Youth Gathering, Trip to St. Louis and Preparing My Classroom

I have come to the realization that summer is quickly coming to a close. August is in two days. For people that work in education August means early mornings are coming soon. Before I talk about getting ready for school, I will give you a little recap of the summer.

This summer was busy! First we had VBS, which I wrote about in my last post. Nate took a trip to Kansas City with his dad. They golfed and saw some Kansas City Royals games. They had a blast.

Almost right after Nate got back from Kansas City we left for the LCMS National Youth Gathering in San Antonio with 11 of the high school youth from St. Paul. Before the gathering, we did some activities around the city. We went to Six Flags, did some caving and zip-lining and saw Man of Steel in 3-D. The first night we were there, we found ourselves in an interesting predicament. One of the girls came over to the room where I was and said, "Mrs. Wollenberg, we have a situation." I asked her what was going on and she said, "It's better if you come look, it may have been a ghost". I was thinking that the toilet was clogged or the lamp was broken. No, the ceramic soap holders that were cemented to the wall in the shower had fallen off of the wall, broken, and cut one of the girl's toes open. The hotel staff was less than helpful at first, but the next day we got someone who took the situation more seriously. While the manager was taking the accident report she asked me if there were any witnesses. I looked at her strangely and said, "she was in the shower." The manger then said, "So, no witnesses then?" No. No witnesses. Anyway after some adventures to urgent care for the sliced toe, we had a far less dangerous trip.

One of the best things about the National Youth Gathering for adults is that it is pretty much the best college and seminary reunion. We must have seen 50 people that we knew. It was so great to see our friends. Everyone is spread out all over the country and its nice to be in one location for a change. Some of our friends were even in the same hotel as we were. It was really a great time altogether. We had a chance to bond with the youth, see our friends and strengthen our faith.

On our way!

Introducing the Valley youth to Culver's

CUW Alumni Event with my friends Rachel and Emily

CUW's Mass Event Promo Night! Free glow in the dark shirts!!

Our youth, a little sleepy and ready for worship on Thursday morning

Photobooth pic from the CUW/CUAA Superbooth

My friend Betsy and I...So happy to see each other!

Shortly after we returned from the gathering, I made my way up to St. Louis for two weeks to visit my parents. I had a very relaxing time. My mom and I went to see the Budweiser Clydesdales at Grant's Farm. We did some shopping and watched season 3 of Downton Abbey. We convinced my dad to watch one episode of Downton Abbey but I don't think he could quite get into it because he hadn't seen the others. I'm sure he'll get hooked one day. We did some other stuff too but those were definitely the highlights of our time. I was able to see my friends Ashley and Rachel. Lutheran World Relief was kind enough to fly my good friend Katie Lane into St. Louis for the LCMS National Convention to represent GEO missionaries. She was tied up for one morning and then she was able to spend the rest of her time in St. Louis hanging out with me. This was fabulous. Her first night in St. Louis, we went to dinner and then people-watched convention-goers in the lobby of her hotel for a few hours. You would be surprised at how much fun that was. The next night, the seminary hosted an event for the convention-goers. Because Katie was part of the convention and because my dad is a seminary student we decided to attend. We ran into some of our friends there and got in some more quality people-watching. Katie was a minor celebrity because she was featured at the convention. We had an excellent time. All in all, my visit to St. Louis was a great success. I had a good deal of quality time with my mom and dad which is just what you need sometimes. I was very happy to return to my husband though; two weeks is a long time. Below are some pics from Grant's Farm.

Now my focus is working on getting my classroom ready for the school year. St. Paul decided to call me to be a teacher in the school which is exciting. This is my first call out of Concordia. Due to Nate and I moving around because of seminary, I wasn't able to take a call before this. I will be the 7th grade homeroom teacher and I will be teaching other various middle school classes. I am excited and working like crazy to be as prepared as possible. 

Nate just moved into his new office and is still settling in. He is also busy preparing for Confirmation and all the programs that start up with the school year. 

That is all for now! God is good!

It's June already!

Hi Everyone! Where to begin?? So much has been happening with Nate and me. Nate confirmed his first confirmation class in April. There were eight confirmands. Confirmation gave me the excuse to give gifts and I love to give gifts. This is partially because I love to see people's faces when they open them and because when I can make the gifts it gives me a reason to be crafty. For the confirmands, I made frames that state their names and the date of their confirmation. I think they turned out pretty cool. I also have been channeling my inner craftiness to make gifts for our Youth Director and his wife, who is also our school's Music teacher, because they are having a baby. I made these very informative burp cloths that say, "burp". They turned out really cute but sewing around rounded applique letters is maddening.

