Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Beginning of Family Game Night

A couple of weekends ago, Peanut and I spent a Saturday evening playing board games.  We had a game of Trivial Pursuit and surprised ourselves with how much nonsense trivia we knew and then we played a game of Scene It - Harry Potter Edition.

Even though it was just Peanut and I playing, we had a great time.  Such a great time, in fact, that Peanut wants to do it again tonight - with some different games.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be "one of those families". Soccer mom, children who do well in school, family game nights.... the perfect sitcom type family.  It has always been a wish that I'd end up with one of those families that enjoy spending time with each other, can have fun together, and are involved with traditions that are passed on to grandchildren and great grandchildren.

And, I finally think that's all starting to fall in to place.

When I arrived home from my professional development day, yesterday, I found that Peanut had cleaned the house while I was gone.  Hubby was waiting and asked if we'd like to go out and eat dinner.  Peanut mentioned running to Wal-Mart to pick up some games for Game Night.  I was wondering if I'd made it in to the right house or I'd somehow crossed over in to some alternate dimension.

After dinner, Peanut and I walked down the game aisle at Wal-Mart to see what our game options were.  She wanted something trivia based and fun.  And I have to throw out a spill of disappointment, here.  There were several games - but very few that had some kind of wit factor to them.  I want to know what happened to Trivia games?  There wasn't a single version of Trivial Pursuit.  And I don't know what's happened to Trivial Pursuit, because I looked on Amazon to see about buying a newer version - and they are selling for hundreds of dollars.  What the what?  Is the original trivia game now so non existent that they've turned in to collector's items?

I digress..

What I'm trying to say is that tonight is going to be the beginning of a new family tradition.  Saturday Game Night is now going to be a regular feature in my household.  And the best part is I can take Family Game Night to new locations.  We will hopefully be able to take game night to other people or invite people here.  So, if the kids want friends over they can join in or vice versa if we go visit one of my friends.

Of course, before the fun can begin this evening, I have a HUGE bag of work that I need to get through.  Thankfully, Peanut has offered to help.  I don't know why I haven't done this sooner, but there's no reason why Peanut can't help out with grading or making stuff for my classroom.  Just another piece to my Perfect Family Puzzle.  Where my kids help with my work.  Win-win for me!

I have two new projects that I plan on putting in to my classroom this next week.  Both projects require some planning and creation.  They are going to take some time to put together, but I think it will all be worth it.

As bad as this may sound, I'm so excited to get to work on my work that I'm ready to say goodbye here and do it.

So, that's what I'm going to do.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday's Letters

Dear Wal-Mart...  Please, please, PLEASE train your cashiers to check the bag carousel after I load my cart with stuff so that I don't end up driving all the way home only to realize that I've left a bag.  Do you know how infuriating it is to drive all the way to the store for one specific item, buy a few extra things, and then come home missing the ONE SPECIFIC ITEM I went for?  Last night it was potato salad for today's pot luck at work.  That was a must have item.  I buy it, see that I've paid for it on my receipt and then get home without it.  So frustrating!  And it's not worth the gas money to drive the 15 miles back to your store to get it.  I'm either locked in to paying for it again at another store on my way to work, or paying the gas to drive all the way back to your store.  Either way I'm out about the same amount.  Not cool, Wal-Mart!

Dear Peanut... Why do you insist on having awesome moments at your games when I decide not to go?  The first game that I missed you guys won.  Your first - and only game so far - that you won.  Then, last night, I find out that you scored 14 points in a row with your serving.  I'm so happy for you, but so crushed that I didn't get to see it.  I also want to tell you that when the score of your game is 24-8 to them, and you bring your team up to 22 points before the other team scores the winning point that you have absolutely NOTHING to be upset about!  Losing is tough, but you made the other team lose by the skin of their teeth... that's a whole lot better than losing by 14 points.  I am so proud of you!

Dear Road Crew Working On Our Road...  What in the heck is wrong with you guys?  Do you know what you're doing to my driveway?  I have no idea why you feel the need to park your huge equipment down our private drive but you've torn so much crap up.  When I drive an SUV and still have problems getting over the piles of rock and debris left all over the place - something is seriously wrong.  And I understand that you have an easement to carve out a new driveway for us that leads in to an adjoining road... but if you think I'm driving over that rock pile you call a new driveway - you are sadly mistaken.  My Hubby drives a motorcycle, and there's no way he's going to be able to deal with all the mess and hazards you've created.  So, do me a favor, will ya?  Clean up all that mess.  Use those big, fancy trucks for good - not evil.  Clean up the piles of rock and tree debris that you've scattered all over the place.  Thanks!

Dear AC at Work...  I sure hope you decide to work for us today.  The past few days have been pretty miserable.  I can't complain too much, being that my room is the only room down my hallway that's had any AC at all this week.  But, coming on for an hour to be off for two, rinse and repeat is getting a little old.  Do you know how hot a classroom can get when there are 20+ warm bodies crammed in to it?  And, again, I can't complain too much... but I'm not the only person I'm complaining for here.  I have friends on our hallway that shouldn't have to work in the heat like that.  They didn't even get the few breaks here and there that I got.  They've gone the entire time with no AC at all!  Today is a Professional Development day for the teachers, so please be nice for us and come on today.  We have to go to work while the kids all get a day off, the least you can do is give us a work day with a tolerable temperature.

Dear Big, Comfy Bed... I'm coming for ya this weekend.  Get ready!

Dear Fantastic Ideas Swirling Around My Head... I hear you!  I know I need to write you down somewhere, or you may get lost in the other jumble of stuff that's floating around my head.  I promise I'm trying to get to you...and I hopefully will be able to work with some of you this weekend.  I appreciate the work you're doing, and how patient you're being with me.. just sitting there... waiting.  Don't give up on me - I'll be putting you to work as soon as I can.

Dear Upcoming Weekend... I know this week has flown by in a blink of an eye but how about you break that mold and be a trend setter?  How about you go by as slow as molasses?  Nobody is going to complain if the next two days seem to never end.  I have so much I want to do, yet there's never enough time to do it all.  I'd really appreciate it if you slow the clock down just for two days.  But, you don't have to start until about 4pm this afternoon.  Feel free to move at your normal, blink of an eye speed up until then.. k?

And now it's time for me to get ready for work.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Musical Motivation

Not gonna have much to say this morning, because I've been looking at this computer far too long and now my time is almost up.

It's days like today when I miss my weight loss gig the most.  Mostly because no matter what, I could always pull a weight loss topic out of my head to talk about.  It's not really the same, now.  I mean, I can always talk about how my day was yesterday.  You're run of the mill daily diary.  But, as amazingly awesome I think my day to day life is - it doesn't come across that way in words.  It comes across more as same stuff, different day.  That's not good writing material. 

Although, now that I think about it, I can mention that I tried something different yesterday with myself and my class.  While they were away at art, I put on some music.  I went with the Enya station on Pandora.  It's the station I created while in college to help me get through those long nights of studying.  It's mostly a mix of Enya-ish music... piano and guitar instrumentals, some classical... I call it "mood music".  Cause no matter what mood I'm in, listening to that will relax me and help me focus.

And you know what?  I got more done in those 45 minutes my kiddos were away than I've done in a long time.  I finished up a project that's been sitting there since the start of school.  I graded all the papers for the week.  I even started my plans for next week.  I was in the zone, and knew it was the music that got me there.

So, once the kids got back, I decided to leave the music on while they had their "study hall" time.  That's just the time of day that I allot for them to work on homework, silently read, and work on some practice sheets for the various skills we're covering during the week.  The room was so quiet while they worked.  I kinda expected them to whine a little bit because the music was "lame" or something.  But, I think telling them my college story made it a little more "cooler".  They were studying - and the music was helping. 

When it was time for science, I left the music on while they worked on reviewing for their test that's happening this afternoon.  Again, silence.  And the majority of the class finished their study guide - which hardly ever happens. 

I'm going to keep this little experiment going today when the kids have to take their assessments this morning.  We always end the week with some assessments - and being that they don't have school tomorrow, we have to do them today.  I'm going to try putting the music on and looking at how they do.  I have a strong suspicion that I may be on to something... but I'm not going to jump the gun.  We'll just have to see.

And lookey there - I was able to come up with something to write about.  I amaze myself sometimes.  If I would just start typing, the words will follow.

I feel asleep before 8pm last night.  No wonder after the past few nights.  I was tired, that's for sure.  I didn't even want to get up when my alarm went off at 4:30am.  But, now that I'm up and showered, I feel a lot more rested.  I'm ready for the weekend - but I wasn't able to fulfill my goal of not having any work to do.  That's only because I did that on purpose.  I really want to sit down and figure out some way of measuring my kids' progress on certain skills, and a way to really focus on the skills that are lacking.  I'm going to plan out some group activities, maybe come up with some station work....but I have a feeling I'm really going to need my music this weekend to help me focus.  Next week I also start tutoring, so I need to start planning for that, too.

