another year it was spent on equipment for the teachers.  So, we all benefit in some way, and we all try to pitch in and help raise the money---sell the cookie dough.  It's really good stuff, too, with a variety of flavors like Chocolate Chunk (no little chips for us, thank you!), Snickerdoodle (I didn't even know what that was until I became an adult), and---new this year---three Paula Dean flavors:  Molasses, Oatmeal (I think), and her Gooey Chocolate Butter cookies.  Since we are trying to make a good profit, we sell each 2.7 lb. tub for $15.00.  Some people think this is too much, so they don't buy any.  Oh, well!  Some people, on the other hand, seem to save their money all year and buy three or four tubs, handing over the money without a qualm!  I'm always amazed at their generosity and ability to spend that kind of money without batting an eye.  Of course, we (our family) will walk throughout different neighborhoods, going door-to-door to ask as many folks as possible to buy our cookie dough.  We have to collect the money on the spot, turn in our full orders with payment, and wait about six weeks for the cookie dough to be delivered to our school.  We then have the unsurpassed joy (riiiiiight!) of getting all that cookie dough delivered to the correct addresses.  Thankfully, it's delivered frozen, so we are able to transport it safely and easily.  Parents and teachers alike groan when Cookie Dough Sale is announced each year, but the outcome is definitely worth the work.  (Anybody wanna buy some cookie dough?!!  :-D)

Each year as well, our school takes one day off to go to the Puyallup Fair.  That (for you poor souls who don't know) is a huge fair held for three weeks every September, and everyone loves going.  There are lots of rides and shows to enjoy and exhibits to wander through and sellers hawking their wares.  There are wonderful smells (except the manure!) and great food and countless wonders to explore.  I was, frankly, shocked when we first moved out here (remember, Chad is from here but I grew up mostly in NC) and put our first child in school, only to be handed a fair ticket and told to take a day off to go play!  Children ages five and under get in free; students get a free pass; and even educators get a free ticket---so why not go?  We have enjoyed the fair each year since, even last year when Dale had to go to the fair from the hospital.  This year, Chad took Dale on rides since it was obvious that he would need lots of assistance getting on and off; I took Ashley and her friend and Emily Rose for a while; and the older girls and their friend rode the rides on their own for about three hours.  Under normal circumstances, we would not allow the girls to go off by themselves, but they have proven time and again that they can be trusted for a few hours on their own.  We all had cell phones to keep in touch and named a place to meet up again.  The younger girls and I stood in line after line (well, they did; I refused to ride!) and screamed their heads off.  Emily, we are finding out, does not like the kinds of rides where you twist round and round and upside down and hang by your head.  She was scared enough on the Tilt-A-Whirl!  She wasn't crying, but, when she got off, she stated firmly, "I am not going on that ride EVER AGAIN!"  She stayed with me while the other girls rode rides, comforted by the knowledge that, after we all met up again, someone would take her to Sillyville where there were rides "just her size."  Emily had no problem climbing a couple stories worth of stairs to slide down the giant slide, so heights are not her problem---just speed!  Just before we met the others, the girls all stood in line to get their faces painted.  There is a very popular booth where kids 12 and under can get a small design painted on their faces in any color they choose with sparkles if they desire.  Once they got one side done, of course, the girls raced around the tape to get back in line to get the other side painted!  I finally corralled them and herded them toward the picnic table where Chad and Dale were waiting.

As it turns out, Dale was absolutely pooped.  He had spent a fun but exhausting three hours waiting in line, climbing in and out of rides, and laughing his head off.  He had a great time, but his endurance ability had been completely burned up.  He was ready to go home!  So the decision was made for me to take Dale home while Chad and all the girls walked around some more.  This was fine by me as my feet were aching already.  Then, when the older girls arrived, Katie declared herself done as well.  She said she had a great time but wanted to go home, too.  The groups shifted again:  Chad took Emily on her own rides while Amanda and her friend took the younger girls on some more rides.  Katie, Dale, and I got in the van, made a quick stop at Safeway for provisions, and headed home gratefully.  I drove back (only a half-hour trip) to pick them up outside the fairgrounds at 7:00 p.m.  This may seem early to some folks (including the older girls), but I think everyone was glad to get home at a decent time, relax some, and then go to bed.  We even had a one-hour late start the next day to allow us to recuperate from the fair before facing school again.  That was a big blessing!  Fair Day this year was a success.

