Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday's Letters

After yesterday's post, it feels good to have a theme post to write today.  I don't have to sit and stare at my screen and think about what I'm going to write about.  Now, I just have to come up with some letters...

Dear Blog Followers:  After much consideration, I believe I've finally come to a decision about what direction I want this blog to move towards.  I think I have.  I'm not ready to make any changes just yet - I need to do a little more thinking, planning, and come up with how I want to move in the direction I want to move.  What I can say is that I do not want to nor will I give up wanting to lose weight.  Regardless of it being something I do next week, next month, or next year... I will get back to making the pounds come off.  I can also say that my teaching career will have a lot of impact on my weight loss.  Being a teacher is all I've ever wanted to be - besides a wife and mother.  Which is also a very dominant part of my life:  Family.  So, maybe that will give you some insight to what I'm up to.  Maybe it won't.  But, it won't take long before I reveal what I have in store for Future Thin Gal.

Dear Hurricane Isaac:  I'll be honest, I haven't kept up with the impact you made to the coast line when you hit land.  I'm hoping you didn't cause too much damage, hurt any people, or caused anyone to lose their homes.  What I can say is that I'm now listening to your remnants fall outside my window - and I'm glad you're here.  We need the rain so desperately, and if it takes the aftermath of a hurricane to bring it...then so be it. 

Dear Bloggers Whose Blogs I Haven't Commented On Lately:  I apologize for my lack of comments.  I try to read as often as I can, but I've been doing a lousy job of commenting.  I promise that I will try to catch up over my three day weekend.  I've been reading posts here and there when I have a few minutes.. but my iPad isn't the best at letting me comment on blogs.  I haven't forgotten about you all, I promise.

Dear Apple:  Will you please, please, please consider working something out with Adobe so that I can have Flash on my iPad?  I love my iPad, I really do - but it would be so much more awesome if I was able to use it for the stuff that interests me most... like working on my class website, commenting on blogs, and writing up my lesson plans from an amazing website I discovered.  I'm able to get on through Safari to comment on some blogs, but it freezes up so much (because there's no Flash support) that it gets to be more of a hassle than it's worth.  I know this is all about money, but for once... could a couple of companies come together and work something out for the sake of their customers? 

Dear Owners of FREE Websites Who Want People to Pay Money for Purchasing Apps:  What's up with that?  I understand that this probably has something to do with the Flash issue that I just wrote to Apple about, but I just don't get the thinking behind your apps.  I can get on a website and create a free website or blog or planner or whatever else I'm making, using, etc. and then I realize you want me to pay $10 or MORE to install an app that will allow me to do all of that on my iPad.  And I really have to call Pinterest out on this one.  I love Pinterest.  I think it's a great concept for a website.  But, I can get on my laptop and pin to my heart's content for free... but in order to pin from my iPad, I have to pay $10?  That just doesn't make sense to me.  OK, carrying around my iPad is a lot more convenient than carrying around my laptop - but it's definitely not so much of an inconvenience that it would make me pay money so I can do it.  Once again, can't companies pull together to help out their customers?  I must be so naive and stupid to actually believe that people start and build companies for something other than becoming billionaires.

Dear Winter:  Oh, I've missed you so much.  It seems like summer has been here far too long.  I'm so ready for you to come back to me.  I'm literally counting down the days until I can expect to start feeling your presence.  And, when you do return this year... you better bring it a lot better than you did last year.  I'm not sure if you were dating spring last year or something - but the mild temperatures in the 50s and 60s that stayed with us the majority of the time just isn't acceptable.  The grasshoppers that are invading the area are laughing at you.  You can't let them win, can you?  Wipe them out!  Show them your power!  I want to actually use our fireplace this winter.  If you are still dating spring - She's no good for you!  She's messing with your head.  Get out of that relationship before your time to punch the clock this year happens.  Please?

Dear Wood That I Knocked On to Keep My Family All Walton Style:  You're broken.  Or you're not real wood.  I knocked on you just like I'm supposed to, yet my kids have gone right back to arguing and being moody and messing with my Kumbuya mojo.  The wood that I knocked on to keep my kids enjoying school was apparently real wood - or did what it was supposed to... so how come you didn't?  It's not right.  Peanut and Butter are back to fighting with each other every second.  And they get mad and attitudy at me when they don't do what THEY are supposed to do and I give them consequences for it.  Jelly keeps sporting an attitude or waking up in a bad mood or throwing hissy fits when she doesn't get her way.  Now, you've given me no choice but to turn in to Mean Mom.  I hate being Mean Mom.  Taking away computers or video games or time playing outside isn't something I enjoy doing at all.  Singing Kumbuya while they enjoyed doing all those things is what I want for my life.  And it's all your fault!

Dear Three Day Weekend:  OH YEA!!!  I'm so ready for you.  Not because I need a break from work - cause I love my job, and have no problem being there every day.  No, it's because I get to see family I haven't seen in weeks because I've been too busy on the weekends.  I get to make a trip to see P-Momma.. who I haven't seen since July.  JULY.  That's ridic.  And I get to see my parents.  I have barely even spoken to my mom on the phone the past two it will be so nice to spend a whole day with her.  And the best part?  I got all of my work done this week so I don't have to worry about carving time out from my relaxing three days off to do any of it.  Although, I'm sure all that family time will wear me out - and I'll be complaining about how tired I am when I go back to work.  But it's OK, I won't blame you - three day weekend.

Dear Me:  Go get dressed!  You have to get ready for work.

Till next time.  ;)

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Writer's Block

For the past couple of days, I've sat in front of this computer at 4:45am and sat staring at the page.  Completely blank.  Both the page, and my head.  After a while, I've let my fingers just do the talking - but it's been a lot harder coming up with stuff to write about.

I've had this happen before.  There has been a day here or there where I'm out of ideas, or tired of repeating the same ol' same ol'.  But I don't remember the last time it happened for more than a couple of days.  It's basically happened every day this week.

Writing a daily blog for a little over two years is an amazing accomplishment. Sure, there's been some repetition and I get a little help by doing weekly features such as Truthful Tuesday and Friday's Letters - but everything that happens in between are my own thoughts and words.  I've written 866 posts since starting this blog - almost 800 of them since becoming a "daily" blogger.  So, for almost 800 straight days I've had something to say.  And, yes, I've missed a day here or there... but not many.

So, it's a little frustrating that now, with so much going on in my life, I have trouble thinking of what I should or could write about.

I could just continue to write daily accounts of my life.  Tell you a day by day replay of how each day unfolded.  Which is basically what I've been doing since school started.  My teaching career is a big deal to me - and it has given me a lot to talk about even if I have only been back to work for two weeks.  But, then I'm left with this niggling feeling in the back of my head that I'm losing focus about what I started this blog for.

I keep reminding myself that this blog is my journal.  It's supposed to be for the purpose of sharing my daily goings on... but with keeping the main perspective of my weight loss journey somehow.  I expect there to be days where I don't write about losing weight, or not losing weight... but when I start to completely forget that weight loss is any form of theme around here - I start to worry.  I start to feel guilty.  I start to tell myself that it's obvious I've completely given up on ever losing weight.

And honestly?  I have seriously considered transforming the blog to just be a daily diary....all about the fascinating and exciting stuff I'm doing each day.  But what happens to my dream of losing weight if I do that?  I'll tell you exactly what happens - the dream will never become a reality.

I've made many references to my blog being a sort of best friend to me.  I can say almost anything I like to my blog, and I don't feel judgement or embarrassment... or that I'm letting my blog down.  Having amazing followers puts a voice back from my blog.  I get to hear encouragement, advice, and sometimes blatant cold, hard truths.  I make a point of deleting comments from people who are anything but courteous - regardless of whether they agree with me or not.  I let everyone have their opinion, they just need to be nice about it...and do it in away that isn't hateful.  Just like a true friend would be.

But, at the end of the day, I realize that I've received most of my followers because they held the belief that this was a weight loss blog...and that I'd be talking about weight loss at least occasionally.

