Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dear Fellow DMV "Client?",

When you waited until the end of the month (in which the last day is on a Saturday) to do your renewing, you had to know that the DMV would be busy, and you would have to wait behind everyone who, like me, procrastinated.  I knew before running the dreaded errand, that it would take a while to get to the front of the line in order to conduct my business.  Your loud complaints actually made the clerks get all passive-aggressivey and go slower...on purpose.  This did not work for me as I didn't bring snacks for the monkeys with me (just a book to look at while we were there).  In addition, the instructions for what you need are ON THE RENEWAL CARD they send to you.  Take a look.  There's a list of exactly what you need.  So, it is not necessary to go through line twice because you could have been prepared the first time.  Also, it is not necessary to ask to speak to a supervisor because I'm almost pretty sure there is no actual supervisor and the clerks are all equal (they draw straws each day to see who's it).  I'm also positive that the DMV makes no exceptions and crying about how you didn't know and begging for them to make an exception to the rules makes everyone uncomfortable.  So, for the sake of us all, please, next time, just read the card and do what it says.  It will make your trip so, so much easier.

Sincerely,
Frau M.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

11 in 11

First, I'd like to thank you all for your kind words and prayers. This week has been really, really hard. Ryan was laid to rest yesterday. My niece prayed to begin the service. The prayer was absolutely beautiful and echoed the feelings of everyone there. She is so strong. I admire her. So again, thank you everyone who gave me a call or left a comment.

So, as I was cruising the blogs this morning, I saw Kristen over at First Grade-California Style linked up with A Teeny Tiny Teacher's Linky party, 11 in 11. So, I thought I would join in, too.




11. Favorite Movie I watched:  I loved this movie for two reasons.  First, it has penguins (I love all things arctic).  Second, it is one of my most favorite read-alouds for 2nd grade.  Even though the movie didn't stick to the book, it was still really good, you know for a family movie.






10.  Favorite TV Show:  I don't usually sit down after getting home from wrestling practice/4H/Cubscouts until about 9:00 or so.  I catch reruns (I know it makes me boring at the water cooler, but hey...what can you do?).  Michael Scott is the best.  1st Runner Up?  Big Bang Theory as I feel like I am watching my caseload on TV.

9.  Favorite Restaurant:  I actually love all Mexican food, but this is my favorite chain.  We have some really, really delicious privately owned Mexican restaurants here.  My other favorite is the Tamale stand just down the road from my school.  You can get 12 for $15.  Yum-mo!




8.  Favorite new thing you've tried:  I try new things all the time so this one is hard.  I did try a different kind of wine recently and really liked it.  It was a Gruner Veltliner.  It is Austrian.  I was in a Reisling rut before.  But this was really good very dry but not woodsy.








7.  Favorite gift I received:  My DH whisked me away for our anniversary to a bed and breakfast that is in an old school.  It was so nice and something I had always wanted to do.





6.  Favorite thing I've pinned:  I know this is going to sound crazy, but I don't have a Facebook or a Twitter account.  Therefore, I don't have a Pinterest.  I have cruised on the front page and made a few cute things I saw there.

5.  Favorite blog post:  I have several favorites (the ones that still make me laugh a little when I go back and read them.  But, one of my favorites comes from the blog I broke (I tried to get all fancy and didn't save) called Quarters in the Jar.  It's called That Ice Cube thing Really does Work

4.  Favorite accomplishment:  I passed the Praxis with 191/200 for my special education mild/moderate cross-cat certification.  I studied really hard until the test day as I hadn't had a special education class since my undergrad.  It felt so good to not just pass, but to really really pass (although I wish I had gotten a perfect).

3.  Favorite picture:  Is one I took of my daughter on a carousel last year.  She isn't looking at the camera and is laughing.  I love it.

2.  Favorite memory:  Seeing my kids run to their Nan and Poppy when they got off the plane from their summer-long mission trip to Russia.  My monkeys were so excited to finally see them after they were gone all summer long.

1.  Goals for 2012:  Drink more water, slow down, don't procrastinate.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Huge Loss

My nephew died last night from a brain aneurysm.  He was 29 and in great health.  I never heard him say a cross word to anyone.  He was the type of guy who everyone wanted to be around.  He is the love of my niece's life.  Everyone in my family is reeling.  I won't be here for a few days, but want to wish everyone Merry Christmas, and to ask that you please pray for everyone here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Really? An observation?

So my school district has mandated that all teachers be observed at least every two weeks (preferably every week).  The administrators use a web-based checklist to do informal observations.  Then, the data is compiled and shared with us at our monthly staff meeting.  The whole checklist is very Marzano-ey with points given for showing objectives and DOK.  I really don't mind being observed.  I teach how I teach and I can rarely be found slacking off (ok, there may have been a time or two when I -gasp- stopped to eat something or even worse...went to the restroom).  But, scoring me, in a special education setting, on the DOK that I am teaching seems a little far-fetched.  For one thing, I am not teaching content.  I'm teaching skills like Kind Talk or Flexibility.  These are newly acquired skills that just aren't generalized very often (when my student do that consistently, I'll be out of a job). 

But I digress...
This week is finals week (don't get me started on calling it finals).  So, a lot, lot, lot of my time has been spent accommodating my students according to their IEP's.  I have read the common assessment in Math 3 times (it is a doozy, too).  So imagine my surprise when my principal walked in with her Ipad in tow all ready to be wowed.  I thought to myself, "My scores are going to be so low because a).  I'm not teaching anything to this student, b). We aren't using any technology at all, and c).  I'm not even interacting with my other student in the room because he is taking a break/playing with Legos.  Great."  I think if it was me, I would have doubled up on the observations last week.  At least then I would have gotten to see something other than a bunch of kids taking tests and teachers proctoring/keeping the students on task when all they want to do is have Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Birth of an Idiom

Years and years ago I was teaching a lesson about figures of speech.  The class and I were brainstorming idioms that we knew.  We had the usual it's raining like cats and dogs, break the ice with someone, and being on edge.  Then one of my young friends raised her hand and said, "Get your cow socks on."  Instead of looking at her like everyone in the class was (with that mix of she's crazy/I'm annoyed),  I asked, "What does that mean?"  She relayed that it meant to hurry up because you are dawdling and her dad used it all the time.  So I wrote it down.  Then I retold the story to my DH who thought it was funny enough to begin using.  So now, it is actually an idiom we use in our house.  That's not the point of this story though.

On Saturday night, my family had it's Birthday for Jesus celebration.  My parents, my sister's family and my family get together for pizza, birthday treats and presents every year.  After the Bible story and before the real gifts we play a game called Whackadoodle (someone made that name up, clearly).  You may know it as Chinese Christmas, except for in this game no one knows the contents of the gifts because they are grab bag gifts purchased from the Amish store just down the road.  The gifts are always ridiculous nicknacks or just plain weird.  Well this year, my mom cheated and put in three that she wrapped herself.  One of them was a set of pink flamingoes.  We played through the game and my family wasn't in possession of the blush-colored birds (though we are now the proud owners of a full set of punch cups minus the bowl).  All was well.  Our party proceeded fairly uneventfully (unless you count the cutthroat game of LeftCenterRight).  Around 9:45 or so, it was time to head home.  When we opened the back of the truck to load up the gifts, there they were.  THE FLAMINGOES!  So what did we do?  Plotted our revenge.  That's what.

The next day after church, we swung by my sister's house with a mission.  Flamingo the yard in broad daylight (it was much easier not to get caught because they weren't home, but we were still very sneaky).  We put the pair right in the middle of their front yard.  I ran back to the truck yelling, "GO GO GO!" As we were pulling away, the Cubscout shouted, "How's it feel to get flamingoed?" to no one in particular.  The Clover was all like, "Oh yeah, we just flamingoed them."  And that dear friends is how a new idiom is born.  Because now, when the teacher is asking for examples of idioms it will be my children who cause the question marks in the eyes of their peers after they raise their hands and say, "Get your cow socks on" AND "You just got flamingoed," as their examples.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The last three days (in Haiku)

Wednesday
Consultation day
Please help me with this student
I need ideas

Thursday
Meaningless workshop
Is she really crocheting?
That's a lot of nerve

Another meeting
My head is spinning around
How long will this last?

Friday
No windows at school
Power outage eighth hour
Thankful it's over

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Talking me down

Let me first start by saying that I love working with my students.  Every single one of them (even when its hard).  I am proud that I, instead of just talking about making a change and adding a certification, I actually did.  That being said, it has been a tough row to hoe for me.  The nights when I cry outweigh the ones when I celebrate (by about 5:1).  My DH and I have had serious conversations about what next year holds.  On one hand I love a good challenge.  On the other I love my old school where I actually had friends and was moderately successful.  I had pretty much decided that maybe this change wasn't for me, after all.  Until I got a note that said I was truly helping my students find their voice.  It instantly reduced me to tears.  It was just what I needed to hear not only because it was encouraging, but also because it reminded me that this job is so not about me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jeopardy

There's something that I kind of keep under wraps about myself (I know it is hard to believe that as I have a blog and all).  But I make up scenarios in my mind all the time.  Like today...in my head it went a little something like this

Me:  I'll take "Things that can't end soon enough" for $1000, Alex
Alex:  A merry yule will come to all school participants after seeing this number of sunrises.
Me:  What is 8?
Alex:  And Frau M. maintains control of the board as we go into Final Jeopardy. (I always win in my head)

That's right 8 more predawn commutes until break!  Technically, it is only 7 1/2 more days of school as the last one is an early release.  I am just as excited as the kids.  Not so much for the mountains of paperwork that await me upon my return, but for the leisurely days of getting up without the "help" of my trusty alarm clock.  Here's hoping that the days go as quickly as sugary sweets on the lounge table.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where did time go?

