Thursday, February 28, 2013

Snow Day? What is that?

Thursday, February 28, 2013
Houston, TX
69 degrees and Sunny
All my life I have lived in cities and towns where the weather is variable depending on the season and overall climate changes through the calendar months. Between the ages of 3 and 11 I lived in Ulysses, KS, which is on the south western side of the state in a plain area. We usually got several snow storms each year and I remember having snow drifts as high as the door handle several times. During the summer months we also had hot temperatures and lots of thunderstorms. Although I was only 8-11 years old, I do remember the temperatures and weather there. We had all 4 seasons.
When my family and I moved to Arp, TX in the summer of 1994 I was then thrown into the "Year-round summer" (or close to it) climate theory and thus began my years of not seeing much snow. Living in East Texas, we saw lots of warmer, hotter and even more hotter temperatures in the summer and unusually warm fall and winter seasons. I think in the 7 years I lived there, it only snowed 1 time (Maybe 2 times). During the winter it would be chilly but rarely cold. I remember shopping in the malls during the winter months and seeing sweaters and heavy coats and my family and I would laughing thinking "When are you EVER going to be able to wear that in East Texas". Usually this theory was accurate because in all those years, I think I wore a sweater maybe twice a year.
When I moved to Norman, OK for college in the Fall of 2001, I was then transported back to the life of enjoying all 4 seasons. I remember going to the 1st football game of the OU season and it would be BRUTALLY HOT and humid and then just 1 month later during a conference game it would be pleasant and cool. Then, once we were officially into Fall, the temps would be FREEZING COLD and I would have to wear hand warmers in my gloves and socks. And then of course, the next day would be 65 degrees. Oklahoma weather NEVER CEASED to amaze me! It was so polar opposite... OF ITSELF! I remember living in Shawnee and trying to clothe my newborn baby and having to purchase all types of clothes just for 1 season. This was a little annoying but enjoyable at the same time.
During our final years in Oklahoma, Chris and I lived in Shawnee, OK and the weather there was a predictable as any other Oklahoma town... meaning it changed by the minute. I do remember the terrible snow and ice storms that would come in the January and February months. In fact in 2009, 2010, and 2011 we had about 4-6 snow days each year. This was always nice because we could stay in and just relax and not have to worry about getting out. In fact, our driveway was so INCREDIBLY STEEP that it was nearly impossible to leave our house. I remember one year, Chris tried to drive to the grocery store, less than a mile away, and got stuck before he even made it out of the housing edition. The only downside to these snow days were they usually happened right before my District Band Concert Contest and I lost several days of rehearsal. However, each year that there were numerous snow days, I was still able to have my band perform at the Superior Level. It was amazing how they just knew they had to focus and perform their best. I was always especially proud of them on these years.
In my 6 years of teaching in Oklahoma, I think we used our designated 3 or 4 snow days each year. In fact, one year the entire state got an outrageous ice storm and the State Superintendent actually FORGAVE the days missed and we didn't have to make them up! When I worked at Bowlegs in 2005, they had a system where they built 6 snow days into their calendar as Fridays starting in Mid-April. If we didn't use them due to snow, we had EVERY FRIDAY OFF beginning in Mid-April. That was the ABSOLUTE BEST school calendar I have EVER worked under!

January 2006... Shawnee, OK

Over 6" Icicles

I felt like a kid again playing in the backyard!
Chris and I worked together to build two snowmen for our front yard!
Abbey LOVES the snow!
Shawnee, OK... December 2009
We added a member to the family since the last snow storm and she is all bundled up and ready to go outside and play!
Priceless memories!
We also added Oxford to the family... He likes the snow too!

Of course, now I live in Houston and it is "Year-Long Summer" once again. The summer I moved here in 2011 the average temperature through the months of June- September was 102. SERIOUSLY? Wow... But oddly enough that was the hottest summer in Oklahoma recorded history! The Fall and Winter of 2011-2012 were unusually hot even for native Houston-ians and I was disgusted at the daily temperatures. During the winter months of 2012 I think I only used a heavy coat 3 times. Only for about 1 whole months worth of days did I even need a jacket.
I love the mild weather during the winter months but I really do miss my snow days and the beautiful Winter Wonderland it created. I have many fond memories of playing in the snow. I really miss this about Oklahoma!
Y'all up there enjoy that beautiful Winter Wonderful and BE SAFE!
God is good... All the time!