Busy, busy.  Just the way I like it.  Ha!

Anyways, now it's time to wrap it up and go.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Missing the Zzzzzzz's

Yep.  Pretty sure that's going to me at some point this afternoon.  Gripping a cup of coffee for dear life, and passed out on my laptop while I'm trying to enter grades.

It was another really late night last night.  Didn't get home until 11pm.  On a school night!  I literally walked through the door, told the kids to go to bed, went straight to my room, put my jammies on, and collapsed in to bed.  And I haven't seen Hubby since 10pm Monday night - and that was only for about five minutes.  He had already left for work by the time I got home last night.

All these late nights... and yes, two nights is worthy of an "all these"... has made me decide that I'm NOT going to Peanut's game tomorrow night.  I love her.  I enjoy watching her play volleyball.  But, Oh Em Gee... I need to rest!  Not that I'll get to go to bed early or anything.  I'll still have to pick her up from school when they get back.  Which will no doubt be around 9pm, if not later.

Isn't it amazing how much we give up for our children?  Last night wasn't even one of her games - it was one of her boyfriend's games.  A football game.  And even though 7th graders play seven minute quarters - meaning a whole game should last 35 minutes with four quarters and half time - football games always last twice as long.  And I sat through TWO football games.  Lordy.

After the game I had to get the kids something to eat, because we didn't have time to eat dinner before the game.  Payton's boyfriend joined us.  And as much as I wanted to be a gracious host and give the kids some time to hang out, I sat there repeating "Eat up! Chomp, chomp.  This woman needs to get to her bed".  The poor boy probably thinks I'm a grouch, now.

Speaking of which, I'm glad that I did get to spend a little time with him.  Even though I work with his mom, I hadn't really spoken to him before.  I like his mom.  I like chatting with her about them both.  I really enjoyed spending time with her family at the game last night.  But, I hadn't really thought about whether I'd actually like him.  And the verdict is?  He seems to be a very sweet boy.  He was polite and friendly.  He's very comedic.  And he seems to care a lot about Peanut.  So, all around I'm happy.  I imagine I will get more than a shy smile or a divert of the eyes the next time I see him in the hallways. 

I had a tough decision to make this morning.  I could have reset my alarm clock and stayed in bed for another hour... but all I kept thinking about was the coffee I wouldn't get to drink if I slept in.  So, apparently, I'd much rather try to down a pot of coffee in a short amount of time than to use that time for a few extra zzz's.  I'm realizing how ridiculous that sounds now that I'm sitting here wanting nothing more than to still be in bed.

And did you know that a lack of sleep triggers allergies to be worse?  What do you mean I'm talking nonsense?  Then explain to me why the past two days my allergies have been so horrible?  I was doing just fine before the lack of sleep.  I had a few sniffles here and there - but nothing compared to the snot waterfall that's gushing out of my nose now.  And, you're welcome for the visual. Ha!

It's time, once again, to do what I do.  I'm actually looking forward to getting to spend two hours in my classroom after school.  I have a mountain of papers to be graded, grades to be entered, and I just feel like this week has flown by in a blink of an eye.  So much for trying to stay on top of stuff this week.

Next week will be better, I'm sure.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Truths

To be honest.... I didn't feel like trying to write an intro for this week's post, because it's the exact same type of post I've written every Tuesday for as long as I can remember.  My followers don't need to be told what I'm going to write about today - because they know.  Any new people that stumble across my blog, I'm sure, can figure it out.

To be honest... I had no idea that having a child in a sport would be so exhausting.  For me.  I drove an hour and fifteen minutes away last night to watch Peanut play volleyball.  There was a total of five games, and we didn't get out of there until after 7pm.  By the time we stopped and ate some dinner and drove home - it was almost 10pm when I walked in my front door.  I left the house at 6:30am yesterday.  That's a long day!

To be honest... I willingly agreed to do it all over again tonight.  Except we're not going to watch volleyball, we're going to watch football.  Football games last forever.  But, it's for she can watch her boyfriend play... so a mother's got to do what a mother's got to do.  And apparently, this week, that means have hardly any sleep.

To be honest... I was a big grumpy pants while at work yesterday.  That's because there was no AC in the building all day.  Being in a room with twenty other bodies - regardless if they are only tiny bodies - left for a very hot, sweaty, grumpy teacher.  I'm praying the AC is back on today - because mixing heat with tiredness is a bad combination.  My kids may decide to hide underneath their desks all day to avoid making eye contact with me.

To be honest... I'm really excited about having the opportunity to tutor starting next week.  And that's because I'm going to actually make a few extra bucks doing it.  It's really great to know that my school district pays teachers to give up their free time to help out the students.  Not that I don't think it's a noble cause to volunteer for.  I've been a volunteer tutor before.  It just makes it that much greater knowing there's a paycheck in it for me.  AND I won't be giving up any of my free time.. (Ha! What's that?).  Being that I have to stay at the school until 6pm each night anyways, I will now be spending an hour twice a week helping some students who really need a boost.  Good stuff, right there!

To be honest... I'm becoming a little obsessed with trying to find educational games to put on my iPad...that don't cost a lot of money.  I'm really thinking about dabbling with the idea to write a few grants.  One for an iPad just for my classroom - so that my own personal iPad stays safe.  And one just to buy apps to go on it.  There are so many awesome apps out there to help kids learn, but my goodness the price starts to add up fast!  Just another thing to add to my never ending, always growing to-do list I suppose.

To be honest... I drove by a store last night that was all lit up with Christmas lights - and even had a Christmas tree in the window.  Actually, it wasn't a store.  It was a dance studio.  So, I'm not really sure why the need for Christmas decorations in September.  Maybe they are practicing for a Christmas performance.  I don't know.  What I do know is that it's no secret how opposed I am to Christmas stuff being out and about before Halloween.  But, I have to admit, I felt a warm sensation in my belly when I saw how pretty the display looked...and it gave me pangs of wanting Christmas to hurry and get here. 

To be honest... I think my cats have all decided to rally together to see which one of them will be the first to cause me a serious injury.  I can't walk anywhere without having one of the three in between my feet.  The amount of times I've almost fell not trying to step on them has become absurd.  I'm pretty sure they haven't sat down and really thought their plan out, though.  I mean, causing me to fall is like a tree falling on a squirrel.  They'll end up a lot worse for ware than I will. 

To be honest... Speaking of crazy cats made me remember this little gem I captured on Saturday.  I was relaxing on the couch, and I had all three cats curled up somewhere around me.  Over the course of the past couple of weeks, Katniss (my oldest cat) has gone from crazy, territory protector mode to momma mode with the two newest additions - Prim and Gale.  Well, back to Saturday, I was laying on the couch and Katniss was laying by my feet.  Prim then got up and went to snuggle with Katniss...and this was the end result...

How stinkin' cute is this?  They slept like that for a long time.  Now, if I could only get my human children to be as caring to one another as my feline children.... yeah, right.

To be honest... I have never considered myself to be a cat person.  But, I have to admit that my three kitties do melt my heart.  When they are not trying to trip me.  I don't even care that having three cats may or may not label me as a "cat lady".  My feline children are caring, loving, and fun.  And just like the biological children in this house - they know how to whine for food and create a mess.  It's almost like being a mother to six children instead of three - God, help me!

To be honest... I should really think about wrapping this up so that I can go and get dressed.  It's going to be another long day... so I better get to gettin'.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up.. Among Other Things

So, I'm just now realizing this, but I haven't left my house since I got home Friday evening.  I can't remember a single weekend where I haven't had to at least run to the store or something over the course of a weekend.  Yet, somehow, I managed to escape having to go anywhere for two days.

Which, of course, now I'm kinda regretting.  Because the weather was beautiful this weekend...and I sat around the house working.  Meh.  Oh well.  Can't change that now.  I'm sure there will be a few more beautiful weekends before the weather starts to turn.

And I had a very balanced weekend.  Meaning a good balance of work and relaxation.  I spent some time grading, entering in grades, and planning.  I spent some time doing a little laundry and cleaning.  I spent some time balled up on the couch with a cup of coffee and a blanket.  I even managed to get in a short nap yesterday afternoon.  While I'm thinking about it, I don't recall having to tell the kids not to fight or argue either. 

Yes, all was good in my house this past weekend.

I managed to download a couple of apps for my iPad to use in the classroom.  A couple of math games, some spelling games, and even a few organizational tools to help with keeping anecdotal records and data reports and skill mastery information.  It was my goal to find some ways to help me stay organized...and I at least got started on that.

