Sunday, June 30, 2013

Not Exactly What I Planned...But, Still a Good Day...

OK, so my Me Day didn't exactly go as planned.  Before ever leaving the driveway, yesterday morning, for my morning walk I got a text message from my mom.  She decided she wanted to go to bingo with me.

I won't lie.  At first, I was a little...urm...not really disappointed, but kinda disappointed.  Only because I had psyched up my excitement of spending an entire day by myself.  As much as I love spending time with my mom, there's usually only one subject of conversation we tend to have - and that's about her being a foster mom.  My topics are conversation are pretty non existent.  My mom sure can talk.  HA! (Love you, Mom)

Now any other time, I have absolutely no problem with her sharing her events and transitions with having new foster kids, and/or adapting to life with foster kids that have been there for a while.  It doesn't bother me a bit.  I know that she doesn't really have any one else to talk to about that stuff, and I like being the person she talks to about it.

Just not on Me Days.

It's not like my mom just invited herself to go, though.  I actually invited her last weekend, but she told me she wouldn't be able to go.  It was then, and only then, I started to prepare and get excited about my Me Day.

After a few text messages back and forth between Mom and I, I managed to offend and upset her when I told her that I had looked forward to going by myself and didn't want to hear about foster kids.

That's not exactly how I said it, but you get the point.

My intention wasn't to upset her or deter her from going.  I actually really enjoy going to bingo with my mom... it's our "thing".  But, I was going to lay the law down for this particular trip, because it was very important to me that I got to destress and unwind.  

When I finally managed to get that point across, she was on board and agreed it would be a "foster kid free day".  

I really need to think about finding my mom some kind of hobby.  Just to find her something else to talk about.  But, I absolutely love and respect the fact that my parents chose to become foster parents - and they are great at it.  It's not surprising her conversation topics are so limited, simply because she spends 24 hours a day, 7 days a week taking care of them.  Getting to play bingo with me once every couple of months are her only down times...and I'm definitely not going to be a person to take that away from her.

While my mom, bless her heart, just can't help herself... I still ended up having a great time.  The bingo games themselves sucked big time...the overall evening was an enjoyable one.  I didn't get anywhere close to winning, and my mom only got close twice.  But, we don't go just to win money... we just go for the time away from everything.  And my mom deserved a night like that just as much as I did.

Today, I do feel much better.  I feel like I got the break that I needed, and that's all that matters.

In a little while, P-Momma is coming over.  I haven't seen her in a while.  She's coming over to get Jelly  so that Jelly can spend a couple of days with her.  Jelly has been asking about it all summer break, and I told her she had to wait until summer school was over.  So, at 3:31PM on Friday afternoon (one minute after summer school was officially over), she was ready to go....and was disappointed that she had to wait a couple more days.

This morning, she's been talking my ear off because she's so excited.  Jelly absolutely adores P-Momma.  Jelly is kinda like her dad, she doesn't like being around too many people.  While she loves visiting my parent's house, there are too many kids there for her to spend too much time there without getting extremely antsy and cranky.  At P-Momma's house, there's only one child there...and it makes for a good playmate for Jelly.  

So, for the next couple of days it will just be Hubby, Butter, and me.  

Well, I better start getting ready...

Have a great Sunday!!


Saturday, June 29, 2013

It Definitely Feels Like a Me Day!


I'm so excited!

And I just can't hide it!

I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!

I'm pretty sure that song will be stuck in your head all day long, now.  You're welcome.  

It's been stuck in mine since the moment I woke up this morning.  Why?  You ask.  Well, because today is my first ME day of the summer break.  One of those days that's literally just me, myself, and I.. for an ENTIRE day.  No kids.  No Hubby.  Nobody at all with me.

My day officially starts here in just a little while, after I finish writing my blog.  The first thing on my agenda is a nice, long, relaxing walk.  The weather is beautiful this morning, only being in the upper 70s... which is awesome compared to the almost 100 degree temps we've been having the past couple of days.

It's not supposed to get up in to the 80s until later this afternoon, so it's a perfect time to throw on my walking gear and go for a long, walk... by myself.

Then, I'm going to come home, take a shower, and head out to my favorite ME destination:  Bingo!

It's been a couple of months since I went and played bingo.  Even longer since I went by myself.  I usually go with my mom... but there are times when I absolutely LOVE going all alone because I can relax and just focus on me for a while.  No talking about anything.. just quiet.  Except for the noise of the hall and the caller hopefully calling my numbers.  HA!

Don't get me wrong.  I love my kids.  I love Hubby.  I love my mom.  But, there are times when I just need a break from everyone and everything.  I've spent the past two weeks teaching summer school surrounded by amazing kids all day long.  I've come home in the evenings and spent time playing with my own children in the pool.  I've sat on the patio each and every evening with Hubby listening to him talk and me sharing my activities for the day.  I've spent countless times on the phone listening to her share her day and all the crazy stuff that's happening in her house.  But, it's so nice and rewarding to have a break from all of that once in a while.  It recharges my batteries, cleanses my mind... and gets me all fired up for more fun with everyone else. much as I'd love to keep sitting here and sharing my excitement with you walking clothes and music are calling my name.  Plus, the weather is starting to warn me that I better get to getting if I want to enjoy this semi-cooler morning.

Have a great Saturday!!


Friday, June 28, 2013

A Big Bang to a Bittersweet End

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  What a FANTASTIC day it was yesterday.

But, today, I'm sad.

Let's talk about the sadness first.  

Today is the last day of summer school.  While I should be jumping up and joy, hiring marching bands, and setting off fireworks in my backyard - I'm not.  I'm playing a sad song...because as much as I'm looking forward to getting back to my summer, I'm going to miss those kids so much.

These past two weeks have been AMAZING.  Go back and read the first post from my first couple of days.  It's incredible the change of heart that has taken place.  While I was counting down the minutes to the end from the first couple of hours of beginning....I have a totally new outlook on how fun summer school can be for me, and how much fun I can make it for a big ol' group of kids.

I love teaching 4th grade, I really do.  But, to have this time to teach Jr. High kids - connect with them, learn from them, build's an experience I have needed and loved.

For the past couple of weeks, I haven't felt much like a teacher.  I've felt like a mother figure... or big sister, maybe.  Teaching those kids something has always been at the top of my priority list, but I quickly realized it didn't have to be something out of a book, or a lesson plan.  I was able to provide experience in team building, social skills, and life skills.  And, my ultimate goal was to let these kids have fun while learning in the process.

I just had no idea how much fun I would have doing it.

And now I'm at the last day.  While the kids will all be celebrating and excited, I'll be secretly hurting inside that it has to end.  Because, honestly?  I could totally keep doing it for another couple of weeks. As long as it was more of a free-teach... where I had the leeway to teach whatever my big heart so desired.

But, one thing I got to realize before it was all over was how much these kids have grown to love me... and that happened yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon was the summer school talent show.  We didn't get to have our talent show at the end of the year because of weather problems and 8th grade recognition reschedules.  Our principal thought it would be a neat idea to allow the kids to perform during summer school, being that they didn't get their chance the last day of school.

I got up and sang a couple of times during the MAP test celebration...and it wasn't exactly that great, but it let the cat out of the bag that I can sing.  The reason my performance wasn't so great back then was because of my stage fright.  It makes me very nervous to sing in front of a large group of people - and if I do, I become shaky.  Which causes my voice to become high and off key.  

Despite that, my principal thought it would be a good idea for me to sing something for the talent show... because the kids love it when the teachers get up and do something.

The past couple of weeks, I've had 2 girls in my class that can do the cup routine that goes with the song "The Cup Song" that's featured on the movie Pitch Perfect.  When I found out that my principal wanted me to try and sing something, I thought it would be perfect to sing the song while the girls did their cup routine.

