Here goes…

As promised, here’s what’s happening next year.  Well here’s what we’re planning on for next year.  I won’t go into a lot of detail about the backstory but our reasoning more than anything is, why not?  We’ve always wanted to travel and we have nothing holding us here contract wise.  So Alexandria, Egypt (How’s that for a credible source?  A teacher using Wikipedia?) is going to be our new home for the next two years.

My contract consists of some relocation money, a two bedroom furnished apartment, a plane ticket there and back at the end, and a job!  We’re officially heading out of the country on August 10th and will be met at the airport by the principal of Alexandria International Academy.

What I know about the school is that they have three separate sections, the French section, English section, and Arabic section.  My position will be 4th grade teacher in the English section.  It is a fairly small school with 270 some kids which mean the maximum class size is 18 students.  I had a fairly small class all year, but that still sounds wonderful.  It is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school which means I teach in the Primary Years Programme (PYP).  This is all inquiry based learning, meaning that instead of having a list of standards to meet and tests to pass, you have a topic or theme and you fit in all the things that you can relate to that theme.  To put it simply, I get to teach them how to be an integral part of society instead of teaching them to pass a test (I bet you can all guess my feelings on the CCSS, and SBAC that I endured this year).

The salary is a few hundred less in US$ than what I made this year as a first year teacher, but the cost of living is much cheaper, plus our rent is paid for.  And let’s not forget the irreplaceable experience of living in another country...I’m getting sarcastic now because how many more times can we talk about how excited we are and what an adventure it’s going to be? 

Safety.  That’s the thing everyone is worried about.  It’s fine.  The majority of the things you hear about in the news happen in Cairo.  I won’t be in Cairo.  The principal assured me that at the most, I would be uncomfortable being stared at. Most of what I’ve read about says that excessive jewelry attracts unwanted attention and I never wear jewelry (I don’t even have my ears pierced!).  So I’m good there.

I like to joke that Ronnie’s job there is going to be my bodyguard.  Truthfully, we don’t have anything set up for him.  However, Mr. Arbour (the principal at AIA) has offered to help us find a job for him there.  Maybe he can learn Arabic in these last two months and be my personal interpreter.

So we’ve got a list of things to do before we go and hopefully everything goes smoothly.  Passport applications are in the mail, an appointment with the health department will happen soon, and plane tickets are scheduled to be purchased tonight.

Name an emotion and I’m probably feeling it.  Let’s not go there.  I’ll just say that today I lost it and my poor husband had to endure it.

Hmm…what else do you want to know?  I feel like that’s most of everything.

Tri-cities people, keep an eye out for a garage sale date.  If you’ve got stuff you want to sell, send it on over!

Also our two kitties need homes (Henry will go to stay with my in-laws).  They can go together or separately, so if you know of someone looking for a cute cat, let us know!

2014 Review

2014 started out with a lot of frustration. Our living situation wasn’t ideal and jobs and money were lacking.

Now, as the year ends, I can only think about all of the blessings and support we have received from all sorts of people.

Henry joined our animal hoard in March.  Due to our the previously listed situations, I was not convinced that getting a dog was a great idea, but we have absolutely loved having him. He’s adorable and funny and tiny. He likes to play with big dogs, loves going on rides in the car, hates water, and is like an annoying little brother to the cats.

As for the music side of our lives, we were both thrilled to be a part of Mid-Columbia Musical Theater’s production of Les Miserables.  Aside from the regular symphony season, we did three shows with MCMT, West Side story for a high school, and the Nutcracker.  We also played with the Washington Idaho Symphony for their summer concert in Moscow, ID.  Mahler 5 with 8 horns definitely a highlight for me.

After a few months of waiting, my teaching career finally took off.  My certificate showed up in March and I subbed until the end of school in June.  I was very excited to get started and really wanted to quit my job at the hospital, but then I thought about what I would do in the summer and realized that it probably wasn’t a good idea quite yet.  Early in August, I got a message from Sylvan, a local tutoring center.  I had turned in an application 8 months earlier and they needed teachers.  Finally, after three and a half years, I said goodbye to Kadlec Regional Medical Center and customer service jobs. After they trained me as a tutor, I got hired as a 4th and 5th grade teacher.  I’m sure you will hear plenty in the future about that.  That’s pretty much my portion of the year…besides the two foolish self inflicted injuries.

In April we moved into a duplex in Richland that happens to be right around the corner from my school so my commute consists of bundling up (for now) for a three minute walk which leaves the car available for Ronnie.  We spent our summer doing housework and gardening.  The floors were replaced by the owner, but we cleaned out the front garden, painted four different rooms, made a garden, as well as many other miscellaneous projects.

As for traveling, we took one trip across the mountains and managed to fit everything in.  Of course we would have loved to take more trips…perhaps in 2015.

