Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekly Update

I think the GOAL trip was a success. We had a minor setback when the pool was closed (someone had puked in it that afternoon), but the kids were really well behaved, and I think they had a good time. I was a little disappointed in the Iowa Hall of Pride. I guess I didn't realize it was SO sports oriented. Plus, it was a little more rigid than I prefer... having to be in this room for this exact set time... having to fill out this scavenger hunt during this specific time. I'm not sure I will take students there again. We got a very thorough tour of Grand View College campus, so the kids got to see what that school is like.The State Historical Museum was great too, but I actually think we would all agree that the Des Moines Art Center was the best stop on the trip (well, the kids might argue Spaghetti Works, but the Art Center would be a close second). What a gem! I had no idea that the museum was so fantastic. I could have spent another two hours there, at least. If you have a chance, you really have to see it. Plus, it's free!

The weekend was pretty relaxing (which was good, since I didn't get much sleep with the 8th graders!). I worked in the yard, went to a graduation party (many more next weekend), and went to a barbecue last night.

Today, I'm headed to the mall with the 7th graders for their assignment journal reward. It should be a fun day. I can't believe we only have 8 days of school left. Where has this year gone?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Good News

My dad had his surgery yesterday, and we got a very good report. The surgeon thought that they got all the cancer out, and the soft tissue around the prostate was all clear. He also thought the lymph nodes looked clear, but they're sending several different samples to the lab to make sure. Dad was in good spirits and enjoying his morphine pump. :) Matt and I went to be with our stepmom during the surgery, and my dad's best friend Jimmy was there too. There were also 4 people from our church, including our pastor who stopped in to wait with us and see Dad after the surgery. We hope and pray the reports continue to be this good.

I leave at 3:30 today to accompany my 8th grade GOAL class on its trip to Des Moines. I know we'll have fun, and they better behave... or else! :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Madness Begins

Between now and the end of school (June 5), I have to miss 5 school days. This Wednesday is my dad's surgery (his heart tests showed that there had been no further deterioration, and the surgery is on for Wednesday morning). Friday, I'll be in Des Moines with my 8th grade GOAL students; we leave Thursday after school. Next Tuesday is the 7th grade assignment journal reward trip to Coral Ridge Mall outside of Iowa City. That Friday is the 6th grade GOAL trip to Nauvoo. Then, on the Monday of the last week of school, I take the 7th grade GOAL students to Hannibal. Wow. That's a lot of prepping for subs. Ick.

It was a beautiful weekend here. I worked outside in my yard for a few hours. I got some things done, but I have about a million more to do. Yesterday, my friend Gay had a belated birthday supper for my friend Tom and me. She grilled chicken, and she made black bean soup from my mom's recipe for my birthday present. It was SO GOOD! I haven't had it in ages. She also made asparagus, homemade sangria, pasta salad, crescent rolls, and tirimisu (sp?) for dessert. Even though I've been really trying to watch what I eat, I couldn't resist that! Several friends were there, and it was a nice get-together. Emily P. said that she was headed over to Christian and Ali's (friends from Godspell) new place for their housewarming party when she left Gay's. Heather and I decided to crash that party too, and it turned out to be a late night. I never stay out until 11:30 on a school night! It was fun, but I'll probably be regretting it today.

Saturday afternoon/evening, I went to Emma's dance recital. So cute! It was so fun seeing her up there on stage doing her thing. Jack was so good too. I wondered how a two-year-old would do in the audience for an hour and a half, but it went really well. The music teacher at my school was sitting next to me with her family, and their one-year-old, Addison, became my new best friend. She wanted to sit on my lap, and you all know what a sucker I am for babies! I couldn't get enough of that little cutie! It was a really nice evening.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Weight of the World

So, I usually don't let all this go on my blog, but today is just one of those days when I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. One of the biggest things on my mind today is my dad. His prostate cancer surgery is scheduled for next week, on the 21st. Yesterday, he had his checkup with his heart doctor, and they're not sure his heart can handle the surgery. Tomorrow he goes in for more tests, and they might end up doing open heart surgery, depending on what they find. It's very hard to focus on things at school when that's over my head.

Sometimes things build up in my life, and I just want to escape. That's what I feel today... like I just want to run away from my life. Ever feel like that?

