Friday, December 31, 2010

The end is near...

***This post is courtesy of the blog I broke in May (with a little revising and editing).  Happy Blogoversary to me :)

My days of laughing (silently of course...I don't want to make him feel bad) at my husband as he staggers out of bed at least an hour before me are almost over. In just two short days, I will be the one getting up at 5:30 to get the circus train of a morning routine going (actually the monkeys don't go back until Tuesday so they won't have to rise and be made to shine). I love my job, but I wish school started at 9:00. I would even work until 4:00 and not complain during the dark days of winter. I am a dawdler by nature and getting out the door in a timely fashion is a source of stress in the morning (the Cubscout complains that I, "rush, rush, rush" too much).

Another thing I love about break is doing whatever I want, when I want. This of course refers not only to doing fun things with the kids, but snacking in the kitchen too. I know, I'm lucky because I get time off.  But, that doesn't make it any easier to get back to the grind. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 5 Things I Have Learned Over Break

5.  I think homeschoolers may have the right idea.  It is totally fun to hang out with your kids.  We have had plenty to do and haven't watched too much TV.  Of course, we are only one week in...
4.  Spending Christmas volunteering at your church's outreach for shut-ins is an awesome opportunity to really drive the "it is better to give than receive" message home to your children.  I got a little emotional watching the kindergartner sort gifts for the gift baskets.
3.  The world will not end if I don't go up to school.  I am fully aware that I have a TON of stuff to do, but it will be there on the 3rd.
2.  If you give everyone at your table "the look" and "teacher voice" no one will dare tell the waiter it is your birthday (because they are scared).  Thus avoiding any humiliation at the hands of overzealous waitstaff.  Seriously...I don't want to wear a sombrero (it messes up my hair and everyone else has worn it...yuck-o).
1.  I don't use my left had much.  You see, on Monday, I tripped outside and got really banged up.  In fact as I was on my back writhing in pain I thought, "So this is how people freeze to death after they fall."  Long story short, I broke my ring finger.  It is taped to my middle finger.  It is impossible to type (well anyway).  This post has taken me almost an hour.  Sheesh.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eating my way through December

Yesterday, on my way home from work, I said to myself, "Tomorrow you must not eat everything you see.  I know it's the holidays and all, but really...17 pieces of peppermint bark, 2 cups of puppy chow, 2 sugar cookies, and a Butterfinger Santa?  Really? All of which were washed down with a Diet Coke or 3?  It's no wonder your stomach hurts." (Yes I talk to myself on the drive).  Usually, the natural consequences are the best consequences (one actually learns a lesson from these).  Not so with holiday treats.

I came into my room this morning and noticed there seemed to be some hushed talking, nervous giggling and general awkwardness.  Then, the fabulous para in my room brought out a box of the best donuts in town and said, "We won't get to celebrate your birthday because of break, so we thought we'd do it today."  She handed me a card after passing out the treats and started the kids singing Happy Birthday.  I was touched.  I have never had a class celebrate my birthday before because we are out of school.  So, that's what started the festival of eating.  Since that time, I'm not exactly sure what I have eaten.  I do know almost all of it resides in the "fats and sugars" portion of the food guide pyramid.  All I can say is my belly is thankful for starting the break (as am I...helllllooooooo jammies).  Because, I'm pretty sure I couldn't eat one more chocolate anything, or...on second thought...Tis the season and one more piece won't hurt anything.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


something you see just hits home with you.  This morning on the way to work, I was listening to the radio and caught the tail-end of an interview with the maker of this video.  Later, when I had time, I looked it up to watch (which you can do here or down below)

I usually shy away from talking about my beliefs.  I don't want anyone to be uncomfortable.  But this, this was a good reminder to slow down, take a breath and really reflect on the miracle that is the birth of our Savior.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Very Few Things

Make me as happy as I am this morning (or last night, if you ask my DH).  My district has a delayed start policy for inclimate weather, and I love it.  I was watching the 5 o'clock news for the weather forecast and it was going to be cold, cold, cold this morning.  It never even occurred to me that we might have a late start (it's like one of those things you kind of forget about when it has been almost a year since the last one).  Then, the phone rang.  My DH answered it and I heard him say, "Who may I say is calling?  Alright colleague of my wife's, here she is."  I took the phone and she said two words, "Delayed Start."  I believe I may have said, "YES!"

After I ended the call with her, I had to call the next person on the phone tree (Creative Genius across the hall).  She answered the phone by saying, "I know, isn't it wonderful?"  We had a good laugh and even considered coming in earlier (I said considered because my house is nice and toasty and it was really cold when I put the kids on the bus for their school this morning).  So here I am drinking a cup of coffee, alone.  I will get my act together in a little bit (probably).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sampler platter, anyone?

Jen Lancaster (author of Bitter is the New Black, My Fair Lazy, Pretty in Plaid and Bright Lights, Big A__) calls what I'm going to do Tapas, except with words.  This week was so busy.  So very busy.  Therefore, I didn't blog.  I jotted some things down in my writer's notebook, so I would remember to write about them, but just didn't get around to it.  So here are the highlights (or lowlights...depending on your standards).

I am crazy (the first step is admitting you have a problem).  Because during this insane flurry of a week, I signed up to be even busier next week by saying I would bring cookies to both the Kindergartner's Daisy meeting and the Cubscouts pack meeting.  In addition, I'm heading up the Children's Sunday School Christmas party (I actually said this months and months ago, but now it is here).

I got called for jury duty.  Ok.  That is super, except for the fact that I have to give the end of quarter common assessments (the validity of which I will not discuss, or this could very well go south and turn into a rant).  The problem is that they must be scored, disaggregated and turned in within two days.  Jury duty is the day after I give the assessments.  It is also the last full week before break.  YIKES!

Last, but not least the kindergartner had a birthday (when did she become a little girl who, by the way, asked if she could wear eye shadow to school).  She was very gracious and thankful opening her presents.  The hit of the party?  The unicorn Pillow Pet (good job Nana).  I don't get the fascination, but I'm not in kindergarten, either.

So that's it at a glance (I left out the parts where I cried).  Too much, but I know in the middle of January, I will pray for my week to go by this fast.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reality Check

Last night as we sat down to eat dinner (can't beat baked potatoes), I asked the Cubscout how is day was.  He got quiet and said, "I don't really want to talk about it."  Red flags went up all over the place.  The boy is nothing like his sister who pretty much has the attitude, "Love me or hate me, I don't care because I know I'm awesome." (you know what they say about apples not falling far).  He worries.  A lot.   I said, "Oh yeah?  Tell me about it anyway."  Well, after much cajoling and Daddy using what I imagine is his "empathetic detective" voice, we finally found out that he got in a bit of trouble for not following directions on a paper (I think... because he was crying as he told the story so some of it came out a little garbled).  A snappy comment may have been made, or not (again crying is not conducive to getting your message across clearly).

The mom part of me was ready to call his teacher at home and let her know his feelings were hurt.  The teacher part of me knew it was a Friday in December and patience isn't necessarily a virtue one possesses all the time.  But, mostly it was a reminder that everything I say and the way I act is probably internalized by someone in my class.  And no one should have to use a tissue on baked potato night because of me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a blessed and happy Thanksgiving full of visiting with loved ones and reflection.  Have a wonderful holiday! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What was I thinking?

I went to Walmart today.  I might be scarred for life from shopping (just kidding, I totally have my whole entire Black Friday strategy/itinerary mapped out).  I needed a few things for the dishes I'm bringing to Thanksgiving.  It was CRAZY, and not in the "let's get some good deals and have FUN!" sort of way.  It was more like the "I hate you and everyone else in this whole entire grocery section" way.  Seriously, it is way too early for holiday stress to take ahold of anyone.    Is it too much to ask that fellow shoppers not run over the Cubscout with their cart?  Apparently, yes it is, because I had to put him in the cart for his own safety.  I was not angry about all the kids in the store (but of course I didn't have to take a day off because my kids were out of school because I was too, YAY!). I didn't let my blood boil.  Instead, I thought, "Well, glad I don't have to do that again."  Because if I did have to go back tonight, I would end up being "that shopper."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Q: What did...

one math book say to the other math book? 
A:  You have problems.

One of my students read this joke during Show and Tell (Yes, yes we do it...but only on Friday.  Yes, yes I know that I am giving up the last shreds of my upper elementary upbringing by having it).  Anywho, the student who read it had no idea the double meaning the joke has taken on for me. 

