Ready, Set, ....

I just dropped Max off for his first day of school -- or should I say "his first day of his first masters"? Because, let's face it, he's a career student :).
Speaking of students, mine are coming on Tuesday and I'm still not ready, despite working in my classroom every day for the last 9 days in a row. My goal is to get everything prepared by Friday evening so that I can have a real 3 day weekend to relax and not think about school. We'll see if that happens...
My room is looking more "together" even though there are piles of textbooks and folders strewn about. Most of the important bulletin boards are up, and our awesome janitor came in and lowered the heights of all my desks-- I have a predominantly short group coming in this year :). Other than getting my room ready, I've also been in meetings all week. Most were relevant.
On the hair front, it turns out that the "shaggy dog" look looks good on me!I've gotten several positive comments from friends/colleagues, so I feel better about things and less like crying :). On the home front, we're still waiting for a check to drop out of the sky so that we can finally sleep on a bed and crash on a couch. Pray, pray, pray!

Odds and Ends

Well, we're still waiting and working. Right now, I'm taking a break from reorganizing my files--what a mess: papers everywhere! I went to get my hair cut over lunch and it turned out rather disastrously... picture a shaggy dog, and you'll know what she did to my bangs. Oh well. I guess hair grows back, right?
I just got off the phone with my fantastic aide. She said she is ready to come back to school (that makes one of us!). We're going out to lunch tomorrow so that'll be nice. I'll be able to brief her on all the changes I want to make! Hopefully I'll be a much better teacher this year than last year. I've been busy putting up bulletin boards and dusting off posters and putting them on the wall. I've decided that it's much more fun to take things down and put things away than it is to take stuff out and put it up!! I am trying to be motivated, no really, I am!
Max said that maybe tomorrow we'll go out and see a movie for one Last Hurrah of the Summer (my first staff day is Wednesday and Max's first day of classes is Thursday). I'm writing it on the blog so that the "maybe" will be "definitely" :). We'll see...

Waiting and Working

I think the title of this post sums up my existence this week quite well. On the one hand, we've been waiting for the mold inspector, the building management people, and our insurance agency to communicate and get to the same page so someone can write us a check. We won't let all this hassle deter us from collecting fair compensation :). In the meantime, we've been sleeping on roll-up mattresses on the floor, which was fine for a couple of nights, but it's getting old now! Since we can't shop for new stuff yet, we've bleached and washed our dishes and our dining room table (which didn't seem to be affected) as well as our TV stand. Waiting is frustrating, but at least there is plenty of work in my classroom to keep me busy! I am slowly but surely making progress on my long to-do list. First staff day is next Wednesday, and first day with the kids is Sep. 5th, so I have some time left before D-day. My conference on reading in Long Beach (in response to the comment on the previous post, I think they named everything "-beach" to show off) went really well. My colleague and I are really excited to start using this new curriculum for decoding. We even got the district to foot the bill for the 3000 dollars it will cost to purchase the materials--wonder of wonders!!

I met the new teacher that moved in next door to me. The Deaf/Hard-of-hearing preschool room used to be next do0r, but they moved it to a different site. So now, our quad of portables includes a third grade general ed. room! I think it's nice that we're not so sequestered anymore. Anyways, Ms. B is really great--she used to teach at this school for a long time before she had some health problems, but now she's back and I can tell we're really going to get along. She's a Christian too! I hardly got anything done in my classroom today because I was so busy chatting with everyone I hadn't seen since June--I guess I'll try again tomorrow! :)

Moldy Miracle

Well, I hardly know where to start...
As you may know from reading Max's blog, we were greeted by mold when we walked into our apartment last Thursday. The stink was awful. Upon inspection, we found mold growing pretty much everywere from our computer to our mattresses to our clothes and shoes. We decided it wouldn't be healthy to stay and went to Grandma's house until we could get things sorted out with our renter's insurance company and with the building complex. Things still aren't resolved yet, but we do have a brand new, renovated apartment upstairs and down the hall from our old one. The new apartment is awesome: light tan walls with crown moulding, brand new/bigger Whirlpool appliances, nice wood cabinetry, track lighting, and sweet-looking countertops. It's usually two hundred more a month for rent but the building complex decided to give it to us at our normal rent (if they didn't and the mold was toxic, we could sue for a lot--if we wanted that headache!). Right now we're sleeping on the floor on some mattress pads and eating out of Grandma's dishes. The only furniture we have in here is a new desk from Ikea, and a new office chair so that Max can do all of his studying as he prepares for his first day of class next week. We are waiting for the mold report from the expert. If he determines that it was caused by an event (which we believe is standing water from a few months ago when firefighters put out a fire in the dumpster), then our renter's insurance will reimburse us for up to 5000 dollars as we replace everything... so we're definitely praying for that to happen. It would be fun to go on a shopping spree and get a new bed, bedding, a couch, and new clothes and shoes! But I'm trying not to get my hopes up. We will definitely have a lot of work to do as Max studies, I get my classroom ready, and we both shop for items and/or clean salvageable items. I'm trying not to panic...

