No More Nervous Eye Twitches For Me

This time last year, I was as busy as a bee with the kids singing in the holiday program, the Christmas party, Santa's workshop (arts/crafts day). All the activity and constant noise contributed towards a kind of happy stress--the kids were super excited, and I was too.

It's been harder to get into that kind of a Christmas spirit at my new job. I don't have an actual classroom to decorate, no kids to constantly calm down/manage/supervise. No random student gifts to open....

Instead, I've been student-less these past two days. I have a policy of not pulling my kids out of their classrooms during parties/special activities (thankfully, the general ed teachers are in total agreement--or at least they pretend to be anyway). So I've had a lot of "free" time to catch up on paperwork, hold meetings, plan ahead and create materials. It's been such a bizarre change of pace. It's weird not feeling totally and completely drained and exhausted the Friday before a break.

I do miss that feeling of happy-stress, though. But when I start to look longingly at the classrooms full of excitement, chaos, and hyper-happy children, all I need to do is take one look at the teacher. Then I feel thankful that I don't look like I'm about to have a nervous breakdown.

His and Hers

Here's what I did this weekend:


Here's what Max did this weekend:


The difference is, by the end of it, I will be closer to being fat while he will be closer to getting his Masters'!

Waterproof

You know what's awesome about my new winter coat? It has a hood with kind of a visor on it to shield my glasses from the rain and snow. That came in handy today when I was standing in the parking lot of the mall, in the rain, calling home because I locked myself out of my car!

It Just Keeps Getting Better

What's better than one snow day?

Two snow days in a row!!!!!

Hope Pays Off

Never in my life have I ever felt so fondly toward ice...

SCHOOL IS CANCELED!!!!!

I Can't Help It

As it turns out, we're an optimistic bunch here at my school. There was a decent chance that today would be a snow day, and everyone (staff and students alike, but mainly staff) was reminding everyone else to sleep tonight with their pajamas on backwards and inside out. I don't know if that's just a Michigan superstition, or what?!? In any case, there was a lot of hope in the air yesterday... a good amount of it coming from me.

I'm sure Max will tell you that last night I was practically giddy with hope at having my first snow day ever. He, on the other hand, was completely intent on squashing said hope by saying such foreboding things like "I went a whole year without a snow day", and "don't get your hopes up!", and "you're not getting a snow day". What is it with pessimists that they have to bring everyone down to their level? Oops, did I say "pessimist"? I meant "realist".

In the end, it doesn't matter if you're an optimist or a pessimist/realist: either it's a snow day, or it isn't.

It wasn't.

Not only was it disappointing not to get that super-special phone call, but I had gotten up twenty-five minutes earlier than usual in anticipation of the snow I would have to scrape off of my car. You know, because I'm responsible and like to get to work on time. Imagine my dismay when I looked outside and there was NO SNOW. Instead, there was what looked like a very light dusting of the tiniest amount of powdered sugar on the ground. Disappointment became exhaustion in the blink of an eye.

Some of you would think that I have learned a valuable lesson about "not getting your hopes up", or "listening to your husband who's always right", or "commuting an hour each way to work". But those people would be wrong. Because, Sunday? Sunday night we're supposed to get freezing rain. And I'll be wearing my pajamas inside out and backwards all weekend long.

Snow Daze

Every night, I pray for a snow day. I check the weather before I go to bed, hunting for signs of any precipitation. I sleep lightly in the wee hours of the morning, waiting for a phone call that would deliver the glorious news.


But it doesn't happen.

This morning came close. One of the other districts next to ours closed today. But we still had to show up. I got really excited on my way to work, though, when I got a phone call... Even at 6:45 when I was halfway to school, I still had a glimmer of hope that I would be able to turn around and go home. But it wasn't to be... it was just one of the aides informing me that her young kids went to the school that was closed today and so she wouldn't be able to make it in!


Lucky.

Save the Drama for Your Mama

I had a meeting with our school psychologist today. He tried to recruit me into his field, saying I'd be "great" and that I have "the right personality for it". When I said I wasn't sure about that, he encouraged me to at least think about it.


I wasn't planning on thinking about it, but after the kinds of drama I've had today, I'm wondering if being a school psychologist would be easier ....

Feeling Peevish

My room is the only one in a small hallway that connects the middle school wing to the main hallway. I have a nice little window in my door so I can see who's knocking before they come in (not that I can stop anyone from coming in!). My room is also right across the drinking fountain and the bathrooms. It's a nice little setup. The only thing that I don't like is... the middle schoolers. They think it's so hilarious to knock on my door as they walk by. Every time it happens, I swivel in my chair to see who it is only to discover that it's just some lame middle schooler who thinks he's funny. This happens at least three times a day, usually at the end of the day. This has become my ultimate pet peeve. Every time it's happened, I've resisted the urge to come flying out my door and grab the nearest pre-teen by the collar and give him a good shake. Instead I just stare at my computer and focus on not giving them the satisfaction of turning around and checking to see who it is.

One of these days, I'm going to inadvertently ignore the principal. I can just see it coming...

Just Your Average Monday Morning

Sunday nights are bad. Sunday nights after a long weekend are waaaay worse. Last night, I laid in bed for nearly two hours, trying to keep a rising wave of panic from overtaking me. As soon as I my head hit the pillow, I thought of about a million things I needed to do today and NOT FORGET. Then I thought of a thousand other things I needed to do THIS WEEK. Then I tried to sleep, but couldn't.

I must have dozed off at some point, because I woke up twenty minutes before my alarm with the most deafening crash I'd ever heard. It sounded like an entire bookshelf and all of its contents had tipped over. I rushed out to see what the cats had done now. I looked in every room. Nothing was out of place, except the guitar (and the crash didn't sound like it would come from a guitar). I was so confused. I decided to get dressed and ready to go. When I walked outside, I realized that there was snow on the car. When I had scraped it off, I sat for a minute in the car in order to let it warm up. As I sat there, I saw Mrs. Hufflepuff DART AROUND THE SIDE OF THE HOUSE! I freaked out IMMEDIATELY as any indoor-cat owner would do. Especially our indoor cats. They think cars are their friends.

So I turned off the car, and ran out after her. She dashed into the darkness. I spent six minutes circling the house calling "kitty kitty" and feeling the kind of fear I imagine parents feel when they've misplaced a child. Before panic could completely overtake me, I decided to open the door and make sure the other two cats were in. As soon as I got in and closed the door behind me, ALL THREE OF OUR CATS came sauntering down the stairs, all calm and collected, and with no regard to my hysteria. I was this close to crying, people. THIS CLOSE!

After I snuggled them goodbye, I got back into the car. Lesson learned: don't forget the neighbors have an outdoor cat.

Fun-ference

Our two day conference ended up being a LOT of fun. There's just something about getting forty teachers together that makes everyone explode in conversation and laughter. I spent hours both nights getting to know these three Christian girls (all my age)--which was a lot of fun! Day one of the conference was useful and I got a lot out of it. Day two was boring as all get out--basic "intro to educational psychology stuff". Stuff that if your college didn't teach you in your teacher prep courses, they should have their accreditation revoked. Stuff so basic and instinctual, it was like being told how to breathe. People were dying of boredom. I made 99 different words out of the phrase "Merry Christmas" (I challenge you to do better!).

The value of the conference wasn't so much in what we learned, but it was in who I got to know better. I'm finding more and more that I can't be a resource room teacher without having a good relationship with the other teachers... and that has been difficult so far because I started here in October, right in the swing of things, and there hadn't been a whole lot of opportunities to get to know people! But I made a concerted effort to hang out with the teachers from the grade levels I didn't know well, and now I feel like I can do my job 100% better. Also, I really like the staff here!

The Mother of All Meetings

Tomorrow after school, I head out to the west of the state for a thrilling, two day professional development conference with the entire staff. They are even putting us up in a hotel, no less! A cheap hotel, but still. While I'm looking forward to getting to know the other teachers better, I'm not looking forward to spending two days discussing assessment. I feel good about what I know about assessments and how I use them. If I have to sit through two days of meetings, I'd rather it be on a more fascinating topic, but I was not consulted on the matter. My interests are just too specific. Or maybe it's because I teach special ed., and everyone else is general ed. I've never had to work through an entire pile of paperwork to grade. I don't own a red pen. I don't even have the "gradebook" system installed on my computer like every one else.

When I (tactfully) inquired about the relevance of these meetings for me and my special ed. colleague, I was assured by the people in charge that no special breakout sessions were needed for us--that the general topic would be appropriate for us as well. If I find out they're wrong, they'll be getting some pointed looks, and some pointed yawns...

