Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I've been making it a point this year to wish people a Merry Christmas. A lot of the politically correct mumbo jumbo says that you should say Happy Holidays, to incorporate all the other celebrations that happen at this time of the year. For me, Christmas is the most important, and I like to go against the flow a little bit anyway, so Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ
the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Here's another installment of Christmas music history. Irving Berlin wrote "White Christmas" while sitting beside a pool in the heat of Arizona in 1940. He walked into his studio/office the next day and told his secretary he had written the best song that anyone had ever written. I don't think he was far off the mark on that!

The original version of the song had a verse that poked fun at all the people living in Los Angeles, wishing for a home-type Christmas with a treetop glistening and children listening for Santa. Berlin changed it to the version we all know and love because he felt it might be a little overkill. Aren't we glad he did so!

In 1942, the movie Holiday Inn premiered with Bing Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds, and Fred Astaire. The song- hinted at throughout the movie and finally sung at the end, by Crosby's character even though it was supposed to be sung by Marjorie Reynolds's character- won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. At first, Crosby didn't see anything special about the song, and only did the recording as a favor to Irving Berlin. The recording session for that single took only 18 minutes. It was released at the end of June 1942, and by October it was topping the charts. It stayed number one through the New Year. The song had a revival during the 1945 and 1946 Christmas seasons, and is the only song in history to be top of the charts for three separate runs. Crosby had to re-record the song in 1949 because the original recording had been damaged by all the copies that had been created from it. It has been re-recorded by hundreds of artists, but it continues to belong to Bing Crosby.

The movie, White Christmas, was released in 1954, and starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. This movie always makes it Christmas for me. If you get a chance, check it out. It will be on TV a lot over the next few weeks, so take a couple hours out of your day and kick back to watch a classic. I never feel it's Christmas until I watch White Christmas!

Here's a clip of Bing Crosby and the cast from the movie singing White Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Toughest Day

Last Tuesday, a student in my school was critically injured in a car accident. She passed away Thursday morning after doctors could do no more. Kailey was only sixteen and a junior. School administrators came in to tell each class of her passing. She was a very popular student, and her death has affected more people than I think she even thought possible. Her funeral was today, in the school gym, and it was seriously one of the most difficult hours I have ever witnessed. Please keep my school in your prayers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's Not Christmas Without Jingle Bells

Last year, I blogged a few times about some of my favorite Christmas Carols. I thought I would do it again. My first song this year is one that even the smallest child can sing.

"Jingle Bells," written by James S. Pierpont, first made its appearance not at a Christmas concert, but at a Thanksgiving celebration in 1840. Pierpont's father, the pastor of the Medford, Massachusetts Unitarian Church, asked his musically gifted son to create a song of celebration for the church's annual Thanksgiving feast. James had no idea where to begin, so he started watching the young men playing with their sleds in the snow. After spending some time cheering on the races, James had a tune in his head. He headed to a neighbor, the only person in the town with a piano, knocked on the door and told the mistress of the house that he had a tune in his head. Upon hearing this, she stepped aside and let James plunk away on her piano.

As he left the neighbor's house, the very wise woman told him that it was a very catchy tune and the whole town would be singing it before long. Boy was she right! James presented a fully orchestrated choral arrangement for the feast and title it "One Horse Open Sleigh." The town loved it, and even though it spoke of racing and gambling, they asked that it be part of the Christmas program. People from all over the area came to celebration and heard "One Horse Open Sleigh." It was a huge success, and since it was heard at a Christmas concert, the song was then associated to Christmas as it was passed all over Massachusetts.

By 1857, James had the song published and it became one of, if not the, most recognizable Christmas songs in the world. Today, we hardly see a Santa without a jingle bell laden reindeer. One of the most popular recordings of "Jingle Bells," as it came to be known, was done by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in 1945. Unfortunately the only video with a good enough quality to share is a video of a record playing. Some of you may never have seen a record, so enjoy a glimpse into the past. Cheers!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thirty-Five Years is a Long Time...

On Tuesday, my parents will celebrate their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. Congratulations Mom and Dad!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Best Part is the Giving...