For our Family Fun Night during the Easter season we had an Easter egg dying night. Now, what we didn't realize when we planned this is that they don't dye hard-boiled eggs down here at Easter. When we started to tell people about the event they were confused as to why we would dye hard-boiled eggs and then just eat them. The typical thing to do in this culture is to hollow out eggs, put confetti in them and paint them. On Easter morning everyone breaks these confetti filled eggs over each other's heads. No wonder they didn't understand why we just dyed the eggs and later ate them, it simply doesn't sound as fun as chasing people around and breaking eggs over other's heads. Despite the confusion the night was a great success and the people who came LOVED dying the eggs.

May went by in a flash. There were many events. Nate and I were able to sneak away to South Padre Island one day. It was a great day to sit at the beach, relax and watch people. It was even a little chilly. We had a nice little date. After that day, things went into hyper-drive. We had the spring musical for the school, a middle school trip to Austin (which Nate attended), 8th grade graduation and planning for VBS.

During May, I did get the opportunity to go visit Missouri because my sister, Victoria, was graduating from the University of Missouri and commissioning as an officer with the Army. It was a fast but great weekend with my family. My sister was a little annoyed with my excessive picture taking of her but I think she got over it. :) Just call me the sisterazzi. Here are some of the pictures...

I love my sissy!

Victoria with her Godfather, Rick 

I think it's funny that it looks like one of us is running for office in this picture. 

Our Aunt Melissa, Uncle Mike and cousin Abby came down for the weekend too!
Steve and Victoria

Victoria taking her oath

With the close of May came the close of my time with the first graders. I will miss them so much! They have made me (and many others on Facebook) laugh so much this year. Here are a few of their gems from the end of the year.

First Grader: (Holding a button) I found a button.
Miss Schultz: Honey, it's yours.
First Grader: (As he checks his shirt) No, it's not.
Miss Schultz: Check your pants.
First Grader: Oh!

First Grader: What's a flying saucer?
Other First Grader: A tortilla?

First Grader: Mrs. Wollenberg, when I put my hands in my pockets, it feels like noodles.

First Grader: (Sweeping the concrete) I hope this isn't my future.

First Grader: Sometimes the vet has to kill the dog.
Teacher: Sometimes
First Grader 1: With a dart
Teacher: No
First Grader 2: With a gun
Teacher: No
First Grader 3: With a pickaxe

Kindergarten Girl: That boy just asked me to marry him!
Me: What did you say?
Kindergarten Girl: No! I'm never getting married so I can live with my mommy and daddy forever! I'm not going to kiss any boys so I don't get germy!

First Grader: Are we supposed to pray to God?
Me: Yes
First Grader: But, we'll distract him.
Me: No we won't it's okay.
First Grader: The whole world prays to him?
Me: Yes
First Grader: Doesn't he get confused?
Me: Nope
Different First Grader: Does he know Japanese?
Me: God knows every language.
Different First Grader from across the room: He even knows French!

First Grade Girl (to Nate Wollenberg) Is Mrs. Wollenberg your mom?
Nate: No, she's my wife.
First Grade Girl: OooLaLa
First Grade Girl: Do you love her as much as ice cream?
Nate: I love her more than ice cream.

Last week was VBS at St. Paul. Nate had worked on VBS for months as the director and it turned out great. We had over 100 children attend VBS. It was a great success for the ministry of St. Paul. I think we all had fun. There are more pictures at the St. Paul Lutheran Church, School and Childcare Facebook page. Here is a link to a video of a look at our VBS: Click Here!

Nate is leading opening on the closing night of VBS in this pic.

Now that VBS is over, things are beginning to slow down. Nate is going to go meet up with his dad in Kansas City for a short vacation. When he gets back we will be taking the youth to the National Youth Gathering in San Antonio. When we return from that trip, I will be going up to St. Louis to spend a couple of weeks with my parents. Things will quickly get busier again after the Youth Gathering because our senior pastor will be leaving on July 7th to be a full time chaplain. Nate will be busier throughout the senior pastor vacancy, but he is eager to see what God has in store for the next chapter at St. Paul.

In the meantime, I am taking golf lessons! I have clubs and Nate wanted me to learn how to play so that I could play with him. The city of McAllen offers a summer golf lesson program at a GREAT deal, so I decided that now was the time. I am terrible right now but having a lot of fun! If nothing else, I got new shoes out of the deal. :)

That is all for now! God is good!

Baptism, Anniversary, St. Louis, People Watching and New Cookbook

Hello All! In an attempt to actually keep on a once month blog update I am posting only 4 days after the one month mark. It might actually be less than that because February likes to keep it brief.

A few days after my last post Nate baptized one of mine and Emilie's first graders. We were so happy that this student entered the family of Christ. I decided that the kids needed something to hang up to remember their baptism. I am not very talented with making banners or felt so the fifth grade teacher gave me the idea to make a wooden plaque. One of the plaques I made is in a picture below.

