Wordless Wednesday - College Selfies!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I'm so excited for these guys! Dorms and roommates and meal plans and class schedules...the whole disorienting, exhilarating, peak-of-the-roller-coaster feeling of such a new and different chapter in life. These Falcons are flying! 

Good luck, boys!

Weekend Wrap-Up

Monday, August 25, 2014

Really this was our last summer weekend, because we're about to dive into in-service week at Flint. Which, I know, is later than most schools. No school on Fridays AND super long summers? Very important parts of the Flint philosophy, and for much more philosophical reasons than Yay! Pajamas! I promise.
(But also, Yay! Pajamas!)

One of the last things I wanted to squeeze in before school started was an updated family picture, with us all in our typical game-day clothes. Just a nice picture of the five of us together, looking how we're going to look for the majority of the school year. So GiGi very kindly met us at a park and snapped ten thousand or so shots, with the hope that SOME would have us all looking reasonably normal. She took lovely pictures, and I love the one that I'm using for a blogging profile, but we didn't make it easy for her! 

The odds of all five of us not making a strange face or crying or anything at the same time just aren't good. Somebody is going to sneeze on a basketball, you can count on it. 

Or stick out their tongue and try to escape.

Phoebe wasn't the only culprit, though. Plenty of pictures show us ALL not cooperating.

Phoebe is three hundred percent done with this sitting still thing, I'm trying to keep hold of the basketball that she keeps hurling away - and I'm laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation. Aaron and Lainey are all, IT'S HOT OUT HERE. ARE WE STILL DOING THE SMILING THING?  But look at Avalon! She's smiling so sweetly and demurely, you say!

Nope. I cropped this picture where I did because she decided to flip up her skirt and flash the camera.

But we did succeed eventually!

Avalon and Lainey went to my little sister's slumber party on Friday night, and Aaron and I had an actual date! We got to see one of our best pals from school use ALL of the accents (and mustaches!) known to man in a play in Dallas. And the next morning we all headed out to the Back to School picnic, which is always wonderful. It's like a Flint reunion after our long summer apart!

Afterwards Aimee had the other half of her birthday party (since lots of her friends are boys and couldn't come to her slumber party) in the same park. My mom got her hands on a catapult and the kids ran around dodging wet sponge bombs, which was awesome AND finished the job of completely wearing them out! They slept like little logs at nap-time, and then, since Aaron was at back-to-back fantasy football drafts, we had a girls night and baked muffins and painted fingernails and watched movies until they were ready to go back to sleep.

After church yesterday I spent a solid four hours in the kitchen, baking and prepping meals for the week. And watching silly romantic comedies on Netflix for most of that time, since Aaron was at another fantasy football draft and the kids took another good long nap. My feet were sore by the time I was finished, and it's one of those jobs that can SOUND wearying, but it's actually really relaxing. Baking is fun, knowing that I won't have to do as much to make dinner after work all week is fun, and watching Romancing the Stone is fun. It's a win all around!

Now to update bulletin boards and write syllabi!

Booster Club, Baby!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You know what's more fun than cleaning? Planning the booster club!
I tried to do booster-y, spirit-y things last year, but solo and fairly disorganized. I was thrilled when some of the moms started bailing me out mid-season. THIS year things are going to be all organized and planned and not-solo! Because (and here's my blindingly obvious revelation for the week) it's okay to ask for help! And not try to do everything alone! Who knew!

So I'm sorting through all of my fund-raising and spirit-raising ideas and assigning them to different months of the school year... and making sign-up sheets and coordinating with the PTF. I'm so excited!

The first thing on my list was yard signs. We ordered some last year but, as Lainey would say, I'm not in love with them. So naturally, I decided to make them myself this year! I wanted to have samples ready to show at the back to school picnic so people could see if they wanted to order one right away. Yesterday I spent the morning working on them and altering jerseys.

Number 13 is for my own house, because that's Bernachi and he'll be staying with us this school year. And sadly, it took this wobbly-lettered prototype to convince me that I do, in fact, need to use a ruler to align the words. I don't know why I'm so resistant to rulers. Or why I think I can put things in a straight line on my own. There's nearly thirty years of experience telling me otherwise! I promise to break down and do the other ones properly. And I also won't make the mistake of using that paint pen again that is SUPPOSED to be navy but isn't and doesn't match. Don't judge the yard signs by my prototype, is what I'm saying. When I'm finished I should have a sample for basketball, volleyball, and non-sports-themed Flint Academy pride.

The other thing I did was create a GoFundMe for the athletics program, which I hope will boost up (haha) our fundraising efforts a bit.