My youngest (the Clover) turned seven yesterday.  Seven.  It seems like only a few days ago, I was trying to fit my very pregnant belly into a student desk during a grade level meeting at another school (you know the kind where the chair and the tabletop are connected so there's no scooching).  She wasn't a baby for very long (even though we called her Baby for a long time).  As soon as she entered school (parochial preschool for starters) it was as though someone hit the fast forward button.

Nothing brings home that fact that your baby isn't a baby anymore like looking at her with eyeshadow on.  The Clover, much to the chagrin of her dad, got her first makeup set last night (good call Aunt B, it is a big hit!).  She was all about trying it out.  Before the night was over, she had on more eyeshadow than is appropriate for anyone and every shade of lipgloss in the kit.  It made me want to cry because I know that gone are tea parties with the stuffed animals and playdough pizza making.  I am just waiting for her to ask me to get her ears pierced.  I wonder how old a girl has to be before she can enter the convent?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rudolph is in my social skills group?

Like teaching anything else, there are a ton of strategies and options when it comes to presenting a lesson.  One of these is role playing.  We have been working tirelessly on being flexible in our thinking.  It is one of the Super Skills, and so very important to life.  You and I have it (clearly, or we wouldn't be teachers now would we?).  Sudden changes are super hard for students who are on the Spectrum.  Like, catastrophic.  Our culminating project for this skill (as well as cooperation, kind talk, being a good listener) is to present a puppet show to another class.  So here's what we (with a lot of guidance wrote).  If you want to copy and paste it, feel free (I'm all about helping a co-teacher out).

North Pole Flexibility

Rudolph:  I am so excited to pull Santa's sleigh tonight.  I get to be behind Dancer and Prancer!

Santa:  Rudolph, it is so foggy, and your nose is so bright.  You should be in front so we can see where we're going.

Rudolph:  SANTA!  I'm too scared, and YOU SAID I would be behind Dancer and Prancer!!!!!

Santa:  Do you remember your steps to success for being flexible?

Rudolph:  I can't even think!  I'm too upset!  What are they?

Santa:  Stop and take a deep breath, let it go.  Now think what's happening and make a plan.

Rudolph:  (Takes a deep breath) OK, you need my help.  I will try being in front.

Santa:  GREAT JOB!  You are really using your steps.  And now, we can deliver the presents.

It takes a lot of rehearsing and scenarios to really generalize this, but as I said yesterday.  It's a process, not an event.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oh Thursday

- or - if I hear the first year band students murder "Up on the Housetop" one more time, I'll be the one up on the housetop ready to jump.  Today was one of those days.  The one where my constant game of putting out fires/whack-a-mole got out of hand (didn't win any tickets today).  Sometimes, I feel like for as many steps forward we have taken this year, we are back in August for the day.  I know, I know, it's a process not an event.  But still, I get frustrated when not one thing goes the way it should all day long (including the strength of the cafeteria coffee that I just discovered).  So here's to the potential for a late start tomorrow and the fact that every day is a new one.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Coolest Download EVER!

Today was Wednesday, so it was consultation day for me.  That's when the queen of all things on the Spectrum, comes to visit me and make suggestions.  I do so love it because a). I get to interact with an adult and b). Her wealth of knowledge is amazing.  Toward the beginning of the year, I think she was worried that I would be offended by her suggestions until one day I told her, "Look, the only way I am going to get better at this is by having someone coach me.  Any suggestions you make I will immediately carry out and be thankful for.  I promise not to cry in your presence." Since that day, I have learned so, so much from her.  Like today.  She made a Power Card for me (not actually for me as I certainly don't have any behaviors that need to be modified, but as an example).  It was Super Mario themed and totally awesome.  I geeked out and was like, "How?"  So she showed me the best program I have seen in a while (except for Boardmaker, of course).  It is called Comic Life, and it can be used for so much more than Power Cards.  So. Much. More.  It has a 30-day free trial (which I am now on day 1 of).  The great thing is, it only costs $25 to have it for your computer for all of time.  So here's the link to what will prove to be invaluable in my world.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I truly don't hate my job...

I do, however, love puttering around the house in my jammies more.  When winter comes, it is hard for me to get up from my nice cozy bed and head out in the dark to school (one hour earlier is killing me slowly).  Especially on days like today when it didn't get above freezing, and it was snowing when I left.  In fact it snowed (albeit lightly) into the afternoon.  This got my hopes up for an early release (silly I know because there was no accumulation).  That was not to be, so we the teachers, continued teaching the GLE's and basically holding the students against their will for the remainder of the day (long).  Maslow should have added "touching the first snow (or any snow for that matter)" to his physiological needs tier in the hierarchy.  Tomorrow and for the remainder of the week, it will be above freezing with no precipitation, so at least Saturday/loungeday is just around the corner.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'm a little fishy...

watch me swim.  Yes, that's right.  I swam today.  My Best Para Forever (sorry to the one who worked in my room two years ago, but girlfriend has you at the least tied for best), texted me around 5:50 (ten short minutes before I have to leave) that she wouldn't be coming in today.  She reminded me that it was her student's day for swim.  So, I grabbed my suit, towel and flip-flops while thanking the good Lord that I had bothered to shave my legs today (not that little boys notice and/or care, but still).  And away I went.  The swimming hour rolled around and I suited up as fast as I could.  I threw on my shorts over my momsuit (something had to cover some of the glare from my oh-so whiteness) and made my way to the hall to meet my guy.  At the very moment I walked out of the girls locker room, my assistant principal walked by me, did an almost unnoticeable double take and said, "Going in today Frau M.?"  I said, "BPF is absent, so it's me."  He said, "Good, good." and kept on walking (I guess he figured better me than him).  Our conversations for most of the year have been just about the same length, yet somehow he always knows exactly what is up with my students (uncanny and a little nerve wracking).  After swim time was over, came the cold part (and the reason I am still wearing my coat and hat right now).  I had to get out and go into the regular building.  Brrr!  I changed back as fast as I could and pulled my hair back into a bun (not a great look for me, but what can you do?).  All in all, not too bad.  I am not saying I would do it again voluntarily, but if the need arises, I can and will give the school population something they can't unsee.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Challenge Accepted

There are two different ways to react to difficult situations.  This phenomenon is known as fight or flight.  Some people cower in the corner at the hint of confrontation.  Some people pretend not to see you and turn the other way.  Some people go home and cry.  Not this girl.  I have decided that killing with kindness isn't working for me.  So my new tactic is fight.  Those who know me are aware that there are times when I don't mince words and say what I am truly thinking without the use of any kind of filter.  I try to control that aspect of my personality most of the time.  However, when pushed hard enough I will tell exactly what I think without an edit.  So if you find yourself sitting by me and notice my ringtone has changed from Raspberry Beret (Prince) to We're not Gonna Take it (Twisted Sister), you'll know why.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

How not to sell a car

Today I went car shopping (btw, the weather was cold and rainy so yes, not only am I crazy but my DH is as well).  I have done my research and have settled on a Chevy Malibu or Cruze.  But, sometimes when I get to the dealership, I see something shiny that is not one of the two sensible cars I have chosen.  Like today, I instantaneously fell in love (although I didn't gush as it is not good for the negotiations if you show your hand) with a cherry red VW bug with only 30,000 miles on it.  It was so, so, cute.  It had black leather interior.  Did I mention it was cute?  So the salesman asked me if I wanted to try it out as I have test driven Malibu and ridden in the Cruze already.  I was reluctant at first because of the rain, but decided that I had better drive it.  So, I got in all ready for a spin.  I put the key in the ignition, turned it and nothing.  I tried it again thinking maybe I was doing it wrong.  Still nothing.  The salesman came back and I told him, the car wasn't starting.  He thought maybe it was the battery.  Although he couldn't find where to charge it.  Another salesman guy came out and tried to jumpstart it to no avail.  The salesmen apologized profusely.  So, I didn't get to drive it which is just as well, because the size really wouldn't be practical for my family.  But it was so cute, and I really did like it.  No farfegnugen for me today (nor dollars for the salesman) :(

Friday, December 2, 2011

Let me tell you

about a time when I was tired, said the unkind woman at the registration desk.  Many moons ago, when I was in grad school, the new semester was starting and I had to go pick up my textbook for said course.  I worked about 30 minutes from the university, it was August, I had no air conditioning in my building where I had taught 29 fifth graders all day long, and I was pregnant.  I rushed (by rushed, I mean careened down the hwy toward the university) to the bookstore and made it in the nick of time.   However, when I got to the bookstore, the woman asked to see my schedule.  I looked at her with question marks in my eyes (soon to turn into ampersands) and said, "I only have one class and it's graduate."  She said, "That's the rule."  I said, "Please just let me pick go get it, the book is for EDAD 2100)."  She said, "No."  I said, "UGH, I am soo tired."  To which she replied, "Let me tell you about a time when I was tired."  In retrospect, I shouldn't have been so whiny, but really.  For one class?  I also should have made a snarky comment.  That's what makes me, on days like today (Fridays in December) think I should go find that woman and tell her, "Let ME tell YOU about a time when I was tired because whatever you were going to tell me 10 years ago can't be anywhere even close to beating what I could tell you."  So there.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dr. Phil once said,

"Every child has a currency."  I remember watching that episode thinking, "When I have kids, they'll just do what they are supposed to do and I won't have to figure out their currency because I won't have to remove privileges nor will I 'bribe' my children with rewards."  Riiiiiight.  Those are clearly the words of someone who isn't a mother.  Perfect children who are intrinsically motivated?  Not mine.  The best way to get a bedroom clean around here is the offering up of anything dinosaur (the Cubscout just wrote a power paragraph about becoming a paleontologist) or for the Clover, Hello Kitty.  When bad choices are made, gone are those things they love the most (Fossil Fighters for DS, I'm lookin' at you). 