We shall see, my friends, we shall see!

Mischief, Mayhem, and Medicine

Lots has been going on with our kitties. First of all, they are still sick, despite over one hundred dollars in medicine since September. When they started puking snot and spit when I gave them their new meds last Friday, I knew something had to be done. Thankfully, our vet was concerned as well, and said he would see them again. So we all piled into the car after work today for the 25 minute drive to the vets' office. Mrs. Hufflepuff REALLY does NOT like the car. She meows constantly, and freaks out the whole way there. She was downright frightened of the windshield wipers...

Anyway. It turns out that all three of them have this rare bacteria thing called Pasteurella. New rounds of medicine for all! I just know they will be so excited to have more stuff shoved down their throats. We'll also have to decontaminate the entire house in about two weeks so they don't reinfect themselves.

But despite being sick, they are just as rambunctious as ever! Their new favorite toy is toilet paper. We've tried lots of ways of hiding it from them, but they are determined to do whatever it takes to find the toilet paper, and kill it to shreds. I have evidence to prove it:

Notice how they were nice enough to pose. They really didn't care that they were about to get scolded...

They stood proudly at the end of their trail of destruction.

"What, me? I would never do such a thing..."

Die, Germs, Die!

A whole week has gone by since my last post. A sick week. A sneezy, coughing, tired week.

As I was laying in bed a few nights ago, tossing and turning in a futile attempt to get the right amount of air into my lungs, I started wondering why it was that I never got sick while teaching in California, and yet I haven't been at school for one month here, and I'm already hacking.

Here's what I came up with:

1) I don't have a classroom aide sanitizing every hard surface at the end of each and every day like I did in California.

2) Michigan schools are INSIDE. There are hallways connecting every room and every office!!! In good ol' CA, everything was open and OUTSIDE. You had to go from portable to portable to get anywhere. There was no place for germs to hide, unlike my new school where they gather at every opportunity, waiting for you to walk by so they can maim you.

Well, there's not a whole lot I can do about being cooped up inside all time, but I did decide to be more vigilant with the Clorox wipes. I used them today. It's the same kind my aide used to use, and it makes the whole room smell like my job in California.

It's a good smell.

Just as long as I didn't catch something from our cats

I'm having a good week; no really, I am. It's my first real week, and I'm servicing kids which is great. In fact, that's the easy part of my day! It's all the other stuff that becomes overwhelming. Tracking down teachers for meetings, keeping on top of the paperwork, observing potential special ed. students, advising the special education aides, calling parents, setting up meetings, going to meetings.... I am still adjusting to this new role. So far, it's been more administrative than what I'm used to. And that's fine; I surprisingly don't mind... As it turns out, meetings are fine with me if 1) they have a point, and 2) they're not before school or after school. And so far, so good!

Today in particular was a good day because 1) I got my first paycheck (woo hoo! We'll eat tonight!), and 2) my health insurance started today. I normally wouldn't have cared much about the health insurance, but guess who's getting sicker by the minute? I don't even know if ice cream is such a good idea tonight (and now you know I'm serious). Here's to hoping I can make it to the weekend without feeling worse!

WouldaCouldaShoulda

I would have written a real post today, but I woke up at 4:45 AM, got to school at 6:45 AM and didn't get home until 6:10.

The End.

Let's Just Skip Winter

This morning I got up a little earlier than usual because I knew I had a big day today (what with my first "real" day servicing kids). And it's a good thing I did, because when I stepped outside, I discovered frost all over my car. At first, I thought it was just a little frost... nothing a swipe of the windshield wipers couldn't take care of. But then I looked closer. I rubbed my finger against the window.... FROST!! It took me a long time to come to the conclusion that it was frost because it has literally been years since I've seen the stuff on my car.

Anyways, at this point, I had a small moment of panic. Here I am, I'm in sandals, and only wearing a hooded sweatshirt for warmth, and I'm not sure if we have a de-ice-er-thingy in the car (see how long it's been? I've even forgotten the right word for it!). I opened the trunk to check, and sure enough, waaaaaayy in the back was a de-icer. When I picked it up it even stuck to the carpet a little, as though resentful of the need to be used. It will have to get used to being worked hard again. *Sigh*

You Know Who You Are

Dear Mail Carrier,

As I understand it, your job isn't that complex. You carry the mail from the post office to my mailbox. You carry my mail from my mailbox to the post office. The end. As I see it, you've only been doing half of your job. You see, last Monday we put a bright red Netflix envelope in our box. We were anxious to return it so that we could get another movie for the weekend. Alas, at the end of every day, we were dismayed to see it still sitting there. Sometimes, it was sitting there amongst grocery ads you dropped off. Sometimes it was sitting there among other mail. Sometimes we didn't get any mail. The point is, it's now Friday and we are left with no weekend entertainment. I'm not sure where to direct my complaint. I sure can't mail it to the post office because you and I both know that you will pointedly ignore it.

Mail Carrier, I'm not sure why you have failed so miserably in completing the other half of your job. Possibly you are too short to see into the box? Possibly you are scared of reaching in and finding a spider? Maybe the previous tenants played practical jokes and hid yucky things inside? Maybe you are new to this profession and you haven't been trained in this very difficult part of your job yet? Or maybe you are just unbelievably lazy?

Whatever the reason, just know that you are dealing with a school teacher. I have time-outs, suspension, and detention, and I am not afraid to use them!

Consider this your final warning!

Sincerely,
A Dissatisfied Customer

Thanks, but No Thanks

One of the things that I love about my job is that I get to work with lots of different kids in many different grades.

Yesterday morning, I was in a kindergarten classroom observing one of my students. When my student left the room, I got distracted by the other kiddos in there. I saw this boy, let's call him "Norman" (or, insert any other old person name you wish). He looked exactly like his name. He had bright red hair, parted on the side and slicked down with about a gallon of hair gel. He had a big, round, white face that was animated all the time. When he finished his work, he got up to go put his work away. In doing so, he noticed I was sitting right behind him. "HI!!!" he yelled to me. On the way back from putting his paper away, he tripped, fell to the ground and lost a shoe. This didn't phase him. He got up again, walked over to his chair, and when he passed me on his way, he yelled "HI!!!!" again (but this time with a wave). During snack time, he offered me a crushed goldfish cracker. Maybe just to be nice? Maybe as a bribe? Maybe as a friendship offering? I'll never know.

Empty Nesters

At the tender age of 25, my husband and I are already empty nesters.

Well, at least temporarily.... I dropped off all three of our kitties at the vet tonight because they're all getting spayed tomorrow (it's nice they work around my schedule and are willing to house them overnight for free). So. All is quiet on the home front. As soon as I got back into my car, I felt TOTALLY LONELY. Even now, I'm pining for a furry cuddle that I can't even get until tomorrow evening. I'm worried they're totally traumatized by having to spend all night in a foreign place. I also learned that there will be another kitty spending the night with them, and we all know how mean our kitties can be with strange animals...

It is totally pathetic how much I miss them! This does NOT bode well for if/when we have children of our own....

Officially Official

Well it's official! I don't know of too many other school districts who welcome their new teachers with a giant gift basket. In mine, there was:

  • an assortment of snacks
  • a Tide To Go pen
  • bandaids (for all the kids we hit??)
  • Purell hand sanitizer
  • a silver frame
  • a fancy commuter mug

What a great Friday!

Hats

I have yet to have a normal week at work. Last week was Not Getting Lost Week, Learning Names Week, and Setting Up Schedules Week. This week, I'm finally on my own, and it looks like this week will be Room Set Up Week, and MEAP Testing Week (that is our state's yearly standardized test). So far, I have set up the majority of my room, figured out testing schedules for sixteen different kids in four different grades, and ordered hundreds of dollars worth of supplies (on the school's budget--yea!!).

This job still feels really new to me. I know it will become all too familiar soon, but I'm still getting there. I have a picture on my file cabinet of two of my colleagues in California, and I keep waiting for them to walk across the hall and pop in. I anticipate good things from this job, but every once in a while, I'll startle myself by noticing something unfamiliar in my room and suddenly remember that I'm not in California anymore, that I'm not teaching DHH anymore....

I am a third year teacher wearing a different kind of hat.