And recently, I've added a few more followers.  I've noticed that they are teachers - or from the education field.  I'm very excited and happy about that - but I can't help feel that I'm letting my other followers down by reverting myself to a teaching blogger.

So, I have a lot to think about.  I have some serious decisions to make.  I started a class website/blog with the hopes that I'd be able to move my attention to teaching more to that place... but really that blog will be for the purpose of sharing what I'm doing in my classroom, not how I feel about teaching.  Which means I still want to talk about feelings and thoughts and "behind the scenes" stuff here.  Weight loss has been curbed - almost permanently, here lately.   I can't help but picture a homeless person sitting on the side of the road - which is my interpretation of my weight loss content - with a sign that says "Weight Loss Blogger Wanted". 

Have I given up with ever believing that I will lose the weight?  Has my new career pushed any excitement or ambition I had about reaching weight loss goals to the wayside?  Should I just face the truth that weight loss talk ran it's course, and it's time to move this blog in a new direction?

The answer to those questions are definitely not as easy as you would think...despite what recent events have pointed to.

I truly don't want to give up the hope that I will lose this weight.  I just can't let myself believe that I've given up, and I've found more important things to focus on.  I need to reevaluate, think hard about my future, and decide my next steps.

I either want it bad enough, or I don't.  But I really need to make a decision.  And soon.

Till next time. ;)
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oh What A Night

I'm not feeling so hot this morning.  Not because I'm sick - or getting sick.  Because I had a terrible night's sleep.  Jelly has decided, now that she's almost 5, that it's time to start sleeping in my bed.  Which doesn't really bother me that much.  I mean, Hubby works at night, so I have king size bed all to myself.  Plus, when Hubby isn't home, Jelly knows that she has to sleep in her own bed. 

But, you would think with a king size bed, I wouldn't even notice that she's in the bed with me - right?  Yeah.  Right.  Not.

The child insists on sleeping right up against my back.  I have about a me wide part of the bed to sleep on - and then there's Jelly snuggled up right against me.  If I decide to turn over in the night, or move at all, I have to wake up and do it - otherwise I'll end up on the floor.  There's just not enough room for me to maneuver myself.

I've even tried sliding her over after she goes to sleep - but that's a losing battle.  She'll stay in the middle of the bed for a few minutes, then she's right up against me...barricading me on to the edge of the bed.  And I'm a belly sleeper.  Meaning I sleep on my stomach.  I like one knee bent up and my arms under the pillow.  But, when there's a body right next to me - I end up with her legs over my bent up knee, her head on top of my arms.  

If that's not bad enough, I also have a cat that waits until 2 or 3am to climb in to bed, and then tries to snuggle IN BETWEEN Jelly and I.  Urm.  I mentioned that there's not any room between Jelly and I, right?  And there's no room between me and the edge of the bed.  So, then adding a cat that tries to push herself in to the mix - and that makes for one very ticked off, uncomfortable, not sleeping Momma.  I finally had to kick Katniss out of the room a little after 3am, because she was driving me nutso.  It took 3.2 seconds to get out of bed, put the cat out, and shut the bedroom door... but that was long enough for Jelly to inch herself even further over to my side. 

And if children and cats weren't even enough to mess with my much needed sleep - let's throw in a good ol' nightmare, shall we?  Seriously.  Was I just not supposed to sleep at all last night?  And I would have gladly taken a nightmare about monsters or vampires or things that go bump in the night.  But, no, I get the nightmare of teachers taking over my classroom, laughing at me, telling me I can't teach.  Past principals popping up to discuss me with my current principal - and telling her how terrible of a teacher I am, and how I should be fired.  UGH!  UGH!! And double UGH!!

So, it's no wonder that I'm ready to hook up a coffee IV this morning.  Not only that, but my legs and back ache from the uncomfortable maneuvers and positions I had to perform last night.  I think my Jelly is in for a rude awakening tonight.  She's sleeping in her own bed.  And the cat can go sleep with her. 

I did get to have a good chuckle when I finally got out of bed, though.  Before I grabbed my first cup of coffee, I decided to have a stand on the scale.  It said 237lbs.  I was like WHAT??  That can't be right.  So, I stood on it again - and that time it said 227lbs.  I lost 12lbs in a matter of days, and another 10lbs in a matter of seconds.  I have the best scale in the world!!  Or, the batteries are running out.  Don't you just hate it when stuff like that happens?  I decided to pull out my other scale, and confirmed that there has been no MAJOR weight loss over the past few days.  No weight loss at all, unfortunately.  I'm still sitting not-so-pretty at 249lbs.  The other block implanted in to my life.

I'm starting to think that if the scale ever shows me a number different from that one, when it's actually working, I might pass out.  I've been stuck there for several weeks, now.  It doesn't go up, and it doesn't go down. 

Which, I guess is good and bad.  It's good because while I'm not focusing on my weight loss at this very moment, having a weight that is staying the same means that I'm not gaining weight.  When I'm not gaining, I'm happy.  But it's bad because I'm not losing weight, either, and the only way that will happen is if I start doing something about it.  I also think, though, that it won't be too much longer before that does really start to change.  I'm getting some little urks and feelings of wanting to do some exercise and I'm back to thinking about what I'm eating.  That tells me that I'm starting to get comfortable with my new routines and demands, and I'm ready to start upping the ante.  I just need to find a niche to add to my already crammed schedule.  I'm sure something will open up soon.

Well, it's time for me to think about getting ready for work.  I just hope that everything goes smoothly today, being that I might be a little crabby from a lack of sleep.  I had to yell at my kiddos, again, yesterday due to being disrespectful and not following directions.  I hate having to do that.  On Monday, they were awesome.  Yesterday?  Not so much.  I know it's all the changes that are taking place - and changes get them all out of whack.  They really are an awesome bunch of kids - and it hurts their feelings when I have to get tough with them.  Which then hurts my feelings.  It's a vicious cycle - but I also know it's needed.  They really love it when I'm proud of them...and it hurts them when I'm not.  And for them to already be this concerned with those kinds of feelings is amazing.  I have a niggling feeling that today is going to be A-OK.

Till next time. ;)
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Truth Today Tuesday

Ready to start my Tuesday... but first, it's time to spill some honest truths...

To be honest... I made it through my first day of co-teaching with only a few minor hiccups.  My kiddos weren't as prepared as they should be, but that will be different this morning. 

To be honest... It felt weird to have a co-teacher in my room.  Not bad weird, just weird.  I felt a little shy and awkward - which are two feelings I hardly ever feel.  After a full year of student teaching, where I had someone watching me teach or teaching with me every day to working a full year with other teachers in their rooms, you'd think I'd be really used to it by now.  But, I guess it's different now that I'm the classroom teacher.

To be honest... I did something last night I haven't done in a very long time.  I had an emotional binge.  I came home and devoured two burritos, then ate chips and dip, and then ate a small bag of chocolate covered peanuts.  Apparently, I have some emotions that I need to deal with... because it wasn't hunger that drove me to shoveling food in to my mouth faster than the speed of light. 

To be honest... I think I've struck gold in regards to the two other 4th grade teachers I get to work with.  It didn't take me long to know that I would enjoy working with them, but I've quickly realized that it's so much more than that.  They've offered me so much support, guidance, and encouragement in a matter of two weeks - I can only imagine what the next few weeks, months, and years have in store.  I feel comfortable sharing my struggles with them - even though I'm not normally one to admit when I'm struggling.  They feel comfortable being honest with me, and in a way that is straight but not harsh.  They make me feel wanted and appreciated as a part of the team.  Just spending 10 minutes with them each day can make all my problems or worries melt away.  I know that I've made it through these first couple of weeks like a champ totally because of them.

