Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ah Halloween... My Gateway in to the Holiday Season

A few years ago, I wondered if I'd get the chance to celebrate Halloween once I found a teaching job.  In a world where everyone has to be so PC all of the time, and worry about not hurting anyone's feelings... I felt that the holidays I love so much would fall from my life in to a "do it on your own time" abyss.

I stood by and watched as school districts banned celebrating Halloween because there was "no real value except to dress in silly costumes and go against all things religious... why on earth would we celebrate a day that celebrates opening a gateway to the dead?".  And yes, that's a direct quote I once heard.  I watched as Halloween and Christmas parties became Fall and Winter parties - so that no one would have to worry about sending out the wrong message that a school had a religious agenda.

I've lived in this country since I was 12, yet it still amazes me how caught up people get in the whole religious holiday debate.  In England, our schools recognized holidays of ALL the major religions.  We had Jewish days off, Christian days off, Muslim days off, Chinese New Year, and Hindu days off.  How on earth were we able to do that? Well, in England, you only get 6 weeks off for the summer instead of three months... so there was plenty of wiggle room to include everyone.

Now, I definitely don't believe that schools should start getting holidays off for all major religions.  But, I also don't see anything wrong with celebrating now and then for certain holidays.  I happen to agree with the separation of church and state for that very reason.  But, then I'm going to be a big hypocrite and say DON'T TAKE AWAY OUR HOLIDAY PARTIES!

Thankfully, I don't have to worry about that.  I was blessed with the opportunity of getting a job in a school that still very much allows the celebration of Halloween... in fact, it's basically a day long event.

This morning, our entire K-6th grades will walk downtown and parade around for the businesses and do some Trick or Treating and have a costume contest.  Even the church preschool, where Jelly attends, is a part of these festivities.  It's a community thing - not a religious thing.  Wow, what a concept, right?  The church purchased costumes for all of the little ones and they, too, will walk downtown (after all of the big kids are out of the way) to do their own little parade.

This afternoon, 3rd-6th grades will have their annual Halloween parties and the 7th and 8th grade will have a Halloween dance... during school hours in lieu of a Halloween party.  How cool is that?  No having to drive my child to the dance or pick her up late at night.  It will be right there...and being that I'm a student council sponsor - I'll even get to attend half of the junior high dance.

Now, with all this going on, you try and tell me that I don't work for the best school in the entire world!

OK, so I'm a big fan of holiday celebrations.  Shoot, I'm a big fan of any form of celebrations.  The kids in my class will tell you that.  If there's a way I can include some kind of party or celebration in to something we're doing in class... I'll find it.  You met all of your reading goals?  Well, let's have a party to celebrate.  We earned 20 Tiger Paws for good behavior?  We must have a party!  Everyone had gains on their STAR testing?  Definitely calls for a celebration.

That's just how I roll.  Incentives and rewards work.  Why on earth would we try and get rid of them?

But, at the end of the day, Halloween is nothing to me but a day to dress up in a silly costume and have a good time.  I'm not really a fan of going out at night in the cold to Trick or Treat... to the dismay of my biological children.  Which I now don't have to worry so much about when they've spent a day at school eating and collecting candy.  No, Halloween isn't really a holiday for me by it's self.  I don't care if it represents some gateway to the dead opening up.  It's a special, different holiday in my mind.  It's the gateway holiday to the BIG holiday season.

Halloween is approximately three weeks before Thanksgiving which is a month before Christmas. And THOSE are the holidays I care the most about.  I couldn't think of a better way to get all excited about the upcoming holiday season than Halloween.  It's my way of shouting from the roof tops "It's finally OK to see all of the holiday decorations in the stores and actually enjoy them!"  It's my way of celebrating the fact that I can now go and start buying Christmas presents, and planning the big Thanksgiving feast I'll put on for my family members.  I get to dress up in a funny outfit, eat some candy, and celebrate that there's only a few short weeks left until the big kahuna holidays happen.

And, now I'm going to start getting ready for that very important celebration right.  this.. second.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The One Where I Tell You My Random, Triuthful Thoughts

To be honest... I feel like I totally wasted 3 hours of my life last night sitting through a new teacher professional development class.  It wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't at night, and I didn't have to drive an hour and a half home after it was all said and done.  Why do all new teacher classes focus on telling you what you should do to be a good teacher rather than provide answers to questions new teachers have?  I've been told a thousand times how important it is to stay organized, act professional, and stay on top of my expectations.  What I need to know is how I do all of that and still stay sane in the process.

To be honest... The headband I crocheted for myself on Sunday and wore to work yesterday was one of the most comfortable headbands I've ever worn in my life.  It didn't slip backwards, it kept my head warm, and it didn't cause me to sweat.  The only problem I had was that I felt a little childish wearing such a big flower on my head - especially when I wore it to the professional development class last night.  I think it looked cute, but what do I know about stuff like that?  Is it weird for 30 year old women to look cute?

To be honest... I want to scream from the top of the world that I aced both of my evaluations that I've had the past week.  I had one last week from my principal, and one yesterday from my assistant principal.  Both had such nice things to say about my teaching style and the lessons I've created for my kiddos.  I'm not one to have a big head about stuff like this, but it sure is nice to get some positive feedback that I'm doing my job correctly.  Not just correctly but above and beyond.  It rests my stress and gives me that extra jolt of excitement and determination about what I do.

To be honest... Who am I kidding?  I totally LOVE having a big head about being complemented.  Especially about my job performance.  HA!

To be honest... I can't believe there's only 3 weeks until Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately for me, I don't get paid for three weeks so it will be a mad dash to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving hoping that I can get everything I need to make a killer Thanksgiving dinner.  I may have to think about charging Thanksgiving dinner a week early, and then just paying it off as soon as I get paid.  Charging Thanksgiving dinner on a credit card is perfectly normal, right?

To be honest... I'm kinda looking forward to getting to wear sweats to work tomorrow.  And that's because I came up with a Halloween costume that allows for me and my two cohorts to wear sweats and t-shirts to work.  We're going as the Three Blind Mice.  Brown sweats, brown t-shirt, brown shoes, brown pantyhose tail... that's Halloween creativity at it's finest.  Oh, let's not forget the brown sunglasses and brown construction paper ears.  Total cost for said Halloween costume?  $2.00.  Total time to get ready?  5 minutes.  Ability to be comfortable on Halloween?  Priceless.

To be honest... I don't get why people feel the urge to post fake pictures about natural disasters on social media sites.  Last night, while totally paying attention to my class (not), I was thumbing through my Facebook page.  I counted about 5 pictures that were supposedly showing the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.  When I got home, I saw an article outing those pictures as totally fake - and even showing where the original photos came from.  Don't people get that there are people that live thousands of miles away from the Hurricane but still have family or friends there?  Is it some kind of sick joke to get people all worried and scared?  I just don't get it.   I have to hand it to our local radio station, though, for outing some of those idiots.  I saw this picture posted with the caption that said:  It has been confirmed that this picture of Hurricane Sandy is a FAKE!  It's not funny to joke about natural disasters, but I don't see a problem with poking some fun at stupid people that feel the need to post fake pictures.

To be honest... I really feel like this next weekend would be a great time to bring out the ol' "Santa won't bring you new toys if you have so many old toys" routine in order to get Jelly to get rid of some of her junk.  I even set the tone this past weekend, when I let Jelly email Santa to tell him what she wanted - and he emailed her back.  That means it's fresh on her mind that Santa is watching and deciding what she should get.  To anyone that thinks telling kids about Santa is lying to them, I say BLAH!  It's bad enough that the Jolly Old Guy gets all the credit for my hard work on Christmas morning, it's only right that I make him out to be the reason my child declutters.  Just telling her that it's time she got rid of some of her toys because she's outgrown them just doesn't cut it like an old fashioned "Santa won't bring you anything" story.

