Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mommy Taught Middle School

I had my first taste of teaching Middle School kids this past Friday, Aug. 29th. I was a sub for the Middle School (6th-8th grade) History teacher at Christopher's school (FBA) and surprisingly enough, I LOVED it! Of course, I don't have any delusions that I'd be ready for middle school kids in the public school, by any stretch of the imagination! And if anything, my day of seeing how things run from the "inside" only confirmed the fact that we need to keep Christopher in that school at all costs. Can I just say that I was totally blown away by how great these kids are? Yes, they are very normal kids with very normal inclinations to get into mischief (and try the sub to see if she really knows the rules), but the rules and consequences that are set in place AND followed, makes it easy for the kids to know exactly what is expected of them.

Middle school was a little bit of a change for me, I've always taught elementary grades - but I've been around the older kids at church and such. All the same, it was a little intimidating the first time I walked into the room and realized they were my responsibility for the day! The middle school principal came in at the beginning of the first few periods to make sure that the kids remembered that when the tardy bell sounded, they were to be in their seats and completely silent...and much to my amazement, they were! Then, he would introduce me as their sub for the day and would leave me to do my job.

During the second period of the day, the school had its first fire drill of the year. I didn't have a class that period, so I simply had to walk out to where the kids were. This is was the most amazing thing I had ever witnessed. I watched these kids, Kindergarten to 12th grade, walk silently (single-file, no less), to their appointed place on the field. Even the teachers were silent - no reminders to get in line, no asking the kids to be quiet...they didn't need to! I was totally and completely blown away! I never would have believed it possible if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes!

The best part of the day was the first group of 8th graders that came in my room during 3rd period. You see, I taught many of them when they were in Kindergarten (which was also my last year teaching at FBA). It was great to see how some of them had grown up - to see how some had changed so much, and others really hadn't (except they are taller now)! That class was a lot of fun...and they are still SOOO good!

My last class, also a group of 8th graders, was my toughest...and yet, still nothing I couldn't handle. The other classes had been so wonderful, I was begining to think I had stepped into some sort of fairy tale. But these rambunctious teenagers brought me right back to reality!

Usually, on the first day of school (when I was a regular teacher), I would tell my class that I could be one of two kinds of teachers - either nice or mean - and it all depended on their behavior. If they listened and followed directions, I could be really nice. If they didn't, well, it was not a pretty sight! I didn't feel the need to make this statement all day...until the last period of the day! It was obvious they had no intentions of settling down unless I made, I made my "two kinds of teacher" speech. When I got to the good teacher part, one girl piped up and said, "I choose that one!" I told her that was a good choice, and reminded the class that they chose the type of teacher by their behavior...and also reminded them that Mr. Mac (the principal) had told me that if anyone gave me any problems, all I needed to do was send them to his office. I really didn't need to say more! Respect for authority is a BEAUTIFUL THING!!!!

Now, as much as I love my precious son, I do realize he has a tendancy to get into trouble if the opportunity presents itself...and in public school, I learned while teaching presents itself quite often! When I was told as a 1st grade teacher that using profane language (words that, if used in a movie even once, would qualify it for an R-rating!) was NOT a discipline issue, I knew something had gone terribly wrong with our public school system! I want my child to have the best education possible...but there are some things I hope he NEVER learns to do (such as taking the Lord's name in vain & using profanity). And so, unless something changes, I can't see that my child will ever have a public school education.

Being a product of the public school system, I never thought it was bad and always believed that's exactly where my child would go when the time came. But, you learn a lot when you see things from the inside...and what I saw from the inside of our public school system is not pretty! That's not to say that private school is always the answer, or even always the best, but for my child at this place and time, it is. As long as God leaves us here and provides the ability to do so, our child (and hopefully someday childREN) will attend FBA and/or be home-schooled!

