Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Chronicle of Summer So Far

I got to hang out with Bailey, Taylor, & Nicole my second night back in town.
Me & Bailey

And then John came to Jacksonville that Friday and took me out on our first date to River City Brewing Company. On Saturday, we spent the day in St. Augustine.

Our first date!
Watching the Germany/Ghana match in St. Augustine
On Sunday, I met up with Erika and we left for our Disney cruise to the Bahamas

 After our cruise, I went to Orlando and got to spend the weekend not only w/John but with Lexi as well!

It was a great week to meet John's friends and get to hang out with one of my friends from BFA as well. The best was getting to go to DISNEY WORLD on Saturday with John, Lexi, and other friends.

And finally, I got to spend more time in Orlando over 4th of July week. John and I along with another couple spent the weekend in Ft. Myers, Florida.

                                     Needless to say, it's been a pretty great summer so far.....

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Grad 2014

I get to school at 9am. Parents are lining up in front of of the auditorium to get good seats. I get the microphones for the soloists in Choir and take them upstairs to reserve 12 seats for the underclassmen Choir members and 2 for Justina and Erin. On my way upstairs, I run into two senior Choir members. Quick hugs are given and I make them promise to say goodbye before the end of the day.

I save seats up in the balcony and wait for the underclassmen and my friends to arrive. The doors open and parents begin to rush in claiming seats as close to the front as possible. My Choir kiddos are busy signing yearbooks and chatting with each other and I make sure I have enough tissues for when the waterworks begin. Olivia has promised to bring me a box of tissues. She forgets and instead goes and brings me an entire roll of toilet paper from the bathroom.

Choir is to sing as soon as the commencement address is read. Funny, I remember the one at my grad being forever long. The speaker this year was short, sweet, and to the point. The next thing I know, I'm lining my kids up on the stairs to get ready to walk up to the risers and meet the senior Choir members. In my haste, I've forgotten to grab the sheet music to conduct with so I know I"ll just have to wing it. In her haste, Maddie trips and falls backwards on the risers to be caught by Olivia. She didn't know it, but she saved me from bursting into tears like I was about to do when I looked up and saw my seniors lined up ready to sing.

I decide that this year I won't look at them while we sing. It is much easier to focus on the underclassmen. Occasionally, I look up and smile at Joey or Lizi or Carl but for the most part, I have a great poker face going. They sing "Beautiful Day" flawlessly and end with lots of applause from the audience. I make my way back upstairs and immediately begin to cry into the toilet paper.

Soon after, their names are called for grad recognition. There are a great number of students this year that have impacted this teacher and probably have no idea just exactly how much. It takes about an hour to read through the 80-something names of students. At the end, they proudly throw their hats in the air.

We all make our way outside for goodbyes (those who aren't going to the reception anyway) and the tears begin to flow once more. Jack cries into my shoulder, Jaser bear hugs me, Elizabeth hugs me tight. It's all surreal. How will I not see these sweet faces come Fall?

After some time, I decide I can't really take it any more and need to go upstairs to the reception. Thankfully I sit with Erin and Justina and the Kruses and Stemples. There's lots of talking that keeps me distracted from knowing that I'm going to have to say goodbye for good in a little while. We eat sandwiches and salads and Jack, Jordan, Roger, and a few other kids sign my yearbook.

After milling around for a while, we're called to gather in groups and pray over graduates. The Gasters, Ahna, Justina, and I get to pray with Roger, which is pretty cool. After the prayer is done, I walk around to make the final goodbyes. There are lots of hugs going on at this point and after making sure I'd said goodbye to all of my kids, I take one last look around the gym before taking my exit.

Grad is over and I no longer have those seniors as students. They are now college freshmen off to find new adventures of their own.

End scene.

Friday, June 13, 2014

So Many Things

I wanted to update this blog but there's so much going on that I have no idea where to even start. So I'm just going to post about everything and you read what you're interested in reading.

Ok, first of all, I have to talk about the World Cup. I LOVE soccer. I also love that I'm in the majority over here working at BFA because most all of my friends also LOVE soccer. I love Mario Gomez, I think Bastian Schweinsteiger (Schweini) is awesome, and I have a special place in my heart for Mesut Özil. So obviously, I cannot WAIT until Germany plays Portugal on Monday night!

Grad is tomorrow at BFA. It's the one thing I've both been dreading and looking forward to at the same time. I'm looking forward to seeing my kiddos in cap and gown and being able to celebrate in their success of leaving High School to go onto university. I'm dreading it because I have a lot of special kiddos in this class that hold a space in my heart. Today at grad rehearsal, I had to go in to place the senior Choir members on the stage and as I walked into the auditorium, I began to get teary-eyed. I'm sure I'll be a mess of tears tomorrow.

After Grad, there's the goodbyes. To students on Saturday and to friends on Tuesday. Farewells are not fun for me. I don't like them, but I know that being an expat, they are a healthy way of life just what we have to do over here. I'm just sad to lose some special friends that won't be coming back next year. They've made these first two years here an absolute blast.