To be honest... I should really go get myself in to the shower.  Who wants to bet that my kiddos are a little on the crazy side today?  Yeah, I don't blame ya... that's just a losing bet if I ever saw one.  I watched that full moon while I drove home last night... I know what's coming my way.  A good soak in a hot shower is such a great way to prepare for that.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Just Going Back to Normal

I did not want to get out of bed this morning.  Not because I don't want to go to work, but because I was actually sleeping really well - and I always hate being woken up when I'm actually sleeping well.  Which is usually the way it goes.  I mean, who hates being woken up when they're not sleeping?  That's not even possible.  Wait.  What the heck am I talking about?  Oh, yes, didn't want to get out of bed.  Which has absolutely nothing to do with what I want to talk about today.

So, things are apparently just fine between my mom and I now.  Since receiving a call from her last weekend to ask me about her air conditioning, I've been left in this weird place not knowing what was going on between us.  She spoke to me like everything was OK on the phone, and I spoke to her in the same way.  But, I was left with this niggling feeling about what happened next.

I got that on Friday.  I know, I should have probably mentioned that earlier - but then I wouldn't be able to spring it on you right now.  On Friday, she met me at the dentist office so that she could pick up Peanut to go and spend the weekend with her.  When my mom got there, she came in and waited with me and we chatted like we always do.  Like nothing was going on.  There was no weirdness or atmosphere.  We even went and all ate lunch together after.  It was nice.

Then, yesterday, I went out to their house to pick up Peanut.  It was the first time I'd been out there since our camping trip at the beginning of September.  Again, no atmosphere.  Just everything back to normal.

Now, I will admit, I'm not usually one that likes to let an argument just bury it's self.  I believe in talking it out - getting to the root of the problem so that issues can be resolved.  But, I also know that my relationship with my mother is important.  When all honesty comes out - I've missed her like crazy.  And being that was the first time I haven't spoken to my mother in a decade... I guess I can let it slide.

What I do know, moving forward, is that I will be different from this whole ordeal.  I have never been one to really stand up to my mom when I believe something to not be fair.. but I believe that will be different now.  I still believe that since my mother took on the responsibility for my niece and nephew - and then became a foster parent - that my kids get a little bit of the tough end of the stick.  More Jelly than any of them.  That's simply because Peanut and Butter can go over there and stay whenever they want - because they are old enough to take care of themselves.  Jelly suffers because there are so many little kids in the house, now, that my mom doesn't want the burden of having another little one over there very often to stay. 

While it's always been important to my mom to not have grandchildren favorites - that's a little hard to do when two of her grandchildren live with her permanently.  Because my sister couldn't take care of her responsibilities, they become my mom's responsibilities... and my child has to suffer for it.   It's not fair.  But I just have to suck it up and move on.  I just have to accept it.

And at the end of the day, if Jelly is OK with it - then so am I.  Having a good relationship with my parents has always been important to me - and will always be important to me.

So, life can just go back to normal.

I can get ready for work.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oh Yes, That Time of Year is Definitely Upon Me...

It should come to no surprise to anyone that has read this blog for any amount of time that I absolutely LOVE the cold weather.  Not being out in it, just it being cold outside while I'm inside.  In my mind, there's just nothing more relaxing and soothing as snuggling under a blanket with a hot beverage while the cold wind blasts around outside.

I always know when my mind has settled in to "cold weather mode", and that's when I break out my crocheting.

I've been crocheting since Butter was born.  It was a new hobby I wanted to start for myself, and so I completely taught myself how to do it.  In the eleven years he's been here, I've made several afghans, blankets, scarves, gloves, hats, character hats, and have even successfully attempted making boots, slippers, and a poncho.

For years and years I've told myself that I would stop only crocheting during the cold months, and crochet all year long so that I can sell the stuff that I make.  I totally could.  I've been to many craft fairs where crocheted items are sold at outrageous prices - and I can knock out those things in a few hours to a few days.  If I were to really buckle down and stick with it, I could make a fortune at a craft fair.

Last year, around this time, my crocheting stuff made it's appearance.  The item on the agenda for me to try for the first time were character hats.  I shared some pictures a few days ago of some of the hats I made last year.. but in case you missed them, here they are again:

I just know that I took pictures of the boots and slippers I made, but of course I can't find those pics anywhere.

Anywho, what I made last year is neither here nor there.  I have a new desire this year.  A new interest.  And that's with making headbands and hats that have those cute flowers on them.  Last year, the character hats were really popular - but from what I saw at the craft fairs this year, big flowers are the "thing".

So, yesterday, I decided to break out my crocheting stuff and see what I could come up with.  With all the things I have made, I have never made a headband.  Kinda silly, now that I think about it, because they are probably the easiest things to make.

I managed to knock a couple out pretty quickly.  Here are the two I made... the first one is Jelly's and the second one is mine:

I did mine a little thicker, so it would cover my ears.  I would have done the same to Jelly's, but she hates having anything over her ears.  Besides, she's a lot more likely to wear it all day long if it's small enough.  I have to say, I'm pretty happy with myself.  They didn't come out bad at all.  Before I went to bed last night, I tried out a third flower option which is kind of a mixture of the two seen here.  I think it's my most favorite, but I didn't attach it to anything yet.  I'm thinking about whipping out a beanie to put it on, just to see what the hats look like with a flower.

Butter has been on at me about making him a Sock Monkey character hat, and I will eventually... but I want to really get some of these headbands and hats made first.  They make great gifts in a pinch.  Plus, if I stock up on as much stuff as possible now, maybe my craft fair booth will finally become a reality.  We'll see.

Speaking of which, my crochet needle is calling my name already this morning.  Time to get to relaxing on my last day before going back to work, I suppose.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

This Just Isn't Right!

It is right now, at this very second, 7:25AM on a Saturday morning.  And I've already been out of bed for an hour.  It's not worth asking me why, because you know I will get to that.  What I can tell you right now is that it JUST ISN'T RIGHT!

I have been off work since Thursday afternoon, and I've been up early both yesterday and today.  Tomorrow is the last day of my break, and I can't sleep in too late on a Sunday because then I won't go to bed early enough tomorrow night. 

I just don't get why all of a sudden I've turned in to that woman who gets out of bed early when she doesn't have to.  Sleep used to be my "thing".  I could sleep for 12 hours straight and still take a nap in the afternoon.  I could sleep until noon if I wanted.  And I could sure as heck wake up and go right back to sleep if I needed to.  But, not anymore.  Now, if I wake up - that's it, I'm awake.

My cats woke me up this morning, knocking a box over off of a cabinet in my bedroom.  It was one of those loud, crashing sounds that throws you out of slumber with your heart racing and wondering what the heck is going on.  If that wasn't bad enough, they then took on the task of trying to break in to the snake tank.  Urm, kitties - you better be glad I was already awake to stop that from happening.  I'm pretty sure neither of you would have made it out of that tank unscathed.  Not that my snake is mean, but when something furry enters in to his domain - he expects it to be dinner.

So, after that whole debacle, I was wide awake - and so was Hubby and Jelly (who had apparently sneaked her way in to our bed at some point). 

Since getting up a little over an hour ago I've already fed the cats, had a cup of coffee, finished up my reading lesson plans, and written an email to Santa with Jelly.  Quite the productive morning I suppose, being that I'm a little cranky and not happy about being up before the sun.

Getting up this early when I didn't really need to put me into the Christmas spirit just a little.  Jelly and I started a conversation about her wanting to play on my iPhone and me mentioning that she should probably write a letter to Santa asking for her own thing to play on.  That, of course, is what got me to writing an email to the big guy.  Don't you just love technology?  No longer do my children need to write letters, they can now fill in a form online and receive an instant response.  Apparently, internet service in the North Pole is top notch!

I don't like getting these Christmas feelings so early.  They lead to me wanting to go Christmas shopping - and that's something I'd really like to wait on just a little while.  So, I guess sitting in front of the computer and making lists or coming up with ideas could suffice until it's time to go out and do the actual deed.

