Saturday, August 29, 2009

14 States and a License Plate

Brad and Dad recently completed a fourteen, yes 14, state motorcycle adventure during mid-August. Why? Because it would be fun! And because Brad got to color in this little state map patch he has on his motorcycle jacket each time he rides in a new state. He had colored in Alabama by mistake, so he just HAD to go make that right...and they threw in 13 other states just for fun. :)

The last 3 days of their trip were in Colorado - I would teach during the day, and meet up with them in the evenings. They hit the Air Force Academy, my classroom, Mt. Evans, Bethany Lutheran Church, Wings Over the Rockies Museum, and even snuck up into Wyoming for brunch - so they could color in the state, of course!

Brad and Dad before their FOURTEEN state motorcycle tour.

The new Dallas Cowboy Football Stadium. HUGE!

Doesn't he look like a happy 10 year old!?

Brad in the Cowboy's bathroom. He is so my brother.

You know that giant TV they keep talking about? The one the punter HIT during the first pre-season game? This would be it. MASSIVE.

Dealey Plaza - the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, TX,
the scene of the Kennedy assassination.

The grassy knoll.

I'm not sure I'd want to have my exact spot of death marked with a giant "X". I certainly have thought a lot about the Kennedy Family this month, though!

From Presidential to the ridiculous - the Dallas TV set!
I'm not sure how Brad survived this...

Dad: We need you to check the radar for us.
Brenda: Oh boy....head west.
Dad: That's what your mother said. Be more specific.
Brenda: Head west NOW!

Creeeeeepy sky in Texas. Original photo.

Brad outside Flagstone Elementary in Castle Rock!

Scuff mark on saddle bag when angry SUV driver decided that side-swiping Dad would be better than waiting his turn and merging lanes like other civilized drivers. All three of us caught the license plate of said angry man, and the Castle Rock Police is working on it.

A clear day atop Mount Evans - 14, 240 feet!

August 2009. What goons.

A tour of my church - Bethany's beautiful windows!

Check out these murals - talk about hands-on learning!

Ignore the obligatory "pose by the piano, Brenda" photo (and also please ignore the goon who thought he could avoid the photo by hiding behind the leg of the piano) and check out the awesome rehearsal room at Bethany! The Chancel Choir (among others) practices in this acoustically amazing room!

What church has an ART ROOM!? Too cool.

Super colorful Nursery. Clearly, Brad still belongs here...

California Pizza Kitchen with the boys. (Missed you, Mom!)
of the model airplanes. I found it simply amusing.

Again, just humorous. I barely have room to ROTATE in an airplane bathroom, much less take the time to look in the dimly lit mirror! HA!

What a happy, smiling plane. :)

You should fly...THIS way. Go.

Don't mess with me.

We took this pic in December 2008 when
Brad came out to Colorado for my Regis Commencement.

August 2009 - Check out the progress!
(Although, I liked the multiple colors idea...)

Well, that's comforting!

I wasn't allowed to touch this button...

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Little Buddy and a Bible Study

So I'm driving home from school today, and I'm not 5 minutes from home when I come to a SCREECHING halt: there, in the middle of the street, is this tiny, moving furball. I'm not about to start my week by running over a DOG! I narrowly avoid said pooch, pull over to the side of the road, and make sure I haven't given the poor thing a heart attack. (Heaven knows, it gave ME an irregular heart rhythm.)

The pup jumps INTO my vehicle, and now I'm sitting along the side of the road with a strange dog in my car. Awesome. I check for tags (there are 2) only to find that the phone number is for a city in California (not helpful). No name, no local address, just a number. Other than gender (it was a girl pup), I had nothing.

I called the non-emergency phone number of the Castle Rock Police Department, only to be transferred a million times to a voice mail telling me that Animal Control isn't even ON duty on Mondays, and that I could leave a message. Super helpful. Called information to get the Buddy Center/Dumb Friends League phone number, only to have to push a million buttons just to connect to yet another message telling me to just bring the stray dog into the Center. Got it.