Wow! I really didn't mean to go off on that tangent there...I really just meant to talk about my day as a middle school teacher-for-a-day! Sorry for that - let me step down off my big ole' soapbox before I really get started! Oh, me! ;)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Christopher's First Day of School

Today was a big day for the Jansen Family! Christopher is finally big enough to go to school (can it really be true???)!!! He started his first day of Pre-K4 at First Baptist Academy today! What a Big Boy!!! Daddy went in to work a little late so he could go with us to take Christopher to his class the first time. Another mom was taking pictures of her little boy who was also starting Pre-K4 today and she took the family shot above for us! After we checked in and Mommy & Daddy got our visitor badges, we walked Christopher down the all-too-familiar hallway of our church. As we did, Christopher asked "So, where's my school?" He's been used to visiting Mommy at a different building when I was teaching in the public school, so he didn't quite understand that his school was in the same building as our church! But, I actually think it made it easier for him (and us) to drop him off (believe it or not, I didn't shed a single tear!) because the surroundings were so familiar to us! When we got to his room, we paused for a minute just outside the door so Mommy could take this precious photo below (by the way, in case you're wondering...sock are required with ALL shoes - it's part of the dress code!):

Christopher was greeted by his sweet teacher and her assistant, who helped Christopher find his cubby and put his things away. Christopher was so glad to see his buddy Jack in his class (and Jack was glad to see Chistopher!) - there was just one problem...

The teacher had put them at different tables (smart woman!) - and neither Christopher nor Jack was happy about this arrangement. When I tried to get Christopher over to his seat, he said, "No! I sit by Jack!" I at least got him to stand by his seat so I could take a picture! Not sure how it all turned out after I left, though!

After a long first day of school, I picked him up and we headed to the Cafe' for a dish of ice cream (complete with sprinkles!) and to talk over his first day. Our conversation started with this classic exchange:

Mommy: How was your first day at school?

Christopher: Good.

Mommy: Did you have fun?

Christopher: Yes.

Mommy: What did you do?

Christopher: I don't know.

As a teacher, I knew better than to leave it at that - so, after a little more probing, I found out that they colored a picture, sang songs, played "I spy with my litte eye," and ate "snack" ("We didn't eat lunch, Mommy - we ate snack!"). Oh, how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to watch him on his first day! I just can't believe he's so big already! I might cry! Sniff! Sniff! Anyone got a hanky? (wink, wink!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tropical Storm FAY came to visit...and left a little something behind!

Tropical Storm FAY came through early this morning while we were still sleeping. We got up this morning to find that we had our very own water park in our backyard! Christopher, as you can see above, had a blast splashing in the water! We made him stay on the driveway, especially since he didn't have any shoes on, but he had plenty of water to play in there! However, when he first looked out this morning and saw all the water around his precious playground, his expression was quite different. He whirled hid body around, looked at us with his hands on his hips and proclaimed, "That's NOT 'septable!"

I guess he was mainly worried that he would be stuck inside all day long! When I went outside to take some pictures, he quickly became my shadow. I had to send him back inside to get dressed (he was just in his undies) - but he made me promise to wait on him and not come back inside (knowing that if I came inside his outside play time was over)! I took a few more pictures and he got dressed in record time! As you can see in the video below, he had fun playing in the rainwater! This was in our driveway just behind our cars.

While Christopher was playing, I had the great idea to go get our yard stick to see how deep the standing water was - and I instantly had a volunteer to "help" me measure! The picture below is taken right behind David's car - it's only about 2 1/2 inches deep there - but in some places around our house, it was as deep as 5 1/2 inches!

Of course, when I let Christopher do the measuring, it suddenly got a LOT deeper! Just watch the video below and you'll see what I mean!

Thankfully, it's not REALLY that deep - or we'd have a swimming POOL instead of just a water park! Hmmmm...I've always wanted a pool - but I prefer the man-made kind that starts with a hole in the ground which is lined with concrete!

Overall, we had very little damage...but, we did have one casualty...

David's computer! It would not boot up this morning and since mine works fine, we're not sure if it's because of the storm or it just died of old age! But, nonetheless, David's computer is kaput! He's been pouting all morning...even asked me if we could send our new a/c unit back so he could get a new computer!

Oh don't know about the a/c unit yet unless you've talked to me personally! A few days ago, we realized our a/c was dying it's own slow death! It would run all day, but wasn't cooling the house. We had the repairman out last week to see if he could fix it - and he confirmed what David had pretty much figured out, we needed a new unit. The repairman said that usually a/c units last about 10-12 years in FL & ours was 15 years old - so we got a few extra years out of it...not that it helped us that much right now! So, yesterday, just before FAY came to town, the guys spent the day at the house putting in our brand new $7,000 a/c unit! OUCH!

So, needless to say, our bank account is taking quite a hit right now. Not sure where money is coming from to take care of things...but God knows and it's all in His hands anyway!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

And where do all roller coasters end?

