Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New beginnings

I've never been the most reflective person but in all my life, all 44 years, I don't think I have ever been so glad to usher out a year and start a fresh one. Last year at this time, life was calm, happy. The biggest thing we were expecting in 2014 was for  our new exchange student, Eva, to move in with us. Looking back, that surely was one of the best things that did happen. She is such an incredible young lady. She fit in our family like a long lost relative.

A lot of what has shaped the rest of 2014 for Abbie, Philip and I was not so great. If you haven't read/heard about our accident then look at my other posts. I don't even want to think about it.
Though, it shaped us in many news ways and has taken us in new ways that I never even considered.

It's easy to talk about the negative but let me instead highlight just a tiny bit of what I've learned/experienced from it:

  • The Shriners are an amazing group of people who do amazing things for free for children. Donate to them every single time you see them. Even if it's just a dollar. They are unbelievable. 
  • Philadelphia is a place I cannot wait to go see again. 
  • That tragedy can bring people into your life and make fast friends. We met a woman from NH who came to help in Moore. We connected in such a great unexpected way. Deb, Abbie and I and even her now 2 dogs. I hope when we go back east in May, we are able to see her and NH. 
  • Neurosurgeons can be personable and fun and still do things that are mind blowing. I will forever feel gratitude to Dr. Martin and Dr. Yaun from the OU hospital in Oklahoma City. FOREVER. 
  • The people of Cherokee Hills Christian Church are some of the most amazing people ever. People who don't just talk the talk but actually live it. 
  • I love Jeeps. :) 
  • Bethany Oklahoma has an amazing rehab facility for children, The Children's Center. I live about 3 miles from it and had no idea that it was what it is. It is an incredible place for special needs children. 
  • I think maybe part of the plan of our family moving to OKC was so we would have the amazing support we did from the accident. People I work with now and have worked with the past 7 years, church family, friends and even strangers. 
  • Abbie loves being on camera. 
  • I really was unhappy and so confused about why I had to, but now I am so grateful I traded my Mazda in. The sheer size difference in the mini van saved lives. 
  • The US govt needs to change insurance laws for semis. 
  • Abbie and I are closer than ever! 
  • True friends stay friends no matter time nor distance. Dr. Louis Caragine was a friend before he was became the astounding neurosurgeon he is. He helped me the night after the accident in a way I can never ever repay. Some families from Ferndale chipped in and surprised Abbie with a kindle (that has come in handy !!) and another friend from Ferndale sent her an amazon gift card so she could get started on her kindle. These are all people who loved Abbie before she was even born and are still a blessing in her life (and mine too!) 
  • Philip loves Abbie in a whole new way. It's glorious to see. 
  • Trauma can continue to affect you long after. This is a hard one for me, as I feel I have moved on but need to be aware it was not me that needs to heal.  
  • For weeks maybe months before, this song was literally stuck in my head. I would heard it all the time. I never loved it before and somehow I knew God put it in my head for a reason. I am certain the calmness of the song resonated throughout my soul the first days after the accident. Keeping me same, helping me to be calm and reassured and LOVED.  

  • .......... Higher than the mountains that I face, Stronger than the power of the grave, Constant through the trail and the change, one thing remains, Your Love Never Fails, never gives up... Never runs out on me. And on and on and on it goes, it overwhelms and satisfies my soul, and I NEVER EVER NEVER HAVE TO BE AFRAID, one thing remains In death, In life, I’m confident and covered by the power of Your great love, My debt is paid, there’s nothing that can separate my heart from Your great love...
God is
Good , all the time!! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Before and After... A New Life (part 2)

The title comes from me feeling like our life is now and forever more set into two categories.. before the accident and after. It is still surreal how easily one moment in time can truly just change everything.