In case you didn't just go click on that and donate a teensy bit (although I can't imagine THAT because you know a good cause when you see one!) here is the write-up that I created for it:

The athletics program at Flint Academy is a unique model of inclusion and sports. Some of the players are serious athletes who go on to receive college scholarships, some are students who enjoy playing and being part of a team, and some are students with moderate to significant learning and behavioral disorders. At Flint, everyone makes the team. 
We do not have a gym - the players practice in the parking lot after school. We are not a large school - the total student body from pre-k to 12th grade is less than 100 students. We are not a wealthy school - and academics are of course the main financial priority. But in spite of these obstacles we are competitive with much larger private and public schools. We were district champions in varsity basketball last year! 
Flint Athletics offers valuable experiences and character-building opportunities to students who would otherwise miss out. We need your help to continue providing this wonderful program! We are trying to raise funds to help cover expenses for things like equipment, gym rentals (we have to rent a gym for every home game on our schedule), referee fees, gas and lodging expenses for away games, uniforms, tournament fees, and developing new sports programs. If you've ever claimed to love underdogs, here is your chance to help them overcome!
Thank you for your support,Nicole Hallford, Flint Booster Club

Weekend Wrap-Up

Monday, August 18, 2014

"I only have ONE thing left on my to-do list for the house" Ha. Hahahahaha. Sob.

Turns out "wash all the baseboards and trim and walls" is not actually ONE task. It's more like one hydra. It involved washing the baseboards and trim and walls...and scrubbing the grout and dusting the ceiling fans and cleaning the carpet and power-blasting the garage door and furniture-polishing all of the cabinets and much MUCH more for two solid days. Every time I thought I was almost finished, I would find seven more vitally important cleaning tasks that must be taken care of or the house would never sell!

I am left with a house that looks approximately the same, and a deep suspicion regarding the basic hygiene of everyone who lives here.

Fortunately they all pitched in and helped valiantly, and not one bit of grumbling did I hear during this no-fun-at-all work weekend. The little girls even worked - on Friday they were given the task of collecting all of their toys and trash from the back yard, and on Saturday they had to clean their room and sort and put away their own laundry. They had such good attitudes that they were rewarded with ice cream after both jobs!

Will work for ice cream

My reward was much better that ice cream. It was that check-mark in my planner next to Put House on the Market and the satisfaction of a goal met. It's all official and everything!

Oh gosh, look how dirty the sidewalk got when it rained yesterday. MAYBE I SHOULD WASH IT!

My other reward was to take so long getting ready that I nearly made us late for church yesterday, because after two sweaty no-makeup days I really needed to feel like a girl again and not a house-elf.

Seriously, I Red a Good Book? Was this nail polish made for me, or what!

After we signed paperwork and stuff yesterday afternoon, we celebrated with a lazy evening and a very Southern type meal - the first one in the last few days that I've had time to bother making nice.

It's just missing some greens!

Slow-cooker beans, cornbread, sweet tea, and apple crumble. All home-made and sugar free. I think I've created a monster by attempting sweet tea with xylitol in the simple syrup instead of sugar. You can't tell the difference at all and Aaron is now demanding earnestly requesting that I keep some made up ALL OF THE TIME.

The girls had their bath and bedtime deal...


And then Aaron and some of the boys and I hung out all evening. Among other topics, they helped me brainstorm a bunch of ideas for the booster club this year. I need to get all things booster-related organized and typed up before the back-to-school picnic. Which is NEXT Monday and not today, thank goodness! This is going to be an awesome week of planning and list-making and...fantasy football drafts. So, I'll be watching Downton Abbey at least three nights in a row!

Quick Takes

Friday, August 15, 2014

1. Remember that one time? When I thought that next week was teacher in-service week and I nearly killed myself trying to fit about five thousand getting-the-house-ready-to-put-on-the-market projects around a bunch of Avalon's theatre camp performances and all of the random stuff that still needed catching up after being gone for a week? So there were MORE THAN A FEW days where I was running on caffeine and stubbornness and three hours of sleep? And then on Thursday afternoon I realized that I actually have an ENTIRE WEEK more than I thought before in-service? Ha! Classic Nicole, right? Good times!

2. I'm beginning to suspect that my brain is actively out to get me.

On the bright side, though, we got a lot accomplished! I have only ONE thing left on my to-do list for the house (wash all the walls and baseboards and trim. No wonder I left that one for last) and a few things to motivate my guys to finish (deal with those shifting piles of personal belongings or I will throw everything away and I won't even be a little bit sorry) and I think we can make my goal of getting the house officially on the market this weekend! I have no idea what to do with next week, but I am QUITE sure that my brain will come up with some sort of hideously time-consuming project. Or ten.