Space

My first full week is over. Next week, I look forward to setting up my own room space. Technically, I still can't work with the kids yet until my fingerprints have cleared. You just never know who's going to be a psycho, I guess! But it will be nice to feel like I have my own space. There are two different resource rooms. I let the other teacher have the bigger/nicer room, but don't think it was an entirely altruistic move on my part: there is so much traffic in there, it would drive me insane! There are kids coming in there to "calm down", sensory kids in there taking a break and jumping on a small trampoline, other kids in there who need a quiet place to do work, and on top of that, it's the home base for the all the para-pros (aides) who work with our special needs kids. So I opted for the smaller room. Unfortunately, the temperature in my room doesn't register with the system in the rest of the building, so it ALWAYS feels like a meat locker in there. I was assured that I could get the administration to provide a space heater, though, so that will be my first order of business :).

But for now, I am really enjoying my weekend! It's nice to get up whenever, and not at butt o'clock in the morning...

Day Two

Well, Day Two of my new job just ended, and so far, so good! I haven't seen any kids yet, but the other Resource Room teacher and I are taking advantage of the fact that the RR teacher I'm replacing is here for the week to show us the ropes and take care of some details. This is making my transition a lot smoother.

For those of you who don't know, a resource room teacher services students with learning disabilities (and other disabilities) in the general education classroom. So I have students in grades K, 3, 6, 7, 8 who all need extra help with either math or reading. I will usually pull those students into my room for a certain number of hours a week (no more than seven as it turns out), or work alongside them in their own classrooms. And, of course, I'm responsible for writing and implementing IEPs. This is a new kind of role for me and I'm looking forward to all it entails. I really miss my deaf/hard-of-hearing students sometimes, but I remind myself that I came very close to not teaching at all this year! Plus, the experience will diversify my resume :)

The hour commute each way hasn't been too bad so far. I don't mind the drive itself (although, ask me that again in the winter!), it's the waking up at 5:40 AM every day and the ensuing early bedtime that is really kind of gross. Going to bed at 9 instead of 2 is quite a shock to my system!

More from me later.... that is, when I can wrestle the computer away from Max!

My Worst Nightmare

Back in June, when I left the perfect job in California, if you had asked me what my worst nightmare was in regards to teaching in Michigan, I would have said:

  1. Teaching in a resource room
  2. Starting late in the school year
  3. Commuting

Today, I got a job that makes all three true and I could not be more excited!! After months of putting out dozens and dozens and dozens of applications, and lowering my expectations so far as to apply to "Dominoes", this job is a welcome blessing. It's a different role for me, but it will be good to diversify my resume. It also happens to be in a school about an hour away from here, and that bites, but I'm willing to overlook it! (If my mother-in-law can make that commute, why can't I?)

Anyways, thank you all for your prayers and the happy thoughts you sent my way... I start on Monday! Woo Hoo!

Modern Day Miracle

Last Friday morning, I noticed that something wasn't right with our cats. They were eerily still (usually they are tearing around in the morning). In particular, Mowgli, our wildest one, was sitting still and having difficulty breathing. All three of the cats have been sneezing for months, but this was a different story. Max and I finally decided that we should bite the bullet and bring them to the vet.

I called around first, and everyone said that it was going to cost around 30 bucks a cat, just for the office visit! This was unacceptable, so I found a place that had the word "affordable" in the name, and they said that it would be 25 total for the office visit for all three cats! Hooray!

I packed them all into the most ghetto cat carrier you could ever imagine (cardboard box with holes, wrapped in a mesh laundry bag) and drove to the vet. Mrs. Hufflepuff hates being confined in anything, and she got out of the box and strained at the blue mesh bag. She reminded me of a thief wearing a nylon over its head.

It was a relief to get to the vet and an even BIGGER relief to find out that he was willing to do everything for free (as long as we contacted this foundation who helps low-income folks to pay for vet bills--they would reimburse him if they took our case. If they didn't take our case, he was willing to take the loss). This miracle occurred for a couple of reasons:
  1. I told him they were rescued cats.
  2. I told him I was an unemployed teacher (his wife is in the same situation and now works as his receptionist)
  3. GOD WAS LOOKING OUT FOR US!
Anyways, each of our kitties got two shots, then the vet sent me home with the rest of the medicine they needed. He also gave us free flea treatments, heart worm treatments, and special kitty food. I only ended up paying 39 dollars!!! I was ready to give that man a hug!!

So, we should be snot free by the end of this week. Already the kitties are doing much better. They can breathe, Mrs. Hufflepuff's right eye is staying open, and they are all more active.

And I'm a happy Mama!

Extreme Makeover: Resume Edition

As you all know, I've been searching high and low for all kinds of jobs that I consider myself "qualified" to do. In my mind, I'm like: "I can do that!", or "I can learn to do that!". Then I attach my resume, and I feel a moment of panic because my resume means nothing unless submitted to some kind of job in education. Here's a two sentence summary of my two page resume:

I taught these kids. Then, I taught these kids.

Most jobs I've applied for are receptionist/administrative assistant types of jobs. Suddenly all of my teaching skills mean "team player", "organized", "multi-tasking", "efficient time management", "strong communicator". They probably can see right through that and realize that's all bunk, and that is why I am still unemployed.

Cleaning Cat Snot is Not a Real Job

So far today, I've applied to be an appointment setter, an office manager to a travel agency, an academic placement assistant at the local community college, and a senior center care giver.

Now it's time to go make dinner...

"The Exciting Conclusion"

Well, after agonizing for two days over "should I/shouldn't I"? I decided to put the ball in their court. I was willing to take the job if they were willing to be flexible with my wage or throwing in added benefits. They were not flexible; I didn't take the job.

Although I'm relieved about the whole situation, I am also worried that nothing else will come up. I have my application out there for four different teaching positions (somehow still open for this fall), and four different office manager/administrative assistant jobs. I have to cast my net far and wide! Hopefully someone will bite soon!

Remember When I Was a Real Teacher?

I didn't get the job at the daycare center. They opted for someone with an early childhood credential. They offered me a part time position (32 hours a week). My responsibilities would be feeding the kids lunch and cleaning up, supervising nap time, and supervising recess time. Basically, a job that anyone with half a brain could do. Oh, and there are no benefits. The lady said she needed an answer by Wednesday afternoon. I still don't know what to do. Part of me just wants to give up and settle. The other part of me is insulted and is furiously praying for a miracle and poring over the classifieds.... again.

Tune in later for the exciting conclusion!

Interview Review

The interview itself went well. Later that day, I was asked to tour the center, the classroom in question, and the other two teachers in that classroom (it's three teachers to 20-24 preschoolers per classroom). The center was a brand new building, a beautiful, state-of-the-art center with every kind of equipment imaginable catered to young children. The kids were sweet; the teachers were kind and professional. So why did I feel so uncomfortable? First, it's not what I'm used to. Second, my heart is just not in it.

The director said they'd let me know by the end of the week. If they offer me the job, I will take it, and pray that I'll LOVE it. There are equally as many downsides to this job as upsides. But I'm determined to be thankful for what the Lord provides. I will be thankful. I will. I will.

Internet, I Have Missed You

There was a bit of a snafoo with AT&T, and it is unknown when we will have the internet hooked up in our new place. So for the moment I am taking advantage of the high-speed internet connection on campus. Woo hoo!

It's officially been one week since we've moved into our new duplex. Let me tell you why this place is SO MUCH COOLER than our last place (you remember, the sprawling apartment complex with all the mold and drunken neighbors?)
  • When I look out my window, I see trees and other houses instead of a wall.
  • There are two stories, so I can do my own thing and not worry about bothering Max when he's studying!
  • We can't hear any neighbors fighting.
  • There are TWO bedrooms. Yea!!
  • When you walk out of the house, you don't have to go through a maze of hallways and stairs to get to the car!
  • We're so close to a tower here that we're getting HD signals for major channels! Hello perfect reception!
  • There are cats here!

The cats have been adjusting to indoor life quite well. They love the new couch, and they love hanging out on top of our bed, and running around underneath it. They also love coughing up hairballs on our bed. Okay, that only happened once, but it was worth mentioning. And even though it happened right after I put on a new duvet cover over our comforter, I still love my cats. This must be the feeling parents have when their baby blows out a diaper....

I am still job hunting. I have an interview on Monday morning for a nationally accredited daycare place that has seven campuses around the area. They have healthcare, and they reimburse tuition if you want to earn a higher degree! It sounds promising, and I'll let all five of you readers know how the interview goes!

Moving Day

I hardly slept last night. I blame my parents entirely: I'm pretty sure it's a genetic thing not to be able to sleep the day before a move. In any case, in just a few hours we'll be driving our three car caravan out to our new duplex. Here's to hoping that Labor Day and a certain College Football Game won't cause maddeningly slow traffic!

