Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30 is here!

After 4 months of working on National Boards...I am done!

After 6 months of tutoring...I am done!

After 10 months of working on his "project"...Tal is done!

The last 10 months haven't been easy for our family, but Tal and I have persevered and done our best until we'd fulfilled all of our obligations.

We are thankful for the personal, professional, and financial benefits that our family has (and will) experienced because of National Boards, tutoring, and Tal's project. In the coming months, Tal and I trust the Lord will bless our faithfulness and hard work!

Waiting Game

On Saturday, I took my National Boards assessment. During the 30-minute essay test, I answered 8 questions about how to purchase materials for a library.

Now the waiting game begins. In November, I'll find out if I earned the 4 points I needed to pass National Boards (and earn my 12% pay raise). I'm praying for good news in 7 months!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Curb Appeal Chronicles: Part 2

Over the next few weeks, Tal and I are improving our house's curb appeal. 

Last weekend, Tal pulled out 7 overgrown bushes 
from our 18x21 flower bed below:

 Here is Savannah, our cute sidekick, 
who is ready to help us dig in the dirt: 

Yesterday, Tal and I put down landscape fabric 
to control the weeds:

Then, we spaced out where to plant our new bushes:

 Next, Tal dug 10 holes! 

Tal was exhausted and ready for lunch 
when he finished digging the holes:

After lunch, Tal (my hero!) planted the 10 bushes. Along the garage and dining room, we planted 4 gardenias, which will grow 4-6 feet tall, produce some lovely white flowers, and give us some privacy.

Along the sidewalk, we planted 7 low-lying boxwoods that will grow 2-3 feet tall and create a nice border for the area. 

In the coming weeks, Tal and I plan to:
1. spread some mulch in the front yard
2. plant 2 shrubs or trees in the urns next to our front steps
3. Plant 3 bushes to the right of our front steps.
4. In the middle of the large flower bed, plant a flowering tree (6-8 ft. tall) or put a large planter 
(perhaps a non-functioning fountain?) filled with colorful flowers.

Tal and I love our landscaping progress so far and look forward to seeing our curb appeal improve over the next few weeks!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy Blogiversary!

Today Tal and I are celebrating our 4th blogiversary! Four years ago, I started our family blog. Over the last 4 years, I've written 455 posts, which is an average 113 posts each year and 2 posts each week.
Blogging has turned into one of my favorite hobbies. I spend several hours each week taking, editing, and uploading photos, as well as writing posts.

From the beginning, my goal has been to keep our family and friends informed, as well as to chronicle Savannah's childhood.

Each year, I get our blog published and bound in a hardcover book, which I plan to give to Savannah when she's older. In the future, I hope the blog books bring Savannah fond memories of her childhood home, milestones, vacations, etc.

Happy Blogiversary!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Curb Appeal Chronicles: Part 1

When our family bought our house 15 months ago, it was a foreclosure and had been vacant for 6 months.

The yard was in sad shape. The bushes were overgrown. Weeds had overtaken the yard. The grass (which our neighbors said had been knee-high the summer before we moved in) had lots of bare spots. 

April 2012

Tal and I have a 3-5 year plan to transform our front and back yard from "eye sore" to "eye candy." This spring and summer, we're concentrating on the front yard only and targeting areas that will give us the "biggest bang for our buck."

With our $600 budget, here's our to-do list: 
  • Remove the 7 shrubs in the large flower bed to the left of our front door.
  • Remove 2 shrubs to the right of our front door.
  • In the large flower bed, plant bushes in an "L" shape (next to the garage and in front of our dining room).
  • Plant a flowering tree or bush (6-8 ft. tall) in the center of the large flower bed.
  • In front of the flowering tree, plant some annnuals or low grasses. (TBD)
  • In front of our arching front door, plant a tall bush (6-8 ft tall) on each side.
  • Lay mulch in the front yard.
  • If our budget allows, fill 2 large pots with colorful flowers and place on each side of our front steps.
Last Saturday, Tal and I put our plan into action. Here's what our front yard looked liked on Saturday (and for the last 15 months):

(a close-up of our 21x18 flower bed)


First, Tal pulled out the 7 overgrown bushes below:

Then, Tal removed the top layer of weeds, roots, and leaves:

Savannah and I scooped up the piles of debris and
dumped them in the back of Tal's truck:

Savannah was a good helper!
Take a look at Savannah filling her shovel with dirt
and dumping it in Tal's truck:

When we were done, the three of us went to the yard waste landfill (where yard waste is converted to mulch) and dumped everything from the back of Tal's truck:

In the coming weeks, our goal is to plant shrubs, flowers, and a tree, as well as lay some mulch. Stay tuned! 