3. One of our boys moved out last week and is moving into his college dorm tomorrow. It's...bittersweet. We're proud of him, and excited for him, but we miss our Scotty! You wouldn't think so from the lighting speed with which we turned his room into an office, but it's just better staging. And also, an office! We do miss him, though, especially the girls, who have been needing long discussions about growing up and going to college and how that's just a normal part of life. They get it, but they were sad to see their brother go. He's been with us for more than two years, after all.

4. At least he finally had a Catan victory the night before he left! We couldn't decide if it was a good omen or a right of passage.
He's a MAN now!

5. Don't think that you're going to get out of hearing about Avalon's play, which was ADORABLE and she was FANTASTIC and BEAUTIFUL and etc.!

She had a dress rehearsal and three performances this week, so we spent the majority of our mornings on hair, makeup, and shows. It was exhilarating for her - not one bit of stage fright in this child! "THAT WAS TERRIFIC! Was I awesome? I was AWESOME!" quoth she - and a nice chance for the two of us to spend some extra one-on-one time together. Bonding over eyeliner, belting out the ensemble songs on the way to the theater, that kind of thing. 

6. She was cast as Flower #2, and had TWO lines (which she only mixed up the order of once!) and got to sing (loudly!) in several songs and do a little ballet number with the other flowers. I've been feeling so proud of how hard she worked, how quickly she memorized the lines and songs, and the amazing attitude she's had about everything! 

7. It was fun for the rest of the family, too, getting to go watch the shows. Lainey has decided that she wants to be in a play next time (she was too young for this year's camp) and Phoebe, who is not in a stage where she'll sit quietly for ANY length of time, watched each performance in entranced silence. Aaron's mom and my mom, and Dr. Flint, and Gran all came to see the show, as did a bunch of the boys. I LOVE that my big tough boys voluntarily come to children's musical theatre at ten in the morning to support their little sister. Bernachi even came to see it twice!

We admittedly look a bit confusing, but this family is beautiful, if you ask me.

Wordless Wednesday: Grammy

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The girls love visiting Grammy, their great-great-grandmother. It's the perfect time to sing You are my Sunshine, show off newly accomplished skills like snapping your fingers, and discover that some people's teeth can pop right out at you.

Or, if you're Phoebe, it's the perfect time to cause mayhem with an empty wheelchair, make mad dashes into other residents' rooms, and frustrate your great-great-grandmother with your utter refusal to cuddle or play with her.

Circe Apprenticeship Retreat!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dr. Flint asked me last year if I would be interested in participating in the classical education teacher apprenticeship program offered by the Circe Institute. I was very interested, but when it came right down to it? I panicked and told her it was a bad idea for me to apply - I'm not smart enough, I'm too busy, I can't just up and LEAVE MY BABIES twice a year, etc. Luckily for me she ordered encouraged me to go anyway, right smack out of my comfort zone, and it has been exactly what I've needed. The retreat last week marked the beginning of my second year in the program and oh, how I love it. 

It's still ridiculously difficult to be away from my family for a week, and I'm still frequently intimidated by the intellectual level of everything, but I love it. I love the people and the books and the discussions and the TEACHER (seriously, may I please be Leah Lutz when I grow up?) and the location, and the opportunity. For all of the grumbling I do about being homesick, or mentally exhausted, or terrified to teach my model lessons, I'm insanely grateful for the opportunity to be in the program. I'm (hopefully) a better teacher because of it, but I think I'm also a better person... a tiny bit more brave and informed and confident. So many of my thoughts and instincts get fleshed and out and clarified through this process, as I'm being introduced to even more new thoughts. 

It would have been so easy -and so justifiable!- to stay burrowed in my busy little nest. Jetting off to California for a week of intense discussions on Dante and Homer and rhetoric and Hicks? With side excursions to Shakespeare in the Park and Rodin exhibits at Stanford and cute restaurants and sight-seeing in Carmel and Monterey?  Having time for actual, in-depth conversations with other ladies? Just being my own self and not taking care of a crew of children of varying degrees of height and independence? Really, really not everyday for me.

But, I think, very good for me. And by extension, very good for my family and my students. A part of me feels guilty to discover how much I needed to step away for a week! But I feel so refreshed and rejuvenated now, so ready to dive back in with all of these new ideas and perspectives, that I think they all needed me to take this time also. It's good to miss and be missed, if that makes any sense, and wonderful to be so happy to be home. It's all very affirming!

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