Ronnie also had an exciting year.  His symphony involvement increased quite a bit.  Something I don’t believe that I’ve blogged about is that he was a driving force in getting a youth symphony started.  From getting the approval from the board, to holding auditions, to being the contact in town, he’s been involved in every step.  The first rehearsals are set to start this month.  While he’s not one to show many emotions, I believe he’s pretty excited to see this succeed.  He also started teaching private clarinet and oboe lessons.  Other miscellaneous things he’s done are work at a local bakery and house/pet sit.

So far in 2015, we went to the park to run with a group of people to start off the new year right!  It was a total of 23 degrees, but Henry, Ronnie, and I all bundled up and took a stab at a 5k.

We’ve been having fun with my family over break, but I think I’ll save that for a different post.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


(I thought this picture was pretty good for wrangling three animals and getting a timer set up)

Check out my instagram. I’m still working on my 100 days.

Platinum season

It’s been a while but I’m still alive and kicking! In fact, last week was the first week I didn’t set foot in the school over the weekend. I made it through parent conferences and the holidays are rapidly approaching! But I’m not here to talk about school, I’m here to talk about the first concert of the 70th season for the Mid-Columbia Symphony. Our first concert this year was Halloween themed. We played a lot of scary music, and hosted a phenomenal piano soloist and guest conductor.
Before one of the rehearsals, I hosted a horn sectional at our house. We practice our instruments on occasion and don’t feel too bad about the noise, but three horns make quite a bit more noise than just one (Ronnie wisely abandoned ship before we even started). If you’ve ever been to a sectional, you know that things get repeated over and over. The fourth (or fiftieth) time through Tam O’Shanter’s fast triplet melody, Henry got jealous of all the noise we were making and pulled out his snake to squeak along with us. I know I appreciated the comic relief.
I can’t guarantee that I’ll be back any time soon, but maybe during the holidays I’ll find time to blog. ‘Tis the season for winter music. The fall musical opens this weekend, then right after Thanksgiving rehearsals for the Messiah and Nutcracker start.



Not much new around here.  I finally hid the last of the boxes, so our dining room is completely visible.  The bathroom is still getting some finishing touches.  We had some electric wiring stuff done by a friend.  Don’t worry though, I have two things to write about that should (hopefully) be entertaining.

Henry has been doing great! A few weeks ago, he stopped peeing in his crate.  And even more recently, he stopped needing to be let out at 4 or 5 in the morning.  We thought potty training was going really well, but in the last few weeks, there have been mysterious puddles of pee.  First it was on the boxes in the dining room, then it was right inside the door to the backyard. Why mysterious? Because we try to keep an eye on him at all times to prevent puddles of pee. Just yesterday, I woke up and took him out and stepped in one of these puddles of pee (not my favorite thing to do right out of bed). Obviously this is not the dog peeing since he was in the crate all night. Those sneaky sneaky little cats….
So that’s our most recent pet problem. We have several theories, so hopefully one of them is correct and the cat will start peeing in the litter again.

Monday morning was also an interesting experience for me. There I was at working putting away the stock, helping customers, cutting open boxes with extremely sharp box knives…and the knife slips off the box and gets my finger.  It’s painful, but not a big deal, I’ve cut my finger before.  I grab a paper towel and ring up a few customers and start looking for a band-aid.  There aren’t any in the deli, so my co-worker suggests that I go to the ER to see if they have any.  When I ask for a band-aid, the nurse asks what happened and when I tell her, she asks to see it.  Her response was, “You need to get checked in like a good girl and have someone look at that.  Did you call your supervisor?”  “No. I was just looking for a band-aid.”  Jeez, I’ve never been checked in to the ER before, how exciting!  I called my co-worker and told her that I’d be about an hour.  So I got a nice little break during the middle of work.  It was fascinating watching the doctor numb my finger and stitch it up.  After it was all bandaged up, I went back to work.  Now I have three little stitches that will come out on Thursday.  I probably wouldn’t have gotten stitches if this happened at home, but after filling out a bunch of paperwork, L&I will take care of it.


Mahler and my pets

After 14 days straight of working, I think I deserved to party until 3 AM and sleep in til 11 AM today.  I worked at the hospital on the weekends and had subbing jobs everyday (except for one day when I was being picky about the schools and stayed home to work on some of our projects here).  Yesterday was the season finale concert for the symphony, thus the staying up past 2 and drinking more than one glass of wine…that’s about as crazy as I get.  There’s so much to tell you!  Perhaps I’ll have to write more than one blog.

Let me start with 8 French horns playing Mahler 1.  Being a horn player, I’ve always heard about how amazing Mahler is and how everyone wants to go to the MahlerFest, but not being a professional musician, I had never really gotten into it.  In college I believe I played the 7th part and I wasn’t impressed because I spent more than half of my time counting rests.  I also wasn’t originally very excited about this performance because only two of the seated horn players were going to be there and you can never be 100% sure that the people who get hired to come in will play well.  Turns out three of the eight horn players went to Hanford at some point and I felt a tiny bit of “Falcon Pride”.


