Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

While November and December are certainly considered to be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, it is also the BUSIEST time of the year--especially for those of us involved in the world of music.  Shortly after the last time I posted, I was busy getting ready for Thanksgiving.  Then, one of our TJ Theatre Classes performed The Little Mermaid.  Shortly after that, TJ had adjudication, two holiday gigs at Holly Hills Country Club in Ijamsville, MD followed by a Winter Choral Concert and Sweeney Todd Auditions.  Phew!

Sweeney Todd will be performed at TJ in CONCERT on March 1st and 2nd, 2013
While this is a busy time of year and I'm not with my awesome boys as much as I'd like to be, I really do like being back in the swing of teaching and singing and concerts.  Although we had our October showcase, this was my first Winter concert back as a teacher and I have to say that I absolutely loved it.  This concert may have even been more meaningful than concerts in the past because of the heart and soul I've poured into the preparation.  Having a class that is 25% low level students (yes, 25% of my students have mental retardation of some form--whether it is mild or moderate) has required me to open my eyes, learn new teaching techniques, and ask for help!!!  I fully admit that I was VERY nervous in the beginning of the year and there were times where it seemed as though we wouldn't be able to pull it together.....but we did!  The students worked hard and received three 2's (a score of excellent) and a 1 (score of superior) in sightreading.  They also performed very well at the winter concerts and the father of my student with autism came and had a nice conversation with me.  It was humbling to hear that this student is fond of my class and it really melted my heart.

The Advanced Music Studies students continue to amaze me.  In Theory I, we've already completed chords and are almost finished with chords and non-harmonic tones.  The piano students are also coming along having learned their C, G, D, and F Major scales as well as many songs.  In our Literature class, students are researching Requiems and performing a movement from their chosen Requiem.  Our Chamber class has been consumed with carols for our caroling gigs as well as adjudication.  When we get back from winter break, we will be jumping into Sweeney Todd.

Finally, Pam and I got to spend some time together this past Saturday as we finished up our gift for our dad. Dad has always been tough to buy for, so we really thought about getting him something special.  Dad loves music and growing up, we were exposed to the classics.  Dad taught us the ins and outs of Rock and Roll.  We even had a Fisher Price Record Player and we'd jam out to the Monkees.  My childhood friend and I used to write letters to Davy all the time.  :-)  Anyway, growing up around music and always hearing Dad talk about "The Day the Music Died" (Yup--February 3, 1959--the day that Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, etc. died), how could Pam and I not grow up to appreciate music?  And here I am, a High School Music teacher....and not a day goes by that I don't thank Dad for the gift of music.  Pam and I decided to record a couple of his favorite songs.  We made a CD for him.  :-)  

Merry Christmas to you and your family from all of the Berrys.  :-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mama Berry

We had our first ACA (Academy of Communications and Art) Showcase that featured our advanced artists, musicians, and theater students on Tuesday, October 23.  We opened our gallery at 6:30 and the concert started at 7.  It was a great experience and I am so proud to be a part of the AMS (Advanced Music Studies Program) at TJ High School and with FCPS.

Here's a clip of a song we sang for the showcase.  It's called "Famine Song" sung by the group VIDA.  This was about a week or two after we started working on it.

Speaking of FCPS....there are SO MANY differences between Frederick County and Montgomery County.  Here are a couple of lessons I've learned along the way:
#1: Festival does not exist.  FCPS calls it "ADJUDICATION"....and they're the only county that does....  (weird)
 #2: It is NOT the PONY....it is "Inner-County Courier Mail"  WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE SO FANCY?!?!

 My students decided that I (Momma Berry) could be described by various berries.  Each berry represents a different mood.  Mood#1: Black Berry--this is "back to my roots" (hence, my ghetto side).  Today, we bought the kids breakfast since it was the day after the concert and I was reciting some Snoop Dogg song and one of my students said, "You're being a black berry!"  :-)  Mood#2: blueberry--this is my sullen mood (although I don't think I'm ever sullen).  Mood #3: Cranberry--this is my sassy mood.  I'm sassy most of the time.  Mood#4: Strawberry--this is my "momma-like" mood.  I'm probably like this most of the time because of my maternal instinct.  :-)  Mood#4: Dingle-berry--this is for when I'm in a bad mood (I don't think I have been....)