At least until three o'clock the next morning.  Amanda was up, her stomach cramping, miserable.  I didn't discover anything amiss until I went in to awaken everyone Friday morning, when I found her clutching her stomach and sitting next to a trash can.  She thought it might have been something she ate at the fair, and it turns out she was probably right.  She tried to get ready for school, knowing she had responsibilities to take care of, but she never made it.  About thirty minutes before we needed to leave, she began throwing up.  I had to leave her at home, making her promise to call if she needed me.  When I called her later that day, she said she had vomited more that morning but had only a raging headache at that point.  As the day wore on, Amanda felt better and better, and today she is back to normal.  Good thing, too, as she has a babysitting job this afternoon!  No one else got sick, though I did hear of several other school kids who never made it on Friday.  Every year we are warned about E. coli and other such lovely bacteria, and sometimes we get an up-close encounter with them.  I'm just thankful Mandie is all right.

I, on the other hand, am as sick as a dog right now.  One of my beloved students, for whom I prayed, gave me his cold!  He had been gone the previous weekend on a mini-vacation and had come back with a cold which he decided to share with his dear teacher---me.  Tuesday night, the sore throat started and continued through Wednesday.  I still made it to school each day and to church Wednesday night, knowing I could sleep in some on Thursday (Fair Day).  I even went to the fair with my throat still scratchy and my nose starting to get stuffy.  (Another reason why I was glad to go home early!)  By Friday morning, I had a bad head cold.  The kind that makes you wonder if going to school and infecting everyone else is really such a good idea.  But, since I didn't want to call a substitute this early in the year and since I felt refreshed after the extra sleep Thursday night-Friday morning, I decided to do my best.  By about noon, I was seriously regretting that decision!  I wanted nothing more than a tall bottle of Nyquil and my bed.  I finished the school day all right, made sure the students had their books for the weekend's assignments, and shooed them out the door.  Then, Katie and I had to work hard to get the room put in order for Sunday school.  We put the new filing cabinet in place (I have a wonderful, huge new filing cabinet that locks!), moved stacks of files into it, rearranged a bunch of stuff, and locked up.  It was after 5:30 p.m. before we were ready to go home.  I vowed to enter my house and never leave!!!  Since then, I have spent my time divided between sleeping, taking medicine, and chauffeuring kids around.  Once Chad got off work today, I officially went off duty.  He can take over now!  :-)

I'm sure I'll feel better in a day or so.  I've been taking herbal remedies, orange juice, Robitussin Cough and Cold, and water.  This has combined to give me a nasty case of diarrhea.  Great.  I may not leave my house until 7:45 a.m. Monday morning, just in time for school.  Maybe not even then..........we'll see!  You'd think by now in life I would have built up enough immunities to be able to fight off the common cold, but apparently not.  Groooaaaan.

Shawn, your card was so uplifting on this dismal day.  I appreciate your candor and completely understand how wonderful it is to get the kids back in school, finally, after having them home all summer!  God bless you, lady!

To one and all, my prayer for you is that you do not catch my cold.  Go catch your own.  This one's mine, and I intend to beat it!  Please, have a good weekend and take care.

Psalm 79: 9  "Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy name:  and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for Thy name's sake."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday evening 9/9

Can you believe the weekend is over already?  It seems like we just finished the school week, and now we're headed right back there tomorrow morning!  Where did my "time off" go???