In the same way, each of my students has their own area of interest/expertise/currency that can be used as a great motivator.  At school, I'm not looking to get a bedroom clean or laundry put away, but rather planners filled out and assignments turned in or "kind talk" used.  So out comes Mario, Angry Birds, or even the Solar System to help me, help my guys get the hard job of school done for one more day.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Eater's Remorse

I eat because I'm stressed.  I'm stressed because I eat.  My problem (although referring to Snickers as a problem seems wrong) began a few weeks ago when my family went to our local university's Homecoming parade (my DH and I are also alumni...remind me to tell you how we met some time).  There was so. much. candy. thrown to my children.  So much.  One week later, my son had a sleepover for his birthday I made sure to have plenty of candy on hand for the bash as I wasn't the one who had to stay up with the sugar-crazed attendees (can't wait until the Clover's turn).  Why we didn't use what we had already, I'm not sure.  Then, last weekend, we had our church's fall festival.  It was amazing.  Not only did my monkeys get to pet camels and baby porcupines, but also they had a serious blast going on multiple hayrides (that's what happens when your dad is the hayride operator and you have 5 hours of festival).  Included in this festival was of course a carnival where candy and more candy were the prizes (enter the 3rd shipment of sugary sweets to my house).  Then, Monday the Cubscout and Clover had their class parties (on a Monday!?).  So we're rollin in the Tootsies.  And I can't leave it alone.  The supply is seemingly unlimited so I don't feel guilty for sneaking a candy here and there until after I eat it.  Then the "why did I do that?" sets in.  For the sake of my pants, I need to get this under control.  Plus, sooner or later the kids are going to notice that although they had a lot of chocolate, they don't now.

Monday, October 31, 2011

An unannouced hiatus

Clearly, I have not been writing anything.  It's been three weeks.  In case you didn't know, I decided, for my own mental health, to take a break from blogging.  There have been so, so many times when I had a ton to write, but couldn't.  When you teach Sped, there's a lot to tell and none of which you can.  This results in breaches of confidentiality at home where I feel like I am a mess of emotions.  At a training I attended I found another teacher who lamented that her colleague was all reserved whereas she was like BLAH! (at this point she made a gesture like she was vomiting).  That's me too (in the private forum of my home).  In addition to the emotionalness of it all, there's the sheer busyness of the end of quarter and all that entails (my paperwork has paperwork that requires additional paperwork in order to complete it). On the homefront, my DH looked at me and asked, "When is life going to slow down a little so we can breathe?"  I said I didn't expect that it would as this is our new normal so we should look at it as though we aren't all that busy at all.  All that being said,  I am back and ready to share.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Obituary

Nervous Nellie, 4 months, died Wednesday October 7th in the chicken pen.  Private burial services, officiated by the DH, were held in the backyard on Thursday.  Nellie is survived by her sister, Cowgirl, and her caregiver, the Clover.  Memorial contributions can be made to the No More Coyotes Society.

Sidenote:  The Clover asked to see her body before we buried her and after she took a look she said (in her matter-of-fact tone, "There was just no saving her.")  I think I was more emotional about the whole thing than her, and I don't even really like the chickens.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

12 hours

of sleep makes me happy/patient/ready to tackle the housekeeping that I have ignored until this point in the week.  Half a day is exactly how long I sawed logs last night (it sounds like more when you put it in 24 hour terms).  I fell asleep at 9:00 (I think because Greta VanSustern was coming on, but it might of been a little earlier than that because the last thing I remember was Hannity arguing about something or another.  And no, it is not me who chose to watch Fox News as they are rarely kind to American Educators).  I vaguely remember my DH nudging me toward the bedroom so I wouldn't get a crick in my neck from sleeping on the couch.  The next thing I knew, the sun was up (I usually get up before the crack of dawn and leave for work in the dark).  I might have slept even later if my DH's office hadn't called on the home phone (they apologized profusely when I answered all groggy).  I actually feel rested.  I think this afternoon, I will take a nap (in the hopes that rest can be stored up like camels store water).

Friday, September 30, 2011

When you're on the South Pole...

the only direction you can go is north.  That's what I told my BPF (best para forever) today because some time around lunch, things got little off course and turning a ship around on a Friday is HARD.  By the end of the day, I felt a little like Roald Amundsen (except for that I was not trying to get to the pole...it just happened).  The great thing about this position is that regardless of how tired I am (my DH said he checked my pulse last night to make sure I hadn't died in my sleep as I didn't move at all for 3 straight hours), it is truly a big puzzle to work.  I love puzzles.  This weekend, I will most likely consult with my much more experienced colleagues, pick apart every moment of today (and take it back to the drawing board),really try to make my action plan better and get this ship headed away from the penguins.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How much candy...

is too much candy?  Well, according to our fair city, there is no such thing.  Yesterday, after school was the High School Homecoming parade.  My monkeys were beside themselves with excitement when I picked them up from school (my district was out early for Homecoming, as well).  The annual parade would begin in two hours.  During our wait for the festivities, we visited the library and got milkshakes (as it was Friday).  We went home to pick up Dad (who took the whole day after working 80 hours the week before).  We made our way to the street down from the High School about 20 minutes early (you have to, if you want a parking spot because EVERYONE in town comes out) and waited.  This year, I had the good sense to change out of my spirit shirt before going to the parade (not so much last year, and I stuck out like a sore thumb).  Finally, the parade began (after my children had greeted everyone they knew...which in a small town is just about everyone).  It only lasted 18 minutes, but in that time the monkeys collected a whole Walmart sack of candy.  The way I figure it, they got about 1/2 pound of candy per minute.  This will take us about a year to eat (not hyperbole, we just don't really eat much candy around here, although I did confiscate and consume 1 mini Snickers).  Although I know the district where I teach is awesome, I will never regret sending the Cub and Clover to their hometown school (where everybody knows your name, the streets are paved with Tootsie Rolls and the academics are second to none.).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dear Chickens,

The purpose of this letter is to remind you of our agreement.  You agree to give our family some eggs and I agree to make sure you have food, water and shelter.  Nowhere (even in the fine print) is there any wording that allows you to roam free in the yard or escape to the neighbor's field behind ours.  I do realize that life can get a little boring on the inside of your pen, but escaping then refusing to be caught is not the answer.  I would like to remind you that the dog, coyotes or hawks would be more than happy to eat you, should you wander into their territory.  If you should choose not to heed this warning, and make a subsequent escape, please know that I will not use a full hour of the family's time to catch you.

Sincerely,
Frau M.

P.S.  Wed Woosta and Penny this letter is not to you, so please disregard.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Q: How do you know it's a bad day?

A:  You're good friend texts you saying you are on her mind and she is praying for you. 

I believe sometimes God brings people to mind and you should pray for them when you think of them.  It happens to me sometimes.  I already pray for people I know (especially if I know that they are going through something hard), but sometimes I feel like I should pray for someone for no reason.  So I do.  My friend had no idea that my day was headed south in a hurry, but knowing that she was praying for me helped.  So it is important to listen and follow directions (just like we teach the kiddos).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekend Update

This week just flew on by and now we are starting the new one (yikes!).  Maybe the flying has something to do with all the Starbucks I have been drinking (unfortunately, I just used the last of my giftcards).  So here's a brief rundown.
  • The coop for the chickens is complete and they have moved in (and out of my garage which was smelling a little like the fair).
  • The Cubscout started selling the dreaded popcorn (overpriced if you ask me, and oh so hard to sell, but please do send me a message if you want some).
  • The Clover has decided on a hatching chick project for the 4H.  I think this means that we will end up having even more chickens. 
  • We attended the PTA carnival and for some reason, all the Clover wanted to do was fishing booth.  I guess she was attracted to the mystery of it all.  The Cub and Clover burned through $10 worth of tickets like it was nothing (originally they were supposed to split $5, but the principal saw the bill in the Cub's hand and said, "$10 worth of tickets?  No problem," and the Cub is too shy to correct an adult).
  • The best thing though was picking my parents up from the airport after their 4 month journey across Russia.  My monkeys were so, so, so glad to see them after a long hot summer with no Nan and Poppy time.
So that's last week at a glance posted on Monday of the following week (a good indicator of the crazies that I am experiencing).

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    I made it!