SO, not wanting to release the dog back into the wild, I take my new friend - who is sitting happily in the air-conditioned front seat of my newly vacuumed car - over to the Buddy Center. She's happy the entire way, and aside from sneezing all over my counsel, quite polite. I bring her inside, sign over my firstborn in paperwork, and leave her in good hands. I'm confident they will find her local owner...and make THEM sign a million pieces of paper that state they will be a better dog owner and ensure her safety from now on.

Just a typical Monday in the life of Brenda.

New Bible Study coming up! God's Standard or Gold Standard: Studies in Proverbs. Here's an excerpt from Peter Mayer's Website: Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, Singer/ Songwriter Peter Mayer, and the Book of Faith team at Augsburg Fortress have collaborated on creating three studies based on the book of Proverbs. These three songs have been written to accompany the Revised Common Lectionary scripture readings covered by these studies. The songs encourage deeper meditation and worshipful reflection on the Proverbs passages. For more information check out

A congregational member has agreed to host the study, and we begin this coming Sunday! Be sure to check out the music that goes with the study - Peter has it on his website. I was introduced to him via the Lenten Blogs/podcasts that Pastor Ron created earlier this year. Peter is actually the lead guitarist for Jimmy Buffet. How cool is that?! He's great buds with Pastor Ron, and the two of them are teaming up this week at the huge ELCA Churchwide Assembly over in Minneapolis. What I wouldn't give to be in THAT audience!

Have you noticed I just adore my church and the people found within!? SUPER blessed!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Brand New Joys for Girls and Boys

Want to know the one good thing about ending my vacation and returning to work? I always miss the kids! I really do! Those little people just make my day, and I always miss them after 3 weeks.

I set-up my classroom this afternoon, only to find four, HUGE, unopened boxes of musical joy! The new instruments came in! Now, I'm REALLY excited to see the kids - they will be so HAPPY!

Our 3 new Fiberglass xylophones! Each kiddo will now be able to sit in front of a xylophone during class - this is GREAT! Only took 6 years to build up the collection!

Box'o'new stuff!

Guiros - the kids love scraping these!

Some BIG tamborines - with grippers!

Crow Sounders (super-cool hollow scrapers)

I think it was time for some new Sandblocks!


Who knew this picture of our new cymbals would be so cool? The kids LOVE these finger-cymbals - they will be SO happy!

Kazoos! Kazoos! Kazoos!

New xylophones - oh happy day!

Hearing No and Letting Go

I finally received the call from the director of the Cherry Creek Chorale this past Wednesday afternoon, and was told that I did NOT get the accompanist position. I was really much sadder than I anticipated, which tells me I wanted to get this job quite badly and experience all that was the Chorale. I was told I was in the top 3 of a total of 12 applicants. Not sure if knowing that makes it any easier to absorb...

Ugh. Auditions are so stinking personal - you really put yourself out there, and take it close to the heart when told no. I understand that it has to be a match - a fit, the right combination - for accompanist and director. It's just hard to separate business and passion, and when those two worlds collide, well, the tears flowed.

Only for a few hours, though. I had Disciple class that night (Bible Study) at my church, and it always helps to be around people of faith. Add to that a thoughtful conversation with Pastor Ruth Ann, and well, I was back on track by the time I drove home to Castle Rock. You know those people who step in at just the right moment and say just the right things? That would be her. She helped me re-focus my next steps, and really centered me - she is a kind and wise friend!

I've learned that being a part of the Bethany Church Council is an election process. Nominations are being held now, and the actual voting for members takes place in November. 11 people trying for 6 positions. Here we go again. I can't help but throw my hat in the ring and try for these things, right? :o) Who knows what God has in store for me!

Family and NYC

Anyone who has talked travel with me knows I will drop just about anything to run off to New York City. I have to exercise all kinds of restraint, just thinking about the city right now! Mom and I traveled there in summer of 2007, and the highlight for both of us was Ellis Island. Mom's grandparents came to America in 1923 from Holland - being on the island where they had been 84 years earlier was powerful.

For Mother's Day last year, Brad and I decided to have our family name inscribed on the Wall of Honor for future generations to visit. After verifying our family had indeed passed through the port of New York (the actual ship manifest is on record!), Grandma and Grandpa Slabbekoorn's name was etched onto the wall!