Seriously, our family spent Saturday running our heads off.  Chad had to work, so he was gone from around seven until three or so.  I wasn't home when he got off work, so I can't attest to the exact time.  This particular "overtime" doesn't even count as such because he had Monday off due to Labor Day, so technically he only worked a regular work week.  Still, praise the Lord for his job!  Amanda, Katie, and Ashley went out soul winning on Saturday morning, the older girls on buses and Ashley with Children's Challenge.  Normally, Emily goes as well, but she has been suffering from a slight cold (start of school means lots of new germs!), so I kept her home to let her body rest a bit.  We picked the girls up around one o'clock and began our errands........well, my errands.  I needed to go to the Dollar Tree (good stuff for only a buck!), then to Wal-Mart (for other stuff the Dollar Tree doesn't carry or can't match the price), and then to the library.  I had several items that I needed to get for my classroom (YEA!), and I knew the Dollar Tree was the place to go.  Same story at Wal-Mart except we picked up some stuff for home, too, and Emily got to finally spend the last of her birthday gift cards.  She "invested" in a couple of LaLaLoopsy dolls that she has been craving and has been unwilling to put them down since---even for bedtime and church!  That last stop at the library wasn't my errand as much as the kids', but we all went in for a bit.  A few months ago, we had lost a book that Emily checked out.  We searched the house twice over and could find no sign of the missing item, so we informed the library and were charged a replacement fee.  Lo and behold, last week Emily found the book in her toy box or some such obscure place.  I know we looked there already, so I'm not sure how it magically appeared there; but at least it finally materialized so we could turn it in to the library and get a refund on the fee.  Plus, the two older girls needed to look for books for upcoming book reports, so they were able to look around some.  We didn't get home until nearly six o'clock!  All of us were tired, hungry, and, frankly, miserable.  Amanda quickly fixed spaghetti for dinner, after which our spirits improved.  Nothing like full tummies to make life more bearable!  Then, Chad ran out to the store and came home with a tub of ice cream to finish off the evening.  Thank God for Dad.........and ice cream!!!

Eric, I had to laugh when I read your comment.  I appreciate the thought behind the words---truly I do---but we are a small Christian school with smaller class sizes than other schools.  The reason for my laughter?  I have only six students!  :-D  Of course, each class size varies each year, and there is a limit to how big (or small) a class will be allowed to get.  I have had as many as eleven students at one time; our second grade teacher had nineteen one year.  Last year, with 3rd/4th combined and 1st/2nd combined, those class sizes were obviously increased---as was the teachers' workload!  But, this year, I am blessed to have six eager young minds to teach and influence and mold and train for Christ.  What a privilege to have such an opportunity to help bring up "the next generation."  Of my six, two are very high-energy, loving attention but loving praise for good behavior as well.  One is an over-achiever, which trait can be channeled into putting energy into helping the teacher and serving others.  The others are still finding their place in the classroom, unsure of where they'll fit in this new school year.  My job there is to help them choose to follow the good behavior displayed by the others while refusing to join in the bad behavior.  Sounds so simple, doesn't it?  }:-{  I love teaching, and I am so looking forward to helping these students grow and develop into exactly who God designed them to be.

Dale is doing well.  He is remembering to write down his assignments---and do them!  He spent a few hours this weekend doing homework, which I didn't consider unreasonable.  (He may have!)  His quizzes so far show that he hasn't been studying like he should, but how many parents have faced that same dilemma?  He'll get the hang of things again eventually.  I'm just so deeply glad that he's able to be in school and is keeping up at least with getting to classes and listening.  Thank God for His blessings on Dale!