You see, our math book covers things that won't be assessed on the report card until later in the year.  However, the common assessment that is given at the end of each quarter is based on the book's question generator.  What to do?  Really hit the grade card objectives for the quarter hard (can you say, "dead horse"?) OR cruise right along so your class will have covered the necessary material for the common assessment?  It's really quite the conundrum.  I have decided (I think) to forgo the appearance of brilliance (notice I said appearance) at the district level so that I know, that I know my students are able to achieve 2nd quarter objectives.  So basically, it means taking the time to teach for understanding by everyone rather than letting a pacing guide drive my instruction. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

I am fully aware

that I am not as young as I once was.  But usually, I ignore this fact and kind of have a little fun at my colleagues' expenses (my teammates are all older than me).  In fact in a team meeting, I was talking about a great phonics book I found to use with my phonics intervention friends.  It was Copyrighted 1978 and I said, "This is probably something ReallyGreatPrincipal used when she was in school." because she is just a little older than me.  At lunch one day, the Creative Genius across the hall was talking about her 35th class reunion.  I asked, "Do you know what I was doing in 1975?  Being born."  Well, as they say, "Turn about is fair play," because today, my smartmouthed bottom was handed to me.

We were enjoying (by enjoying, I mean inhaling) our lunches when Creative Genius stopped and introduced us to the college girl doing her initial observations for Foundations of Education in her room.  We all said, "Hello and I'm sorry this is your chosen career path."  I felt that she was staring a little at me (which she was).  Then she asked, "Did you ever teach at Little Town School?"  Immediately, I went flying through my mind files and was coming up blank.  I answered, "Yes, that was my first teaching job.  Were you one of my students and I just can't place your face?"  She totally dropped the "old" bomb on me when she answered, "No, I was a lot younger.  You had my big brother."  The whole lounge erupted in laughter (I think Creative Genius said something like, "FINALLY!") while my face turned eighteen shades of red (including but not limited to fuchsia and rose). 

So, the silver lining in all of this is that even though it was 12 years ago, I haven't aged so much that she didn't recognize me at all. At least that's what I'm going to tell myself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A dead bird on the ground

is worth a story to tell.  Today at recess (it was my duty day and it was glorious out, yay!) a few of my friends came running up to me with panic in their eyes.  I couldn't make out what they were shouting at first, but there was a lot of hysteria and pointing going on.  I asked, "Who's hurt?" as I scanned the playground for a fallen friend.  Finally, the spokeswoman for the group said, "There's a dead bird on the playground and I think someone touched it!"  I think maybe I have a problem because I was relieved that it was only a dead bird (sorry animal lovers everywhere).  I made my way over to the scene where indeed, there was a dead bird.  Yuck-o.  I shooed the lookey-loos away after ascertaining that no one had touched it (can't get too close to any non-living creature if you're not sure how it met its demise).  Only one friend stayed and asked me so sweetly to "Please kick it over to the tall grass."  That seemed like as good of a plan as any because I certainly wasn't planning on picking it up with my hands.  So, I spent my recess kicking a dead bird.

At writing time, one of my friends who is a reluctant writer chose to write about the incident.  This student hasn't written very much lately.  I was so very proud of him.  So, I guess if I have to kick a bird to get the job done...I will.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I wish

if took your child to the doctor and he/she said, "If this doesn't work in about two days, then come back and see me." and you had to, you only had to pay one copay. Because that would have saved our family $20 today.

Last week, I took the kindergartner to the doctor for a cough that has been going on for a while. The doctor suggested allergy medicine. It was not allergies (I know this because the medicine did not make a difference). So flash forward to today. I stayed home with her because now she had a rash on her belly and a low grade temperature. We got in to see our doctor (last time it was the on-call). Our doctor took a look at her and ordered the strep swab. My poor child came back positive and was prescribed amoxicillian and a different cough medicine (because the runny nose/cough are probably viral and the tri-fecta of Vicks/Honey Elixir and Triaminic isn't working). The doctor also said we could release the cat from the garage (where she had been quarantined, just in case she was the culprit in "the case of the mysterious allergies").

So after a lunch of McDonald's (not my choice, but hey if you've had a throat swab, then you get to pick the drive-thru) and the first dose of antibiotics things seem to be looking up.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Good Friend

told me once that a good rule of thumb for this little blog thing I've been doing for almost a whole year (by the way, I haven't been around much this week so imagine my surprise that my blog had cross the 1000 mark...1039 to be exact. Wow, that's going straight to my head.). She said something like, "Only write about someone else what you wouldn't mind reading about yourself." I also try very hard not to make specific students the subject of a post, be too complainy, and not talk about my own kids too much. Sometimes, nothing happens during the week that passes the test. Like this week. I wrote 3 separate posts, but didn't end up publishing any. I will try to have more funny stuff this week that doesn't break the rules. I promise (how can I not, the kindergartner may or may not be allergic to Meow-meow, we have Daisies and Cubscouts, and an awesome team meeting about the math common assessment with flawed questions).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's amazing

how much better one feels after Olive Garden date night (I should have bought those elastic waisted pants when I saw them), a full eight hours of sleep and two cups of coffee. All of which were needed. I came home a little, oh I don't know... fawnchie (it is a made up word meaning crabby and sassy mouthed all in one. We make words up around here all the time like "poofed" means no energy, etc.).

You see, we had our class parties yesterday which totally stresses me out. Keeping 20 or so students anywhere near on-task until the end of the day when they know there is a party is hard. By 1:45, my room was vibrating. Plus, there's the whole trusting others to plan something fun and appropriate without any knowledge that is hard for me (it only really takes one time of a parent drawing a big pumpkin on your dry erase board and handing the kiddos wet sponges to throw at/erase the pumpkin to make one wary of party games. That happened a decade ago, and it still sticks out in my mind).

We had plans to meet some friends who did work at the same department as my DH. I got the school off me and a little dressed up, and we headed out. The wait was an hour for a table, but that was ok, because we hadn't seen our friends for quite a while. We finally ate (by ate, I mean gorged ourselves on endless salad and bread sticks, that cheese fondue appetizer, pasta and dessert). My DH and I are not night owls, so after that, we headed back home to enjoy the luxury of no alarm clock.

It's just nice to wake up and not have eighty million things running through my head. Even though I know I will fire up the worry/plan/list maker later.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cops is filmed...

on location with the men and women of law enforcement. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. UNLESS, YOU are my NEIGHBOR. I can't tell you how many episodes of that Fox gem I have watched (clearly enough to know the intro by's just part of marrying another public servant). But, never ever have I been an actual witness to anything someone might see on the show (aside from watching myself get a speeding ticket, of course. What's wrong with 15 over, anyway?). Until last night.

My DH and I had just settled in for the night. Both monkeys were asleep. I had changed into my jammies (Oh flannel, I do love you). I was all prepped to argue against Sean Hannity when the dog across the way started barking his head off. At first I thought, "Great. Buster's out again." Then I heard what I thought was yelling. We muted the TV and looked at each other. Sure enough, there was yelling. My DH sprang from the couch, took a look outside, ran back in the bedroom for his badge and gun and yelled, "Call 911!" as he ran out of the door and jumped off the porch. In a former life, I was a dispatcher (so please don't believe my DH when he tells you we met when he arrested me) and I hated it when the caller on 911 didn't really have any information (kind of like me last night). But, I called anyway. Because someone did yell "Help! Police!" and my DH was out there in his sweats without a radio or even his cell.

I gave the dispatcher everything I knew as I was watching out the door (if it had gone south, I'm not sure what I would have done. Run out in my jammies with the T-ball bat, maybe?). From what I gathered, it seemed like a domestic. I do know that my DH wasn't there to play and it wasn't just some sort of friendly misunderstanding (evidenced by his stance and that I could hear him across the street telling the neighbor to "calm down").

So after a bit, backup arrived (they promptly made fun of DH's sweats and ratty T-shirt). Apparently, both the neighbor and his girlfriend were eligible for a free ride to the S.O., but they both declined to press charges against the other. The involved parties went their separate ways, the road officers didn't have to write an arrest report, my DH came back home and I got a good story to tell. Everyone won (except for maybe my neighbor because now it will just be awkward at the mailbox).

Monday, October 18, 2010

There are three things

the end of the quarter brings (there are more, but I had to narrow it down a little).

1. Snappy comments about things...meow (I am guilty, but if you consider my blog title, you already know that). There must be something about an inordinate amount of stress that makes the claws come out. That, or we are so comfortable around each other that our true personalities are showing all over the place.
2. Parent teacher conferences. Watch in awe as I try to scarf down my supper, swallow a breath mint and maybe a Tums, and go to the bathroom in the 15 minutes I allowed myself for a dinner break.
3. Assessapalooza. Please count to 100 for me by 2's, 5's and 10's, read this story, answer the questions, do these 15 word problems (be sure to show your work), and read this list of nonsense words. P.S. I'd like to apologize to Social Studies for the last 3 days. We just didn't get to you. Sorry.