Sorry for the downer blog entry. But sometimes writing things out helps me cope. Keep my dad in all of your prayers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ceremony of Honor

I just got back from the ceremony at the Jefferson County Law Enforcement Center for National Police Officers Memorial Week. They honored the police dog that died this year, D'Jenno, and also my grandpa, Billy Sutherlin. I didn't really plan on attending, because the service was at 10:00 on a Tuesday morning, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed to be there. If my grandma or my mom were alive, I knew they'd be there. I asked my boss, and he found someone to cover my 3rd hour. On my way out the door today, he stopped me and said, "I just thought you'd like to know, but Susan (one of our district's subs) called this morning and offered to sub for free so you could go to the ceremony." I didn't need her, but that was so nice of her to offer!

I got to the Law Enforcement Center a little before 10. The storm clouds were rolling in, and it was starting to rain. I visited with the officers and guests and stood by my Uncle Robert (my grandma's brother and a former Posse member) and Dick Bogner (dear family friend and former Posse member). Despite the wind and light rain, we went outside where the officers had lined up in two lines. Two men played the bagpipes. Police Chief Randy Cooksey guided me up to the front to stand by him and the other officers.

Several people spoke about service and sacrifice. The most touching to me though was when Dick spoke. He talked of having to tell his son Rick, 12 at the time, that his fishing buddy had been killed in the line of duty. Man, that got to me. I imagined my mom and my grandma standing next to me, one on either side. I swear I felt my grandma at my right elbow. I know she was there. I got to thinking that as long as people are remembering, Grandpa isn't really gone. And as long as people are remembering, I know him, even though I've never met him in person. I'm lucky in that way, I guess.

The service ended with an officer (I wish I remembered his name... maybe it was Sgt. Thomas?) talking about D'Jenno, the police dog that passed away this year. That was touching too because I remember Grandma talking about the police dog from her active days of being on City Council. You could tell the officer was really grieving the loss of this dog that had saved his life on at least one occasion. His kids were there too, and they were just sad about losing their dog, but you couldn't help but be moved. They spread the dog's ashes out by the Law Enforcement Center sign, so she would always be there.

There was a reception inside after, and I couldn't stay long, but I stayed long enough to take pictures of the display set up to honor Grandpa's memory. The plaques hang on the wall at the center all the time, but this trifold with the clippings was set up just for this occasion.

I'm so glad I went. I'm honored to be Billy Sutherlin's granddaughter, and I'm proud of the sacrifice he made. I was touched to see that he made a difference in many people's lives, and that they still remember, almost 40 years later. My mom was 19 when my grandpa died. The life of every member of my family, including myself, was altered that day. It's pretty intense to think about. My mom used to speak to reserve police officers about my grandpa and his death. She did it as part of training programs all across the state, to remind officers about the danger, the honor, the sacrifice of their jobs. Wow. It makes me so proud of them both. I know my grandpa would be honored to have his legacy continue in that way.

I look back on this and notice that I've been writing "proud" and "honor" so much. But I guess those were the overwhelming words of the day. I was proud and honored. Beyond words.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Love This Movie

OK, I have a new movie that I'm pretty much obsessed with. It's called Waitress. I didn't get to see it in the theatres, but I rented it this weekend, and I LOVE LOVE LOVED it! It stars Keri Russell, and it just had everything... I laughed, I got teary... it was GREAT. I'm going to watch it at least once more before I have to take it back to Family Video. So good!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Great Birthday

I had a super day yesterday. My day started with an early text message from Stephen with birthday wishes. I had a happy birthday comment on my blog from Jeff and one from Claire the day before. I had flowers at school from Uncle Ben & Aunt Twila (and WOW, were they beautiful). I had a birthday phone call from Tracy and Olivia who sang me the best birthday song ever. I had an e-card from Suzanne. I had a phone call from Matt. I had a voice mail from Uncle Ben & Aunt Twila. I had a cute Duck game in the mail from Virginia. I had some smoked almonds from Cara. Heather gave me this adorable sign to hang in my house that says "Lose the Drama." :) In the mail was a package from Tracy... the complete unabridged audiobook of Julie Andrews reading her autobiography. It's 11 CD's! YEA!