Well, we practiced a little that morning... and it was to be kept a secret that I'd be singing in the talent show.  

The time came.  I started getting nervous and shaky.  There were 15 performances a head of us... and there had been a ruse set up that the talent show would end, and the then the two girls would get up and break in for a last minute entry.  Then, I would get up and join them.

The time came.  The other acts all finished up...and then the girls stood up to break in to the show.  And then I stood up.  

I can't explain the noise that then erupted from the bleachers.

I walked down, took my place, and sang.  And, you probably won't ever hear me say this... but it sounded really good.  I was hitting the notes, I was singing the words right.  Not that you would know... because the screams were so loud, you could barely hear anything I was doing...nor the girls sitting in front of me doing their cup routine.  

Luckily, someone caught it on I'll let you hear it for yourself....

After I was done performing, the bleachers went crazy.  The Jr. high kids were on their feet and clapping and screaming their their little hearts out.  

Then, it was time for the voting of the winners.  My plan was not to participate in that portion.  I was just an added bonus to the show.  But, the kids weren't happy with that... and my group was asked to come down for the voting.  The voting consisted of the loudest cheers from the audience.

As each finalist received their applause from the crowd, I didn't think there was any way that we would receive a louder cheer.  There was a couple of boys from the Jr. high that performed a pretty amazing dance routine...and when they got their vote, the ground was shaking from the cheers.  

And, then, it got to us.  And I was wrong.  I thought the bleachers were going to collapse by the stomps and yells and jumping and clapping that was going on.  I expected a good reaction... but nothing like that.  

Then, we won.

The two girls received a medal..and I received a huge hug of thanks for them.  They had no plans of entering the talent show until I approached them... but they wanted to.  They were just too afraid.  I was able to not only give them the opportunity, but to also give them a platform to win the whole thing.  And, the truth is.. they were the stars of the show.  Their cup routine is amazing.  They provided the music to which I sang along with just two cups, the floor, and their hands.

I know, though, that even if I had gone up there and sucked... I probably would have still received the same reaction.  I truly felt that my cheers weren't for my performance, it was an expression of how close I've gotten with all these kids in such a short time.  It was their way of showing their appreciation for taking the time to get to know them, understand their likes and dislikes, and to make their time with me as fun as it could be.

And that's something I get to lock away in my heart of memories.  It's something to be proud of.  It's a reminder as to why I became a teacher in the first place.  Because I truly believe that a teacher that takes the kids wants in to account, earns their respect, their attention, and their hearts.

Alright, time for me to go...


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Just One of Those Silly, Old Opinions...

I'll admit, I was a little hesitant about writing this post this morning.  In fact, I've already axed the idea twice...and then just decided to run with it.

If you know me at all, or at least have read my blog... you know I tend to keep my political opinions to myself.  It's an easy out.  I don't offend anyone.  I don't upset anyone.  I just avoid it like the plague - just to keep the peace.

There's a number of reasons why I tend to keep my blog "politically friendly".  

One:  I know a lot of people that read my blog - in real life.  Meaning I see them and speak to them outside of cyber world.  Keeping my opinions to myself avoids judgement of me..and avoids any awkward situations when I know darned well that someone has a different opinion of what I have to say.

Two:  The political rants and raves I often have opinions about just don't interest me enough to weigh in publicly on my blog.  I have way more interesting things to talk about than that.

But, I decided that this morning... I was going to take a leap of faith and write about what I'm feeling.  

So, let's start with a little buttering up, shall we?

I don't care how egotistical this sounds, but I am one of the most loving, accepting, caring people I know.  I just am.  

I was raised in a country where race wasn't an issue.  I went to a school where I had three white children in my class.  The rest of the class was made up of a variety of races and colors.  That was the norm.  It wasn't weird, or uncomfortable, or even an issue that was spoken about.  Nearly all of my friends were black or Indian (from India).  

I heard the "N word" used on a daily basis... but never from the lips of a white child. It was a customary greeting exchanged between my black friends.  In fact, their term of endearment... it seemed.  The white kids who were good friends with the black kids earned their own term of endearment... the same word but with a W at the beginning.  It meant white kids that hung out with black kids.

And then, when I was 12, I moved to this country.  And the cultural change was ENORMOUS.  In fact, I still saw signs hanging at store windows that read "No blacks after dark".  That was 1994.. not the 60s or the 70s.  THE NINETIES!

I couldn't believe it.  I often went home from school just in shock and awe at the racism and hate I encountered on a daily basis.  Just being from a different county caused a lot of bullying to come my way... and my skin was the same color as everyone else's at my school.

I just wasn't raised to think that way about anyone.

There was, however, one person that was really nice to me from the very first day of my entering that very different school.  He was much older than me, but took it upon himself to kinda take me under his wing...tried to offer comfort and support from the nastiness that I came in to contact with my first couple of months of being in the school.

He was an openly gay sophomore.  

And to be gay in that type of town, in that type of school district was WAY worse than what crazy differences I was bringing to the table.

And, I bet you thought I was going to start talking about the Paula Deen thing, didn't you?  HA!

I'll admit, he was my first encounter with a gay person.  My only interaction, in fact, for many years after that.  Even though I thought it was kinda weird...I learned that it wasn't something that anyone did to him.  It wasn't something he decided to be one morning while picking out his clothes for the day.  He told me it was something he'd alway been...and I was fascinated.

Even though I've never really told anyone this, he was the one that made me have the courage to stand up in front of the entire school and sing.  Knowing the taunts and teasing I'd receive...he gave me strength, hope, and realization that it didn't matter what anyone said about me - if it's what I wanted to do, I should do it.

As the years passed by, I realized that I'm the kind of person that just doesn't give a flying hoot what religion, ethnicity, race, or sexual preference someone is.  As a person that's always been a little socially unaccepted, I found refuge in others that were judged and treated differently. How on earth could I judge a person when I hated being judged so much myself?

My adult years have always led me to accept and love everyone.  Unless there was a specific reason given to me by a specific person, I never looked at someone and disliked them or judged them based on anything but the person they were... on the inside.

I know in my heart of hearts that I am the teacher I am because of that quality I have.  I tend to hone in on students that have issues...of any form...and provide them with as much love and support that I can give.  Because at the end of the day, who doesn't have some kind of issue, right?

I am blessed to have a heart that loves everyone.  Every race different to mine.  Every religion different to mine.  So, why on earth wouldn't I love someone who has a different sexual orientation than me?

Which is why, I am thrilled for the DOMA ruling that was handed down yesterday.

There, I said it.

Thrilled.  Ecstatic.  Over the moon.

Just as I was shocked and disgusted with being confronted with signs that read "No blacks after dark", I have been equally disgusted with Facebook posts and verbal comments about gay people.  

Yet, I've kept those thoughts to myself.

I don't judge a person based on their feelings.  They have the right to feel differently than me, and my feelings for that person doesn't change because of it.  It just saddens me, to the core, that acceptance of gay relationships is still so new...and still unaccepted.  But, I guess it's my generation's version of civil rights.  

I know that I will shock many people that I know with my thoughts.  Well, maybe.  If anyone really, truly knows me... they won't be surprised in the least.  They know my heart.  They know the love that I have.  They know that acceptance of all is second nature to me.  

But, I know there will be a few people that read this blog today and feel a little surprised or sadness in their hearts that I feel the way I do.  

Maybe they believe that it's against my religion to be OK with gay people getting married.  And maybe it is.

But, I also know that religion has taught me not to judge others.  There is only one who can cast judgement...and I was never handed that position.  Religion has taught me to love all beings... and I do.  I don't ever remember a lesson that said I should only love those that believe the same way I do.  

And, really, it has nothing to do with religion.

That's the sad part.

We spread the word in this country that we are the land of the free.  Freedom to practice any religion we so choose.  If that's the case, why should religion stand in the way of couples that want to get married?  Marriage is not a Christian sanction... it is recognized and practiced in all religions and by those who have no religion.  