A picture of me at DHS--clearly a Black Berry here

 I can't tell you how much Tim enjoys his Young Rembrandt class.  This is his latest project:  A Spider.  :-)

Finally, I've been looking at pictures of us and pictures of our boys.  Who do the boys look like?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A "Berry" Good Update :-)

The Berry family has been very busy this fall.  With Scot tying up loose ends with the business as he closes that down and me trying to get into the swing of being a working mom again, we have been SWAMPED!  I am enjoying my new teaching position at TJ High School.  One of my students said, "Mrs. Berry--you're always so happy.  It always seems like you're in the mood to teach."  She's right! 

In April, I became a consultant for a new business called Jamberry (Yes, I'm Jen Berry with Jamberry nails--it's too perfect).  I've been building my team (We are up to 10!!!) and I've been scheduling nail parties (online, catalog, and in-home) to try to compensate for the loss of income.  I recently started ANOTHER consulting adventure with 31 Gifts.  Please--if you know anyone who would be interested in ordering either of these products, please pass my info on.  www.jenniferberry.jamberrynails.net or www.mythirtyone.com/jberry

With that being said, here's an update from the Berry Boys:

Scot is staying busy closing up shop.  He's interested in getting work as a linesman, but may have to go to school for two years to do that.  We're excited for his new adventure and working on finding out information.  I will keep you updated!

Tim's Flowers
Tim's Turtle
Timmy is enjoying 2nd grade.  He has a male teacher and as always, Math and Art are his favorite classes.  He still struggles with reading, but he's been improving (although it's like pulling teeth.  Scot and I didn't think about this before we had kids.  Both he and I are Math people--NOT English...so it's only natural that our kids are beasts at Math and hate reading/English!).  Tim is enrolled in a Young Rembrandts Class where he gets an extra art lesson every Wednesday after school.  He's a pretty good artist (and he doesn't get that from me!)

Josh is enjoying Preschool.  He has the same two teachers he had last year and is even in the same room, so his transition has been very easy.  He has to make all new friends, though because his friends are in different classes!  I can't believe he's going to be in Kindergarten next year.

Danny is a very curious and busy 1 year old.  He has a set of lungs like you wouldn't believe (he gets that from me) and when he's unhappy or wants something, he's sure to tell you about it!  He is like is older brothers in that he can't sit still and he's getting his molars, so life has been a bit hectic/crazy for this little guy.  He's enjoying all the time he gets with Daddy and he's a big snuggle bug.  He recently started talking and loves saying "Ta Da," "bye, bye" "Go, go!" "diaper," and "please."  :-)

All-in-all, we can't complain too much.  We're enjoying the beginning of this new chapter as Scot changes occupations and as I continue my teaching that I'm insanely passionate about.  Updates will continue to come, but I may be slower than usual as I try to balance work and home.  <3

Thursday, August 30, 2012

TJ High School--Tour of the Music Department

 I want to share with you a little tour of the TJ High School Music wing.  Enjoy!!!!!
My home: The Choral Room :-)

This is one of our hallway practice rooms
Piano room with about 5 pianos.

This is another hallway practice room that is used as a recording studio for our Music Technology kids.
This is our band uniform room.  LOTS of storage!!!!
This is our Piano Lab.  We have over 20 pianos in this room.
This is a sound proof practice room located in the Piano Lab.