We had a very exciting end of February and beginning of March. As some of you know, Nate's and my anniversary is February 27th. We had a lovely dinner at P.F. Chang's. Yes, we went there last year too but it's so delicious and just expensive enough that we only go there once a year. We then went home and watched the movie Up in the Air with George Clooney. We chose this movie because it was partially filmed in St. Louis. I thought to myself, made in St. Louis clearly means it is awesome. It turned out to be an okay movie. It was fun to see places I recognized, especially the airport. I love the St. Louis airport in particular because I have a lot of great memories of when my mom, sister and I would drop off and pick up my dad there for his business trips. There was nothing better than waiting for my dad at the gate when he was coming  home. Sadly, kids don't get to experience that now because of the heightened security measures. Anyway, back to the anniversary, Nate and I like to follow the wedding gifts according to year tradition. This year was leather. Nate got me a beautiful bracelet from James Avery and I got him a baseball signed by the manager of the New York Yankees. It's great what you can find on eBay.

The most exciting part of the past month for me has been getting to visit St. Louis. Nate had a workshop at the seminary for Prepare-Enrich which is a pre-marital and marital counseling program. The workshop fell the Saturday starting spring break at St. Paul so we decided that I would tag along and we would spend most of the week with my family. We also got to see some great friends while we were there. We went to Blueberry Hill to hang out with our seminary/college friends and Growler's Pub to hang out with our friends the Lanes. I had a nice night watching movies with my great friend Rachel Woolery. We went to the restaurants we miss, like Hodak's, with our family friend, Steve. Speaking of restaurants, I ate my fair share of St. Louis Bread Co. (Panera) bagels while I was there. There are no good bagel places in the Valley which makes me very sad. I did some shopping with my mom which my dad and Nate make fun of us for because we are always gone longer than we say we will be. I think there are few things better in this world than going shopping with my mamma and watching TV with my pops. The only thing that would have completed it was getting in some time with my sis but she is having a busy last semester at the University of Missouri. We were able to also visit our vicarage congregation and share about our ministry in McAllen with them. It is always great when we can take a trip down to Cape Girardeau. The people there are phenomenal and we miss them all the time! We had a great trip!

As many of you know, I love airports also for people watching. We didn't get too much quality people watching time in because our layovers were short but I did see a few gems. It's very interesting to see spring breakers travel. Most of the time they are wearing clothing not conducive to travel, i.e. short dresses and clothing that is only appropriate on a beach. They are also usually burnt to a crisp. Sunscreen people, sunscreen. We witnessed a good deal of people walking around with neck pillows on their necks. I hope they didn't plan on sleeping standing up. I think my favorite were these two kids in San Antonio.

We saw a young fire chief in the St. Louis airport. Just keeping the airport safe from the risk of fire.

I think one of my other favorite things was this handicapped sign. Poor guy.

In my world of cooking there haven't been many developments lately. I did purchase a new cookbook called Cook This, Not That! Skinny Comfort Foods by David Zinczenko. To me, "skinny" comfort foods don't usually exist but I like to give them a try. A few days ago I made "The Elvis" sandwich for Nate. He loved it.

"The Elvis"

4 slices of wheat bread
1 slice of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 banana
Peanut Butter
Drizzle of honey (I didn't use any honey.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put bacon on the pan and cook for 15 minutes. (I cooked more than one slice and used the rest for something else. The oven is a great way to make bacon perfectly.) Drain the grease off of the bacon and crumble. Lightly toast your bread in the toaster. Spread peanut butter on the toast. Create a layer of banana slices on top of the peanut butter and then top with a layer of bacon crumbles. Drizzle with  the sandwich with honey and complete the sandwich with your other slice of toast. Makes two servings.

Well, that's all for now. I hope you all had a wonderful St. Patrick's Day and that you have a very blessed Easter! God is good!

Christmas, National Lutheran Schools Week and Funny Kids

Hi Friends! I know I apologize every time for the length of time that it has been since my last post. I am sorry. I had planned to update the blog about a week and a half ago and then some unexpected business came up, as it usually does.

To start off this, what I'm certain is to be a long post, we have to go back to December. December is a busy month for all people. It is especially busy for us. We have birthdays everywhere in December, Nate's, my mom's, Nate's brother Alex and mine. Oh yeah, and there's that small holiday, Christmas. Pastor's aren't busy at Christmas at all...note my sarcasm.

