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January 2005

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Happy Holidays!

Folks should be receiving a physical copy of this letter sometime in January of '05.  Wow - I can't believe it's already 2005!  Where does the time go? Well, keep reading to find out...

The physical mailing will include all my current information again, in case anyone missed it from the postcards I mailed out in June.  My address book is a little behind the times, so if you didn't get a card in June or don't get this mailing by mid February please send me your address and I'll make sure to get my list updated. 

My old Washington information is NO LONGER VALID
 
so please be sure to use the California addresses and phone numbers

The physical letter will also include the access code for viewing my full photo albums on Photo Access, but I have also posted several photos from each trip, my WA house and renovations, the CA rental house, etc. Those are organized into photo pages that can be accessed from my main Photos page.

All right, here's what I've been up to:

June

2004
In June I signed papers on the sale of my house, cleaned out everything (with a lot of help from a great many good friends - thanks all!) and got out of Dodge.  I went that weekend to a wonderful camping event called Lionheart's (see my personal and general SCA pages for more details.)  After the event I had dinner with several friends at a nearby restaurant (something we seem to do a lot of) and then headed South out of town and down the I 5 corridor all the way to California.  (No, not in one day.)   I took about 5 days all together, going more slowly than I'm used to since I was pulling a U-haul behind me that was packed completely full (in addition to my poor overloaded car.)  I spent a little time visiting briefly with some family on the way down.  I finally pulled in front of my new place about 10:30 PM on the Thursday before my classes started!  Then over the next few days I had movers come to unload the trailer and car, returned the trailer, bought my books at the campus store, and got ready to start school on Monday.
  
JulySchool went into full swing.  I only had three classes and all three met in the evenings, which wasn't quite what I expected, but then it was Summer quarter.  I like that the MAT program fits into the two summers so I can complete both my Master's and my Teaching Certification while only missing one school year of work availability.  The classes themselves were kind of fun - lots of theory which is my forte.  I wasn't as enamored of the amount of reading required as I am a fairly slow reader, but the class discussions were generally lively and very interesting.

I spent the 4th in Arizona, since I now live a short drive away.  I really like that I can pop out to see family and friends on any long weekend.  =)  Some of my classmates marvel at the amount I travel, but I don't plan to stop any time soon.  Holidays visiting Nebraska and/or Arizona, and twice yearly visits to Seattle, and one grand summer trip are all likely to continue, plus other excursions as opportunity arises.  I would like to find some opportunities to explore areas closer to home, now that I live in a new area, and need to make some friends who are up for camping trips and travels to area parks, etc.

Speaking of friends, amazingly enough I seem to have quite a group in Cali already.  Two different friends have lived here for some time, two sets of college friends have moved here in the last couple years, a former work friend lives in San Diego, as does one of the sons of a family who are friends in Arizona, friends of friends and cousins of my parents evidently live not too far away, and recently a couple of SCA friends moved to the area!  On top of that I am making a few friends through my program at school, and plan to continue to make more friends through school, local SCA, and a local church congregation (once I find an ELCA church I like in the area - hopefully one with both a good adult choir and a singles group.)

  
AugustI really don't remember too much of the rest of summer quarter, other than to say I must have been working hard at school and getting settled in.  (I'm doing quite well in school and am actually enjoying being back in academia.)  In addition to my MAT classes I took a multicultural education class that required some field work at an after-school program - my first interactions with students in a direct school-type environment.  (Previously my work with students has been mostly through tutoring.)  It was a good experience and I learned a lot - especially that a group of culturally diverse early teens is much the same as any other group of early teens, and that jr. high age students may not be the age I want to work with.  Will see how the observations go in September...
  
SeptemberI had a short break between quarters in September, and had planned back in January to take a cruise to the Caribbean.  After working out some scheduling conflicts with fall classroom observations (which begin at the high school semester start instead of the university's quarter start date) I was able to go on my trip with a clear conscience and had a great trip!  My WA friend, Tristin, turned 30 this year so for her late summer trip she planned to join a couple of friends from work on a cruise and needed a cabin-mate to help defray costs (plus since I've now moved it was a good chance to hang out a bit since I now only see WA folk a few times a year instead of multiple times a week.)  There were several other people who were thinking of joining us but it ended up just being the four of us.  Our cruise was on the Royal Caribbean ship "Explorer of the Seas" departing out of Miami, sailing to Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Belize and scheduled also for Grand Cayman. Now, those of you with a good memory will recall that Florida was hit by no fewer than 5 major hurricanes this summer, and we managed to just slip in between two of them.  We ended up changing our sailing route to skirt around Ivan, and had to cancel Grand Cayman as they were closed due to power outages that were expected to last for weeks yet.  Apart from that we didn't miss much of the trip, and still got to go on all our planned excursions for the other ports of call.  Snorkeling along the barrier reef off the coast of Belize was a fantastic experience.  Evidently the sea was churned up as a result of the passing of Ivan otherwise the water would have been even more clear, but I was still able to see and recognize many of the fish Mom and I had seen previously at the Maui Ocean Center on our 2001 Hawaii cruise.  From Costa Maya (in Mexico) we went on an excursion to Mayan Ruins and did a lot of hiking and climbing, but it was worth it to see the magnificent pyramid cities and roads and ball courts, etc. The ship itself was also very impressive and the trip overall was a rousing success, so much so that Tris' friends stayed on board an extra week.   We both flew out to our respective destinations in time to escape hurricane Jean, but evidently their next week cruise had to alter itinerary and stay at sea an extra day while Jean struck in Miami.  Unfortunately I didn't take my own digital camera with me but I did take some pics on film that someday I will develop and convert to digital and post.  In the mean time, check out Tris' cruise photos some great photos from the trip.

