Life in New York City, Denver, and everywhere else!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

LIfe in Alexandria 2011

I don't know what I expected when I googled my name this morning, but I was thinking more along the lines of all my genealogical stuff. I was pleased to find my new developing website, Quintessential Art. Here is an update.

In August of 2010, I began my new school year at Newlon Elementary, one of the best and most wonderful elementary schools in Denver, CO. Sadly, just a couple of weeks into the school year, Chris found out that we were being unexpectedly transferred back to the DC area. We were NOT happy. We put the house on the market the next week with our favorite realtor and close friend, Pauline Goetz, and it sold to the first family that looked at it!! We ended up moving at the end of November and Chris started his new Job on Nov. 30th.

There have been many challenges here.....there have been some very good things, too. I started taking a watercolor class last January and quickly became very discouraged and upset, thinking that perhaps I did have a little bit of painting skill. Watercolor is such a different technique from acrylic!!! Anyway, I nearly gave up, but then in April, Chris' mom encouraged me to do something in acrylic just to see what I could do. That was it for me!! I started painting in earnest!! I sold two paintings in July!!! That was really exciting!! I also entered the LDS church's 9th International Art Competition at the end of September. The results of that juried competition will be coming forth in December.

Chris is in the process of retiring. And it is quite the process!! In Sept. he came home one day and started discussing with me the possibility of getting the help of a professional resume writer to help us make the transition from gov't. work to the corporate world. I was all for it. So, he contacted Daniel Draz, who has been absolutely fantastic. In addition to helping him re-write and revise his resume in a most stellar fashion, he has been of great moral support throughout this process. This was money well spent!!

So, right now we are in a holding pattern with several irons in the fire. Everyday we say to ourselves that we will probably hear something today on a job. It is a face-paced, every changing industry (bank look-back work, financial crimes, anti-money laundering, etc.) and we have certainly had an education as we have approached those industries. Anyway, as those industries stay in flux, so do we to some extent.

I think one of the most likely scenarios is that Chris will get an upcoming look-back job in Manhattan that starts in a couple of weeks. I will move to Texas until Chris is able to get a long-term contract somewhere. If it is in Manhattan, I will definitely go with him and try to teach at the Child School again.

This is where we are.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Days 76 and 75 (and a little of 74)

We drove home from Sheridan and Casper, WY on Tuesday. Sheridan, WY is a place I seriously doubt I will ever go back to.....not bad, just boring. Casper, WY had a really neat interactive, interperative visitor's center for all the trails.....the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Migration trail, the Pony Express, etc. Extremely well done and comprehensive.

Yesterday, I walked 4 miles in the morning, then mowed and weed-ate the lawn. Went to the gym and am now catching up on the blog. I have so much to do this summer.....gotta go get started. Will be painting the bathroom upstairs today and cleaning out the kitchen pantry.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Days 78 and 77

BTW, I am counting down, not up, to when I have to return to school.

Yesterday we went to Mount Rushmore. It was truly inspiring, especially the night-time lighting ceremony. That area of SD is surprisingly beautiful. I say that because, unfortunately, in my apparently narrow sphere of existence, I did not have a clue that SD would be so beautiful. At the gift shop, BeeeeeC bought me a really beautiful dragon fly necklace made of SD Black Hills gold--rose colored, yellow, and green. Beautiful!!

We traveled to Sheridan, WY via Devil's Tower National Monument. The tower was really an amazing geological volcanic "plug". We hiked the 1.3 miles around the monument and then made our way to Sheridan. After we got here, Chris realized that the Mormon Trail we wanted to see and the town we had really meant to go to was Casper, not Sheridan. Sheridan is 150 miles north of Casper. Sigh.....not a big deal, but I can tell you that Sheridan is one place we can definitely cross off our list of possible retirement places to live.

Tomorrow we head to Casper early, then on toward home again. This has been a nice time to be together to recharge our batteries.

Wednesday, it is back to my summer goals. I am excited!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Meanwhile, 3 years later.....

I cannot believe so much time has gone by. Where to start? First an update on the kids. April and Dave are the proud parents of 4 year old "B" and are expecting another baby in December 2010. We are thrilled. Katy and Jeff got married 2.5 years ago in Austin and are doing fabulously well. Katy is a personal trainer. Meghan came home from her Peace Corps service in Togo (I got to visit her for 2 weeks in June of 2008) and promptly left to teach English for a year in South Korea. She came home 7 months ago and has struggled, because of the economy, to find a job. Finally, she has put together some good ones and we are enjoying having her at home with Chingu, the Jindo she rescued in SK. Jonathan is in the USAF stationed in Okinawa and enjoying it. He is a jet mechanic. Valerie is in Dallas working as a secretary and bar tender.

After visiting Meghan in Africa, I flew straight to Denver. Chris got a job there. It took 4 months to find and move into a house. We finally found the house we loved and moved in October 2008. I got a job working for Denver Public Schools as a 1/2 time SPED teacher 1/2 time 5th grade math teacher. Jumping in to the fray in the middle of the school year was hard......especially since I had not been in a public school setting for over 4 years. Anyway, somehow I survived and grew to love the students and staff. I love the folks I am working with. We work with a tough population.

Last year I lost 48 lb. I am thrilled. My journey for better health continues.

School let out for me for the summer yesterday. This past year I taught 1/2 day SPEd and 1/2 day 3rd grade literacy. I love third, so sweet and adorable. I learned a lot this year.