It just feels so weird to be sitting here on a Saturday with my work all done and no real plan of action for the day.  I have to clean, but who really wants to think about that?  Not me, that's for sure.  I need to get my laundry done.. but, again... not really something I'm looking forward to.  Maybe after I get all of the not fun stuff out of the way, I could curl up on the couch with a movie I haven't seen in forever and just enjoy some relaxation.  There we go, that sounds much better.

Oh well, better get to that not so fun stuff while I actually have the motivation to do it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday's Letters

Dear Parents of Kids in My Class.... Thank you SO much for coming to conferences!  It was a great experience for me.  Except, now of course, I have to follow through on my word and give the kids a pizza party because we received 100% participation.  It felt really good to know that it meant a lot to the kids to have their parents come, and I was happily surprised at the great feedback I got from you all.  My ego grew about 8 sizes after hearing the wonderful compliments you gave me in regards to the reading and study habits you are seeing in your children.

Dear House... It's about dang time you started cleaning yourself.  I'm so tired of cleaning you and you just being dirty five minutes later.  I just have no motivation to deep clean, and when I do I feel like I'm wasting my time.  Then I get all grumpy when I walk in and you're a mess - and I end up hiding out in my office or my bedroom just so I don't have to look at you.  Get it together!

Dear Children That Live in This House... No matter how much I beg and plead, this house won't clean it's self.  And, it appears that you are the ones that make all the mess, yet throw hissy fits when I ask you to clean it.  Your father and I work long hours to make sure you have food in your tummies, water to take showers and wash your clothes, clothes to wear, and electricity to run all of your toys.  The least you can do is spend less than 30 minutes each day picking up after yourselves and washing a dish now and then.  Don't you dare whine and complain when I ground you and take away your computer time.  You don't want to help out around here, then we don't want to pay for you to enjoy your luxuries.  When you get a job and pay for those things yourself, then come back and talk to me.

Dear Dentist... Thank you so much for not ever making us wait when we come to see you.  It's so irritating to go to an appointment and then sit in a waiting room forever.  You are the only place I know where I can arrive ten minutes early and get called straight back.  Plus, my kids love coming to see you... which is just unheard of.  You are one of those people I just want to thank for making my life that much easier.

Dear Scholastic Book Clubs... Thank you so much for continuing to give me free money so that I can buy books for my classroom.  I don't know anywhere else that I can buy 32 books for $20.  And, yes, I understand that I said you give me "free" money, but I am totally fine with having to spend $20 to get a free $10.  Not only that, but I can buy my favorite chapter books for my entire class for $1 a book!  Once my order arrives, I will have 2 class sets of chapter books.  Oh, and now I have over 400 bonus points to spend.  You are like having Christmas in October.  As long as I am a teacher, I will be a customer of Scholastic.

Dear Jelly... I am so proud that you are already able to tie your own shoes.  I know you've been working on it for a couple of weeks now - and you finally are able to do it all by yourself.  Your brother and sister weren't able to tie their own shoes until they were about 6, and look at you doing it when you're only 4!  You continue to amaze me with how smart you are. 

Dear Wal-Mart... Hubby will cringe at this statement, but THANK YOU for providing me a way that I can give my kids a great Christmas and not have to pay for it until tax time.  I've saving my pennies like a good girl in the hopes of having some money put away for Christmas - and then you come along and give me a credit card that won't charge me any interest for 6 months.. so that I can buy now and pay it off in monthly installments without it costing me a ton of extra in interest.  I am not a fan of credit cards, and have kept the one credit card I own zeroed out each month.  I feel that I am responsible enough now to take on this extra credit without going crazy.  It just amazes me that for 5 years my credit has been too bad to get a credit card from you, and now that I have student loans and car payments coming out of my ears - I am now fit to apparently have credit with you.  Whatever.  I'm not going to complain about that now.  Just thanks for finally coming through for me.

Dear Me... I know it goes against everything you believe in to get another credit card.  That's a good quality to have, and one that you will continue to keep in your heart.  Don't think of this new credit card as "free money".  You know your limits, and you know what you can and can't afford to pay off in the next 6 months.  There's nothing wrong with financing a few things that you want to buy the kids for Christmas.  Keep saving money the way you have been, and if you have the money to pay off the card earlier - then you will.  At least now you know that you have some wiggle room with the saved money if you really need it.  You have worked hard to fix your credit and become more responsible with your budgeting.  Don't feel guilty about splurging just a little to give the kids a great Christmas.  They deserve it, too.  You have worked your tail off the past four years and you've waited even longer to have some financial stability.  Owning a credit card isn't going to destroy that for you - because you won't let it.  I know you, and know how you think.  Now, get to work so you can enjoy your weekend off!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ten Things Thursday

Yeah, I know I complained about this last week - about how difficult it was to come up with ten things to randomly talk about.  But, I'm going to try it again.  I'm a "If at first you don't succeed..." kinda gal.  So, I'm gonna try, try again...

1.  I woke up in a perfectly good mood, but it has taken me 30 minutes to get my computer started up and to this page in order for me to write my blog...which has caused my blood pressure to raise just a little.  The power went out last night for a minute causing my computer to shut down.  It then took 30 minutes to get through the downloading updates, loading the screen, and pulling up my browser just to let me type.  I so need a new laptop!  Or maybe I should shut my computer down more and install updates when I'm supposed to.  Yeah.  No.  I need a new laptop.

2.  Why is it so difficult for children to do what they are supposed to do?  It was Butter's turn to wash the dishes last night.  I must have told him about 15 times that if there wasn't enough room in the dishwasher, that he needed to hand wash what was left.  I get up this morning to discover dishes all over the counters.  UGH!  Peanut's just as bad.  I've been getting on to her for weeks about her room.  It's still not clean.  Why do they insist on making me ground them?  I don't ask a lot of them, but I sure can't get them to do the little things I ask them to do.  So.  Frustrating.  And, I know full well that Butter will be all ticked off when he finds out his grounded today.  He'll get mad and sulk around the house all day blaming the world about how unfair his life is.  One day I plan on getting through to my kids that they have it better than so many kids out there, and it's not too much to ask for them to clean the dishes a couple of times a week.

3.  I'm actually excited about going to work completely alone this morning.  I'll be able to control the radio, listen to what I want to listen to, and none of it will include children bickering in the back seat.  Pure paradise, I'm telling you!

4.  I think I'm going to take the opportunity to stay at work a little longer today and get some much needed work done.  It will be quiet.  I'll have everything I need right in front of me.  So, there's no reason to bring tons of work home with me... I just need to get it done before I leave so I can actually enjoy the rest of my time off.  Did I mention that there won't be any children bickering through it all?  If you haven't noticed, I've been dealing with the kids fighting a lot lately... as if I didn't make that obvious enough.

5.  I don't care what anyone says, but the cutest thing in the world is a 4 year old when she first wakes up.  It's an image that doesn't last long, but a 4 year old wakes up with the cutest face and loveable attitude.  They want snuggles and hugs.  Then, they fully wake up and they fall right in to that normal, mode where they are still cute - but not near as loveable.  And then the "Can I have..." starts up, and I'm wishing she'd just go back to sleep.  Oi, I am in a mood this morning.  Stupid computer!  It's all your fault.

6.  Is it just me, or does writing look a lot more fun to read when it's brightly colored?  Now, I just have to focus on the pretty colors.  Negative breath in, positive breath out.   

7.  There's only 61 days until Christmas.  That excites the beejezus out of me.  Last year, Christmas seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye.  I'm going to make it a point this year to soak up every bit of Christmas - starting with the trimming of the tree on Thanksgiving night, to weekend Christmas movies and hot chocolate, to dragging out the gifts being unwrapped on Christmas morning. 

8.  I just realized that I missed the deadline to decline this month's movie from the Disney Movie Club - and so now I've been charged $30 for a movie I don't want.  Why does that never happen when it's a movie I actually want?  Those clubs always seem to get me somehow.  I don't know why I ever signed up for the thing.  Oh, wait.  Yes I do.  I got 10 movies for $1.99, and thought that was a great deal.  Now I'm just realizing that I'm going to buy 4 movies at regular price - which is about double what I'd pay in the store.  I never seem to get it when I'm being duped.  