In related news, I am still unemployed. The job I interviewed for in my last post didn't work out, which I suppose is a relief as it's 80 miles away from where we live! I'm confident that the Lord will provide something, and it's just a matter of being patient....

Speaking of being patient, not having the Internet until next Friday is at the same uh-oh level as a worldwide ice cream shortage, and instills the same kind of panic as, say, millions of teachers at the thought of going Back to School.

Yet Another Post About the Job Hunt

... are you as sick of it as I am?

As it turns out, I didn't get the job I last posted about (the one with the family connection? remember?). But I did get called back to interview at the elementary school down the road (ironically the same one my husband went to as a child!). That was on Wednesday, and that went well. They tried to make it difficult, however, by asking me to critique a taped kindergarten writing lesson, and by asking me to design a lesson plan based on a benchmark that they provided. I felt good about all of the answers I gave, and they told me they would let me know by Monday (tomorrow). So..... I wait again.

In the meantime, there have been some fun distractions: Max's grandparents from Alabama visited with us, and my sister-in-law is back from Japan! And, as always, our three cats keep me occupied ;).


Another Chance

So that middle school resource room I talked about in my previous post? I don't think I got it, because they haven't called me yet and they said they were going to make a decision "very quickly". This rejection makes me feel totally relieved.

It also makes me feel like the elementary resource room position that I'm interviewing for tomorrow is much LESS of a scary prospect. Also in my favor? The principal who called me to set up the interview is a friend of my husband's family (at least, I THINK that's in my favor!-ha ha). She called on Friday, and it's a good thing that I had the weekend to prepare for my interview because she specifically asked for my portfolio. And I haven't updated my portfolio since 2003, before I even held a real teaching job or ANYTHING! So I've been busy trying to make myself look good on paper :). We'll see how I did tomorrow!

Desperate Times...

When I was in college, I had three different student teaching semesters as part of my program of study. The first one was in a resource room, and I decided then and there that I would NEVER do resource room because I really hated it. Well guess what? I just interviewed for a resource room position. Not only is it a resource room position, but it's a MIDDLE SCHOOL resource room position. Just shoot me now, will you?

The fact is, I'm terrified of getting this job, and I'm terrified of NOT getting this job. I officially have no more interviews lined up.

Square One

Well, I didn't get the job. I just found out on Saturday when I was still in New York. The lady said that I was "phenomenal" at the interview, but they decided to go with another candidate who had done some long-term subbing for them. Oddly, this news wasn't surprising to me, and I didn't feel disappointed about losing this specific job--I felt more disappointment about being back at square one. I just keep thinking that maybe this was the Lord protecting me from a bad team-teaching situation. I'm choosing to believe that there is something better out there for me, and I just need to wait and be patient for it... So thanks for your prayers!

In other, more happy, news, my little sister is officially a Mrs.!! We just got back from New York last night... The wedding was beautiful, the food delicious, the company pleasant. We had a great time!

Can't Wait Until the Wait is Over!

Yesterday I had my interview for the oral deaf program. I was really nervous! The interview lasted about an hour, and I think I did well. I'm happy with my answers. They said they would interview four or five more people today, and then there might be a second round of interviews next Monday (but maybe not, they weren't sure). Either way, they will let me know their decision within the next seven to ten days! I'm anxious to find out...

I found out a little more about the position while at the interview... it's a 4th/5th grade combined classroom with TWO teachers. So, if hired, I would be team teaching with another person. That could be fantastic, or it could be awful, depending on how well I would get along with the other teacher. We'll have to see what happens. Thanks for praying, everybody!

Send Me Your Prayers and Happy Thoughts

You know that teaching job that I was REALLY hoping to get? The director of the program called me yesterday, and I'll be interviewing on Monday (in two days!)!! Yes!!!!!

But I don't WANNA Go to Bed!

I didn't sleep a whole lot last night, so I've been pretty tired today. Even so, it's nearing one o'clock in the morning, and I can't bring myself to go to bed yet. My eyeballs hurt from staying open, and I'm swallowing bugs with my interminable yawns, but I'm a teacher on summer vacation and I OWE IT TO MYSELF to stay up as long as I can stand it!! One of these days (hopefully if that one job pulls through) I'll have to be asleep by ten and up by six and I'm going to think longingly of my summer freedom...

So here's to living it up! *Yawn*

Uncontrollable Hope

Back in early June, I interviewed for the only job opening in the oral deaf field in the entire state. It was for a middle school position, and I wanted to teach within my specialized field so badly that I convinced myself that I wouldn't mind teaching middle school. I did a great job at the interview over the phone (if I do say so myself), but when I found out that I didn't get the job, I didn't know whether I should cry from relief or disappointment. It takes a special person to teach middle school. I am not that person.

Since this hoopla has ended, I have made my peace with the thought of using one of my other credentials as a teacher (mental impairment or elementary general ed). I currently have over twenty applications out there... But this past week, I stumbled across another job opening in the oral deaf field (Kindergarten or preschool, not sure which)--this was big news, as there are only five oral deaf programs in this entire state (which is fortunate; some states have none), and two of them are way too far for a commute. This particular opening is in the perfect location. I sent all of my materials via express mail to meet the deadline, and emailed the director of the program. I told myself to breathe, and not get my hopes too high, but it was too late. As soon as I saw the posting, my hopes were HIGH. Higher than the clouds above.... there was no controlling it. You can't tell hopes to be realistic and to come down a little. Hopes won't listen to reason.

I thought that I had made my peace with teaching other types of kids (as opposed to deaf ones) but I suppose that this job posting has revealed my true desires. The deadline closes tomorrow afternoon, and I am HOPING and PRAYING that I get a call to interview this week. I know that the Lord is in control of everything... and I try to cling to that in the face of all of my anxiety and anticipation!

City Slicker

Yesterday, I learned that girl dogs pee by squatting, as opposed to lifting a leg (which I thought all dogs did). The wonders of country living never cease to amaze!

Back to School???

Well, it's officially happened. Stores have started their "back-to-school" advertising campaign, effectively taunting every teacher out there enjoying their summer vacation. Last summer, I felt dread at the thought of going back--I wouldn't have felt so much dread at the end of August, but in the middle of July?!? Next thing you know, they'll start advertising on the first day of summer vacation in June. Come on, people.

I complain about this, YET... I walk into the local Wal-Mart with their big "back to school savings" signs, and their middle aisles full of glue, crayons, pencil cases, etc, and I start to feel an almost uncontrollable urge to buy class sets of everything. I find myself wandering in the office section, wondering how I could justify buying a five hundred pound pack of colored printer paper, or my eye catches a pocket shoe holder and I think about all of the classroom supplies that thing could hold...

And truthfully, knowing that there's a chance I could NOT get hired as a teacher this fall actually makes me long for the first day of school. Life is a paradox.

Newcomers

Lots of excitement over here. The arrival of my parents from France has resulted in a frenzy of cleaning, bug bombing, shopping, and more cleaning. We picked them up from the airport last night and they are looking forward to going to the store today and getting all of their favorite American food (Taco Bell! bagels! oreos! frozen yogurt!). I anticipate they'll be wanting to see what new movies are out now... and mom and I will for sure be heading out to the mall at some point this week. Yay for summer vacation!

Application Woes

I am still looking for a teaching job in Michigan. Today, I filled out my 1,503rd online application. Each application is slightly different than the last. I'm beginning to think that California had the right idea with "EdJoin"--submit one application for all districts in the state! To annoy me even further, many of these applications I've been cranking out are asking for ridiculous information in the form of essay questions. And they don't ask for one essay question per application, they'll typically ask you about twelve questions. For two districts, I even had to fill out a type of "teacher personality/style" survey (timed! multiple choice!). Furthermore, even the little questions that I often encounter can be SO nit picky. Example: High school GPA (who remembers?), or University Student Teaching Supervisor's phone number, or Name of Your Ninth Grade History Teacher, or Principal's Social Security Number... To make matters even more frustrating, I have to upload all kinds of attachments to each application--and with the slooooow connection out here, it takes seven minutes PER upload!

I'll be SOOO glad once this is all over!

Nearing Our Five Year Anniversary

Recently, Max (my loving, loving husband) remarked that he could kill me once, or he could kill thousands and thousands of bugs for me over a lifetime. He asked me which I thought was more efficient.

He was smacked.

There Were None in California

Dear bugs,

Here in rural Lapeer, there is ample room for everyone. Behind our house, you will find a big barn that you are welcome to, as well as the corn fields, soybean fields, the pond, and the forest beyond that. In fact, as bugs are generally supposed to live outside, I feel that this is a more than reasonable amount of space for you to roam/fly in.