I don't remember an issue of atheists being told they couldn't get married.  If marriage is the religious sanctity and union of a man and woman...then why on earth are atheists getting married?

But, that's neither here nor there.  

I am proud and happy that I can be someone that loves all people.  It makes me a great mother.  It makes me a great teacher.  It makes me a great person.  

Life is just too short to have any amount of hate in your heart.  Well, mine is anyway.  I want to know that when I leave this earth, I have been the best representation of myself.  That I have done everything in my power to live a happy, successful life.  And I couldn't do that knowing that there was a group of people that I couldn't love because of their beliefs or because of who they love.

And that's what I just needed to say today.

OK, I'm out...


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Things I've Learned About Summer

Over the years, I've heard so many tales about stuff that fits the summer time.  Stuff like getting a good tan will prevent you from getting sunburnt...needing to shower right after swimming to stop your skin from drying out and to wash off the bacteria from the pool... stuff like that.

Then, yesterday, I get a news article from one of my local news stations about common myths from summer time - and I was fascinated.  All my life, I've believed many of these things to be true - and come to find out?  Totally not.  So, I thought I'd share them with you today... see if I was alone in believing stuff that I'd heard growing up.

12 Summer Time Myths:

1.  Peeing on a jellyfish sting is helpful.  Totally not true.  In fact, it will actually hurt the victim worse than help.  This myth came about from "Friends".. the show.  Can you believe that?  There is absolutely no health or pain benefits from peeing on someone that receives a jelly fish sting.  In fact, the only natural remedy to help with the pain is vinegar.

2.  Cold showers cool you off.  I kinda knew this one.. but still have done it to cool off.  Cold showers will cool you off while you're standing under the water, but the minute you get out... you'll probably start sweating as your body hasn't adjusted.  The shock from the cold water will just increase your body temperature when you get it makes you feel even hotter and sweater than when you started.  The best way to cool off is a lukewarm shower and eating or drinking something cold.

3.  You can't get sunburned on a cloudy day.  I knew that.  Mostly from experience.  Even though it takes quite a bit of sun for me to get burned... I've received a nice tan from being outside on a cloudy day.  Clouds don't block the sun's UV rays.  So, if the sun's not out ladies... doesn't mean you can't still get your tan on!

4.  Drinking any fluid keeps you hydrated.  Duh.  Totally knew this one.  If you're out in the sun and drinking nothing but Pepsi or Mountain Dew - you're going to end up dehydrating yourself rather than staying hydrated.  Even those sporty drinks like GatorAde won't really help hydrate your body when it's hot and sweaty.  The best drink is... surprise, surprise... water!

5.  You burn more calories in warmer weather.  Total LIE!  Which is very disheartening to someone like me who is currently working her booty off in the sun to try and lose weight.  Your body adjusts to the heat, so regardless of the weather... you're still burning about the same number of calories.  And producing more sweat is just your body's way of cooling you down... so that's not going to help, either.  Total bummer!

6.  Longer days mess with your sleep.  To be honest, I've never heard this one.  When I'm tired, I'm tired... and I sleep.  Since teaching summer school, my behind has been asleep before it's dark outside and I've had no problems whatsoever.  If you're on a solid sleep schedule, you won't get messed up from the sun being out later than it was in the winter.  Good to know though.

7.  Air Conditioning will increase your chances of getting a summer time cold.  Do people actually think that?  Well, I guess it would be those people that think that going out with wet hair will make you sick.  Being out in the heat and coming in to the AC won't increase your chances of getting sick anymore than blow drying those locks before taking a foot outside in the freezing cold.  Sickness comes from bacteria and germs.  Period.  Air conditioned air and wet hair don't increase the amounts of bacteria and germs... so you're safe to be around both.

8.  Salt water can heal a cut.  I did hear this once when I was at the beach.  Being in the salt water will help any cuts you have on your body.  While clean salt water can help clean out cuts and scrapes - the ocean is a cesspool of germs and bacteria.  That's the last place you want to dip in to if you have an open wound.  

9.  Butter eases sunburn.  That has to be a southern thing, right?  I mean, I'm not sure if anyone knows what happens to butter when you put it in a hot skillet - but I know that it sizzles and starts to burn.  Not the affect I want to get on my sunburn!  Unless you plan on frying an egg or making pancakes on that sunburnt back of yours... don't use butter!

10.  Poison Ivy is contagious.  And to think, all those times I've ran from students and people who walk around with poison ivy rashes.  For no reason whatsoever.  You can only get poison ivy from the resin off the plant.  If someone still has it on their clothes or skin you can get the rash, but if it's not... there's no danger being around the rash and/or blisters.  Good to know.  Hopefully I won't offend anymore people by screaming like a mad woman if I see the faintest hint of poison ivy.  

11. Getting a base tan prevents sunburn.  I couldn't believe this one was a myth.  My whole life I've believed that once I've got my first tan of the summer.. I was good to go for the rest of the time.  Which I unfortunately learned the hard way yesterday.  I've had a pretty nice tan going for a couple of weeks, now.  My shoulders, arms, and face are beautifully bronzed.  I thought I was good to go with just adding on to my browness.  That was until I got home yesterday and saw redness on my shoulders, neck, and forehead.  Totally sucks!

12. You should shower soon after swimming in a pool to remove bacteria and prevent skin dryness.  This one I've heard since basically growing up, because I've spent most of my life around a pool.  I remember often pleading with my mother to let me hold off on my shower because I just swam in the pool.  She would quickly retort that swimming is not a replacement for a shower...and I'm still dirty.  Pools are supposed to have high chlorine levels in order to kill bacteria.  That is the job of the chlorine.  That's why there is chlorine added to drinking water.  And while chlorinated water isn't the best treatment for your skin, it can help with issues such as acne and oily skin.  While I don't intend on using my pool as my new bath tub, I'm not going to feel so inclined to jump in the shower within minutes of getting out of the pool.  I can also attest to the fact that my usually oily face hasn't been glistening so much since swimming every day.  It's actually looking much better than it has in a very long time.  Now, I'm not preaching that if you're a daily swimmer that you can ditch your nightly shower... but I am saying that waiting until morning to shower isn't going to kill you, either.

And there you have it.  Twelve summer time myths.  Fun, right?

Now it's time for me to go to work.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Solving World Hunger

Yesterday morning, I made it to work and saw that the Jr. High teacher I took over for on Friday had made it back to work.  I'll admit, I was a little sad.  Not that he was back, but that I wasn't going to get to teach Jr. High all day long.

But, I wondered how much he'd be able to do with them being that he was walking around on crutches - so I asked him if he wanted to switch with me.  He could take my elementary kids and I would take Jr. High.

He was a little hesitant, but finally agreed to let me have them.

All weekend, I'd been thinking about what I'd do with the kids if I had to take over for the last week.  I didn't have the supplies to perform experiments or do any kind of scientific study.  Then, Sunday night while trying to go to sleep, I got a flash of an idea that popped in to my head.  I didn't know if it would work... but I thought I would run with it yesterday and see what happened.

In science, before I came along, the kids had been working in an outdoor classroom planting vegetables, learning about planting, soil needs, harvest seasons, etc.  I also know that the kids enjoy competition just as much as I do.

So, I created a game.  It's kinda like a strategic Farmville game.

Each class is a different country competing against each other.  They start the "game" with $5 million and 400 acres.  That's it.  Each country has to elect a President, and then the President creates committees that will be in charge of certain positions (farming, livestock, transportation, harvesting, selling, etc.) 

The object of the game is to be the most lucrative and successful country at the end of the week.  Having the most money and assets.

