Happy Mother’s Day to my Moms

AdultKristinGirls.jpgThank you, Mom, for being an example for me. I’m excited to be a mom soon, and I’m glad you’ll be here to help me be just like you.

Thank you, Heather, for including me in your kids’ lives. I am honored to have you as part of our family.2013-12-25 12.08.32 copy.jpg

Thank you, Grandma Lois, for always teaching us to be proud of our intelligence, our tallness, and our family. AdultKristinCindy.jpgThank you, Cindy, for helping to raise me to be confident, and for teaching me valuable lessons (that I actually wrote down in my diary as a list of Cindy Musts… including, “Sour cream and cucumbers and onions always go together.”)AdultKristinDenise.jpg

Thank you, Aunt Denise for taking care of me like one of your own when I lived in Indiana. And even now. I love being an honorary Kriebel. 11173349_10206737895550832_603334099284704985_n.jpgThank you, Jane, for bringing me into your family so lovingly. I’m so blessed to be a Koski!


Happy Mother’s Day!


Hello, 1 Year! Goodbye, Blog.

Andy Koski makes me smile. He kisses me goodbye when I’m going to work at 7am, he sends me text messages to encourage me throughout the day (or to ask for encouragement to make it through his day), he gets me water and chocolate cookies when my ankles are swollen, and he gives the best hugs. I love him, and I’m so thankful we found each other.

20160424_111235To celebrate our year of wedded bliss, we started Sunday  with a little treat from Olde Town Bakery. They made our wedding cake last year, so instead of saving a piece of the cake and eating stale, year-old leftovers from the freezer, as the tradition demands, we just went and ate yummy cupcakes for breakfast.

20160424_12053020160424_150854 (1)We followed the fat intake with a little fat reduction at Ultimate Fitness. Here’s Mini Muffin and me after our favorite workout: slow and steady laps at the pool.

Next, we headed over to the Iowa side. Thanks to Andy’s parents, we are now members of the Figge art museum, so we explored the LEGO architecture, created our own sculptures, and voted on our favorite local artwork. I chose a brightly colored impressionistic river and Andy chose a deep and meaningful portrait.

20160424_15345220160424_153445The gift for a 1 year wedding anniversary is paper, so we bought ourselves a puzzle. I know, I know, that’s for your 90th birthday when you’re bored in a nursing home, but we like to slow down every once in awhile. I look forward to making time for lazy puzzle and podcast time with my hubby during our 2nd year of marriage. And besides, it’s THE KISS by Klimt, an artist whose work we loved seeing in Austria.

20160424_160340Then I experienced my first walk on the sky bridge. After a ComedySportz scene about how boring it was, I had to see for myself.

Yeah, it’s a little anticlimactic.

We ended our outing by using up our gift card to Johnny’s Steakhouse.


Ribeye and baked potato.20160424_181012

Lemon and Raspberry pie.

Banana cheesecake.

Fresh salads.

Foccacia bread and oil and parmesan.

Sooooo yummy!

20160424_203847Lastly, if you were at our wedding, you remember the performance of hammering shut the wine box. Opening was just as entertaining. Andy and I worked together (for about 20 minutes) to unleash the wine and letters trapped inside the wine box. I loved this! I highly recommend it to anyone getting married. Actually, it’d be a great way to renew your vows, too. It’s a little time capsule of love and wisdom.

Thank you to our parents for such kind and wise words. We will cherish them.

And thank you, Andy, for your love and dedication to me. I am excited for our next adventure… parenting.

Speaking of which…I’ve started a new blog to replace the Kristin Katsu blog (I’m now Kristin Koski and I’ve got a lot more adventures to write about). Check it out next week!


All You Need is Love… and a Dog

11752556_10153114026414926_6053946556974597971_nAndy and I adopted a Chiweenie a few months ago from QC Paws, and now I’m officially a dog person. I was always just a person who liked dogs and sometimes a person who liked a cat or two, but I’ve never really been a pet person at all. I watched our family lab, Cleo, go through some terrifying separation anxiety (tearing apart her wire kennel, sliding glass doors, and even drywall to get find her people (instead she got a lot of battle wounds before my mom just started taking her everywhere she went)). Now that I have a dog, I get it. Life is all about relationships, and owning a dog teaches me that.

Lots of Poop

I thought Andy and I would still be talking about dates and roses and memories from our wedding, but mostly we talk about poop. “Did Tobie poop today?” is a common question that starts a conversation about more poop. Last week she had diarrhea, but before we actually diagnosed her as sick, we just thought she was being an evil poop monster, destroying our floors and smiles. I hate to admit it, but I yelled at her for pooping in the house. I immediately apologized, cried about it, and I think she’s forgiven me. Poop has taught me patience and mercy. Tobie’s back on schedule, and Nature’s Miracle and Scentsy brought our house back to a normal for now.