As we are being so generous in sharing our land with you, the following would be much appreciated:
  1. Stop dive-bombing us on our daily walks (that's you, horseflies!)
  2. Bees, stay clear of my husband
  3. STAY OUT OF THE HOUSE! Buzzing around lamps, crawling on walls and window sills, and sleeping on MY pillow will result in your immediate and swift destruction
In conclusion, I believe that we will all get along fabulously if you stick to the outdoors, and adhere to the rules outlined above. If not, we will continue to use bug spray, ant traps, fly swatters and even tissue to live in peace.

Thank you.

You Can't Take the Teacher Out of Me

I've been wanting to go the local library for about a week now, and I finally borrowed my mother-in-law's card, and headed to town today! It was 11:15 when I pulled into the parking lot, and to my dismay, it was deserted. I thought "of course, today would be the day it was closed...". I was a little annoyed, because it's about a five hundred mile trip into town and I didn't want to have to come back tomorrow. Fortunately, when I checked the library hours, they were going to open at noon so I headed over to the book store/teacher store to kill some time. Standing there, in the midst of bulletin board trim, die-cut letters, teacher resource books, and various charts and posters, I felt absolutely inspired... if only I had a classroom that I could go to and decorate and plan and organize! I'm not saying that I'm ready to go back to school yet, but it would be nice to know that I had a teaching job lined up for the fall and that there was a classroom somewhere out there waiting for me...

When I finally got inside the library, I found a delightful book called "Village School" written by a "Miss Read" (pen name). It's about a little school in the 1950's in the English countryside. I've read a few chapters already and it's unbelievable how differently they taught back then! I would be fired if I started the school day with my students each morning with a hymn and a prayer! Anyways, I feel a little weird about reading a book about a school on my summer off, but oh well.

Introducing....

Gizmo (our calico kitten) and
Mrs. Hufflepuff (our gray and black kitten)

Ironically, we named our cats before anyone could suggest cat names on my previous posts, but I enjoyed hearing your ideas anyway (Mom: next time we have two pets to name, Mona and Lisa will be in the running!). I wish I had a great picture to post of them, but since this internet connection is mind-numbingly slow, it was out of the question. So just picture two adorable kittens, and that will have to do.

Other than that, there is not much else to report! Still waiting on a job.... still sleeping in and lazing around the house doing nothing :).

Not Much to Talk About When You're Not at School Everyday

As it turns out, Michigan isn't so bad in the summer, especially when the temperature has dropped to the mid-seventies and the humidity has disappeared! It's downright nice out! Wow!
For those of you dying to know, I have been spending my lazy days reading, making cards, and playing with our new kittens. Our two kitties have yet to be named. It's become a real conundrum, and I'm afraid that Max will forever refer to them as "cat" and "other cat". We've gone through several possibilities, but none seem to stick (suggestions? anyone?). So for now, we just watch them tackle each other, chase golf balls, chase birds, and rest in our laps. I've waited twenty-five years to own a real pet (our bird Gaby doesn't count--she didn't enjoy being petted), and I can't believe the day is finally here!

Job Hunt/Haunt

I'm having recurring nightmares. In these nightmares, I've been hired as a special ed teacher a month into the school year. Nothing is prepared. There are usually between forty and fifty kids, spanning four grade levels, who all need my individual attention. Since there is nothing planned, I fly by the seat of my pants. Oh, and the aide they give me is incompetent.

It's usually a relief to wake up...

We Made It!

Well, we've Arrived. After thirty-six hours in the car, we've officially moved to Michigan (though we are hanging out with the in-laws until we find a place of our own). The drive was largely uneventful: we drove through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas (hi Sandi!), Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and finally Michigan. Missouri wins as the state with the lowest gas prices ($2.69 I think). Aside from one horror-movie-like encounter with a Motel 6, we got here safely. On the agenda for the next few weeks: 1) find a job, 2) find a house, 3) help my sister plan her wedding, 4) get to know our two new kittens!

I'll keep you posted.

The Last Day

Some thoughts on the Last Day:
  • You know you're moving when you end up eating ice cream straight out of the carton.... with a long wooden spoon.
  • Field Day goes much smoother when you recruit a fifth grade class to be in charge of everything.
  • If the school rule is "no backpacks" on the last day, then why even send the kids?
  • We're having a DHH party at a local Mexican restaurant after the last school bell rings. I'm going to feel guilty for partying when Max is home packing and cleaning. I owe him!
  • I am really, really, really, really, really going to miss everyone here!

Happy Summer Everyone! Tomorrow, we're off to Michigan! Thirty-six hours of carsickness.... yea!

I Would Like Some Cheese with this Whine

I feel sick.

I don't know if it's the stress of cleaning/packing/organizing my classroom, or if it's the taquitos/sprite/strawberry shortcake I had for lunch, or if it's the impending goodbyes coming up tomorrow.... But, I keep thinking any minute now I'm going to explode. Plus, I am very sore from lugging around thirty pounds of Mexican food for our all-staff party yesterday (which was a lot of fun, by the way, even if the pinto bean sauce did drip all down the side of my shirt and in the trunk of my car). I am just not cut out for all of this manual labor :).

In any case, there has been much merriment, and much work. I'm looking forward to going to the Pizza Bakery for the last time tonight!!

Sweet Dreams

Quick update before I head off to bed:
  • We are getting closer and closer to having everything ready by Saturday morning for our move, though it still feels like there are a million details to take care of.
  • Today was the Talent Show--at three separate performance times, my whole class sang (and danced) a rousing "Here come the monkeys" (aka: the Banana song). This was our speech therapist's idea, so I just got to relax and watch! They did great, the parents loved it, and I will have the Banana Song stuck in my head for the rest of the summer. Guaranteed.
  • This evening, my wonderful colleagues threw me a goodbye party at a local Mexican eatery. I got to see a colleague who has been on maternity leave for the past month, and I got to see my wonderful aide again (who's been out on disability since April!). The food was great, the company was fantastic, and they even rewrote the words to "Why do fools fall in love" (Elvis) in my honor--and serenaded me in the restaurant! I've been so blessed by them all.... I will really miss everyone!

Glorified Babysitter

When I was little, I used to get really upset with my parents if they took me out of school a few days early in June. There was no reason for this, as I now understand that there is no academic learning which occurs in the last week. So I'm filling my days with special "end-of-the-year activities" and "language games".

This afternoon was particularly easy because it was the last day that my volunteer was coming in and we just had to throw her a party (I will take any excuse for a party). The kids made her thank-you cards and everything. When she showed up, she surprised us all with twelve large chocolate milkshakes from TK Burgers. (Did I mention that I absolutely LOVE her?). And when the kids were all hyped up from the sugar (new vocab word: "brain freeze"--see?? It is a learning experience!), they opened up a good-bye gift from her: a decent-sized water gun. Well, now, I know where to draw the line, and instead of letting them try it out immediately, they all had to put the toys in their backpacks and run two laps around the track.

And I only had one kid get sick.

Ode to Dad

It has recently come to my attention that 1) it's Father's Day, and 2) I didn't send my dad a card, not even an e-card. I know, I'm a terrible daughter! I was much too busy planning crafts for my students to make to give to their fathers than to think about my own.

So, in an effort to correct this most grievous mistake, I will use this venue to honor my dad as well as make him famous among my millions upon millions of readers. I want to say thank you for all those times when I was so ungrateful as a kid....

  • Remember that time when I was nine and it was the weekend or a school break or something and I sat on the couch and whined and whined about how bored I was? You decided to pack the whole family into the car, bring some food and some floaty toys and drive out to the lake for a fun-filled day. I had a great time. And when we got home that evening and I started to whine about how bored I was again, you only yelled at me a little bit. It was the first time I really started to think about the feelings of others. Thank you for that.

  • Remember all of those times when we were all in the car and I would complain about how hot I was, so you would turn on the AC, and then two minutes later I would complain about how cold I was so you would turn on the heat? And how I would repeat the whole cycle again and again throughout the whole trip? Thank you for being patient with me.

  • Remember when you were in language school that first year in France and it was so hard and so frustrating? Thank you for not giving up on God's call.

  • Remember when you yelled at that awful second grade teacher who slapped me in the face for not correcting my paper in the right color? Thank you for standing up for me.

  • Remember when we were in the states for furlough and you made us visit all those churches with you and listen to your same sermon every Sunday? Thank you for not ever making me sing a French song in front of all those people.