That's right! Right back where they started! Ha! Ha! here's what's happened in the last five days (has it really ONLY been 5 days?!?). If you read my last post, you know that I thought it was all settled...and yet, still had some suspicion that it wasn't. Well, on Friday, I get a call from April again to set up the interview, which I thought was already set. As we were talking, she asked me a question I didn't expect - "Kara, do you think you'll really be happy being an aide?" April and I have known each other since I moved to Naples nine years ago, so I felt completely comfortable in answering her question honestly. I told her, quite honestly, that I wasn't sure what I wanted...except that I wanted to do God's will - but that at the moment, I had absolutely no idea what that was! After a little more conversation, she said that since I had to interview with Mr. Rider no matter which position I filled, that we would just set up the interview and maybe after talking with Mr. Rider I'd have a better idea of what God wanted me to do. I can't tell you how true that statement turned out to be...oh wait, maybe I can! Ha! Ha!

Over the weekend, David and I had done lots of talking and praying about this decision, and were leaning toward me taking the substitute teacher position, but still had some uncertainties. It would be nice to have the regular schedule the Pre-K3 Aide position would offer - just three halfdays a week. But, I already had 2 events on my calendar in the next couple of weeks that would mean taking those days off (of course they fell on the days I'd be working). I had also been looking forward to attending MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) at my church, which meets on the 1st & 3rd Thursday of every month. There were other concerns, too - which were confirmed during my meeting with Mr. Rider.

When I walked into Mr. Rider's office this morning, he asked me about the Pre-K Aide position - so, I told him pretty much what I'd told April. He shared with me some additional information about the Pre-K Aide position that I didn't know (which turned out to be just the piece of the puzzle I needed to make the right decision) and said that selfishly, he would really like for me to be a substitute teacher because that was his greatest need - but like me, he didn't want to step outside of God's will. He suggested we both pray about it for 24 hours and asked me to call him in the morning to let him know where I felt God was leading me. He also said he was pleased to have me on board! :)

After I left his office, I called David and told him about my meeting. As I was sharing with him about my meeting, it became abundantly clear what I needed to do. Just in case, we decided to pray on it until after lunch (which we met for at Longhorn). After that time of prayer, I realized there really was no need to wait the full 24 hours - that peace I'd been seeking all along finally came. After struggling with the decision for several days, it was finally clear that the position I set out to apply for really was the one that God had for me. My roller coaster has finally come to a complete stop (I think!) and, as all roller coasters do, it ended up right where it began! Whew! What a ride!!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Takin' A Ride on God's Roller Coaster

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a total COASTER CHICKEN...but today, God had me on quite a roller coaster I'm not completely sure is over yet! ;)

It started with a phone call yesterday. As I was out delivering Avon, I got a phone call from Diana V., a friend of mine who works for the elementary principal at First Baptist Academy (FBA) - which is where Christopher will go to school this fall. I'd put in an application to be a substitute teacher...and for all I knew, that's what the interview was for! So, after a check with Grandma J to make sure she could keep Chistopher, we scheduled my interview for 9am today. When I got home yesterday, there was a message on my phone from the administrator's assistant asking me to call back to schedule an interview. Thinking I'd already taken care of that, I didn't worry about calling back. Then at church supper last night, April (administrator's assistan), who is also a friend of mine, came up to me and asked if I'd gotten her message. I told her about Diana calling me and that my interview was already scheduled. She looked confused.

It wasn't until I arrived on campus today that things started to add up for me. I showed up in the main office and announced I had an interview for a substitute position. The receptionist went back to tell (I assume) Mr. Rider (School Administrator) - then returned to ask me who called. I told her Diana had called and she disappeared again. A few minutes later, Mr. Rider came out and escorted me to Linda Shaw's office (the elementary principal) for my interview and, along the way, mentioned that he'd heard my name in connection with an aide position. I didn't know how to respond, so I didn't.

When I entered the interview, I realized that I'd been in a women's Bible study with Linda Shaw a few months ago. We had a nice interview...during which she told me that she was offering me a 1st grade aide position with hours of 7:30-12:30 Monday-Friday. This would have been good...except that Christopher is only in school Monday-Thursday. But, I told her I'd talk it over with David and we'd pray about it. She asked that I let her know by the end of the day.