Lots of Kisses

2015-08-16 21.17.42Remember that moment in the movie Beethoven when Emily lets Beethoven the dog lick her ice cream cone. Gross. I felt just as disgusted whenever a dog licked a person’s face. Well, guess what. Tobie kisses me. On the lips. GROSS! I’m happier because I have this cute little creature that kisses me and plays with me and snuggles with me, so in return I let her kiss me. And I also sometimes hold the umbrella for her when she’s pooping outside in a storm. Picture that. She teaches me compassion, and that’s a very helpful trait as I prepare for my first day as a theatre and speech teacher at Davenport West High School.

Lots of Time

2015-08-04 17.08.53On Saturday, I drove three of my students to the Iowa Thespians Leadership Day in Grinnell, Iowa. In one of the breakout sessions, a student leader taught a time management workshop. He stated that when you add up all the hours that we spend doing things we have to do, only 6 years are left for what we want to do. His point was to make sure we’re spending that time wisely, but the other adult in the room with me turned to me and said, “That’s scary.” Yeah.

Daniel DP Sheridan of Davenport Junior Theatre was the keynote speaker, kicking the day off with a poignant speech about SO WHAT? NOW WHAT? When something unexpected happens, ask yourself, “So what?” And then move on to “Now what?” While teaching the students about how to make the most of every opportunity and resource, he taught me how to embrace the little things. I want to lengthen those 6 years by wanting what I have. Embracing what’s happening.

Tobie has a lot of energy, a lot to learn (go to puppy school in Milan!), and I love her. Therefore, she takes a lot of my time. Instead of complaining about how I need to write my lesson plans and cook dinner and make my lunch and give her a bath and go to practice and prep for rehearsal and and and, I’m enjoying the now.

Tractor Time

The John Deere Pavilion

2015-07-23 12.59.21I thought we would just climb on some tractors and be done. I should have known John Deere would think of everything. I learned everything I ever didn’t care to know about tractors, and then some. Ella and I liked learning about healthy diets on the smart board program: enter in your age, height, weight, and after choosing a meal, learn what your caloric intake should be. Grant chose 10 donuts, so the program told him that his eyes were bigger than his stomach.

2015-07-23 13.09.17This is a fun place to explore with kids. We stayed for about 35 minutes, but we didn’t get to every tractor, nor did we see the gift shop. I drive by often, so I’m glad I finally experienced the inside!

The Facts

  • Free!
  • 1400 River Dr., Moline
  • M-F 9-5, Sat 10-5, Sun 12-4
  • Website

The Ratings

  • 2015-07-23 12.43.119 – Kristin’s Score – I loved taking photos of the kids climbing on these giant machines. Then we got to learn about what the machines do, how much they cost, and how they’ve changed throughout the years. Interactive, educational, and full of tourists from all over.
  • 6.5 – Ella’s Score – I liked the screen that told you how much you should eat. I think there could be more interaction for kids.
  • 7.5 – Grant’s Score – We got to climb in giant tractors and climb in farming tools. I wish there were more of the farming games.

Weenie Dogs and Jazz Musicians

2015-07-23 10.47.39The German Heritage Center in Davenport

We explored the special exhibit of German Dogs, watching videos and playing with the life-size stuffed animals. The other 2 floors of the permanent exhibit have music, videos, and interactive exhibits. We dressed up, climbed in hedgehog holes, and quizzed each other on the animals of Iowa and Germany. For a quick stop, this was a lot of fun. The Christmas in July special is worth it because of the 2 for 1 deal on admission and the 10% off deal in the Gift Shop. I love the Made in Germany trinkets!

The Facts

  • 712 W. 2nd St. Davenport, IA
  • 2015-07-23 11.16.36Tuesday-Saturday opened 10am-4pm
  • Sunday opened 12-4pm
  • http://www.gahc.org/
  • Walking Tours of 3rd Street in Davenport, Saturdays at 10:30, $5. I’m definitely checking this out!
  • Charles Shultz exhibit opens Sept.6

The Ratings

  • Running with Bix

    Running with Bix

    6 – Kristin’s Score – This is definitely an amazing place for banquets and events. Everyone is very nice, the exhibits are informative and I learned a lot. I’ll be on the lookout for special events!