It also brings my favorite thing which is the chance to take a good look at where my friends are, how far they have come and of course where we are going next.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's really hard

to discipline your child when they say something unexpected. Last night, I had tucked them both soundly into their beds and the Cubscout got up to get a drink (walk slowly to the fridge while trying to see what Mom and Dad are watching on TV/buy some time before bed, you know the routine). He went back to the room and I heard whispering (apparently, the Kindergartner was asking for the password for reentry). My DH looks at me and says, "You better go check." I got up and as I came around the corner I saw my daughter on top of my son with her mouth on his back (ala Hulk Hogan). I said, "What is going on!?" The Cubscout said, "She BIT me!" I called for backup. So we proceeded to get the story and when my DH asked, "Kinder, why did you bite your brother?" She looked at us for a minute and answered, "I was hungry." I had to leave as not to negate the lecture from Daddy by snickering. Apologies were given and beds were gotten into (again). When the DH and I debriefed in the living room he looked at me and asked, "What's it like raising a mini version of yourself?" So, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to my mother.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Let's play...

Two Truths and a Lie, shall we? In case you don't know this game, it's where each person says two true things and one false thing about themselves and other participants try to guess which one is the lie. So here goes...I'm going to tell you my two truths and a lie (lucky you get to guess).

1. I gave 6 assessments this week for grade cards.
2. I began reading a Marzano book and rereading Daily 5 and I'm Done, Now What (about Writer's Workshop)
3. I started on my grade cards.

Now, you get to guess which is a lie. I'll wait while you think, and consider....

If you guessed #3, you'd be right! When asked about them by the Creative Genius across the hall I answered, "Is it Sunday Night already?" Because the last minute is usually the best minute in my book.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Top 10 Reasons I Could Not Be

A CRIMINAL (or at least not a good one. You know, the ones that don't ever make it on America's Most Wanted because no one ever even knew it was them to begin with). This would be much to the chagrin of the local police who questioned me (ME?!) in connection with a hit and run that caused property damage (UNbelievable!). Aside from the lack of front end damage and blond hair, here is the list of why it could not have been me for that or any other crime for that matter:

10. I am totally unable to break into ANYTHING (evidenced by my call to the DH today because I was locked out of the house).
9. I am a wee bit careless with my belongings (the authorities would ask, "She left her whole purse at the scene?! Too easy."). Just today I emailed tech support because I thought I had left a CD in the drive of the computer that was replaced. I hadn't. It was in my laptop.
8. I am unable to lie well.
7. If I do try to lie, my conscience kills me.
6. I'm book smart only. Street, not so much (this drives my DH crazy because he is constantly reminding me to be aware of my surroundings).
5. I'm distracted easily (I'm sure I'd be burglarizing a house, see something shiny, get transfixed and caught).
4. When I get nervous, I giggle. A LOT (one time during a real tornado at school the kids thought I was crying as I was patting their backs when actually I laughed so hard I cried). So I can imagine that I would not be taken seriously if ever I were to commit a real crime as giggling isn't very intimidating.
3. I think I might be too busy to take the time to plan something out (at least well enough not to get caught).
2. I couldn't use my DH's truck as the weapon, because he would immediately notice ANY body damage and be ANGRY (I have made my peace with the fact that he loves the truck much more than me).
1. I couldn't use my DH's truck as a getaway, because (see number 2).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Could you be more specific?

Or at least enunciate a little better? That is what one of my young friends should have said today. I wanted my class to pick one of our vocabulary words and draw a picture of what it meant. I picked the word "swirl" for one who was having trouble choosing. A little later the student came to me with a very nice picture of a squirrel. I said, "I don't really understand what the squirrel is doing that is swirling." The student looked at me a lot like I had lost my mind and said, "I did what you asked and drew a squirrel." Then we simultaneously had an ah-ha moment and we both said, "I/You thought I said squirrel, not swirl!" We had a laugh (which I needed. Badly).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

If I ignore this...

will it just go away in time? That is the question that has plagued my classroom management/mommy thoughts (that and whether or not community pencils were indeed a good idea). There is a big part of me that says, "So what? This too shall pass because all fads do...eventually," (I don't see any of my colleagues who are the same age as me sporting lace gloves or slap least not in public). The other part says, "This constant concern about which ones my young friends and daughter have/need is going make me need a checkup from the neck up."

So on Friday, I made the rule that if you wear them to class, and I see you with them off your arm (even for a second), they will become the Kindergartner's (as in mine, at home). This pretty much has nipped it in the bud. Thankfully. However, the Kindergartner is disappointed as the need for even more of these charming accessories knows no age limits.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I'm not exactly sure

where the Cubscout got this habit, but it totally cracks me up. Every. Single. Time. You see, the boy has been trying out the use of finger quotation marks on the last word of some of the sentences he says. He may have a little bit of snark in him (and if it weren't so random, I would know for sure that he does). Here are just a few of the things he has said (I write them in my notebook, so I won't forget).

Mom, what's for "dinner"? (should I have been offended?)
I have a lot of "homework". (stuff you should have finished at school?)
I am sharing with my sister, isn't that "kind"? (it depends on what's being shared?)

It's funny because he is just doing it, and he laughs because I laugh and he has no idea why (except the one time he said going to school is "fun"...that actually was sarcasm on his part). I am sure he will figure out how to use it appropriately soon enough, lest he end up here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I don't have enough


maybe I have too much to tell. It's a little of both. I have a lot on my plate right now (resulting in tears that I usually try to quash, but somehow have been flowing in front of people. I hate that, btw). So, I'm a pretty private person and I try to keep the touchy feely things to myself. So in that regard, I don't have enough for a whole entry. On the other hand...sooo many things are blogworthy that I really can't choose just one. For example:
  • I heard students calling the water fountain that doesn't have much pressure "The Kissing Fountain." Awwww and Ewwww all at the same time.
  • The Cubscout came home and wanted to transfer back to my school after an Alexander sort of day at his new school.
  • The Britney Spears Glee episode was awesome (I wish I could sing like my BFF, and I would totally be on that show...hey, it could happen).
  • One of my young friends drew a picture of Viola Swamp and tried to tape it to my classroom door (I fancy myself more like Miss Frizzle, anyway).
  • Some lady at the Dollar General tried to pass a bad check, right in front of me (she was literally in front of me), and when they got another cashier to help with checkout some other lady cut in front of all eight of us in line because "I only have these two things."
  • I'm down to one caterpillar. Ferb must have escaped ;)
  • The kindergartner started Daisies, which was totally fun and organized (or the total opposite of the Cubscouts pack last year...whichever)
  • My washer is on the blink, resulting in an entertaining (depending on your perspective) trip to the Laundromat.

So, there you have it. My week at a glance, and it's only Wednesday.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

How was your day?

My DH and I always ask each other that when we get home (it's been a bit iffy on the getting home for him recently. I think he worked around 75-80 hours this week). But usually, we do pause to talk to each other (I have to put away my "things we need to discuss" agenda for this). So it goes a little like least recently it has...

Me: How was your day?
DH: Over now and yours?
Me: Same...over now. Anything I can do to help? Type reports? Put liquor in your lunch tomorrow?
DH: Ha. No. How about you? Need help?
Me: I have it under control (not really but how do you ask someone who is just as stressed as you for help?).

This school year is kicking my butt (and taking my name). I know I'm not the only one who feels this way (I'm also not the only one to write about it). And we teachers aren't the only public servants who feel it. I still love my job (even when it's hard and I don't want to). But, really something's got to give (and Good Lord willin', it's not my sanity).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dear Meow-meow*,

I am very sorry about everything you had to endure today. I know the trip in the carrier was terrible (evidenced by your constant cries from the confines of "the box"). I know I handed you over to that meany vet tech (she always talks extra nicely right before she makes you swallow something awful/holds you down for a shot and should not be trusted). I know your hopes of being a mother have been dashed. And I know at heart you are a wild cat, and it is killing you to be unable to jump on me like a ninja. So once again, I am sorry. Please don't hold this against me and take it out on my shoes (or any other of my belongings for that matter).

Your "owner" (we all know you consider yourself to be an equal to all but the kindergartner),
Frau M.

* Rosie just never stuck so we all started calling her Meowmeow (I think you would concur with the name change, if you were at my house during a thunderstorm).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Crisis Averted

I'm just going to start by admitting I have a problem. It's called I Seem To Be Unable To Keep Small Creatures Alive Syndrome (ISTBUTKSCAS). I know it, my DH knows it (he once apologized to a plant that someone gave me for its "impending demise"), my friends/friendly colleagues know it and inevitably my class finds out.