In a way, I go against everything I said yesterday about the need for technology.  At the end of the day, I'm a child of the technology era - and my technology is what's going to get me through staying on top of the paperwork that needs to be done.  I feel a lot more at ease when I have stuff recorded digitally.  Stuff being the technical term for important information that gets lost in piles of papers on my desk.

This week is going to be a short week for the kids.  Friday is a day long professional development day.  The agenda says it's going to be a day discussing data.  While I believe data is VERY important - I'm not sure I can sit for 6 hours discussing it.  I'm just hoping that some of the day is spent discussing data while the other half of the day can be spent working in the classroom.  Fingers crossed!

I keep trying to tell myself that I'm still very early in to the school year - and it's OK to keep making adjustments and changes as needed.  But, we've been in school for 7 weeks.  I need to find something that works - because the kids don't need so much change.  It's hard enough for them to keep up with all the learning, let alone keep up with my constant desire to try and be more efficient. 

I really don't like to think of myself as an unorganized person.  I'm not an unorganized person.  I just get a little overwhelmed with trying to keep it all organized...and end up making a bigger mess of stuff than if I just stacked everything in piles and worked through it.  It bugs the crap out of me when people walk in to my classroom and see piles of paperwork on my desk.  It's even worse when someone comes and asks me for something, and I run around the room doing the "I just saw it a moment ago" dance.  I'll know I'll get it, eventually, but now would be much nicer!

Maybe having more weekends where I can lay on the couch with a blanket will help.  I definitely feel more relaxed, refreshed, and ready for the week.  At some point this year, I plan on spending entire weekends not having to worry about doing any work... but one step at a time.  I am a new teacher, after all.  I know that it's not possible for new teachers to have a weekend completely work free until at least after Christmas break. 

The best and worst part of all that is I actually enjoy doing the work.  Which is the reason I got in to this profession in the first place.  I wanted a career that gave me some freedom to work at home when I needed, that I didn't mind doing. 

Wow, look how much I digressed.  This post was supposed to be about my weekend - and I ended up going off on a tangent about my work.  Again. 

Other highlights of the weekend?

Friday, I passed out on the couch around 8pm.  I woke up long enough to move myself from the couch to the bed around 10pm.  I then slept until 8am the next morning.  Think I was tired?  It was way more than tired - it was absolute exhaustion!  Goes to show how quickly it can catch up with me, I suppose.  

I got to watch some Big Bang Theory Saturday and yesterday.  Netflix finally sent us two new discs for the next season we hadn't seen.  I can't even remember which season we're on, now.  I do know that we zoomed through both discs this weekend.  I can literally watch that show all day and night every day and night.  It's freakin' hilarious! 

Yesterday, Hubby decided to break out the ice-cream maker and make some homemade ice-cream.  He made some caramel macchiato ice-cream for him and I, and some orange sorbet for the kids.  It was delicious!  He cracks me up, sometimes though.  After being together for 8 years, it's finally hit me that he's a man that prefers to eat ice-cream when it's not so hot outside.  It's a trend I should have picked up years ago.. but I didn't.  It was this time last year when he broke out the ice-cream maker.  Not in the summer months when everyone was complaining about the heat - but when the weather had moved to a comfortable 70+ degrees.  Same thing this year.  The ice-cream tasted like a bowl of Starbucks.  Heaven in my mouth, I tell ya. 

And that's how I spent my weekend.  Not the most exciting stuff to read about, but I enjoyed it.  Sometimes it's the simple stuff I enjoy the most. 

I'm setting myself a goal to not have to do too much work next weekend.  I really want to get out of the house for something... even if it's just some grocery shopping.  Although, I'd much rather prefer a picnic in the park or maybe dinner with friends.  We'll see.  I better get through this week first.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm

I honestly have no idea how this blog post is going to turn out.  I'm completely winging it.  I sat down to do what I do - and the title just popped in to my head.  It doesn't matter that I really haven't thought through what can go with the title... but I like the sound of it... so here we go.

Isn't it amazing how much you can do with technology nowadays?  I just downloaded the new OS 6 (Operating System for those that don't speak "Computer") for my iPad and I now have Siri (voice recognition software) to help me do whatever it is I need to do.  Like, for example, I can ask Siri to post a status to Facebook...tell her what I want to say.. and BAM!  My new Facebook status is posted.  No more having to type on the touch screen keyboard for me!  And that goes for anything I want to do - like search my apps, run a search on the internet, use Mapquest, write an email... the list goes on and on for what I no longer have to type in to my iPad, but I can now just ask for.

I wonder how long it will be before learning to type will be as obsolete as using a typewriter?  Why type it when you can just say it?

And this makes me say "hmmm" for more than one reason.  Yes, it's cool.  But, I can type pretty fast.  Like really fast.  It takes practically no time at all for me to pound a few keys and write a page worth of stuff.  Has our society really got to the point where typing is too hard to do?

Then there is writing.  A skill that is imperative to my students.  Just as much as reading is.  Yet, in a time that our voices can now do all of the work - how long will it be where writing will no longer be a skill that is needed? 

I'm not innocent in all of this.  I ditched my written journals a couple of years ago for the blogging world.  I decided it was much easier to type my thoughts on to a computer than it was to write them down in a notebook.  Easier to keep track of, easier to do, easier to read. 

I also stay on top of the latest and greatest technology.  I own an iPad 3.  I own an iPhone 4S.  I have a laptop, a flat screen TV, PS3.  I'm not bragging - it's just my "thing" to be involved with the latest technology that comes out.  I also know my way around a computer pretty well to fix any minor issues that people have. I felt it was necessary to teach myself how to use and take care of these things as society evolves towards technology being the basis for everything.

Even my new car is involved with the new voice stuff.  I no longer have to touch my phone while driving - not like I did anyways...that's very, very dangerous!  But, my phone now links up with my car so that if I need to call someone, or if someone calls me, it comes through my speakers.  I just push a button on my steering wheel, say "Call [insert name]" and the car calls that person for me. 

OK - so that thing that makes me say "hmmmm" went on a lot longer than I had planned.

Let's talk raising kids.  I'm a teacher.  I'm also a mother.  Yet, I in no way believe I'm an expert in raising kids.  And, I really can't think that anyone can make that claim - no matter how many studies or books are written.  Why?  Because each child is different.  Each child has their own unique qualities and situations.

But, at the end of the day, there are several things that come from the way a child is parented.

I personally think that it's mandatory that in this day and age, parents are nosier.  They have to be involved, know what's going on, stop the wool from being pulled over their eyes. 

Many parents seem to have forgotten the roles that are supposed to be played.  Kids are not friends, they are our responsibility.  Their behavior, actions, safety are all reflections on how we parent them.  Of course, there are times when kids just sway off to uncharted territory - no matter how much we try - but at the end of the day, just being there, being involved, and being a parent is what is important.

If you're a parent that is OK with your children having Facebook accounts, cell phones, computers, etc., then it's imperative that you monitor that activity that's taking place on those things.  It's not an invasion of privacy - it's a parental duty.  They either like it or don't have it.  Simple.

If anything, my constant monitoring of my kids' social activities has bonded us even closer.  Peanut has Facebook and a cell phone.  She knows I'm going to snoop and monitor.  She's totally OK with it - not that she has a choice.  And it's gotten to the point that she now shares much more with me about her life, her friends, and how she's feeling.  She recently got a new boyfriend, and rather than being shy or secretive about their interactions - she comes to me and tells me what they're talking about.  She asks for my advice.  We talk and share and are closer now than we've ever been. 

She even comes to me and makes sure she can delete messages from her inbox.  She knows the rules! Gotta love her for that.

And I'm sure that there are people reading this thinking "I'd never be OK with my 12 year old daughter having a boyfriend or talking to her about it or snooping around to monitor her activity".  But, I truly believe that my attitude and straightforwardness in the activity has led to what I'm about to say.

She's also witnessed actions of others that she doesn't approve of.  She's taken people off of her Facebook that act in a way she doesn't approve of.  All on her own.  And she talks to me about those situations, too.  I sit and watch as certain children claim to be little angels, when their Facebook activity speaks in volumes otherwise.  She feels comfortable coming to me with questions.  She tells me about internal struggles she's having.  I'm involved with her life because she knows she can either talk to me about it - or I find out about it in my own way.  I'd much rather have the child that comes to me than the child that waits for me to find out.

I am SOOOO thankful that my daughter is so ahead of her years, is able to see through the veils of deceit, and takes herself away from people she doesn't approve of.

And I'm left saying "hmmmm".  How much did I have to do with those decisions and choices?

Those choices aren't easy for a twelve year old to make.  One situation has effected her immensely.  Someone she was very close to started acting inappropriately with their Facebook page and cell phone.  Peanut was "in on it" because that person spoke to her about things that were going on behind the parent's back.  Peanut just couldn't deal with it - and took herself away from it.  And even after the parents of the girl found out about it - nothing much was really done.  The girl claimed to change.. make things right... stop the inappropriate activity.  But, Peanut and I have both witnessed how that's played out.  The girl is just much more careful in covering her tracks, now. 

