Saturday, January 25, 2014


Happy Weekend, friends! 

I have just come out of the most stressful 10 day period that I hopefully only happens once a year. It was all entirely school related and there was no way to avoid it, but now it is over! Yay! 

I attended two honor band festivals with students, put on a gigantic concert where four of my groups performed (and the accompanying panic that comes with trying to get said groups ready for a concert), attended a jazz band clinic where I was a little out of my league but learned a lot, and on top of that had some crazy days due to weird schedules. And on top of that, hosted my inlaws for two days. 


I am ready for this weekend!!!

I am actually ready for all the weekends, forever and ever. :o) 

I got a new name stamp for use at school for passes and pride points. It is actually pretty cool and I wish I would have done it sooner. Plus this way when kids arrive late to class with a pass from band it is not just scribbles on a post it note. I feel so official! 

I actually had a really great time at the honor band festival that I attended with my 8th graders. They are all great students and I didn't have to worry about them one bit. I enjoyed a day of watching rehearsals, sitting in a comfy chair, using the free wifi and doing a little bit of catch up work while I was at it. The honor band was at a local college and I discovered their new student center with a coffeeshop and bakery! I also had a great lunch getting to know some other area directors and we had some pretty good conversations about such pressing middle school band topics like taking a trip to Adventureland, working parochial kids into our schedule, the best parades to take our marching bands to, and why we never have enough time to get things done. It made me realize that we are all pretty much in the same boat with programs that are understaffed, underfunded but with fantastic students. 

So basically I've just been doing a whole lot of working lately but I hope that will change soon. I've been looking forward to our Disney trip and my students informed me that spring break is "only" 7 weeks away. 

I've pretty much been living vicariously through my sister as she is doing the Disney College Program this semester. It seems like a lot of fun! She's making lots of new friends as you can see:

Have a great weekend! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014


I am late this week with posting instafriday but I like to do it so I figured late is better then never! I have been taking zero photos on my regular camera lately so this is all I have! It is always hard for me to transition back into school after break and it doesn't help that January is a very busy time for me. I have a big stretch here that will be over on Tuesday and then I am looking forward to life resuming a more reasonable pace. 

I got some new shoes to test drive before our Disney trip later this spring. They are really comfortable and I just think my other shoes were just plain worn out. I am on my feet a lot at school (as most teachers are, I should not be complaining) and have aching feet when I don't wear the right shoes. I think eventually I am going to have to be one of those teachers that wears tennis shoes every day! 

Me and my cat. He is thrilled, obviously. 

This boy- my goodness. He is such a goofy kid! 

Michael got two new dinosaur playmobil sets for his birthday and Christmas from his aunts and he plays with them almost every night. He really wants the big one with the T-Rex so we'll see if there is a good occasion for that in the future. I am happy he is expanding his horizons from cars and other play things with wheels. 

And finally, a little snuggle time with one of my main squeezes. I had a bad headache after being at a jazz festival all day yesterday that was a real growing event for me. I have a lot to learn and thank goodness there is no time like the present to start. :o) 

Have a great rest of your weekend! 

Friday, January 10, 2014


Happy Friday!

I don't have a ton of photos in my instagram feed this week...I've been busy trying to get back into the swing of things at school and that always seems to wear me out! 

We had a really fun time hosting our friends for New Year's Eve. We ate food, watched the Cyclones continue their winning streak and played games.  We played this fun ipad game "Heads Up" which is in the photo (like our thinking faces?). I recommend it to anyone for a fun, easy group game! We also played an epic round of "Loaded Questions" that I am sure lasted over two hours. However, it did help us old fogies stay up until midnight! It was a great way to ring in 2014!

I made these nachos for a snack and they were sooo good. I've been meaning to do it for a party for a while and they are good for a crowd. You just pile your ingredients on the plate and pop under the broiler for a few minutes. 

We really hunkered down at the end of last week when it was so cold out. I'm pretty sure Michael wore his jammies all day for at least three days in a row! He loves playing with his animals (his collection of beanie babies) and I just had to capture it. He makes little nests, houses or boats for them to play in with his blanket and goes to town. I especially like that he likes to play with his stuffed Cy and that Cy has a dog that always needs to stay with him. 

