Tuesday, April 23, 2013

High Stakes

Today begins the week of STAAR testing for my students.  My 7th graders test today and tomorrow. My 8th graders tomorrow and Thursday.  We have worked all year for these days.  Don't let anyone tell you differently.

Teachers, including myself, may say they aren't teaching to the test, but it's kind of hard not to when this is how your students' learning will be measured, your teaching will be measured, and your school will be measured.  A lot rides on these next three days...our students' future classes, grade levels, and our school's status with the state as a quality institution of learning.

Students, if you think you are the only ones nervous about today, you are mistaken.  Your teachers have worked hard to prepare you and we want you to feel confident in your abilities.  We know you are ready; like nervous parents, we wish we could do it with you so you aren't alone.

We also have our own pressures today.  What if someone keeps their cell phone and doesn't tell us?  What if someone draws a picture of the questions after the test?  What if someone bleeds or vomits on the test?  What if there is a tornado today?  What if I don't read the directions correctly?  What if I don't return the tests in alphabetical order by number?  What if someone walks by and catches me sneaking a look at Facebook or email?  (hehe)

We will be victorious in these next three days.  I work with some amazing students, teachers and administrators.  But if you think we haven't had nightmares leading up to this, you are sadly mistaken.  If you think STAAR testing doesn't scar kids and teachers a little bit more every year, think again.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Super Saturday

The Raynsfords had a pretty nice Saturday this weekend.  We started out at the Main Street Arts Festival downtown.  My handsome husband found a photographer that he really liked and we decided as a family (Brian, Hanna and me) that we should buy two of her pictures.  She is from Portland, OR and her photos are from that area.  One reminds us of the wooded path you take at Fallen Leaf Campground in California and one is a tree with its roots exposed on a cliff over the sea.  Hanna says they both look like Finland.  Seemed like they were meant to come home with us.  So, I guess we are art collectors of sorts.  

The weather was beautiful and it felt so good to be outside.  I will dream of this weather in September when it is so hot you can't take a deep breath.

Brian took Hanna up to see his office and we discovered that his partner needed help with a case, so Brian brought us home and he went back to work.  Hanna and I went to my sister friend Ann-Marie's birthday party.

And the highlight of our busy day was our first Skype with Jaime, our Kiwi girl for next year.  I love that we are getting to know her so early because we can include Hanna.  We will only have our second princess until June 8th, so she will miss meeting Jaime in person.  This way Hanna can greet Jaime the way Sam was able to greet her.  I like the full circle feel of it.  

We talked to Jaime, her mum, and her brother for 3 1/2 hours!  So much for her being shy as she warned me she might be.  It was lovely being able to talk and see each other.  Emails just aren't quite the same.

She laughed to hear our accents.  She's already teasing Brian and Hanna and I willingly piled on.  Good thing he is a really good sport.  

Sunday has been a pretty good day, too--lunch with the whole family and I vacuumed my fabulous new carpet.  I made a pound cake for Brian to take the office.  And Indiana Jones is on tv.  

I think I can almost take on STAAR this week without a care!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Living, Learning, and Being Loved

Hey there, everybody!

Have I got a lot to tell you!  I saw that it's been about six months since my last post.  I had big plans to write all about our adventures with Sam, our Aussie girl, but we stayed pretty busy.  Not doing anything earth moving, just being a little family.

We liked Sam so well, we were blessed with a Finnish daughter, Hanna, for this semester.  She is attending my alma mater and having a great time.  And we have enjoyed Hanna so much, we have already lined up a daughter from New Zealand for the whole year, next year.

We are growing our family one beautiful daughter at a time.  In the process, we have learned that we get to choose ALL of our children.  Having the girls in the house reminded Brian and me that we aren't spring chickens, and we really needed to start our family.  After some tests, it has been determined that I can't have my own kids.  You know, the old fashioned way.

That took awhile for this little perfectionist to accept, I can tell you.  I felt defective.  I was crushed that I would never pass on my blue eyes and fiery spirit--genetically.  I have long felt that Brian and I would make very pretty babies, and I didn't like being told that wasn't going to happen.

I don't really do "No."

I try to talk about what's going on pretty openly; the more I do, the easier it gets.   It is humbling in more ways than I can tell you to know that I will still be a mom--just not the way I always thought I would.

As crushed as I was at first, I feel grateful now.

I am so aware that God definitely has a plan for this little family, and while it isn't what I expected, I know that wanting to take Sam into our lives was the beginning.

Brian continues to be the most amazing man I have ever known.  He says this isn't something that happened to me; it happened to us.  He thinks adopting our kids will be quite an adventure.  Our parents and friends agree.

That has been the best part, by far.  The support system we have is unbelievable.

We haven't begun the formal process quite yet.  There are still things to talk about, things to prepare.  We think 2 brothers would be pretty awesome.

So, our journey takes another crazy turn.  Once again, our little marshmallows were squished, and once again, we bounce back.