One thing I've struggled a lot with this year is trying to make sure I have a present for everyone for all of the Christmas celebrations I will be attending. It seems like every time I turn around someone is asking me to give some money here or buy an ornament for a gift exchange or some other mundane task. Oprah even got on the giving kick this year. Rather than doing her "Favorite Things" episode, she did a sort of pay it forward type of episode, where every audience member was given $1000 with the stipulation it must be spent on someone else.

I decided earlier in the year that I wanted to buy chickens from Heifer International as presents this year. Several people were very appalled that I would suggest such a travesty (if I did that, then what would they get?). I still think I'm going to do it as a present for our entire family. How cool would it be to buy some chickens for a hungry family in need that they could use for eggs and meat?

I started thinking about what I could do other than that. What could I do to help? With all the financial problems the country is facing right now, Christmas looks bleak for a lot of people. I really want to be able to share the true meaning of Christmas with as many people as I can. One organization that does that is the Salvation Army. We've all seen the red kettles and heard the bell ringers as we walked into Wal-Mart, Target, or any shopping area. And I always try to give a little each time. But I never have cash, and if I ever did, I would probably try to put it all in there.

One of the new things the Salvation Army has started is your own "Online Kettle." So I've started one. Click here or on this link ( or the red kettle on the side, and it will take you to my kettle. Help me help a lot of people and show the love that God has for us. If you can't spare a large amount of money, even a dollar or two can help. Remember, God gave us His only son to die for our sins. There's no way to repay that debt, and as Pastor Tony talked about this morning in service, we have to remember to help our fellow men when they ask for it.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Skunk and a Monkey Knocked On a Door...

After having the BSOD- "blue screen of death"- appear on my computer a few weeks ago, I now have a computer ready to blog away. I feel like I haven't been on here in forever! So much has happened. Halloween, birthdays, Christmas music playing in Wal-Mart-- time passes too fast! I did learn one thing from the whole blue-screen incident: back up, back up, back up!

Halloween was really fun. I got Landon and Braden costumes from Old Navy, so they were the cutest little monkey and skunk at the church's Halloween Hoedown. Would you answer the door if a skunk rang your doorbell and yelled "Trick or Treat!"? Braden loved his costume so much, he wanted to wear it all the time. I walked into Mom and Dad's one day and found him wearing it while he was watching cartoons! It did have a little cuteness factor to it!

Landon officially turned two, and got to see his grandmother- Melanie's mom came into town for a few days. It was nice for all of us to get to spend some time with her. I got him a Nick, Jr. video that has several different shows on it. You have to hear him say "Blue's Clues"; it's so cute!

I've been helping Pastor Tony out with some photography. He recruited me into taking family pictures and creating a photo directory for the church. It's right up my alley and something I have really been enjoying working on. I wish I could hurry up and get people to get their pictures made!

We've been really busy at school working on our Christmas programs. Yes, plural. Cilla, the band director, and I are going to do some joint concerts. Not only will this get more people in the seats, but we now are at over an hour worth of music. I'm really excited and the kids are getting that way too. Hopefully I'll be able to post some fun clips from the concert. Who knew how quickly Christmas was coming? Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? Crazy, huh?

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's the Great Pumpkin, Miss Brown!


Too bad I had to sit through three hours of inservice dealing with literacy development so I didn't get to eat cake and ice cream at your party...

I didn't realize I hadn't posted in so long until I needed to look up something on my blog today. Sorry 'bout that. Lots of stuff has been going on in my neck of the woods. On the 17th, Landon's daycare had a Fall Festival, so I followed the nephews around and took some random photos of them playing at some of the games. Landon was so cute, he ended up in the local paper!

The next day, dad needed to check on a few properties for the bank in some area cities, so mom, Braden, Landon and I hopped into the Tahoe, and off we went. We ended up at a pumpkin patch in Quittman. Very random, but very fun.

My students and I survived my first nine weeks test. I don't think my students appreciated having to take a test in choir, but I did try to give them every opportunity to make a good grade. I did have two students end up with a 113% for the first quarter. At least I'm trying to give students the opportunity to make up points for bad grades. Too bad the only ones that take advantage of that opportunity are the students who don't need the extra help.

