Last spring I was give the opportunity to apply for a teaching job at the high school in Miles City. I really hadn't given the idea of returning to education and the classroom a lot of thought, and really figured I wouldn't ever be a teacher again. At that point, we had pretty well decided that we would be bringing Ben and Allison in to Miles City for school in the fall, so when a half-time job teaching English from 8-noon each day was offered to me, including health insurance for the whole family, it really was an answer to prayer. The kids started 3rd and 6th grade at Lincoln Elementary in the fall, Adam is a junior at CCDHS, and Haley is in her sophomore year at Chadron State College in Nebraska. Scott continues to work hard farming, ranching, and being involved in the community, playing bagpipes and being on a couple of ag committees. The kids and I usually head to town on Monday morning bright and early, and stay in for school throughout the week. We do try to come to the ranch on Wednesday afternoons, unless the kids attend the Kids Ministry, 3 in 1 at church.
Scott has been amazing as a dad and husband, and makes the 40 mile trip in each evening and out each morning to the ranch. I think there have only been a 2 or 3 nights when he's been unable to stay in town at our town house. Things will be a little different when we start calving and seeding, but the kids and I will probably be the ones doing a little more driving when the weather turns around and the days are longer. We have a cute house in Miles City, but it's not home like it is at the ranch.
One really great thing about being in Miles City is that we've been able to see a lot more of Adam, as he comes over to eat lunch and dinner with us a couple of times each week. Scott's brushing up on his Geometry skills so he can help occasionally, plus I see him every day at 10:50 for American Literature! After suffering a separated shoulder in a horse wreck moving cows this summer, Adam played varsity football this fall and got a lot of time on the field. It was a pretty emotional year as they lost their head coach to a battle with cancer just 3 weeks into the season. They went on to win their divisional championship and lost to the eventual state champions, Whitefish, in the semi-final game. It was a lot of fun! He's currently playing basketball, mostly JV but a little Varsity as well. He's about 6'5 and turning into a great young man!
Haley was home over break for over a week. It was fun to get to spend some time with her. She's half way through her Sophomore year at Chadron State College in Nebraska. She is majoring in Social Work and doing extremely well in her classes. She has really missed singing so after taking a semester off, she is going to be in the women's choir again for spring semester. She lives on campus and works part-time at Subway. She has a really nice young man, Logan, that she has been seeing now for almost a year too as well as a dog, Nala. We sure miss her around here, but know that she's doing well and having a lot of success as a college student and adult.
A and B, as I like to call them, are adjusting to town and school, but differently than I expected. Ben has always been pretty social and Alli more shy, so I figured that would make the transition easier for Ben, and a little less so for Allison. However, Alli has made some great friends in her class at school (interestingly enough, they are mostly country kids and one who has grandparents and cousins from Jordan). Academically she's thriving and especially enjoys getting to do music and art in school each week. She's also doing gymnastics for an hour each week and has really enjoyed that, as well as taking piano lessons. She catches on quickly and seems to have a natural capacity for music. We sure enjoy listening to her practice and get better each week. She's going to start playing a little basketball with some girls in her class here in the next couple of months.
Ben, on the other hand, has learned that friends are fickle, and that kids can be mean. I fully expected mean girls, but not so much mean boys. Ben is a bit like his mother, in that he's a people-pleaser, and wants everyone to like him, so he's learning that not everyone will, and that's ok. It's a hard lesson to learn, and one I continue to work on. We were very spoiled with the kids and families at our Cohagen school plus a teacher who all enforced the golden rule and expected the kids to behave as such and they were called out when they didn't. We pray each night for the kids that hassle him, and continue to pray that Ben would find a group of friends who value him for his sensitive, funny and imaginative self. He had lots of fun in Little Guy Football this fall, and even scored 2 touchdowns, even though his team wasn't super successful. He's been doing open gym with some kids and dads, 2-3 nights a week and has really enjoyed that too. Ben is taking guitar lessons from one of our pastors, and has a real affinity for music. He's also way into baseball, football, and basketball cards and Legos. Academically he's doing well, and making progress. He doesn't love school, but he's enjoying reading, language, and PE. He really likes a couple of his teachers who are making learning fun. He will start 5th and 6th grade basketball here at the end of January, and Scott will again coach Ben's team. He's growing like a weed, and will be taller than me soon.
Teaching has really been a lot of fun! God created me with the ability to communicate and teach, and it's really rewarding and inspiring to do what comes naturally! It hasn't been without its adjustments, though. It's amazing to me how much technology plays a part in the educational process now, from Smartboards to Google docs, and the vast availability of extremely well-written supplements and resources for the class room is sometimes overwhelming. I'm teaching American Literature to two classes of Juniors and Intro to Literature to one class of Sophomores. They are a great bunch of kids and I've really enjoyed getting to know them and see them outside of school. It's also encouraging to me to note that at least in Miles City, the teachers are not part of some big vast left-wing plot to convert all of our children into liberals. The teachers I work with are very dedicated to their craft and care about kids, and are experts in their subject matter. In our community, the kids are more influenced by the media they have at their fingertips than by radical educators! It's also been good to note that kids really haven't changed a whole lot in the 12 or so years since I've been teaching. They still have the same interests, hormones, and energy. It does seem to me that there is a larger ratio of kids that have had disrupted childhoods due to drug use and abuse, divorce and extremely fractured family units. Overall though, teaching has been a positive experience for me, and I think for my students.
I continue to sell Mary Kay on the side which is a lot of fun. I continue to sing on the Worship Team at church a couple of times/month. We also live a block from the gym, so I've gotten to enjoy volleyball games, basketball games, and football games whenever there's something going on at the high school. I do miss being at the ranch each day, but I certainly value it more now, and don't take our life out there for granted any more.
As for the ranch and farm, God blessed us with good calf prices and provided a really good harvest out of not much rain in a way only He could. We are enjoying a pretty mild winter so far, with a little snow to insulate the winter wheat, and not too terribly frigid temperatures. We have acquired a couple of horses and the kids and I enjoy helping move cows. Both Ben and Alli are involved in 4-H, so we have sheep, horse, sewing and cooking projects to work on. Ben is also doing shooting sports this year. We are so thankful that we get to do what we do, and live where we live. We continue to trust God to guide us and provide the next year.
Since I dropped the ball and didn't get a Christmas card or letter out this year, I decided to resurrect the blog to do just that, plus I find that writing things can help me sort things out. I think I will give blogging a try again, to share my experiences as we commute to town for work and school during the week and are at the ranch when we have down time.
We hope you all have a blessed 2016, wherever you are!