Thursday, May 20, 2010

Letterbox Field Trip

I discovered Letterboxing last September.  Jack, Josh, and I went on a couple of hunts and found some letterboxes.  I just knew that it was something I wanted to try with my students.  Well, we did it!

Our school is pretty structured and we follow a District Curriculum Map.  Each quarter is dedicated to a different reading and writing genre.  But fourth quarter is the best!  Not only are we done with AIMS (high-stakes state test) but we also get to do research!  My favorite!

I began to think about where we could place our letterbox.  Some place that could be researched and would be educational.  Fort Apache. 

I like to do my research in WebQuest format and have done tons of premade WebQuests.  But, there was no WebQuest on Fort Apache.  So, I created one.  I don't have it hosted on the internet, but I set it up in a PowerPoint format with hyperlinks to the pages I wanted them to read.  They had to go to the sites and fill out a worksheet with questions about the Fort and the museum.  They worked so fast, I had to plan another activity before our field trip.  They eagerly created PowerPoints of their own about the research they had found. 

The next step was to teach them about Letterboxing.  We went through the cool tutorial about it.  We had a design contest for the stamp.  When the winning design was chosen, we made the stamp out of a sponge and bottle cap.  Other students made the journal.  We were all set!

Finally, the day came for us to visit the museum and to plant our letterbox.  We explored the museum for about 2 hours.  They could have stayed longer but we had to get a move on.  I let them explore the Apache Village for a few minutes before we began the letterbox placement. 

We surveyed the land and thought of a good place to hide the letterbox.  Then, we thought of a fun way to map it out.  See, it's no fun to just walk straight to the "treasure".  It's more fun to go to a few places first.  My kids held the compass and counted steps.

I stamped the Fort Apache stamp in Jack and Josh's journal and I stamped Jack and Josh's stamp in the Fort Apache journal.  Then, we hid the box.  You will have to look at the website to find the clues

***If you hunt for the letterbox, please let us know if it is still there and in good shape. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cleaned Out

I cleaned house this weekend.  No, not the scrubbing toilets kind of clean.  I mean the real clean.  The kind we rarely do.

I started with the obvious.  That was easy to clean out.

Then, I moved on to the dark, scary places.  I found things I had been holding on to.  Things I wanted to use for a rainy day.  Things I wanted to use to my advantage when the time was right.  I let go of those things.

I found good things that had been broken along the way.  I took them out and decided to work on them.  They had value and deserved to be brought back to light.

I found good things in good shape.  Things I had forgotten about.  I took them out and put them in a place of prominence, so I can see them daily.  See them and reflect on them.  Think on these things.  (Phillipians 4:8)

I then went outside.  I pulled up weeds that had grown deep roots.  Weeds that I had let take over for years, because, well, because it was easy to just ignore them.  Well, it wasn't easy to deal with a weed that had been left willy-nilly for years.  I found that said weeds had spread and multiplied.  I had to deal with multiple weeds, instead of just one.

Finally, I planted seeds.  I have heard the saying "Grow or die".  I planted seeds because I want my marriage to grow, not die.  I'm not saying all the hard work is over.  Hardly.  I know it's only begun.  But at least, it has begun. 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Police Parade

A few weeks ago, my students earned a field trip to the local police department.  They have to get 15 days of perfect attendance to earn a field trip and they have earned over 3 trips so far this year.  They had a good time and learned much.  After returning to school, they made posters and thank you cards for everyone in the department.

Two weeks ago, I went to the PD to drop off the artwork.  They invited me inside and showed me the memorial mural of the officer lost in the line of duty.  They told me about the parade coming up.  I said that was nice.  Elmer told me that it would be nice if my kids were there.  I said we could go and watch.  (I guess I was still not getting the hint)  The chief then asked if we would walk WITH them in the parade.  What an honor!  Of course we would!

My students made a banner all by themselves (I have to admit, I was busy assessing other students and couldn't help).  It turned out great.  So great, that we were asked to move to the front of the parade and strangers kept coming up to us to take pictures.  We were told that McGruff would be there, but he brought his friends Smokey Bear AND Woodsy the Owl!  So cool!

I was thinking that the parade would be just that; a parade.  I had planned to march and then return to school.  I had blocked off 3 hours for a 1/2 mile parade.  Good thing I did.