9.  Ten things Thursday is a lot easier to write when I'm a little grumpy. It's so easy to find things to complain about.  There's something wrong with that statement.  I really need to work on finding more things to be happy about.  But, I guess I can look at it that I'm writing out all of grumbles and leaving them here.  I don't want to let out the good things that keep me going.  Those are the things I want to hold on to. 

10.  I'm going to end with saying that I'm very happy I get an extra day off this weekend.  Thanks, Fall Break!  I just caught a bit of the weather forecast for this weekend, and it's supposed to be much colder than it's been the past week.  We had temps back up in the high 70s.  Now, the temps are going back down in to the 50s and 60s.  Perfect weather for cleaning my house, snuggling on the couch, and maybe getting out for a little while.  I don't know why I'm such a fan of cold weather - but I am.  It excites me and makes me happy.  If you think I'm happy with temps down in the 50s, just wait and see what happens when the temps go down in to the 30s!

Wow, I zoomed through my 10 things this morning.  Now, I have to go and get all dressed up for my half day of doing parent-teacher conferences.  I hope they are as fun as the Tuesday night conferences were.  Yes, I like doing conferences.  I know, I'm a dork.  And I'm perfectly happy about that!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Few Thoughts on Parent-Teacher Conferences

Last night, I was able to check off probably one of the biggest milestones off of my "teacher firsts" list.  And that would be Parent-Teacher Conferences.  Well, the first half of them, anyways.  Call me silly, but I really do have a list of all of the things I've been waiting for years and years to do once I officially became a teacher (apart from actually teaching kids), and funny enough Conferences is the first thing on that list.  I've already checked off a few things such as set up my classroom, grade papers (so over that), take a field trip, and decorate a bulletin board with student work.  There's only a few things left - conferences was one and throw a holiday party was another...and that will be coming off the list next week.

Those little list items were a big part of helping me decide my future career so many years ago.  When I was five, and even on through my school years, it wasn't the actual teaching that perked my interest - it was all the other things I witnessed my teachers do that interested me.  My bucket list for teaching, I guess you could call it.

So, the first half of conferences are behind me.  I was meeting with parents from 4pm through to 8pm last night with only a five minute break here or there.  And, even though I was completely exhausted by the time I got home, I really enjoyed the experience.

I decided to compile a few thoughts on my experiences last night... cause you all know how much I like to make lists.  My take-aways of what I learned and what surprised me.  Here goes...

  • It's an amazing feeling to be able to share with parents the progress their child has made and see the relief and happiness in their eyes.
  • It was surprising to hear how many parents commented on how much more their child is reading at home.  Which is something I push in class.. so it's nice to hear that my kiddos are listening.
  • The most common question I received last night was "how is my child's behavior?"  Parents truly are concerned about how their child is behaving at school - and that's always nice to know.
  • When there are conferences that late at night, I must plan ahead for dinner.  I grazed among open bags of chips and dips last night as my dinner.  No bueno! 
  • My ego grew about 3 sizes last night when I had several parents make comments referring to how much they see the growth at home that their child has made and how thankful they are that I'm their child's teacher.  I will add that my heart melted as my ego grew.
  • I walked away from the only some-what negative conference with a lump in my throat as I heard about a father's struggle to bring his family to America from Guatemala and how important it was to him that his children do the best they can in school - and how much it broke his heart to hear and see that his child isn't doing that.  Which has now resulted in fueling my fire to make this child succeed no matter what Hell fire I have to go through to get it done.
  • I need to always make sure I have candy to offer at conferences, cause it's amazing how much a roll of Smarties can settle down a 2 year old that's had enough of sitting.
  • Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the conferences and it didn't bother me one bit to be at work so late because the time flew by anyways.  But don't tell anyone I said that - I'm not sure that liking conferences is normal among the teacher world.

Now it's time for me to go find some Western Wear to put on for another spirit day.  Also, the last day before the Fall Break (even though I have to work half the day tomorrow).  I know that I don't own any western wear, so this should be interesting.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just Another Truthful Tuesday

To be honest... I'm equally split between being excited and nervous for parent/teacher conferences tonight.  And I think that's weird.  The feeling excited part.  I'm pretty sure any teachers that have had to work from 7:30am until 8pm at night would probably want to stab me in the eye with a blunt pencil after reading that statement.  But, I really am looking forward to meeting the parents of the kids in my class.  I just really hope they show up, because sitting around for 4 hours won't be fun at all.

To be honest... I am completely puzzled by a phone call I received from my mom on Sunday.  For the past several weeks we haven't spoken because of the whole mess over a kiddie fishing pole.  Call me stubborn, but I have been waiting for an apology - or something.  At the very least a "hey, this whole mess is stupid, let's just forget it shall we?"  I don't think my mom knows my true feelings behind why I was so upset - and probably still doesn't - but that's neither here nor there.  She actually called me on Sunday.  I was shocked when I saw that it was her calling.  My first instinct was that something terrible had happened.  I answered the phone and she asked me a question about her air conditioner.  What the what?  She spoke to me like nothing had ever happened.  Just a quick, friendly call to ask a simple question.  She asked her question, I answered her - in the same way she was speaking to me (friendly and polite) - and that was it.  Phone call over.  I was left wondering what the heck had just happened, was our fight over?  I'm still not sure and have no idea how to move forward with this.

To be honest... I have missed talking to my mom.  I don't like fighting with her - or anyone.  The situation was stupid and no reason to fight, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm hurt and very upset over what happened.  I now feel like nothing will ever come of it and it will just be swept under the rug never to be spoken of again.

To be honest... I can't believe I waited so long to hook up a big monitor to my laptop. Yeah, I'm completely switching gears and changing subjects.  That's how I roll, people!  Anywho, for well over a year, the screen on my laptop has been going out.  The picture shakes up and down and gets staticy.  It was literally a pain in the head to work for very long on the thing - which I had to suck up because I've been spending hours and hours working on my laptop on the weekend.  Hubby finally convinced me to hook up a monitor to my laptop in order to protect my eyes.  It's not like I use my laptop as a laptop.  It's sat on my desk for as long as I can remember.  It's no longer mobile because the battery is shot.  And now I can work without getting an eye strain or screaming at my monitor anymore.  Now, if I can just save up enough pennies to buy a new laptop.  Yeah, that won't happen anytime soon.

To be honest... I got around to taking a picture of my new hair cut so that I can share it with you, but I'll warn you ahead of time that it's not the best picture in the world.  The front facing camera on my iPhone stinks in low light.  The picture also makes me look like I have a mustache - which I do NOT.  But, the point of the picture is to show off my haircut - and the picture does do a good job of that.  I didn't really like it at first when it came to trying to fix it, because it was a little too "bob" for my liking - but I have to admit that it's growing on me.  The bangs are definitely something I like.  For the first time in.. well, ever... the stylist was able to give me real bangs.

To be honest... I was a total grouch at work yesterday.  I'm not really sure why.  My patience had a short fuse and it just seemed like one of those days that no matter how I explained the simplest of tasks, the kids didn't get it.  After the wonderful and delightful week I had last week, I expected this week to be even better - especially since it's a short week and we're not doing a whole lot of new stuff.  I had a formal evaluation from my principal, and that went really well.  Thank goodness.  She managed to get in and watch me teach before my fuse got lit.  Today, I'm going to try and be really happy-go-lucky.

To be honest... I should probably get around to digging through my closet to find something professional looking to wear.  It's supposed to be Hawaiian day at school - for Red Ribbon Week.  I don't own any Hawaiian wear, and anything I do own that would work doesn't really fit with the "dress professional for conferences" mentality.  So, time to dig.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Nothing Like a New Do

Being impulsive isn't really a way I would ever describe myself.  Don't get me wrong, my life is full of impulsive moments.  If I want to change a lesson from what's written in my lesson plan book, I will.  If I decide to buy something that's not on my shopping list, I will.  If I suddenly decide I want to spend the day out doing something fun - that can happen, too. 