Daddy's Helper

On Saturday night, Tal made chocolate pudding dessert (with some help from a cute 3 year-old). Savannah, who wanted to be part of the action, was delighted to help Daddy beat the milk and pudding and then lick the beaters:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Second Time Around

Today I mailed my National Boards portfolio! For the last 2 years,
I've been working on my National Boards certification, which includes a portfolio and assessment to prove that I'm an excellent teacher.

In November 2011, I learned that I needed 4 more points to pass. Over the last 4 months, I've been revising one part of my porfolio, as well as preparing to take a 30-minute assessment on April 28.

When I mailed my portfolio today, it only contained 12 pages of writing and 16 pages of artifacts (as required), but I've easily invested over 100 hours into reading, writing, and researching during the last 4 months.

In my portfolio, I strived to implement the assessors' comments and provide evidence that:
  • I'm a leader.
  • I'm a learner.
  • I'm a collaborator.
  • I involve parents and the community.
  • I reflect on my teaching practice to increase my effectiveness.
  • I use 2-way communication.
  • I share my expertise with others.
  • I impact teaching and learning.
This has been a long journey...full of late evenings, long weekends, and sleepness nights (along with some tears along the way). National Boards has consumed my life for the last 2 years (and most of Savannah's life). I'm so ready to complete this chapter in my life and have more relax, to sleep, to exercise, to spend time with my family.

For now, though, I wait...for 7 months. In November, I'll find out if I earned the 4 points I need to pass National Boards. Hopefully, all of my hard work will pay off (literally) when I earn my 10-year certification and a 12% pay raise.

I'm praying for good news in November!

P.S. Savannah is at Grandma Barbara's house this week, so tomorrow Tal and I are having a date night to celebrate the completion of his "project" and my portfolio. :-)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Easter!

On Sunday, our family celebrated Easter at our church. Our church presented an hour-long Easter Cantata that depicted Jesus's death and resurrection through drama and song.

Tal sang about 10 songs with the choir, while I narrated the drama. At the end of the drama, several individuals came forward to receive Jesus as their personal Savior. Praise the Lord!

Mya and Savannah


Mya and Grandma Judy

Savannah, Tal, and Rachel

My Mom and Me

Jesus is Risen

Check out the Easter art that Grandma Judy,
Grandma Barbara, Savannah, and Mya created on our driveway:

He is Risen
 Happy Easter

Mya and Savannah

Easter Bunny Surprises

What did the Easter Bunny leave for 2 sweet girls on Easter morning?

Abby Cadabby Notepad
Dora Fashion Foam Beads
Candy Necklace and Bracelets
Silly Sunglasses
Disney Lipgloss Phone
Barbie Stickers

Junie B. Jones Puzzle Book
7 Shoelace Bracelets
Veggie Tales Jonah Movie

Princess Bubbles
Elmo Notepad
Princess Stickers
Silly Sunglasses
Dora Lipgloss Watch

Savannah and Mya

Mya and Grandma Judy look at Mya's new movie:

Grandma Barbara, Savannah, and Mya
check out the lipgloss watch:

Silly Sunglasses

Mya solves puzzles:

Search Party

Last Saturday afternoon, Savannah and Mya participated in an Easter Egg hunt with 50 kids at our church. 

Before the hunt, everyone ate a hot dog lunch. Then, I shared the Easter story and used the 12 Resurrection Eggs to illustrate Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection.  

After a couple games, it was time for the Easter Egg Hunt:

Savannah was ready for a nap and  
pretty subdued while looking for eggs:

Savannah found some of the 1,000 hidden eggs!

Check out Mya's basketful of eggs:

Grandma Barbara and Savannah swing after the egg hunt:

Then, all of us worked together to open
the eggs and take out the candy:

Grandma Judy and Savannah

Grandma Barbara, Grandma Judy, and Savannah

Sweet Treats

While Mya and Grandma Judy visited us in NC, we ate ice cream 3 times! With the exception of Savannah, all of us love turtle desserts from Dairy Queen. 

Grandma Barbara ordered a turtle blizzard. Grandma Judy ate a turtle sundae. Mya and I shared a turtle waffle bowl sundae that was topped with nuts, caramel, and hot fudge. It was a  perfect evening to eat ice cream outside!

Grandma Judy and Mya

Savannah loves vanilla ice cream. :-)