We had a lovely Christmas. My mom, dad and sister, Victoria, were able to come visit for a week over Christmas break. It was so nice to have them here. We hadn't seen them since we moved and I miss them a great deal. We had a nice time showing them around Texas or as I like to call it sometimes, MexiTexas. We spent Christmas day with our friends from church who couldn't make it home for Christmas. It was nice to have our McAllen family and my family here to celebrate together. We made it out to South Padre Island one day and had fun walking on the beach. When they were here it was actually pretty warm, but the day we went to the beach it was colder. You will notice in the pictures below, we are wearing sweatshirts. That is a rare occurrence down here. Nate and I were so glad to be able to spend time with them, even though it was a very busy week at church.

For Christmas for our church/school staff I channeled my inner craftiness and put homemade decals on candles. They turned out like this:

My friend, Carrie, and I walk mostly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at 4:30 or 5 a.m. This may come as a shock to most of you because it is very widely known that I am NOT a morning person. I have been known to say on a fairly regular basis, “I hate the morning”. I know however though, if I don’t get up and do this, I will not exercise at all. Why not go after work? I live in what is practically Mexico and it is 75 degrees at 4 p.m. in February, on a cool day. Anyway, one morning Carrie and I are walking. We realize that this tow truck is very slowly following us around the corner on to a side street. We are mildly creeped out but we keep walking. The tow truck passes us and drives slowly down the street and shines flashlights on cars. At that moment I realize we are going to witness a car repossession. Carrie and I go from suspicious to overly excited in seconds. We watched as the tow truck drove up and down the street looking for the car desired. We then see the tow truck stop, someone get out and then the tow truck started to back up to take a SUV. We were so excited. We are thinking, you only see these things on TV. These guys were nowhere near as fast as the people who do this on TV. We were surprised that the owner of the car didn't hear anything and come outside. They certainly had ample time to do so. Anyway, it was something we had never seen and it was really an interesting thing to watch.

January is far less hectic when it comes to how busy things are at church. The first two weeks are especially dead. The highlight of January for me was National Lutheran Schools Week. As a kid, I LOVED this week. Dressing up funny and special events are always a great time when you are a kid. I have to be honest that I was kind of dreading it this year because dressing out of uniform and special events usually make students crazy. The first graders actually did really well that week despite the changes. The reason why it was so great this year was because the theme was "Baptized for this Moment" and Nate ended up baptizing two school children at the closing chapel for the week. What a great blessing!

Speaking of baptisms, there has been an overwhelming interest from the school children lately about getting baptized. We have a baptism happening this Sunday morning for a third grader. One of the first graders is getting baptized next week in chapel. The first grader who is getting baptized asked me about it back in October and it is finally happening. I love how excited he is to enter the family of Christ.
Nate started a new Bible study after the new year about world religions for the Winter Texans. Our young adult Bible study is doing this study as well because when Nate mentioned that he was doing this for the Winter Texans we all expressed interest. He is really enjoying both groups with this study. It is really popular with the Winter Texans, so much so that he has had as many as 40 people and for a mid-week study that is a really great turn out.

Last week, I was able to substitute for the first grade class because Emilie’s (my partner in crime) grandfather died. The first graders and I had a very interesting week. It just so happened to be the worst week for sickness in our school that week. The first graders, who are very affectionate, gave me a version of the cold that I am still fighting. They are a very huggy group. This illness outbreak lead to about 5 kids throwing up over the course of the week. Luckily, they all are very good about making it to the trash can. I also had two students poop their pants. Apparently, I was scaring the poop right out of them. We had a fun week. It also gave me a chance to brush up on lesson planning and actual teaching. It was refreshing in that way.

To finish off this post, I thought I might share some quotes from my school kids:

We were talking about how everyone is sinful in first grade for religion one day. When I said this, one of the girls says, "Even Pastor Wollenberg?!?"

Background info on this story: It was the first day of Lutheran Schools Week. The students were allowed to white white this day and to be out of uniform.
Me: What's wrong?
First grade girl dressed in her uniform with her white uniform shirt: I wanted to wear something white and fabulous today but my mom said I had to wear my uniform.
Me: It's okay you're still wearing white.
Girl: I just really wanted to wear something fancy today.

First Grade Girl: (in a moment of frustration shouts) AW SUMMER SQUASH!

Girl: Boy kicked me in the face with a ball.
Boy: I didn't mean to.
Me: Okay, please apologize to girl.
Boy: I'm sorry.
Me (to Girl): Are you okay? Is your face going to fall off?
Girl: That's not even possible.
Boy: If her face does fall off, maybe it will turn into a fossil.

First Grade Girl: Who goes to H-E-B (grocery store) before school? It takes me an hour to get in and out of that place.

First Grade Girl: Miss Schultz, is snowball a squished word? (She means compound word.)

My favorite: "Mrs. Wollenberg, thank you for teaching us about Jesus."

Well that’s all for now! God is good!