During this game, I play Queen Mother Earth.  The countries buy from me, they sell to me, and I control all aspects of the game.  Meaning, weather, trade prices, etc.  I can send tornadoes that and hurricanes that wipe out modes of transportation.  I can cast a drought that dries up and kills crops.  I can also send the right weather combination that boosts "super crops".  I can also manipulate and negotiate prices for when they are ready to sell their wares.  All of their supplies come from me.. seeds, animals, transportation, etc.  I gave them a price sheet to start with, and they determine the best way to get off the ground.  Once they start "farming", they can choose to use the crops to sell as they are or make them in to something else.  For example, I heard once class talk about growing corn and wheat and animals so that they can sell foods such as tamales, bread, pies, etc.

The ultimate idea came from a video I watched about a group of kids that worked together to solve the crisis of world hunger.  They were given similar starting tools, and they were to use the land and the money to raise food for third world countries.  

The lessons imbedded in to the games are endless.  While the kids feel like they are just playing a game in order to win...they are also working together as a whole unit, using science, math, social studies, etc.  

When I first explained the game to each class, I was met with some disgruntled groans.  They were expecting to have fun, and didn't expect to actually have to work.  Even when I told them the strategy and the idea of competing against classes, they weren't exactly thrilled.  But, once the President was chosen and he/she started making committees and planning their strategies - I couldn't get them to stop once our time was over.  Every single class asked for "one more minute" so that they could write down just one more thing they needed to take care of when the class met again.

Later that day, at recess, I heard kids asking other kids who the President was in their classes...what types of committees were being formed...basically excited and interested in what was going on.  I also saw a little spying and game play going on.  The kids wanted to know what was going on in other classes so that they could be in the loop for what they were up against.  

All in all...I think that science this week isn't going to be so bad.  When I do something like this, however, I am again sad that I didn't teach the whole summer.  A game like this one could have been awesome having the entire four weeks to play.  I could have brought in the strategy of war, national debt, famine, etc.  But, it's a learning experience.  I know, now.

And I'd much rather walk away wishing that I had taught all 4 weeks than walk away regretting that I had taught at all.

Happy Tuesday!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Learning to Swim

I have be pretty quick today, because I have to leave for work in about 20 minutes.  I can do this, right?


So, yesterday was a very proud day for me.  My youngest, Jelly, is a water baby.  In fact, all of my kids are.  Peanut and Butter have taught themselves to swim after spending every summer in my parent's pool.  It's just something they did over time.  No lessons.  No real support from me.  They did it all by themselves, eventually.

Jelly, on the other hand, isn't OK with just waiting until it happens.  She wants to swim right now.  Which she does, with the aid of her life vest.  8 feet of water depth doesn't intimidate her at all, as long as she's wearing her floaty.

Yesterday, she told me that she wanted me to teach her how to swim.  She's ready to ditch the floaty and be able to swim around the deep end of the pool all by herself.  And also jump off the diving board... *gulp!*

For thirty minutes, I worked with her on trying to float and using her legs and arms to keep her above water.  She was nervous.  The minute my hand dropped from her, her legs went down to stand up.  Now, Jelly isn't afraid of going under water.  In fact, she does it way too often for my liking.  She's constantly jumping off the steps in to the pool and goes completely under... but, again, with her floaty.

She realized how different it was not having the floaty to depend on.  It made her nervous.  She realized it was going to take some time and swimming was a lot harder than she thought.  So, she asked if she could use the swimming goggles to help with the water that was splashing in her eyes and up her nose.  

And then something weird happened.  She put on the goggles and turned in to a freakin' fish!  I kid you not.  The minute those goggles were on her face, she kicked off from the side, went straight under water and swam from one side of the pool to the other.  SWAM.  Not floated.  Not walked.  SWAM!

She looked like a little frog..moving her arms and legs perfectly to maneuver her way through the water.

The minute she took the goggles off, she turned back in to the splashing, nervous, too afraid to really let go girl that just couldn't move her feet and arms together to stay on the surface of the water.

Goggles back on, and off she went...swimming through the water like she'd been doing it for years.

She asked me to buy "one of those sticks that stick out of the water that lets her breath under water".  I'm assuming she means a snorkel.  She thinks, and I concur, that it will help her swim a little easier on the surface.  

Crazy, isn't it?  Most kids have to learn to swim before they attempt taking it under water.  But, not my Jelly.  There has to be some kind of fish or frog genes in Hubby or my system... because she's not going to do it the ordinary way.  She's quite comfortable swimming like a fish...just not so sure about swimming like a human.

So, that's my quick tale for today.

Now, it's time to get to work...


Sunday, June 23, 2013

What a Crazy Way to End the Day...

Yesterday was a pretty busy day.  I cleaned.  I got my hair all chopped off.  I took my car for an oil change and then found out when I got there that they'd closed 30 minutes earlier, even though I'd called that morning and was told to bring my car in ANY TIME BEFORE 3!  And then I went out to my parent's.

Yesterday morning, Peanut had texted me and asked if I would come over to go swimming.  She's been staying with my parents for a couple of weeks, now.  It's not uncommon during the summer for my kids to trade off every couple of weeks to spend some time at my parent's house.  It's a break away from our house... and up until this year, there was nothing to do around here.  My brother has a farm out there that keeps the kids pretty busy, and then there is a pool for them to jump in to if they get too hot and sweaty.

I was really surprised that after we moved in to this house, that my kids would still want to spend so much time over there.  Especially Peanut.  Butter I would totally understand because he enjoys the company of my brother and the experience of working out on the farm.  Peanut on the other hand?  Yeah, she'd rather spend time lounging in the pool, texting her friends, and playing games on the computer.  At home.

She opted to not attend summer school this year, and I figured that staying at my parent's house wouldn't be too bad because then she would have someone to talk to and spend time with (my sister).

Yesterday, however, I found out that one of the main reasons she has wanted to continue staying at my parent's house is that she has made a new friend.  She wanted me to meet her friend, and then it all made sense.  The swimming invitation was just a ploy to get me over there, as her friend was going to be there at the same time.  Despite that, even though I didn't swim I ended up staying over there until 9pm.

Then, it was time to head home.  My brother, sister, Peanut, and her friend came home with me so that Hubby would have a chance to meet the new friend - and so that my brother could pick up his lawnmower.  We sat out on the patio for a while just talking and laughing.  My brother really likes Hubby's company - and vice versa - so it was a good time for them to discuss whatever it is they discuss.  But, time was getting on, and eventually they had to head home.

No sooner had they left the driveway, when my crazy end of the day situation happened.

Hubby and I stayed out on the patio watching them leave and we were talking, when he got this weird look on his face.  He was looking over my shoulder, and I remembered that I'd seen that look before.  That look had occurred right after moving in to our old house several years ago.  I was sitting in front of the fireplace when that look came over his face, followed by the words "Don't freak out".  Well, I jumped out of my seat and initiated freaking out - discovering that one of my arch nemesis, the giant grasshopper, had been sitting directly behind me on the fireplace.

Apparently, Hubby has learned his lesson about using those words.. but he still hasn't figured out a way to lose the look on his face that indicates to me that something is behind me.  Something I probably would be extremely frightened of.

My first reaction was thinking there was some kind of tarantula crawling up the gate behind my chair.  Remembering how much I had spooked the giant grasshopper years ago with my wild flailing as I jumped out of the chair, I opted for a quiet, quick swift up and out of the chair before looking behind me.

At first, I didn't see anything.  Then, I started to see a little movement coming from the door jam of our front door - which is located about 4 feet from where I was sitting.

This is what I saw...

It's kinda hard to see... but look real close at the joining of the brick wall and the blue wood from our front door area.

Need a better look?  OK, well here's 5 minutes later...

That black thing is not a wire or cord of some kind.  That is a black SNAKE!

Hubby and I watched it climb all the way up the door jam and coil itself around those black cords before we were able to come up with some way of getting it down.