Things have been ridiculous at school but I am trying to deal with it by being organized and proactive. I am looking forward to the weekend and hope it is restful and energizing so I can take on my next two crazy weeks in school!

Have a great Friday!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas Tear Down and Organization

I love Christmas and I love Christmas decorating. I love making our home feel special and trying to do something a little different every year. However, this year it just all felt so overwhelming to me. I know it was due to the stress of my mom's accident and the time crunch and working more hours than ever before but still I feel like Christmas decorating is always a little overwhelming no matter what is going on in your life. I can't guarantee that next year will be any less stressful so I am trying to be a little proactive this year in packing up my decorations in the hopes that next year will be a little easier in getting everything out. 

This is not an organizing blog nor do I consider myself an expert on organization but I do recognize that one of the strong points of my personality is that if I don't like something or if something isn't working well for me, I try and change it for the better. I realize this stems from being a musician (and music teacher) and when playing or teaching I am constantly thinking about what went well and what needs to be tweaked to try and make it go the way I want it to.  It is no different with my home life (some areas are obviously better than others- you should see my bathroom) but life is a continual process and I wanted to share what I was doing with you.

I did google and browse Pinterest extensively for ideas on what people do to organize their Christmas storage and I didn't really find what I was looking for. If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them!

I wasn't 100% sure if I wanted to save all my snowflakes or not but once I got them all down they stacked up in just a little pile so I thought I would keep them. I might add to them in the future or do something a little different so I thought it would be nice to have in storage. 

I also took down all my cards and I will share with you later what I do with those since I've had some comments on those. 

And finally, my poor tree with no decorations on it. So sad. 

One of the biggest areas that always frustrates me is it seems like when I get all my Christmas stuff out, half of my lights are not working, don't connect to each other or are in a big jumble. So I sorted out all my lights, recycled the ones that couldn't be fixed, and wrapped them up on spare pieces of cardboard. I know this will help me next Christmas, but it also helped take them off the tree since I could wrap as I went. 

I also unwrapped the lights as I took the tree apart so I didn't get frustrated when the lights got stuck somewhere. (maybe this is something that people normally do and I am slow for just figuring it out but I feel like it worked really well for me!)

As I took apart the tree, I made a pile of each row's branches and bundled them together using these reusable velcro strips I had from other decorations in the past. 

I kept them in the order they went on the tree as I made my bundles and laid them on the floor. 

Then I took a Sharpie and numbered the levels on the tree. For some reason, the labeling on my tree is really weird and it always frustrates me. There is a weird color/letter system and also I can never the labels very well. So I am trying this to see if it helps next year. 

I also numbered the bundles (I wrote the number all around the tie) so I can correspond it with the level on the tree. I really hate sorting all the branches out especially if they get mixed up in the box. 

And finally, I also hooked the little key that keeps our base to the actual base so that I will not lose it (like I do every year). 

I also taped the diagram to the cover of the box in case my system fails me next year and this is my backup. 

I also put my tree skirt right on top and tap up our box. 

We do store our tree in the box it came in although I am not sure how much longer it will last. It works well because we store it in our garage and we need something sturdier than a bag. I am always amazed when I can get it to fit back in there- yay me! 

Voila! Now all we are left with is the mess to clean up (that is Scott's job). 

Phase Two of this project was also reorganizing my storage room so pulling out the decor would be easier and less stressful. I had been storing it in a separate room that was really hard to get in and out of and it was just plain not working well. So I pulled all of the stuff that was on these shelves and swapped it with my Christmas stuff. In the process I was also able to pull ALL the Christmas bins and random things so I could go through it and combine it as needed. 

I had stuff stored in the worst way. Each bin had a collection of things that did not match or make any sense. So I tried to group like things together and hope this makes things easier. I also labeled all the bins. 

When I was pinteresting for ideas, I saw so many people who had those really nice looking green and red bins that were huge and stored lots of things. I am all for doing what works for you and for me, I wanted to use bins I already have. I do like the see through bins and I also really like using those cardboard bankers boxes because they are a nice size for me to lift. Some things I do like having in a smaller container so they don't get lose in a bigger one. However, this is just what works for me and since I store everything in my basement it is easy to pull things out as needed and I don't need to get all the bins out all at once. 

Here is what I have in all my boxes: 

I also labeled the other things in case you were curious. I was proud of myself for also creating an area for other holiday decor which is not something I had space for before and it was scattered all around the storage room. 