To be honest... I think that I'm making it sound that I'm having some major problems that I'm not sharing - and that's not the case.  It's all pretty minor stuff.  The normal "new teacher" worries.  Am I doing things right?  Am I covering the stuff that I'm supposed to be covering?  Are my ideas and teaching style beneficial to the students' learning styles?  You know, stuff like that.  I know I often come across as a sack full of positivity, but I have doubts.  It's just knowing how to balance the doubts with the payoffs that I have to test and try - and get through.

To be honest... I was so happy at how excited and enthusiastic the kids were about seeing their new classroom website yesterday.  In fact, they told me that I couldn't wait until Friday to send home the permission forms - they wanted them sent home before.  I had to explain that it would be a little while before they were able to write blog posts for the site - because they had to learn the writing process, and the site was going to be used for publish their writing.  But seeing the excitement and curiosity on their faces made me believe that the kids will work hard to do what they need to do to get on the computer. And I'm thinking that in the mean time, the kids can provide ideas about what to write on the site.

To be honest... I've been thinking that once I get myself situated this week, with when and how I'm going to get my plans done, I may start using my two hours after school waiting on Peanut as a time that I can work out.  No, folks, don't adjust your computer settings - you read that right.  The gym at the school is open in the afternoons, and I don't see why I couldn't jog around the gym - maybe use the bleachers a little.  I could run some laps, do some jump roping, anything really.  I won't have to worry about weather, or being interrupted.  I must put that on my list to mention to my principal. 

To be honest... I know it won't come as any surprise to anyone that's been reading my blog, lately, but I really haven't wanted to think about my weight loss.  I've been so wrapped up in the adrenaline and excitement of starting my career, that the last thing I really want to do is worry about what I'm eating, how many pounds I gain/lose, or if and when I'll work out.  That would be why my scale has been stuck at the same number for the past couple of weeks.  But after what happened last night, it's all I can think about since.  Arriving home at 7pm each night doesn't leave me much time to think about what I can eat - I just eat whatever is prepared or available.  I've been taking a lunch some days, and other days I've been eating off of the school salad bar.  Breakfast seems to be a thing of the past, because even when I do remember to take something with me to eat - I forget about it once I get to work and start my day.  My crazy binge last night made me realize that I have to start making myself accountable, once again.  And, no, I'm not going to make any promises or declarations - but I just needed to mention that I am thinking about it.  I know that I will soon get in to a comfort zone with my schedule at work - and once I'm fully adjustable, I can start dedicating the time and effort in to making sure these pounds disappear.  Just like I've been saying they would.

To be honest... I need to get my behind in gear and get ready for my day. 

Till next time. ;)
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Morning Mind Mess

I don't know what it is about Sunday nights, but I can never seem to get myself to bed before 10pm.  I wake up early on Sunday mornings, I don't nap, but I'm unable to lay my head down at a reasonable hour causing one very tired me on Monday mornings.

You would think that by the beginning of the second week of school, my Monday morning jitters would also be gone.  But they're not.  And I know that's only because I'm starting something new - once again - today.  And what makes it worse is the fact that I don't feel prepared about this morning...and I won't have any time once I get to school to do much because I have morning crosswalk duty.

I really have to get in to some kind of routine of not doing my plans on weekends - or at least have Monday's plans ready to go before I leave on Fridays.  Last week, I made sure I was ready for the next day before I ever left the building...that's going to have to be something I start doing Friday evenings also.

Wow.  Are you able to hear my nerves much in my rambling?  Geez.  That's what a lack of sleep will do to you, I tell ya.

Regardless of how jittery and nervous I am about the changes that are taking place today - I know that I'll get through.  I think it's more about having co-teachers in my room starting today than it is anything else.  Once I get a better sense of what they expect and what our roles will be, I know I'll feel much better.

Anywho, yesterday was a very productive day.  I sat in front of my computer for most of the day writing my plans, and looking through my resources.  It can be a little overwhelming to see how much needs to be done each day - with such little time to do it.  But anyone that knows me knows that I'm always up for a good challenge.  Not only will I be able to cover everything that I need to cover - but I'll also do it in a way that ensures my kiddos are on track.  How's that for positivity?  HA!

Wanna know what else I did yesterday?  I finally got my class website to the point of being ready to use.  Do you want a little sneak peak?  Well, OK.... Click HERE to get an early look at my website. 

At first, I thought about keeping the website private - and viewable by password only.  You really never can be too careful when kids are involved.  But, I quickly realized that my class website needs to be something I can share with the world... if they're interested in looking at it.  Lots of my kiddos may have family members or friends in different states or countries - and having to have a special password to access anything could be a hassle.  Plus, I'm pretty good about knowing how to keep information general - not giving out information that may cause any child to be in harms way.  But, before a single picture of a student, or an entry made by students can be added to the site - I will get parental permission.  I have the ability to set up private blogs for students that can't be on the live site - so no one will miss out if there are students whose parents aren't comfortable with pictures of their children displayed on the internet. 

Having a class website is a great way to incorporate so many aspects - such as technology, writing, reading, and internet safety.  In this day and age, kids need to learn how to use a computer - but in a safe way.  In the very near future, all students are going to be taking assessments on the computer, will be required to publish writing on the computer, and will need to know how to navigate their way around for research purposes.  Why not give them a head start in knowing how to do all of that stuff now?

I have so many ideas racing through my head right now, in regards to what I want my kiddos to do this year, that it's not even funny.  Of course, I've been told countless times by many people that it's just the new teacher persona spilling out of me.  Apparently, all new teachers have dreams of changing the world and doing stuff that's never been done before.  Well, just for the record, I don't think I'm going to be changing the world.  Nor do I think I'm going to be doing stuff that's never been done before.  My focus is on changing the lives of the kids I serve.  If I don't think I can do that, then why the heck am I even a teacher?  Isn't that what being a teacher is supposed to be all about?  Constantly adapting and changing to the kids that are in the room.  Finding ways to not just teach the content, but make it relevant and receivable.  Inspiring the kids to meet goals, accomplish things they've never been able to do before.  I won't believe for a second that being a teacher is anything but those things.

And the ideas I want to add to my classroom weren't made up in my head.  They come from veteran teachers that inspired me throughout the years and while in college.  I've either seen them in action, or have heard about the creative ways that teachers were able to reach their students.  I don't consider myself a creative genius by any means - I've just picked up tricks and tidbits over the years, and have seen how much impact they've had on kids.  Why would I not want to do all of those wonderful things with my own students?

Sure, I suppose every new teacher starts out with an unmeasurable drive and passion - and the belief that they'll never lose either.  And I'm quite sure that many new teachers quickly lose their new teacher smell once they get in there and realize that it's a lot harder than it looks.  And time constraints limit the amount of time we'd like to try things.  But, right now, this very moment, I'm going to make it my goal to keep my passion - continue to always hunt for new ideas and new techniques.  Make it my first priority to reach every student that walks in to my room.   Because deep down, I know that once I lose those things - it's no longer my dream career, but just another job.

I do know that it's possible - because I see it every day.  There are still teachers out there, that have been teaching for years that keep their dreams and ambitions alive.  I'm lucky enough to be working with some of them.  So, I absolutely know it's possible.  I will keep my dreams alive.

Till next time.  ;)
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

No Weigh!!!

So, yeah, today is weigh in day... but I'm skipping it.  Not because I gained a bunch of weight and now I'm ashamed and don't want to admit it.  No, because I haven't been doing anything weight loss related - and so my weight is the same as it was last week - and it just seems pointless for me to talk about it.

You and I both know that you don't want to hear about how I'll try again this next week, and I'll really push myself to lose a couple of pounds.  When you know that I will say the exact same stuff next week, because I don't even have time to sneeze, let alone focus on my weight loss.

Besides, what I want to share instead is a little more fun.  I think so anyway.

Remember how yesterday, I whined shared that I had a lot to do and I was going to be sitting in front of my computer all day working?  Well, apparently I'm a big liar, liar pants on fire.  Because you know how much work I got done yesterday?  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.

