Sunday, December 24, 2006

CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE

Ross was a shepherd.

Nate was Joseph and his friend, Anna, was Mary.



MORE CHRISTMAS FUN

Kenzie is pictured below in one of her many Christmas outfits. She told everyone that her name was Mrs. Claus today. Usually, she says her name is Big Girl.


Decorating cookies is so much fun!




We hope Santa likes a lot of milk with his cookie!


Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Craft

These were very hard to photograph at night, but I think you will get the idea. Our little snowglobes were made from clear plastic drinking cups. Each contains a piece of greenery made into a tree or branch, a small animal or bird, and some glitter. I made these with the entire school on the last day before break and with the grandchildren today. They are just so cute and easy.



Cornerstone's Christmas Program


Anybody want to know how long it took to curl Tessa's hair? Too long!!!

Merry Christmas!



THE POLAR EXPRESS

We took the kids to Bryson City, North Carolina on Wednesday to board the Polar Express--the train that takes you to the North Pole! Just like the children in the book, most children and a lot of adults--not us, of course--donned their pajamas for the exciting ride.

After leaving the station, we were served hot chocolate and a snack while The Polar Express was read. There were lights to enjoy along the way and the kids enjoyed the train ride.


After reaching the North Pole--about 45 minutes outside of Bryson City--the train stopped to let Santa board with his elf.


He autographed books and spoke to each child. Most requested snow for Christmas but didn't think it odd that there was none at the North Pole. Go figure!

Each child was given a bell to signify the first gift of Christmas like in the book.

The ride back to the station was spent singing Christmas carols. The most memorable song was "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Each section was given one day and we sang it from one end of the car to the other. It was hilarious. The kids hope to make this trip an annual tradition, but the adults aren't so sure. I think the car ride over the mountains to get there about did us in! It was very curvy, and if it snowed we never would have made it. I overheard one mother saying that her child threw up on the way. Ross felt sick, and we had to pull over on the way home, but he never did throw up. Thank the Lord!

WE'VE BEEN FRAMED!


When I saw this frame on the back porch--Don't ask why it was on the back porch!--I couldn't resist taking a picture of Nate, Ross, Kenzie, and Tessa before we headed off to the Polar Express train ride. They had fun wearing their pajamas and didn't look strange at all since the majority of folks were dressed the same!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Our Resident Artist



Nate (5 years old) saw a cardinal flying by and decided to draw it.
I'm impressed!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Finally!

Today's postings went so smoothly that I wonder why I don't do it more often. Maybe this site has improved?? Or maybe I'm actually getting better at this stuff?? Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the visit. I recently lost all of my email addresses, so if you happen to check in here and realize that you haven't heard from me in awhile, please email me at dmvoccola@hotmail.com. Thanks.

Our Christmas Visit to Dollywood

Waiting for the tram. It was so crowded!
The new haircut. What do you think?



We have to get the yearly photos on the carousel!


We sure liked the new decorations this year!
Kenzie loved the reindeer!

How Life Has Changed!

Life sure has a way of surprising you. Who would have thought last Christmas that this year I'd be working fulltime and not homeschooling? There are a lot of things to get used to when things change so dramatically. For instance, this is the first year it literally took me days to decorate the tree. What's with that???? I used to be the efficiency queen. On the first day of decorating, I managed to get the tree up from the basement and fluff the branches. I was okay with that. On the second day of decorating--or was it the third day???--I actually got the lights put on. Seemed like a major accomplishment to me. Then the ornaments took a couple of days--with Tessa's help. (Thank goodness I put two trees away completely decorated or they'd never have been put up this year.) Now if I could only remember to plug the tree in so the people driving by could appreciate all my efforts!


I did manage to do one creative thing in the decorating department this year. I actually cut branches from our magnolia tree, our pine tree, and the neighbor's holly bush to make window and mantle decorations. I was quite impressed with how they looked----until 50 mph winds blew them all away two days later. Fortunately, Tessa was able to locate them, and Ryan was kind enough to drag the ladder out to hang them again. I am pretty impressed that the zip ties held them together.

Tessa and Friends


This is the photo I took for the school's Christmas card. It's not easy getting 57 kids to look in the right direction and smile! Only one was absent that day, so it's almost the whole school!


Tessa's class (3rd and 4th grade) showing off their coats of many colors.


Tessa and her fourth grade friends.