Next year I'll be teaching 5th grade literacy full more SPED, which thrills me!!

So, as of yesterday, I had an 80 day "weekend" before me, full of possibilities, full of time to do the things I need and want to do.

My to-do list is as follows:

1. Continue and beef up my workout routine and re-dedicate myself to the weight loss quest. I am so close.......I can do this!! Only 15 lb. to go!!! Chingu can help me with this since he needs to be walked twice a day anyway. I must remember to wear my weight lifting gloves so I don't damage the nerves in my hands!!!!
2. Genealogy this excuses!! I must get organized.
3. Paint 2 bathrooms and the downstairs bedroom. Fix some of the "issues" in the master bathroom and make drapes for the basement windows. Consider doing drapes for the living room/dining room.
4. Practice the piano daily.
5. Finish up my ELA grad classes.
6. Prepare for next year.
7. Improve my artisan bread baking. Focus on sour dough bread. (Will this conflict with goal #1?)
8. Get caught up on all the TV I never get to watch: 24, Damages, The Tudors.
9. LDS temple attendance 1 time weekly.
10. Project Esperanza
11. Water color painting!!!!!!!!!! (Perhaps I'll forgo the drapes; this sounds a lot more appealing.) I want to put together an art show entry portfolio for early next year.
12. Relax

Ok, well, that list makes me tired. Anyway, day 79 has been spent driving up to Rapid City, SD in preparation for our trip to Mt. Rushmore tomorrow. We had Godfather's Pizza tonight---it is divine!!!! We have had a fun time talking in the car and yucking it up in the hotel room. Chris is super-stressed but is visibly beginning to relax.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Life in the fast lane

Sorry about my last email to everyone where I did not include the blog address so you could actually click on the link.

As usual, life has been a bit insane since school started. We are having a much different school year than last year. A dear friend of mine at the school, Earl Street, died unexpectedly at the age of 47 and we found that out the first day of school. The yellow parrot in my mural down below was named after Earl last summer after he and I spent many hours talking about all of life and his love of birds. Then, a week later, our supervisor in elementary school, left very unexpectedly. He was also a good friend who lives in our building. We've had a teacher leave as well. When you have a small staff of teachers (we have just 10) you get very close and that was sad as well because it was not under good circumstances.

My class this year is very different than last years. Each year is different and the challenges this year to my teaching skills are considerable as we seem to have more in the way of true learning disabilities with lots of ADD or ADHD thrown in. I have a class of all boys (1o boys) and they are very sweet and very cute.

Chris and I are still in NYC and right now, it does not look like we are going anywhere. We are hoping to be transferred by next June, when school lets out. Chris has only 3 years and 8 months until retirement (but who's counting, right?) and he would love to get out of here for his remaining years. We had, at one time, thought Pittsburgh or Houston would be a possibility but now that is not to be. I believe that our next best shot will be Denver in the late spring---I am perfectly okay with Denver!! But we shall see.

Update on the kids:

April and Dave are the parents of a now 2 year old and loving it.
Meghan is still in Africa and having many learning experiences under challenging circumstances.
Jonathan got married last March to Lauren; still living in Fredericksburg, working for a high-end cabinet company/remoding company doing kitchen and bathroom design work.
Katy is living in Round Rock, TX and working as a 911 Dispatch Operator and has really done well there. She hopes to return to school soon while continuing her job.
Valerie is living in Dallas with her mom and working at Chili's. She is trying to save money to buy a car.

Life in NYC is very challenging for us but we are having a lot of really good experiences, too. If we end up staying here for the duration of Chris' career, we are going to try to find a much less expensive place to live and work on being more adaptive to our environment. We are finding out that there are alternatives to taking care of a house, having building projects, and doing lawn work. It has been a very hard lesson for us, which is sort of wierd. You wouldn't think mowing the lawn and weed eating would be something you miss, but we do. If we stay, I am going to try to do contract work in the schools here doing art projects with students like murals in the schools. There is a lot of grant money for the arts in the schools here and a good friend of mine, who is a special ed teacher for the public schools, is helping me write up a proposal as we speak. It could an interesting way to finish up my short, but interesting teaching career. It sure beats all the paper work tied up with special ed.

Love to all of you.


Monday, October 08, 2007

More photos of the Mural

Oh my gosh!!

I had no ideas it had been 10 months since I had posted to this blog. So much has happened!!! I won't go into the details-there has been a lot of stuff with the kids but I really don't want to go into much detail. Just a quick update on them. Meghan is still in Africa, which is very challenging but she is hanging in there. Jonathan got married to Lauren last March (a surprise of sorts!!), Katy moved to Round Rock and is living with my two sisters and working as a 911 Dispatch Operator and enjoying it!! Val has moved to Texas and is living in Dallas, with her mom and working at Chili's trying to save enough for a car. April, Dave, and Ian are doing great and Ian just turned 2 this past weekeng. Chris is continuing to learn a lot from his job in NYC and we are trying to figure out if we are coming or going most of the time. I had a great, enjoyable, and very rewarding school year this past year and this year's class seems to be very different but equally as rewarding and very sweet. I painted a 54 foot X 12 foot Jungle Mural in my school this summer and here are some photos of it!! Please let me know what you think.

Friday, December 29, 2006

School in 2007

We are going to be reading Night by Elie Wiesel. I have debated long and hard on whether to share this with my students or not, but in the end, I felt it was the right thing to do. Here is a link for a study guide.