I've had to bring all my plants into the house because the weather has turned so cold here. I've lived in NWA for the last several years, and I don't remember it ever being this cold before December. It just seems bitterly cold for so early. My Christmas cacti are blooming in other news...

That's about it for this edition of "Keeping Up with the Boonies." I've got some plans for this Friday night that include two little guys dressed up like a skunk and a monkey. Braden loved his skunk costume so much, he didn't want to take it off! Hopefully, Landon will feel the same way about his monkey suit on Friday.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's All About the Control Top.

I've been reading a blog for new teachers. One of the suggestions given was to emphasize the procedures and rules expected in the classroom. I had wanted to do something like that at the beginning of school, but just never sat down and did it. After dealing with the craziness in my classrooms over the last few weeks, I sat myself down and wrote out, in detail, what I expected from anyone coming into my class. Boy did it work! I've had some of the best classes the last few days. The students were required to take the "contract" home and have a parent or guardian sign it and then return it to me. I've even had a couple of parents call me in regards to the contract (it was a good question and not a complaint). Overall, I've learned my lesson and will send these home on the very first day next year!

In other news, I started working on Christmas music. And one of the songs we are doing with the high school is "Silent Night." I've always loved this song. It has special significance to me. My great-grandmother used to sing it, in German, on Christmas Eve. Because of that, I wanted to incorporate a little of my tradition into my Christmas program. One of my students is a foreign exchange student from Germany, so I'm having her teach me and the class to correct pronunciation of the German for the song. It's not that hard and we are learning it by rote. Needless to say, I've had several students complaining over the fact that we are speaking German. One student even came up to me after class yesterday and said that she was uncomfortable singing in German- not because it's difficult for her, but because she believes what her brother says: "We are Americans, we should speak America. And the song is in English, not German." Seriously, that's what she said. I told her we were experiencing a new culture, learning how one of our classmates deals with language barriers everyday, and exploring new ideas of music. Not to mention the song was originally written in German, by a Autstrian monk, music composed by a Austrian guitarist, and what language do they speak in Austria? German. Need I go on? She sang the song today... in German. I love being a teacher!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tears, Spiders, and Fisticuffs

I did it. I made a kindergartner cry yesterday. I wasn't mean, per say. She just doesn't understand that my family calls me "heartless" and "cold-hearted." Tears are not the way to gain my favor. I have no problem letting a small person cry for hours when he/she does not get his/her way. It doesn't phase me at all. Hopefully, Little Miss Teary-Eyed will learn that she must follow directions in order to get a sticker in my class. 'Nuff said.

I suffered through the toughest breakfast duty I have ever had to deal with today. I walked into the cafeteria and started conversing with students and other teachers. About five minutes later, a seventh grader walked in carrying a small container WITH A GIANT TARANTULA IN IT! My heart began racing, and my flight instinct was totally kicking in. All I wanted to do was leave that room and get as far away from that hairy arachnid as possible. But, I was on duty, with the Agri teacher, so I couldn't leave. But I had to get the kids to calm down, eat their breakfasts, and be as controlled as possible... WITH A GIANT TARANTULA IN THE ROOM! I even had to get within two feet of the thing and almost had to touch the container to get the kids to be in control. I really didn't show my strong teacher side when it came to the GIANT TARANTULA!

Two minutes after dealing with the GIANT TARANTULA, an eighth grader starts yelling at an eleventh grader, jumps over the table, and attacks the poor unsuspecting eleventh grader. Now, the harassed eleventh grader is probably six feet tall and weighs a good 250 pounds. The offended eighth grader is probably five feet six inches, one hundred fifty pounds soaking wet. Clearly the eighth grader did not choose wisely in this fight, and since I was on duty, I was one of the teachers responsible for dealing with the fisticuffs. Yes, me. And the agri teacher. So, Mr. Agri makes headway to the very angry eighth grader, and I decide to stand in between Mr. Eighth Grade and Mr. Eleventh Grade. We get everyone under control and the offending parties are sent to the office to have their punishments dealt out by the principal. After a few minutes, I realize, I was standing in between a volatile temper and the object of his anger. Not too smart. But I did have several students tell me they were very impressed that I jumped right in the middle. Now, if the GIANT TARANTULA had been the object of Mr. Volatility's anger, I might have just let him beat the stupid thing to a pulp!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Letter to My Father

Dear Daddy,

My lawn has gotten out of control again. Would you be able to bring your lawn mower and your two helpers (both under the age of 5- that's not against child labor, right?) and bring the grass back under control? Knee high is a good length for a dress, not for the grass.