Now, let me add here that I'm not terrified of snakes.  I was actually relieved when it was this little guy I saw instead of any number of things that could have been the cause of Hubby's concerned face.  Spiders, grasshoppers, giant beetles, cockroaches, anything with legs that falls under the insect category really.  In fact, if you were to walk in to the front door, you would see this waiting to greet you...

That's a ball python.  About 4-5' in length.  It's capable - and does - eat large rats.  It's been a part of my family for as long as Hubby has, and even longer for Hubby who's owned him since he was a teeny, tiny baby.  Nope.  Snakes just don't bother me.

Now, that doesn't mean I go all gushy and start trying to catch snakes when I see them.  I'm not that stupid.  But, I also don't run and scream like a crazy banshee when I see them, either.  OK, I might if I saw a rattlesnake or something along those lines... but harmless little black snakes aren't going to get much of a reaction from me.

It was quite the comical 20 minutes or so as Hubby was trying to come up with something he could catch it with - while I was busy taking photos and posting them on Facebook.  Finally, after a lot of humming and ha-ing, he decided to use the water hose to get it down and then coax it back in to the yard.

He managed to get the snake down safely, and was successful in starting to guide it back to the yard... but the thing just wasn't happy with that.  It appeared it wanted to stay by the house, and no matter how much Hubby squirted it with the hose - it just kept turning right back around to head back to the house.

One thing Hubby and I both know about snakes is that they remember.  If they find a way in to the house, the remember where it is...and they'll go back if it gets out.  Being that we have children in our house both of the human and feline variety, we didn't want to take any chances of it getting in to the house.  Even though a bite wouldn't be dangerous - we didn't want to take the chance of it getting in and hurting someone.  So, Hubby had to make the very tough decision to kill it.

Now, usually, I'd be the one encouraging it.  I don't want any form of creepy crawlies anywhere near my house.  But, black snakes eat bugs and small rodents.  They are actually a good thing to have around the house.. outside, that is.  So, it was with very heavy hearts from both Hubby and I when he did what he had to do.

I'm just hoping that the next time we encounter a snake, it's far enough away from the house that we can just leave it be.

Not the greatest way to end the day... but definitely the most interesting way I've dealt with in a long time.

Today, I'm cooking dinner and that's about it.  Probably a swim as soon as I can actually finish this blog without getting distracted.

So, that's it from me for today....


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Let's Get This Weekend Started!!

This is the view I plan on having this weekend.  If not this view, then from one of those floaties inside the pool.  

Don't ask me what's up with the foot photo bomb.  I've been seeing a bunch of people post pictures of the their legs looking in to the lake or a pool - and I tried it, but realized that no one wants to see my legs.  So my foot sticking up in to the picture it is.

Of course, before I can frolic and play in the pool, I have a list of chores that need to be done.  I have to do laundry, sweep and mop all of the floors, vacuum, clean our bathroom, go the grocery store, and get the oil changed in my car.  

And thankfully, I have two days in which to spread all that stuff out.  Today is house stuff, laundry, and oil change.  I'll probably hold off on the grocery store until tomorrow.

I was up at 7am this morning because I passed out around 9pm last night.  Not surprising.  It was another long and crazy day at summer school.  Super fun, but super exhausting.  

Once I got home last night, I quickly put on my bathing suit and jumped in the pool.  After a relaxing for an hour or so, I got out and soaked up a little sun.  Not that I really need to.  I'm getting quite the color to my skin from all the time I'm spending outside during the week.  I even managed to catch a good picture of myself...which is pretty rare...

It really doesn't look like it in the photo, but my arms and face are super tanned.  I even have those awesome "raccoon eyes" from wearing my sunglasses all of the time.  

I'm pretty sure I haven't spent so much time outside - and actually enjoyed it - since I was young.  It's no secret that I'm not a fan of hot weather.  I'm one of those people that want to be inside, with a good AC, if it's higher than 85 degrees.  The only time I'm willing to get out is if I'm going swimming, and even then I'm not a fan of spending too much time in direct sunlight.  I have actually uttered the words "it's too hot to swim" many, many times.

But, for the past week, I've acted like a big kid.  I've enjoyed spending afternoons running around, getting hot and sweaty, and laughing more than I have in a very long time.  I just know that my goofyness is probably going to be detrimental to my reputation once the new school year starts.  All of the kids that have watched me act the fool for the past week is going to be expecting that teacher in August.  Unfortunately for them, I don't mind acting the fool during the summer - but it's business as usual once I'm being paid to be a 4th grade teacher again.

I actually got the chance, yesterday, to spend the entire day teaching the Jr. High kids.  The morning I was covering the science class, because the regular teacher had called in.  I got a quick glimpse at how distorted my image can be.  All of the kids were super excited to see me as their teacher, but they expected to go outside and play frisbee football.  It took a little while to explain that I was a different teacher in the classroom.  Luckily, we all still had a great time.

In fact, another class has been putting together a newspaper as their summer school project.  One of the articles was based on a vote for the best summer school teacher and best summer school class.  Guess who won both?

Oh, yeah.  Me.  I got the best teacher because of how much fun I have with the kids, and Frisbee football was voted most fun class because they were able to go outside and play a game they enjoyed.

Unfortunately, by the end of the day, Frisbee football had been axed.  My principal got word of the game, and she quickly sent me a friendly email advising me that tackle football was not a good idea and that it was no longer allowed.  So, now I have to come up with something just as fun for the kids to do next week...that just doesn't involve any form of contact.  

But, right now, I need to get to getting so that I can get all of my errands and chores done.

Have a great Saturday!!


Friday, June 21, 2013

So Ready For the Weekend...Just to Rest!

I can't believe it's Friday already.  This week has flown by...and I just need to get through today and next week and I'm done with summer school.

Of course, I'll only have a month of actual summer time off before it will be time to get back in my classroom and start preparing for the next school year - but I think I'll be OK with that.

This week has been absolutely amazing.  I will admit that when I first started teaching summer school last week, I thought I was going to hate every minute of it... because it just wasn't the same as teaching during the school year.

What I've found out, however, is that a little bit of my sense of humor thrown together with listening to what the students want rather than forcing them to do what I tell them to do goes a LONG way.

I'm pretty sore and beat up this morning... but the pain is worth every second of the fun that I've had these past couple of days with my Jr. High kids.  I've almost felt like a kid again.  Laughing at silly jokes, teasing and "smack talking" each other, being involved in the games that we're playing, and having the kids come by my classroom throughout the day just to say hi has been extremely beneficial to my ego.  I needed to know that these kids were going to leave summer school having a good time in my classes.  Don't ask me why... it's just very important.

Well, I guess you can ask me why, because I'm going to end up telling you anyway.

I'm taken back to my interview I had when I first got my job in the school I'm teaching.  One of the questions was what kind of teaching style I had.

My answer?  Firm but fun.

I went on to explain that I considered myself to be a pretty strict teacher, holding accountability and responsibility as very high expectations in my classroom.  Education was important, and I wanted each and every one of my kids to understand why they were learning what they were learning - and why it was important.  But, if the kids didn't enjoy what they were learning - it wouldn't matter what my expectations were, they wouldn't be engaged and take with them what they needed.  That's why things like interest surveys and student feedback are so important to me - because I want to connect the learning to stuff that actually interests them.

I hated my first couple of days of summer school because the kids were tuned out.  Once I got through the tough part of making them at least listen to me, I felt like I was forcing them to "do what I say" regardless of whether it was something they were interested in or not.

And, as I explained yesterday, that just wasn't right with me.  I had to learn more about these kids in the short amount of time I had and found out their interests in order to grab their attention and make their time with me meaningful.

That doesn't just go for the Jr. High kids, it held true for the elementary kids also.