  • 5 – Ella’s Score – The gift shop had cool stuff. I wish it had more kids exhibits. There’s no real fun things to do.
  • 5 – Grant’s Score – We got some souvenirs. I wish it didn’t have a bunch of creepy noises. [Grant thought it was haunted]

Rock Island County Fair

Rock Island County Fair

2015-07-15 13.42.43I miss hanging out with my family at the Harford County Farm Fair, so the Rock Island County Fair was a nice trip down memory lane. Petting all the animals in the 4H pavilions, eating fried food, watching little kids lead cows and sheep to be groomed, and people watching.

2015-07-15 12.13.10We never had carnival rides at our fair back home, so this was a fun treat to watch the kids spin around like crazy on their favorite rides. They’re a little pricey, but having never been to a carnival, I don’t know how they compare to other carnivals. We paid $20 for 20 tickets, which saved us $5, but we still only rode about 4 rides. Basically, it’s no Disney World.

2015-07-15 13.35.51

The Facts

  • 2015-07-15 14.39.45July 15-19
  • Special events during the day and night, see events calendar HERE
  • Only $1 for kids and $2 for adults. Price goes up if you enter after 8:30pm.
  • Amazing corn dogs, deep fried Oreos, and even a kiddie tractor pull 🙂

The Scores2015-07-15 14.40.00

  • 9 – Grant’s score – It was really fun. I thought it was cool that the swings went super duper fast.
  • 8.5 – Ella’s score – The good reason is I liked some of the rides like the Ferris wheel and the swings. Those are good rides for kids. My bad reason is that most of the rides spun, and I thought it was unfair because some people can’t go on the spinning rides or they get sick. The food was really good. The animals – I 2015-07-15 13.14.53especially liked the horses.
  • 8 – Kristin’s score – I love the animal and other 4-H pavilions because it’s fun to see what interests people in the QC. And who doesn’t love baby animals? I just wished there were more vendors giving out pens and stuff. That’s my favorite part of the county fair back home…collecting school supplies 🙂

2015-07-15 12.17.59

Italian Ceiling Paintings, John Deere, and Tunnels

The Butterworth Center and Deere-Wiman House

2015-07-09 11.25.25There are about 6 in the United States, and one of them is in Moline, Illinois. Ceiling art painted in the 1700s in Italy. This particular one was brought to the Butterworth Center in the early 1900s and preserved as best as possible for us to see today. Kristin, Ella, and Grant toured the 25,000-foot house today, gawking over the beautiful gothic-style furniture, Italian tiles in the bathrooms, and serpentine sinks. The Deere-Wiman House (which used to belong to John Deere’s son) was also exciting, beautiful furniture, paintings, photos, an old-timey elevator, and more. The tour guide was perfect: personable, exciting facts, simple explanations, fun quizzes for the kids, and a fun attitude. I kinda want to go back.

The Facts

  • 2015-07-09 12.32.47http://www.butterworthcenter.com/
  • 817 11th Avenue, Moline, IL
  • Guided tours by appointment (our tour was about 80 minutes)
  • Summer Sunday tours starting on the hour 1-4pm
  • Cost: donations

The Scores

  • 9 – Grant’s score – “I liked how there were trains and a lot of cool stuff. There was a driveway under the house.”
  • 2015-07-09 11.34.219 – Kristin’s score – “The tour guide displayed just the right level of personable and professional. We learned a lot, we had fun, both the kids and adults.”
  • 8.5 – Ella’s score – “The features that were built into the house. The featured woodwork and the original pieces like bookshelves and chairs.”

Indoor Rockets


20150706_124954I started the day convincing the kids to get out of the house. I ended the day convincing the kids we had to leave the Putnam Museum. I made a rocket that hit the ceiling, I played piano with lasers, I ate a sandwich while watching a tennis ball fly two stories in the air and land in the same spot each time, and I learned why some pullies are easier to pull on than others. I also learned that kids who don’t eat their lunches turn into mean and cranky villains. Just a few bites of PBJ makes all the difference.

The Facts:

The Scores:

  • 20150706_1229549 – 8-year old Grant’s score for the Putnam: “Putnam had a lot of experiments. And I really liked that. My favorite was making the course for the ball to travel.”
  • 8 – 31-year old Kristin’s score for the Putnam: “Every kid and parent is involved in learning. This is the kind of museum that is impossible to just sit in the corner and stare at your phone. It’s exciting!”
  • 7.5 – 10-year old Ella’s score for the Putnam: “I liked all the ways you could be involved in the experiments.”