OK, so I guess I have impulsive tendencies.  Which is probably why I decided, out of the blue, to go and get a hair cut yesterday.  It was actually Peanut's idea.  I was complaining explaining that I had finished all of my work for the day and didn't know what to do.  She made the suggestion that I could take her for a haircut.  She's been on at me for a while now about wanting a trim and her bangs shaped and get layers put in to her hair.  That's when I decided it was about time I got a haircut for myself.

This would normally be the time that I show you a pic of the new do.  But, I don't have one to share - yet.  You see, the salon wanted to charge me extra to fix my hair after it was cut.  And being the thrifty gal that I'm trying to be, I decided to just go with the cut and hope for the best this morning.  Not only that, but I got bangs cut... like real bangs.  And because I've never really had bangs before, the stylist told me to wear a bobby pin in my hair for the rest of the day and night to help "train" my bangs to stay to one side.  Another impulsive move on my part. 

I've tried to have bangs many times before.  But, every time I got them cut, the stylist cut them one side or the other.  I have a natural part right down the center of my head.  Cutting bangs to fit a side part just never worked.  I ended up walking around looking like Justin Bieber and his famous head shake when he tried to get his own hair out of his eyes.  The stylist yesterday informed me that because I have a natural part down the middle, my bangs needed to be cut the same length and then "trained" to stay one side or the other depending on how I wanted to fix it.  Fingers crossed she was right, I suppose.

My hair is short, again.  Which is a big difference to what it was.  It was getting pretty long, and I'm not a fan of long hair.  Once my hair reaches the length it can be put in to a pony tail, that's where it will stay.  So, I deliberately try and keep it at a length that's too short to go in to a pony tail.  To the dismay of Hubby, who prefers me with longer hair.  But, he dyes his hair pink!  He can get over it just like he's had to for the past 8 years.

Alright, so a new hair cut isn't really the most exciting way to start off a new work week... but it's what I've got for today.  It's better than what I've written the past two Mondays.  And that's because I haven't written on here for the past two Mondays.

Busy, busy day ahead of me today.  I have a lot to get ready before parent/teacher conferences tomorrow evening.  But, I'm excited about it.  And I'm also excited about my short week.  Only three and a half days to work this week.  YAY!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My First Saturday Out With the Family in FOREVER!

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of going out with Sanity for lunch.  I was out of the house about 2 hours - and then spent the rest of my weekend sitting in front of the computer getting all of my work done for the week.  I felt really excited about getting a chance to sneak off for a couple of hours, but I also knew that being out for those couple of hours was going to mean playing a little catch-up in order to get everything done.

This weekend has been totally different.  Do I still have some work to do?  Yes.  But not near the amount I usually have to do.  And because of that, I was able to spend the entire day out with the family yesterday.

Our fun-filled day started off with grocery shopping.  Hey.  Don't laugh!  To a person who hasn't done any grocery shopping since August, this was a treat.  Hubby has had the responsibility of doing the grocery shopping each weekend since I started work.  The only time I've graced Wal-Mart with my presence since August, was the occasional times I've had to run in for an item or two.  And when I say run, I mean run.  In.  Out.  Home. 

Yesterday, I made a point to casually stroll up and down aisles looking at stuff I had no intention of buying - but just for the sake of enjoying the time.  I didn't even want to look at the shopping list.  That's a big deal for me.  A few months ago, a trip to Wal-Mart without a shopping list, would have caused a minor anxiety attack.  I was programmed to walk in to the store and follow a path that leads me from the back of the store to the front of the store without having to go back and forth.  But, yesterday, I made Hubby hold on to the list and point us where we needed to go - and I didn't even notice if we doubled back for a forgotten item or diverted away from the list for something. 

Once grocery shopping was over with, I took Peanut and Jelly out to visit a couple of craft fairs.  Now, I will mention that craft fairs are usually the death of me.  I get these urges to pay ridiculous prices for crap I could make myself or crap that ends up in a box never to be seen again because I think for the minute it would look good somewhere and then change my mind by the time I get home. 

Not this time around.  Those suckers weren't getting me this time.  I wasn't going to the craft fairs to look for junk I didn't need, I was going to craft fairs because the weather was absolutely beautiful outside and I have been stuck in my house on the weekends for far too long.  And apparently, that mindset works wonders because I hardly bought anything.

In fact, not only did I only spend a few dollars on kettle corn and some cute ear warmers for the girls - but I actually found myself looking at stuff and thinking "hmm, I should break out my crochet stuff and start making these" - talking about all of the cute scarves and hats and other crocheted clothing items that were being sold for exorbitant amounts. 

Seriously, I don't get it.  I can crochet.  Pretty darn well, actually.  Last winter, I made these for the kids...

These character/ Mohawk hats were all the craze last year - and apparently they will be again this year.  These hats that I made cost me about $10 total to make all three, and they took a couple of hours each.  Yet, I saw hats similar to this for sale at the craft fairs yesterday for $20 EACH!  And that's not all I can make.  I've made scarves, afghans, gloves, and even knocked out a couple pairs of slippers last year.  All I thought while walking around those craft fair booths yesterday was "I could make a fortune if I crocheted more and then sold my stuff". 

Needless to say, I walked away from the craft fairs with my money still in my pocket and the desire to start crocheting again.  And I did exactly what I wanted to do - just enjoy some fresh air.

This morning, I'm going to knock out my lesson plans for the three days the kids will be in school next week.  That would be one of the reasons I had so much free time this weekend - I only have to plan for three days of school next week.  I have to work three and a half days due to parent/teacher conferences - but then I get three and a half days OFF.  Whoop whoop!  Maybe that's when I'll dust off my crocheting stuff.

Anywho, it was a wonderful Saturday.  It's amazing how much I miss the little things when I'm so focused on work.  I know it's just the first year teacher curse having so much to do all of the time, but I'm working on making my life easier so that I truly can enjoy the days I'm supposed to have off. 

And, now it's that time to get to doing what I do... so I can enjoy the rest of my Sunday.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Being Broke Is Fine With Me

Payday is one of those days that can either bring joy and excitement or a feeling of dread and misery.  It all depends on what you do for a living and how you live you life.  Some people know that payday brings about a chance of doing some fun family activities or going on a shopping spree or going out for a fancy meal.  For those among the population that lives paycheck to paycheck (I'm guessing about 3/4 of the country), payday is just another day where bills will be paid and juggled, dollars will be stretched to the max in order to afford groceries, and the little pleasures in life are considered "one day" items.

I consider myself truly blessed to be one of those people that live in the middle of both of those lifestyles. 

Being a teacher, I only get paid once a month.  That comes with both negatives and positives.  Knowing that I have to stretch my paycheck out for an entire month can be a little nerve wracking.  But, I've gotten used to it and know how to do it.

Each month, the first thing I do is pay ALL of my bills.  No juggling.  No deciding which is more important.  I just pay them.  There's not a thought in my mind about how much money will be left over.  All that matters is that all of the bills are paid so I never have to worry about losing something we need.  Once the bills are paid, I take out the money we have budgeted to need for groceries.  Then, gas money comes out.  And when I say "comes out", I mean I have this awesome spreadsheet that shows how much money I have and put all of my expenses and stuff in to it.  The money I take out comes out of that - to show how much I have left. 

To make a long, boring, budgeting story short - whatever I have left at the end of paying bills, and budgeted expenses is all I have left for the rest of the month. 

And the best part is, I know I was able to do this last year when I was making half as much as I am now.  My pay isn't considered high pay - in fact, my pay all by it's self would put my family below the national poverty line.  But, I made do last year with half as much... so I know I can definitely get by this year. 

Hubby and I have always kept our money separate - and we divide up the bills.  He takes half the bills and I take the other half - which include both car payments, daycare, insurance, and food.  He pays all the household bills like the mortgage, utilities, cable, etc.  It works for us.  And I love doing it that way.