Just yesterday, I saw the exact same activity on the Facebook page - but it's now gone.  Deleted.  Quickly covering her tracks now that she knows she's being spied on. 

I just thank all things holy that - as of right now - I don't have to worry about stuff like that.  And I'm pretty certain that if I continue the lines of communication that Peanut and I have created for each other - I won't ever have to worry about that.

And those are the things that have made me say "hmmm" today. 


Saturday, September 22, 2012

One Very Proud - And Super Surprised - Teacher

I am definitely not normal when I hear the words "Field Trip".  I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that I'm still a "newbie" teacher, so the effects of taking 60 plus children on a school bus for an educational trip hasn't worn on me yet.  When my seasoned counterparts hear the words, they groan, sigh, and want nothing more than to hide away in a dark whole until the Field Trip day has passed.

Not this teacher!

Nope, I get all excited and nutso - similar to the way the kids act.  

I think of field trips as a day off.  A day to get out of the building, explore and learn in new surroundings, and just have fun.  In fact, I'm sometimes worse than the kids.  I will sing on the school bus, tickle kids while they're trying to sleep, and have to constantly remind myself that I'm supposed to be the authority figure - not another student.

And even though this is my first year teaching, I've been on quite a few field trips - either as a teachery person or a mother.  

Field trips in the past all have one thing in common:  One extremely loud and chaotic bus ride.

When you pack kids on a school bus, you just expect it to be noisy.  You expect there to be kids standing up and turning around to talk to their friends.  You expect to constantly repeat "Not so loud", "Get down from there", "Turn around", and even "Get your mouth off of that". 

And then, when you arrive at your destination, it's a constant rinse and repeat of "Stay in line", "Pay attention", "Be quiet" and "You were told not to touch that"

None of that stuff bothers me - and I've got quite accustomed to it.

Except for yesterday, I got to experience something I've never experienced before.  A totally new take on field trips.  Situations that left me speechless - totally and utterly shocked.

It started when we had to cram three 4th grade classes on to one bus.  That meant three kids to a seat.  I sat towards the back of the bus, and the other two teachers sat in the front.  Fireworks were going off in my head that despite only having a 30 minute bus ride - it was going to feel MUCH longer than that.

But, then the bus started moving and there was a slight buzz coming from each of the seats.  I could actually talk to the children seated around me without having to raise my voice at all.  In fact, I could talk to children seated a few seats away from me with only having to raise my voice slightly.  I could hear myself think.  There was no loud commotion.  I didn't have to tell a single child to sit down or turn around or get their mouths off of anything.

Then, if that wasn't strange enough, when we drove through town the bus went completely silent.  I looked to the other fourth grade teachers that were seated at the front of the bus, and saw that they had raised one of their arms.  The kids all took immediate notice and stopped mid sentence.  I could almost hear a pin drop - if it wasn't for the roaring engine of the bus.

I sat there completely stunned.  What was this sorcery?

Once we got through town and the teachers lowered their arms, the kids went back to the slight hum of their talking.

A short while later, we arrived at the park where we'd be eating lunch.  As soon as the bus stopped, I experienced the immediate silence again.  The kids, and myself, sat there waiting for instructions.  The kids then unloaded off the bus and automatically set themselves up into three neat rows - each row being the original class lines.

We led the kids over to the eating area, and we ate lunch.  I sat with some of my students and we talked and laughed and had a good time.  Then, we let the kids run around for a bit.  Shortly thereafter, it was back on the bus to head to our field trip destination:  A state park for environmental education.

The kids repeated their bus behaviors on the trip there.  Once we arrived, they repeated their line formation routine.  We broke up in to groups and visited three stations where park employees gave lessons on aquatic life, animals, and recycling.

I'll admit that the lessons weren't exactly the most enjoyable things to sit through.  But, as I watched my class I was so impressed at how well they hid their ancyness.  Some took to pulling grass (we were sitting on the ground outside).  Some fiddled with their shoes.  But all of them stayed quiet, raised their hands to ask questions, and responded when asked.  They got really excited about petting a snake and sorting trash into recyclable piles. They behaved like proper ladies and gentlemen the ENTIRE time.

The bus ride home was no different than the bus ride there.

Once we got back to the school, the teachers all showered the students with praise.  We couldn't have asked for a better day.

I corralled my kids back to class, and gave them all a big spill on how proud I was of them.  The Friday afternoon snack store (a school thing) was still open, so I bought the entire class a Popsicle and took them outside for the rest of the day.

It was out on the playground that one of the other 4th grade teachers filled me on the bus mystery.  Apparently, the school district trains the kids on how to act on a bus when they go home or go on field trips.  The rules include talking so that only their neighbor can hear them and when driving through a populated area (town) the teachers raise their arms, and that indicates for the students to be completely silent so that the bus driver can focus.  Pretty smart, if you ask me.

One thing I do know is that I got to meet a whole new group of kids yesterday.  Sometimes, I forget how strict and structured I portray myself in the classroom.  When I go on field trips I become a different teacher - and the kids pick up on it.  While I was praising them on their behavior, they were offering praise on how "cool" I was while away.  And it really made me think.

I often forget that being in school can be just as stressful for the kids as it is for me.  Trying to rally and corral twenty 4th graders is a difficult task.  I ask so much of them.  I have expectations and rules that I expect them to follow every day.  But, being rallied around and following all of the rules and expectations can be just as difficult as enforcing them.  We all need time to relax.  And then, when they are given that time to relax and be a lot less structured - I get to see how well they really can behave without the constant reminders.

They got to see a different side of me - and I of them.

Which has now made me realize that I can add some different techniques to my tool bag.  I have to come out of my shell now and then and let them see the real me... not just "Ms. Hill - Teacher".  I'm a regular old person... not old.. just a regular person.  I enjoy having fun.  I enjoy letting my hair down now and then.  And I have to understand that they need that too.

I have a feeling that even though there won't be regular field trips - we will now have more situations come up for stepping outside the normal school routines.


Friday, September 21, 2012

To My Dearest Friday...

I'm pretty sure that if I start today's post with "another week has flown by and it's time for Friday's Letters", it would be the fifth time in a row I've started that way.  At least that's what it feels like.  Feel free to go back and check if you want to.  But, at least that's NOT how I started the post this week.  Right?

Dear Weather Man: Please don't be upset with me when I ask this - but can you please make sure we don't get any rain today?  Pretty please?  I know, I know.  I've asked for rain several times, complained we haven't had enough rain, and now have the nerve to ask for the rain to bypass us this time.  But, I have a field trip today.  That's outside.  With 60 plus kids.  You get why I'm asking, right?  The field trip was cancelled last Friday because of rain... I'd hate to put my kiddos through all of that again today.  Especially since each day this week has been absolutely glorious in terms of the weather.  Cooler, not a cloud in the sky.... just perfect.  It would be great if we could have just one more day like that.

Dear Karma:  Was that you I just heard making that thunder sound the second I finished up my letter to Weather Man?  Like, seriously.  The minute I type the period at the end of the sentence, I hear thunder.  Coincidence?  I think not!

Dear Me:  It is very important that this weekend, after you've done all of the grading, entered in all the grades on the computer, and written all of your plans, you work on some sort of system to help you stay on top of all the things you need to do each day.  If you don't think of something, you're going to spend every weekend for the next eight months working.  And you and I both know that's not what you want to do.  You still have half of a house that needs the deep clean you gave to the living room and kitchen last weekend.  You want to be able to do fun things and relax on the weekends.  But unless you get a grip on the weekly demands, that's never going to happen.  Oh, and while you're at it - be sure to make that Reward Catalog, update your reading logs, go through the book with the math centers and spelling groups that you want to create, and make the decisions about how you are going to teach math and reading.  It all has to be done - might as well do it now.

Dear Karma:  Me again!  Hey, I'm sorry about that thunder note.  I just realized I really shouldn't be so hard on you. This week, you managed to do something I've been asking for since May.  You helped Peanut find a solid reason to forget all about her old school and make the plunge to move on.  A boyfriend.  And while "normal" parents would be less than thrilled that she's so goo goo over a boy when she should be much more focused on her studies... this is a little different.  She was getting more comfortable about leaving her old school, but it was still a subject pressing on her mind.  The volleyball helped, that's for sure.  But now she's had something that's completely knocked her over to my side of the situation.  And if you weren't nice enough with just finding her a boyfriend - you also managed to find her a boyfriend that's also a teacher's son. A new teacher in the school.  His first year at the school.  How more perfect could that be?  I was also looking for a teacher that I could become really good friends with outside of the work place.  As she and I texted each other last night as bad as our preteen children were texting, I felt really happy about possibly making that friend I was looking for.  So, again, sorry about the thunder dig.  You rock!