Technically, I didn't lie.  When I wrote my post, I had the absolute intention of doing everything I said I would.  But shortly after finishing my blog, and getting some laundry started, I saw on Facebook that there was a festival going on in a town close to me.  A big festival with crafts, kids activities, and a carnival.  And I also remembered a little promise I made my kids last year when the county fairs were in town.  Because I didn't have much money this time last year, I told them that as soon as I got a teaching job, I'd take them to a fair.

Well, the county fairs have been and gone.  Being that I didn't get my first paycheck until the beginning of last week, I just didn't have the money to take them again this year.  And, honestly, I didn't expect to get a check last week.  I really didn't think I would get paid until September - and so I budgeted accordingly.  Which means this last paycheck provided just a little have some fun with.  Not only that, but the weather was beautiful yesterday.  Cloudy and in the 80s. 

One thing that has lacked a little since school started is family time.  We've been gone so late each day that we haven't had any time to spend together as a family.  So, I made the rash decision that I would put off my work and Hubby and I would take the kids to the festival.

We all had a fantastic time.  We walked around the craft booths and I picked up the cutest sign for my classroom and a zebra striped pencil holder - with pink accents.  It has my first initial in pink.  LOVE IT!  Of course, I didn't get to spend as much time as I'd have like browsing and shopping.  The kids had only one destination they were interested in: The carnival.

I decided right off the bat that it would be cheaper spending $20 per kid on an armband than trying to buy tickets.  The tickets are $1 a piece and all of the rides were 3-5 tickets.  And the kids definitely made sure they got their money's worth.  We were at the carnival for 4 hours!

I discovered a few things while we were there.  One being that Jelly is a dare devil.  She had an OK time on the kiddy rides - but once she got a taste of rides like the Tilt O' Whirl, Himalayas, and the Ferris Wheel - she had no more appeal for the baby rides.  The faster the ride, the more Jelly laughed.  I was terrified to allow her on the Ferris wheel.  It was so high.  I wouldn't get on it - because I'm terrified of heights, and I didn't want to be sitting and swaying at the top of that thing as it was letting off people on the bottom.  So, Peanut took Jelly on.  And they both laughed and waved the whole time...

That's Peanut and Jelly in the yellow car
Another thing I learned is that I've turned in to a big scaredy cat.  I used to love going on carnival rides when I was younger.  But now?  I get a lot more enjoyment just watching the kids having a blast.  I did get on a couple of rides - and screamed more than I should have.  Two rides I refused to get on were the ferris wheel and the Drop Zone.  Drop Zone is a ride that pulls you up 100ft in the air and then lets you go, only to come to a screeching halt 2ft off the ground.  No.  Thank.  You.  My favorite ride has always been the Tilt O'Whirl, and I got on that thing several times - with Jelly.  I also had a couple of runs on a ride that portrayed hand gliding.  It flew up and down extremely fast.  My first time going was terrifying, but I was OK with it by my third time.  Here's Peanut and Butter on it, to give you an idea...

Lastly, I learned that Butter has really come along way with facing his fears.  He's never been much of a carnival ride lover.  The first big ride he went on, yesterday, caused him to feel a little queasy.  He's a little like me, I guess.  As long as the ride is close to the ground - he's OK with it.  He enjoyed the ferris wheel and the hand gliding high rides - but that was about it.  Which is why I almost had a heart attack when I was on the Tilt O'Whirl with Jelly and saw that Peanut and Butter were both in line to get on Drop Zone.  Peanut will ride Drop Zone all day long - doesn't bother her a bit.  But Butter?  Oh no.  I was sure the ride was going to cause him to pass out - or worse.  I got off the Tilt O'Whirl just in time to see the ride pulling them both up in to the air.  100 freaking feet in the air.  I held my breath, pushed a lump down in my throat, and waited.  The ride released, and they came hurling towards the ground.  Butter's face looked exactly how I expected to - pure fear smeared all over it.  I expected him to get off the ride in tears.  But what did he do when he got off the ride?  Let out a scream of excitement, and got straight back in line to do it all over again.  He loved it!  My kids are crazy, I tell ya.  Unfortunately, the last thing on my mind was getting a picture of that madness.  I wish I had thought about it, now.

All in all, it was a wonderful day.  And I don't regret putting off my work, one bit.  Of course, now I need to get it all done today.  So, enough from me... but I will leave you with some pictures of all the fun we had...

Jelly loved the inflatable slide
My favorite picture of Jelly - Look at that pure joy

Jelly on the mini roller coaster

Peanut and Butter are in the blue car

Butter's turn on the roller coaster
Butter and Jelly riding some motorcycles

Till next time. ;)

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Dreaded Or Not So Dreaded To-Do List

I have officially made it through my first full week of teaching.  I still have all of my hair.  I haven't screamed at the top of my lungs.  I haven't shed a single tear.  I've managed to meet all of my required deadlines, and teach everything that was on my plans for the week.  But, now that my first week is over, I'm hit with the realization on how much there really is to do every single day just to say afloat.  There is no room for procrastination.  Which, if I plan on having any form of life outside of teaching, I must start to take care of RIGHT NOW.

Even though I made it through this first week, next week will be completely different.  Starting on Monday, I will have a co-teacher in my room for half of the day, every day.  The co-teacher will be doing the same thing I did last year.  It's a great program to help give extra guidance and support to the kids.  Having two teachers means a smaller teacher to student ratio, and it means that more attention can be paid to any students that may need variety or small group/individual instruction. 

So, even though I got through this week, I have no idea what next week has in store.  I really don't know what to expect with how the lessons will be taught and who will do what.  Which has also made planning extremely hard.  I've been stuck in between should I just go ahead and plan and inform the co-teacher each day of what I'm doing, or make an appointment to sit down with the co-teacher and plan together? 

I went with trying to plan with the co-teacher... but lack of time and mismatched schedules has left me sitting here - on a Saturday morning - without a single plan written for next week.  I guess I'm going to have to go with option A for this week - and see how it plays out.

Last year, it was an easy process.  I worked with small groups all day, and then co-taught with one class in the afternoon.  The teacher told me each day what we'd be covering, she'd teach the lesson - and I would jump in if I had any comments or ideas.  Then, we'd both walk around the room and help the kids out individually.  There were occasions where she would ask me to step up and teach a lesson - if it was something she knew I really liked doing or had some experience with.  I really enjoyed working with her in that type of environment.  I felt that my ideas were always respected, but she took the lead on planning and the main aspect of the teaching. 

But, I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not there anymore.  I have no idea if co-teaching in one school is the same in another.  Which has lead to quite a bit of stress all week.  What I do know is that both of the co-teachers I will be working with are fabulous, friendly, and supportive.  And they've both been teaching A LOT longer than I have.  I just haven't had the time to sit down with either of them and pick their brains to find out what they expect.

So, now I'm left with quite the extensive To-Do list...which is what this post was supposed to be about.  Ah, how I love to digress.

I have a lot to get done this weekend.  Planning, mostly, but also other first-year teacher paperwork, and building my class website and blog, and writing up a newsletter and permission form to send home next week.  I want to have time to dip in to some of my resources, look through the text books, and write up plans that are going to meet the students' needs best.  That takes a lot of time.  I've collected so many fantastic ideas, resources, and supplements over the past few years - I just can't let them go to waste.  Then, add the fact, that I want to venture out with the idea of running a class blog, having each of my students have their own blogs.  It's a lot to have on my plate.

It's exciting for me to do the creative process of planning.  Yes, it may be time consuming - and yes, my weekends should be a time to relax and destress... but I don't plan on spending every weekend doing what I'm going to be doing this weekend.  Once I find my groove, I will be able to use the two hours after school each day that I'm waiting for Peanut to return from volleyball practice to get all of my work done so that I'm not in this situation any more. 

So, I guess I better get to gettin'.  My to-do list isn't going to finish itself, after all.

Till next time. ;)
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday's Letters

Wowsers this week has flown by.  I can't believe it's Friday, again already.  I guess when twelve hours of the day are spent working, twelve hours are spent at home - six to eight of those sleeping - time will fly by.  And right now, it's time to write my weekly letters...