Make Sure the Lawnmower Works...

Monday, February 25, 2013
Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a pity-party or a complaining blog but it seems that way after reviewing it. I am going to post it anyway because sometimes you just need to let it all out and get your feelings out instead of bottling them up! If you want to stop reading now... I totally understand! If you care to read on... Thank you and I covet your prayers! Thank you!

This time 2 years ago at this time I had just returned from the 2010-2011 OMEA conference in Tulsa and I was putting new procedures and practices into my band rehearsals. In fact, I was also preparing for my upcoming OSSAA District Band Contest. This particular year we were playing a very difficult contest piece and a march in 6/8 time. We had been rehearsing long and hard hours and were ready to take the stage and perform. We arrived in Konawa, OK and performed very well. We ended up getting a I- II- II on stage and a I in sight-reading, I was very disappointed but praised my kids for their hard work. Throughout that school year I had built rapport with my students better than previous years and I was really beginning to feel a sense of belonging.
I had been teaching at Grove for the past 5 years and, like most people, I had my moments of complaining and feeling like I wanted to be elsewhere but overall I went to work happy each day, being able to do what I loved to do on a daily and routine basis. This particular year at Grove, I was more involved within the staff and I was also able to be a mentor teacher to a student from OBU (who in turn took the band position when I left). In fact, it was this year at Grove that I was awarded the Teacher of the Year for the 10-11. This allowed me to also win the Pottawatomie County Teacher of Today as well as entered in the Oklahoma (statewide) Teacher of the Year program. I actually made it all the way to one of the final rounds for that contest, but since I was not going to be teaching in the state of Oklahoma the following year, I was eliminated from the competition.
It was also during this school year that I was chosen by my band directing peers to be the new Middle School Band District Honor Band Chair for the 2011-2012 school year. This position moved forward each addition year to where in 3 years I would have been the ECBDA Band President. Again, this is something I had wanted for quite some time. I was also asked by a peer during the month of April to come and adjudicate at their small school solo and ensemble contest for the following year in October. Again, it seemed like everything was finally to “flow” my way and I was very happy with my career. But somehow there was something inside me that wanted more.
Earlier in that school year the OU Pride of Oklahoma Assistant Band Director Job had come open and I was interested in the necessities to apply for it. Teaching collegiate band was a LIFELONG dream of mine and as a 28 year old veteran teacher with a Master’s degree, I wanted to see if I was qualified for the position. After researching the qualifications, I discovered that even though I was an OU alumnus and had a Master’s degree coupled with 6 years of public school teaching, I was not even able to apply for the job since all of my experience was in middle school band and not in High School Marching Band. This obviously made since to me but the fact that I could not even apply really bothered me and it was from that moment that I had a desire to move to a High School position, not because I wanted to leave Grove (I didn’t… I LOVED it there) but I wanted to have that experience in my resume for future job openings. I almost immediately developed a “Grass is greener” mentality in my mind.
At this time, Chris had been working on completing his alternative teaching certificate and was working on finalizing all of things that had to be done in order to be able to get a 1 year teaching certificate and interview for jobs. We had discussed in detail about moving to Texas to be closer to family and all my life and teaching career I had wanted to teach band in Texas. Again, I had the “Grass is greener” mentality about that whole situation. In March of 2011, Chris traveled down to Houston to go to Job Fairs and interviews for Math teaching positions. We and especially ME wanted to move to Texas so bad and at that time I really thought moving there would solve ALL my “Problems”. I didn’t have any problems actually but I thought moving to Texas and teaching band would really help set my career on the right path. I was 28 and I wasn’t getting any younger.  I would follow some of my teaching peers from OU on Facebook and look at their careers and be jealous of how far they have come since OU. I had a deep, deep desire to” move on” with my career… I didn’t even know how to do this or what it meant but I wanted it and moving to Houston was the answer in my head.
During the month of May Chris had been on several interviews in Houston and he and Natalie were away from home about 60% of the time. I knew them being gone this long would be okay in the long run though. On May 24th we got a call from the Aldine 9th Grade principal telling Chris he was interested in him and was going to send the memo over to the Aldine HR director to call him and offer the job. Chris and I both got really excited but knew that it was not a done deal. On Friday, May 27th at 9:00am I got a call from Chris saying he was offered the job at Aldine 9th as well as an additional job within Aldine ISD. I was supposed to be presenting an End of the Year Award at this time and was late. I hurried in to present the awards with tears in my eyes knowing my “Perfect” job was soon to be over. I didn’t say anything to anyone during these awards but the students, parents and my fellow teachers knew something was up because within minutes of completion of the awards ceremony, I had several people come and ask if I was ok! My dream I of teaching Band in Texas was about to come true and my family and I were moving to Texas.