In my class we are studying life cycles of plants and animals. For the animal portion, we were given a teeny-tiny Monarch caterpillar and one egg with a stern warning from Ms. Librarian not to kill them (I think she knows my full life cycle success rate of 20%. It dips to 10% if you factor in the houseplants that have not made it a full year in my classroom). So all was going really well. The caterpillar was growing and the egg hatched. We named the newest members of our class Phineas and Ferb. They were...dare I say it? Thriving. Until today (insert soap opera cliff-hanger music here).

I don't know if I have ever mentioned this, but I am also a teensy bit absent minded. Just a little. So anyway, I left for the weekend without dampening the paper towels under the milkweed leaf and I didn't think about it again until today (I was absent yesterday). I only really thought about it because one of my young friends is absolutely mesmerized by the whole butterfly thing and he checks on them a lot (clearly they need an advocate, so I'm all for it). So of course he is looking in the butterfly habitat and I look too (only to see dry and crumpled leaves in the bottom). No caterpillars. I looked again, and there was Ferb (looking a little lifeless). I couldn't find Phineas, and figured he had probably made his way to the giant meadow in the sky as well. So the whole day goes by and we get to science, and I haven't done a thing with the presumed dead. So here's how the last 20 minutes of my day went...
Me (looking at the para in my room): Did I tell you about the caterpillars?
Superpara: Noooo?
Me: They didn't make it over the weekend.
Superpara: The one is there and the other is there (pointing)
Me: What? Butterfly advocate, go get a leaf. Superpara, can you go with him?
Superpara: Sure (laughing).
Butterfly advocate and Superpara return with a new leaf. While they were gone I cleaned the butterfly habitat (the more you eat the more you poop is the philosophy of Phineas).
Me: SUPER! Let's just put him on there.
Superpara: Where did that leaf go? He was on it.
Me: Oh no. OH NO! I thought he was on the side and I threw the leaf away.
This is followed by frantic trashcan searching by me, Superpara, the BA and 20 other concerned citizens (I have already killed one, now I just threw away the lone survivor!?). Just as I am about to the bottom of the mountain of trash (thank you Lord for no dirty kleenexes), We hear this...
BA: There he is! In the habitat!
I hadn't thrown him away at all. Phew. I got him all situated on the leaf. Then I took another look at Ferb and I thought I saw him move! I cautiously lowered him onto the leaf and he began to munch (I think...he did just hatch on Thursday, so it's hard to tell for sure without a magnifying glass). So what I thought was going to be yet another FAIL in the life science column ended up ok. My class has not been traumatized by my ISTBUTKSCAS. However, I can't make any guarantees about the ziplocked lima beans currently hanging in my windows.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Writer's block

it's not that I have it. I don't because there are several (by several I mean approximately 80) stories I could tell you from this week in primary education. It's just I'm exhausted. Emotionally and physically (and there's that pesky confidentiality thing).

I could tell you instead about how my DH got called out every. night. this. week., the Cubscout got his tongue clipped and ohmygoodnesstherewassososomuchblood., the kindergartner has been visited not once, but twice this week by the Tooth Fairy, or about how way cool our new pastor's family is (they spent the night at our house). That's just home stuff, though. And probably not why you are here. My goal for the week (besides cohesive, legible lesson plans that aren't just in my head) is at least three posts (only one of which will be about my family).

Monday, September 13, 2010

I just need...

something blue, and my collection will be complete. Teaching is a lot like getting married (you know, you take the good you take the bad you take it all and there you have...the facts of teaching). Before anyone can ever get married, they must have the something old, new, borrowed and blue.

In my teaching career, I have collected all but the last. I borrow things all the time (and most of the time return them). The something old and new came to me today. I walked through the workroom to spy...what!? SRA's?! The little boxes of stories that my super awesome third grade teacher USED WITH US!? Progress anyone? This leaves me well...skeptical and a little bothered that I know how to use these BECAUSE I HAVE AS A STUDENT! Of course, these aren't the exact same ones we used (I'm sure they have long since fallen apart and been discarded). So there's the new. I'm sure it will be great.
P.S. If Skeptical Cat made you laugh, you should check out The Cornerstone blog. She has a lot of management type things, but the LOLcat skool is my favorite.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

So what?

Sometimes when you are good at something or enjoy working with a certain kind of student, you don't show your cards right away because you really just want to keep going with the status quo. For instance, you can play the piano or maybe speak another language or even have good tech skills. If people found out they would ask you to fix their computers or interpret for them or even accompany a Christmas musical (all true-life experiences for me). This leaves very little time for your actual job. I have always enjoyed working with students who were labeled Behavior Disordered (I'm dating myself here because that diagnosis doesn't even exist anymore), are on the Autism Spectrum, and the Emotionally Disturbed. I haven't ever told anyone that specifically, but they always find out. Here's how it usually happens. Something doesn't pass my "So What?" test, and my principal witnesses it (how's that for a lead? I know it left you wondering).

Several years ago I had a student who was totally awesome. The class would be working along, and he would bust out with a little Bon Jovi or Warrant. The boy could sing and of course I love all those songs (being a child of the 80's and all). He couldn't get a thought down on paper to save his life, and we worked through it (thank the Lord for an Alphasmart). He also knew when he needed something to help him concentrate, and was really good about using whatever was in the room to make necessary modifications. One day, he came in with "a party in his brain" (this term was given to me last year by a different friend, but it is so specific I use it all the time). We were going to start the morning with silent reading. He asked me if he could sit anywhere and I said yes. I went over to conference with another student, and when I looked back over, he was gone (or so I thought). He had gone over to the coat rack, so I strolled over and called his name quietly. He responded, "Under here." He had piled all the bookbags on top of himself and was reading. At that moment I could have made him move, but I didn't because "so what?" He was reading, no one was being hurt or disrupted so it didn't pass the test.

About that time, my RGP (Really Great Principal) came into the room to make an announcement. She got everyone's attention, and about that time pop! out of the backpacks came my friend. She continued to tell us whatever it was all the while looking at me with question marks in her eyes. When she was done speaking, I simply said, "It didn't pass the so what test." She nodded her head and I saw the look of recognition come across her face (you know the one that says, "I know where I'll put such and such, next year"). That day I know I sealed my fate as a go-to for inclusion students. I wouldn't have it any other way (plus life is boring in a classroom if no one puts up an umbrella every time it rains outside).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Repeat after me...

My body is calm
My body is calm
My mouth is quiet
My mouth is quiet
I have a good idea
I have a good idea
I'm going to write
I'm going to write

Every day, I gather my young friends on the carpet (the person who invented the pie shaped carpet must have been some sort of genius, btw). We have a precious hour for writing time, so we get right to it. I do a read aloud and model the skill we are working on. Then I send them to their tables to write. I have found that the transition from shared writing to writing on your own in a journal can be a toughie (especially for young friends at the beginning of the school year). So, to make things a bit more on-tasky, I do a silent countdown from 10 (using only my fingers, not my voice) while they move to their seats. Once there, they get out their writing notebooks and I start the writing words (My body is calm...). My voice is calm and if they repeat it back to me all yelly (think 1,2,3 eyes on me...tone) we start again until their voices are calm too. It really gets their little minds right to do the job at hand. Then I set the timer for 15 minutes of silent writing. During this time, I am writing as well (it's the whole, "Never ask anyone to do what you wouldn't do yourself" principle. When the timer goes off, they may continue to write (because who really finishes in fifteen minutes?) or read silently. Then I start my conferences. They just haven't caught on that I will definitely conference you, if you are reading at the end of the silent 15. Sometimes, I use my writing as a Mentor text. Sometimes, I revisit the mini-lesson book.

I know I have said this before, but it is absolutely my favorite time of the day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I hope the monkeys don't remember this

when they are considering what to do about their dad and me and the nursing home. What has me genuinely worried about the twilight of my life? Four words: Really. Scary. Roller coaster.

This weekend we took a mini vacay to a tourist town only two hours from our house. Said town has a theme park, so we decided to go. It would be fun. We got up early, got stuck in traffic on the way (seriously, the Garmin said it would take 4 minutes, but it took 34 instead), then started our day of fun. First we went on the log ride (trying to ease the monkeys into the "hey you two are big kids/tall enough now" rides). Then, we made our way to a ride called Powder Keg. I knew it was a roller coaster. But, the sign said the kindergartner was tall enough, so how bad could it be? I did not, however, consider that the whole wait in line area was about explosives and that may have something to do with the ride. While you are waiting, you can't see the coaster nor can you hear any screaming (so again, it must not be scary).