Teachery Apps for Teachery Types

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 7.50.46 PMThere are not enough hours in day, especially for English Teachers. We are constantly reading essays and writing assignments, grading quizzes and assigning short stories. If only there were a little more time to also show our students that we can model reading and writing. For many of us, that is why we dove into teaching English: we had a teacher who showed us the magic of reading. For me, I had a supportive English professor who made me feel wonderful about writing. I looked forward to reading my writing to my classmates. Now I look forward to showing my students my writing, modeling free writing, editing, and publishing.

I still struggle to meet my goal of writing every day. I wish I had hours to sit at Theo’s Java in Rock Island with a hot tea on one side and a scone on the other, typing away at my blog, Pages document, or on http://writeordie.com/. Thankfully, there are apps to help teachers save time. Check out my favorite apps below and then respond with a few suggestions of your favorite apps.

GOODREADS. As an English and Theatre teacher, I get a lot of suggestions for books and plays to read or recommend to my students. I can never remember them long enough to find a piece of paper and jot them down, so I’ve developed the habit of entering them into my Goodreads account. Go to www.goodreads.com or check out the app in the Play Store or Apple Store. You can scan a book’s barcode, enter the title or author, or browse through the listings. You can create as many shelves as you want to organize your books that you’ve read and want to read, share them with friends, and even enter into discussions and book clubs. This will help you refer your students to books they may actually enjoy reading!

PINTREST. Don’t just use Pintrest (www.pintrest.com, also available in Play and iTunes) to gather your recipes and crafts, create a board of images that best describes a book’s theme, gather websites that help you on your next writing assignment, or share a board with students that describes a play’s setting. Pintrest is a way to organize websites, images, or ideas. I use it in directing plays to share images with designers. We work together to build a concept. What do you use Pintrest for in your classroom?

TEST YOUR VOCABULARY. An Android and Apple app to build your vocabulary skills, and it’s quick and simple to grasp. You can choose a test like SAT so your questions are focused on a particular range of difficulty. Also, once you click the multiple choice answer that you believe is correct, it lights up green or red to show whether you are correct or not. So if you have a few minutes, it’s simple to play a few words and quit. You’ve learned a few words, and you don’t have to wait until the end of the test to figure out your score. (Play Store: click the photo to the left, iTunes click HERE)

I hope these apps save you time! Have fun, and post some more ideas below, and visit my tumblr page for more Educational Websites and such.

It’s Gonna Be All Right

2015-06-22 10.08.57

A few weeks ago, I drank my morning cup of tea, stared out the kitchen window, and felt complete peace. I am excited to tell you why.

Ever since I quit my teaching job at Noblesville High School to pursue my MFA in Theatre Directing, I’ve had to work very hard to not stress out about the future. Will I find a theatre job that I like? How will I be able to buy groceries? When will I be able to afford to visit my family in Maryland regularly? So many worries plagued me, but I have learned how to work on it. I listen to music, read, light some candles, play games with friends – anything to help live in the moment. Improv is a powerful force in my life because it trains me to live for now.

My first week home from the honeymoon, I sent out a lot of resumes. I would stare out the window in the kitchen, drinking my tea each morning, worrying about how my next interview would go. I spent too much time worrying. Then one day I got a call from the associate principal of a school where I’d interviewed.

“I know I already told you that it’s HR and not me who will offer you a position. So instead, I just figured I’d give you some advice. Don’t go on any more job interviews. It would be a waste of your time.” I could tell she was smiling on the other end of the phone.

2015-06-27 22.25.19“Um…” I stammered. “Okay. I like that advice. I’ll take that advice!” I started to get excited.

She went on to say that she really enjoyed meeting me, and HR would probably be calling me within the next few days. HR did call, I did get an offer, and I’m only a few signatures away from my new teaching position: a dream job.

That next morning when I drank my tea and stared out the kitchen window, I was filled with peace. I laughed at myself, savoring the moment of trusting God that he’d take care of me while also scolding myself for not truly believing it before. I write this story down to remind me not to doubt. Sparrows help remind me too.

2015-06-18 09.54.02I’m happy to announce I will be the new Theatre/Speech/English teacher at Davenport West High School. I’ll be teaching acting and production classes in addition to some speech and English classes, direct plays and musicals, lead the Thespian Society group to festivals, and help the theatre program thrive. This is exactly the job I’ve been wanting for about 10 years now.

So Quad Cities is the place to be, folks. Plus I get to play with some pretty amazing people at ComedySportz QC on a regular basis. And play with my puppy, Tobie. And hang out with my husband. And watch fireworks by the Mississippi with super cool friends. I hope their coolness is contagious.

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