Dear Katniss, Prim, and Gale (my kitties):  I know you all probably feel a little neglected with how much time the kids and I are out of the house.  I know you want nothing more than to curl up with me each evening and night to make up for all the time I'm gone.  But, when I'm working on grading papers or writing plans - that's not an invitation to you all to come and lay on me.  It's really hard to write plans in a planbook when I have a cat sprawled out over the top of it.  It's really hard to grade papers when I have two kittens that decide the stack of papers would make a great toy to swish around the room.  It's really hard to type when I have a cat that likes to walk across the keyboard, lay on my lap while I type, or knock everything off of my desk.  When I'm laying on the couch, or even laying in bed, feel free to come lay with me and snuggle - but when Momma is working?  Be good kitties and leave her stuff alone!

Dear Gas Prices:  Seriously?  What the freak?  It boils my bones that just because this is a freakin' election year - you get to sky rocket up to ridiculous amounts.  Don't you realize I just bought a new car?  An SUV at that.  While it gets great gas mileage for an SUV, it's still pretty hard on my wallet at the gas tank.  I just don't get how you get away with daylight robbery each and every day.

Dear Amazing Students of Mine:  Regardless how this day plays out now that there's a storm that's rolled in within 10 minutes of my plea letter to the weather man, I want you all on your best behavior today K?  Don't forget what happened last Friday, while I was gone, after the trip got cancelled.  In fact, don't forget what happened this Monday in response to last Friday.  I don't want to go through another Monday of making you all work in silence, keeping a mean face plastered on me all day, and giving everyone the silent treatment.  I want a Friday - and following Monday - full of fun, learning, and enjoyment.  Whether we, once again, have to cancel the trip or we still get to go in the rain... remember what we've talked about this week and make me proud.  Even more proud than you already make me each and every day.

Alright, I think that pretty much does it for this Friday.  Have a great day, everyone!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chicken, Meet Head... Head, Chicken...Now Stay Together, M'Kay?

Note to self:  When looking for a cute picture to go with a blog about running around like a chicken without a NOT put those words in to the search bar.  EWWW!!!  Nobody wants or needs to see actual, live chickens getting their heads cut off.

That's a weird expression, but I get where it comes from.  I've never actually seen a chicken run around without a head, but I've heard from many credible sources that chickens do, in fact, run around for a few seconds after their head has been chopped off.  And however gross it may be, it's kinda funny to think about.

And that's exactly what I have been feeling like, lately.

No matter how much I think I get on top of all my responsibilities, there are just more waiting to take the place of every single thing I check off my to-do list.

There will always be more assignments to grade.  There will always be grades that need to be entered in to the computer.  There will always be plans to write.  There will always be paperwork and data that needs to be analyzed and tracked.  There will always be (for another 10 years at least) kids that need to be chauffeured around to ball games and practices. 

Cluck, cluck...thump...cluck, cluck.   (The thump was the head, by the way)

But, unlike the poor chicken who I can only imagine is less than thrilled about getting it's head chopped off - I actually don't mind feeling like my head's been cut off.  NO.  Wait.  That's not right.  I mean, I don't mind being so busy.  I want to keep my head firmly on my shoulders - regardless of how scatterbrained I may be.

Having a never ending to-do list isn't as bad as it sounds.  Sure, sometimes I get to feeling a little overwhelmed.  Especially on Thursdays, when I know that progress reports go home on Fridays, there are still papers to be graded, grades to be entered, and the entire next week's plans to be written.  But, knowing that my job never ends is a sense of security, safeness, self-worth.  I feel needed.  I feel accountable.  I am depended on to do a good job, stay on top of the endless demands, and show that it's possible to come out on top - guns blazing. 

And Thursday is only one day away from Friday - when I then get two days to catch up, take a breath, and prepare to start all over.

This Thursday, I'm a little more panicked than usual, however.  That's because this afternoon, when I usually have a nice chunk of time to enter grades, work on progress reports, and write some plans - I don't get it this week.  And on top of that, we have a field trip tomorrow - meaning no planning period or extra time to work on the paperwork stuff.  AND, if that's not bad enough... this evening, when I would normally have an extra two hours after work to catch up a little - Peanut has a volleyball game and I don't have to stay at school for an extra two hours.  Insert major dilemma. 

For the first time since school started, I have the ability to come home at a reasonable hour.  Peanut will be traveling to an away game, and then riding home with a friend.  I can pack up as soon as the last student has taken themselves home.  A feeling I rarely get, but am so excited about.  But there's just SO MUCH TO DO!

I have one of two options:  Stay at school, like I usually do, and get caught up.  OR bring all of my work home with me and sit in front of my computer at home getting caught up.  Either way - plenty of work to do... it's all location, location, location.

Chicken.  No head.

One thing I'm sure of, though, is that no matter how frazzled I get - everything will get done.  It always does.  I am in situations like this every single week.  There's always something that comes up, something that throws a kink in the works, some hurdle I have to jump over.  And I do.  Not very gracefully, but the hurdles are always jumped.

I'm five weeks in to my job, and nothing has changed about how much I freakin' love being a teacher.  It's everything I ever dreamed about - and so much more.  I love all of the students.  I love everyone I work with.  I even love all of the paperwork stuff, because it gives me a clear cut picture of how well I'm doing and areas I need to focus on.  I love coming home every day completely exhausted - because I can actually feel how hard I've worked.

I know I'll get a better hang of all the duties I have to stay on top of.  I know I will get a system in place and a routine in order.  It will all come with time.  And until then?  Well, it's not so bad feeling like a chicken with it's head cut off....except for the chicken.

And, in case anyone was wondering, my ankle was still really sore after work yesterday.  I bought a sock brace and some compression socks.  I wore the compression socks to bed - and I don't hurt this morning.  I'm going to see how my ankle feels today, after being on it for hours.  I honestly believe that it's just my body not being used to being on my feet for 6-7 hours a day.  But, no pain this morning is a good thing... so I'm not going to worry about it. 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I'm About the Only Person I Know That Can Hurt Doing Nothing

Seriously.  Not kidding.  I must have a magical power at hurting myself or injuring myself or developing some sort of pain from doing absolutely nothing.

It all started yesterday.... 

Just a regular, old normal day.  I walked around my classroom, I stood at the white board, I sat at my desk for a few minutes here and there.  I didn't bump myself on anything.  I didn't fall over anywhere.  I didn't kick any students.  I didn't even brush a little too close to a desk or a door or a wall.  Yet, somehow, someway, I managed to do something to cause the lower part of my right leg to develop pain.

The pain and location is hard to explain.  It's on my right foot, just above the ankle.  It's on the side of my leg.  Not directly in the front or back, but more to the back than to the front.  And it hurts constantly - has since yesterday.  It hurts worse when I put any pressure on my foot, but the pain doesn't go away when I sit down or rest it.

My ankle was a little swollen yesterday afternoon, and it still is just a little swollen right around the area of pain this morning.  Yet, both of my ankles swell during the day just a little - from being on my feet constantly, and not drinking enough water.  

It doesn't hurt any more or less when I move my ankle in circles or if I flex my foot up and down.  I can't push on my leg where the pain is coming from and make the pain worse or less.  It's just a dull, achy, constant pain that increases and sends little shooting pains when I walk on it.  It's tolerable to walk on - but just barely. 

And it's frustrating as heck as to why I have this sudden onset of pain without any rhyme or reason.

I did what any sane, logical person would do in this sort of situation.  I went straight to WebMD to try and figure out what might be wrong.  And here's a free tip for you - don't ever use WebMD to try and diagnose yourself unless you are, in fact, a doctor.

There are 36 possible causes to my pain according to WebMD.  Ranging from Deep Vein Thrombosis to a fractured ankle to a pulled ligament to a minor sprain.  None of the 36 possible causes have all of my symptoms or way more symptoms than I'm experiencing.   And I wasn't able to actually tell the virtual tool the exact location of my pain - so all of the diagnoses are focused on the ankle, the calf, or the shin.  And that's not really where the pain is.  So, again, don't ever use WebMD to try and be a doctor and diagnose yourself.  It's not worth the worry or the hassle.

I could always go and see a real doctor.  And this may sound stupid, but I just can't afford it.  I know my health is much more important than money - but I also know that any type of pain like this one is going to be an expensive diagnosis.  There will be the initial doctor visit, then x-rays, then possibly more tests, then the slight possibility I'm referred to a doctor that handles leg pain, which carries more x-rays and tests... because specialists never like to take opinions or test results from "regular" doctors.  Before I could scream "enough already", I'd have a nice $1500 deductible bill - and the 20-30% of anything else crammed on top.  Then to find out it is a little ligament strain, get told to limit my time on my feet, and things should heal up nicely in a couple of weeks.  Except my bank account, which will be hemorrhaging money for years.  No Thank You.