Even though we don't have a whole lot of money left over each month to do a lot of spending, I feel very happy that we can pay our bills, eat, and not have to worry about any of it.  Life hasn't always been that great.  I remember the days when I would hate payday because it was another reminder that I had no money, and regardless of how much money I was going to be getting.. it just wasn't enough to pay all the bills I had.  I think that's when I started the "pay the bills first and worry about what's left later" mantra.  Going without electricity, water, a car, and even food have been situations I've had to deal with in life.

So, now paydays are a great feeling.  Even knowing that there's not much left over to do a lot of spending or family activities.  We can usually pull a pizza night or some kind of fast food a couple nights a month... but that's usually the extent of our "splurge shopping".  As long as I have everything I need, bills are paid, and food in the fridge - life is A-OK!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Letters From the Heart...Or Something Like That

Dear Friday.... For the first time in a very long time, I haven't been down on my knees, praying to anything that would listen, for you to arrive.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you're here.  Who doesn't like Fridays?  All I'm saying is that this has been such a good week, I haven't been praying for you to hurry and get here.

Dear Whatever Is In the Air Making the Students CRAZY.... Please hurry up and do whatever it is you need to do and go away.  I don't know if it's the weather change, something in the water, or a full moon - but enough already!  My students have been loud, swirly, and just not their normal selves.  Except for the kids that are normally loud and swirly - those kids have been quiet and focused all week.  So, now I wonder if I'm asking for the right thing.  Hmm... decisions, decisions.

Dear Computer Police... I hope I don't get in to too much trouble for using the picture for today's post.  Yes, I clearly see the copyright in the bottom corner of the picture - but it was such a perfect picture to use.  I mean, who doesn't like using an adorable little red head writing a letter cartoon to look at before reading what I have to say?  Besides, it's really not my fault.  Search engines are all I need to find pictures like this one to use - and they even offer the option to copy the photo.  And they make a lot more money than I do.  So, go after them - k?

Dear Santa... You can bet your cheery red behind that this won't be the last time I write to you this year.  But, let me soak in for a second that this is the FIRST time I'm writing to you this year.  Look, I know you're busy - we are only 9 weeks away from Christmas after all, but I need your help.  I don't have a clue what to get for my kids this year.  I have to start thinking about this stuff now, or I'll wait until the last minute and run around stores like a crazy person (like over half of this country will do) trying to figure it out.  The oldest two kids don't really play with toys anymore, and the youngest has too many toys.  But, I am one of those crazy people that insists on having a big Christmas each year.  To the dismay of Hubby.  Any advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated - and I'm going to need a response ASAP.  Can't wait around too much longer, you know.

Dear Person That Emailed Me Yesterday About My "Apparent Support for Obama"... First, I have never expressed my personal opinion or choice for either candidate.  What I said in my post yesterday was in response to someone else who had posted on their Facebook account about not being able to freely express their support for Romney without being bashed and then bashing someone who supported Obama.  That didn't mean I was picking one side or the other.  I was merely pointing out a stupid statement.  And regardless, whoever I support in the Presidential Campaign is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!  You are one of the people I was talking about. Trying to explain to me why Romney is so great and Obama is so wrong for this country isn't going to sway me in one direction or the other.  I'm actually a person who likes to research the different candidates and make my own choice.  Imagine that, right?  You decide who you support and stand by that decision without letting anyone interfere with that... and LET ME DO THE SAME! 

Dear Craft Fairs.... I'm having a really hard time deciding if I want to visit you this weekend.  I love going to craft fairs.  It gets me out of the house.  Let's the kids get some fresh air.  And I get to look at some awesome stuff that people have created.  My problem is, I always end up buying awesome stuff that people have created for way more than I should.  I'm really trying to save my pennies for Christmas, and I just have this horrible feeling that if I show up this weekend - I will waste a lot of pennies.  I just don't know what I should do.

Dear Secret Pal... Yes, I know that I have been a horrible Secret Pal.  I've only bought you one thing since the whole thing started.  Maybe I can find something for you this weekend when I visit the craft fairs.  Oh, wait.  I can't.  You see, I just wrote this letter to the craft fairs telling them that I won't be able to spend money there this year because of trying to save up for Christmas.  And then it took me all of 2 minutes to decide to look for something to buy.  Well, I will do what I can for you.  Maybe I can figure out a spending limit, or indulge in the ability of being able to control my spending.  Don't laugh.  That's not very nice!  Whatever I decide, I promise not to be such a sucky Secret Pal for the rest of the school year.

Dear Blog... So, I've been looking over the posts that I've made this week and I kinda think that my writing has gotten a little better.  Again.  I'm sure it's directly related to my new positive outlook on life that I've found - but whatever it is, it's better.  Don't you think?  I always under the impression that I wrote better when I was stressed.. because my writing was a good stress reliever.  Now, I'm starting to wonder if I write better when I'm not stressed and the writing just helps keep the stress at bay.  Have you noticed that we've had a few commenters this week?  How'd it feel getting some attention?  I don't know about you - but it felt great to me.  I promise that I will keep doing what I'm doing to keep added stress out of my life so that it doesn't affect you.  You're welcome.

Dear Me... Look at you feeling all confident and proud this week.  And all it took was taking a little more control over your lesson planning to get you here.  It just goes to show you how much you should listen to your head and your heart and just do what they both tell you to do without worrying what other people will think about it.  You've received a lot of great compliments this week and you've seen how much growth your students have made.  You're finally doing what you've dreamed of doing your whole life - coming up with great lessons to teach.  I love that you always try to think of other people first, and put your own agenda on the back burner so not to "ruffle any feathers", but sometimes you have to weigh the pros and cons.  With you just trying to "go with the flow", your students were suffering.  You knew that wasn't right and have started taking good measures to fix that.  Believe in yourself.  You are good at what you do.  Don't ever doubt yourself again.  The proof is in the pudding, my friend.  Mmmm... pudding.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ten Things Thursday

I haven't done this in a long time.  It's not my idea.  Along time ago, I stole borrowed this fun little Thursday activity from my buddy, Drazil.  I do that a lot, because one day I want to be a writer as funny and talented as she is.  That's why I steal borrow all of her ideas.  HA!

1.  I complain about Facebook a lot, yet I just can't seem to even fathom the idea of just letting it go.  I received a great comment on my post, yesterday, about how happy the commenter was about giving up on Facebook.  The thought of myself deleting my Facebook page entered my mind for 3.2 seconds before the idea was gone.  Why do we hold on to things that bother us so much?  Beats me.  But, I just can't do it.

2.  To go right along with the Facebook complaining, I have to mention the ignorance I witnessed last night.  Someone made the post that said something along the lines of "I'm a Romney fan, but why can't I say that and not be harassed and insulted on my opinion?  I have the right to vote for whichever candidate I feel like voting for without being insulted for it."  I was going to comment about how I'd written a blog post that went right along those lines... until I read some of the person's further comments.  Other people had commented, but one person had posted something about supporting Obama and feeling the same way.  That same person who had written the original comment posted something along the lines of "Obama supporters will be the death of this country".  No, dear.  Close minded, hypocritical people like you will be the death of our country.  Geez!

3.  The copier went out at work on Tuesday.  Teachers without a copier is like a bird without a branch to land on.  Until I wasn't able to copy something, I realized how heavily I rely on a copy machine.  I had to rewrite my reading plans for yesterday, because I hadn't already made the copies I needed for the day.  The take-away lesson I should have gotten from that is to always plan ahead and make the necessary copies at the beginning of the week.  What did I end up taking away from it?  I prefer the lessons I write on the spot - and so do the kids - much better.  We spent 90 minutes reading, talking, and digging deep in to some of the stuff we've been covering.  Great stuff, right there!