Music Library--houses all the music for Band, Chorus, and Orchestra

Music Technology Lab.  this Lab houses 20 Pianos and 20 Computers loaded with Finale.  :-)

There is also a band room, office, and another classroom where Music Theory is taught.  I still need to take pictures of our auditorium.  :-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Feeling Myself

I must start by saying how grateful I am to my husband for making it possible for me to stay at home with our three beautiful boys for an entire year.  Staying at home enabled me to spend more time with our boys and it also allowed me to learn how to use a sewing machine, how to can various fruits and vegetables, how to crochet (probably my FAVORITE hobby now!), and I was fortunate to meet some amazing women and their children at Church of the Brethren Learning Center (where Josh goes to preschool).  This wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't had the opportunity to stay home.  I am truly blessed to have had a year full of all of these wonderful things.

With that being said......even with all of the wonderful experiences and all the extra time I had with my boys, I felt lost.  I didn't feel like myself.  I felt as though something in my life was missing.

Now that I'm back in school teaching, I know EXACTLY what was missing from my life.  I must have been meant to be a teacher- because I feel whole....I've found myself again.  :-)

The Arts and Communications Academy is the "big picture."  A part of the ACA is the Advanced Music Studies program (AMS) in which I am the vocal music teacher.  Students must complete a rigorous audition including two contrasting pieces of music and a face-to face interview.  When they are in the program, they are required to take Music Theory, Aural Skills, Piano, Music History, and Chamber Choir (or Chamber Ensemble).

This week, we have given students a Music Theory test to determine the level they should be placed in.  We also administered a piano survey to determine their proper piano class.  The remainder of the week has been spent on Copland's book, What to Listen for in Music.  I was asked to teach a lesson on harmony and tone color, so I brought in (my favorite): Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition,to assist me. 

Very soon, I hope to share with you a "tour" of our Music wing.  I just need to get the pictures first.  :-)  I also have to share that I told my AMS students about my favorite nicknames that my Damascus kids gave me--"Sassy Berry" and "Mama Bear."  On the way out on that first day, one of them said, "See ya tomorrow, Mama Bear."  It brought a smile to my face!!!!  :-)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back to School.....

Being that my blog title comes from one of my favorite movies of all time, Billy Madison, I feel it is only appropriate to begin this post with a song from the same movie:

"Back to school.  Back to school, to prove to Dad that I'm not a fool.  I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don't get in a fight. Ohhhhhh, back to school.  Back to school.  Back to school."

If you haven't heard by now (or figured it out by the title of this blog or the above song), I am the proud new choral director at Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, MD.  I will be working in a school that has the Arts and Communications Academy of Frederick County.  Music students in this academy are required to take Music History, Music Theory, Aural Skills, Piano, and an ensemble.  I am very fortunate to be teaching in a school with such an amazing program and I look forward to the challenges I will have in the upcoming years at TJ!
Governor Thomas Johnson High School

Due to my new job, there will be some changes in our family dynamics.  Scot will become "Mr. Mom."  Yes, Scot will be staying home with the boys, schlepping them to and from school, and doing laundry and various other things around the house.  There is no doubt in my mind that Scot will be phenomenal in his new role.  This is a temporary change until he completely liquidates his business and finds a job elsewhere.  :-)

Michael Keaton in "Mr. Mom"
We have several things to do before I begin work on Monday.  I will attend New Teacher Orientation, so I start before the other FCPS teachers.  I also have a TON of teaching materials in my attic that I have to transport over to TJ.  I panicked the other day because I couldn't picture where my cows or my "dead dudes" (pictures of many famous composers) are.  As long as I have those, I'll be good to go.

Please pray for us as we embark on our new journey.  I can only hope and pray that we are able to make ends meet with such a low amount of income coming in.  Pray that Scot quickly finds a job and pray that the boys handle the change well.  :-)

I hope you are enjoying the remainder of your summer and thanks in advance for any prayers or positive thoughts you send our way!  xoxo

Monday, June 25, 2012

To Sleep...or Not to Sleep...

Let me get this out of the way:  I HATE, HATE, HATE when new moms complain about the lack of sleep and the "fog" they've been living in.  I want to strangle them and say, "THAT'S WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR!  SHUT UP!!!"  Hearing their complaints REALLY makes my blood boil...especially now that I've spent the last 13 months of my life with little to no sleep.  Four hours of uninterrupted sleep would be AMAZING...so SHUT UP, new moms!