And while you're at it, would you please bring your gargantuan spider killer spray? I've got three (see pictures below) new lawn decorations that I would prefer not to have. And since the last lawn ornament I killed last week had to be killed with a hammer (my shoe couldn't do the job), I don't think I'll be able to evict these guys without the aid of your spray.

Hope to see you soon!

Your loving daughter,


P.S. Have you ever noticed how much Jason Hawes from Ghost Hunters looks like Jonathan?

<- That's my brother.

That's Jason Hawes from Ghost Hunters.->

Monday, September 15, 2008

**Insert Snappy Blog Title Here**

I don't have a title for this blog. Nothing interesting has happened yet. School is going well. The kids are... behaving. They just seem to be very social. I think I have a student who has volunteered to save my choir from the torturous piano playing I have been submitting them to. And thanks to Nancy, I can't use well or so to start any paragraph ever again!

I think I need a t-shirt or coffee cup that says "I survived Ike" or something. That storm was wicked crazy, and really hit Batesville hard. One of the guys Jonathan works with had a tree fall on his house- into the nursery he and his fiance had just finished for the arrival of their new baby in a few weeks. Darren said the tree fell directly over the crib where the baby should have been. Wow, huh?

I'm having a lot of fun with the 4th- 6th grade right now. They are so funny! The toughest class I have is probably a tie with my Jr. High Choir and my Elementary self contained class. I have 19 boys and 10 girls in this class. I really don't know what it is about this area, but it seems that the boys outnumber the girls almost 2 to 1! Several of my classes have about 15 or 16 in the class, of which there are only three to four girls. Crazy, huh?

Anyway (there's another word for Nancy's anti-word list), I'm heading to bed. I get to meet with my mentor tomorrow afternoon. Oh, one good thing. Apparently my choir website has been getting a lot of attention from the administration. I guess they like it or something. The high school principal has asked all of his teachers to take a look at it and see if it would be something they would be interested in doing. Hmm, does that sound like an inservice workshop that I could perhaps get double the credit for or what!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I like Ike... Not.

It's 5:20 AM. Yes, AM. I'm awake because some crazy wicked hurricane- oh wait, it's now a tropical depression- is sitting right over my house. Literally. I typed in the Longitude and Latitude of where the storm is located and it said, "Ha! That's your house! "

Pine cones are being hurtled at the house and rolling across the roof; trees are being laid down almost to the ground with the force of the wind; and pelting rain sounds like it will shatter the thin glass of my window at any moment. And of course, I'm awake. I usually can sleep through anything, so this should tell you how much noise this stupid storm is making.

But I guess it could be worse. At least I don't live in Houston.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Beautiful, Beautiful Boys

A few weeks ago we celebrated Braden's fourth birthday. Jonathan and Melanie decided that he should have a bike for his birthday. Here he is riding his brand new birthday bike!

Saturday, I spent the day with Landon. And of course, that meant a few photo opportunities! Even though he started breaking out in CHICKEN POX! Even though he has had his chicken pox shot, Landon was exposed to secondary chicken pox. Apparently Braden had the same thing exactly fourteen days ago. So, even if you're child has had the chicken pox shot, he or she can still contract chicken pox!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I Hate the Boonies.

Moving into the middle of nowhere has taught me to appreciate the finer things in life: driving without fear of deer, reliable phone and internet service, and the ability to be in a five mile radius of Wal-Mart.

I miss Wal-Mart. I never would have thought that would have been possible. If you are within a ten minute drive to Wally World, please think of me when you go.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm Alive! I Swear!

So, I've been having internet issues over the last week. Since my new hometown recently suffered damage from some very severe weather, the phone company has been replacing the temporary phone lines it installed with the new, permanent ones. And since they are working on the phone lines and I have DSL, my internet has been temporarily unavailable.