That day came and went and I eventually told my fellow teachers and students about the move and said my goodbyes. The following month was crazy with trying to pack up our house in Shawnee and me traveling to and from Houston interviewing for jobs. During the month of June I had about 9 interviews for band director jobs at the middle school, junior high and high school level. I felt really good about the quantity of job interviews I was offered but the quality or lack thereof was not impressive and the 1.5 hour+ commute seemed impossible. During the late week of June I went on 2 elementary music teaching position interviews that were a little closer to home. I really didn’t want to go this route but it seemed despite the quantity of band director interviews, I was coming up short. July was approaching fast and I needed a job. On June 30th, I was offered my current Elementary Music Teaching position and I accepted.
During my previous 2 years at my current position, I have learned new ways of teaching general elementary music and I have even created my own grade level curriculum. However, the large district make-up and the outrageous number of students I teach have left me feeling un-easy and overall unhappy. Despite my thinking of “My life will be perfect when I move to Texas” my life did not become perfect and that feeling of I wanted more from my career got bigger and bigger and BIGGER!
I put my name out there in the Elementary Music world so if Chris and I decided to have another baby, I would not be crazy busy with Band things like sectionals and extra rehearsals and be able to spend time with the new baby. In June 2012 David Luke Davis entered the world and became part of our family and for that reason alone my life has become perfect with him in it! I was able to take 3 months off from teaching in the Fall of 2012 and return to work in November 2012. When I returned to work in November a lot had changed and a lot more time before and after school and all of the sudden I was working Band hours but still at an elementary music teaching position. I have a Master’s degree and have a vast knowledge of instrumental music and band directorship and I am unable to use it. When I wake up each morning all I can think about is “I should be somewhere else”. I am unhappy in my current position and there are times where I think the whole move to Texas was a wrong move and the only good thing to come of it was Luke. Of course I know this is not true because we were in “Dire Straits” financially in the later months of Chris’ unemployment and were literally months away from eviction I sure. Now we live in a 3400 sq ft home that is even better than I pictured in my head. Our little family is complete and I could not be happier in that realm of my life. Yet somehow I absolutely dread going to work and literally feel depressed in my career. There were many teachers at Grove that had to take depression and anxiety medicine and I always thought, “How bad could it be?”  Now I understand why they were taking medication and I honestly feel I should be put on some.
In all of my frustrations and depression of my job and I am thinking the same thoughts as I did at Grove in thinking that “The Grass is greener on the other side”. I could write another blog post about the craziness and demands of my job (Non-music related) but I feel like ANYTHING is better than my current situation. I still have the desire and longing to teach band but I almost feel as if my attitude being the same as before is going to get me into the same type of situation I am in now. I heard a saying once “Make sure the lawnmower works before you go over to the greener grass.” Sure the grass may be greener but what all does “Greener Grass” entail?
In nearly 8 years of teaching I have never EVER felt like I am in the wrong profession and I havent ever NOT liked going to work every day. In addition, I have always felt like I am making a difference SOMEHOW on the students’ lives. Almost every day this year I have felt as if I am just going to work to pay the bills. That passion for teaching and students has disappeared and I am for the first time ever depressed with my career (almost to the point of medication… I think).
As the job hunt season opens and I begin to look for a new job, I would appreciate any and all prayers. I know this blog was unique in the sense that I really just laid out my feelings and frustrations with my current situation and my hopes and dreams for the future. I did not know this time 2 years ago where I would be today. I certainly didn’t think I would be in an inner-city school teaching 40 kids at a time elementary music. But I also didn’t know I would have the world’s most adorable and handsome 9 month-old EVER! I am blessed and I need to count my blessings… name them one by one! Growing up and practicing my saxophone nightly I would play “God is in Control” and I would reflect on the words of this song and their meaning. All I can think of right now are the words to this song…
God is in Control
He believes that His children will not be forsaken
God is in Control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, We know
God is in Control.
In I must remember in ANY situation
God is GOOD… All the time!