    You see, today was payday in my district where you receive June, July and August's paychecks on June's payday.  That is a reeeaaallly long time to go without any income.  Yes, yes, I know I should just bank it and transfer the exact paycheck amount on what would be the paydays, but for some reason I don't.  So then by the first part of September I am hurtin' for certain.  It is just so easy to spend it when it is there.  And then there are all the fees and memberships that a new school year brings which leave you even more cash-strapped.  But today began the steady flow of income back into my checking account leaving me once again with the feeling that I can breathe (and not double check my account online every few hours just to be sure I didn't forget to subtract a check at some point).

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    I miss you, Writer's Workshop

    I, for a really long time,  have kept a writer's notebook and a quotebook.  My writer's notebook is for when I hear things I like or ideas I might want to write about and the quotebook is for great quote clippings.  Aside from this little blog here, I write on paper (old fashioned, I know) at home.  All the good details are in my journals (sorry you all miss so many good stories).  I find writing one of the most enjoyable things to do (though not as fun as finding the perfect anything at JCPenney).  That's the only thing I don't love about my job.  I don't really get to teach writing as an art.  I loved finding a good Mentor Text and doing a great read aloud.  I loved brainstorming and doing a whole class writing before sending my friends to their seats for 15 minutes of silent writing before I began conferencing. I loved sharing what I wrote with the class as well as listening to their finished products.  I loved the whole growing writers process.  Even though my new position is super rewarding and absolutely perfect for me, I still find myself wishing for moments when I could pull out Shrek, break out the chart paper and brainstorm some good leads. 

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    I remember

    ten years ago today more vividly than most days.  My class and I were in the middle of DOL when the other teacher at my grade level showed up at my door with sheer panic in her eyes.  I went out to the hall to ask what was wrong, and she just blurted, "Terrorists have attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon."  I remember standing there not quite understanding the magnitude of what she was saying because I hadn't seen the news report and then asking her if her ex husband was ok (he was stationed at the Pentagon and it turned out that he was fine).  I was visibly upset when I returned to my room, and later when I read the "official statement" from the office I cried.  And today, watching the ceremony at Ground Zero I went back to my feelings that day.  It was hard, senseless, and something I won't ever forget.  Not because I can't forget it, but because I don't want to.

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Just how far...

    would you go to ensure the success of a student?  In my new position, I have found that it is pretty dang far.  For example, today I (as a result of some things I can't really tell you all about due to that pesky confidentiality) ran a quarter of a mile and did the monkey bars.  I don't love exercising (I prefer to lose weight when needed by not eating).  I sometimes run for exercise, but I don't love it.  But today, I was an active participant in PE because I love my students.  I'm not telling this because now I think I'm some sort of rockstar.  I'm not (my less than stellar moments outweigh the rockstar by 4:1 if I'm being honest).  I'm telling this because I want everyone to know I love my job.  To most (including but not limited to my DH) it seems like I may have finally gone off the deep end.  When I tell people what I do, I get the wide eyed slow back away most of the time.  But, I absolutely love it (to quote BIST, "Even when it's hard").  I love my students and the puzzles they bring to the table every day.  But most of all I love being challenged to bring about success regardless of the cost.  

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Finding Balance

    Around the turn of the century, when I started my teaching career, I had a little "Come to Jesus" meeting about my classroom management and overall effectiveness as a teacher.  So instead of leaving the profession in tears (like I wanted to), I went out and bought The First Few Days of School by Harry Wong.  It is basically the best resource I have ever read for getting the school year started and setting one's class up for success.  However, it does not tell one how to be efficient in the first few days, and I so wish it did (because I could totally use the advice).  Right now, I am having a hard time finding the balance I need.  Everything feels super overwhelming.  There is so. much. to. do.  It's not just school, though.  It's school added to home that makes things hard (laundry is a lot easier to do when you haven't already put in an 8+ hour day).  I know that over time, things will even out and we will have a good routine set.  Just, it hasn't happened, yet.  For now, we will muddle through and hopefully not run out of socks and underwear.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    1 Down

    I am happy to announce that I made it all the way through my day in a new position and new building without crying (even though it seemed there were a lot of odds against me and possibly even wagers made).  I wore sensible shoes so my feet don't hurt right now (although I may still ask my DH to rub them anyway).  The getting up before the sun came a little easier (mostly because I spent my night somewhere between asleep and awake...you know the place where your eyes are closed, but your mind is reeling).  I have all my scheduling done (a miracle).  Now, all that's left are 87 billion more tasks.

    On a personal front, the Clover and Cubscout's principal e-mailed me today to let me know that they were both having a great start to the school year.  It was a pleasant surprise and also reassuring that he sent one email that named them both. I know that they are cared for as individuals (at least that's what I assume as I didn't get two separate emails, nor did it say "your child" with Cc's to 410 parents).  So I took a mental note to do the same if and when I ever use that Initial Principal certification.  

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    I PASSED!

    I am so, so thankful to not have to spend another $90 (not that I have it at this point in the summer).  I am so, so thankful to not have to study even harder that I did last time (.  I am so, so thankful that I spent the majority of my day figuring out schedules for my students (as I can now legally make changes to IEP's).  I seriously have a new appreciation for the nightmare that is making sure students get both the services and content they need.  There's a reason they say not to judge a girl before you've walked a mile in her sparkly flats (I had to give up heels due to my new clientele).  Aside from being mean, it's hard to truly understand what a job entails until you are kneedeep...just sayin'.  So that's the view from here...now off I go to open house.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Don't Stand so Close to Me

    Unless you are under the age of 10, then it's ok (a little boy at Target came running up to me and hugged me once like I was his long lost friend...I was far from home so I really didn't know him, but it was still ok).  I have personal space issues.  I hate, hate, hate it when people crowd up on me in line at the store (hey lady with the cart that just bumped my ankle...scoot back).  I don't like it when people hug me to greet me.  I will give you a look (you will know if you are the recipient) if you shoulder check me for fun.  My disdain for personal space invaders is exacerbated by the heat.  So, I'd like to apologize to my fellow fair goers.  I know there is only so much space inside the 4H building, and I'm not anyone special to get more than my 2 square feet of space, but for the good of everyone, please move over...just a little.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Full Circle

    In my old building, each spring and fall there would be a ginormous purge of all things unwanted.  I personally, went through each of my cabinets and evaluated the contents.  My rule of thumb is, "If I haven't used it in two years, out it goes."  That's what works for me.  I hate to hoard.  I used to be really good at it, but moving classrooms more than a few times (I like change) really changes what you value.  I do not value basals that I used as a student (in the 80's), markers that may or may not work, or anything remotely junky.  So two years ago, I moved from the trailer court (what we called the mobiles) into the building.  I was replacing a teacher who had moved out of state.  She was not as anal as me about matchy matchy baskets in the room.  So I added many of my own and took some of old out to the free table.  In particular, a really ugly yellow stacking basket.

    The teacher I am replacing in my new adventure previously was in my old building.  And apparently, she picked up things off the free table.  So yesterday, as I was filling yet another bag of trash, I came across THE YELLOW BASKET!?  Some things are just meant to be yours I guess.

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Oh Foreigner...

    why is your song running on repeat through my head?  Oh wait, I know...I have exactly two weeks until Open House at which time my room has to be looking good (by good, I don't mean the same way the Clover makes her room look good by shoving everything in a closet).  As of today it isn't quite there.  But, the good news is that the dead smell that previously wafted through the air of my new space is no longer detectable by anyone but me (heightened sense of smell is one of my many super powers).  So, tomorrow (and probably the rest of the week), I am off to continue the work that is turning shambles to chic.  After all, it's so ur-gent (just in case you didn't know what song I meant).  And really, at this point, it is an actual emergency, too.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Oh what a difference...

    24 degrees make!  Because that's how much cooler it is today than Tuesday (when we went to the pool and it was so hot the workers were just letting hoses run onto the ground so the patrons wouldn't burn the bottoms of their feet).  It does seem strange that I am calling today cool because it is still 83 degrees out, but that is still a far cry from 107 (before heat index).  We are still under a heat advisory, but that's mostly because the humidity is around 90% today (evidenced by my super curls).  Now I'm off to do some laundry that I have been avoiding in an effort not to overtax my air conditioner.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    Sing my Life

    Earlier this year, my former :( supercolleagues and I were enjoying a "leisurely" lunch in the teachers' lounge.  The talk over one another topic turned to a thing my fellow Gleek had heard on the radio asking, "If you had to choose one song to represent your life...what would it be?"  I couldn't really think of one right then.  My RGP had strolled into the lounge, and was at the microwave while the discussion continued.  I couldn't even tell she was listening.  But on her way out she deadpanned, "Mine would be Fancy," as she continued out the door (her truly wicked sense of humor is one of the things I will miss the most).  So, the other day I heard a song that truly fits...

    So what would yours be?  I'm hosting a linky party to find out (I hope it works anyway).  If not, just leave a comment :), and I will try again.

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    It's all about perspective

    In a week or two (or more if you teach in a district that starts...gasp!... after Labor Day) we'll be up to our armpits in alligators.  Last year, at a reading conference I attended, Lester Laminack (I think because that page isn't labeled in my Writer's Notebook, but it is right next to a page of things he did say) said, "Once the year begins you can't see the forest for the trees." That's how I feel right now.  I have a pretty good picture of the forest.  I have read all my IEP's, anecdotal records for each student and more books on ASD than I care to count (I am so, so, so glad that I live near my alma mater and the good folks in circulation allow alumni to check out from the research library).  Still, I know even though I am prepared, I am not actually in it.  That's the part that I lose sleep over.  There are things in this new adventure that I don't have real-life experience with (but I probably read about it).  I just hope my learning curve is steep.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    How Not to Finish Your Classroom

    by Frau M.