Today, I worked in my classroom for the first time since being back. The room got kinda trashed over the summer (summer school) and I have a lot to do to get the room reorganized, to get myself organized, and to plan for the first week of school. Tomorrow I go to Long Beach for a two day conference about teaching reading that the district is paying for. I'm going with a colleague so it should be fun!

California, here we come...

...right back where we started from.

Tomorrow, we leave for California. This is a sad statement because it means going back to work. I like my job, of course, but I like being on vacation even more! It also means saying goodbye to green, luscious, beautiful Michigan and saying hello to congested, busy, dry, empty, California. I might feel better about going back if I could take all of my family with me, but I can't.

As I think back to all of my other summer vacations (as a student), I realize that I took them for granted. They were natural stops in the school year, not necessarily deserved or earned. In the Real World where people work for a living, only teachers get such extended time off in the summers. It would be unheard of to give doctors and lawyers and secretaries and cooks two months off during the year (at least in America). So I didn't take this summer for granted.... never before have I felt such an urgent need to have a complete break from everything about my job, never before have I felt I deserved so much time off. I'm grateful for summers. Even though teachers have stressful jobs, they/we are probably more healthy individuals for the breaks we are given.

Since I've had nearly two months to recuperate from my hectic first year, I should be ready to march back into my classroom ready to get my hands and knees dirty in preparing for another school year. Why is it, then, that every time I think about it I feel so unmotivated?? I can only hope that once I get started, I'll remember how much I like my job and why I chose this profession!

On the Road Again

Well, after nearly four days on the road, we are finally in Alabama. I didn't break my record of "time spent sleeping in the car" from Croatia, but no one can say that I didn't try.

We had a lot of fun visiting the Biltmore Estates. Though built in a European style, it still contrasted with the French castles of the Loire. The Biltmore house was built in an old style but it looked quite new, comparatively, to Chambord for example. The tall doorways between bedrooms were also different from French castle doors (short to accommodate the shorter French). I really enjoyed being there, and I especially liked the guided audio tour we took. There are sooo many rooms that it took us nearly two hours to walk through it! It was nice that they opened nearly everything to the public--French castles generally don't do that.

We also had a lot of fun walking through its many gardens (despite the intense heat) and visiting the dairy farm. I even got to hold a baby chick! I thought about taking it home...

We've also been having fun with the grandparents in Alabama. Yesterday we went out to eat at a REALLY good seafood/chicken place (everything was fried.... everything). Then we attempted to watch Superman Returns at a local theater, but ten minutes into it we had to leave because the thunderstorm had shut off the power. But we got refund tickets and I expect to be giving it a second try before we leave :). Today is our four year wedding anniversary! Max and I are going to "celebrate" by being with family (plenty of time to be alone when we go back to California next week...). Right now we're getting ready to leave for Dauphin Island. It should be fun, if the storm holds off....

A Teacher's Nightmare

Last night I had a nightmare. It was the first day of school and I rolled in a mere half an hour early... and I had nothing planned and I hadn't even set foot in my classroom since June! I didn't recognize my students, and one little girl had brought in a real live panda and a tiger cub for show and tell. I felt like I was sinking into panic....
Luckily, that was all just a dream. I'm sure I'll be nice and prepared for the real thing :). I realized that I have two weeks left here with family before we fly back to California. Where did the time go??? I know when I get there I'll want to hit the ground running, so I'm making a conscious effort to milk this vacation for all it's worth. I'm going to bed late and getting up late, I'm drinking my tea in front of the TV, I'm still reading novels, I'm making cards to my heart's content, and I even baked cookies last night. I'm also trying my very hardest to push all thoughts of what needs to be done when I get back out of my head. That takes more effort than one might think!
Well, Saturday we leave for Alabama to visit grandparents. Am I looking forward to seeing them? Yes. Am I looking forward to the car trip? No. My goodness, no. I'm thinking of knocking myself unconscious with Dramamine to avoid all the carsickness. But who knows what fun I'd miss out on if I did? :)
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