4.  Do you realize the we are only 5 weeks away from Thanksgiving?  That means we're only 9 and 1/2 weeks away from Christmas!  This paycheck I'm going to start my Christmas shopping.  Maybe.  Probably.  As much as I love Christmas, it's getting harder and harder to buy for my kids each year.  My kids are cursed with a mother who HATES buying clothes for Christmas.  What kids like opening clothes for Christmas?  Apparently mine - who have asked for clothes.  Does that mean I haven't provided them with the necessary clothes they need or does that mean that they are so spoiled they have nothing else to ask for?  Either way, it's not good.  I like to think that it's neither and my kids just want to give my checking account a break and ask for simple stuff.  Yeah.  That has to be it.

5.  So, with the cooler weather we've had the past couple of weeks, I've noticed that the plague of grasshoppers have disappeared.  Thank goodness!  But, I'd like to know where they went.  I mean, I know they probably got killed off - especially since we had a couple of days with temps down in to the 30s.  But, shouldn't I see thousands and thousands of grasshopper carcasses laying around my front yard?   How can that many grasshoppers just suddenly disappear without a trace?  Something to think about.

6.  Oh, and now that the grasshoppers are all gone, what's up with the sudden onset of hundreds of caterpillars everywhere?  I thought caterpillars came out in the spring to turn in to beautiful butterflies.  My front porch looks like Grand Central Station for caterpillars.  They are EVERYWHERE.  I know it doesn't help living right in the woods - but come on!  Oh, and the Daddy Long Legs that have taken up residence on my porch need to find a new home, too.  I really don't like having to sprint up on my porch and in the front door with the hopes that nothing crawled on me.

7.  Why is it so hard for a person that spends every morning writing random crap to come up with ten mini random crap paragraphs?

8.  Do you guys believe in doppelgangers?  I never did, until I started working in my new school.  Before I started there, Peanut was always called the "mini-me".  She looks just like me.  But, after our first week, people constantly asked her if she was the child of another new teacher who started working there this year.  Since that time, I've become very good friends with my look-alike and we have the strangest things in common.  We both met our significant others in the same way.  We have both gone through the same weight loss struggles (hers being a lot more successful than mine).  We both teach, and our significant others work for the same company.  We delivered our last child in the same hospital.  And the list can go on and on.  I'd post a picture of us both for you to see the resemblance, but I haven't asked her permission - so I won't.  But, I have to admit, it's pretty freaky.  Oh, and did I mention that she is the mother of Peanut's boyfriend?  

9.  I have to send out letters this week for my first class party.  It didn't hit me until yesterday how excited I am about doing it.  All of these firsts that I get to check off my list:  Parent/Teacher Conferences and Fall Party being two of them.  It's weird to me that these things are something I've been waiting years to do.  

10.  Phew.  Made it.  Without a minute to spare.  Now I remember why I had to stop writing Ten Things Thursday - because it was so dang hard.  And nobody pay attention to the fact that I've already pointed this out and technically this last item shouldn't count because I've already talked about it.



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

No, I Didn't Watch the Debate... *GASP!*

I'm not gonna lie or hide the fact that there are two subjects I deliberately avoid talking about on my blog:  Religion and Politics.

Not because I don't have interest in either, but because I'm a person that doesn't care for confrontation - and I don't want to spend days on end defending my views, getting upset, and going off on tireless tangents.  The last time I did anything closely related to religion and politics (Chik-Fil-A), I ended up regretting it and crying over some of the nasty comments and opinions I read.

Not taking an issue on one side of the other, I can say that I get so amazed at how important it is for people to try and push their views on other people.

Take last night, for instance.  I didn't watch the Presidential Debate because I was at a football game with my kids.  While the country were tuned in to their TV watching what two men had planned for our country and attacking each other about who did and didn't do what and who will in the future, I was snuggled up on some bleachers with Jelly on my lap and Peanut and Butter by my side cheering on Peanut's boyfriend while he played football.

But, after getting home and taking a quick peak at Facebook, I realized I didn't miss much.  I could read the pages and pages of comments from people that did watch it and get their take on the situation.  Key words being "their take".  If I were a Romney fan, I could find 1000 people who commented that Romney won the debate and how he won.  If I were an Obama fan, I could find exactly the same.  If I was neither, I could read what thousands of people wrote and be swayed one side or the other.  Not really.  I have my mind made up, but I'm going with a generalized thought process here.  What I just couldn't believe was the amount of personal attacks made on people for their political beliefs. 

Our local new stations had posted questions asking people to comment on who they thought were winning the debate.  Many, many people answered that question with their own opinion and I was shocked at how many other people got pretty nasty with those that didn't agree with their opinion.

Did I, at some point in time, fall in to a coma and wake up in an alternate dimension where the word "opinion" has a different meaning?

Nope.  Apparently not.  I just Googled the definition of Opinion and it still shows me that opinion means:
1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
So, the word opinion is still tied to a person having their own feelings and thoughts on a matter.  Huh.
I remember a time, not so long ago, that if I were to ask someone who they were voting for I'd be chastised and told that it was none of my business.  I'd be told that political views and preferences were a private matter.  Mainly because the opinion of the voter was a private opinion - their opinion.  Not to be swayed by the thoughts and opinions of others.  

Oh, how far we've come from that.

Now, take a little trip on over to Facebook and you can pretty much see the political opinion of half the country.  And, if that opinion isn't your opinion, get ready to feel some wrath from it.

I strongly believe that people should take a presidential election seriously.  Look at the matters that matter the most to you, as an individual, and then find out what each candidate's stand is on that issue.  And, if you don't vote, that is also a personal opinion - or maybe it's not.  There are many situations where people don't have the ability to vote.  Those people are still allowed to have an opinion - but voter or not, they don't have the right to push their opinion on others.  That's my opinion.  

And, I know, before anyone says it, that a presidential election really does fall on nothing more than opinion.  Each candidate spends millions of dollars trying to sway people to vote one way or the other.  I get that.  But, what I don't get is the nastiness that can result from an opposing view.  My goodness, I saw complete strangers have a battle royale right on my Facebook feed over who was voting for whom.  Religious beliefs were attacked, nasty accusations were made, and I even saw one or two comments about 'Yo Momma.  
Really people?  This is the direction we're heading?

Call me naive, but the last time I checked, America was supposed to be a country that supported and encouraged the freedom to make our own choices.  You're supposed to be able to practice whatever religion you want, vote for whoever you want, eat whatever you want, and say whatever you want.  But, there are lines between each thing that are slowly getting more blurry.  You have the right to all those things, but don't expect people to sit back and allow you the freedom to not have their input on the situation - usually with some horrible backlash and personal comments made.  

So, really, what I'm trying to say here is IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS WHO ANYONE ELSE IS VOTING FOR, WHAT RELIGION THEY BELIEVE IN, ETC.  Everyone has a right to their own opinion.  And, if you are one of those people that attack someone else for their personal opinion:  SHAME ON YOU!!

That is all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Stone Cold Truth

To be honest... Yesterday was one of my most less stressful days of working since school began.  I'm pretty sure it's because I felt confident, and that's a feeling I haven't really had at all since school started.  Now that I'm building and writing my own reading lessons, I feel a lot more in control. 

To be honest... For the first time in a long time, I felt a real pang of missing my thinner self yesterday.  I was looking at a friend's graduation pic from college and noticed that she'd lost a lot of weight since graduation.  It hit me that my story is the complete opposite.  The day I graduated college, I was at one of my lowest adulthood weights.  I've gained 40lbs since then.  I kinda want that thinner me back.  Again.

To be honest... I weighed myself this morning.  Something I haven't done in months.  I felt very relieved to see that I haven't gained any weight since the last time I weighed.  Even though I haven't lost any weight, I've managed to maintain my weight.  I'll take that, being that I haven't thought about what I'm eating or how much I'm eating since I don't know when.

To be honest... I have no idea why I always decide I want to try and lose some weight at the worst time of year.  We're only two weeks away from Halloween, a month away from Thanksgiving, and two months away from Christmas.  Not the ideal time to be thinking of dropping a few pounds when it's the two months out of the year I don't want to think about not being able to eat.