RYAN'S GRADUATION


You know you're getting too old for this stuff when you actually forget the graduate in the program. Yep, the program was over and tons of people had shared before someone mentioned that Ryan had never made his way to the stage. Much to his delight, I forgot the part where he was supposed to thank his mother for putting up with him for twelve long years. He was supposed to say how wonderful his education was and how he'd never forget the paper mache armor we made in the second grade. Talk about an untraditional graduation! There was no Pomp and Circumstance. There was no cap and gown. There was no anything that looked like a graduation. Well, the food was great and the square dance a blast.


My boss, Dan, did a great job of charging Ryan. I'm so glad I didn't forget him. He really encouraged Ryan to live life for the Lord and to always honor his parents! I didn't even have to pay him for that one!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Life at Cornerstone Academy


My office is actually the foyer area. I am the first line of defense against unwanted intruders. That's a joke! Actually, we will be having a buzzer system installed in a few weeks for added security. It's a shame we have to think about things like that at a tiny Christian school.

Tessa loves her third grade friends. Since this picture was taken, two fourth grade girls have enrolled. Now Tessa is in a class of three for math and science.


I took Tessa's class out for recess one day and enjoyed watching them play freeze tag.


Chapel is held every other Wednesday and is one of our favorite parts of school! The children are given a chance to share what they are memorizing. Classical education emphasizes a great deal of memory work during the grammar stage, K-6. I am totally amazed at how effortless memorization has been for all the Cornerstone children.

The kids really enjoy the crazy games that Dan plays with them during chapel. Here they are doing reverse push-ups! The worship time is also a lot of fun.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

TESSA GOES TO SCHOOL

Never in a million years would I have thought that I'd actually be posting this news! But isn't that the way my life has always been? For some odd reason, God never takes me down the predictable or ordinary road of life!

Several months ago, I heard that some families at our church were getting together to start a Christian school in our town. Since it obviously didn't apply to my life, I didn't really hone in on the details. Around that same time, Michael was doing a job at one of the founding family's home, and he was casually asked if I'd be interested in a job at the new school. He laughed and said, "I really don't think so." When he told me, I had about the same response!

Then in June, I was asked to consider teaching by another person on the board of the school who had heard about me--whatever that means! I politely told her that I was flattered, but that I didn't really consider myself that great of a teacher. They specifically needed a teacher for bible/history/literature. I assured her that I would pray about it, but since the thought of it was giving me heart palpitations, I was pretty certain that the answer from God would be a no! Sure enough--I was not being led to take the job. Honestly, I felt that I had too much on my plate already. What a relief!

It wasn't to end there. A few weeks ago, I asked how things were shaping up with the school and was told that they still needed a grammar teacher and an administrative assistant. I jokingly said that grammar might have tempted me. Before I knew it, I was interviewing with the headmaster and a board member for the part-time position. To make a long story short, I was eventually hired as the administrative assistant--a full-time position. Did I mention that I wasn't really looking for a job?

When I went to the Lord in prayer, this is what was spoken to my heart:

I do not need a job, but I do need an avenue to be who I am and to use the gifts God has given me to impact the world and this community for Christ.

I also reviewed some notes I had taken during a Sunday school lesson a few months back that reminded me that God is doing something bigger than my itty-bitty world. The question was whether or not I wanted to be a part of it. And I did!

The catch was that Tessa would have to attend the school. YIKES!

http://www.cornerstoneacademymorristown.com.com
Cornerstone Academy is a classical Christian school whose mission is to partner with families in the education of their children. While I cried for a week after accepting the call, I knew that God had prepared me for such a time as this. I really bawled when I hit the button to order Tessa's uniforms. After all, I will always be a homeschooler at heart. Fourteen years is not erased with the push of a button.

I only agreed to the job on the condition that if Tessa was not coping after one month, she would be taken out to be homeschooled once again. We have both survived and, more importantly, enjoyed the first week! I can't even express how wonderful it is to be part of this adventure! The operational board is a group of amazing, prayerful people, and the headmaster is a true gift from God. There is no doubt that this school has been ordained by the Lord. I feel honored that God would include me in this work and look forward to my faith being increased daily! I have been awed and challenged by the men and women who, through much prayer, obeyed the call.

At this point, there are 55 students, so the school is still very intimate. I love that! Tessa is the only 4th grader, so she is combined with the 3rd graders. She knew several of her classmates from church and was happy to see a friend from a previous dance studio on the first day! Because classical education is new to all of them, nobody seems to have an advantage. Believe it or not, Tessa is loving Latin. Who'd have thought?

So far, I actually love my job! My unofficial job description is: Anything I am asked to do! And that about sums it up. I am Dan's--Mr. Peterson's--assistant, but I also pitch in when needed in the classrooms. Besides a ton of paper-pushing and phone work this week, I was able to have lunch with Tessa and teach a part of her P.E. class. The latter better have been a fluke! I am really looking forward to being able to do some creative projects with the students when we are more settled in. A few are already brewing in my head.