In my last post, I gave some of the details of the injuries we survived. Three of us are mostly back to normal. Abbie is a little different. Abbie suffered an  atlanto-occipital dislocation injury. It is also know as an internal decapitation. OUCH!! Wikipedia says this: This is generally fatal, since it generally involves nerve damage or severing the spinal cord. Thankfully Abbie's accident was not fatal and did not severe any part of the spinal cord.

Here are a few pictures, in order, of Abbie...
Before the accident 

My poor baby!! This was at the scene I believe. 
Abbie is wearing a non invasive halo. Thank God they didn't have to put the screws in her skull
Riding a therapeutic bike at the Children's Center.
Whiskey the dog came for a visit.       

This next photo is when Abbie was getting out of the halo into some new hardware. The man you see pictured, Jonathan, is amazing. He helped Abbie with love and kindness, even when she was cranky! He came to see her numerous times while she was at the Children's Center, fixing her brace, trying his best to make her comfortable. He is simply a gift from God.

Abbie and Jonathan, the OU orthotist
The new brace. She looks happier here than she has in months!

Dressing up as Dr. Who for a friend's birthday party. She sure was excited. She still has her brace on here, and looks larger than life :) But in reality she has lost close to 10 lbs throughout the whole ordeal. 

YES!! Yes, this is Abbie with NO BRACE!! PRAISE THE GOOD LORD. 12 weeks later, the brace is off. Her neck is healing. She has been set free, with only a few restrictions. 

Abbie's amazing recovery is not over. She still has far to go, but the miracle God has performed through her is just evident. Look at her long giraffe neck :) You can't see the scar because it is in the back of her neck. It's about 5" inches long (that's what brothers are for... measuring the scar! HA!)

Sometimes it's hard in our lives to stop and really think about the things we have to be thankful for. I challenge you to do that today, right now. Because truly, in the matter of moments, your whole life can change.. for the better or worse.. and maybe a little bit of both at the same time. I, for one, am so grateful that I had God with me throughout this whole process. And the best part is... He will continue to be with me forever!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Before and After...... A New Life (part 1)

I have never liked reading someone's blog and hearing how they are so sorry for not posting. Well, I now understand. It has been awhile for me, and truthfully I have no idea who even reads these posts :)

On March 15, 2013, my daughter, Abbie; my son, Philip; and our exchange student, Eva and I were all so pumped for Spring Break to start. We were all ready at about 4:30 to FINALLY get on the road and head to Chicago. The plan was to just drive until Philip and I were too tired to drive, get a hotel and then finish the ride in the morning. We were on our way to see John, my oldest, at college and to see my brother and sister in law, Kevin and Glazia. I think I told every one I knew we were going. I had posted on Facebook, even spent time counted down the time. Now, just in case you don't know, I grew up just outside of Chicago. We weren't just going to Chicago (which is awesome on it's own), but in my heart and mind... we were going HOME.

So we jumped in the roomy mini van, and headed out. Bought some gas just up the road then got on the turnpike. Listening to music, eating snacks........ I am sure you know where this is going.... Approximately 34 miles from home... we were REARENDED by a semi. WHAT!?!?! Yes, yes we really were. No joke!!
This is a real true picture of my mini van after the accident.

We survived ONLY by the grace of God.

I really have been somewhat busy these last 3+ months. Philip suffered a severe concussion and 18 staples in his head. Thankfully he is doing great. Eva broke a bone in her foot, dislocated and fractured her elbow. She has since gone home to Denmark (oh we miss her!!) but the doctor declared her a healed "perfect" patient before she left. I am still sore and have a swollen right leg (it's about 4 inches bigger than my left.. no joke!). Abbie, however, has not been as fortunate. Well, she is so fortunate. She is indeed a walking miracle!! I'll post more about her and her recovery tomorrow......

So, if you missed me... now you know what has been happening........

