Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ryan's SEP and Dance Informance

I say this all the time, but I LOVE being Ryan’s mom! He is such an awesome kid at home, so it’s wonderful to see and hear that he is the same way away from home. We had his first term SEP with his teacher, Mrs. Busk, on Wednesday, November 9. She was so excited to show me Ryan’s grades, test scores, art projects, and short stories that Ryan has written. She also expressed appreciation for Ryan’s sense of humor. She said she loves it when she says something subtly funny/a bit sarcastic, and Ryan gets it. Most importantly, she mentioned how much she appreciates that Ryan is a friend to everyone. That is something that Ryan and I have talked about since he started school. It really, really bothers him when he sees someone being treated unfairly. I always challenge him to make sure he is kind to everyone. It’s so nice to hear that his teacher notices that happening. Thursday, November 18 was Ryan’s 5th grade “dance informance.” Every year, each grade creates dances representing some of the things they are learning about. Two years ago, Ryan’s 3rd grade classes did several science dances. Last year, the 4th grade program centered around Utah history. This year the 5th grade did U.S. history. Here are a couple of pictures from the program…The 5th graders have been mentors to kindergarten kids, and the two grades have done a lot together. Around Halloween, the dance teacher also taught the kids the dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Apparently the 5th graders begged enough that she let them do it at the very end of the program. IT WAS AWESOME! Since many of the parents are children of the 80s, we grew up doing the Thriller dance. It was hysterical to see all of our kids doing it. Even the kindergarteners had a little spot where they got up and did part of it. Of course the whole program was entertaining, but the Thriller dance was the hit of the show!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Anaheim - Disneyland and PhD Track 3

For my PhD program, I have to attend three residencies, where I have a few days of intense courses. Last October, I attended Track 1 in Washington, DC. Ryan, Rara, and Papa went with me. In June, I attended Track 2 in Dallas (I went by myself). For Track 3 in Anaheim, Ryan, Marc & Frances, and Alice & Claire went with me!

We left on Wednesday, November 3, and drove to St. George. We stayed with my cousin, Misty, and her family. Since there are so few cousins in our family, our kids (the second cousins) are more like cousins. Ryan and Abby and Josh had a great time together, playing Rock Band and jumping on the trampoline.On Thursday, November 4, we drove the rest of the way to Anaheim. We checked in to the hotel, and I checked in for my residency. The hotel (the Hyatt) was beautiful, and our suite was really quite nice!I started classes at 5:00 pm on Thursday, and then had a welcome reception. Frances and the girls stayed in the hotel room. The girls went to bed pretty early. Ryan and Marc went to Disneyland for a few hours.

On Friday, November 5, I had classes from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The rest of the family spent the day at Disneyland. When I finished with my classes, Ryan and I went to Downtown Disney, and had fun shopping and eating. We loved the Lego store, and Ryan bought a Star Wars set that he has been saving up for!On Saturday, November 6, I had classes from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm again. I had a lot of homework, not only for the residency courses, but my other two courses, too. Marc and Frances put the girls to bed, and then I stayed in the hotel room for the evening with the kids while Marc and Frances enjoyed an evening at Disneyland together.

Here are some of my favorite pictures Frances took at Disneyland…On Sunday, November 7, we had a Track 3 “recognition breakfast” at 6:45 am! But it was totally worth it. We got our Track 3 pins, but I was also able to spend quite a bit of time talking with the instructor that I’d like to ask to be my dissertation chair. She gave me some excellent suggestions of things to be doing and reading now in preparation for my comprehensive exams and dissertation.

During all of my Track 3 courses during the week, the Instructional Design for Online Learning (IDOL) specialization students sat together. Here are a few pictures of our group…The final culmination project for Track 3 learners is the “poster session.” We created posters which outlined all of the elements of our dissertation. Then Track 1 and Track 2 students came around and asked questions about our posters and projects. Track 2 students write a paper on their interview with a Track 3 student. It was a lot of fun. My possible dissertation chair also spent some time with me during the poster session, giving me some additional ideas.Here are all of the “IDOL” students (and two faculty members) at the beginning of the poster session… When my courses ended, we checked out of the hotel and headed to Newport Beach. I knew that if I just had a few minutes on the beach, walking in the sand and in the water, that would be enough of a “vacation” for me. It was nice to have a few relaxing minutes after the stress of the residency.
We got take out at Ruby’s on Balboa Pier and ate on a bench on the pier.
Due to school commitments, Frances needed to fly home for her Monday classes. We drove to Las Vegas and dropped her off at the airport to fly home. Then Marc, Ryan, Alice, Claire, and I continued on to St. George. There was a miscommunication about where we were staying, but we were able to spend the night with Aunt Dott’s good friend, Carolyn. Marc and I have known Carolyn for most of our lives, but we hadn’t seen her for a while. Dott was at work, so Randy called Carolyn and made the arrangements for us to all stay there. She was so great to let us all stay there at the last minute. We all felt pretty guilty, but when we got up Monday morning and walked into her kitchen/dining room, we noticed a quote above her window. It said something like “A happy home is one that shelters friends.”

Monday morning, Carolyn loaded us up with drinks and snacks, and we continued home. The kids were all so good during all of those hours in the car. We made it home to Rara’s & Papa’s, where Frances also came after her classes. We had fun exchanging reports about things – especially the girls’ reports about Mickey and the princesses.

The trip was fun, but I am thrilled that my residencies are now done!!!