OK, enough fun, now back to work.  I started Fall quarter in late September and also completed a 7-week observation at an area middle school.  I was required to observe 45 hours but ended up observing for over 80.  I was matched to a pair of teachers who were splitting a contract, which was kind of a unique experience.  Each of them had two little ones at home, so they alternated days of one working and the other babysitting for all 4 kids.  I was observing mostly 6th graders, but since part of the purpose was to observe a variety of classes and teachers I also observed some 7th and 8th grade classes.  This experience pretty much solidified that I think I want to teach at high school, but until I complete the high school observation I won't know that for sure.

  
OctoberMy Dad came out to visit during a short break between my two observations.  He was the first guest to stay at my new place - a house I am only renting as I do not know for certain where I will get a job after graduating and thus I may be moving again soon.  The house is nice and is in an area with many nearby parks including some lakes and a small rose garden not far away.  That's one of the things I like about school - there's a rose garden there too.  And, amazingly, in this climate the roses are still in full bloom!

Later in October/November I completed a 6-week observation at an area high school, again with 45 hours required but I ended up with over 50.  (By observing a few complete teacher days I was able to get a clearer picture of the life of a teacher and the requirements for full time teaching.)  This observation was good but much harder as now my credential program classes were in full swing and there was a great deal of work involved.  Unfortunately much of it felt like busy work and I did not enjoy this set of classes nearly as much as the MAT classes from the summer before, but I did still learn a great deal.  I am particularly enjoying my Math methods class, perhaps in part because there are only 13 of us (14 including the prof) and perhaps because my classmates are all as excited as I am about the various topics in the field of Math.

  
November

&

December
My schedule didn't let up much in November but I did still manage to travel back to Nebraska to see the family at Thanksgiving.  My brother Greg was able to talk my Mom into making back for both Thanksgiving and Christmas (which took some fancy arranging since she's now traveling around the country in her RV and doesn't always know where she'll be one week to the next - making plane reservations a bit of a challenge.)  It was great to see everyone, and have the traditional family pot-luck meal with my Aunt Beth hosting and having Turkey plus 3 or 4 sides and other family bringing deserts and breads and sides such as Nebraska Creamed Corn (which is basically corn sitting in a pool of cream), the ever popular Green Bean Casserole, and the mandatory Jello Salad.

We managed to put on a similarly decent spread (with slightly fewer sides and deserts, but not by much) in Arizona for Christmas.  My brother Don works retail and wasn't able to get off for the holidays, so he spent Christmas with the family there in Nebraska, but Greg managed to get time off and made it down from Washington so with Dad and me and Mom and Greg we had a decent group for dinner and games.   (Especially Bridge, which I love to play but rarely get to play with anyone outside my family and some of their friends and Bridge groups in Arizona.)  Greg and I got the tree decorated, and we all helped fill the stockings (including one for Don.)  Christmas Day we had more packages than expected considering most of us had already exchanged or mailed packages separately.

Before traveling to AZ I flew up to WA and spent a week (including my birthday) visiting with folks up there.  It was great to see my Godkids, and I was amazed at how much they've grown in the last 6 months!  Part of my holiday gift to their family was a web cam (and one for myself) so we can have video calls to keep in touch over the months when we don't see each other.  I had a great trip, got to see a good many friends, went shopping with Greg for the hats I bought Don and he bought Mom, and spent my birthday playing games, talking, shopping, and eating pink cupcakes with pink frosting with my Godkids et al, followed by dinner with friends, followed by ladies night out relaxing at a spa with a detoxifying body wrap and a wonderful foot massage.

Back to late December, I spent one afternoon out with Mom "just looking" for a newer larger RV, and after 3 hours of successfull shopping we found "the one" and proceeded to take a test drive, haggle on price (my Mom drives a wicked hard bargain!) and sign final paperwork for her new home on wheels.  [I'll probably meet up with her in February to keep her company while she takes it from Arizona back east to wherever her current RV is at that time...]

  
January

2005

and beyond...
Well, that brings you pretty much up to date on the latest with me.  I hope you all are doing well and staying healthy.  I've survived one of the nasty Winter bugs that seem to be going around (the head cold kind, not the flu kind.)  I'm mostly better now and am currently enjoying my holiday break but am also looking forward to the coming Winter and Spring quarters, and student teaching and all the lessons and challenges that will bring.  We get our assignments in the next few weeks, and will start with 30 hours of observation, then will start full time student teaching when the local schools start their new semester.  I still plan to teach a few years at least (it will take two years of "induction" to get my "Professional Clear Credential" as I will only get a preliminary credential when I graduate) and I have decided that my focus will be to teach at the high school level.  (Junior high school / middle school is OK and the students are great and very sweet, but they just have so much energy!)  After that the same potentials from my last letter still apply.

I'm still working on getting my boxes all unpacked and preparing a guest room (though I do have one futon in the living room that's worked OK for guests so far) but I hope to be seeing many of you in the coming year, either through my travels or yours.

Take care one and all and God Bless!
Mickie

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