And, yes, I know I sound like some kind of doctor scam conspiracy theorist - but I've seen my share of situations like mine go down.  I don't go to the doctor when I'm sick - so why would I go when I have a little leg pain?  I've had the pain for less than 24 hours.  If I'm still hobbling around in a few days, and the pain is worse, then I'll think about it.  But right now, I'd like to keep my money.

I am considering buying some compression socks or something, though.  I know I have to drink more water.  I know that's what's causing the swelling to my ankles.  And the fact that I'm carrying around an extra 100lbs of weight.  Maybe my body is starting to move in to that mode where it's showing me how dire my weight loss should be.

Long-time followers may remember how much trouble I used to have with my knees.  Back in the day, when I hovered close to the 300lbs mark, I had the worst trouble with my knees.  It stemmed from a few injuries from my early years - like an injury I suffered when I was 16 that was supposed to lead to surgery, that never did.  And when I was 20 and dislocated my right knee when I was trying to make a bed.  Don't laugh.  I'm serious.  I got my leg caught under the bed, fell down, and completely dislocated my knee.  And, because I was as much against doctors back then as I am now - I thought it would be smart to pop my knee back all by myself.  And stayed that way for days before getting to a hospital to discover that I'd kinda not done it right. 

Then, after I lost 50lbs, the knee pain just dwindled away.  And, I'm proud to say that ever since then I've not had any problems from my knees - except the minor twitching I get when rain or cold weather comes. 

So, maybe this is that scenario all over again. 

And no, I'm not going to go all "weight loss mode" again.  No more switching my blog anymore.  But, maybe - just maybe - I should start to revisit a few things.  Back to watching what I eat, getting out to walk a little now that the weather is cooler.  Something.  Anything.

We'll see.

I can say that I haven't gained any weight since starting work.  That's a plus that I don't take lightly.  Not having enough time to think straight would normally be the beginning of major weight gain - but not this time.  I haven't dropped anything, either, but maintaining is still a big deal to me.  Especially when I'm not really focused on losing weight.

But for right now?  I think I'm going to just take it easy for a few days to see how this leg pain plays out.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Little Truth Goes a Long Way

You all know the drill...

To be honest... I didn't enjoy being at work yesterday one little bit.  That's because I've realized that no matter how much I put on the "I like being a tough teacher" persona - I really don't like being a tough teacher.  And by tough, I mean mean.  Not nice.  Strict.  However you want to say it.  I went to work and spent the day playing the "I'm so disappointed" card.  I took away some amount of recess for all but five of the kids.  I made them work in silence, except the same five.  And the worst part was handing out brownies to five students, while the rest watched with pathetic puppy dog eyes.  It was torture!  I just hope I NEVER have to go to that extent again to make my point.

To be honest... I couldn't end the day, yesterday, without letting every single student know that yes, I was disappointed in them.. but they served their time for the crime and as of today it would be behind us.  If I can get anything pushed on to them, I want it to be that I don't hold a grudge.  I'm a deal with it and move on kinda gal.  They won't suffer for days and days.  I will be back to my cheery, funny, normal self today.  Minus brownies.  But, I truly believe that what I did yesterday will carry some weight.  I hope so, anyways.  I hate to think that I put them and myself through such a day of misery for nothing.

To be honest... I woke up this morning feeling all kinds of heeby geebies.  Sometime early this morning, I think I felt something on my arm.  I'm not sure if I actually felt something, or if I dreamed I did.  What I know is that whether in real life or in my dream the "something" made a little crunch when I bent my arm.  And I now have a red spot on my arm where the maybe real or maybe not real thing was.  I have a really strong suspicion I had a bug on me... and it bit me... in real life.  UGH!

To be honest... I think I'm starting to get a little too competitively minded at Peanut's volleyball games.  While I'm very supportive and proud of Peanut when she plays - I really don't like seeing her team lose.  I have to come up with a way to nip my attitude in the rear - or I'm going to end up with a very unhappy preteen who will ban me from going to her games.  I just can't help myself, though.  I get frustrated.  I let out a few too many loud sighs.  But, I cheer them on and clap.  I'm just going to have to go to the games and repeat "They are just kids.  They are just kids."  Maybe that will help stop me from releasing my competitive demons.

To be honest... I was so angry when I walked in to Dollar General and Wal-Mart this weekend and already saw Christmas stuff.  The flames from the torturous summer are out but still smoldering, and there's already Christmas trees and decorations appearing in the stores.  Really? I'm all for some Fall stuff... but I hate it when a season is completely jumped and we go straight from summer to winter.  What happened to the good old days when the day after Halloween people could enter their local stores and be bombarded with Christmas stuff?  That was OK with me.  I actually looked forward to that.  By Halloween, Fall has sunk in and I'm ready to start thinking about Christmas.  But it's so sad when I haven't seen a single Halloween costume yet, but I've already read too many "Merry Christmas" signs.  I may use this frustrating scenario as a great sequencing lesson for my students.  We can talk about the order that stores should display certain seasonal items to the way they do display them. 

To be honest... Even though I'm disgusted with how early stores are decking the halls, I have to admit that I have started thinking about Christmas.  Just this week, though, and before seeing the decorations.  I had a conversation with Hubby about some ideas I was having about presents.  I could tell from his reaction that he felt the same way about my conversation as I did walking in to Dollar General and Wal-Mart this weekend.  But, in my opinion, it's never to early to start planning ahead.  With a brand new car on our budget list, I can't wait until the last minute to think about this stuff.  And yes, I totally understand how hypocritical that is after my rant about the decorations. 

To be honest... I've felt so happy about the comments that have started to reappear on my blog.  It's probably sad to think that seeing I have comments on my blog is one of my biggest highlights of the day.  But, I can have lots of highlights.  I get all giddy and excited when I see that someone, somewhere has taken a couple minutes of their day to write a short comment on one of my posts.  It's the small delights, people!  I think it's important to relish in those small delights.

To be honest... Am I the only one that's getting really bored with Facebook?  I get on there each day to see what everyone is up to, and I can't stand wading through post after post of cutzy funny photos and inspirational quotes and political propaganda.  I just want to go back to the days when I could scroll through my feed and actually see what people have been up to.  It's starting to turn in to the same reason I ditched visiting Twitter.  Twitter has become hardly anything more than giveaways, coupons, and links.  I remember when I could get on Twitter and actually have conversations with people.  Not so much anymore.  And now Facebook is following suit.  Now that I'm so busy, I would just like to be able to visit Facebook and feel like I can still keep up with stuff that's happening in my friends' and families' lives.  And I know that I could always just pick up the phone or write an email... but, I kinda thought that was the point for social media.  Am I totally wrong thinking that?

To be honest... I don't ever want to get a sunburn that causes me to peel again.  Last weekend, while camping, I got burned on my chest and left arm.  And now I'm peeling which has caused me to look like I have some kind of serious skin condition.  What makes it worse is that I can't help myself from peeling the skin off.  I know, that's gross and you don't want to hear it - but it's true!  I understand I'm supposed to leave it alone so that it can heal - but I just can't help it.  I do it without even thinking about it.  And now I've realized that I've probably made it ten times worse - and I look ten times worse - because of it.  I guess I'll think a little more before spending 6 hours in the sun next time.

To be honest... I'm really enjoying writing this week's installment of Truthful Tuesday, but I really need to think about wrapping up so that I have a few minutes to read some blogs.  It's my goal this week to have at least 20 minutes each morning to read a couple of blogs.  I'm trying new time management techniques that may or may not work... but I'm going to give them a shot. 

So with that in mind...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Let's Try Some Positive Reinforcement, Shall We?

I can definitely tell that the weekend is over.  Because my mind is racing back in to work mode.  And because I just cringed starting sentences with "because" and "and". 

Isn't that funny?  Now that I'm actually a teacher, it bothers me just a little to start sentences that way.  Of course, it doesn't stop me from doing it.  But, I do take notice - and want you all to know that I'm fully aware of the grammatical mistakes I make while typing - and completely do it on purpose.  Most of the time.

During my Friday's Letters on Friday, I wrote a letter to my class.  That's because I wasn't going to be in the classroom on Friday, but at professional development.  It was my first time to have a substitute in my room, and I was a little nervous.  A lot nervous.

On Thursday, I was sure to go over Friday's schedule with the class.  I was sure to go over my expectations for their behavior while I was gone.  I was sure to build them up and explain to them how I'd told the sub how wonderful, responsible, and well behaved they were...and I had no doubt they'd make me proud.  And that's the absolute truth - I really did say all of that to the sub.