To be honest... I've decided that I'm not getting up at 4:30am anymore.  I'm going to reset my alarm to 5am.  An hour and a half is more than enough time to drink some coffee, write my blog, and get dressed ready for work.  It's amazing how much better I feel with just an extra 30 minutes of sleep each morning.

To be honest... I'm hoping that now I'm feeling a lot better about my stress situation, I'll be able to find my written sense of humor again.  My writing lately has been so freakin' dry.  I put myself back to sleep reading some of the stuff I've written lately. That has to change.  No wonder nobody ever comments anymore.

To be honest... I'm really nervous about my first parent/teacher conferences next week.  Nervous and a little excited.  Speaking to parents isn't really my strong point, but thankfully I don't have any really negative news I have to deliver either.  That always makes it easier, I guess.  I just hope that the parents show up. 

To be honest... I'm having a hard time coming up with anymore stuff to be honest about.  So, I guess that's it for me today.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Fill Up of Sanity

When it comes to the weekends, I haven't left my house in weeks.  Each weekend, I sit in front of my computer for hours then spend some time parked in front of my TV.  There have been several weekends where I've stayed in PJs until I got home Friday afternoon until I went back to work the following Monday.  Weekends have become my time to lock myself up from the world around me and get done what I need to get done.  It's also the time I try and get some rest and relaxation. 

Yesterday, I was finally able to break the mold I created for myself.  I broke away, leaving a lot of work behind me, to go and have lunch with Sanity. 

It's so hard to believe that it's been three months since I last saw her.  But, I guess that's what happens when you lock yourself up in your house every weekend for months... you miss out on seeing friends.  It was so nice to see her and spend some time catching up.

I did what I always do and started talking 150mph.  I'm bad about stuff like that.  I start talking about something, and before I know it I've talked for 30 minutes straight.  And one of Sanity's best qualities (there are many) is that she'll just sit there and listen. 

This is her first year teaching, also, so it was the first time that we'd spent time together as teachers.  And, hearing some of her joys and struggles coupled with my joys and struggles made me realize that all the feelings I'm feeling are completely normal.  We both knew that life in the real world was gonna be tough, and we're both tackling one day at a time to get through it.

It's crazy to think about how much time has passed since I met Sanity.  We met our sophomore year of college.  We had some of the same classes together, and I remember that pretty early on I knew I was going to like her.  We worked together on some projects, and before I knew it we were hanging out each weekend or after school each Thursday (when we had the majority of our classes together).  Even though neither of us was living the "normal" college student lifestyle - we did what we could to have a good time.

Last year was tough for both of us because neither of us were able to find a teaching job.  We both took assistant jobs in different school districts hoping that those jobs were the key to a teaching position.  It's weird, in a way, that she now works in the school district I worked for and I work somewhere completely different.  But, that's how the stars lined up for us, I suppose.  

I gave her the nickname "Sanity" because I felt she kept mine firmly in tact.  In fact, there are three of us in our entourage.  "Hope" is the other member to our trio.  The three of us bonded and spent many a night having a few drinks and laughing our struggles away.  Hope was able to find a teaching job last year, and she was the reason I got the job I did as a teaching assistant.  Thus, why I coined her as "Hope".  She was my hope of getting a teaching job.  I was sad that she couldn't join us yesterday - but I'm sure that in the near future we'll all be back together again.

Sanity and I both made an agreement yesterday that we wouldn't go three months until we saw each other again.  In fact, we agreed that we need to see each other at least once a month... just so we can break away from the constant routine of locking ourselves away each weekend.  I think it's a great idea - and I've already started making notes on my calendar. 

So, today, I feel a lot better about what's coming my way.  I'm recharged with motivation.  I'm ready to get back to work and knock out this week's plans.  And then, I'm going to take my happy behind - for the last time this week - to the couch and enjoy the last part of my weekend.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

It's Saturday. 7AM. And I've Been Out of Bed For an Hour...

Don't ask me why.  Well, wait.  I know why, but I'll get to that.  First, let the title sink in for a second.  I am out of bed and have been out of bed for a little over an hour on a Saturday morning - and it's only 7AM!  I don't remember the last time this happened since I've been working.  I'm just so exhausted on a Friday night that I can go to bed around 9 and sleep for a good twelve hours.  But today, I'm up.  Not just up, but rearing to go.

What.  The.  Freak?

If that's not strange enough for you, then let me now tell you that the minute I got home last night I pulled out books and notebooks and calendars and started working.  Ah-ha.  Friday night - the one night of week where I don't want to think about anything work related and I'm sitting on the couch piled up to my eyeballs in books.

What.  The.  Freak?  Again.

So, what's happened in a mere twenty four hours that has lit this sudden spark of determination and weird behaviors?  Well, I'm about to embark on a journey that I've been wanting to take since hearing the words "You're Hired!"

That journey?  Creating entire units and course work for my class. 

To most, I'm sure reading "creating entire units and course work" may set off thoughts of being a lot of work, being a hard task to take on, and maybe even a little intimidating.  And it is.  But, it really is something I've wanted to do for a long time...and believe in to really reach the students in my class.

Being a teacher, you understand that there really isn't a "one size fits all" mentality.  Each child has different needs, different learning styles, different backgrounds and interests.  These all come in to play when deciding the best approach with teaching.

I work with two teachers who are complete professionals.  They've been there and done that for about every learning situation there is.  I admire their abilities to recognize strengths and weaknesses from the get-go and adapt their teaching styles - and they do all of that with teaching the same content.  OK, rereading that sounded a little confusing.  Let me explain...

The two teachers I work with on my team are amazing.  They really are.  I know I wouldn't have gotten through these past couple of months with all my hair still in tact without them.  They have a system that they have both created for teaching.  They have the same resources.  They use the same schedules and lessons.  To watch them while they plan and work together is something quite remarkable.  Regardless of what students walk through their door, they are able to adapt slightly with the same resources and lessons previously created and get the job done.

I tried with all my might to mesh and fall in to place with their system.  But, after weeks of agony and frustration and being at my wit's end I realized I just can't do it.  Maybe it's my lack of experience.  Maybe it's the differences in schooling that I received.  Maybe it's because I'm such a control freak that it's impossible for me to slide right in to a system that's already in place without having any real say of how the system works.  And, yes, I know you are all probably agreeing on which of those options it is - but it really comes down to a mixture of the three.  Seriously.  It does.  All three, not just the last one.

So, after a lot of venting and frustration I came up with the idea to create my own lessons and ways for teaching the content that needs to be covered.  It means swaying away completely from what's happening in their classrooms.  It means putting the textbooks back in to their spots on my shelf.  It means starting from a completely blank slate and putting in many hours to come up with a curriculum approach that works with my teaching style and the needs of the students.  And it means a lot of work, planning, digging for resources... all of the stuff I actually LOVE doing.

I'll admit, I was so nervous to make the suggestion to my team.  I didn't want to be a teacher that walked in and started shooting off my mouth about the way things should be done or giving them the opinion that I didn't like the way they did things.  In fact, it couldn't be further away from the truth.  I wanted to fit in with what they were doing.  I envy their abilities to teach the way that they do.  And, maybe one day I will be able to teach that way.  I hope that for myself.  They are amazing teachers...and I love both of them.  I will be honored if, after several years of teaching, I am at the caliber of experience they both have.

But, right now, I have to come up with a way to do my own thing.  And I am so thankful that they are so supportive of my ideas and plans. 

Today, I am beginning the journey to create my own units of study.  Just for reading.  Thankfully, every other subject is working just fine.  That dwindles down the amount of work that I have to do.  But, reading is a biggie.  It's the foundation of all the other learning.  If my kids don't know how to read, how are they able to do anything else?  And that's my fuel for this journey. 

I don't expect my frustrations to disappear over night.  There will be some adjustments that need to take place.  There will need to be some changing and reevaluating.  But, I am so excited.  I am ready to take on this's all I've thought about since leaving school yesterday afternoon.  Hence getting up at 6:15 this morning.  I am rearing to go. 

And go I will.  For now.