Anyway, I have a few funny stories to share. So let me get started.

Wednesday, I was in my last class of the day. This third grade class is a little challenge because of one of the special needs students in the class. She doesn't understand the concept of personal space and is always bothering the students next to her, let alone not able to control herself at all. Well, with about ten minutes left in the class, one of the boys shoots his hand straight up in the air and yells "Ms. Brown! There's a lizard!" Seriously, there was a lizard in my classroom. By lizard, I mean a three inch salamander. Now, if you grew up any where near the country, you know that if you grab a salamander by the tail, the tail falls off. Well, my special needs child jumps out of her seat and grabs at the lizard before I even locate it. I have to physically sit her down amidst the chaos that has ensued because of this stupid lizard. After sitting her down, I notice that she had grabbed the lizard's tail, causing it to detach and start twitching all by itself. So now I not only have a lizard flopping around on the floor, I also have a detached tail. I pick up the lizard with a Kleenex, hand it to a boy on the front row, and send him to set the poor, traumatized lizard free. While he is gone, I pick up the twitching tail in another Kleenex and throw it away. I have never had that experience before. There really should be a class on lizard handling for the elementary classroom!

Last night, I had to run to Batesville, so I got to eat dinner with my parents and the nephews. As we were getting into the car, we were all debating where we wanted to eat. Braden was just excited to go to the restaurant. It's always so cute to hear him say restaurant. Anyway, on the way there, I started asking Braden what he did in school. He started telling me what he'd done. Since I taught the preschool class, I told Braden I got to play with three and four year olds. Braden, my four year old nephew, takes a deep breath in, lets it out with a big sigh, and says "So did I." I lost it for a second, as did my mother.

I have been having a lot of success in my classes. My high school kids have been singing the cannon "Dona Nobis Pacem" as three parts and doing it beautifully I might add! Everyone has been learning "Arkansas, You Run Deep in Me." I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised that all the kids love that song as much as they do. They don't want to stop singing it. That always makes me feel good, especially when I'm on bus duty and hear the kids singing it while they wait on the bus.

Today, I had a seventh grade girl head out of the class and fall on her back. Apparently the water fountain has a leak that runs into my office and classroom. That's always fun. Water every where. Where's my ark?

The other day, I was getting dinner ready and looked out the sliding glass doors to stare directly into the eyes of a mama deer. How do I know she was a mama deer? Because her baby was standing in the foliage just behind her. I was a little scared, after hearing all the horror stories of the deer coming through the glass to attack the innocent people in their houses. Anyway, I snapped a few pics of mama and baby. And here are a few pics of my high school classroom, some random weirdness from the new home town I live in (yes, that's a marlin on a chimney), and the SPIDER IN MY SHOE!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Kid at School

Yesterday was the first day of school for me. I've really enjoyed getting to know my fellow teachers- they are all just a hoot!- but I was ready to meet the kids and start getting down to business. I have been a little intimidated over the idea of teaching junior high and high school choir. I've never wanted to do that. My focus was elementary music. I even was given special permission during my student teaching to complete a middle school rotation to count as my high school.

Needless to say, I've been very surprised the last two days with this group. The teacher who was there last year apparently didn't do anything with these kids. When I voiced them (listened to them sing to see how high and low they could go to see what part they would sing) most of them couldn't remember a song they had ever sung. Some of them sang Sarah MacLachlan's "I Will Remember You." It was a song they sang last year. As a choir song.

With Senior High, I decided I was just going to start very, very simply. I used a round I've used in the past, "Ram Sam Sam," just to see where the kids abilities were. Much to their surprise, they sang the song in its two parts very well. And they followed directions for breaking the song into parts then unison and so on very well. I think I'm going to use another round next week to get their ears ready to move into part singing. On another note, I signed about fifteen drop slips today. It's a little disheartening, but hopefully these are the kids who are the trouble makers and realize that they are not going to be able to slack off in my class!

Junior High is a completely other story. I've got about thirty students, with more boys than girls! Who knew! And the fun part about this group, half the boys are still in the process of their voice changing. And they can't seem to not talk. I'm really amazed at how much classroom control this bunch is going to take. I just have to remember to stand my ground and be tough!