We made it to the front of the line and boarded. There is no shoulder harness only a thing that comes across your lap while the seat comes up between your legs. No big deal. After the rudimentary check of seat belts, our train made its way out of the station...really slowly. I got a little nervous when I looked over and saw a zigzag of tracks, but then I didn't see a giant hill to climb to gain speed and put the jitters out of my mind. The Cubscout was next to me, and he didn't look nervous at all. In an effort not to alarm him, I remained calm. Then our train was lifted up on some sort of elevator to the tracks. I thought...ok? Then there was a series of three beeps. Apparently, this is some sort of launch sequence because on the third beep, our train shot out of the start (this is where I started screaming). There was no easing in by climbing a hill (while you marveled at how high you were/tried to find where you parked). When the ride started, it started. I was terrified and concerned for both monkeys. I was so scared, how must they feel? The ride finally slowed down from Mach 3 (we were headed up a traditional roller coaster climb) long enough for me to look over and ask the Cubscout if he was doing ok. He looked at me with a shocked expression and before he could answer the car was up at the top of the hill ready to plummet down another bazillion stories at a 90 degree angle. As we came around the corner, I yelled, "Just hang on!"

After what felt like an eternity of loops, drops, curves and general speed the ride came to a stop. I was so scared during the ride, I got the giggles after. I looked at the Cubscout and he still had the same expression on his face as at the top of the hill. When we got back into the station and off the ride the Cubscout said, "Not cool, Mom." and the kindergartner said, "My lips hurt from going like this." as she made a silent scream face. So, pretty much they were traumatized. I only hope the saying, "In 20 years no one will remember what you said or did, but they will remember how you made them feel." does not hold true for this experience. Somehow I think they will both tell the story of how their mom and dad scared them to pieces by making them ride that one roller coaster as they sign the papers turning us over to the "retirement center."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What you want to hear

and what you need to hear are two very different things (mostly).

I think it was my second year of teaching when I got the wake up call I needed to get my act together with classroom management. The principal at my first school had told me in my summative that she thought that I had massive potential, but needed to work on my management (as she handed me a book entitled something like Basic Behavior Management). I just didn't get it. I kind of thought it was a problem, but not how to fix it (I do remember crying to my boyfriend that, "the kids just don't respect me at all"). The book was not very helpful either (bless her for trying). I changed schools after that year (to move closer to my new home with boyfriend turned DH). At my new school, everyone was great, but I really had trouble with getting my students not only where they needed to be academically, but actually where they needed to be (like library, cafeteria, not in each other's faces, etc...).

Until that fateful day...

The whole school was at an assembly and my students were acting like hooligans. I was sitting to the side giving glances (not that anyone was paying attention). Not awfully long into the presentation, another teacher came up to me (actually marched up to me if I'm being honest). She looked at me and said, "You need to get yourself up out of that chair and get your class under control because they are ruining this for everyone and making the whole school look bad." I was taken aback (and really angry because how dare she treat me like a student?). But then, I did get up and pull some kids out and pretty much lay it down (the smack, that is). I went home and thought/lost sleep over my teaching style. The next day, I asked to go to a PD all about behavior and discipline, and my principal instantaneously said yes (that couldn't be good).

I'm so glad she did give me the kick in the backside that I needed even though it was hard to hear. Because now, after all these years, the quirkers, they are my favorites.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The privilege

My absolute favorite subject to teach is writing. I'm not exactly sure when the shift happened for me because somewhere back in my files I can remember being a little intimidated by the whole "and this is how we write a personal narrative" thing. But now, I relish our writing time and feel cheated when we don't get to have the time (oh, days of formal assessments, routine learning, and general wonkiness when will you be over? Seriously, if I have to say, "Let's try lining up again,"...I'm not sure what will happen, but I know it can't be something good). Already, these new young friends of mine actually booed when I said that we were not going to have a writing time today because of the assembly and DRA's. It made my heart a little happier (that and the Starbucks Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte).

So, if that did it for me, you can imagine my overall ecstaticness when Ms. Next Grade Level Up stopped me in the hall, pointed to her line (which has an inordinate number of my former students) and asked, "What did you do with these kids? We just took our writing assessment and they are like rockstars!" I looked at them and said, "I love to write and so did they. That's just how it was." I could see their little heads nodding in agreement. I was so excited about this revelation that I told more than one person, but it wasn't because I wanted to brag. I was just so proud of them. It is kind of the same way you tell people about the super things your own children do. It's not because there's some sort of contest for Best Mom Ever (if there was, I lost when I made the Cubscout go to preschool when he said he was not feeling well, and he threw up all over the chapel), it's because you want other people to share your joy for your child's accomplishment.

But, I digress. The way I see it, I don't have to teach writing (well, maybe I do...state assessments and standards, you know). I get to teach writing.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 1

Today was my first day back with students and I am amazed at how little we got accomplished. It was like in the movies when they fast forward to show elapsed time. Every task I had planned took at least twice as long as I thought (better to have too much than not enough, yes?). I guess the summer slide doesn't just refer to academics (work habits I'm looking at you).

My class is full of students who seem as though they may endear themselves to me quite quickly. I'm not quite over my class from last year, though (I found myself greeting them like long lost children today). This new crop of small friends just don't know me and I don't know them, yet. No one said, "Thanks for having me." at the end of the day. I didn't say, "We'll do it again tomorrow." Give me a week, and I'm sure I will be head over heels for this bunch, too (that's if and only if I choose more sensible shoes in the future).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Who's there?
Phyllis who?
Phyllis in on the latest gossip.
Today, we had our district's big staff meeting. Everyone in the district has to go. Everyone. Before the meeting, we have a breakfast and because I have been at three different schools it feels a little like a family reunion to me. I get to see people I only see every once in a while and catch up (which is just teacherspeak for get the dirt). I have struggled a lot with whether or not I actually wanted to stay in my district (oh, the money I'd save if I didn't). But, it is my family (besides that, where else can you watch your administrators play Minute to Win It right before sexual harassment training?).

I remember this feeling,

the feeling of total overwhelmsies and exhaustion all in one. So this is my third contract day this year and I am beat (I don't even have students, yet). I have so much to much. Today will be spent in the great big all district meeting (think pep rally for teachers followed by, "This is what sexual harassment is, so please just don't.")

Yesterday was spent in our annual school "stuff meeting" (I called it that because of all the things we received to file). At the conference I attended in early August, one of the presenters said something like, "In a few weeks you won't be able to see the forest for the trees." I think she might have meant we wouldn't be able to see the forest because we killed it with all the papers that are necessary to start a school year. At the end of the meeting, our principal did something that she doesn't usually do (she's got a wicked sense of humor) and played a touching video about the story of the kid who throws the starfish one by one back in the water. You may have seen it. Then she gave us each a starfish to remind us that we can make a difference even if it is for just one.

Fast forward to last night. I am meeting and greeting all the families in my class (I think that I might just have the elusive awesome class). After they were all gone, one of my former students came by just to say hi. She is going into eighth grade. She hugged me and told me that I was still her favorite teacher. It almost made me cry when Creative Genius across the hall asked me if she was one of my starfish. And that is why I love this job (most of the time).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Why only spend two hours...

When you can spend two whole days? That's my philosophy apparently. Yesterday, I spent the day at my school working and chatting (that's just how I roll). So my room had a nice arrangement to it last year. I really liked it, but not enough to keep it the same way. So yesterday, I spent the day totally rearranging everything. When you do this, you also find more things that you should have gotten rid of last year, but didn't (I might be a little on the hoardy side). I would like to tell you that I am done, but then that would make me a liar. So right now, I am headed off to finish the job. That way I can focus solely on instruction next week before the kiddos arrive (and my friends can stop asking. "How's it coming?" with uncertainty in their voices).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My last first day

of sending a child to kindergarten was today. I felt it looming all summer long as friends asked me repeatedly (in light of policy changes), "Are your kids really going to your hometown school instead of ours?" and I replied, "I think it's better to send them to their home district." In my heart I know it is better for the monkeys (even though it is hard for me). There is not a chance that class sizes will force them to move to a new school after attending mine for their whole school careers. Our home district consistently meets AYP. Class sizes max out at 20. It is a good school district. So today, I played the role of just another mom crying in her car.