My friend, Audrey, just returned from a trip to NYC, and kindly took these pictures of the inscription! Thank you, thank you!

The Wall of Honor with Manhattan in the background!

One of the three new panels that are added each year.

The Slabbekoorn Family! Unreal!

Mom and I agree - another trip to NYC is in order!

1st Time Try and F-R-Y

My first national Kagan Cooperative Learning training! Can I tell you how exciting this was? To be on the other side of the table somewhere other than my home district was exhilarating! I felt much more comfortable than I expected, and the people were kind and energetic. Of the 51 evaluation forms the participants filled out, all 51 had positive comments about the training (and their trainer!) I can't wait for my next assignment!

Here's just SOME of the supplies I had to pack in my suitcase - 8 complete team packs full of materials (answer boards, markers, erasers, quiz cards), team numbers, stars, and enough quizing/trading cards for 8 more teams!

Note the evil sparrow that kept DIVE-BOMBING me at Denver International Airport. The first time he flew past, I thought I was imagining things. Nope. Dang bird missed me by centimeters. I moved seats three different times to escape my fiendish, flighty friend.

Immaculate Conception School - Marrero, Louisiana.
Temperature: 85ยบ. Humidity: 600%.

The school took over the entire city block.

Super cool playground for the PreK - 8th grade kids.

The 17 Kagan boxes that greeted me. Oh boy.

2 hours later - looking more like training room!

Still smiling the next day! :o)

Just 1 of the 4 sales tables - somehow, I sold over $1100 worth of merchandise IN ADDITION to teaching the content! Awesome materials for the classroom!

After Day 1 of training, I took a brief drive around town, and found these cool buildings. The architecture was amazing - such detail!

I just LOVE this picture!

The colors and arches spoke to me. As did the lost, 90-year old lady who pulled up next to my car as I was trying to take this picture. She wanted to know where she could drop off the 60...yes, SIXTY...boxes of new crayons she had in her trunk before they melted. :o) I used my GPS to locate the location she was TRYING to get to before she ran into me!


The inside of Immaculate Conception Parish. The blue/purple stained glass actually looked a lot like my church (Bethany) back in Denver!

Basket-weaving on TV back in the hotel. No joke.
Definitely kept my spirits up! HA!

Look! Participants doing Quiz-Quiz-Trade! Hooray!

Please note the dancing Sister! Highlight of the day!

The 7 boxes I packed up and left for FedEx - whew!

Never got used to seeing the graves ABOVE ground!

Mr. GPS says I'm not on LAND! Crossing the Mississippi.

Learning for the day: when the GPS says "FRY" this is NOT referring to (a) some kind of food, (b) a freeway, nor (c) a fareway. No, no, no. FRY on a GPS means F•E•R•R•Y, which is what I almost DROVE ONTO in the middle of a flooding storm. I knew I had to cross the river to get to the Airport, but was NOT about to be stuck on a moving water vessel in the middle of hurricane-force wind/rainstorm. I drove west to find an alternate route - my poor GPS kept repeating "Recalculating"!

My first glimpse of New Orleans - wished I
could have spent more time IN the city.

Traffic was SLOW enough for me to capture this pic safely!

Super Dome in New Orleans, LA.

This picture from the airport is just funny. The whole Louis Armstrong airport experience in New Orleans was just funny. Well, it's funny NOW. A major storm hit the city, just as I was leaving (of course) and I could hardly drive through the rain. HUGE raindrops. Frying pan size raindrops. The storm stalled over the city, and streets I needed to take were flooding before I could reach them.

It was raining sideways when I had to return my rental car. The nice lady in the industrial-sized raincoat slid me my receipt through the tiny crack I allowed in my power windows. I needed to get OUT of the car, and was drenched instantly. Yes, ALL layers on my body were wet.

Made it to the airport only to have the POWER go out as my bags were going through the TSA checkpoint. I've never been in an airport when it's completely DARK. Honestly, I have more airport tales than the average bear... My flight was only delayed 25 minutes, and I made it back home to Castle Rock basically unscathed and in one piece. Mission accomplished.