  • Remember when you and mom sent me to BFA a whole year early? Thank you for making that sacrifice.

  • Remember when you wore those outrageous 2000 glasses at my high school graduation because you thought they were so cool even though they weren't? Thank you for teaching me to always be myself.

  • Remember when you never gave me a curfew time in high school, but only insisted that I brush my teeth before I left the house? Thank you for trusting me. And for setting a good example for my oral hygiene.

  • Remember when I had you for my biology teacher and you insisted on not giving me any special treatment, yet looked the other way when I sat in the back of your class and knitted a scarf? Thank you for your special treatment.

  • Remember when you and mom were so supportive of Max and I getting married so early? Thank you for giving our marriage a great start.

  • Remember when you wanted me to buy the more expensive wedding dress because it made me feel prettier? Thank you for spoiling me.

  • Remember all those times throughout my life when you and mom prayed for me, and I didn't know it? Thank you for that.

And, to properly repay you for all that you've done for me, I've decided that we're finally going to buy you that car you've always wanted:

I love you dad!

Next Job, Please

Well.... I didn't get the job. It was VERY considerate of them to tell me today instead of making me wait for three weeks as they had originally indicated. They decided to go with two people they knew, even though I was an "outstanding candidate" and it was a "very difficult decision".

This new development means that next year I will not be a teacher of the deaf/hard-of-hearing. Although I know that the Lord has a plan in all of this, it still does funny things in my mind to think of myself teaching any other population. For some reason, I was pretty convinced it was my destiny. My only other options are general ed, or a different branch of special ed. Or not teach at all (YIKES!). I'm really looking forward to see how the Lord will provide in this situation.... I just need to be patient (ha!).

Next Question, Please

I had an over-the-phone interview this morning at 7. I was anxious to do well, as this district is offering the only two oral deaf positions in the state. Yes, in the state. I was also aware that they had been interviewing all day yesterday and will still be continuing the interview process tomorrow (and I'm pretty sure most of their applicants are new graduates from a certain college nearby). 

I am pretty confident about my job skills (hopefully not too confident), so my immediate thought upon waking this morning was "bring it on". When they finally called (three people were listening in and asking questions), we talked for about an hour. I expected some of their questions, such as: "discuss the process involved for a MET and an IEP" and "what do you do to ensure that all hearing aids are working properly?". But some questions were a bit vague, like "describe how you foster students' cognitive development". 

And a small series of questions almost made me gasp from holding back the giggles.... They asked me to define what a compound sentence was, what a complex sentence was, what an adjective and an adverb were, and what an indirect object and direct object were! I realize that they were trying to gauge my understanding of language structures, but Max (who was listening from the other room) wondered if I was actually auditioning for Jeopardy instead of interviewing for a potential job.

By the way, the two openings are for junior high and for preschool. I'll let you guess which one I'm really gunning for. :)

A Warm Welcome

Yesterday, I took the day off so I could work on some projects at home. Yesterday was also my new substitute-aide's first day. This is how my kids welcomed her according to her report:

"Our teacher is 25"
"How old are you?"
"30?"
"43?"
"57?"

Thankfully, she decided to stay with us anyway. :)

The Teacher Learns a Lesson

I've never had my nails professionally done. Not even for my wedding.

So you can imagine my surprise when one of my students' parents handed me a twenty-dollar gift certificate to Happy Nails for Teacher Appreciation Week last month! I finally used it yesterday, when two of my colleagues and I decided to go out for lunch, then get our nails done. I was expecting a very nice, relaxing experience, and I anticipated feeling pampered...

What I got was a hurried, harried experience. I wasn't prepared for two major factors:

1) The two women who worked with my feet and with my hands were Asian, and their accents were so thick that they might as well have been speaking in their native language. Their English was so bad that I'm pretty sure I could have spoken better Spanish... and I don't know any words in Spanish.

2) Apparently, nail salon employees are trained in the very fine art of nickel and dime-ing their customers. It's like going up to the ice cream counter and asking for a free sample of one of the flavors--then, before you know what's happening, the lady is piling five massive scoops into a chocolate covered waffle cone. And all you have is a dollar in your pocket!

Had I known these two facts, I would have been much more prepared, and much more assertive about what I wanted and what I didn't want. And I wouldn't have racked up an extra thirty dollars onto my bill. As it was, my awesome colleagues argued with the people at the cash register (while I cowered in the corner) that I had been taken advantage of, and insisted that all the extra charges for the extra treatments that I "wanted" should be dropped.

They were. And my nails look really, really nice.

Bonk

Today my kids discovered the noise an empty gatorade bottle makes when you bonk it against your head or your arm. It was truly a novel noise to them.

In related news, I have a headache.

Literally!

I sometimes marvel at my students' concrete grasp of language. Today, at an assembly, we saw an incredible production of "By the Great Horn Spoon" by a drama company. So many costumes, great folksy music, and hilarious actors. I realized right away that much of the story line was over my kids' heads with sophisticated vocabulary, accents, and whatnot. But that was okay, because the performance was entertaining in so many other ways.

And I was kept entertained by laughing at my students (in a good way, I promise). At one point, the actors were pretending that they were on a boat and landing in San Fransisco. All six actors excitedly pointed to the back of the room and shouted "LOOK!" There were at least one hundred other kids in the auditorium--my kids were the only ones to look behind them, eagerly trying to see what the actors were looking at. Then they looked at me and said "What?" "What is it?".

Later in the program one of the actors was giving a "haircut" to another actor. He had a huge curly black wig, complete with beard. The "barber" cut furiously at the air, threw fake tufts above his head (taken from inside his sleeve, no doubt), then lifted up a towel in front of his hairy customer and gave a couple of shakes. When he lowered the towel, the customer magically had a nice tailored haircut... the difference was huge! It was all quite comical--especially when I heard an audible gasp of shock and awe from one of my girls :)

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

As a teacher of the deaf/hard-of-hearing, one of my pet peeves is when my kids expect me to talk for them when they are perfectly able to talk for themselves...

Today, during a math lesson, one of my students had to go see our on-site audiologist because of a problem with his hearing aid. He missed out on the explanation part of the lesson, and when he got back, the rest of the kids were busily working on their assignment. So he sat down at his desk, looked at his assignment/paper and raised his hand for help. When I got to his desk, he pointed at his paper... Silently. Expectantly. I decided not to say anything and wait him out. It didn't work (turns out, I had used up all of my patience earlier in the morning). So I prompted him: "Use your words to ask me for help". Well, he looked at his paper, then looked up at me, then back down to his paper, and clearly he was struggling to put together a sentence in a question form. He finally said "I don't know how to do it". Being the stickler that I am, I said: "Can you ask me with a question?"

Then, he looked up at me through his white-blond hair with his big blue eyes surrounded by freckles and said: "Can you teach me?"

Thou Shalt Not Covet

Saturday was a Great Day. I recently found out that a friend of mine from church is really into rubber stamping/card-making/altered art, and she invited me to come over and use her stuff (since all of my stuff is sitting in a big box two thousand miles away, and I miss it--desperately). So on Saturday, I came with my own blank cards and some paper and went to town!

She had the sweetest setup--they have a carpeted garage, and she has a customized desk and shelves to hold the thousands and thousands of dollars worth of stamping stuff. It was like walking into heaven! She had over fifty different kinds of ink alone. Then there were at least a hundred rubber stamps to choose from. Then there was all kinds of embellishments like ribbon, buttons, stickers, etc. Oh, and crates full of paper. I could hear the angels singing down from heaven.... The time went by SO fast. She was so nice to let me come over and play--she even invited me back! It's just too bad I have a day job.

Ice SCREAM

As soon as I got home and heard Max say: "Wanna skip our walk and get a blizzard at Dairy Queen?", I thought "This evening is going to be FANTASTIC!". We grabbed our DQ gift certificates from our birthdays (they could only sit there for so long, mocking us, daring us to use them before our long drive out to Michigan) and headed out. And for the whole journey down the hall, down the stairs, in the car, and down the street, I thought to myself about how incredible it was going to be to bite into a chocolate-dipped strawberry blizzard. I could even taste it in my mouth.... We hit some traffic as we turned into our local DQ (the only one for miles and miles and miles, mind you), which just increased my anticipation all the more.

As we turned into the parking lot, Max said: "It's closed." And just as I turned toward him to reprimand him for such a horrible joke, I realized that it was, indeed, closed. Closed down for good.

Life is so, so cruel.