In the mornings, I'm supposed to be teaching kids all about simple machines with Lego type kits.  Luckily, most of the kids in my classes enjoy that stuff... but they weren't so thrilled about having to put together machines that I told them to put together.  A quick poll and a few questions later, I realized these kids wanted the chance to create their own machines.  So, I reconstructed my format, told them that this week they would "learn" about how the pieces all work together to make the machines work so that next week, they could design and create their own machines.  The engagement level shot up and the kids become enthralled with putting the machines together to learn how it could help them create their own machines.

They will walk out of my classroom next week knowing about the different types of simple machines, hopefully, because of the experiences they had... not because I told them to memorize them.  That's important information that they will use next year in their actual classrooms.  It would be great to hear that when teachers start teaching about simple machines during the school year, that the kids who came to summer school say "Hey, we learned about that in summer school.  I know about the different types of simple machines." And then go on to identify and explain each type because they associate them with a model they constructed with me at some point or another.

It's a little different with Frisbee golf - which is what I'm supposed to be teaching.  I don't ever see a point in these Jr. High kids' school lives where a teacher asks them a question and they respond with something they'd learned from playing some frisbee golf with me in the afternoons.  Which is why I don't think it's that big of a deal that I've switched to Frisbee football instead of golf.  It's what the kids wanted to play, and they are having a heck of a time playing it.

What they don't realize, however, is that they are actually learning.  Taking a little chance of implementing some allowed tackling was a pretty big risk to take.  Jr. High kids are very rowdy and rambunctious.  The chance of injuries is pretty high if things were to get out of control.  Not only that, but my risk level is pretty high.  If a couple of the boys got upset with each other and decided to duke it out - I'd have to be the one to break it up.  Those boys tower over me, and I just know I'd end up with a punch to the face or to be totally knocked off my feet.

But, by setting out the rules...explaining that if anything gets even the slightest bit out of hand, then it would be game over for frisbee football...has made all the difference in the world.  These kids are playing a semi-contact sport with each other, and are actually nice about it.  If someone gets tackled, then the tackler is right there to help the tacklee up again.  Teams are working together to protect the smaller players.  Kids from different schools, different grades, and different social groups are all working together - knocking any shyness or differences aside - and are participating in team work.  These kids are learning valuable social skills - and skills associated with stepping out of their comfort zones and working together as teams.

I had a teacher make a remark to me yesterday that I didn't quite agree with.  When asked why I wasn't teaching frisbee golf anymore, I responded with "I'm doing what the kids want to do".  The response I got from the other teacher was "You are in charge.  You should be doing what you want to do".  Urm.  No.  By throwing around the "I'm in charge" routine just ends up with kids back at square one - hating their time with me.  I can still be in charge and incorporate what they want to do.  I think that's what ultimately makes me the teacher I am.  Teaching isn't a power trip for me - it's a compromise.  Yes, these kids all need to learn that they are going to end up doing things they don't want to do... but that's for another time and place.  There are countless opportunities to get that experience.  Just ask any of the kids in my math class last year.  Not a single one of them wanted to learn their multiplication facts.  But, once it was explained and delivered in a way that held meaning and significance, they understood that it was something that had to be done, regardless of how much they hated the process.

Of all the seven classes I've had in the past two days, only one class had a couple of students that weren't really on board with the whole concept.  It ended badly.  Feelings were hurt, names were called, and someone got pretty banged up from being shoved to the ground so hard that she skinned her knee and arm pretty badly.  I am extremely nervous that this one bad situation could be detrimental to the life of frisbee football in my other classes - but I now know that the game won't work for this class, and I have to come up with something else for them.  Apparently, some team building skills are very much needed - but not at the level it was introduced.  

And that's OK.  One out of seven isn't bad.  The other six have begged me to continue playing, and no one from those classes have left me hurt, banged up, or in the least bit upset with the outcome of the games - except for maybe that their team lost.  But, in the end, most classes didn't even bother to keep score.  They just enjoy the experience enough that it didn't really matter who won or lost.  It was fun.  It is fun.  And that's all that matters to them.

I definitely need this weekend to recoup and recover..but I'm now looking forward to next week.  Not dreading it a bit.  In fact, I might be a little upset that it's all over with next week.  

But, I guess it's just a heads up that next year I might have to teach the whole four weeks instead of just two?  We'll see.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

I Knew I'd Get The Hang of It

It's been a week since I started teaching summer school, and as of yesterday I was finally able to have an entire day of not being grumpy, yell at anyone, and actually have a great time.

All morning long the kids were quiet, they worked hard, and they seemed to enjoy what they were building.  I gave them the opportunity to work with whoever they wanted...which they had been doing, but I offered them up the chance to change partners so that they got the chance to work with someone else.

They all seemed to really enjoy themselves...and that's what it should be all about.

The area I seemed to be having the biggest problems was the afternoons.  That's when I have Jr. High kids.  The first couple of days were rough because they wanted to act like they were too cool for school, and not do anything that I asked them to do.  But, that went away pretty quickly when they heard how loud my voice can actually get.

The back talking and sassing went away super fast, but I was still feeling like the kids dreaded coming to my class.  They whined and moaned about having to go outside, and it was obvious that while we were out there they just weren't having a good time.

I don't want kids feeling that way when they come to me.  I want them to leave feeling like they've had a good time, that it was a fun 30 minutes, and that I'm not just a teacher that has a loud voice and makes everyone go outside in the heat.

So, during recess yesterday, I decided to watch the Jr. High kids...see what they enjoyed doing while they were outside.  

I wasn't surprised to see most of the girls strewn around the playground in small groups either laying out in the sun, or hiding from it in the shade.  They all had their earphones in and were singing and talking and laughing.

But the boys?  Half of them were either playing football and the other half were playing basketball.  

Which gave me an idea.

When my first Jr. High class came to me, I had the opportunity to try out my idea.  They are, by far, the  roughest bunch of kids out of all the Jr. High classes... I figured if my plan was going to backfire miserably, it would be with the first group.

I told them all that I'd watched them during recess and observed what it seemed they enjoyed doing.  I told them that even though I was supposed to be teaching them how to play frisbee golf, there were other games that could help teach frisbee skills, team work, and just enjoying a game of frisbee.

And that game?  Frisbee Football.

I totally pulled it out of my behind, but I combined the rules from both basketball and football in to the game.  They had to form two teams, and the object of the game was to get the frisbee from one end of the field to the other.  Unlike football, they weren't allowed to move once they had the frisbee...and pivot as in basketball.  I allowed the opportunity to tackle, but only of the person holding the frisbee..and if the frisbee holder was smart, they wouldn't hold the frisbee long enough to be tackled.

I'll admit.  I was nervous going out.  These kids are all WAY bigger than me.  If things got out of hand, I'd have to be the one to break it up...and that didn't sound too appealing.  I was even more nervous when several of the girls actually wanted to play.  

We got outside.  We divided in to teams.  And the game began.

The 20 minutes we had to play seemed to fly by.  I've never seen these kids laugh so much in the whole time they've been coming to me. It was so comical to see the frisbee fly, someone catch it, and the look of terror on their face as the entire other team came charging towards them... causing them to through the frisbee as hard and as fast as they could to someone else.

And I was right in the middle of all of it.  I wasn't about to sit on the sidelines and missing out on all the fun...I got right in there with them and tackled anyone that held the frisbee too long.

By the time the class left, they were begging me to let them play it again the next day.  And then the next class came out and it was the same thing.  And then the next.

By mid-afternoon, the two classes I'd had previously were outside we all joined together for a class vs. class match.  I got a little nervous again that it would get a little out of hand, and the big boys would get a little too rough... but I didn't have to worry.  Everyone had a really good time, laughed, and if they did knock anyone down - helped them right back up to continue the game.