The photo below is a late add- I have my basket of Christmas books (storing them in the basket so I can just bring the whole basket up at Christmas time) and then bulky things that don't fit in a container (my storage room doesn't get too dusty). 

So there you have it- that is how I organized my Christmas stuff this year. I store my outdoor Christmas decorations in the garage and all my holiday linens in my dining room and kitchen. I don't have any holiday dishes or collections to store but that is something I want to start in the future. 

I hope this didn't seem too weird or OCD but I was actually very proud of myself and I hope it limits the stress of getting everything out next year. I am also going to plan a whole day to decorate (and put it on the calendar complete with take out dinner that night) so that I know it is coming and doesn't catch me off guard. I was getting stressed about getting everything taken down (the blasphemy of having it up past new years!) but I chose a date on my calendar and knew that was all I was doing on that day. I know that in reality these are all princess problems and I am so thankful to have a home to have Christmas in and I feel terrible whining about the "stress" of decorating a beautiful home for the holidays. But I do want holidays to be special for my family and I don't want to be cranky just because I can't figure out how to deal with my own junk. Also, yes, I do have better things to be doing but I am writing this on my snow day from school so I have free time today. :o) 

Up next: 

Dealing with toy clutter! I need to create an area for temporary toy storage to reduce the number of toys that are "out" and also a place to put away toys I want to save for the future. If you liked this, maybe I will share the toy process with you also! 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ringing in 2014

I can't believe it is already January 6th! 

The new year is already going way too fast. We went back to school last week and although at the time I was really dreading it, it was actually good to have a kick in the butt to get me back into school mode again. We had meetings on Thursday (good for socializing with coworkers and checking out our beautiful NEW high school) and then we took it pretty easy with kids on Friday. We played a game in my classes where kids wrote down some answers to a few questions and we took turns seeing if we could guess whose answer belonged to who (kind of like the "Loaded Questions" game). It was really fun and I got to learn what the newest things teenagers like as gifts. What I learned was that kids really like expensive things like Beats headphones, customized shoes from, PSXBoxWii game system things, or electronics! I think I am in for a wild ride in the future but for now I will just enjoy the fact that Michael loves anything that he can play with and use his imagination! 

(but seriously, I never knew how awesome Beats were until I tried them...I'm probably not in the market for them anytime soon since they look ridiculous, I am over 30 and I probably don't need that high of audio quality for listening to my NPR podcasts on my afternoon old lady walks). 

Anyway, all that is to say that I am home today on a Monday because school was closed off because of extremely cold temperatures. Wind chills are in the -35 to -45 range and hundreds of schools in the state have closed. It is pretty brutal out there and I am more than happy to hunker down at home. I did work for a few hours yesterday at school and brought some stuff home with me so fear not- I am still being productive. :o) 

I have been thinking a lot about the past year and about the year to come, mostly due to the prompting of others on their blogs. We are looking forward to lots of things in 2014: my brother's wedding, a short trip to Disney (and the accompanying aggressive savings/diet plans to get us there), summer break, putting in my 2nd year at my job (hopefully it is easier the 2nd time around) and enjoying our family. 

2013 was a good year and we did lots of good things as a family. It was also a hard year and I feel like I didn't give myself enough credit for making it through. I try to stay positive and count my blessings but there is no doubt that this year has taken its toll on me. I struggle often with feelings about working and wondering if I am doing the right things for my family. I still have days where I feel like Trace should be a little snuggly baby in my arms. I struggle with knowing when the right time is to have another baby (and what if that time is passed?). I worry that the feelings and inadequacies I have in the darker hours are the ones I will have always (even though I know it is not true). And to top it all off, dealing with the wild ride my family has been on since the middle of November. 

The local paper in my parents area did a story on my mom this past Sunday and I wanted to share it here. It was really hard for me to read...kind of like when something is written down on paper it becomes more real. When you put words to your thoughts and feelings they are out there and can stare you in the face. It reminded me of when I saw Trace's obituary in the paper, it just made it seem so real and final and it was there for the whole world to see. This was kind of the same thing except this one had a happy ending. I know everyone in my family has regrets and worries about the whole situation and that our journey is not over yet but it was nice to see the whole story in one concise form. I mentioned on facebook that the article did not mention how worried sick we all were here, how helpless we felt, and how happy we were to have her home. There were so many blessings along the way and we are thankful for those and for all the prayers that were said. 