TMEA 2013... Success!

Monday, February 18, 2013
Reflections from another great year at TMEA
San Antonio, TX 
This is looking over the main Exhibit hall... This picture DOES NOT do it justice! This thing is HUGE!
I went to San Antonio again this year for the 2013 Texas Music Educators Association Clinic and Conference. This year I stayed by myself and pretty much was by myself the duration of the trip. I met up with some other teachers from my district on Wednesday evening as soon as I arrived in San Antonio for dinner and I also met up with several friends from college for lunches and drinks throughout my stay in San Antonio.  I had a great time just catching up with some old friends and acquaintances from OU and even UCO while at TMEA. I also was able to talk to my college Band Director, whom I had not even spoken to or heard from in nearly 10 years. This was just the boost and “pep talk” I needed to make it through the year. I did not however, see my high school band director or other Band Director friends from High School and I had usually seen them in years past.
This trip started out a little crazy because I left my school at 1:30pm on Wednesday in order to make the district dinner with the other music teachers. I realized just past Katy that I had forgotten several things either back at my campus or my house. Of course, at that stage it was too late and too far to turn around and get them. These were minor things like the schedule I had created for the conference left on my desk and some toiletries I had left at my house. Both of which could be either purchased at a drug store of looked up online. However, after the 3.5 hour drive into San Antonio I arrived at my downtown River-walk Hotel, valet parked and then went into the lobby to check in. There was a long line of other band directors and music educators as well as High School All-State students checking in so I had to wait a little while. After a few minutes of waiting it was my turn and the check-in process began. I showed the attendant my State Employee (School District) form and other necessary papers and then she asked to see my ID. I began to look through my wallet and purse frantically and could not find it. I had just changed purses so I was unfamiliar with this purse and all its hiding places so I put my luggage and other items down and began to REALLY look for it. After a minute or two she said “We just need your ID number so when you find it, come back and let me see it”. At this point I was totally freaking out because my ID is still an Oklahoma driver’s license and if it is lost or stolen I would have to retake the written and driving portions of the test in order to get it switched over to a Texas Driver’s License. I immediately called Chris and asked if he knew where it was. During the conversation (And the tears that were forming) I remembered that back on December 30th Chris, his family and I went to a bowl game in downtown Houston and I had asked Chris to put my ID in his wallet so I would not have to take a purse into the Football game. Sure enough, Chris had my ID in his wallet. My fear and anxiety disappeared but the blonde feeling did not. I had driven all the way to San Antonio and to and from work for nearly 2 months WITHOUT an ID! Thank the Lord; I had not been pulled over. In fact, I had just driven the night before to Buffalo to drop my kids off with Gigi Shirley and Poppy! It is seriously amazing I had not gotten stopped! It was a true ACT OF GOD! Thank you, Lord!
While at TMEA I attended several conferences and clinics about Elementary Music and how to incorporate Orff instruments and drums into your EVERYDAY teaching. I have been working with Orff instruments for about a month but I need a boost in department and I knew TMEA would deliver. I was able to attend about 7 clinics about drums and Orff instruments and I have already began using these learned techniques in my classes since returning and my kids LOVE THEM!
This year has been incredibly difficult for me due to many reasons ranging from Campus and District changes and demands as well as personal reasons such as wanting to stay at home with my baby! But TMEA really helped lift my spirits and gave me the push and DESIRE to make it to the end of the year and honestly re-lit the passion I have for teaching. There have been many days here in the recent past where I have not enjoyed my job at all and even question if I should be teaching anymore. Not just at my current campus but at all. This really breaks my heart because I have wanted to teach since I can remember. I told a friend of mine while having drinks in San Antonio that I basically decided I was going to teach band when I was 15 years old and I have never looked back since… UNTIL NOW! The clinicians and clinics at TMEA really reminded me why I got into this field in the first place and really helped me get my “blinders” on and get back to business.
As usual, I saw some pretty interesting things while at TMEA. The exhibit hall was as BIG as ever with 2 FULL Exhibit halls and the need to have a 3rd. I was blown away last year at how BIG it had become in the 8 years since I had returned to TMEA but it seemed liked it had gotten even bigger just since last year’s conference in 2012. The best thing I saw while visiting the exhibits were Beethoven and Mozart Action Figures. I am new to the whole BOY-DEPARTMENT and I am not familiar with Action Figures but these were AWESOME! They had removable outfits and WIGS as well as a small (very small) workbook about each composer and a listening CD. This was so cool and I purchased 4 to give away at the end of the year. I know some of the students in my school would think it is lame but there are some that would really like them so I got a few. I should have purchased some for Natalie and Luke as well but I did not. There were really cool and I hope they stay around until Luke is old enough to play with them.
This is SO COOL!