One kid actually got the chance to tackle me down to the ground... to the shock and horror of some of the boys on my team.  While others waited to see if I got mad, I laughed, got up and told them that was what the game was about.  I think my "cool meter" shot up about 100 points.  Of course, the shocked and not very happy boys on my team wasn't taking any of that...and took the first opportunity they could to get revenge on my slayer.  That felt pretty good, too, knowing that these kids had my back if anyone tried to mess with me.  HA!

Once the end of the day drew near, word had spread like wildfire down the Jr. High hallway what was going on in my class, and I had kids that hadn't yet had my class come up to me and ask me if it was true that I was not only letting kids play frisbee football - but that I was joining in for the game.  

I'll admit it, I felt totally awesome yesterday.  I felt like each kid left enjoying what they'd done, and that they couldn't wait to be back in my class.  I received several high-fives and "See you tomorrow, Miss!" from kids that normally just glare at me or ignore me.

Now, I just have to hope and pray that I don't get in trouble for letting the kids play a semi-contact sport... because I have a feeling it's how I'm going to spend the rest of summer school in my afternoon classes.

But, I totally enjoyed it... and can't wait to get back there today!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

America's Got Talent, It Is!

OK, so I've officially realized that I'm done with reality singing shows.  Or dancing shows.  Or reality shows in general.  Except for Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef, because they are AWESOME.

And, one other talent show...

America's Got Talent.

As officially certain I am done with all the other talent search shows out there, I'm as certain that I absolutely LOVE AGT.

I just can't do American Idol anymore.  I didn't watch a single episode of the last season when Mariah Carey and what's her face was on it.  I was a devoted lover of American Idol since the 2nd season.  I got attached to the contestants, I voted, and I loved waiting until the following week to see how the contestants I liked were going to do.

But, once Simon and Paula left...and then JLo and Stephen Tyler came and left...I just couldn't do it anymore. 

For that reason, I didn't even give The Voice a chance when it came on.  I knew I'd get sucked in, and then everything would change, and I'd probably end up hating it.

Which is why, I'm really shocked that I'm OK with the changes that America's Got Talent has done this season.  Sharon Osbourne is gone and Heidi Klum and Mel B have taken her place.  

And don't ask me why all of a sudden I'm writing about my opinions of reality TV's just what I've got this morning.

I never watch the shows when they actually come on.  I always DVR them because it seems like it's more commercials than show.  My DVR allows me to skip right through those suckers.

Anywho, I watched last week's episode last night before going to bed.  Yes, I'm a week behind, but last week I was too tired to stay up late watching TV shows.

The only complaint that I really have about this season is that I'm not seeing enough of those really BAD auditions.  I know that sounds weird, but I absolutely LOVE the bad auditions.  I'll get to see plenty of the actual talent once the show actually starts... but until then, I want to see what crazy people think is talent when they go and try out.  Whether it be old men thinking they are like Lady Gaga, or dancers that don't have an ounce or rhythm flowing through their veins, or people who think America wants to see them eat crazy stuff or stick crazy stuff in and through their bodies.  I love that stuff... it always gives me a good laugh.

Apparently, this season, we're just going to get a few minutes per episode of the bad ones.  

Also, I noticed last night that they included a couple of really tough back stories.  

One thing that I got tired with on American Idol where what I called the "sob stories".  Those people that came from terrible childhoods, and were looking to "make it big" to prove to people that they were worth something or had something to offer the world.  I know that sounds bad... but it seemed to me that those sob story contestants weren't particular all that great.  I always felt that there stories are what influenced the judges - and America - to vote for them.

Last night, there were two really harsh stories.  A young boy who's family kicked him out on his 18th birthday because he was gay.  And another young boy who grew up with two alcoholic parents, his mother eventually leaving him after becoming a drug addict, and his father finally deciding to get sober to be the parent that he needed to be.

I have to admit, as much as I'm not a fan of the sob stories, both of these stories choked me up a little.    I mean, who on earth kicks their child out of the house at 18 just because they are gay?  Whatever happened to unconditional love of a parent?  But, don't get me started on that subject.

And you know what?  They both sang...and they sang beautifully.  

I felt my little heart strings stretch out as they were both performing their songs.  I felt the emotions.  I felt their desire to want to prove themselves.  I felt myself actually rooting for them, and getting the feeling that they were going to become my quick favorites.

I'm not a cold hearted person.  But, I've heard so many people get in front of a judge and say "I got pregnant at a young age, and have been fighting ever since to get my life on track" or "I got in to drugs and alcohol as a teenager and it took me a long time to get sober" or "I quit my job a couple of years ago to follow my dream, and that caused me to become homeless and I've been trying to get back on my feet since then".  And really, they are all sad stories... but not stories that make me buckle at the heart and root for them.  I got pregnant when I was young, yeah I know it's tough.  I don't and didn't expect people to feel sorry for me, though.  Same with the drugs and homeless stuff.  OK, I never got in to drugs, but I was homeless at a point - not because I was stupid enough to quit a job, though.  

Yes, I know I shouldn't judge or be so harsh.  It's not that I don't feel sorry for those people, I just don't think they should be judged on their singing ability because of those stories.  That's all I'm saying.

But, those two boys last night...those stories were out of their control.  AND they really didn't impact the judges decision, or didn't have to.  Both had so much talent flying out of their mouths, it wouldn't have mattered where or how they'd spent their childhoods.  They deserved to move on.

Anywho, I'm going to watch the other episode I'm missing tonight.  Don't worry, a weekly recap of my thoughts on AGT isn't going to become a regular feature here... it's just I was drawing a little blank on what to write about this morning, and this is what I came up with.

Rather than just blurting away, I probably ended up coming off sounding like a cold-hearted B word.. but it is what it is.  I guess that's what happens when I ramble.  

And anyone that knows me will either totally deny or confirm the suspicion of being a cold-hearted B word.  Hopefully deny... but, you never know.  I'm sure it's a mixed bag of opinions out there about me .. HA!

OK, I need to get ready for my day.

Later gators...


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kids in the Summer vs. Kids Any Other Time

I've come to some fascinating revelations from my three days of teaching summer school.  The first one being that summer school is NOTHING like regular school.  No amount of degrees or college time or even classroom teaching time could prepare a person for the crazy that is summer school.

Not crazy, bad...crazy, hectic.  So many different kids coming and going throughout the day, barely having time to finish giving directions before the class period is over and a new set of kids are waiting at the door, a different schedule everyday....and after three days, still meeting kids for the first time.

One big factor that I've noticed in the past couple of days is that the kids don't act the same.  In fact, it's like they're not even the same kids that I grew to know and love during the school year.  

I think I'm a pretty "cool" teacher.  I'm pretty sure that if you asked random kids during the school year what type of teacher they thought I was, they'd reply with "mean" or "cool".  The mean comments would come from kids that had never had me, and only heard of me.  The cool comments would come from the kids that had me as a teacher or got to know me through my children.  

Mean is a kid's way of explaining "strict".  I honestly don't think many children really think I'm mean... especially not after the end of the year festivities that took place, or the big MAP awards that were done where I sung in front of the whole school.  For the most part, all the kids in the school know that I like to have a good time... and as long as they do what I ask, they'll be just fine.

But, walking in to that school last Thursday for my first day of summer school was almost like walking in to my classroom for the first time as a teacher.  The kids acted like they had no idea what type of teacher I'd be - and treated me accordingly.

I'm not sure if it's because of the fact that most of the kids don't really want to be at summer school, or if they think the normal school rules don't apply at summer school... but the kids are totally different.

The amount of times I've had a kid talk back to me, roll their eyes at me, blatantly tell me that what I'm teaching "sucks", or just sit there and refuse to do anything I tell them to is UNBELIEVABLE.  

Don't get me wrong, it's definitely not all of the kids or even the great majority of the kids... but way too many than I would have thought.  And kids that know me and were even in my class last year!