I have to share this last thing with you.  At church tonight, we had the Lord's Supper.  Our pastor chooses not to announce these happenings, so it is always a joy to look up front and see the trays decorating the Lord's Supper table.  When it came time for us to pass the tray containing the unleavened bread (body of Christ), everything went smoothly.  Amanda helped hold the tray for Dale while he reached in and chose a piece.  We prayed quietly while the rest of the congregation was being served---we sit on the front row---and ate the bread when instructed.  *Isn't God good for allowing His Son to die for us so that we might go to Heaven?*  Then, it was time for the juice (blood of Christ).  Once again, Amanda held the tray for Dale while he chose a cup.  Mind you, these trays are quite heavy when filled, so Amanda had all she could do just to keep it steady for him.  Poor Dale!  Just as his fingers closed around a small cup, his hand jerked badly, causing him to crush the cup.  This, in turn, spilled the juice all over the tray and into the other already-filled cups.  Remember:  while the trays are being passed around, the organ is playing, when Dale's hand jerked and he dropped the cup, the resulting clatter was quite loud!  To make matters even more comical, the look on Dale's face was hilarious.  There he sat with a horrified expression covering his features, as if he thought that crushing one of the communion cups would result in instant banishment from the church!  I leaned over and whispered for him to just choose another cup, but he was too terrified to make the attempt.  Amanda solved the problem by picking one up and handing it to him.  She then passed the tray to me; I chose a cup and handed the tray to Chad.  Dale was still sitting there, gingerly grasping this tiny plastic cup as if it contained poison.  I asked him if he wanted someone else to hold it for him, and he gratefully nodded yes.  The poor guy had grape juice splashed all over his tie and drying stickily on his fingers.  We (Amanda, me, the row behind us, and a couple of folks on the platform) were trying to control our giggles and maintain a solemn expression during this reverent time.  As it turns out, Katie, sitting in the row behind, got the cup that had been the victim of the outpouring of extra juice.  She had to sit with one hand cupped underneath the cup of juice while it dripped all over her hand.  And then she had nothing to wipe it off with!  Needless to say, while we enjoyed sharing the Lord's Supper, we were all relieved when communion was over.  Communion was followed by a hymn and hand-shaking (quick one-minute fellowship).  I was laughing so hard this whole time---since I couldn't during the Lord's Supper---that I was crying!  Oh, thank God for crazy times and fun memories.

Gotta go now.  God bless and have a great week!

Psalm 23: 1  "The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday evening 9/6

I can't believe it's been a whole week since I last posted an update on Dale, his triumphant return to school (at least, in my opinion), and our family's welfare in general.  Once again, I plead a crazy, homework, church, Labor Day, five children---you name it!  Sometimes I am completely overwhelmed with family, duties, activities, and all.  But, a full life sure beats an empty one!  ;-)

Dale is settling in to his school schedule, as are we all.  He (and his teachers) is getting in the habit of writing down all of his assignments in his planner, and he makes sure he refers to that planner as he does his homework.  God bless his wonderful teachers who are being so flexible and understanding where Dale is concerned.  They are making sure they do everything they can to make his eighth grade year a success.  As expected, Dale does take longer to take tests and quizzes, so his teachers are coming up with alternate plans of action---such as oral tests, multiple choice, or simply extra time.  These were all suggested by Dale's neuro-psych doctor a few months ago, and we are happy to see our educators working to implement these procedures.  God has blessed us with a solid Christian school with caring teachers who we know love our children and have their best interests at heart.  I have thanked Him repeatedly over this last year for all the work Dale's teachers had put into him before his accident; Dale's recovery was aided by his solid grasp of basic math, English (grammar and vocabulary), and reading.  We'll continue to keep a watch on him closely to see how his learning process is coming along.