Dear Weight Loss Wanting Followers - You'll be excited and happy to know that I'm currently working on building a class blog where I can post all the goings on of my classroom.  That's where I'll post everything I'm doing in my classroom, the fun I'm having, and my thoughts on being a teacher.  Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that I'll switch back to talking only about weight loss on here... but it will decrease the amount of time I spend talking about work.  I do hope that I once that blog is up and running, I will spend a little more time refocusing back to my weight loss efforts, but I'm not making any promises.  It's something I'm still thinking about, even though you're not hearing about it... but my enthusiasm about teaching and how wonderful my life is right now just seems to be trumping my enthusiasm to write about weight loss.

Dear Followers Who Like Hearing About My Teaching - Please read the last letter.  I'm using a different site to build my classroom blog, and as soon as it's up and running I'll be sure to post the link here.  It will be available for everyone to read.  I'm even working on building websites for each of my students so that they are able to write their own blogs.  It takes a little time, because there are a lot of permissions that I have to collect.  And the site I'm using to create all of the websites is a little different... a lot different... from Blogger.  But it's a site that specializes in educational and classroom blogs - so I want to give it a shot. I think it's going to be a great way for me to share my ideas, what the kids are learning, information for parents, and resources for other teachers who are looking for ways to incorporate technology in to their classrooms.

Dear God, Karma, Fate, Or Whatever Is Responsible - I have no idea what I did that was so great to be rewarded with such blessings as I've received with this new job.. but THANK YOU!  The people I work with are so supportive, friendly, and amazing.  The kids I have in my classroom are energetic, eager to learn, and are throwing me just the right amount of challenges each day.  I know that I've made it through this first full week without stressing out because of how wonderful my job is.  I just want to knock on wood every other minute, because I still can't believe that I've been so lucky to earn a place in such an awesome school district.  I know that I'm going to be able to spread my wings and provide my students with the tools, support, and encouragement they need to succeed this year... no matter how many time constraints or standard constraints that stand in my way.

Dear Mr. C (a/k/a Butter's Teacher) - I know that we are only one and a half weeks in to the school year, but already I owe you the greatest amount of thanks.  I don't know the boy you've been sending home to me each day very well - but I do know that I love him very much and I want him to stay.  Butter really is like a new kid.  He loves school.  He doesn't stop talking about you.  And you've able to accomplish in 8 days what many have tried to accomplish for years.  When I see my son sit down with a book two inches thick, and know that he's actually reading it - a knot builds in my throat and my inner fears are thrown to the wind.  When he sits down at the computer and would rather read your blog than play games on Facebook, I feel like the universe is giving me a giant hug.  You've given my son hope, desire, and a new lease on life.  He feels excited about going to school, he has big goals, and he is confident in his ability to succeed despite any setbacks that have happened in his past.  You are the person my son has been needing for a very long time, I just know it.

Dear Peanut's Teachers - You have, also, done something to my other child.  Being that she has always been a good student, it's no surprise that she is enjoying school.  But, I also know that you're reaching her in ways that have never been done before.  She is extremely smart, and has often found some of her classes to be a little boring.  But you have found a way to ignite her, again, and give her excitement in her studies.  She comes home each day sharing what she's learning with enthusiasm.  She's asked for help on homework - something I don't remember ever happening.  She shares ideas with me on different ways she's learning content that she's never really cared for before.  Ways that, I'll admit, I want to use in my own classroom.  She's having fun.  She's enjoying herself.  She's learning.  And I couldn't ask for more than that - so THANK YOU!

Dear Jelly's Preschool - Now I just can't leave you out, can I?  Jelly is following in her sister's footsteps - meaning that she's always enjoyed daycare...but she's also having such a blast.  Every day she has been telling me about the colors she got to mix together to make new colors.  In one week, she already knows that blue and green make purple, red and yellow make orange, and red and white make pink.  It's also become her challenge every day to remember what she ate for breakfast and lunch - which makes me laugh.  She informed me on Wednesday that she's trying really hard to earn something from the treasure box.  I love that you are already providing motivation for following procedures - a tool she will greatly need next year. 

Dear Mrs. F & Mrs. B - My partners in crime.  You have both made my transition in to my new position such a great experience.  You make me feel wanted, supported, and excited about our years together.  I know that I have two wonderful friends in the making - and that we are going to have such a great year together.  Thank you for helping me, listening to me, and allowing me the chance to be on such a wonderful team.  

Dear Katniss, Gale, and Prim (a/k/a my kitties) - I'm so happy that you are all finally getting along.  We got through the days of Katniss acting like a crazy snake.  We got through the day of Katniss playing WWE wrestling.  And now we are, I think, to the point where you can all get along and love each other.  I love seeing you all standing side by side to eat.  I love seeing you all curled up on the floor together.  And I really love that I don't have to listen to constant hissing and meows.   Now, Gale and Prim, if you would just hurry up and get to be big enough to wear collars - so we can tell you apart - things will be perfect.  I hate not being able to call you by name... but being that you are identical twins, I'm just going to have to find a way to mark one of you.  And Katniss, I know that this transition was especially hard on you - but I feel like you understand that I definitely wasn't looking to replace you.  I was so happy when you curled up in bed with me last night - what I took as a sign that you're no longer mad at me.  I wish I was able to explain that Gale and Prim coming to our home is for you, rather than against you.  I want for you to have some playmates while the family are all busy with school and work.  I don't want you to get lonely.  And, I think, you're finally able to see that.

Dear Me - At this very moment you're sitting here writing letters full of positivity and happiness.  I'm not going to go back and check, but I'm pretty sure that not ONCE have you written a Friday's Letters that is so upbeat.  I want you to remember this day.  I want you to bookmark this post.  Anytime you have doubts or worries or fears, I want you to come back and read all these amazing letters.  Things won't always be this great - you know that.  You know that there will be many challenges and obstacles that will arise in the future - but one thing you have learned is that you can push through them.  These letters are a sign of that.  No matter how dark times may get, you know that there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel.  Use these letters as motivation when the going gets tough.  Push through.  If these couple of weeks are a sign of your future - then you know that EVERYTHING will be A-OK.

Till next time. ;)
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Life of a Volleyball Mom

On the second day of school, Peanut decided she wanted to try out for volleyball.  Her second day in a brand new school, and she was ready to get on a bus full of kids she didn't know, travel to another school she's never been to, and try a sport she's never played.  My kid has guts of steel.

I would never have done something like that when I was in school.  I may have if the tryouts were in my school, with the people I had at least met... but the way it works in my work school district is different.  All the kids that play various sports get on a bus at 3pm that have already picked up the kids from the other schools, are bused to the district high school, and that's where all the sports are played.  Then, at 5:30pm, all the kids from all the schools in the district load back up and go back to their home schools. 

And Peanut decided it's something she wanted to do starting her second day.  And so she did.

The first few days were a little rocky.  She didn't know anyone or anything about the sport.  The only sport Peanut has ever played is softball - and she hasn't played that in two years.  But, she wanted something different to go with her new life.  She quickly found out that there were 36 girls trying out for the team, and only half would make it.  Her immediate reactions were that she wasn't going to make the team because she was new, but she was going to give it her best shot.  Yeah, I know, she's amazing.. isn't she?

Well, yesterday was THE day.  Everyone was going to find out if they made the team.  While Peanut is at practice, I stay at school and work.  I have no idea what goes on at practice.  I've never met the coach.  All I do know is that everyday, it's all Peanut has talked about.  And she was finally going to find out her volleyball fate.

At the end of practice, Peanut received a letter - along with all the other girls.  They were all told not to open the letter until they were off school grounds.  That's because half of the letters were delivering good news, and the other half delivering bad news.

When the bus pulled in the parking lot, and Peanut got off the bus, I didn't like the look on her face.  She got in the car, pulled out the letter, and gave me a sad look.  I was crushed.  I had a niggling feeling that she may not make the team because of her being new.  I didn't want to think that way, but I also wanted to be prepared for the worst.