    There are three ways to avoid working in your classroom.  First, you could do other important errands in another town from where you teach (I had to check my parent's mail as they are out of the country doing missions work).  It seems a little wasteful in this economy to drive 10 miles the opposite direction of school and turn around to go the other way 15 miles (round trip from my house, to my mom's, to school and back home is 50 miles).  Second, you could clean your own home.  This is not fun, but it is necessary unless you like living in CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)  Last, you could take a three-day vacay with your DH and monkeys to a state park 2 hours away (totally fun, btw...even the part when we had to sleep the first night without air conditioning because a mud dauber had made its home inside our A/C unit...thank you Mr. Cometoyourcampsitetofixit).  These are the ways you can still not be done with your classroom (by you, I mean I, and don't worry...it will get done with a few looooooooooong days and plenty of Tums).


    P.S.  The Heat Advisory is entering its bazillionth day in a row.  Today it is 101 and tomorrow's high is 105, so we are going to the pool instead of working.  I just looked and the heat index is 115.  Yuck.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    My teacher voice

    doesn't come out very often during the summer.  Now the "Good golly, Mom. is. mean." voice...that's another story.  But the voice reserved for serious situations rarely makes an appearance during June, July or August.  I think we all have one, so you know what I mean.  Mine, in particular can reduce people to tears without changing any decibels.  There's an intensity and a look that says, "Don't question what this woman is saying."  I had to use it today...at the eye doctor.  Yes, the eye doctor.

    It all started when the Bear was called to get his preliminary screening done.  After about 3 minutes, the assistant came and got me and said all snotty, "You are going to have to hold his head still."  It seems she was having trouble getting the glaucoma screen done (I hate that puff of air, too).  So I held his head gently while she did the first eye.  Then, it was time for the other.  He was having trouble with keeping his eye open in anticipation of the puff of air.  The assistant said, "Come on.  I have little girls who are younger than you do this all the time just fine."  My blood was already on slowburn and that didn't help.  I asked, "Can we just scrap the other eye?"  She said his reading was a little elevated.  Then she said, "If he is going to throw a fit about it then, no we don't have to do the other eye."  That's when the voice came out.  My son was not crying.  He couldn't do the other eye.  It was too much.  I said, "Hold on.  What you just said was totally unacceptable and unprofessional.  So I think we are through here, and I would like to request a different assistant."  She didn't even argue (because I was right!) and a different assistant came in.  Lo and behold, she has kids and the Bear did the test for her...no problem.  Speaking up in defense of the monkeys is what I felt I had to do, but it was good to know for sure I didn't go soft during my days of leisure.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Who knows what panic...

    lurks in the hearts of teachers.  The district back-to-school letter knows.  This is my 13th year of teaching and my 13th year of receiving the infamous letter from the superintendent with the calendar of impending doom (aka the look how many meetings you get to have! calendar).  One would think that I would get used to it.  I know summer ends but the letter makes it real.  It also sends me into a panic because my room is not physically ready for school to start.  Therefore, I spent all day yesterday  cleaning and organizing (until the Bear and Clover started shutting each other in the cabinets) .  There was bleach involved and probably around 5 giant trash bags (one thing I refuse to be at school is a hoarder...analytical arguer, yes; hoarder, no).  It is not even close to being done.  I'm not sure what system the teacher before me was using, but it is not the one I would choose.  So I changed it.  I plan to return tomorrow, after the back-to-school eye doctor appointments, and probably all of the following week (otherwise...how will it get done?).  After a certain point, Tums stop working then you end up with an ulcer.  Thanks a lot reality-bringing letter.

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    A Lesson

    So, we are getting chickens (how's that for a conversation starter?).  Apparently, the chickens in the Holler have had a population boom, leaving my mother-in-law with 50 chickens more than she had before.  That's where we come in.  As I told you, my daughter has changed from being a Daisy Girl Scout, to a 4H Clover (where there is more of an agricultural influence).  So we said we would take 8 or 9 home next time we were there in order for the Clover to have something to raise (win-win as I see it, because who doesn't love farm fresh eggs?).  In order to keep chickens, one needs a coop.  My DH bought a book with different chicken coop plans, and we were all ready to buy the necessary supplies...until today.

    After church and Chinese buffet, we stopped by Lowe's to buy the plywood, etc.  My DH pulled up on the side of the building where apparently, the store puts its returns that are too big to bring in.  He saw a returned shed (or at least the kit).  Said shed retails for $298, and was on sale for $268.  This one was marked $100.   After a brief discussion, we decided to go ahead and get the shed for the chickens because it would be easier and about the same price.  I went into pay and got an idea.  If the regular price sheds were marked down $30, then what about my returned shed?  So, I asked (right after making sure all the pieces were indeed there because it really doesn't save any money if you have to replace parts).  The manager asked me if I was planning to take it today, and I said yes.  He looked at me and said, "Done!"  So we got a $300 shed for $70 all because I asked.

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Heat Wave

      Ah summer in the Midwest.  The time of year when at least one newscast tries to literally fry an egg on the sidewalk, naturally curly hair is best left curly (flat irons only work for an hour or so), and the backyard pop-up pool feels a little bit like a bath (yuck).  Every year, around the middle of July, the heat sets in.  Every year, I complain and vow to become a snowbird when I retire (17 more years).  When I was growing up, we didn't have air conditioning and during this time of the summer, we hung out at the public library (someone should do a study on whether lack of air conditioning makes better readers) and the Wal-Mart snack bar a lot (I know I am showing my age because Wal-Mart hasn't had snack bars for a long time...Subway doesn't count).  We made it through then.  Somehow, we'll make it through now (with the help of snowcones, pop ice, and more drinks than ever).

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Just when you thought

    I was done with this little blogging thing, here I am (thank you to those who have complained about not having anything to read...ego boosts are super).  The last few weeks have been a little nuts.  So, here's a report (I'll do bullet points to keep it from meandering).
    • We had hail damage to our roof while we were on vacay, and it is getting replaced (thank you insurance adjuster guy).
    • Half of the painting that I started last year is finished.
    • My DH whisked me away for a romantic stay at a Bed and Breakfast that used to be a school (btw it was for our 12th anniversary).  The monkeys stayed with my DH's sister who totally spoiled them (the pool, Burger King, Wal-Mart to pick a toy, and staying up late for a movie with popcorn). 
    • I continue to study for the Praxis on July 23rd (ask me anything about PL 94-142 and I can tell you...I hope).
    • We ripped out a temporary wall in my new classroom (it just didn't make sense to have it chop the room into half when there was just so much wasted space...plus it was ugly.  The janitors love the "openness" which probably translates into easier to sweepness, but hey happy janitor = happy teacher).
    • I am (with my sister) working on VBS for my church (we are taking a break today because two days of painting signs on the floor is a young woman's game, and I am not young).
    • My DH's niece moved into our basement yesterday (even though she has a day job, it will still be nice to have a built-in babysitter in my guestroom).
    Those are the highlights.  I will try to be more consistent for the remainder of the summer :)

      Saturday, June 25, 2011

      Two Birds

      The monkeys have a reading requirement this summer (it is actually a bonus reading challenge, but they are teacher's kids and academics are no joke at their school so yeah, it is required).  The Cubscout has to read 30 books (10 of which must have more than 50 pages).  The Clover has to read 30 picture books (no page requirement).  Although the Cub loves reading, I don't think he will be able to knock out 30 chapter books this summer (even though that is what he reads as "picture are for little kids like the Clover").  So, I made an agreement with them this morning.  I told the Cub that I would pay him a dime for every picture book he read to his sister.  That way, he will get his 20 picture books done, and she will be exposed to other readers aside from me and my DH.  I have been making her read some of those level 1 books with repeated, decodable text, too.  We are on schedule to make it to the goal by the first day (thanks to my stroke of genius).

      As for me, I haven't read for pleasure just yet (I am studying for the Sped Praxis).  After I pass, I still won't get to read for pleasure because I have eight books solely about ASD that I really need to read (I so want to read The Help, but can't). 

      Thursday, June 23, 2011

      Day 6*: I hate you Garmin!

      I know, I know "hate" is a strong word, but at 11 pm, when towing a camper the little map "helper" needs to be able to find a campground.  It was not.  We ended up staying on the road until we made it to the next state park (where we had planned to visit the next day).  Unfortunately, when we arrived, the gate was closed and the campground was full (remember when I said we didn't make any reservations for this trip?).  Do you know what that means?  It means we slept in the parking lot.  Granted, the monkeys and I slept in the camper.  On a bed.  But, my poor DH slept in the truck so he could guard us (and greet the ranger if need be...we were in their parking lot at the trailhead, after all).  So, we got a good few hours of sleep, talked to the ranger, found out that there were no sites in the whole campground for the whole weekend, and decided to go swimming.  The state park has a river that runs through rocks.  It is so beautiful and fun.  We spent about two hours playing, and then hitched up to head out for home.

      *Sorry for the break in posting, I was in the Holler, and couldn't post.  I guess I could have, but I would probably still be there waiting for the internet to connect.