I love this idea... I should create something like this and market it!
 I also purchased some Music Flip-flops and a new Music teacher shirt to wear to school. In addition, I bought a little "Band" for my kids! I got a cheap plastic tambourine, an echo microphone, some maracas and even some claves and rhythm sticls for them to play with when I got home. You know, it was quiet when I left but when I got back... NO SILENCE WAS TO BE FOUND IN MY HOUSE! I dont think my poor hubby appreciated this! But you know what, he played with them anyway! I love my honey! Thank you Chris for being such an AWESOME daddy!

"The Davis Band"! They are my little musicians!
Overall, my trip to San Antonio was a blast and I am looking forward to next year’s convention already. Thank you, Lord for allowing me to go and for keeping me safe without an ID.
God is good… All the time!

My Growing Boy: Month 8

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Another month has passed by and my little boy is no so little anymore. He is crawling and moving around so much and is becoming a little boy and not a baby! In just a few short months I will be planning a Birthday Party for my little guy! That is so hard to believe.
This month I introduced Meat to Luke and he seemed to like it! He had 2 teeth come in this month (on top) and he was teething alot, the poor little guy just drooled and drooled! I swear he would put anything in his mouth. He would come up to me and try to pull off my sock and eat it (YUCK)! The meats like Chicken and Turkey had large vegetables and even pasta in them so this made him have to chew a little bit to be able to swallow them. At first he would gag but since then he will just chew and then swallow. This chewing also allowed him to try out the little "PUFFS" and he seems to like them (A litte!) I also started giving him juice at about 7.5 months. He didnt really like it at first but this was during a small tummy bug he had so he was thirsty anyways. Since this bug, I give him about 4-6 ounces of 1/2 and 1/2 (Water and apple juice) in a SIPPY CUP and he seems to really like it! He still gets the majority of his nutricion from Nutramigen but we are hoping to be able to switch back to regular formula SOON!

Here he is trying to find a way to get down...
During the middle part of January, Luke had a little bit of a stomach bug and was not sleeping as well but overall he is still sleeping his usual 10 hours each night. He is also getting more use to his naptime routine at MDO and is sleeping about 1.5-2 hours twice daily. Since becoming more mobile he is figuring out how to get out of his swaddle blanket and is starting to move around in his crib (at least rolling around alot). I figure here pretty soon he will be able to completly get out of his swaddle blanket and pull up on his crib. I have already lowered his crib but I have a feeling I will be moving it to the lowest level here pretty soon!
I am raising the next "Lukey (Johnny) Football"
Of course this Heisman Winner will be playing at OU or LSU not nasty A&M!