It's been hard, because I expected to go in there and have a really good time.  Enjoy myself with the kids... laugh, joke around, give them a chance to have fun while learning something in the process.  Instead, I've felt like a cranky old lady that does nothing but complain about the behavior of the kids.  

That's not me. I'm not like that.

I kid you not, I had one child yesterday that screamed in the lunch line that he didn't like beans.

Here's the conversation:

Child: (Extremely loud) EWWWWWWW!  I HATE BEANS!
Me:  Really, *child*, is that necessary?
Child:  It is if I don't like beans.
Me:  Excuse me?  
Child:  Who are you to tell me what I can and can't like?
Me: Urm, that wasn't the point and you know it.  There's no reason for you to yell in the lunch line.
Child:  I can if I want.  You can't tell me that I can't.

WHAT THE WHAT?? This kid was in my class last year and knows EXACTLY how I feel about back talking.

After coughing back the urge to yell... I swiftly took him to the side and told him exactly what I COULD tell him and couldn't tell him what he could do.  Regardless of my tone and the anger in my voice, he stood there looking at me as if I was telling him a funny story from my weekend.

In the morning, I have rotations of elementary kids and in the afternoon I have rotations of Jr. High kids.  In all honestly, I kinda expect the Jr. High kids to "test the waters".  They know I'm an elementary teacher, and they probably think I'll be a push over.  It took all of one day for them to realize what kind of teacher I am... and I honestly haven't had that much trouble since then.  They still like to run their mouths and act too cool for school.  But, I can find a way to deal with that.

I'm just shocked at some of the behavior issues I'm having from the elementary kids... my kids.  I got to know all of the 4th grade students last year, and several of the 3rd graders.  But, at the moment, I kinda feel like a sub that's never taught in the school before.  

And, again, it's definitely not ALL of the kids.  I am having a lot of fun with the majority of the kids and classes.  I guess it just takes a few days for the shock to sink in and for the kids to get used to my face being there.  

Today is a new day.  It's my goal to go in there today and not complain about behavior, but find those kids that are making my life easy and doing what summer school is all about:  Having fun.  I'm going to leave my crabby pants at home, and put on my happy shirt instead.  

I totally understand that some of the kids aren't really thrilled about having to be at summer school.  While I'm excited about getting to teach and be with the kids I love so much and earning a few extra dollars in the process - I'd probably rather be at home in my pool or sleeping in.  If I wasn't one of those crazy people that seeps teaching from my blood and do it because I want to rather than the money I'm earning.  

In all honestly, a part of me regrets not doing the whole 4 weeks...just because I think the transition is harder.  But, I needed to have the time...I've already explained that.  

But, this is a great learning experience for me.  Now I know.  I know how different it is.  I know how crazy, busy it is.  I know how hard it is to come in during the middle of summer school and try and pick up where another teacher left off.  

I have nine days left.  And it's now my mission to have a great time these last nine days.  It's also my mission to try and reach out to these kids that have been treating me..urm...less than right for whatever reason, and try and make amends.  Start over.  Remind them that I have a fun side, that I'm willing to share and show them.

OK, time to go find my happy shirt... I know it's around here somewhere....


Monday, June 17, 2013

Spontaneous Family Fun Weekend

It's not very often I can wake up on a Monday morning at 5am and think "Wow, what a wonderfully fun weekend I've just had".

I've woken up before thinking that I've had a terribly busy weekend.  I've woken up thinking what a horribly boring weekend I've had.  There's been lots of weekends where I've done something fun at one point or the other over the course of the weekend.  But, it's very rare to wake up Monday morning after a completely full, fun weekend.  AND I'm not even totally exhausted!

Our family fun started Saturday when we decided to go ahead and play some miniature golf.  It may have been close to 90 degrees outside...if not hotter... but that didn't stop us from having a great time.  Everyone laughed and enjoyed the experience.  There was no whining, no crying, no getting frustrated or upset because they weren't doing so well....and I'll deny it to the end if one of my kids say otherwise about me.  Peanut missed out because she's staying with my parents, but Butter and Jelly had a blast.

Here's a couple of quick pics from the day...

I shared a pic of Hubby playing yesterday.

After the game, we did some driving around and shopping.  We went to a Wal-Mart that I hadn't been too since I was a kid, and Jelly was fascinated that there was a Wal-Mart in our area that she'd never been to.  I think it's hilarious that my child gets such a kick out of something as simple as visiting a Wal-Mart she's never been too.  We frequent five different Wal-Mart stores in our area...and it's no big deal when we go.  But, go to a Wal-Mart that she's never been to before?  The girl just gets excited!  We picked up a few new pool toys while we were there and some sidewalk chalk, and then decided to head on home.

The plan was to get home and jump in the pool...however, Mother Nature had different plans.  Not long after we'd unpacked the car, a pretty bolt of lightning shot across the sky indicating that there would be no swimming for us that night.  Jelly was pretty disappointed, because she was REALLY looking forward to trying out her new water guns, but she settled for watching a movie instead.

We watched Warm Bodies.  The new zombie movie that's actually more of a love story than anything else.  I was skeptical going in...thinking it would be stupid.  But, I was wrong.  I actually really liked it and laughed through the whole thing.  Jelly didn't make it very long before she fell asleep, and Butter found playing on the computer to be more interesting... but it was a good movie in Hubby and my opinions.

After our swimming plans got rained out for Saturday, the plan for Sunday was to enjoy an entire day poolside.  Jelly made me promise before she fell asleep Saturday night.  I did promise, with the stipulation that I couldn't help it if it was still raining or storming the next day.  She was very relieved to see the sun shining yesterday morning.

After writing my blog post about Hubby and my dad, I called my mom to see what they were up to on Father's Day.  They didn't have any plans, and my dad was going to be cooking dinner and working on building stuff around the house.  Not exactly my idea of a relaxing Father's Day.  So, without even really thinking about it, I told my mom that they should all come over and go swimming with us.

My mom isn't really a big fan of spontaneous ideas like that... but even she had to admit that it sounded a lot more fun than what they had planned.  So, after a little planning and deciding how and what I was going to feed everyone if they came over, they got ready and headed this way.

It's always a crazy experience when my parents come over...because they bring along anywhere from 3 to 5 kids with them.  Yesterday, they came with two little ones, three big ones, and of course.. my Peanut.  My parents have a new foster child, except he's not much of a child...he's 17.  I will say that entertaining a 17 year old is a whole lot easier than entertaining kids who are 5.  As long as there is a pool and a Playstation 3 around.  Oh, and another boy in the house that loves the same stuff (Butter).

As crazy as it is, though, I love every minute of it.  The loudness doesn't bother me.  The mess doesn't bother me.  Even the occasional fighting and arguing doesn't bother me.  Having all of my family over is just something I'm going to really enjoy now that we're in our new house.

It doesn't matter if I have to peel 10lbs of potatoes to feed them.  It doesn't matter if I have to use every single pot, pan, plate, and piece of silverware that I own.  It doesn't matter that if it feels more like a wave pool than a swimming pool from teenagers constantly diving off the diving board or jumping in... as long as everyone is having fun.

And our fun lasted all day and well in to the evening.  My family decided to head home around 8pm.. which was perfect timing being that the kids and I had to get up early this morning for summer school.  

My parents left, I got Jelly showered and in her jammies, I took a shower, and it was time to call it a night.  

This morning, it's storming.  I probably shouldn't be sitting outside being that I can hear thunder and see lightning off in the distance, but it's such a beautiful morning.  I can see the sun coming up over the horizon, and I just feel ready for the day sitting in this spot.

I'm not sure how the day will play out if it rains all day... but I know I'll think of something.  

What I do know is that I'm ready for the week.  Even after such a busy, fun weekend.  I want to spend my summer feeling this way...cause that's what summer break is all about, right?

OK, time for me to go get ready...