I got the kids ready and fed, then went out to wait for the 7:18 bus (not 7:15 nor 7:20). I put them on and took a picture (thanks Mr. Bus Driver for making turn around and wave). I tried to follow the bus (because I am that mom), but ended up losing it (there goes my FBI job backup plan), so I went to the school parking lot to watch and be sure they made it to school (they did of course). On one hand, it was kind of nice to be able to cry about my daughter starting kindergarten and my son starting a new school in private. On the other hand I probably could have used a few more hugs from my friends (thanks for the phone hug, BFF). Apparently, I was the only one who was sad today because when the bus returned the monkeys, they both had a little swagger in their steps (especially the kindergartner).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It was our last ditch effort

of enjoying summer vacation today. The monkeys start a new school tomorrow, so we declared it Have as Much Fun as You Can Day. In honor of HAMFAYCD, we set off for the big city in search of the Fun. I had already decided that I would take them to the place that makes all parents cringe (Chuck E. Cheese's). I didn't tell them where we were going and this drove them crazy (the apples don't fall far from the control freak tree). The whole way they tried to guess, but never got it (the thought of going to CEC didn't enter their minds because it has only happened once before). So finally (after a little Garmin intervention) into the lot we cruised. From the backseat I could hear them whispering, "Please let it be, please let it be." I thought about tricking them because there is an Office Depot right next door. I was going to pull up there and act like, "YAY Monkeys here we are! School supply sale here we come!" But, that is mean. They cheered when we parked.

So in we went to order our cardboard with cheese and play games, games, games. It was a good time (albeit a sensory overloaded time). Then it was off to Toys R Us for one item under $10 each (nothing says fun like a new toy). We made our purchases and headed for a stop at the teacher store where I again went into sensory overload. Then it was back to the house. Both monkeys repeatedly told me that it was a super fun day (mission accomplished). I just hope this means they will be so worn out they go to sleep almost immediately (6:30 wake-up calls aren't meant for children who stay up playing until 9:30).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Not the 23rd...yet

Here's the thing. I am in panic mode. I have been to my building exactly twice for a total of maybe 30 minutes this summer. Before you all have heart attacks while you gasp, "What is she THINKING?" let me explain. This was the last summer before the kindergartner starts, well kindergarten, and I really wanted to make it a good one (by good I mean not one day was spent watching movies on Mom's SMARTboard). We bought a a backyard pool, went to Texas, went to the water park, drank our way through the State Fair (I do love fresh squeezed lemonade), picnicked, and soooo many other things, but getting Mom's room ready was not on the list...anywhere (It's not like it was something I just didn't get to).

So now, I have exactly 10 days before 24 small people will join me on a yearlong adventure in learning and I'm not ready. That's the stuff school dreams are made of (you know the ones). In light of this, I am headed to school...just as soon as I finish my coffee and read the paper (it is still summer, afterall).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

KWL: State Fair Edition

K (For all you non-teachers out there...this is where you write what you know already)
  • It will be hot as blazes on opening day (my truck said 105 when we got back in).
  • There will be many, many things you can't unsee (I'm looking at you braless tubetop wearers).
  • Drinks will consume the majority of the Fair Day budget (really $5 for lemonade, really?).
  • There are tons of things that it seems as though you might not be able to live without, but because you are spending all your money on drinks, you have to go on without a shiny new salsa maker/Shamwow/tomato keeper/Pillow Pet/etc. (you almost had me, mop guy).
  • Carnival games are unwinnable (I know this, so please don't make me feel like a bad mom for not allowing my monkeys to experience the failure that is the bottle ring toss).

W (What you would like to know)

  • Why do I have to sign up for a condo tour/siding presentation/water analysis just for a free pen? (I didn't btw because we are on the "No-Call" list for a reason)
  • How do I get my pig into the pig races? (we actually have no swine, but if we did...)
  • Who told the Miss State Fair candidates that "talent" meant any old thing you could throw together (shooting rubber bands up your nose, screechy violin playing, speeches that didn't make a lot of sense)? Don't they watch Little Miss Perfect to know that you have to pull out ALL the stops to win?
  • Where, oh where are the non-skanky restrooms?
  • What happens when the roller coaster breaks down with your child on it?

L (What I learned)

  • Three large Carnies will come out of nowhere (seriously the ride operator didn't use a walkie-talkie or anything. He just put his hand up in the air) and push the roller coaster until it goes.
  • People are cranky when it gets hot (I predict the Highway Patrol will be busy tonight because beer + heat + couples = domestic situation).
  • You know it's hot when the animals in the petting zoo can't be bothered to come and eat the feed you offer them.
  • Ronald McDonald puts on a good show (the monkeys laughed so hard they got the hiccups).
  • There will always be "one more thing" to see or some point Mom has to call it a day (usually when the money's gone).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Spy with my Writer's Eye

I have taken to bringing a small seed journal with me everywhere I go. I have a regular sized writer's notebook too, but this one is small enough to put in my purse (it also small enough to fall under a chair in a conference and not be noticed until looked for in the next session...found it btw). After a summer of jotting things down, the monkeys are constantly telling me to, "put that in your blog book," or "you can tell Dad about that but not the Internet, so don't write it down."

For example, we ate at Carraba's tonight (too bad I didn't wear elastic pants, or I would have ordered dessert). On the crayon boxes that they give the monkeys for their menu books there was a joke...Where does a hamburger go to dance? The MEAT BALL! I know, very funny. It cracked up the kindergartner and Cubscout. They were giggling uncontrollably (they were also very tired from the eight million places we went in honor of the sales tax holiday. That's tax today on back to school clothes/shoes/supplies). Then, the Cubscout pulled himself together and said, "Mom, you should write that in your blog so someone else can hear the joke." It makes my heart happy as a mom and teacher to think that he is now on the lookout for good writing ideas.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hey, watch it!

You are shifting my paradigms all over the place. That's what I feel like saying today as I look over my notes. You see, yesterday, and the day before I went to a reading conference in the southern part of my state. I went to this conference last year and came away the same as I feel today. Overwhelmed with ideas. Because it is only a two-day, it feels like speed dating (I haven't ever done it so I am assuming). So instead of choosing potential suitors with a snap judgement, you go from speaker to speaker to speaker and quickly decide what you will use in your own room.

My favorite speaker is Lester Laminack (author of Saturdays and Teacakes, Jake's 100th Day of School, Snowday and two others I can't think of right now). The really big idea I came away with is keeping students engaged in reading (Lester called it residency, not tourism).

I have this really cool set of leveled readers in my room, and I am starting to question how much I use them. Lester made the point that they (leveled readers) are an accelerant. Once the students catch fire, then they can move to more engaging texts, because there is no need to add fuel once the fire is going. I agree in some ways because no one becomes someone who feels empty without a book to read (that's me) by reading leveled readers or basals all the time. On the other hand, the books are developed for instruction in specific skills (that the students need). Stopping the use of leveled books entirely once the students are at a certain point in their reading doesn't make sense to me. I am sure I will figure it out, and make it work for my class.

One of the best things about teaching is learning new things and making changes. Now if I can just come up with an idea that will make other teachers go, "Hmmm, I will have to try that," I will be rich.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

One night in

not Bangkok, but I'll take it. Tomorrow, I am going to a two-day reading conference approximately 120 miles away from my school. Do you know what that means? One night in a hotel...with a pool (insert ahhhhs here). Two days with my friends (the inside jokes from this will keep us going all. year. long.). And shopping, shopping, shopping at a mall (YAY!)

Am I excited? Does a teacher spend entirely too much money during the year on her class? Yesiree.

I will, however, miss tucking in the monkeys and giving them their eighty bazillion warnings to, "Get back in bed, or there will be no swimming tomorrow." Plus, I am one of those girls who enjoys hanging out with her husband (weird, I know) so I get a little homesick. I also find it hard to get to sleep without a little spoon action. I think that I can make these sacrifices for the good of both my class and my closet. It is only one night.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

"I hope you intend to blog about this,"

said my DH last night as we were getting ready for bed. What did he mean, you ask? He meant for me to tell the story of how some snollygoster (I kind of watch O'Reilly a lot even though my DH thinks he's too liberal) STOLE MY TRASHCAN FROM MY YARD SALE.

I bought this cute little sign with Happy Bunny on it for our driveway (it was $2.47, so I wanted to keep it close to home). Instead of putting it on top of a political sign (vote yes on the 4th question Tuesday), I turned the camper trashcan upside down and taped the sign on.

Everything was going great. I was clearing junk out of my house (even though having two children who like to keep things "just in case I need it" makes it hard. Why are they so much like me?). I was making a little spending cash. Win-win.

However, at some point during the 6 1/2 hour foray into the life of a flea market proprietor my trash can vanished. I first noticed it when I walked to the edge of the drive to add some more "merchandise." I looked down the drive, noticed the lack of a sign and said, "Hmmm that's strange." Then I walked to the end of the drive, and looked around (maybe it blew away?) and nothing. It was nowhere. Then I thought, "What on earth?!?" What was someone thinking? Was it something like, "OH look! A free trashcan that I'm sure she will never even miss. I'll just take it because isn't that what people do? Take things that are at the edge of the driveway? That's where people put the free things after all. Never mind that sign."