      Saturday, June 18, 2011

      Day 5: What's your Sleep Number?

      I can tell you what mine is now.  It is 2, because I slept on the most comfy mattress of my whole life.  I know you are confused because I have told you that we were camping in the travel trailer for this whole vacation (aka almost roughing it, but not really because of the whole we have a toilet, refrigerator and air conditioning thing).  So we found ourselves really close to my cousin's house.  I hadn't seen him or his wife for a long, long time, so we gave them a call.  They dropped everything and came home where we were treated to some SWEET tea (or just tea if you are from the south).  So my cousin's wife pretty much insisted that we stay with them, leave the camper at the end of the drive and pick it up later the next day after touring the area.  At first, I was reluctant to impose, but she was pretty insistent.  And boy am I glad.  The bed I slept on was the most. comfortable. bed. ever.  It was really great to reconnect with them (and go shopping at Target with my cousin's wife without the monkeys).  I hope that when they come to visit their people in my state, we get to return the favor.

      Friday, June 17, 2011

      Day 4: Civil War on Thursday

      In my family there are two people who love learning everything there is to know about the Civil War.  In case you were trying to guess, it is not me nor the Clover.  As a result, I have now toured Gettysburg, Wilson's Creek, and now Fort Henry/Donnelson.  I do enjoy learning about the Civil War (actually, I enjoy learning about anything which would make me a great Phone-A-Friend if you should ever end up in the Cash Cab).  These were all major battles, and they each have a driving tour through the battleground (which we have done).  I think the thing that bothers me the most is the incredible sadness that I feel when walking around these areas.  So we stayed at the battleground until I had seen the bald eagles that all the signs were posted about (really NPS, "A fed bird is a dead bird"?) and everyone was thirsty/hungry (mostly thirsty), then stopped off at the Dairy Bee for milkshakes for lunch (on vacation, you don't have to play by the rules, unless you are talking about eagles).

      Wednesday, June 15, 2011

      Day 3: Oh No you Didn't

      So we decided it would be a fun idea to visit the planetarium at night and see the laser show (This was after a day full of sightseeing.  Which by the way was just a little depressing if you include the Nature Center which should have been nicknamed Rest Haven Nursing Home for Woodland Creatures due to each animals age/infirmities).  The music was slated to be all 80's (who can go wrong with a little Tainted Love?).  Let me tell you who can go wrong.  It was us.  I knew we were in for a treat at the very beginning when we bonded with the family behind us over the terribleness of the music before the show.  The girl on the CD was singing a song apparently titled "Less is More" (at least that's what she kept saying), and the woman behind us said, "She should take her own advice."  I laughed really loud and the guy in charge said all passive-aggressivey, "This side is having just too much fun."  That really didn't stop us from yukking it up until the lights went out.  Then the show started.  The music was your standard mixed tape from middle school (a little Cure, a little Soft Cell, a little Sting and Police).  The lasers were kind of cool at first.  Then someone decided to take pictures, and while they turned off their flash, they did not turn off that little red light that comes on when you take a picture.  So I kind of noticed a little red on the ceiling (where the lasers were projected), but wasn't bothered by it.  However, Mr. Laser Show stopped the whole show and turned on the lights in order to tell the whole audience that he was not amused and taking pictures with any sort of light ruins the show for everyone.  I thought to myself, "Wow.  He takes this seriously." (I was about to find out just how seriously he does indeed take his job).  Then, the show went on.  We weren't very far into the next song when the lights started happening again.  This time, Mr. LS yelled at us, "Seriously?!  You're going to challenge me on this?!  I know who you are and where you are sitting!"  I heard the girls behind us stifle a few giggles, and I was concerned for the safety of whomever was the picture taker.  Needless to say, there was not a big showdown (probably because the picture taker was scared.  I know I was a little).  We finished the hour of synthesizers and lasers, and made our merry way out the door, but not before laughing with the family behind us about never messing with the laser show dude.

      Tuesday, June 14, 2011

      Day 2: City Slickers

      After spending one night in a relatively nice state park (no water at the campsite=using public showers, but there was electricity=air conditioning), we made our way to the next stop.  For some unknown reason, we made no reservations for any campsites on this trip (I should have learned the lesson of a lifetime on the Tour America/fight with everyone/sleep in the rest stop because who knew it was Sturgis week and there would be no hotels within a 350 mi. radius trip that my family and I took when I was 15).  So we were on a true adventure.  When we got to the National Recreation Area, we went into the visitors center to ask about campsites, and they told us there were sites available at the Wrangler's Camp.  I asked, "Do you have to have horses, because we don't."  The nice lady told me that of course we did not have to have horses and plenty of people stay there without them.  So, I thanked her for her help and off we went to the Wrangler's Camp. When we pulled in, the lady at the gatehouse checked us in with question marks in her eyes.  At the end of the transaction, she asked me (a little bit condescendingly), "You do realize that this is a horse camp, right?"  I looked at her and said, "Well yes, and we happen to have a horse lover with us.  Plus the lady at the visitor center said that you didn't have to have horses to camp here."  What I was sarcastically thinking though was, "Really?  I never would have guessed that after we drove past eighteen billion horses just now."  She replied, "It is perfectly fine, just some people don't make the connection that there will be horses."  I think she meant that some people don't put it together that the horses stink like a farm.  So we got all checked in and made our way to our site.  It was all the way at the back, so we drove past every camper/horse there.  It was kind of like in a movie because everyone stopped and stared at us sort of confused.  I know they were thinking, "Where are their horses?  Dang city folk."  We were the only ones without horses which leads me to believe the "plenty of people" who camp in Wrangler's Camp without horses means 4 which is coincidentally the same number of people in my family.

      Monday, June 13, 2011

      Day 1: Revenge of the Cicadas

      Where I live, we don't really have very many of these strange looking insects.  We definitely don't have any of what are called 13 year cicadas (I would have noticed the creepy little red eyes).  But where we were going they were everywhere.  The ranger at the State Historic Site was telling the monkeys about them and said their numbers were of "Biblical proportion."  He also told them about their life cycle (they hatch underground and live/eat there for thirteen years until they emerge to find a mate.  They only have 4 weeks to do it, then they die).  That explanation absolutely fascinated both the Cubscout and Clover (the former Kindergartner joined 4-H).  I wasn't so much fascinated as creeped out because they seriously were all over.  We toured the old mine (there's just not a market for lead like in the days when you got sick from eating paint chips) and the rock museum and made our way back to the truck.  Once inside, the Clover got out her notebook, handed it to the Cubscout and told him, "We need to write that down in our blog."  He asked me for a pen (pencils break, apparently), and as I was digging in my purse I pulled out A CICADA!!! (insert total freakout here).  Everyone was laughing and I heard the monkeys conspiring in the backseat to "definitely write that down, too."  I guess now they will be expecting a guest post spot here.

      Sunday, June 12, 2011

      Vacation...all I ever wanted!

      I say that, but getting ready for a trip across this great country of ours is a little bit hectic.  As I have said before, we own a travel trailer, and camp the whole way through our vacations.  For you non-campers, getting ready for a long trip in the camper is much like getting ready for a car trip except instead of just packing your clothes you have to pack your bathroom (towels and all), kitchen (no restaurants here), and fun stuff, too (bikes/sidewalk chalk/bubbles/etc.).  So we pulled out on Monday (yikes), and made our way to Mammoth Cave.  The best thing about it, is I have stories a plenty to share (Wi-Fi doesn't usually come as an amenity in a state park), so I jotted notes in my notebook as we went.  So this week, I will be bringing you Tales from Vacation (try to contain your excitement).

      Saturday, June 4, 2011

      What did I do?

      You know that totally overwhelmed feeling that you get when you think maybe, just maybe, you have bitten off more than you can chew?  Yeah, I have that.  I know that with some handy list making and taking things one step at a time, it will all be better than ok.  But, that doesn't stop me from having school dreams (much like nightmares except the fear is replaced with anxiety and the cemetery is replaced with the classroom).  Let me explain...

      Yesterday, along with getting ready for vacay, I moved my stuff from my old building to my new one.  While I was there, I checked out the contents of my classroom (which is in the old FACS room).  There were a bazillion cabinets of random.  Things like an adding machine (who still uses that, btw?) and Playdough in the same drawer.  So, I took an informal assessment of what was actually in that room and wow.  Just wow.

      Then, I sat down to read the files for each student.  I made some notes of things to ask the coordinator and my new mentor about.  I have to say some of the things in the anecdotal records made me laugh (which reassured me that I had made the right choice because there aren't many people who find the logic of a spectrum student funny).

      So here's to a summer of getting ready for a new adventure (or getting pushed off the dock in order to learn how to swim).  It will be awesome.

      Thursday, June 2, 2011

      Sir Elton John...

      I beg to differ.  Sorry does not seem to be the hardest word, because for me it is definitely good-bye.  As most of you know, I am making a move to another building where I will be working in the Sped department (no I haven't taken the Praxis, yet.  Thanks for asking because I am definitely not obsessing about it already).  Today was my last contract day in my building (although, I still need to move my things across town).  I have been a teacher there off and on since 2005.  It is the best building in our district (known fact, not just an opinion).  There are a lot of reasons why it is the best.  The students and their families are great, our administrator is wonderful, and the faculty/staff is phenomenal.  There is not one single person who would let a colleague go through a struggle alone.  We even have a para who bakes a cake for every single person's birthday, and puts it on the lounge table.  The climate and culture are both positive and caring.  So today, after my friends all came back from their meeting (mine was yesterday), we went to the patio at the Mexican restaurant for "high tea".  I had mostly kept leaving out of my heart and in my head, until we started to get up and leave.  Then, the floodgates opened.  I will truly miss being with my friends every day.  I will still get to see them every now and then (not even Sped escapes data analysis meetings), but it won't be the same. 