The parade ended at Memorial Hall, where they had a huge event set up!  They had cake and snacks.  They even had Crown Dancers!  If you don't know Crown Dancers, google it.  They are sacred and very special to Apaches. 

Overall, it was a wonderful opportunity for my kids to see dedication and hard work honored.  Aren't they so precious?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Anniversary of Me

The young woman hurriedly packed her clothes into a trash bag.  She hid them in the trunk of the broken-down car in the driveway.  She drove his car around town to use up the gas in the tank.  Then, she made her escape.

She visited her family to say good-bye, for awhile.  Her escape vehicle picked her up and she grabbed her trash bag of clothes.  She drove off into the sunset, never looking back.

She had $80 to her name, no job, no home, no vehicle, yet she was FREE!  Freer than she had been in four years.  She was excited for the prospect of a new life.  She was also scared.  Scared that he might find her.  Scared that he would beat her again.  Scared that he would strangle her again.  Scared that her life would end before it even began.  She was only twenty-two years old, yet had already lived a life of pain and abuse.

He did try to look for her.  But, even if he did know where she was going, he had no gas in his car and would be delayed. 

He didn't find her.  In time, she stopped looking behind her.  She began to smile.  She made friends.  She made a life.

That was me, May 14, 1997.  Thirteen years ago, this week.  Thirteen years ago, I had $80 and a trash bag full of clothes.  Now, I have a husband, two adoring boys, a home, my education, and a career.  I can't believe how God has blessed my life. 

I would be lying if I said that my heart didn't stop every time I heard his name.  It would be a lie to say that I don't wake up, drenched in sweat, from nightmares.  I still cannot wear turtlenecks; the tightness around my neck is still too fresh, even 13 years later.  Just typing this gives me the shakes.  Yet, this needs to be said.  My story needs to be told. 

May my heartache be a blessing to someone else.  Please pray for me as it looks as if my life may be entering a new chapter.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Easy Freezer Recipes

This post is mostly for my super-awesome cousin who is expecting her 7th precious child.  So excited for you Faith!  Can't wait to meet the new baby boy!  (yeah for boys)  Of course, all of you are welcome to try the recipes.  Some are from cookbooks and others are tweaked by me for maximum tastiness!

Albondigas (Mexican Meatball Soup)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup cooked white rice

50 ounces beef bouillon
1 quart water
1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 cups chopped potatoes, celery, cilantro, carrots, onions
salt and pepper to taste

Combine broth ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer one hour. Prepare meatballs by mixing ingredients with hands in a bowl. Form into balls (the smaller the better). Add meatballs, cover, and cook on low heat for one hour.

Serve with lime slices, salt, and tortillas. Yumm!
Stuffed Shells
1 jar (29 oz) marinara sauce (or your own if you make it)
1 10 oz package spinach, cooked and drained
2 pounds ricotta cheese
1 12 oz package mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1 12 oz package Jumbo Shells, cooked
Ricotta cheese and eggs (I add parsley), add drained spinach, mozarella, and parmesan.  Mix together.
I put this into a ziploc bag and cut off the tip to squeeze it into the jumbo shells.  You can also spoon the mixture into the shells.
Pour 1 cup of sause on the bottom of your baking dish.  Arrange the shells in a single layer in the dish.  Add  more mozarella to top if you wish. 
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. 
**Freeze (before you bake) what you won't eat tonight.  The frozen shells can go directly from the freezer to the oven, but time needs to be increased to 1 hour. 
Mini Meatloaf-you can prepare this 3 ways depending on your taste
Starter (needed for all 3 recipes):
1 pound ground beef
1 box stove top stuffing
1 cup water
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
American Style:
1 tsp. garlic
3/4 cup BBQ sauce
Italian Style:
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
3/4 cup spaghetti sauce
Mexican Style:
1 tsp. Mexican seasoning
3/4 cup salsa
Mix meat, stuffing mix, water, and flavors.  Press into 12 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray.  Make an indentation in center of each meatloaf with spoon, fill with sauce.  Bake 30 minutes at 375 or until cooked through.  Top with cheese, continue baking 5 minutes.
These freeze well because of their small size and they just pop out of the muffin pan.  Just take what you want for dinner out of the freezer and cook that much.

where Glory meets my suffering