And on Wednesday, I FLY HOME!!! YAY!!! I'm really ready for summer and to be back in Florida for a while. Lots to look forward to and I can't wait to be back on American soil for a few months until I return to Germany in August.

I hope to update in the next few weeks so stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

25 Days of School

Amy posted this on her status last night. There are a myriad of emotions reading that. As the eternal child that I will always be, summer has always been my favorite season. Probably because I grew up in a climate that always felt summer-ish for most of the year. I have a lot to look forward to this summer. And as hot as I know it will be, I cannot wait to be back in my beloved Florida for two months. I can't wait to make those last minute Target runs before heading to the beach or coming back from the beach feeling sticky with sand and sun and rolling the windows down. That's one of my favorite feelings in the world.

But 25 days also means that I have 25 school days with my sweet seniors. This class touched my heart last year because they were the class that really taught me about what life as a teacher at BFA looked like. I can't really give any good examples, other than that they were just really great students to have and a ton of fun. I know they will all be awesome wherever life takes them after this year. They're all excited and ready for college and I'm excited for them....but that still doesn't mean it makes it any easier to watch the days tick down.

Monday, April 14, 2014


There is so much to say about this amazing trip but I know that long-winded blogposts can get old really fast. So I'll try to be as brief as possible.

Myself along with 3 other adults from BFA took 23 kids to work with the Masai people in Longido Tanzania. Most of our work was done at the school that was located right behind the campsite where we stayed. Everyday we did VBS with the students there and spent the afternoons just hanging out with them. A group of our students also worked on a fence to build around the school to keep out unwanted animals. As last year was with Kyrgyzstan, this year also changed my worldview of life. I tend to forget just how much we take for granted living where we live. Last night when I got home, I reveled in taking an actual shower and not pouring water over my head with a bucket of water that had to be boiled first in order to rid the parasites away. When I brushed my teeth it was the first time in over a week that I didn't have to use a bottle of water and not tap water. And when I got into bed, I didn't have to check for scorpions or other insects.

I got to experience going to church at a traditional African church and it was something I've always wanted to do. Worshiping alongside the people there, I could feel the Lord's presence saturating the tiny building where we met. It was hot and by the time the service ended, I could feel sweat dripping all over me but I didn't care.

One of my favorite experiences was getting to meet a sweet girl named Anna. She immediately connected with me the first day. We got to talk everyday and the last day that I said goodbye, Anna wept in my arms. She gave me a handmade necklace before I had to go. I left her two pairs of shoes. It wasn't enough and I wished I could've left her with more.

And for those of you who know me well, I went hiking up a mountain in the African bush. And I survived! Despite the teasing from the other leaders a/b there being cobras lurking (and I don't even want to know if there were!) I made it! The view in itself was worth every bit of it!

A piece of my heart is still in Tanzania and always will be. I met some great people there that I'll never forget. I'm so grateful to Pam & Dan who were our leaders and did so much for us. I hope I get to go back next year because of the experiences had.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Annie & Prague

These two events happened within two weeks of each other. Which explains why I didn't get a blog post up about it. Life has been crazy to say the least.

My middle schoolers rocked this show. Seriously, rocked it. I have never been so proud of a production before in my life. They worked so hard and gave 3 stellar performances. At the end, multiple kids were asking me if we could take the show on tour. Obviously, I would've agreed wholeheartedly had it not been for the fact that I kind of had to work and they kind of had to go to school ;)

Last year I took a group of Choir kiddos to Budapest for the annual ACSI Honors Choir & Strings Festival. This year, we got to go to Prague. I had an amazing time w/my kids and co-workers. It was so much fun to hang out with them and to see them work as hard as they did on 10 pieces of extremely difficult music. I'm pretty sure I was the wild card Choir teacher there. I don't do classical pieces. It's just not me. But listening to my kids sing them really made me wish I'd been trained in that capacity. It's ok. I like Broadway and Pop way too much ;)

And next up.....
I leave for Tanzania on Friday to co-lead an M-Trip w/3 other leaders and 24 kids. I don't foresee life slowing down until May...maybe June.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Watching Goodbye

"I hate saying goodbye!"

We were standing at a tram stop last night in Prague about to go back to our hostel. I turned around and saw one of my senior girls clinging to a friend she'd gotten to spend time with over the weekend at the Honors Choir & Strings Festival at Christian International School of Prague. They'd been friends since elementary and they're both graduating in a few months, going to different schools. Elizabeth knew she wouldn't be back to Prague for a long time and she has no idea when she'll see her friend again.

As we boarded the tram, I watched her sobbing as she looked out the window while Prague passed her by. She had to say a lot of goodbyes this weekend in a very short amount of time. I took it all in, watched her crying, and my heart broke for her. It's what so many of my kids go through year after year.

Saying goodbye isn't something that comes easily, no matter how many times you do it. The interaction between Elizabeth and her friend last night was proof of that.