Elementary has been great. There are still a few kids that are testing their boundaries, but they'll learn them again. Anyway, two days down. Only 182 more contract days until summer vacation!

Here are a couple of pictures of my classrooms. They're aren't the best pictures, but they give you an idea of what I'm working with. Oh, and I found out that since I'm a new teacher in the state's Mentor program, I get $800 extra to spend for my classroom. Yeah! Instruments! At least a few...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Facing My Fears...And Running Away From Them!

One thing that really bothers me more than anything in the world is spiders. I don't know why; I've never had a bad experience with spiders, other than they creep me out. I did used to have a recurring nightmare as a child where spiders would chase me and eventually cover every square inch of the room where I was in my dream.

Since I've moved into the country, a mostly wooded area by the way, I've had to deal with spiders all around my house. And by spiders I don't mean a small, easy to kill, breath of a spider. I'm talking about the hardy, takes a Mack truck to kill them spiders. Last night as I was watering my flowers, I disturbed a very large could eat a cow spider. Seriously, the thing was as big as both of my hands put together and was not an Arkansas tarantula! I really do think it could have taken down a cow or at least a small deer or something. Needless to say, I stopped watering my flowers, walked into the house, shut the door, closed the blinds, and proceeded to pretend I had not witnessed the running of the largest spider ever. I think they could have used this one could have played Aragog is "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."

So needless to say, this move has forced me to face my arachnophobia head on, eight legs and all. It's either that or continue to run around my car with a flashlight trying to avoid all the spider webs and their makers while carrying in all my groceries!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow...

After sitting through inservice today, I realized I needed to get some materials to use in my classroom, since I have absolutely nothing any past teachers have used other than the text books in the class. I just don't understand how these people have taught solely from the text books. There were no materials for bulletin boards, no worksheets, absolutely nothing. I'm amazed. And then I remember that the people who have been in the position had no clue and were not trained to be a strictly choral or elementary music teacher.

I did find out more details about the past music people. I'm going to share them, to let you all know how to pray for my students and for me, but it may get a little graphic.

The band director two years ago was arrested for chatting on-line with who he thought was a fourteen year old girl. This man was married and had just welcomed a baby into their family. The police arrested him and charged him last summer. A new director was hired to take over the middle school through high school music program (both band and choir) and another teacher was hired part-time to take the elementary. The elementary teacher was apparently not a trained musician, so there were several lacking qualities for the Highly Qualified Teacher requirement by the State of Arkansas.

In April of this year, several students came forward claiming the new band/choir director had sexual relations with the students ON SCHOOL PROPERTY! The Arkansas State Police were called, charges were filed, a chase through the woods ensued, the hard drive to my school computer was taken and has yet to be returned, and the guy was placed in prison. I've been told the sink in the band room was thoroughly disinfected after being swabbed for DNA evidence.

Please keep this school, the students, and me in your prayers. I'm really going to shake the reality of some high school students who have used the music program as an easy class. So maybe I'll make one of them cry...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Need a Hug

I've been working diligently in my two classrooms over the last two days, adding in a couple of inservice workshops also. I am a little disheartened, though. My elementary classes have NO instruments. Not even the cheap xylophones or drums or even dowel stick rhythm sticks are present in this classroom. I don't think they've ever heard of using the Orff instruments. They associate Orff to basketball- he's the b-ball coach! Oh well, I'm off to read some more of New Moon. It's my new obsession, by the way.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gosh, I'm Such a Slacker!

So, I am officially moved into my new house. By officially moved in I mean that I have all utilities turned on and my internet is working AND I have more unpacked boxes than boxes still filled with all my junk. Have I mentioned how much I hate moving?

The neatest thing about my new place of residence is how quiet it is. I really feel like I'm camping or something when I sit out on my back porch/patio/slab-of-concrete. I did have a visit a couple of nights ago from a curious raccoon who went through my trashcan. Luckily there wasn't anything in there he wanted, so my trash was basically intact. There's a family (I don't know what you call a large group of deer- not a flock or gaggle or anything, right?) of deer that I run into (not literally!) almost everyday. I have noticed a lot of strange new insect variety around the house. I even had a moth that looked like it was wearing the makeup from the Sith Lord in one of the newer Star Wars movies!