The End is Near....Kinda




As you can see, the End is Near. It's not near enough to stop working altogether, but it is near enough to start slacking at least a little bit :). The kids can sense it too. During our calendar time, I ask them which month will come next, and they say "June school over" in one breath. I don't think they realize there's three weeks to plow through in June. Some students have declared that they are already done with school. One kid informed me that he is going to visit his dad in another state on Saturday. I asked him how long he would be gone for, and he said: "Seven days with my cousin, seven days with grandma, and fourteen days with my dad". Hmm. Knowing his history, I believe him. How nice of his mom to let me know... Another student told me he was going to be in Vietnam, but every time he tells me, the dates keep changing, so I have no idea what's going on (note to self: call his dad). I expect to come to school one morning and find that he has disappeared.

As for me, I find myself thinking so much about the summer that I might as well be gone!

You mean it isn't summer vacation yet?

Wasn't I just saying something about how little gets done academically after Memorial Day?

Case in point:
We spent twenty-five minutes today playing Pick-up Stix and Jacks in the classroom. I did have a good justification though: our story today was entitled "Games People Play" and many of the examples were these old, old games that don't involve a plug or a screen. I had picture examples of vocabulary like "stilts", and "pogo sticks", but I actually had Jacks and Pick-up Stix in my room, so I thought "Why not?". The kids absolutely LOVED those games.... these old-fashioned toys are just a whole new world to them! Tomorrow, I'm thinking of formulating an excuse to go outside and play hopscotch and see if we can make some stilts with coffee cans and string. Maybe I'll call it P.E.

This and That

This is how my classroom looked for Open House last week (I wanted to include many more cute bulletin boards but the kids' names are prominent on artwork and in pictures so oh well) .... in just four weeks, everything will be taken down and packed away ;).




I've had a lovely, restful weekend at home... complete with shopping, movies, and a kitchen disaster I like to call "no bake cookies". I haven't done anything in the kitchen for months (Max spoils me so), and when I finally venture in there to whip up something for my sweet tooth, I end up with cookies you need to eat with a spoon. Don't ask me how it happened. There's a reason why I'm a teacher and not a cook!

Happy People

Open House is over.... Now we can all relax and stop working and bide our time until the last day of school--just kidding (kind of).

I'd been really stressed out this week with getting my IEP's ready and setting up for Open House, and doing all my usualy daily stuff in the classroom. I kept telling myself: "Don't make such a big deal over Open House!". I would tell myself I was just going to throw some nice work samples on their desks, showcase some writing on one bulletin board and call it a day. But no matter how I tried to downplay it, it didn't work. I put up four bulletin boards, refilled our picture book with new pictures, hung student work from the ceiling, and displayed their latest self-portraits. Granted, at least I had the sense to enlist the help of my (sub)-aide and a parent volunteer, but it was a lot of work. For some reason, I just couldn't let things be the way they were, even as tired and wiped out as I was. "WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF???"

And then last night, it all became clear again. There is just nothing like beaming proud parents at Open House. Happy parents make me happy!

I've Got Joy Joy Joy Joy Down in my Heart (despite this post)

Our staff has been dealt a blow with the announcement that the district, in their INFINITE WISDOM (insert sarcasm here), has decided to move our principal to a different school--a "failing" school--in the hopes that he'll turn it around. He is disappointed about this decision, and the staff is devastated. We are in the middle of submitting angry and pleading letters to the board members in the hopes that they will reconsider. We are all realizing the incredible contribution he has made to this school, and we all know that an administrator who has your back and who will go to bat for you at the district level is hard to come by. I don't know what the outcome of our combined letters and phone calls will be, but if the district and the board members turn a deaf ear to us, at least our principal will know that we didn't let him go without a fight.

In other news, I am officially a BTSA graduate! I have finished the requirements of California's two year induction program..... just in time to move to Michigan. How ironic! We had the last event last night, where all the people who run BTSA at our district waxed poetic about how they wish they had had a program like BTSA to help them in their first years of teaching--and all the participating teachers were secretly rolling their eyes and gagging themselves. Yes, BTSA, there's nothing like adding 40 extra hours [according to their requirement list] of paperwork per year to make a struggling first year teacher successful. Because goodness knows what would have happened if we had spent those 40 hours a year planning, teaching, copying, or making materials... At the event last night, each teacher received a rose, but mine was almost dead so I threw it away. We also got a gold BTSA pin, about an inch wide. I thought about poking somebody with it, but the person responsible for starting BTSA wasn't in the room...

Retreat

Well, I'm back from the retreat, and I can finally relax. I've turned into such a homebody that it was a little difficult to lay low and hang loose when there were so many other people around in such an unfamiliar setting. We stayed at Oceanside Marina Suites, which was right on the water--and the rooms looked like they had come out of a Pottery Barn catalog... amazing! It was truly the only time I've ever been woken up at seven in the morning by barking sea lions... no roosters here, folks!

My talk on prayer went very well. I'm sorry it wasn't taped like the "real" sermons, but you'll just have to trust me when I say that I felt good about it, and other people were gracious in telling me I did a good job :). There were two other speakers during the weekend and I enjoyed that too. But the highlight of the weekend was the craft that we did yesterday. We converted empty Altoid boxes into lovely encouragement card holders--complete with Mod Podge glue, all kinds of paper, rubber stamps, funky scissors, ink, and lots of different embellishments. Guess who was in heaven?? ME!

And now all I have to do is to get through this week (a big week with open house on Thursday) so that I can enjoy a nice three day weekend for memorial day. Yea!

The Week in Review

Lots has been going on this week. So much has been going on that I haven't been able to blog about it all. My apologies. I'll recap:
  • The kids are excited every day about our butterflies. This batch of bugs has been particularly picky: they refused to drink from the sponge dipped in sugar water, and they decided not to move an inch until I put in orange slices. One butterfly caused a commotion yesterday as it died trying to emerge from its chrysalis. We spent a good thirty minutes watching it struggle, and the kids watched me try to help it emerge with a paper clip. My efforts were useless. I told the kids "I'm a teacher, not a doctor". They were remarkably mature about it all, but still expressed that they were sad. We'll be releasing the rest of the butterflies this afternoon. I'll post pictures later!
  • State testing is FINALLY over.
  • I got to visit my colleague and her newborn baby yesterday afternoon (her baby boy was born on Max's b-day--last Saturday). You know how newborns usually look wrinkly and not-quite-cute yet? This newborn did not fit that profile. He was tiny, adorable, and absolutely perfect. I got to hold him for a while, and let me tell you, I like sleeping babies. Not screaming ones. Sleeping ones. I think I wouldn't mind having one as long as it slept straight through until it was potty-trained. That would be nice.
  • I leave tomorrow for the San Diego area for our church's woman's retreat (we're staying at a hotel on the beach). They asked me to be one of the four speakers during the weekend. It should be fun, but I hope it's restful too!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Not Bad

You know what makes today automatically great? Three things:
  1. Taking a hot shower this morning (we had no hot water all day yesterday--I was worried).
  2. Smoked salmon with cream cheese on crackers for lunch.
  3. Six butterflies (and counting) have emerged today.

Mondays don't have to be all bad!

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

This week is National Teacher Appreciation week. I didn't think it was that big of a deal, until my students started giving me flowers. Lots of flowers. I have five different kinds of flowers lined up on my desk (bouquet, potted, etc). This is a perfect set-up because it means I can hide behind them when I want to be left alone! It also means that I am popping Claritin daily.

But it is truly nice to have such enthusiastic givers :)! Also nice was when our weekly staff meeting today was cancelled. Instead of taking advantage of the situation to get some work done, I skipped out early (SHH! Don't tell!) and did some much needed birthday shopping. I spent most of the time feeling guilty about skipping out on a non-meeting. What's up with that? Am I so driven by guilt that I can't enjoy playing hooky? I kept trying to justify my actions: It's the only day I have the car to shop; I come in over an hour early every day to work--time that I am not paid for; I didn't have that much to do in my classroom....

It reminds me of the times when I was growing up and my parents would urge me to stay home from school and "take it easy" at the slightest cold or headache. The more they would urge, the more I would insist on going to school (and who cares that I was too sick to breathe?). I wonder if they were playing mind games with me and using reverse psychology or if they truly thought I needed to chill? Maybe they just recognized that missing one day of school wasn't going to be the catastrophic end of the world I was imagining it to be.

And maybe leaving an hour early and skipping one non-meeting won't cause a disaster of epic proportions. Maybe just a disaster of moderate proportions. Or small proportions, even.

We'll see.