And I then noticed a little smile start to form in the corner of her mouth.  The smile got bigger.  Then she just said "I made it".  It was then as if a gun had gone off for a race - because she started talking 100 miles a minute about her waiting to get on the bus to read it, reading the first line that said "Thank you for trying out for the volleyball team" and thinking it was a Dear John letter similar to those I had received from all of the schools turning me down for jobs.   Until she noticed the bold print at the bottom of the letter "Welcome to the team!"

I genuinely happy for her.  This is such a big deal for both of us.  I've have longed for years to have the soccer mom title - and now, I guess I'm a volleyball mom.

Being on the team is going to mean a lot of extra demands for both of us.  It means I have to continue staying at the school until 6pm each night while she's at practice.  It will mean that Peanut has to find time to get her homework done when she gets home.  It will mean games that are miles away - and late nights home..sometimes having to pick her up around or after 10pm on a school night.  It will mean having to buy equipment like knee pads, practice balls, and uniforms.  But I don't care one bit - I will do all of it and more to make her happy.

One thing that I'm excited about that I haven't even mentioned to Peanut is the physical demands.  I really love the fact that she's going to be working out - hard - every day.  Not that she needs it.  But, playing sports in school is a great way to stay in shape, and dodge the bullet of getting sucked in to the problems associated with childhood obesity.  If she gets in to the mentality of enjoying exercise now, while she's only 12, I'm hoping that it will be a lifelong passion.  Unlike her mother, who never did any form of sports while in school.

AND, it may also help push me to get back in to working out, at least on the weekends.  If she needs to jog or practice or anything physical on the weekends - I'll be right along side her doing it.  It will be good for her to be able to run circles around me, and it will be good for me to hate that she can run circles around me.  It will spark my competitive side and push me to try my best to keep up and give her a run for her money.

Regardless of the benefits and demands of Peanut playing a sport, I'm just really happy that Peanut has found something she loves doing.  Something that will take her mind off of being unhappy about having to switch schools.  That girl jumped straight in to the deep end of letting go.  She's struggled a little making some friends - not that anyone has been mean to her, but it's been tough trying to mingle with kids who have all known each other since kindergarten.  And now she has a chance of making some really close friends by playing ball.  Not only that, but volleyball isn't the end.  She has told me she wants to try out for student council, basketball when it comes around, stay in band, try out for the basketball team when the time comes, and do anything else she has the chance of doing.  The girl is so like me it's not even funny.

Butter will have all of these chances next year - and wow, won't that be fun.  He wants to play football, basketball, and baseball.  Then I'll have two kids playing different sports.  I can already feel the energy being drained out of me.

But for right now, I will bask in the happiness I'm feeling.  Peanut is stepping out of her comfort zone and trying new things.  Butter has been doing great in school, and seems to be really enjoying himself.

He informed me that he got in to a little scuffle with a kid, yesterday.  And the best part was that A) I hadn't heard about it until he told me about it and B) He told me about it rather than keeping it from me.  I have a brand new son in the making.  I love the fact that what happens in his classroom stays in his classroom, unless he tells me about it.  I LOVE the fact that he brought a book home yesterday - and was ACTUALLY READING IT.  I love how his teacher is challenging him to read and do things Butter never really cared to do.

Everything is going so great.  Even the cats are getting along better.  Katniss has upgraded from hissing like a rabid snake to pouncing on the kittens constantly.  She has taken up playing with them - although I think it's a little too rough.  She seems to think the kittens enjoy wrestling with her, giving her piggy back rides, and playing tag.  The kittens, on the other hand, are just as bad - they may cry and whine when Katniss does all those things... but they keep going back for more.

Someone give me a big chunk of wood to knock on....cause life couldn't be more perfect right now.

Till next time.  ;)

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oh No...Not Mean Teacher Already

There's something about kids that makes me laugh.  Out loud.  And also leaves me completely baffled as to how their minds work.  It reminds me a lot of the movie Baby Geniuses from years and years ago.  If you haven't seen it, it's a movie about people who realize that babies are born with special brain powers - that they lose once they move past the toddler years.  The babies and toddlers know all the secrets of the world, and a crazy scientist tries to capture the information before the babies go through the "transformation" and lose all their knowledge.

I believe that children have special brain powers - that they most certainly DON'T lose after the toddler years.  They may not understand how to subtract with regrouping, or know how to spell certain words - but they hold a special ability to read people, test the waters of what boundaries they can push, and determine what they can and can't get away with.

It truly is a wonderful thing to witness.  Watching them think they are being sneaky.  Observing how they can transform any rule or procedure and mangle it up.  And each time they are caught, looking at you with those puppy dog eyes and say "I didn't know we weren't supposed to do that".  And honestly?  It's one of my favorite parts of teaching.  I don't just get my kicks out of teaching kids how to read and do math, but also molding the minds of the "boundary pushers".

I'm a new teacher.  My students know that.  I'm also new to the school.  Some kids consider these things as winning the jackpot of teacher selection.  Fresh meat.  The new teacher doesn't know the rules of the school yet.  The new teacher doesn't have the background information on how the kids were in years before.  It's a new beginning, a fresh start for some.  And the opportunity of a lifetime in rule breaking for others.

Unfortunately for them, they underestimated me just a little.

I'm all for the boundary pushing.  I expect it and welcome it.  In my mind, the only way for the kids to really understand and learn is by pushing to see if I'm a woman of my word - or someone that says one thing but means something totally different.  If I say that an amount of recess will be spent walking laps for breaking certain rules - they have to really make sure that I mean it.  If I say that an activity will be missed for not following procedures - they want to make sure that's really true.  I get it.

But, in order to make them understand that I absolutely mean what I say - I have to pull my go-to trick out of the bag.. Enter:  Mean Teacher Mode.

When I was in college, several of my professors would talk about a classroom management style that was used "back in the day" called No Smiling Till Christmas.  They explained how teachers would put on this mean demeanor for the first half of the year in order to set in stone the expectations and procedures of the classroom.  There was no fun, no joking - strictly business.  Then, after Christmas break, they would come back to the classroom all lovey-dovey.. and the rest of the year would be wonderful.

I guess, in a way, I'm an old-school teacher.  A little.  While I don't believe in the mentality of not smiling or having any fun for the first half of the year - I do believe that unless I make sure the kids understand that I absolutely mean what I say and show the kids that I have a strict side... I'll end up with a classroom of kids that run me ragged and never listen to a word I or anyone else has to say.

So, that's why I'm not the slightest bit shocked that I had to pull out my mean side yesterday.

The first few days of school are called "The honeymoon period".  That can last anywhere from one day to a week.  All of the kids follow the rules, they listen, they follow directions precisely and perfectly.  That's a ploy to throw me off my game.  The mini geniuses know that if they act perfectly the first few days, I'll let my guard down - start to ease up on some of the boundaries.  Then, once they believe that I'm fooled - they move in to boundary testing mode.  That would be my last two days.

How can you not be impressed with this kind of mind work? They will never lose this special power, either.

Think about the last time you started a new job.  For the first few days, you probably did everything perfectly.  You probably showed up early, came back from lunch or break a minute or two early, double and triple checked paperwork before submitting it.  You were the poster child of what a perfect employee should be.  Then, after a few days, you realized that you probably didn't have to work so hard.  No one would notice if you took a few extra minutes on your break.  No one would really care if you made a mistake here or there on the work you submitted.  You noticed that everyone else took sick days when they weren't sick, left early, and had no strict guidelines to how much work they had to do... so you just followed suit.

Now the end result went in one of two ways.  You were either overlooked, and found out that you indeed could get away with all those minor infractions OR you had a boss that jumped on you the minute you decided to slack off - and then you remained the perfect employee from then on or knew that you'd be fired - and quickly.

The classroom works the same way.