So how did it go?  It was the most excited about a symphony concert I’ve ever felt.  No, I didn’t play perfectly, but I can’t even remember the last time I felt like that after a performance.  I got pretty close when we played 1812, but you can’t beat playing with 7 other fantastic horn players and blowing the audience out of their seats.  Mahler wrote in that the horns should stand up on the last page of music.  Seems cheesy, and reminded me of high school marching band.  But, there was a audible, Whoa, from the audience when we did it.  I was all shaky from adrenaline and nerves afterwards and had the feeling of working as hard as I could to produce something awesome.


Other symphony news…my own dear husband has been elected the president of the Mid-Columbia Symphony.  Mr. Vance gets to vote on the board now and  I’m sure he will do an excellent job of representing the symphony.

So last night when we got home from our party, we were horrified to see that the gate was wide open and Henry was not there to greet us with his incessant barking.  Of course something like this had to happen at 3 in the morning.  Thankfully, after calling his name a few times, he was just in the neighbors yard and we were able to find him by his usually annoying bark.  This is the third time we’ve lost our animals in this neighborhood.  Each time it was a new animal and we are so lucky that they’ve all come back.  2014-05-03 19.52.54

Sophie got lost in the basement for a day or two, but she showed up eventually.  We didn’t worry about her too much since she wasn’t outside.  Samson was left outside one day when we were painting and wanted him out of the way.  I kept checking on him because I knew it was just a matter of time before he found a way out of the yard.  Cats are sneaky that way.  Well we finished painting and closed the door and forgot about him.  I don’t know how he got out, but he was gone for several hours.  He got out at the last house once and came right back before we could miss him, so we were concerned but hopeful that he could get back.  Sure enough, a few hours later, I got a text at piano lessons that he came back and was sitting by the big shed.  He’s not allowed outside anymore without constant supervision (this makes us sound like terrible pet parents).  Then this happened last night with Henry.  I’m not sure if the gate just didn’t latch very well when we left, or if someone decided that his barking was too annoying and let him out of our gate, but I sure hope it doesn’t happen again.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that we are all home in one piece.

Stay tuned for more about home improvements…

6 cats, 4 dogs, and moving

My title pretty much sums up last week. We signed up to take care of 7 more pets on top of our three. I worked 30 hours this week, then on my three days off, we finished packing and moved everything to our new home yesterday. Everything went very smoothly and we had more help than I expected. People who help others to move really are some of the most selfless people around. It made the job so much easier! The piano even made it with us. It may have been it’s last move though…
It is a very old duplex and there is a lot of painting and refurbishing that we want to do. If I remember, I’ll take pictures as we work on it. We are very excited to have our own place again.

Most of you probably saw that our Facebooks became plagued with animal photos. So how do you take care of 10 animals?
1. Leave two cats at home so it’s only 8.
2. Do not attempt to make yourself dinner and decide to feed the dogs in the middle of it…the cats will eat your food.
3. Invest in good carpet cleaner.
4. Stock up on treats.
5. Have separate rooms for the ones who misbehave.
6. Become friends with all of them.
7. Keep training your puppy to go potty outside and come even though everyone else knows what to do.
8. Do not attempt alone.
I think having one dog and two cats is the perfect number. Especially since they are pretty much the same size and can entertain each other without getting crushed. It scared me when Henry decided to play with the German Shepherd.
That was our adventure last week.

A few updates

The dynamics between all of our animals is very interesting.  You probably don’t care, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

So Henry, being the new kid, is still trying to make friends.  Sophie is the boss of him, she doesn’t run away, hisses, swats, and even chases him down the hall.  Samson is still very unsure and always runs away when there is an invitation to play, but I think deep inside he likes being chased because it makes his life more interesting.  He also gets jealous of Henry when he goes outside.  There is loud meowing while he stares out the window.  He has snuck out a few times too.  He spent the night out there a few days ago…I guess it didn’t kill him.  The funny part is that Samson is the boss of Sophie so there’s no one who gets to be the boss of everybody.  That’s my job.

Maybe I can come up with something a bit more interesting to talk about now.  We just finished up performing Les Miserables with the local musical theater group.  It was ex

tremely well

done3 (Henry seems to be helping me with my typing).  It was as close to a professional performance as it gets in the Tri-Cities.  The last show was on Sunday and I couldn’t stop humming my favorite songs at work today!  I will definitely miss it.  Especially since we are jumping right into West Side Story, put on by Pasco High School.  The first few rehearsals were very much the opposite of professional which was quite frustrating after such a great experience with Les Mis. We’ll just have to see how it turns out.  The funny part is, Pasco High School is paying us more than the symphony paid us for Les Mis.  Maybe it’s because we have to deal with a lack of organization/communication.

We successfully celebrated our third anniversary last week.  By successful I mean we didn’t end up arguing like we always do on special occasions.  I think it’s because there are all these expectations for the day to be…well…special and my special is different than his special so we end up arguing.  Anyway we hung out at a coffee shop, took Henry on his first real walk, went to a fancy steak place, and saw a movie.

Spring is here and summer is on it’s way!!  Yay for warm months.