The weird thing is... we are on summer vacation and I am feeling like it is time to go back to school. I know I know, I sound crazy! HA!! But I have been out since March 15th, so it is somewhat understandable. I just hope and pray I can be somewhat productive between now and when school starts... maybe tomorrow.. after my nap :) HA!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Some of my favorite times

Every year I try to do activities with my students outside of school. This has been a great way for me to build relationships with all my students, especially those that are hard to reach. Building relationships with our students I feel should be top priority for all teachers. The famous unknown quote:

"To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world" really makes me stop and think about these lovely children in my care, daily. 

This year I took many to Braum's the first time around. They had earned a free ice cream coupon, so the adventure was very light on my budget. The students had a great time. It sure is fun to talk and enjoy them without any school stress going on.
Fun at Braum's with some of my favorite students!

January 2013 started my new round of adventures, and I was able to take 3 students to Pizza Hut with me. This time around they earned free pizza coupons, so they were able to order their own pizza with whatever topping they wanted.

Two sweet girls out on the town for dinner!
I love when my daughter Abbie tags along. This young man is not in my class, but another fun "tag along" this time. He brings a special joy to my heart!!

What are some things you do to build relationships with your students? I would love to hear!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Will Rogers

Not having grown up in the great state of Oklahoma, Will Rogers has never been a person of interest to me. Until this week this is. Oklahoma has recently changed their teaching standards and now third grade teaches Oklahoma history. Personally, I thought this is going to be great, to learn all the history of the state along with my students. Yeah, well, it's not all that exciting. Until this week.
The students were quite attentive the whole time. 

So what happened this week, you wonder? We were treated to a presentation by Dr. Doug Watson, a Will Rogers expert. He came out to our school yesterday and spent about an hour talking to the students about Will Rogers. He did rope tricks, using his lariat.
Roping tricks

He talked of how he (Will) had to ask his wife 3 times before she agreed to marry him. Will made over 70 motion picture movies, most of which were silent. He was born on Nov. 4th (happens to be the same day as a boy friend I had... and my students found that to be GROSS!! HA!).
My class and "Will Rogers"

We spent some time after writing thank you letters. This is by far m favorite. "Out of the mouths of babes" they say. 

"It was sad how Will Rogers passt away but I took it like a man!" 
Here is another good response: 

We have to end on an illustration :) I love third graders!

If you are interested in learning more about Will Rogers, the man and legend, visit the
Will Rogers Memorial Museum.

December was an exciting month is our classroom. I feel blessed we are able to celebrate Christmas, though not the real reason behind it.

Here are some of the lessons and activities that happened in our class:

We were secret elves to our Kindergarten Rocket Buddies. Every day we secretly sent a note and a fun surprise to their class. The notes all started with...
On the 12th (descending order) day of school before the Christmas break, my secret elf gave to me.....

What fun for both classes. The last day we barged into their classroom to deliver gifts to each students. We were pleasantly surprised to get a gift back from them, too.
Check out the fun!
Two cuties in their pj's!
Brothers and Buddies! Very exciting :) 
Student decorated this gift for one of their buddies! Isn't it beautiful :) 
Opening gifts is always fun!

I always feel so blessed as a teacher. December was no exception!

Sunday, December 30, 2012


(this is from October, I didn't realize I had not published it! and now we are getting ready for the second benchmark!)

Whew.. most of our benchmark testing is over for the first nine weeks. I have 2 who still need to finish tomorrow with the special ed teacher. While this is a stressful time, I really like having the data to look at and use.

It's hard for third graders, because they have never really taken a big test before. Using bubble sheets (I always want to call them scantrons but I am thinking that is not "politically correct") is new to them. Being totally quiet for an extended period of time is also new. I understand the big push in stamina for students, I just wish younger grade teachers would catch on.

The best thing is that our district has subscribed to Mastery Connect. Have you tried it? You can find it at  You put your test in, the answers and align it to your state standards.Next you take a picture of your bubble sheet and it scores it automatically for you. It is amazing. It then scores it and you see instantly how your students did individually and as a whole class. I never knew it could be so easy!!

Coming back to third grade sure feels like I have come back home! While there are definitely bumps in the road, it feels good to be home.