Monday, a few of my boundary testing lovelies came out of their shell.  Yesterday, it was boundary testing palooza.  So, I had to bring out my mean side.  I had to raise my voice.  I had to enforce harsh consequences.  I know that several of my students went home, yesterday, not liking me very much.  I'm quite sure that several of my kiddos greeted their parents after school with "My teacher hates me" or "My teacher is mean" or "My teacher yelled at us".

While it makes me sad that some of my kids will feel this way about me for the first few days, or maybe weeks - I do know from experience that it will be these kids that love me the most by the end of the year.  It will be these kids that excel more than they probably ever had before.  It will be these kids that bask in their successes, realize their potentials, and move on from my classroom with a clean slate - no bad reputations leaving my classroom.

And every minute of it excites me more than I've ever known...

Man, I love my job!

Till next time. ;)
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Truthful Tuesday

Good Morning!  Good Morning!  Or, at least it probably is by the time you're reading.  I don't think anyone is silly enough to actually read blogs at 4:30am - except me, right?  And if you are, then there's probably a very valid, not silly reason why you are up so darn early reading blogs...just like my reason.  I get up at 4:30am so that I have an hour of peace and quiet time.  Nothing silly about that AT ALL.  And, while I'm being so honest, let's get to today's post - shall we?

To be honest... I'm really glad that I got to start work last week because it was a great adjustment period for the kids.  And me.  It felt good starting the day out, yesterday, being able to get right in to teaching - with just a few reminders about procedures.

To be honest... my kiddos came to school yesterday as themselves.  Meaning the honeymoon "quiet" stage is over, already.  I don't think of it as a bad thing - I'm actually quite happy they are getting used to me so quickly...although a couple wanted to test the boundaries of my classroom management.  Luckily for me, and not so much for them, they realized pretty quickly that my boundaries are made of rock.

To be honest... I was really shocked yesterday afternoon when I was finished with work at 4pm.  I really expected that I'd spend my first few weeks - or months - working in my classroom well in to the evening. 

To be honest... I've realized - pretty quickly - that science is not my forte.  I'm sure there will be some science lessons that catch my interest - but I'm going to have to work really hard to come up with some creative ways to teach science.  I guess I should be thankful that there is a nice chunk of time carved in to my day to teach science...and do what I can.

To be honest... I am very impressed with the food that's served at my school.  More particularly the salad bar.  I really can't get in to the habit of eating lunch at work - but the salad bar is an amazing fall back if I forget to take my lunch.  They have tons of fresh veggies, different cheeses, and an assortment of salad dressings.  And I LOVE the healthy options they provide for the kids.  Every day there is a salad option, but with the regular meals the kids are also required to take AT LEAST two fruits and/or veg. 

To be honest... I don't think I've ever seen any of my own children so excited about school.  Jelly is still waking up each morning asking if she's going to school and cheering when she finds out she is.  She was actually mad on Saturday and Sunday when she found out she wasn't going to school those days.  Butter was so proud yesterday afternoon when he informed me that he's on his class's blog playing his trumpet, AND he was proud of the homework he completed over the weekend.  And Peanut doesn't stop talking about how AMAZING volleyball is, and how she loves all the people she's getting to meet while playing. 

To be honest... Katniss still isn't happy about the two new kitties, but it has helped calm her demeanor down quite a bit.  She stays by my side, still, but isn't constantly jumping all over me.  And Hubby was able to sleep yesterday without being interrupted.  The kitties are hanging out in Butter's room during the day - but we let them out for a little while last night.  Katniss was still hissing like a crazy snake - but she was chasing them around the house in a more playful manner.  Her approach wasn't so threatening.  And Katniss is swiping at the kittens more, but without her claws out.  I think a few days of limiting their interactions may be beneficial for all of them, and they'll all learn to get along soon.

To be honest... I was able to have a big sigh of relief when I got my first paycheck yesterday.  I had been told that I was going to get one - but I wasn't sure.  I don't know of many school districts that pay their teachers in August - especially the new ones.  But I now know that mine definitely does.  And even though it was hard to see how much is taken out for retirement, the remaining amount wasn't as bad as I had expected either.  My check, after take-outs, is still more than double what I was making last year... so who can complain about that?

And lastly...

To be honest... I feel almost bad bragging about how great my life is right now.  I kinda expect to jinx myself.  Everyone in my house is happy - except maybe Katniss - and it's not just a normal happy, but a really content happy.  I keep telling Hubby and my kids that our new theme song is Kumbaya.  It's just so unbelievably fantastic how calm and happy everyone is...and I don't want anything to mess it up.  I expected life to change a little once school started - and I was living my dream - but I had no idea this is what would happen.  I guess Therapy Dude was right when he said that my temperament sets the tone for everyone that I live with.  If I'm ecstatically happy, then everyone else would follow suit.  And really, I am.  These first couple of days have been exactly what I've been waiting all those years for.  And I have no doubt in my mind that the happiness will continue - and even get stronger - the more the school year goes on. 

Now it's time to wake up my little munchkins for another exciting day...

Till next time. ;)

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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Whole Hunger Games Crew

Well, it was an exciting day in this house yesterday.  Which is really unusual for a Sunday.  I don't remember the last time I got to write on a Monday morning about how "exciting" my Sunday was... it's usually more along the lines of reporting a really lazy, boring Sunday.

But not yesterday!

You already know that I was up at 8am yesterday.  Well, as soon as I was all finished up writing my blog, I got ready and the whole family went out to do some grocery shopping.  And no, that's not the exciting part.  I do have more fun in my life than thinking that a trip to Wal-Mart is the highlight of my Sunday, thankyouverymuch!

I guess I should do a little back story before I get to the exciting part.

You all remember that while my parents were away in England, and right after I got my new job, I decided to get myself a new pet.  I gave up my precious dog to a new family, but wanted another companion.  So, I got a kitten - and named her Katniss.  Inspired by The Hunger Games.  Well, she's not such a little kitty, anymore.  This is a pic of her from a couple of weeks ago...

And she's even bigger now than what she was in that picture.  She's not a full size cat, yet, but definitely not a little kitten either.

Anywho, Katniss just isn't like ordinary cats.  In fact, she often reminds me of Asia - the dog I no longer have.  She likes to follow me around the house, curl up on my lap whenever I sit down, feels the need to be on me every minute of the day, and sleeps right next to me.  It's cute, and I love it... but sometimes it can get a little annoying.  It's really hard to work when I have a cat constantly climbing up the back of my computer chair, or sitting on my chest.

Hubby has been reporting that during the day, she's been missing me a lot.  And that means she drives him crazy.  Thankfully, Hubby actually likes Katniss.  But, when he's trying to sleep during the day after working all night - Katniss wants to play or be loved...and ends up waking Hubby.

Hubby made the suggestion that Katniss needed a playmate. Another cat.  I thought he had lost his mind.  He was thrilled when I did decide to give Asia up - because he loathed that dog.  I figured another animal in the house would be just as bad... OK, maybe not just as bad - but definitely didn't expect to hear that Hubby was OK with bringing yet another animal in.

So, back to yesterday and grocery shopping.  We finished up and were loading the groceries in the car when I informed Hubby that I wanted to think about getting a new kitten.  On one condition - I got to get a black cat.  I don't know why, but I've always wanted a black cat.  It has nothing to do with superstition - although having a black cat may keep some people away from my house - but I just think black cats are beautiful.  Hubby told me he didn't care - his only requirement was that it use the litter tray.  And then he jumped on his motorcycle and headed home.  Oh, I should probably mention that Hubby hardly ever goes anywhere with the kids and I in the car, anymore. Now that he has a motorcycle - and it's not 100 degrees outside - he likes to ride it when he can.

The kids and I are just about to leave, when I notice a van that has the sign "Free Kittens" on the side.  I immediately stop the car and jump out.  I ask if they have any black kittens, and they don't.  But, Peanut has followed me out and already ran to the box and let out a little squeal.  I go over to see what has caught her attention, and in the box are the most beautiful solid gray kittens.  Two of them.  There are also three black and white kittens - but more white than black.    Peanut has already picked up one of the gray kittens and is awwing and ahhing over it.  I had to admit, it was pretty stinkin' cute.  So, I picked up the other one.