The good news is that the trashcan thief was good enough to rip off my sign and throw it into the middle of the street. I'm sure the tire marks will come off.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cooties are OK

As I was cruising the Internet yesterday (instead of working on anything important), I came across this little gem. You can go back and read the full text, but the gist of the article is that kids with head lice should not be forced to miss school. This was not a hypothesis from some group of yahoos, it came from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

So what the good doctors are saying is that if a child has nits, they stay. The article says sending them home increases the "overall hysteria" and doesn't benefit the child. Also, it says that a child with a few nits "might not ever have a full blown infestation." I don't know about you, but the word might is not strong enough for me, but neither is hysteria (that would just be the tip of the iceberg). Because if one of the monkeys or I was sent home...I don't even want to think about it.

Worst-case scenario. The policy changes, the students don't take my advice of, "Never share a hat or comb, or lice will make your head their home," and I have to wash my hair before AND after school each day. I have never in my life had lice, and I don't intend to...EVER.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Annnnnnd Check!

Of the long, long list of things I want to do during the summer (I still have time to document in scrapbook form the first five years of my daughter's life, right?) VBS was right there on the top of my list. I wrote the curriculum last year, and our VBS got cancelled at the last minute. So basically, it was all ready to go in a box under my bed for the last year.

Last week, we dusted it off and put it in play. I was really glad Thursday when it was over, and everything went as planned (quite well I might add). Well, everything except starting Tuesday night's festivities in the basement hallway of my church because we were under a tornado warning (gotta love the Midwest).

So now that Jubilee Junction is o-v-e-r, I can start thinking more about school. Not that I will, I just said I can (that is if and only if I want to, which with 4 more weeks of vacay, I don't).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wit's End

So, we have a problem around here. What's the problem? Two words... digestive trouble. Thanks for your concern, but it is not me, the monkeys, DH nor Buster the dog for that matter. Who does that leave? Wild Rosie, the cat. It is so bad (I will spare you the details) that Phoebe Buffay (from Friends) wrote the song "Smelly Cat" specifically about our cat (or it is a common problem which just adds to my overall cat disdain). It goes like this.

Smelly Cat, Smelly cat what are they feeding you?
Smelly Cat, smelly cat it's not your fault.
They won't take you to the vet.
You're obviously not their favorite pet.
You may not be a bed of roses,
And you're no friend to those with noses.
Smelly cat, smelly cat what are they feeding you?
Smelly cat, smelly cat it's not your fault!

We have tried 5 different kinds of foods (Tuna paste is gross, btw). Yet, none seem to help the noxious fumes that she expels. None. I keep hoping that maybe something will work (and she will eat it willingly because she is also choosy). Now, I'm off to the store to spin the cat food wheel of fortune...again.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Riddle me this

If you were a cat, and you knew that of the four people living in the house that adopted you, one person really loved cats, two people kind of liked them, and one person really did not care for them much at all, which person would you follow around and sleep on during your frequent naps? Well, if your name is Wild Rosie, the chosen one would be the one who doesn't really care for felines. That would be me. Right this very instant, I have a small kitten sleeping in my lap. Before, when I was reading a book on the couch, I had a small kitten in my lap...sleeping. First thing this morning she meowed until I picked her up (it was either carry her or risk stepping on her...again).

This has to stop. The kindergartner tells me at least 10 times a day that, "Mom, Rosie is my cat, but it's ok if you hold her." I feel guilty for the unwarranted/unrequited affection. I have tried to put her down for her napping. She just wakes up and jumps back on my lap. Every. Single. Time. I have had the kindergartner put our her food (which by the way she is really finicky about). She still follows me around. I have calmly explained that although I know she is cute, I don't care for cats. She just meows and purrs.

And now, to top everything off, the cat ladies at the stores have started talking to me. Just yesterday, I was trying to pick out a different food to try (thinking, "let this one work") when a lady just started talking to me in the aisle. She asked me what type of cat we had and told me that I should consider making my own cat food. I was all like, "Oh? How interesting." on the outside but on the inside I said something like, "Great. Now people think I'M a cat lady."

I'm sure she will grow on me at some point. You shouldn't count on me wearing a cat sweater to school any time soon, though.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dear Fellow "Swimmer",

I am writing this letter for the good of the children (mainly my Cubscout because the kindergartner is a girl so it doesn't matter quite as much) and my retinas (which may be permanently scarred). It came to my attention today as I was soaking up the rays just down from you (I was the source of the blinding glare of pale...sorry) that we have an issue that needs to be addressed. I'm going to cut right to the chase. Please put on more of a swimsuit (consisting of more that 1/16 of a yard of fabric). Please. Only your doctor and/or significant other needs to know for a fact that you had a C-section at some point in your life. I do not. Nor do the kids (including, but not limited, to my own). I get that you don't want tan lines, I do. I also know that you don't want to wear a "momsuit" like the rest of us. But, surely we can come to some sort of compromise like you could maybe make your bottoms come up to only 2 inches below your belly button. You will no longer jeopardize the safety of the pool by distracting the lifeguard. Give it some thought. Thank you for your time and kind consideration.

Frau M.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Top 5 ways

to know your server has absolutely NO EXPERIENCE with children:

1. She places every drink directly in front of the baby.
2. She places every plate of food directly in front of the baby.
3. She gives the baby the straws for the whole table.
4. She gives the baby the hot wetnaps for the whole table.
5. She gives the baby the mints for the whole table.

Check off all five and you have our (my BFF's family and mine) server from today. My arm is a little sore (as I am sure my BFF's is too) from using cat-like reflexes to pull the items away from the littlest member of our party. The funny (ironic, not ha ha) thing is, I know the server didn't even realize that she was doing her very best to create the perfect storm of restaurant disaster. She should have given us a tip for not letting it happen.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hotel for Dogs (and cats)

Tuesday morning started like every other morning in the land of summer vacation. My DH got up for work (whilst I continued to snooze). The monkeys joined me on the bed right after they heard the garage door shut. Everything was quiet....UNTIL...

Our dog Buster started barking his head off. I, not to be disturbed from my overall laziness, knocked on the window behind my bed for the dog to be quiet. I was sure he would know I meant business. Then, I heard not one, not two, but three dogs barking. Apparently, we had visitors. I went outside to see what on earth was going on. It was like a barking standoff, and in the middle was my DH trying to catch neighbor dogs (one big and growly, one small and hyper). He told me to toss him a stick and to go back in. So I did (when there is growling coming from a dog bigger than me, I don't argue).

Not three minutes later, the home phone rings and it's my DH asking me to come back and catch the two kittens that have the dogs riled. Hold up. Cats too? I went out and caught one of them (more on that cat later). The other cat ran up into the truck (literally, I had to crawl underneath and try to pull it off the axle?). Meanwhile, the big dog ran off. The little dog (weinerdog mix who was promptly named Oscar) was put on a leash and tethered in the front yard. The wild cat continued to crawl further under the truck and hiss at me. I finally chased him out, and he ran under the porch. At that point, I was like, "Fine, let the dogs eat you." She did escape (I saw her later in the field next door, so that's not on my conscience). So, at the end of the day we had two dogs and one cat.

I am not a cat person. However, the kindergartner is. After a late night discussion we voted to go ahead and keep Wild Rosie (we let the monkeys name her. I preferred Harriet Houdini). I took her to the vet, and after made a cruise through the trailer park down the road to see if I could find the big black dog Oscar was with (no luck). Then DH cruised through the neighborhood where our dog has his lady love, and found the owner. Oscar was returned (I'm glad he got to go home). So now, we are back to one dog, one cat and two monkeys.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Almost Amity Island

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Independence Day. We had an all-weekend extravaganza at my Sister-in-law's house (10 adult children in a family makes for a huge deal). It was pretty organized with each night having a theme (luau, Mexican and All-American BBQ cook off). A good time was had by all. However, I do have a story to tell.

In the movie Jaws (yay for you if you already knew Amity Island was the setting of the scariest. summer movie. EVER.) the Mayor said, "Martin, it's all psychological. You yell barracuda, everybody says, "Huh? What?" You yell shark, we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July."

So on the 4th after the cook off was over (we were totally robbed), and before the fireworks, all the kids decided to go down to the creek to swim. The creek is only about 3 feet deep, and really clear so I not only went, but got in too (I have a thing about not being able to see my feet when I swim). It was so very cold and so very needed on a muggy day. Everything was going great. Our internal body temperatures were no longer in the 100's and the kids were all having a blast letting the adults pull them on boogie boards. It was nice until...I noticed my sisters-in-law all gathered in a circle looking at the ground. I overheard one say, "I don't know what it is." Another said, "It looks like a slug." The last one said, "Could it be a leech?" As I started walking toward the scene, they called over my DH (their brother) and asked, "Hey, do you think that this is a slug or a leech?"