      So, to all my friends.  Thank you for being so wonderful to work with.  It has been my privilege.

      Saturday, May 28, 2011

      Pit stop fail

      During the summer months I usually can be found rocking a pair of flip-flops (if you can even "rock" them as they are just two pieces of foam).  I hate wearing socks in the summer.  There are times, however, that I become extremely cognizant of the closeness of the germs on the floor to my little piggies.  Like today.  We took a little roadtrip to a small town to our south in order to check out their camper dealership (we currently have a small pull behind, but the monkeys have to share a bed and they no longer care to be anywhere near each other at night).  We didn't find anything we liked, so we stopped for snacks, drinks and a restroom break.  I should have known I was in trouble when a whole biker gang was in the parking lot when we pulled in.  But, we were all thirsty/hungry/needing a bathroom.  The next sign of trouble was that the women's bathroom was out of order.  The Kindergartner had to go (evidenced by her wiggles), so into the men's room we went.  About the time we locked the door behind us, I told her, "Don't touch anything."  I even put my purse around my neck so I could help her better.  Just as we were washing our hands, there came a knock at the door.  I said, "Just a second."  Then we went out.  The lady in line said, "I didn't hear anyone in there, so I knocked."  I thought, "Creepy that she was listening," and said aloud "Good luck." (because she would probably need it in the restroom of horrors).  We made it out of the convenience store ok, but honestly, I put Germex on my feet when I got back in the truck.

      Friday, May 27, 2011

      A Goodbye

      Dear RGP (Really Great Principal):

      We have worked together in some capacity for 12 years, years where you gave me so many opportunities and advice.  You helped me develop into the teacher I am today.  I cannot describe how much I am going to miss seeing you every day.  While I am truly excited to tackle this new challenge, I am really sad to leave.  I want to thank you for all you have done, and all you haven't known you've done.

      Sincerely,
      Frau M.

      P.S.  You should have know when you told me to "blog it", I probably would do just that.

      Thursday, May 26, 2011

      This is not what I meant

      when I said I wanted the school year to be over. I meant that I wanted the year to end with the usual talent show, awards ceremony, field day and 4th Grade Walk.  You know...the general "how can I fill 7 1/2 hours of time with things that will engage the unengageable" mode that we teachers go into during the last week of school.  However, what I got instead was 2 1/2 hours in the basement of my school and the subsequent cancellation of the remainder of the school year due to damage within the district. 

      Yesterday, I went to school.  It was a little muggy when I was putting my own monkeys on the bus, but the sky was relatively clear.  I hadn't watched the weather (thanks a lot alarm clock for being so very easy to reach and forcing me to hit snooze three times).  I got to school and started my day with my class.  The new teacher who is replacing me came to check out the room/what was there during specials.  I picked up my friends from PE, and we headed back to the room.  We had just settled in for just one more go at subtraction with regrouping.  A few of my friends finished early and we reading relatively silently when the Title I teacher next door flung my door open, and said, "You need to get your class to the basement NOW!" (said isn't the right word because there was an intensity to her voice that without a doubt implied the seriousness of the situation).  I happened to be near my desk so I, in one swoop, grabbed my purse and the hand of student next to me.  I headed to the door with the one lucky enough to be by my side while using my "Mama don't play" voice (the Cubscout calls it my scary voice) telling my friends to line up.  We headed out the door immediately.  Thankfully when we got to the basement, everyone was accounted for (I tend to have some friends who don't really hurry).  And there we stayed for over two hours.  The kiddos didn't really act scared until the second warning came and the support staff came in our room telling everyone to get on the floor (by everyone I mean all of us).  Seeing your teacher duck and cover with you is scary.  After the all clear came, we went up to the room to eat our lunches (kind of an anticlimactic end).  Each of my students got picked up by a parent (the buses weren't able to run).  Later, the word came that there would be no more school this year.  I hope they all can come to pick up their things tomorrow so I can tell them goodbye properly (you know, without the uncertainty of what awaited them at home).

      Sunday, May 22, 2011

      Winning!

      I know, I know that word is totally played out, but I couldn't resist because of what happened today at the grocery.  My DH and I were discussing finances, and I mentioned that we had gotten out of practice with the use of coupons at the store.  Now, I'm no "extreme couponer" or anything close to that.  You won't find the spare bedroom stocked with enough ranch dressing and marinara to have spaghetti with salads every day until the end of time.  But, I do enjoy saving my dollars for things like shoes and new shirts.  So this week, instead of just making my grocery list from whatever tickled my fancy, I scanned the ad for sales and matched my coupons with said sales.  It took about 15 minutes.  Flash forward to today...my cart was full (really, really full).  I got to the register and the checker began scanning.  I got that little anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach as the total surged on past my usual budget.  Then I handed over my shopper card and coupons.  Grand total saved?  $52.00.  I said, "Woohoo!", and the checker said, "Impressive." (not in a sarcastic way either).  When I got in the truck I made my DH guess the total.  He couldn't, so I told him to which he said, "Nicely played."  Maybe I should teach a class.

      Saturday, May 21, 2011

      A lot can change

      in two weeks.  Two weeks ago I was approached about leaving my building to teach in another.  This move would be an awesome change (don't get me wrong...I love, love, love my school).  I would be working exclusively on the Sped side of things.  I really can't explain why I love working with exceptional students (specifically on the Spectrum), but I do.  After a lot of prayerful consideration, I decided that was the move I wanted to make.  The night after I had given my decision, the district where the monkeys attend called to request an interview for the assistant principal position.  Of course I jumped at the chance to be closer to home and in administration.  I interviewed on Monday this week and found out yesterday that I didn't get the position (which I actually am fine with. Disappointed? yes. Devastated? no.).  I just really believe that all things happen for a purpose, and my purpose is to help these new young friends.

      Monday, May 9, 2011

      Shirtless Dixon

      There is an imaginary line that cuts my good state into two portions (much like the Equator).  To the North, it is unacceptable to go shirtless outside of the four walls of your house.  To the South of the line, no shirt is necessary.  It doesn't matter what you are doing...mowing the yard, watching traffic, running into the Piggly Wiggly for a drink...whatever (no shoes, no shirt, no problem).  So, my DH is from south of the line, and I am from the north. We joke on the way to see his parents about this line, and kind of make a game of it.  While we are driving to the Holler (I am not joking...the good people of my husband's hometown actually call it this), we play Shirtless Dixon.  It is a little game we made up (much like Radio Scan Name that Tune...hit scan and shout the song name to get a point) to pass the three hours it takes to get there (by the way, we did get everything done that had been placed on the agenda for this weekend).  The game is a lot like Slugbug (where you keep points for seeing Volkswagen).  If you see someone out in their yard/public without their shirt, you yell, "Shirtless Dixon" and get a point.  Whoever has the most points upon arrival "wins".  Although counting shirtless people isn't really winning anything (aside from new things you can't unsee).

      Thursday, May 5, 2011

      Hey! Where'd that come from?

      I am referring to the time clock that was apparently mounted on the wall of my classroom.  As soon as we were done with our testing, it was as though my little friends clocked out for the day (like immediately...no standing around chatting about current events before eventually punching out).  And I totally understand.  It was a nice (although rainy) day.  We had worked our little Number 2 wielding fingers for three straight days.  They had done everything I asked them to do.  I was finished saying things like, "Fill in the circle of the answer you choose," and they were done filling in said circles.  I am relieved and exhausted all in one.

      Wednesday, May 4, 2011

      Good News

      This morning as we were waiting for the bus (yes we were actually waiting and not sprinting down the drive while the bus rolled toward us. We were early...for once), I remembered that I had not checked the mail last night when I got home.  So, I quickly scooted across the road to retrieve the usual stack of bills and credit card offers.  But, today instead of just double miles promises and requests for my hard earned dollars, there was a fat envelope from the Cubscout's school.  Fat envelope?  School lunch bills are skinny (and since the "I think I will eat breakfast at school without telling anyone that I have been charging" debacle, I have religiously checked SIS for balances). 

      I ripped open the envelope, read the first line, and immediately started crying.  I know you are all like, "Crying?  She titled her post Good News.  I'm confused."  The letter was from the gifted coordinator, and the Cub has been referred for testing.  I was ecstatic for him.  Because it is one thing to think your child is smart, but an entirely different one for someone else to think so, too. 

      Tuesday, May 3, 2011

      There were times

      this year when I felt a lot like I was killing math (or it was killing me...whichever).  Every morning we have done a mixed bag of review.  Every afternoon in Math Block I, we've done another mixed bag followed by a minute math drill.  I play "line quiz" (answer right and quickly or go to the end) with my young friends using facts almost every day.  Between that and phonics, there have been a number of dead horses that I continue to beat.  But today, ah today...I finally saw the fruit of our constant rigor.  Because today, as I walked around the room during Day 1 of our standardized testing, I saw mostly right answers.  I can't even begin to tell you how relieved/happy I feel.  Let's just hope this right answer trend continues into Days 2 and 3.