They are so cute.  Both six weeks old.  Both look healthy, clean, and well taken care of.  And both female - which is another must, because I don't want Katniss ever getting pregnant.  I make the split decision that I don't need a black cat so bad - and gray will definitely be fine.  So, I tell Peanut to pick one.  She gives me this awful, baby eyed look and says "Mom, how can we just pick one?  We have to take both of them".  I respond with a nice - "OH NO WE DON'T - PICK ONE".  She whines and starts in with "But I will help take care of them, we can't split them up, they need to stay together..."  And of course, I stand firm, right?  Yeah.  No.  We somehow end up walking away with BOTH solid gray kittens.

And here they are....once we got home...

Exploring their new home

Sleeping together
Aren't they cute?  Being that we named Katniss from The Hunger Games, Peanut suggested we keep with that theme.  So, we named them Gale and Prim.  Gale is a male in the book, but I think it's a girl's name - so I was OK with it.  Of course, until they get collars, I have no idea which one is which.  They do have different colored eyes, so that's how we can tell them apart right now.

Everyone is happy with the new additions - accept Katniss.  She's not the slightest bit happy about the invasion of her territory.  She has hissed non-stop since these little bundles entered the house.  Both kittens have been very good about backing away from Katniss when she's on the attack.  Katniss has swiped at them a couple of times - if they got too close - but it's been more of a curious way than a hurtful way.  It seems it's definitely going to take her some time to get used to sharing her space, her owner, and her toys.

I decided to lock them up in Butter's room last night, so I wouldn't have to worry about cat fights breaking out in the middle of the night.  I could tell that Katniss was really stressed, because she didn't leave my side all night long - and each time I checked on her, she was facing the if waiting for something to invade in to her bedroom.  We are going to keep the kittens in Butter's room today, too, while we are at school. 

We are going to just slowly introduce them to each other over the next couple of days by limiting the amount of time Gale and Prim are out in the main parts of the house.  I just hope the adjustment isn't too hard on Katniss - because our intent was to give her some playmates... not make her feel like she is being replaced.  Hubby and I both thought that two kittens were just too much for her to deal with - but everything I've read tells me that two kittens are better than one when integrating in to a previous one cat household.  Two kittens provide support to each other while the dominant kitty gets used to the adjustment.

It's funny and ironic, in a way.  I went from bragging about how calm and peaceful my house has been with the kids not arguing and getting along wonderfully, to then bringing in two new family members who are now fighting with the head feline member of the household.  What was I thinking?

I just pray that they all learn to get along - and quickly.  I love Katniss - and she won't be going anywhere.  She was my gift to myself for getting my teaching job - she has special meaning to me.  She's been loyal and comforting and helped fill the void I was so desperately needing after Asia left.  I just hope that she can learn to get along with Gale and Prim - because they are now the kids' kittens.  They deserve pets, too.

OK, time for me to get ready for my first FULL week being a 4th grade teacher.  Wish me luck!

Till next time. ;)
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

I Will Update My Weight At Some Point in This Post

Sunday, and I woke up at 8am this morning.  Better than 7:30am, I suppose, but still really early for a weekend.  I guess I'm just going to have to face the harsh reality that unless I stay up until three in the morning - I'm doomed to waking up early on a weekend.

But, because I'm floating on cloud nine right now - because the theme song for my house is still Kumbaya - It doesn't bother me a bit.  Much.  OK, a little, but not enough to cause me to be angry or upset.

And for those of you that read yesterday's post, and are wondering if things are still going great?  Yes.  Yes they are.   Not a single argument, disagreement, or meltdown occurred in my house AT ALL yesterday.

Today is Sunday, which is my weigh-in day.. even though I haven't had a blog post about my weight loss since last Sunday -  I will stick to updating my weight.  I'll get to that in a moment.  First, I want to write a little bit of a heart felt post this morning.  Something that's weighing on my mind - and being this is my weigh-in post, I should probably talk about it.

I'm not going to spill any details - but I want to make a public service announcement, of sorts.  There's a valid reason why all of a sudden I feel the need to share this message - but that's not important to this post.  What I want to press on everyone today is this: If you have children...


And, by that, I don't mean visiting your child's page occasionally to see what they've been posting.  I mean actually logging in to their account, reading their messages, seeing who they are friends with.

Both of my older children have Facebook accounts. (And this PSA isn't related to my children or their actions whatsoever, by the way)  The number one rule is that they are NEVER allowed to change their password.  They are, also, not allowed to delete messages, and they know that I will get on there frequently to read everything they've been doing.  They either understand those rules, or buh-bye Facebook.  The email accounts that are linked to those Facebook pages are also linked to an email account I set up for myself - meaning all the emails that go to them come to me, also. Both of their profiles are also completely private, meaning that only friends can see any of the information and photos that are on their profile pages.

I make a point of getting on both of their Facebook pages every couple of days and moseying around.  I read all the messages they send to their friends, all the messages they get from friends, and check out the FB pages of people they've added to their friend's list.  They are not supposed to add anyone that they don't personally know - except I've given Peanut some leeway on this because she plays some of the FB games and needs people to help her out on those games.  If they do add someone that isn't a personal friend, then they have to be around the same age.  And there is also a great feature that's recently been added to FB that allows lists to be set up.  Meaning all those people that don't really know Peanut, and only plays the games with her, can only see a limited amount of information on her profile page. 

If you think that getting on your child's Facebook page and reading all of their messages is an invasion of their privacy - then buy them a journal, make them write in it, and then never read it.  That would be private information that they are sharing with no one.  Facebook, however, is NOT a journal.  It is a SOCIAL network, meaning they are sharing information with people.  You have to monitor what information is being shared.  Period.

I trust my children.  I really do.  I don't do what I do because of not trusting them - it's about not trusting the other millions of people that use Facebook. Children are young, naive, and think it's cool that they can chat and send messages to people across the internet.  They don't comprehend that there are people out there that pray on young children, wanting information, luring them out.  It's scary to think about - but 100% the truth.

So, if Facebook is so scary, then why do I even allow my children on there?  Well, because I'm a firm believer in honesty and trust.  I teach my children responsibility.  I talk to them about the dangers.  I explain why I keep such close tabs on their internet usage.  To me, that's much more beneficial than just shielding them away from all of it.  I want my kids to know the right ways to use a computer, and social networking sites.

Right now, the communication between my children and I is fantastic.  If they have a problem, a question, a curiosity - even if it's on a topic that is way above their years - they come to me.  They know they can speak to me openly.  I've told both of my children that if they chose to write in a journal - that is private.  That is something I will stay out of.  However, there is a clause that if they ever give me a reason to question their trust - then their privacy is off the table.  I will only EVER take to snooping around their room or personal effects if I feel that my kids are in danger, somehow. 

Being a monitor in your child's Facebook and internet usage is NOT a privacy issue.  It is a safety precaution.  And that's all I'm going to say about the matter.

Now that's over, let's get to my weigh-in...shall we?

So, last week, I had a gain.  I went up to 251lbs.  This week?  Well, I lost the weight I gained last week.  I am back down to 249.4lbs.  Meaning I lost the 1.6lbs I gained last week.  I'll take it.  But I really need to get further down in to the 240s next week.  I'm so tired of teeter tottering back and forth.

I will say, however, that when I put on a pair of shorts yesterday - that were just a little on the snug side a couple of weeks ago - were much baggier yesterday.  Being that I've been on my feet for 7 hours each day for three days this week, it apparently has done something.  I know I've felt a lot of soreness in my legs and back each night when I get home.  My body just isn't used to being up and moving about for such a long time - after a summer of not doing a whole lot.

The scale is, once again, back to moving in the right direction.  Now, everyone keep their fingers crossed that we say goodbye to 249 forever next week.

Till next time.  ;)
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