Every day brings new challenges since we are in a borrowed facility, working with limited resources. But, I love that part of it. God continues to provide for our needs each day and that excites me.

Say Cheese!

These are scanned images, so they are not as clear as could be!


SNAPSHOTS FROM THE WEDDING

We had a great time at the wedding! I hope you enjoy some of the photos. Thank you, Tommy, for sending them to me!

Mark, Chris, Heather, Bill, Kathy, Al


Michael Jr. and Denise


Grandma Kay and the Cousins
Kelly, Rachel, Elyssa

Tommy, Kay, Stephen (nephew), Michael

Michael and Elyssa


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Highlights from the Rambling Road Trip!

Tessa, Ross, Nate, and I left Tennessee and headed for my mother's house in Massillon, Ohio. We had a great time visiting with her and my sister and her family. One of the highlights of our visit for the children was playing with my mom's many dogs! They also enjoyed their cousins, Greg and Kerry!

From there, we headed to my birthplace, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! Every so often I feel an incredible need to go back to my roots. After the visit, I'm never sure why. :) I guess it is to appreciate that the Lord brought me out of that place! :) We stayed in a hotel on the outskirts of the city, and I really had to work at finding my way around. Not having someone else to read the map while I drove was probably the biggest challenge on the trip.

It was pouring on the first day, so we visited the Science Center in downtown Pittsburgh. I think our favorite part was the miniature town with all the moving people. The dog lifting his leg on the tree sure got some laughs! We also were able to go inside a real submarine. I wish I could convey some enthusiasm here; but honestly, the kids and I didn't enjoy being in such tight quarters. :)


We took a ride on the cable-powered Monongahela Incline, which is always a treat for everybody. Built in 1870, the cars are pulled up and down the inclined track by a cable driven by an engine in the upper station where the operator works. The cars operate in pairs, permanently attached to opposite ends of a single cable, with one going uphill and the other going downhill simultaneously. The cars counterbalance each other, so the engine needs to provide only enough power to overcome friction and the difference in the weight of the passengers in the two cars. That explanation sounds really technical, huh? Then you must know that I didn't write it! I copied part of it from http://www.presby.edu.

Tessa, Ross, and Nate with the Incline in the background.
Even though it was a rainy day, we were able to enjoy the panoramic view of the city.

Another highlight of our visit to Pittsburgh was taking the kids to my old neighborhoods. We were all amazed at how little the house was where I spent most of my childhood. While we were stopped to take this picture, some lady asked us if we were lost. She was able to tell me who still lived in the neighborhood. I can't imagine having stayed in the same place for all of my life, but many had! A while back, my brother, who no longer lives in Pittsburgh either, realized during a business call that he was actually talking to the man who bought this house from my parents back in 1971! He met up with him on his next trip through and was taken on a tour! I would have loved to do that.

After the neighborhood tour, I took the kids to
the park where I spent a lot of my free time. The high school and town pool are located there as well. Many July 4th's were spent there, enjoying community events and fireworks. The kids really enjoyed walking part of the path in the woods that we used as a shortcut to the park. Unfortunately, now it is littered with partying trash. :(

I should mention here that traveling with the three kids was a joy! My grandchildren are so well behaved (Thank you, Kelly and Travis!) that there was not even one discipline issue! No one moaned, groaned, or whined! They were troopers the entire trip and brought many smiles to my face.


We ended up staying an extra day in Pittsburgh because of flooding in the middle of the state
. My brother had a little too much water on his property and in his basement; and since his house was our next stop, we decided to wait. We arrived at his house a day later--after the clean-up--and met Kelly, Travis, and Kenzie. Of course, we had a wonderful meal, prepared by a fabulous chef! :) It does pay to have a Certified Executive Chef in the family! Mike and Mary are so hospitable each time we visit. Imagine putting up seven extra people the day after you clean up from a flood. We were able to stop at Mike's house again on the way home--it wasn't just for the food, I promise! Come to think of it, maybe it was! I did come home with three coolers full! I'd also like to put in a plug for the game Apples to Apples. We had a blast playing this after dinner one night. Aunt Mary seemed to enjoy spending time with Kenzie as they waited for Uncle Mike to finish cooking the feast! And what a feast it was!


We left Pennsylvania and headed to Connecticut, our final destination. Michael Sr. and Michael Jr. met us there--after sitting in traffic for four hours just a half an hour from Kathy's! They missed Billy's and Heather's rehearsal dinner totally. Since this is so long, I'll begin a new category for the wedding.