      ***Disclaimer:  The reference to drilling my students in no way means that's all we do.  We have quite a lot of (gasp!) fun...especially when it comes to writing and good read alouds.

      Monday, May 2, 2011

      Misconception Monday

      was apparently the theme for the day because my young friends sure had a bunch of them, such as:

      • There is now a coin that is worth  $.02.
      • We have never gotten nuked in the U.S., but Cuba has.
      • Earthquakes swallow the Earth (kind of like a black hole?)
      • If I look busy, my teacher will not notice that I have chosen not to do my cursive practice.
      • Sunshine = No jacket necessary on the playground.
      • Directions are for the birds. 

      Sunday, May 1, 2011

      You know you are going to be busy

      when you have a sitdown briefing with the DH for the sole purpose of setting up the week's itinerary.  Aside from school stress (we take our standardized assessments this week...I am fairly sure my students will rock it, but I still tend to obsess), Cubscout business, and First Friday Fun at church (I am in charge of it), we both have mothers who would enjoy seeing us on Mother's Day.  The problem comes when you take into account that his lives 3 hours away, and mine (with my dad) is leaving the country to begin a new life as a missionary at the end of the month.  Throw in that my grandma's birthday is also on Mother's Day, and you have quite the conundrum.  After running all the scenarios, we have come up with a crazy schedule that will allow each of our mothers to see us on Mother's Day and for us to give my grandma birthday wishes in person.  Whew!  It may just go down in the record books as the most creative schedule ever (or if you happen to be one of my children, it will go down as the time when Mom and Dad ran the house with military precision and made us be in the car all weekend long).

      Saturday, April 30, 2011

      I just got played

      There is a long standing rule in my house that the monkeys are not allowed to backsass.  I'm not saying that they don't pull out a little, "I WAS!" every now and then, but it is not very often.  All my DH has to do is pull out his serious voice, and that usually nips it in the bud.  However, that doesn't mean that they don't have other methods to let us know their displeasure without the use of a sassy voice.  For example, the Cubscout will write me a letter explaining why he is upset about a situation and leave it on my dresser.  Or more recently, the monkeys have both taken to letting out a little meow after their dad or I says something they don't like.

      So last night we were getting ready to sit down for dinner (Taco night!  YAY!).  The conversation went a little like this...
      Me:  What do you want to drink?  Milk or juice?
      Cubscout:  Neither do we have lemonade?
      Me:  Nope, milk or juice.
      Kindergartner:  We wanted lemonade.
      Me:  We don't have any...milk or juice?
      Cubscout:  Milk, meow.
      Kindergartner:  Juice, meow.

      I had been noticing this trend of adding a meow when they weren't pleased for a few days.  It took me a bit to see the pattern, but it was there.  So last night I decided to say something about it.

      Me:  I have noticed when you are not happy, you say meow and that sounds a little like sassiness.
      Cubscout:  (Looking down)
      Kindergartner:  (Smiling sweetly) Though sometimes, Meow means I love you.
      Cubscout: (Looks up triumphantly and beams at his sister)  She's right, it does.
      Me:  Let's try to use only English and not cat talk to express our feelings.

      Later as my DH and I were in bed, we talked about what had happened and agreed that we were a little worried that the monkeys didn't even miss a beat and came up with that story when I was talking to them.  I think we may be in trouble when they become teenagers.

      Friday, April 29, 2011

      Tell me how you really feel

      As is tradition in my class, we had Freewrite Friday today.  We took a much needed (much, much) break from revising, editing, and publishing our tall tales to write what was on our mind in the format of a poem, story or song.  The writing turned out quite nice (if I do say so myself), but my young friends did not really stray too far from their comfort zones.  There were a few acrostics about kittens and tales of defeating the latest Lego Star Wars game.  But then, we came to one of my brutally honest friends.  I love this child because everyone knows exactly where they stand with her at all times, and she not only gets sarcasm, but also uses it regularly.  Today was one of those days. 

      Her freewrite piece was titled, "Almost Done." (or something similar).  In it she joyfully wrote all the things that would soon be over as we come closer and closer to summer.  In the middle of her poem she wrote, "NO MORE READ TO SELF!" right after "NO MORE REGROUPING!"

      I get the feeling that Daily 5 has lost its luster/"urgency" (evidenced by the all caps and the general "let's see if she notices that I'm not reading" attitude taken on by more than one of my once eager readers).  The silver lining?  At least she didn't put "NO MORE FRAU M." in her poem.

      Friday, April 22, 2011

      Hellllllllloooooooooo Break!

      Ok, today is my first and only day of Spring Break (as our makeup PD presenter kindly pointed out so, so many times, we had our break during the blizzard), but boy am I ever thankful for my one day.  Today, I plan to do all the things I have put off (you know the stuff...license renewals, finding the a new pair of fabulous heels, etc. because who really wants their driver's license picture taken after a full day of teaching or to try on shoes after being on one's feet all day?).  Thoughts of elementary instruction will not enter my mind until either insomnia hits tonight or around 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.  Whichever (in case you are concerned, the outline of my lessons is already jotted down in the ole planbook.  I just don't have all the accompanying SMARTboard presentations and independent practice work lined out).  So it's back at it I go...right after another cup of coffee and TMZ (which I DVR).

      Tuesday, April 19, 2011

      Dear Midwest,

      It is spring.  Act like it.  No more of this "you can wear shorts" one day, and "put away your flip-flops, silly girl," the next.  I mean it.

      Sincerely,

      Frau M.

      P.S.  By "act like it" I do not mean let's have a ton of tornadoes, you made your case quite well in the South already.

      Sunday, April 17, 2011

      There are two kinds

      of people in the world.  On one side, you have your people who get how to deal with kids.  Perhaps they have monkeys of their own, teach young ones all day, or are the favorite aunt/uncle (possibly all three like me because I am the only aunt my nephews have nearby).  On the other are the ones who see kids as...wait, they don't even really see kids, so nevermind. 

      Last night, we ran into town to do some errands and reached hungry o'clock (the time when everyone becomes irritable from hunger) before we could make it home.  So we decided to eat at a local grill.  The host seated us, gave us our menus, took our drink orders and set the kids up with coloring placemats and four blue crayons.  Wait, question mark?  He handed two children four of the same color crayon?  He didn't even notice?  I glanced over at the basket and there were four colors (hence the giving of four crayons).  Luckily, my kids are pretty laid back and didn't seem to care just as long as I would play tic-tac-toe (and be the O).  But, as I said before there are two kinds.

      Saturday, April 16, 2011

      Chick Days

      Ah, Spring.  The time in the school year where you need your students to buckle down, but they can see the beauty and warmth outside the window which renders buckling impossible.  It is also the time of year when kindergarten rooms are equipped with incubators and 12 potential chicks (aka eggs).  The air in the school is abuzz with anticipation of the arrival of these little birds. 

      Although she goes to a different school, my daughter's class was no different than any other kindergarten class in our area.  All last weekend, she talked about how there would soon be chicks in their class at school.  They'd start hatching on Monday.  She came home Monday night reporting that four had hatched (she also came home begging to bring them home...to which I said no, as we don't live on a farm and the ones we hatch at school are good only for eating.  I am perfectly happy purchasing preplucked chicken at the store).

      On Tuesday, the rest hatched.  When I picked the kindergartner up after school she ran up to me and said, "Mom, I have just terrible news."  I immediately thought, "What do I need to sign?  Where's the note?"  But no, that was not the news.  She looked at me with little tears forming in her eyes and said, "Mom, one of the baby chicks in my class hatched, but then it died."  I said, "Oh that's so sad."  I was all prepared to talk about how sometimes that happens, when she pulled herself together and said, "Mom, that's just the way of life,"  as though I might be too upset about it.  It was sweet.  It also made me sad that I can't keep her protected from the sometimes harsh realities of life forever.

      Friday, April 1, 2011

      What I know

      Let me first start by telling everyone who is currently on Spring Break that I am jealous of your good fortune.  Yes, yes, I know I had my break (and enjoyed it very much) back during the blizzard.  But that was then.  Now, one can go outside and not get frostbite within a few minutes.  If I had been on Spring Break, I would not have toughed it out with this stupid cold and would have gone ahead to the doctor before I ended up with a sinus infection (did you know that a sinus infection feels like the worst toothache ever?).  But I digress...because my little Spring Break Envy rant has nothing to do with the title.

      So today, I picked up the monkeys from my sister's classroom (she teaches where my monkeys attend, and I am so, so, so, grateful).  It was Milkshake Friday (a tradition that is now four years strong) and we made our way to the local Sonic.  While we were waiting for our shakes, the Cubscout said, "Hey mom, who would win in a fight...Darth Vader or Yoda?"  I replied, "I think it would be Yoda, because good always beats evil...why?"  Then, he said, "I was just assessing what you know about Star Wars."  That left me a little speechless.  First, what elementary kid uses "assessing"?  Maybe they all do, because I throw that word around an awful lot in my own class.  Second, has it become so much a part of the everyday routine that "assessing" is just a part of life?  What does that mean?  Too much pressure or not enough?  The one thing I do know is I was glad that it was a Star Wars assessment, and not a dinosaur one (I only really know the T-Rex).