I'm jealous, angry, upset...you name it, that's me.  I rarely complain (or I try not to) because it's what I signed up for.  I'm the one that wanted to have three children.  My third child wakes anywhere froom 2-8 times at night.  This is what being a parent is, right?  I have to grin and bear it...and I do, for the most part.  I recently started letting the world know of Daniel's sleep problems when my friends with newborns would either complain about the lack of sleep or rejoice for their new baby only waking up once.  ONCE?!  Your baby is 8 weeks old and only woke up ONCE?!  Okay...I admit I am completely and utterly jealous.  SO...seeing this on facebook would put me into a rage and I would HAVE to comment to let them know how LUCKY they were that they got 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep since Danny was up at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, and up for good at 5:30.

I'm not sure what Danny's issue is.  I've ready every book under the sun.  I've taken advice from other moms.  I've tried EVERYTHING.  The only thing I can think of is he is having night terrors and there is really little to nothing I can do to help.  This is an issue I had as a child and my mother often reminds me that she did not sleep through the night until I was 8 years old.  All I have to say is, "thank you, mom....thank you for loving me even through the sleepless nights."  I do know that this will pass and one day, when he's a teenager, I'll miss our snuggle sessions on the glider.

So...for those of you without children, or with children that sleep, ENJOY it.  Sleep some for me.  Those of you with newborns....SHUSH.  You have NO clue.  Just be happy your child wakes up every 2 hours.  :-P
Sleep--it's what I want

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Fun--Berry Style

Wow--we have been BUSY!!! Since March (my last post), we celebrated Easter with the Berry family and the Bartlett family.  It was nice to have everyone together and we were able to celebrate Josh's 4th birthday along with my Grandma's birthday.  They share their special day on April 15th.

The Berry Boys on Easter Sunday
Josh then had his first "big" birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese with all of his friends--many from preschool and some older friends.  He was beside himself!!!!
Josh at his 4th birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese

Josh finished his 3 year old preschool and Timmy finished up first grade.

Me and Josh
Timmy's last day of first grade

I've been busy crocheting.  I have crocheted two afghans and am currently working on Christmas gifts.

My first crochet project

Timmy and Danny celebrated their 7th and 1st birthdays.  We celebrated in Culpeper and Danny loved his first taste of cake. 

Danny enjoying his first piece of cake
Timmy enjoying his birthday cake after his awesome bday dinner made by Nana--including all of his favorites: shrimp, corn, and much more!

Scot took the older boys fishing and I know it will be something Timmy and Josh never forget.  His brother, Jay has a boat and Jay brought James (my nephew, their cousin) along.  It was a great day for some Berry Boy bonding!!!

Both Josh and Timmy took turns driving the boat.

As always, Timmy and Danny's birthday means Memorial Day Weekend, which means TIME FOR THE POOL TO OPEN!  All three boys have enjoyed many days at the pool and it's only mid-June!!!!

Daddy, Josh, and Danny

Other than that, I think I've finally gotten the hang of this stay-at-home mom thing.  Now, if I could just loose these 15 pounds.....

I feel sorry for my kids.  Really...with me being this goofy, do they stand a chance?  I'm embarrassed for them!

 I've been wanting to take the kids to the Tire Park in Thurmont for YEARS--literally since Timmy was 4.  We finally made it over there on Thursday with Nana.  It was a fun day for all--Tim and Josh didn't want to leave!

 I'm looking forward to more fun in the sun.  We've got several things on our "to do list" this summer!  :-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

For Mom's

In my journey to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom, I have found many valuable resources.  I thought I'd give POOP a rest and dedicate my blog to them.  I hope you find these helpful.  Give them a try--they make life a heck of a lot easier!!!