My DH took one look and said the words, "Everybody out of the creek, it has leeches." (notice there is no exclamation point because he doesn't get all excited). All it took was the word leech to put me in a full panic. I ran to the side, and like the one woman on the beach in Jaws, I started hollering at the kids to, "Get out of the water! There are leeches!" This got everyone's attention. Then, they all stopped what they were doing like deer caught in the headlights and ran out of the water (I'm not sure if it was the teacher/crazy lady voice or the fact that there were PARASITES in the creek that made them hustle). To make matters worse, two of my nieces got out too late and we (by we I mean my DH) had to pull leeches off their tiny little legs. The swimming party was O-V-E-R.

The moral of this story is, if you yell "LEECHES!!!!!" you also have a panic on your hands on the 4th of July.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Oh Walmart, why can't I quit you?

Just yesterday (in light of the spray-on glue/am I a shoplifter? debacle), I went to my little town's hardware store for some pool chemicals (pool boys and girls all over the world have gained my utmost respect, because this job is HARD with all the skimming and testing and balancing). I paid an extra $4, but it was worth it to avoid the capital of impulse shopping (you know I would have spent more than any $4 extra given my love of all things totally unnecessary...I'm looking at you, never used choo-choo train cookie cutter).

AND THEN...I read that they started putting out the school supplies (I did not go there, but I did read it on stlmommy's blog). My Achilles heel of monetary self-control? Anything manufactured by Fiskars, Crayola or Mead. While I'm not ready to return to the blackboard jungle (I'm still working through my summer reading list), I do love, love, love brand new school supplies (nothing trumps pointy crayons that have not touched anything except the factory machines). I thought I could get the same #2 pencil high from shopping for my monkeys. Alas, it did not work last year (I NEED my own 10 pack of Classic Color Markers).

What's a girl to do? I am helpless against the school supply/good deal combination. I guess now the score will be 3-1, advantage Walmart. Wah wah wah.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The score

I am a little on the obsessive side (I love you forever if you just said, "I totally wouldn't have guessed that."). By obsessive, I mean one of my habits was featured on Intervention (you know that show on A&E where they feature a person who needs intervention because they are ruining their lives by drinking, drugs, eating disorder...whatever). My habit wasn't actually the intervention because this girl had an eating disorder (I love to eat), and was going out all the time (I hate stinky bars). But, in the introduction her friend was talking about how she had been a little "Mary Homemaker" (before the self-destructive behavior) and the friend said, "She even had her menu planned and posted on the refrigerator, I mean who does that?" Well, I do. Apparently, that makes me one small step from snapping and shunning all responsibilities for the life of a super skinny party girl.

So back to my obsessiveness. I have this unspoken contest with Walmart (pretty sure they don't even know about it). If things work out in my favor I get a point. If it works in theirs, they get the point. Pretty simple. The score this summer is 2-1, advantage Walmart. My point came when I presented a coupon for a free shampoo and the checker took off the maximum amount instead of the cost (giving me $1.03 over).

In that same trip, I missed getting one of the bags leaving a pool test kit (important to the health of my monkeys) and my DH's deodorant (important to everyone). So, I spent the $1.03 in gas to go the 20 miles round trip to retrieve my already paid-for items. Did I mention that it was only one hour later and they had RESHELVED it? I think the big W is making a lot of money doing this "forgetting." That was one point for the big box.

The next point came yesterday. Small monkeys distract me at the register, so I don't really pay that much attention. So, imagine my surprise when I was opening the bag at home and found Elmer's Spray Glue? I questioned the kindergartner and Cubscout (they didn't know where it came from). Then I had a thought, "What if, I didn't actually pay for this? That makes me a SHOPLIFTER!" I would have to take it back and tell them the mistake. But then, I found my receipt and there it was. I didn't inadvertently STEAL. I did, however, pay for and take home something I didn't need. Nicely played Walmart, nicely played.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are"

is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread. ~Fran├žois Mauriac

I just finished up If I Stay. I totally judged the book by its cover (I'm a sucker for light blue on the outside). The inside said it was a story about a cellist and her rocker boyfriend (chick-lit is how I roll), and the choices she had to make-- all complicated by one February day. The inside cover did not say, "Reader, watch out because the whole family except the girl dies in chapter two." I hate being blindsided. So the book was not about whether or not she stayed with her boyfriend instead of going to Julliard. It was about whether or not she stayed...ON EARTH. I hate to cry (except for in the privacy of the bathroom), but this book got me. My tears prompted DH to say something like, "It's a book." Even though it was totally tragic, it was beautifully written. I went back and reread the really, really good parts today. I'm not sure what that means about me.

Friday, June 25, 2010

House, paint thyself

Don't I wish it were that easy? On Tuesday, we decided that it was the perfect time to paint the house (what better way to spend the remaining days of family vacation). Not the whole house, but the trim and porch. Easy right? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. In order to paint the porch and trim, two things had to happen. First, I had to scrape off the paint from the previous owner (who apparantly believed that another layer of paint will fix anything), and my DH had to replace the wood on the eaves because due to weathering over time and faulty building, they had dry rot. Excellent.

You may be thinking, "Why do they choose to do these things themselves (we all read about the tiling experience)?" You and I both know that money does not grow on trees (contrary to the belief system of both of my monkeys). I am all for saving money by doing it myself (even though it's hard, and I hate it).

So, it's Friday (on our behalf, we didn't start actual work until Wednesday). We aren't finished (I'm projecting a Sunday finish, actually). But at least we will have it done and checked off the massive "to-do list." Next up? Upstairs bathroom...can't wait.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hey, man did you try the Grand Slam?

I don't know how many of you have ever eaten at Denny's. But, the family and I have twice prior to this vacation experience. Each time, we say, "Let's not do that again." Not because the food is horrible (food has to have a taste in the first place to accomplish this) or the restaurant is dirty, but because it consistently features servers who celebrate extra on April 20th.

This experience was no different. It was getting late, and we hadn't eaten dinner yet. Nothing really sounded good and we were too far from the campground to make it there, cook something and eat before the monkeys turned grumpy. We wanted something mild so what better choice? The place from where all nursing home cooks draw their recipe inspiration.

As soon as our server walked up to the table the DH and I exchanged a glance because what did we smell? The boy had been smoking, and it wasn't just a Marlboro. He took our orders, and brought us our drinks with straws. In fact, he brought a straw every time he refilled our drinks. About eight straws later (we were thirsty), he looked at the table and said, "I don't know why I keep bringing you straws." My DH goes all mellow and says, "It's alright, man." I look at him like, "Who are you?" A little later he is clearing our table and says, "Ma'am didn't you like your yogurt?" The thing is, it was all gone. I looked at the server and said, "Yes, I liked it." Then he looked again and said, "I must be trippin', sorry." I thought to myself, "Really? Hadn't noticed that."

As we were leaving I couldn't help thinking that Dazed and Confused probably got their extras from having open call auditions in the parking lot of the three Denny's we have been to. If they didn't, they should have.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Accident Prone or Accident Pro?

I think I know which category I fall into.

Clearly, I'm back from vacay (I did almost have my DH convinced we could make a living selling T-shirts on the beach, but at the last minute he changed his mind saying something about being impractical). So needless to say, I didn't post while I was gone (wi-fi and camping don't mix), but I do have some great stories from the road (my writer's notebook isn't just full of poetry, this time).

So story #1 comes from the fourth day of vacation. We were leaving my sister-in-law's house after the cubscout and kindergartner (she doesn't start until August but has told more than one stranger making conversation that she goes to real school now when they guess that she is in preschool) had played to their little hearts' content with the cousins. I thought it would be a good idea to take a group picture with everyone in it. I set the timer on my camera for 10 seconds. Then I scooted over to get into the shot. On my way to my spot, I slipped (like a full-on slip when there is no catching yourself because it happened so very, very fast). I then fell, but on the way down, I caught my head on the coffee table. I saw stars. Lots and lots of stars. The decision was made that I should go to the emergency room. I tried to protest, I did. But it hurt so much.

After a crazy ride (my brother-in-law drives faster than me, which is hard to do), we arrived and I was seen almost immediately. This would not happen where I live. In fact, we would probably still be waiting at the ER now if we were in my town. The doctor came in and took one look at me and said, "You are going to need a CT scan because no one can guess what's going on inside, they have to see it." This is a first for even me. Plenty of X-rays, shots, and the like, but never a CT scan.

So after the scan, the doctor came back and told me it was a minor concussion and neck strain, but I would be fine. Back we went to take the picture (this time my DH did the timer), and head out on the road.

My hopes of a career in the UFC have been dashed because getting hit in the head is just not my deal.