He loves playtime with his football!
So... umm... I am supposed to do what with this?
On January 15th he pulled up in his crib and since then he has been pulling up everywhere. He even uses the bare wall to try to stand up. He has taken a few steps along the couch while holding on but I am not going to classify these few steps as "Cruising" just yet. I think with Luke once he "cruises" he will be walking within  month (OR LESS)! He is going to be my active child I am afraid... Natalie is active but not like this! He wants to get into EVERYTHING! He has started to pull up on Natalie's shopping cart and is even trying to walk along with it as it rolls along the carpet!

My BIG boy... 8 months old!
In late January we took hgim and Natalie to the Houston Zoo and Luke LOVED it! He would just look around and try to take it all in. He did so well eating and sleeping even while "out and about" and I think he really enjoyed it! The monekys were VERY active early in the morning and were talking to us as we walked by. Natalie and Daddy started to immitate them and Luke would just laugh and laugh. It was SO cute... But by the time I got my phone out to video it... he had stopped (Figures right?)
Just monkeying around at the Houston Zoo
01-26-13: I am so blessed!
He has already completed 2/3 of a full year of life and I cannot believe how fast it is happening. I know that these next 4 months will fly by so fast (Especially since it is spring) and before you know it he will be 1 year old!


God is Good... All the time!

My Growing Boy: Month 7

Saturday, January 12, 2013
This boy is ON THE MOVE!
During this 7th month of his life, Luke has been getting faster and faster... at crawling that is! He started crawling on his belly last month and this month he has just gone full force. We have had to be really careful watching him and making sure he doesn't get into anything. I have mentioned this before but my kids are POLAR OPPOSITES! Natalie didn't really get into anything. In all reality she never messed with cords or outlets... NOT THIS GUY! He is into EVERYTHING! I can just tell that he will start walking earlier than Natalie did (11 months) and will be "up and at em'" VERY SOON!

Here you can see his RED hair coming in (Finally!) 
He is still eating the main grains, fruits and veggies on a daily basis. During his 6 month check up the doctor mentioned starting to feed meats and even try giving him juice. Our pediatrician in Oklahoma told us to NEVER give juice until 1 year but Dr. Prohodia seems pretty aggressive and said to go ahead and offer it to him. I will trying both of these this coming month.
He is still taking numerous naps throughout the day (Anywhere from 2-3) and sleeps about 10-11 hours at night. He traveled to Arp with my mom and dad this past month and while there he slept 12 hours (I guess they wore him out) but usually he sleeps from 8:30pm to 6:30am. He has started Mother's Day Out Program and Day school this past week and is adjusting to nap times and schedules. I think this daily ritual and routine will help him get more and better sleep!
WOW! This boy is ALL OVER THE PLACE! He is crawling on all fours at an alarming pace! He is across the room in record time (Seriously). I cannot believe how quickly he has picked up crawling. He started really crawling (All 4s) at 6 months and 27 days and hasn't looked back since. He will chase Natalie and the dogs all over the house! It is really cute. However, he has seemed to be getting into more things than Natalie EVER did! He will go straight for the cable cords or the computer cord and just last week I saw his little brain working and wondering what the outlet was. I think I am going to have to get a move on baby proofing because with this child, obviously, I am going to have to be very careful!
He is on his changing table trying to figure out how to get down.
Silly Boy!
He is so very active and wants to be moving at all times!
This is perhaps his best "Personality" picture to date! This really portrays Luke!
Once again, this month has passed by WAY TOO QUICKLY and he is already in his 8th month of life. It seems like only yesterday I was in the hospital bed holding my new precious baby boy! Now... I am chasing him! I am SO BLESSED!

God is Good... ALL THE TIME!