The class was supposed to be going on a field trip on Friday, but it got cancelled Thursday morning due to the fact that it was going to rain all day on Friday - and the field trip was outside.  So, I was sure to explain the changes in schedule, the new assignments they were going to have, and that they would be taking the field trip the next week.  

I left Thursday evening feeling confident that I'd done everything I needed to do to prepare the students for my absence.

The professional development let out a lot earlier than planned, so I was able to make it back to school a little before the end of the day.  I was so pumped about finding out about the day they'd had.  That was until I actually got back to the classroom.

I could tell the minute I walked in the door that things had not gone as well as I thought they would.  Simply by looking at the behavioral clips hanging on the wall.  There were several clips pulled, and names that I just didn't expect to see hanging on the colors indicating that some recess time had to be missed due to behavioral issues.

The sub seemed relieved to see me.  The kids?  Not so much.  I could pick up on fear, panic, regret and shame from the looks that met me from their faces.  My heart sank immediately.

The sub explained that it had been a very tough and trying day.  She wasn't sure if it was because I was gone, the field trip got cancelled, or because it had rained all day - meaning indoor recess.  But whatever the reason, they had tested her patience, not followed directions, and had really given her a run for her money.  In which, she was no doubt ready to run.

I was completely devastated.  And all weekend long, I've been stewing on ways that I can send a clear cut message that behavior issues while I'm away won't be tolerated one bit.  I've gone back and forth between different scenarios.  I've planned out different "punishments".

But, then I got a great idea.  The sub actually left me a list of five names of students that did everything she had asked.  They followed procedures and directions.  They were model students.  Five out of twenty.  So, I have one of two choices.  I could go in this morning with guns blazing, yelling and moody about Friday's events.  OR, I could go in and drown those five students with praise and rewards and showcase my appreciation for them by doing something really special for them.

I have decided on a mixture of the two.

Those that deserve it will miss recess.  They will feel my disappointment.  They will hear a heartfelt lecture (rather than a screaming one) about how sad and disappointed I am with them.

Those that deserve it will be receiving brownies and free time.  They will be rewarded in front of the entire class.  They will enjoy their rewards in front of the entire class.  They will be the example, and my praise will be over the top.

Thankfully, I work in a state that still allows treats to be brought in.  I'm not usually for food as a reward - but there's no doubt that food is one of the best rewards kids like to receive.  And toys.  Which is something else those lucky five will receive.  And, if that's not enough, they will be receiving a free pass for this afternoon's lessons.  While the other students are hard at work, those five students, who just acted the way they are supposed, to will be enjoying an afternoon of reading, drawing or playing games - whatever they decide.  Positive reinforcement on crack!

I've given my class a lecture more than once about how I'm not big on rewarding for expected behavior.  They don't get special rewards for turning in homework, paying attention to the teacher, and being nice to each other.  That's just behavior I expect every single day.  But, they also know that when they are polite, helpful, and go above and beyond the normal expectations - I am thankful, and will show my appreciation.

Except I can bet my last dollar that none of the students are going to expect me to show how appreciative I am of those five students that behaved so well - especially with how much was going on around them.

In all honesty, my class really is a great class.  In a few short weeks, they can be trusted to continue working if I step out of the hall for a second, they will be quiet if a visitor enters our room, they walk down the hallway in silence, and they are responsible enough to form groups to work in - and they work really well with each other.  They know and understand my expectations.  They respect and follow my rules.  Which is probably why I'm as disappointed as I am.

I really wanted Friday to be their day to showcase how wonderful they are.  I wanted them to be the class that subs cheer over having.  I wanted them to understand that the trust and appreciation I have in them isn't just for when I'm around - but for when anyone is there in my place.

But, it was our first attempt.  It was the foundation from which I can base other substitute scenarios on.  It's just the beginning stages.

Hopefully after today, I won't ever have to worry about this type of situation again.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

I'm Apparently Not as Smart as I Thought....

Well, yesterday was a fun day.  It took several hours to clean just two rooms.  Yes.  Two.  The kitchen and the living room.  They are the two biggest rooms in the house, but there are still several rooms to clean before this house is officially "dejunkified".  And that's a word.  Even if I made it up myself.

Today, I'm supposed to be cleaning the dining room, my office, my bedroom, and my bathroom.  But before I even begin, I need to get some work I'm doubting that all of the cleaning will all get done today. But some of it will.

So, why did it take so long to clean two rooms?

Because when I say deep clean... I mean deep clean.  I moved furniture.  I cleaned under couches and couch cushions.  I dusted areas that are hidden, but have collected several months worth of dust.  I took everything off of shelves and cleaned it all.  I even washed all of the walls.  Yep.  Climbed up on a stepping stool with a rag and some bleach water and SCRUBBED the walls.  Nothing was left unturned. 

And it's on days like yesterday that makes me wonder why I want to have decorative little items on shelves and pictures hanging on the wall... because all they do is collect dust and dirt that I eventually have to clean. 

But, I like my little decorative pieces - and they make my living room look nicer - once they are actually clean, that is.

After all the dust and dirt was gone, I felt so much happier.  I was sweaty and dirty and tired... but it was all worth the pay off.  It was heavenly to sit in the living room last night and not sigh and grumble at the state of disarray surrounding me.  I was content and at peace.

And what a fun evening it was!

After I jumped in the shower and cleaned off all the dirt I had collected, Hubby and I made a quick run to Wal-Mart to grab some groceries and to pick up dinner.  We all decided on Chinese.  We haven't had Chinese take-out in ages.  I also picked up an apple pie to eat for dessert while at Wal-Mart, and I picked up a new coffee creamer:  Butter pecan.  YUM!

Once we got home, we all ate dinner, watched a little TV, and relaxed.  Then Peanut and I decided to have a game of Trivial Pursuit. 

I learned two things while playing that game.  I am a lot smarter now than I was when I last played the game about 5-6 years ago.  But, I'm still not as smart as I think I am.  Especially when it comes to knowing trivia.  Holy Brain Farts!  Some of the questions I couldn't even understand, let alone try to come up with the answers.

The other thing I learned is that Peanut is a heck of a lot smarter than I was at 12 years old. 

I won the game, but not by much.  By the time I won, Peanut had collected five of the six wedges needed to win.  When I was her age, I couldn't have answered one of those questions...and she was right on my heels the entire game.  It amazes me how much knowledge is crammed in to her still growing brain.

We had a good laugh, but we were glad it was over after playing for over two hours.  I've decided that I need to buy the Junior version in order for us to really enjoy the game.

After a two hour go at Trivial Pursuit, we played The Harry Potter Edition of Scene It.  I have never played it before, I bought it because I love all things Harry Potter.  What I failed to realize is that it's been a very long time since I've seen any of the first five movies - and so the game was a heck of a lot harder than I thought it would be.  Peanut was on my heels the entire time for that game, too.  She's such a smarty pants.

I ended up winning, but only because I got the last question.  She was right there at the end with me battling it out for the win.  And technically, she should have won - because she answered way more questions than I did.. I just lucked out to be able to move more places with my correct answers than she did.  Thanks, Dice!

Today, I have so much to do.  I have to rewrite my lesson plans for the week, because Friday afternoon the 4th grade team decided to rearrange our schedules.  While that shouldn't really mess up my plans, it does because I now get more time to teach reading in the morning - and have to jumble around what I'll be teaching.  I have a little less time to teach science, now, but not by much.  I think the new schedule will work out much better for everyone.  It will mean even less time with my homeroom class - which makes me a little sad - but for the greater good of teaching all of the kids what they need to know, I have to suck up my own wants and focus on the students' needs.

So, no more time for idle chit-chat... I need to get to gettin'. 

So little time, so much to do!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Idiocracy At It's Finest

Back on Tuesday, wrapped up in my Truthful Tuesday fashion, I let it out that I'm pretty ticked off with my mom right now.  The reason I was ticked off was because she hung up on me.  And the reason she hung up on me was because of a fishing pole.  A toddler's fishing pole.

Not an expensive fishing pole.  Not something that was worthy of an argument.  Not something that, in my mind, had any significance or importance WHAT SO EVER.  A stupid fishing pole.  And it really got to me. 

I haven't spoken to her since that day.  Mainly because I've been waiting for an apology.  I had people in my classroom when I was speaking with my mother on the phone, and I asked them if it sounded like I was yelling at her.  They said it just sounded like I was trying to explain something - and was having a hard time getting a word in.  If that's a nice way of saying I was getting a little loud - then fine.  But, I was trying to get a word in, and I don't think I came anywhere near being belligerent enough to be hung up on. 

If the situation had been reversed, I know full well that my mother would have been fuming.  She has expressed to me many, MANY times how annoyed and upset she gets if someone she cares about hangs up on her.