On my way over to the gymnasium where Grandma J and Christopher were playing with some of the other preschoolers from our church, I called David to give him the update. He said to talk it over with Grandma and see what she thought about keeping Christopher on Fridays. Grandma checked her calendar, but could only promise until the end of September or October. As much as I tried, I just couldn't come to a peace about it.

After Grandma left us playing in the gymnasium, another friend, Sherri, came in a bit later and we were talking. She was telling me that she put Christopher and his buddy Jack in the same class - she's the Pre-K Director at FBA. After more conversation, I learned there was a 3-day position open...which fit a little more into my schedule with Christopher and Avon. So, over lunch, David and I decided that I would turn down the 5-day aide position and see where God would lead.

It's getting in the interest of making this already long story just a bit shorter, let's just say that after several more phone calls, which brought about twists and turns of their own, where we are now is that Christopher and I will show up at 9am on Tuesday morning (August 12th). They have free daycare for the staff kids during the week of training before students start. When we arrive this Tuesday morning, I'll get Christopher settled & go to the Pre-K wing, where Sherri and I will call April to let her know I'm there. When Mr. Rider is free, I'll go for an official interview with him, since he is the only one who can officially hire me. I've been recommended as the Pre-K3 aide by Sherri...but I also understand there was some disappointment that I would not be as available to, we will just have to see what God wants to do!

David asked me at dinner what I'd say if Mr. Rider told me that he really wanted me to be a sub, not an aide, and I said, "Well, I guess I'd just have to say, 'OK' - who am I to disagree with God's will? Not my will, but His be done! I know His will is far better than anything I could imagine - and he can see LOTS further into the future than I'll EVER be able to...or, I suspect, want to!

So...that's my roller coaster story! Now that my tale's been told, I'm headin' to bed! :) All this roller coaster ridin' has exhausted me! Ha! Ha!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Christopher Gets His First Allowance!!

David and I have been talking about Christopher's allowance since he was a baby - making plans for when to start it, how to implement it, etc. Well, over lunch, we decided that the time had come to pull out the Larry Burkett Giving Bank and get him started right. The bank has three distinct sections. On your left, you see the "bank" section. This is where Christopher will save part of his allowance for a big purchase (like his first car). We don't plan on opening that side until he has enough to open a savings account at the bank! On the right side is the "church" section. This is where Christopher will put part of his allowance to give to God through church. We will open this side on Saturday of each week before we go to church and he will turn in his tithe. In the middle is the "store" section. This is where he puts the money he can spend on toys and such. When he has enough, we'll take him to the store and he can spend it.

David and I decided that $1 per week, paid in 10 dimes, is what his allowance would be for now. He can choose how many dimes to put in each of the sections, but he must put some in each section of the bank, starting with church, then savings, and the rest goes into the store. We explained that this is a benefit of being a big boy and helping around the house. Christopher loves to help put away the silverware from the dishwasher, help with laundry, and help Daddy in the yard (nothing dangerous, of course - mainly pulling weeds and dragging dead tree limbs to a pile)! We told him that since he's such a good helper, he gets an allowance! We're hoping this will set him for a life-long respect for the money he earns and will teach him how to use his money wisely.

I loved the story our pastor's wife, Janet Wicker, told about how her Daddy used to give her and her brother their allowance. She said every Saturday night, he would sit down with a stack of nickles and count out their allowance (50 cents, I think). Then he would ask them how much of that they wanted to give to God and they would determine how much to put in their tithing envelopes to take to church on Sunday morning. She said she gladly put 2 or 3 nickles in the envelope - which set her up for a life long habit of giving cheerfully to God through His church. I hope this will happen for Christopher, too!

The bank must have been sitting on the store shelf for quite some time, because the stickers had lost all their stickiness! So, Mommy dug into her scrapbooking supplies and found a tape runner to save the day! Two of the church stickers were missing - but most of them were there. This was the last bank the store had - in fact, they had to get it from another store, they were out. I guess he bank isn't made anymore - not sure. I know it has been around a long time!

Christopher is very excited about his new financial experience! He immediately asked us for more money to add to his bank. We explained that he would get his allowance once a week, but that he could earn extra money by doing extra things around the house. If he found money at home (not in Mommy's purse or Daddy's wallet), and we gave him the OK, he could add that money to his bank. Right away, he found a quarter that he found on the floor. As much as I'd like to tell you he put it in the church section of his bank...or even the bank section...nope, he put it right in the store section! Oh well...that's the beauty of free choice, huh?