At rehearsal last night, I felt a little tap on my shoulder, and Jack and Emma (& Suzanne) had brought me a card and a balloon (and big birthday hugs too). I also had a present from Tom... if you can call it that. He gave me a big package of incontinence pads because 1. I'm old, and 2. It's the unfortunate result of me sharing the spelling of my name with a certain brand of incontinence products. :( He also gave me a hosta which I hope to get planted before I kill it. The cast sang to me and so did everyone at my mentoring meeting after school. I had a birthday card from my cousin Wayne, and I also had a very sweet birthday card from Emily R. from the Godspell cast who is a former student of mine, but who is turning into a fun friend. I love it when that happens.

I had the afternoon off yesterday... took a 1/2 personal day... to sing at the FA&CC for 3 different state tourism groups who were checking out Fairfield. A few of us from Celebrate Sondheim dusted off some of our old numbers. I had to sing that damned "Lucy & Jessie" again. It's part of this trio that sounds awesome, but my lyrics are so terrible to remember... "Lucy is juicy but terribly drab. Jessie is dressy but cold as a slab. Lucy wants to be dressy. Jessie wants to be juicy. Lucy wants to be Jessie, and Jessie- Lucy. You see, Jessie is racy but hard as a rock. Lucy is lacy but dull as a smock. Jessie wants to be lacy. Lucy wants to be Jessie..." You get the hint. And that's just half the song. Ugh!!! It's just hard to feel confident on a song like that, no matter how many times I sing it. But... I can't complain about getting the afternoon off to sing on my birthday and promote my town! :)

I also bought myself a little birthday treat. I've been trying to eat healthy foods since spring break, and I've hardly had any sugar since then. I've given up pop, and I've tried to eliminate as much processed food and white refined sugar & flour as possible. But on my birthday, I wanted ICE CREAM! Heather & I had a malt before rehearsal, and it tasted so good. Today, though, I'm back on the wagon. I feel better when I eat better, so I just need to stick to it.

Well, if I left out any birthday details that pertained specifically to you, I'm sorry... I'm doing this quickly. I appreciated every thought and gift. Birthdays were always such a big deal to my mom. She always made me feel like a princess on my birthday. So, sometimes it's hard being older and having my birthday not be a big deal to anyone. You all made me feel so special. I LOVE YOU ALL! I'm so grateful for my fabulous friends and family. Thanks for making my 36th birthday one to remember!

On a different note, I wanted to reflect a little on the whole Godspell experience. It was truly a gift. I can't remember when I've had that much fun on stage. And it was so cool working professionally with some of my students. We got to know each other as people and as friends, not just as student and teacher. Godspell is the kind of show that makes an actor run the gambit of emotions. And the energy was so intense on stage. I can't remember ever feeling so many different things in a part before. So many people came to see it that I didn't expect... like my roommate from U of I, Crissy, and her husband Tom. They've never seen me in a show before. They drove down from Dyersville and even stayed overnight. Lloyd and Jane Luers are two dear cousins from Rubio, and I don't think they'd ever seen me in a show. I was so proud that they saw this one. I also made so many new friends, and other friendships deepened. It was just an amazing experience. Plus, my dad got to see it too.

I've already started Pippin rehearsals, and it will be a really fun show, but I'm grieving, more than a little, for Godspell.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Spring in Full Bloom

So, one of the bad parts about my new room at school is that I don't have the big crabapple tree outside my window anymore. It is so beautiful in spring, I almost can't stand it. Today I think it's reached its peak. It smells so wonderful. I always loved having my room right above it because sometimes when the wind would blow, the petals would fly in through the window, and my whole classroom would smell heavenly... which is not always the case in May when surrounded my adolescent bodies! :) Here are some pics...

Can't you almost smell it? Happy spring!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy May Day!

I can't believe this is the last weekend of our show. It's been intense and fun. I hope we have massive crowds this weekend. I'm a little sad because my stepdad Mike isn't going to be able to attend. Unfortunately, his dad passed away this week, and they have visitation on Friday night and the funeral on Saturday. I'm sad because I can't go to the funeral, and I'm sad because Mike and Betty have to miss the show for such a devastating reason. Louie just sort of gave up after Anna died a few months ago. He could be a stubborn old cuss, but I loved him, and he and Anna were always so good to my mom and to me.

Last night, Stephen and I went to a late movie to see Baby Mama. It was cute, but it's one of those movies that would have been funnier with a lot of people in the theatre. There were only 3 people besides us, and I felt a little self-conscious laughing really hard out loud. I just love Tina Fey though.

I can't believe school will be out in a little over a month. Where has this year gone? Happy May Day, everyone! :)
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