So, yeah, I think I deserve an apology for the way the whole thing went down.  It was stupid.  And, had I received an apology, I would have also apologized for possibly increasing my voice to a level she considered to be shouting.

I thought I was going to get that opportunity, yesterday, and let it all just wash under the rug.

My brother wanted Butter to go spend the weekend with him. OK.  That's fine.  And I found out my mom was going to come and pick him up.  Great.  Maybe that would give us a chance to talk it all out and let it all go.

But, alas, that didn't happen.  Instead, my mom and brother showed up, stood outside the house, and sent Butter in telling me that my mother was demanding to see the fishing pole.  ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

How about "I'm sorry, Joanna, for the way everything happened the other day, but I still think you might have the wrong fishing pole so would it be OK to take a look just to make sure?"  In which my response would have been "I'm sorry too, Mom, of course you can look at the fishing pole".

It wouldn't have mattered that the fishing poles are almost identical, my niece hardly ever goes fishing, or that it was such a big deal for my mom to make sure that she had the correct fishing pole that she bought for her granddaughter.  The other granddaughter.  Jelly is her granddaughter too - in case you forgot.

But, no, she kept herself outside watching as I went to get the fishing pole.  As my brother showed me that the fishing pole he had has the gold hook on it that I had said was on Jelly's.  And as I realized that there was about an inch or two difference in the length - and yes, I apparently had the wrong fishing pole... as again, if it really matters since my niece doesn't really fish anyways.  But, whatever.  I shoved the correct fishing pole at my brother, threw the one he had into the shop, and marched my happy butt back in to the house.

At the same time, my brother was yelling not very nice things at me because of the way I was acting about the whole thing.  My mother didn't say a freakin' word.

How pathetic.  Juvenile.  Infuriating.

So, needless to say, I'm still not talking to my mother...and I have a feeling it will be a while before this all gets worked out.

It makes me mad that we are fighting over something so stupid as this.. but it is a lot more in my mind.  A situation like this reminds me that now my mother is adopting my niece - oh, I should mention she is adopting my niece - that Jelly gets pushed to the wayside a little.  She hardly ever gets to go and spend time at my mom's.  And even though I don't think Jelly has really picked up on it - thankfully - I know that my niece and nephew are the favorite younger grandchildren, because they belong to my parent's now.

Not only that, but for years and years I have buckled down to my mother - regardless if I agreed on something or not - because I didn't want to upset her, make her mad, end up in a situation like I'm in now.  Several situations have left me feeling very angry - but I don't ever let my mom know, because I don't want to hurt her feelings.  Well, what about my feelings?

This is a stupid argument, but it's also a platform that I can finally take my independence and stop bowing down just because I might upset the apple cart.  I'm tired of everything always being so one sided.  I'm tired of acting like a child.  I'm tired of being treated like one.

When my mom needs someone to vent to because she's unhappy about something... guess who's ALWAYS there for her?  Yep.  Me.

But when the role is reversed?  Yeah, not so much.

She has the fishing pole she wanted, now.  I hope it was worth it.  Because the way this situation was handled has really upset me - and I know I won't be cracking under the pressure of upsetting her anymore.  I finally found my voice - and I intend to keep it.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday's Letters

Another week has zoomed by in the blink of an eye.  After dipping in to my own personal mail bag, yesterday, it's fitting that I get to create my own letters today!  

Dear Weatherman... OK, so I was pretty hard on you this time last month.  And the month before that.  But, it seems that you're finally pulling through and delivering some much more tolerable news about our current weather.  I can handle temps in the 80s.  I don't sweat like a pig, I don't get grumpy, and I don't feel like I have to strip off my clothes the minute I walk through the door.  Well, OK, that's not true.  I love getting in to my jammies the minute I walk through the door.  I am even thrilled that I get to wake up in the morning and feel a little chilly.  The temps have been cold enough at night that the AC isn't running constantly, and I now need my blanket.  HALLELUJAH!  Keep that kind of news coming, buddy!

Dear Sweet Students of Mine... You have no idea how nervous I am about having a sub in my room for the very first time today.  I want nothing more than for someone else to come in my room and see what a great, smart, responsible bunch of kiddos you are.  I want you all to realize that the time I've spent working with you to be so well behaved and responsible isn't just for when I'm in the room - but for when anyone is in the room.  I want nothing more than to get back to the school late this afternoon and discover a magnificent note written by the sub telling me how much of a pleasure it was to be with you all today.  Make that happen for me, m'kay?  No students of mine will have the mentality of "when the teacher is away..." when there is a sub in the room.  Because the teacher will return on Monday, and bring utter wrath with her.  Of course, I fully expect to bring nothing but joy, happiness, and pride with me instead.

Dear House... Get ready, cause a major smackdown is coming your way this weekend.  I've worked hard all week to make sure that you will get my undivided attention tomorrow.  There will be scrubbing.  There will be dusting.  There will be vacuuming.  There will be sweeping and mopping.  There will be trash bags full of junk hauled out of here.  And there will be clutter removed from every nook and cranny of this house.  I'm sick and tired of coming home to nothing but a mess.  And once it's clean, it better stay that way!

Dear Peanut, Butter, and Jelly... I have just given notice to the house of the major cleaning that will be coming it's way this weekend.  I understand that Butter won't be here - but he will return on Sunday after the cleaning is done.  I'm writing to you to warn you that once I've spent however many hours getting this house to the standard it should be - you all BETTER keep it that way.  Your father and I don't ask too much of you.  Peanut and Butter, we ask that you take it in turns to clean the dishes each night.  Jelly, we ask that you put your toys up when you're finished playing with them BACK where you found them.  We ask that you all keep your rooms clean and your laundry/dirty clothes put up.  After spending 8-12 hours at work each day/night, your father and I think those are pretty mild expectations.  We work hard so that you have the nice things you have.  I sacrifice my free time so that you can participate in sports and church activities.  The least you all can do is help us out a little by cleaning up after yourself. Remember, what is given can also be taken away.  So, if you enjoy the computer, TVs in your room, the freedom to play outside, and that new cell phone (Peanut) then start showing a little appreciation for it all.. k?

Dear Fall... I can feel you trying to push through summer's fury to get to us.  I'm pulling for you.  Don't stop fighting!  There's no reason you can't show up a few weeks earlier than expected - I won't mind one bit.  I just looked to Weather Man to see what our temps are going to be like for the week - and every single day we barely make it in to the 80s.  OH YEAH!  You keep working hard.  I'm so ready to start buying fall themed coffee creamers, wearing fall clothes, and celebrating the ability to breath outside without the air feeling heavier than I am.

Dear Followers Who Commented or Emailed Me Yesterday... THANK YOU!  I was overwhelmed and overjoyed to receive so much support and encouragement.  Many of you were surprised that I had received such negativity about my decision to change my blog.  While I very much appreciate your support, I have to defend the haters by telling you that I ask for sometimes I just have to be careful what I wish for.  One thing all of your messages expressed was the support of my blog being MY blog.  There are going to be lots of times when what I have to say isn't going to be funny or witty.  There are times when what I say isn't going to be that interesting.  And hopefully there will be times where I can make you all laugh out loud, comment up a storm, and enjoy spending your time here.  But, one thing I do know is that whether I have 1000 followers or zero followers, I will keep writing.  About whatever pops in to this hole in the top of my head.

Dear Time... Is it at all possible that you slow down just a little?  My days have gone by so quickly, lately, that I can't even think straight.  My life seems to be turning in to a blur.  I wake up at 4:30am to be able to write my blog, and the plan was that I'd have a little extra time to read my favorite blogs, read some status updates on Facebook, and relax in my quiet time.  But, before I know it, it's 6am by the time I finish my blog - and all the extra stuff doesn't get done.  Then, I rush off to work, come home around 7pm, and fall asleep before 9pm.  Rinse and Repeat.  While I really can't complain about my fast paced lifestyle - it's what I asked for - I would just like a little extra time to do some of the things I enjoy most... like reading blogs.  I am going to darn well make sure that my house cleaning extravaganza doesn't interfere with a little down time this weekend while I catch up on some reading.  So, Time, take a little break... you're working much too hard to be going by so quickly!

Dear Closet... I hear you calling me and reminding me that it's time to get ready for work.  Maybe you can read the letter I just wrote to Time.  I'm not even finished with writing my blog and it's already 6am.  I'll get to you when I'm ready.  I still have half a cup of coffee to drink - and I'm not about to waste it.  I don't technically have to be at work until 8:30 this morning, thanks to the day-long professional development I'm doing... so relax.  I'll come dig through you in a minute.  Geez.

Dear Me... You better get to proofreading what you've wrote and call it a day.  You might not technically have to be at work until 8:30, but your kids have to be at school by 7:30.  Gulp down your coffee and get to getting.

OK, OK, I'm going...