All in all, I think I'm really going to like it here. Yesterday, after unpacking my limit of three boxes, I read a book all day. I don't know why I haven't read these books before, but if you get a chance, read the "Twilight" series by Stephanie Meyer. I read Twilight in one day, and it was a very easy read even though it's over 600 pages.

I visited my classrooms earlier this week, and luckily I have a workday all day Monday to get both my classrooms together for the open house Tuesday night. Who in the world decided to have Open House after one day of working in the rooms? Sure, a regular teacher may be able to do it, but I have TWO classrooms and the same amount of time they have. GOSH!

Anyway, here are a few pictures of my house and some of the exotic insects/wildlife so far.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

So, I feel that I haven't even been on vacation. After meeting my entourage in Conway Saturday night, I became excruciatingly ill on top of unpacking all of my belongings from the hundreds of boxes that have been piled up in my new house. I have pictures, I promise, however they are on my camera which is in Horseshoe Bend and not with me in Batesville. I've really got to work on getting my internet working at my new house so I can remember to share all these great pictures with you. Anyway, I'm off to bed. We have a fun-filled day of painting and celebrating my brother's birthday tomorrow. I still can remember the first time I saw Jonathan and telling dad that they needed to take him back because he wasn't a girl. Oh well, I think things turned out alright in the end.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I'm in Florida!

So, I'm breaking all the rules of vacation, but I wanted to share this picture with you...

Well, since I've broken the most important rule, how about all my pictures thus far...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Last Days Are Hard.

Today is my last day at the office, at my apartment, as a Fayetteville resident, and as a non-teacher who has to work during the summer. So many things are ending today, but so many are beginning.

Dad came up yesterday, and we loaded the non-gigantic articles in the trailer for him to go ahead and take to Horseshoe Bend last night. It's really weird being in my apartment now. There are no decorations, no curtains, no dishes, nothing except large pieces of furniture and some clothes. I'm beginning to feel overwhelmed. I'm really glad my mom is here. She came back from Batesville with me on Sunday and has been working diligently in my apartment. I don't think I would be this far along if it wasn't for her. I really do have some amazing parents!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

American Idol Rocks!

I had a blast on my trip to St. Louis to see the American Idol Live Tour this weekend. Kayla and I left Batesville Friday morning and headed north. We took our time and only had one major meltdown, which left me with an amazing bruise on my upper arm (gee, thanks Kayla). We stopped for lunch about an hour outside of St. Louis. We did hit the STL right before rush hour, so I was way excited about that. There was only one missed turn, but thanks to Google maps and a giagantic color copier, we were able to find the Scottrade Center very easily and even got to park right next to the building. The arena was very new and very pretty, but what amazed me more than anything was the average age of the people attending the concert. While we were waiting for the gates to open, I noticed that I didn't see a lot of pre-teen and teenagers. I saw 40+ year old women AND men with no children. The ladies that sat directly behind us were well into their forties and fifties.
Our seats were amazing! We were on the floor on row 22. Our row was the beginning of the second section, so there was a giant space between us and the row in front of us, so we didn't have to worry about large fuzzy heads of hair in every photo. The people sitting around us were fun. I made friends with the mother and daughter pair sitting next to me. The mom was a Jason Castro fan and her daughter liked David Archuletta. They were really cute and very friendly. There was even a lady behind me that gave me her e-mail and asked that I e-mail her a few pictures. She didn't bring hers because the last time she came to a concert at the arena, the security people wouldn't let her bring it in. Well, I'm a nice person and don't want anyone to be without pictures of things, so I told her I would do it.

The concert host, yes concert host, Cory came out into the audience and proceeded to stop directly by us and ushered out the giant Pop Tart. Since the event was sponsored by Pop Tarts, everyone wanted to get their picture taken with him. We didn't even have to try. It was great!

Chekizie was the first Idol to perform. His set was really good. He did a Stevie Wonder song that he sang on the show and rocked it. I totally loved him on the show and in person!

Ramielle was next. She was wearing some amazing five inch stiletto patten leather boots. Her outfit on the other hand looked like someone had gone a little crazy with the bedazzler on the black leggings she was wearing. She sang a few songs, but nothing that blew me away.