My girls are enjoying their school year so far as well.  Emily (1st grade) is getting used to being awake the whole school day, making her a bit grumpy in the afternoons.  She has already tested out of the first reader and is learning cursive writing too.  Ashley (6th grade) is having fun being at the top of the totem pole, so to speak.  She is having trouble with vocabulary right now but that may improve as the year wears on.  Her vocab homework is hindered right now because the second knuckle of the first finger on her right hand (her writing hand) got whacked with a "sword" (stick) after school today and swelled up painfully.  I think it'll look better tomorrow, although she may still have trouble writing.  Katie (10th grade) was surprised to find she is enjoying Algebra II, after having seriously struggled through Algebra I last year.  She is keeping up in PE (a concern for her---she thought the teacher would run them to death) and looking forward to possibly trying out for the Spring Play with the drama class.  Amanda (12th grade) is finding that staying all day at school isn't so bad after all.  She really only has classes scheduled for the first half of each day, and she spent a good bit of time arguing to get to go home, which she can't do because I am at school all day and she has no license.........yet.  But, instead, Amanda is helping out (as teacher's assistant) in some classes during the last part of the day.  Mrs. Rau gets her the last class hour of each day, but she spends two hours with me right after lunch because..........

I GET TO TEACH SCHOOL AFTER ALL!!!  Can you see the huge grin nearly splitting my face in two?!  We really weren't sure what to expect for Dale in school, and, as such, I couldn't tell Bro. Minge, our principal, how much free time I would have during the day.  So, he couldn't assign a class to me to teach full-time until it was known how much or how little Dale would need me.  As it turns out, with all the help the guys have been giving Dale and people willing to lug his backpack between classes, Dale has not needed me at all---all day!  I (or his sisters) make sure he visits his locker each morning, stows homework books, and puts the first few hours' books in his backpack before walking him to his homeroom.  That's the last I see of him until the last bell rings. Someone walks Dale to my classroom, helps him to a seat, and deposits his backpack beside him---and that's the first time all day I see him to ask about his day or make sure he has his homework books to get started.  He goes about his school day (almost) just like any other guy, leaving me free to help Mrs. O'Connor as much as she needs.  Within the first few days, she had gradually let me take over teaching almost all third-grade subjects, freeing her up to get lots of other things done.  And, with the two classes combined, there was a lot of extra work and strategy involved!  She is an amazing lady, able to juggle two classes' schedules and curriculum and personalities with patience, grace, and a smile.  She took over last year when Dale's accident kept me from teaching and forced the combining of the two classes (third and fourth).  She willingly accepted another "chef" in her "kitchen" when Bro. Minge suggested she allow me to assist her this year until we had more certainty how Dale would do in school.  But, last Friday, Bro. Minge called me into his office after school and announced that MY HUSBAND, wonderful man that he is, had personally made an appointment to talk with him.  The subject:  Dale's great first week of school and, subsequently, his lack of need for me to help him during school hours.  Chad gave his approval for Bro. Minge to ask me to teach third grade---fully, completely, in my own classroom, YES!  I was so excited!!!  I could barely sit still for the excitement!  Bro. Minge and I decided third grade would stay in Mrs. O'Connor's classroom for one more week while the end classroom (the only one vacant now!) was cleared and cleaned and readied.  I'll get the room decorated with my girls' help, and the students will move their desks down there tomorrow afternoon, so that everything will be ready for school Monday morning.  Yee-haw!  It will be nice for Mrs. O'Connor and fourth grade to have more room in their classroom, and it will great to have a class of my own.  We're all looking forward to the move, though with mixed emotions; even in these two short weeks, we've become a family.  Still, I'm looking forward to the school year even more now.

I can't help but thank God and praise His name for allowing me to have a class again.  To be honest, I wasn't sure there would ever be another time when I wouldn't need to be by Dale's side, tutoring him through school........and life!  I prayed non-stop, I think, asking God to work things out according to His plan and give me the courage to trust Him throughout.  He has answered these prayers above and beyond what I dreamed.  Not only do I get to teach again, but Dale is doing well.  God is certainly good!  He is continuing to show us how very much He loves us and is involved in our everyday lives, down to the most minute detail.  Our God is truly awesome!

If you haven't yet done so, take time today to deliberately stop and thank God just for being Him.  He is so wonderful, and He does so much for us every day.  Please be sure to tell Him you love Him and are so thankful to call Him "Father."  He is surely worthy of our love, our adoration, and our praise.

Revelation 4: 11  "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power:  for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created."