1.  From Mom 2 Mom: 
This Stay-At-Home-Mama  (Alissa Zaal) of two beautiful daughters researches to find AMAZING deals in Frederick and Montgomery Counties.  It has been SO NICE to click on her blog to find CHEAP and FREE things to do with my boys.  She also has a Facebook page you can "like."  She gives away various freebies on occasion (another big one coming up since she reached 200 fans!), so why not "like" her page so you can become a winner?  (WE ALL LIKE FREE, RIGHT?!)

2.  The Deep Covered Baker:

Pampered Chef rocks my world.  It always has.  It always will.  Recently, however, a mom introduced me to THE DEEP COVERED BAKER.  I was excited because I needed a new baker for my casseroles.  Little did I know that this baker was going to change my life.  YOU CAN USE THIS STONEWARE BAKER IN THE MICROWAVE. 

So...this evening, I tried it out for the very first time and I'm excited to tell you that I made shrimp and sausage paella simply by adding ingredients and pressing a button on the microwave.  THIS was the final product: 
YUM!!!!  Check out Kate Ten Eyck Lynch's website!  http://www.pamperedchef.biz/katelynch?page=home

3.  Kimtown Photography:  I love meeting new people....and one lovely lady I recently met is an incredibly talented photographer.  Not only can I NOT WAIT to get head-shots done by her, but I am also looking forward to taking a photography class from her in the near future.  She teachers AND she is a true artist. 

Check out her page to see her amazing work and check frequently for any upcoming specials.

I also have to let you know that Kimtown Photography works with Shoots for a Cure.  Shoots for a Cure is a charitable organization that supports individuals that have been touched by cancer.  What an amazing organization with a fantastic message!!!!!

Kim even volunteered to take pictures of our before/after Mary Kay Makeup Session.  Check out these before and after pictures of the beautiful, Christy Reise!!!

 AMAZING!  So--if you need Mary Kay, contact me (www.marykay.com/jenniferberry14), if you need amazing pictures, contact Kim!  http://kimtown.com/photography/

I hope you find these resources as helpful as I have!!!!  :-)

Monday, February 27, 2012


Wow--these last couple of months have been crazy.  Let's see...as if things weren't difficult enough with three little ones, we adopted a puppy (Rusty).  He's more work than an infant (no joke), although he's a nice addition to the family and he's finally starting to get the whole "I'm supposed to poop outside" thing.
We had a great Valentine's Day Dinner.  I went for a Surf n' Turf inspired meal.  We had filet mingon and shrimp along with chocolate covered strawberries and bananas for dinner.  It was delish!

Josh and Danny took their first session of swim lessons at the YMCA.  Both LOVED it!  Dan and I are in a "Mommy and Me" class, but Josh is on his own!  This photo was taken at the next to last class where they got to ride in a boat!

I picked up another hobby--crochet.  I'm enjoying it and decided to challege myself with a Mystery Afghan Challenge--a Crochet Along.  Basically, they give you a clue every week, you complete the clue and eventually you piece the clues together to make an afghan.  Right now, we have no idea what it will look like.  The website had us pick out colors--a Main Color, colors A, B, and C are supposed to go well together, and color D is supposed to be a contrasting color.  I'm REALLY enjoying this--and it's led me to meet other crocheting women in the Frederick area!!!
I really started crocheting because I always wanted a ninja baby....
Speaking of babies.....Daniel is getting so big.  He's crawling, going from laying down to sitting up, and he now has two teeth on the bottom and almost 4 up top!!!  I can't believe my baby is growing up!

With teething comes grumpiness
Danny's swim lessons have made him master of the bathtub. He's like a little froggy!
Teeth=Not happy

Finally, Danny is so much bigger than Josh, it's laughable.  Tim was a big baby, too....but we didn't have these PJs.  Note Danny--below and to the left in the Sponge Bob PJs.  Notice Josh--to the right in the same PJs.  Danny is not quite 9 months in the picture and Josh is 22 months in his picture!!!!  It's so funny how they can be so different!  <3