MOVILLE, Iowa | Dennis Rumohr laughs about it now. Cries about it, too.
Quickly confessing he doesn't much care for Mexico, Rumohr is just as quick to admit his wife, Julie, owes her life to a Mexican surgeon and two residents of a beach at Punta Minta, Mexico, on the Pacific Ocean.
And to his wife's sisters, and other family members, who help the couple navigate a week-long ordeal, scant little of which Julie Rumohr remembers as she was in a coma.
The bizarre series of events amounts to 2.8 million pesos ($214,000), a handful of maxed-out credit cards, and a stack of bills written in Spanish and bound in international red tape that figuratively stretches 2,000 miles from their home north of Moville to the vacation spot Julie enjoys until she falls.
Julie's home now, returning to work on Tuesday as a nurse at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City, the hospital she's served for 33 years.
As a patient in November, hearing the name "Mercy" finally brought her peace of mind. Laying in a hospital bed in the center of a tiny Lear jet flying at 3,500 feet (she couldn't fly any higher, the pressure may have caused her brain to swell, killing her), she heard she'd soon be wheeled into the emergency room at Mercy in Sioux City.
"Mercy," she says, smiling, "when I heard Mercy, I knew I was home."
Home. Julie Rumohr leaves their home north of Moville on Nov. 4. She has time off from the hospital; Dennis has corn to harvest. She schedules a 10-day break to spend with her youngest sister, Karen Goettler of Colorado. Goettler, 50, was diagnosed with stage IV terminal lung cancer two years ago. She's since made a few trips to a condo at Punta Mita, not far from Puerto Vallarta.
The sisters spend nine days lounging in a pool, taking walks and eating in memorable places, like the restaurant that has but one menu item, ribs.
A day before their scheduled Nov. 14 departure, Karen asks her older sister if there's anything else she wants to do. Julie, 54, notes she hasn't gotten a chance to swim in the Pacific Ocean. So, they spend Nov. 13 doing just that. As Karen surfs, Julie wades and swims in the warm waters of an ocean that, according to local lore, has no memory.
Julie remembers little else. Her last image from that day occurs on the beach. She walks by a boy playing drums, accompanied by his dad on trombone. She snaps a picture.
She then falls on steps leading to her sister's condo. She doesn't remember falling. She hasn't consumed alcohol, either. Just Gatorade to ward off dehydration. She's a nurse, remember.
"I had to have passed out, that's the only thing I can think of," she says.
Falling back, her head strikes steps multiple times. She suffers minor scrapes on her back. The head injury? Major.
Karen tends to her sister and takes the advice of a former professional surfer and a retired Canadian nurse who offer aid. Both urge Karen to call an ambulance and get her sister to a hospital in nearby Puerto Vallarta.
Back in Moville, Dennis Rumohr moves his combine through rows of corn. Karen calls from the hospital in Puerto Vallarta. Julie has fallen. Before she's treated, the medical staff needs an insurance number.
"I'm a glass-full kind of guy, but I sense Julie's sister is protecting me," Dennis says. "She calls again and says it's serious. I really don't know what to do."
He has trouble seeing rows of corn late that night, out crying in his combine.
The next morning, Nov. 14, Karen, who has already paid $20,000 for her sister's hospital care, must leave Mexico and return to Colorado for her scheduled radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Luckily, two of Julie's sisters, Mary Balzart and Linda Goettler, both of Minneapolis, can fly directly from the Twin Cities to Puerto Vallarta. They meet with Karen for 10 minutes to exchange vital information.
A doctor meets the pair of sisters at the hospital and shares a grim outlook. "They told my sisters I'd be a vegetable the rest of my life," Julie says, recounting the prognosis second-hand.
Dennis works with son Sam Rumohr at home to get as much corn picked as they can. He likely glances at his phone 1,000 times, awaiting updates from Julie's sisters, who can see her only 15 minutes every two hours.
A surgeon takes a tiny piece out of Julie's skull in his attempt to alleviate the pressure and swelling on her brain. The surgeon succeeds, but Julie remains comatose.
By 5 p.m. Nov. 15, Dennis is told he'd better get to Mexico if he wants to see his wife. Maybe, for the last time.