Micheal Johns made his entrance with a great rendition of Queen's "We Will Rock You." He made his entrance by rising out of the floor at the top of the steps. I even made a quick video of it.

I was really impressed with MJ. He did a great job and was even funny on stage. He joked with us when he sang "Dream On" by Aerosmith, saying he was going to end his set with the song that got him voted off. Anyway, he did a great job.

After the whirlwind that was Micheal Johns came Kristy Lee Cook. Now this poor girl was this season's sympathy vote getter. And when the announcer said her name, the crowd basically groaned out loud and sat down. Even when she sang her standing ovation gimme song, Lee Greenwoods' "God Bless the USA," only half the crowd stood. It was really sad and I started feeling bad for her until she made this comment: "Thank you all for coming to my show." I kid you not, and I quote word for word. There are about 10,000 witnesses if you don't believe me. She even did her KLC leg-cocked-to-the-side-hand-out-rock-back-on-the-other-leg-swing-her-hips pose. On every song. Real annoying.

Carly Smithson was next. Now, she's the girl who had all the potential but good never get it together on the show. I was really looking forward to hearing how she sounded live. She did amazing with her vocals, but her performance was a little lack-luster to me. She really didn't connect with us too much. But she did sing Celine Dion's "Drove All Night," a song she sang on the show, and was AH-MAZING. That girl has got some pipes, that's for sure.

Brooke White was the last person to perform before intermission. She had the second best entrance of the evening so far. She rose out of the floor with a grand piano and sang "Let It Be" for her first song. She surprised me a little. On the show, she always made me nervous to watch her sing, even stopping and starting twice during her time on the show. But she did great.

Before intermission we got the first group sing. The first six performers got to sing a song together and promote the Idol Gives Back Campaign. I'm pretty sure they all hate doing the group sings because they are so cheesey. Anyway, that was the end of the first half.

Concert Host Cory made his appearance on our row again, and Kayla and I took time for a photo op with the Pop Tart. Jason Castro started the second half sitting on a stool with his Ukulele and sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." It was really good. He was a good performer, but still needs to work on his overall performance quality.

Sayeshia Mercado was next. She appeared at the top of the steps in an amazing little dress, with all these rhinestones all over it. Her shoes had even more rhinestones and I totally want them! She sang a few songs, but it was her last song that really made an impression on me. She sang Beyonce's "Listen." That girl sang the poop out of that song. She's the only one all night long that gave me goosebumps up my arms. Amazing!

David Archuletta rose out of the floor playing the grand piano to Robbie Williams' "Angels," one of the songs he sang at the finale. He did alright, but he still needs to mature. Let me know when he's about 23 or 24, and then I might appreciate him a little more. Maybe I was just anticipating who was coming next, but I just thought he was a cute kid with a good voice.
And finally. The moment I had been waiting nine weeks for had finally arrived. The announcer made the "And now, your number one, David Cook" announcement and the crowd went crazy! He made the first strum on his guitar and sang the first Hello from his arrangement of Lionel Ritchie's "Hello" and I seriously thought I wouldn't be able to hear for the next two days. He rose out of the floor where the grand piano had been, and started singing. He was decked out in his rocker make-up and totally killed his set. He sang Nickelback's "Hero" and a couple other songs, and made his exit, but the crowd was on its feet the whole time and screamed for more. Okay, it wasn't just the crowd, it was me too. Although I don't think I was the loudest person there. He came back out and the lighting was this one red light behind him. He started his version of "Billie Jean," and proceeded to rock out for another ten minutes. OMG! I cannot wait until his album comes out; I want it now! (TWSS)

The finale was another group sing, this time including all the idols. Kayla said this was the first year they haven't done a lot of the cheesey group sings and duets. I think I actually like that, although I have no frame of reference to judge that.
My overall thoughts were why hadn't I gone to one of the concerts before! I dedicate two to three nights a week for five months of my life to watching this show, why not enjoy a concert with the people I feel like I know. Anyway, if you get a chance go see the show this year, or next year. I'll probably be there next summer! Rock on!

You can see all of my pictures from the concert here.