At 5:30 a.m. the next day, Dennis heads to Moville to meet his pals at Misty's Restaurant on Main Street. He's making plans to switch his cell service to an international plan. He's going to purchase a one-way ticket to Mexico.
Just after 5:30 a.m., he receives an urgent text from an international number. "I'm at the hospital," the text reads. "I need your help!"
Dennis tries, but can't get through. He rushes to the Verizon/Wireless World outlet on Sioux City's east side a few hours later. He enters as the business day starts and explains his predicament. The clerk looks up and explains he received the same urgent text that morning, around 4:30 a.m.
"A customer next to me said she got the same message texted to her around 5 a.m.," he says.
It was spam. Of all the people to get a spam message like that, it would happen to a man in Dennis Rumohr's situation.
Dennis makes his upgrades, buys a tablet upon which he'll be able to Skype from Mexico. He buys his one-way ticket to Mexico and plans to leave Monday, Nov. 18.
The flight will wait, however, as a doctor advises Julie's sisters that they can get her on a plane and fly to the United States. The family connects with a neurosurgeon in Des Moines who will see her.
That's when Dennis asks officials at Julie's employer, Mercy Medical Center, if she could get to a neurosurgeon there.
Early Monday morning, Mercy Medical Center agrees it can happen. But Julie first must be off life support before she can fly. She is taken off life support that Monday morning (Nov. 18) and breathes on her own.
A medical flight is secured and will leave at 5 p.m. Nov. 18. Two hours before the plane departs, the family is told it must pay $110,000 before the hospital will release Julie.
Dennis says he's learning this is standard operating procedure south of the border.
An American Express card, along with one of Julie's credit cards, raises funds necessary to get the flight home expedited.
And then? Thunderstorms keep the airplane grounded.
On that day, several farmers around Moville convene to combine the final 300 acres of the Rumohr corn. The first two farmers to show up are Lane Tabke and his son-in-law, Grant Streck, a pair of farmers who lost a home, several outbuildings and hundreds of acres of corn in a tornado barely six weeks prior.
"Those guys who'd been through so much were the first ones to bring their combines to us," Dennis Rumohr says. "I never cried so much in all my life."
Overnight, Julie improves and by 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, she's conscious and demanding to go home. She awakes to find two of her sisters with her, but not the sister she expected to see, Karen.
Fog keeps the plane grounded until late Tuesday afternoon. Around 5:15 p.m., the small jet with its doctor, its nurse, its two pilots, the patient and her sisters takes off and flies to Laredo, Texas, where a customs inspection takes place.
The flight cost $28,500, a sum, like most other expenses, the Rumohrs hope will be covered by their health insurance.
Dennis heads to Sioux Gateway Airport around 7 p.m. on Nov. 19. An ambulance from Siouxland Paramedics arrives at the runway shortly after 8 p.m. Staff at Mercy Medical Center awaits.
And then? And then?
"We lose contact with the pilot," Dennis says. "Nothing."
The ambulance has to take another call, which leaves Dennis and his family awaiting Julie's arrival. An employee with JetSun Aviation, according to Dennis, finally picks up the flight and speaks with the pilot, giving him the green light to land.
Another ambulance returns and takes Julie to Mercy Medical Center, where she receives a CAT scan at 11:45 p.m. She remains there in rehab until Nov. 26, when she walks out the door, intent on hosting Thanksgiving for her family on the farm north of Moville.
"Dr. (Quentin) Durward (a neurosurgeon serving Mercy Medical Center) said the surgeon in Mexico did excellent work and saved her life," Dennis says. "What we expected and what we ended up getting were on opposite ends of the spectrum. What we got was so good."
Five days before Christmas, a scan shows Julie's hematoma is gone, the swelling in her brain subsided.
"We attended the Christmas Eve service at Hope Lutheran Church in West Des Moines," Julie says. "The message was about coming home; how you can come home."
"We got her home," Dennis says as a tear drops in a straight line down his left cheek. He wipes the tear and immediately breaks into laughter, shaking his head at all the odd twists he calls "sidebars to the story."
"It was a battle," he concludes, "but we got her home." 

So there you have it!

Goodbye, 2013! 

We are looking forward to great things in 2014!
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