Bits of This and That

State testing has officially begun. And since I teach two grade levels below where my kids are tested at, we might as well call our testing period: "Time to make pretty patterns with the answer bubbles". I gave them the ol' "life's not fair" speech, then I handed each of them a special glitter pencil for the test, and away they went!

In other news, it was ninety degrees today and I was absolutely melting! It seems like summer is just right around the corner... SEVEN MORE WEEKS!

Also, I have twenty caterpillars in my classroom... actually, they're all in a chrysalis now, to be more accurate. I thought I would let everyone know I'm in the middle of my butterfly unit so you don't feel shocked later on when I post pictures of the adult butterflies! The kids are having a blast watching the larva, eat, poop, and change. I hope the critters don't emerge over the weekend!

Quarter of a Century

I am officially an old lady of twenty-five! I have loads more wisdom today than yesterday, that's what twenty-five does to you. I had a pretty stressful day today and didn't get home until around five, but there were some highlights at work.... like when my kids sang to me, and when my colleagues threw me a party at lunch complete with a cheesecake (from the Cheesecake Factory!) and fresh strawberries. Oh, and my students made me some charming cards. Here is what one girl wrote: [click on photo to enlarge; do it, it's totally worth it]

I'm "tall"!!! Yeah!!

I came home to a VERY clean table (one of my presents from Max), and a beautiful bouquet of fragrant flowers from my very thoughtful in-laws [THANK YOU!!]:

We celebrated not by eating on the freshly cleaned table, as you might have been thinking, but at the Pizza Bakery. As you can see by the bacon toppings, I'm also aiming to put on twenty-five pounds in honor of my twenty-fifth birthday:

It was also my great pleasure to rip into the box that mom and dad left in our apartment since January (I've had to look at it for all these months and was forbidden from touching it). I was very pleased with the content[s] but I can't divulge what was inside because my sister will be opening the same thing for her birthday on Friday :). THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!!

Thanks also to all the caring people who left such nice comments wishing me a happy birthday!

A Note From The Lone Teacher

My aide won't be back until maybe next Monday, if she can get a medical release. Due to the impact of the door, she has a pinched nerve in her neck (similar to a type of whiplash) causing muscle tightness, inflammation in her shoulder and neck, headaches, and blurry vision. The kids ask about her every day and whine dramatically "I MISS HER". I do the same to my colleagues!
Life in my classroom is so busy and so stressful, that I've decided to end this post on a positive note:


It's a Small World After All

This morning, an old friend of my family (who happens to be the assistant superintendent of the entire county's department of education) came to visit our program. He spent a long time in my classroom, accompanied by a colleague of mine. They watched as we did our first science lesson with real, live caterpillars. I knew I was doing a good job, I could just tell. I was relieved. After they had stayed for about thirty minutes, they left to go see some other classrooms.

When they came back, it was five minutes before recess, and my colleague took advantage of the down-time to introduce the visitor to the kids. She said: "We have a special visitor today. He knew Mrs. B when she was just a baby. He's known her whole family for a long time". Then she started talking about the fact that I'm not originally from California, and that I lived in a country far away. She had the kids guess which country. Someone said "New York". Someone else said "Las Vegas". [Meanwhile, I was thinking: It's time for a geography unit!]. My colleague tried to clarify. She pointed to the flag and she said: "It's somewhere where they don't say 'I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America'".

There was a moment of silence, then one student enthusiastically shouted "TEXAS!!"

When we had finally established that I had lived in France, she started talking about how I could speak French--she related it to the students in my classroom who speak Spanish at home. The kids wanted to hear what French sounded like, so I rattled off a few sentences. As all of this new information about their teacher sunk in, one student bemoaned: "Why didn't you tell us?"

:)

I So Tired

I had a cranky day today.

Fridays are supposed to be joyous, carefree days, but I was too weary and wary to even notice that it was Friday. I think it has something to do with deadlines creeping up on me, and having to teach all by myself. I've been feeling pulled in too many directions lately. By eleven o'clock this morning (when Max called to tell me about booking our tickets for our summer travel), I thought I was going to scream if I heard one more kid say/whine my name. I tried not to let on to the kids that I was feeling so frazzled and stressed, but I may have failed.

Ten minutes before afternoon recess, during our "Fun Day Friday" activity (making edible aquariums), one student asked me: "Are you going to play kickball with us today?" [I led them in a game of kickball yesterday for PE]. I said "No [sighhhhhhh], not today". A different student must have picked up on my mood, because he said: "I think you so tired". And he nodded knowingly, kind of like a parent would when their toddler is all tuckered out.

Extra Large Shoes

My aide, Sue, has been out on disability for eight days... and counting. Apparently when that door hit her, it must have hit a nerve. She has to take muscle relaxants and Vicodin for the left side of her body, and she has to see a neurologist this week because her vision is blurry. She's supposed to go back to the doctor's on Monday to see if they'll release her to come back to work (please Lord!).

The district has sent a substitute aide for most of those eight days, but it is definitely not the same. Although having the extra pair of hands is nice, she has only worked with high school kids, and I just can't teach someone how to be a natural with the kids. With Sue, I can give her a group of kids to work with and give her little or no direction and I can be confident that she'll do a terrific job. She knows what needs to be done before I even ask her. She takes my grand ideas and runs with them. She de-clutters my room and cloroxes all surfaces at the end of every day. She even shares her snacks with me. You just can't replace someone like that, people. Her shoes are just too big to fill!

And I Didn't Even Get That Seasick!

You may remember from last year that everyone in our program got to go on a field trip to the Ocean Institute. Well this year, our private donor sponsored us again!! Today, all forty-three of us (including staff), drove out to Dana Point and boarded a boat for an adventure!! We did much the same thing as last year, but the kids didn't seem to notice and we all had a great time! It was particularly fun to dig through the mud that we brought up from the bottom of the ocean and find tiny worms, and even tinier shrimp. We sorted them into containers:


The kids also got a kick out of watching the sea lions and hearing them bark:


And here's the picture of the boat we took out to sea:


It's nice to have a break from the routine!

So I Gave Him Some Tissues

The only interesting thing that happened today was that my accident prone student somehow managed to fall into a puddle at recess and soak his entire body.

I'm Back!

I'm back from a very fun and a very enlightening two day conference in Palm Springs put on by the Alexander Graham Bell association. There was a lot that happened to make me think, and I don't think I have a nice and concise summary to give you all.

I was able to make two contacts that could potentially help me find a teaching position once we move back to Michigan. They were helpful, but at the same time, realistic. The southeast region of Michigan is over-saturated with teachers. Neither of them mentioned any openings in the oral deaf field. So, I'm faced with the very real possibility that I might not be able to do exactly what I want to do for a while. They were very nice in giving me all the contact information they had for oral-deaf programs in the region. I'll be getting in touch with those people this week, and continuing to pray that the Lord will provide.

Besides having a blast with my colleagues, this conference opened my eyes to the needs and issues within this growing field, and has sparked my imagination of what role I could play in the future. I've been inspired to move forward, and Michigan will provide more opportunities for me to pursue my passion!

This Deserves Exclamation Points!!

Well, this is it. In about six and a half hours, I'm going to wake up and drive to Palm Springs with six of my colleagues for a two day conference for oral-deaf teachers (put on by the California chapter of Alexander Graham Bell). I've been looking forward to this for months!! It's even doubly exciting because one of the speakers there could potentially help me find a new job in Michigan!! And all seven of us are going to stay overnight in a condo!! And we're going to learn some really cool things at the conference!! And we're going to go out to dinner!! And there's a pool at the condo!! And it's professional growth I actually care about!! And the district is paying for it!!

Yea!!

An Apple a Day...

...doesn't necessarily keep the doctors away!

Especially when my aide gets hit by a door and has to have an emergency CT scan. The scan was clear, but she can't come back to work until Friday. Don't worry, the news only kept me up well past my bedtime, fretting about what activities I could possible do whole group today. Despite the sleep deprivation, today went swimmingly. I can't say if anything academic was accomplished, but I didn't run screaming onto the field, so I consider that to be a success.

I've had my own adventures with doctors today. Since being diagnosed with keratitis, my eyes will no longer accept contacts without becoming inflamed. My choices are pretty much glasses for the rest of my life, or lasek surgery (note: not lasik, lasek). Today was my consultation to see if I was a good candidate for the surgery. I am. As it turns out, my insurance policy is not a good candidate for footing the bill. Fifteen percent off of 5000 dollars doesn't add up to much, actually! Especially since we're hoarding our "wealth" for our move and impending expenses. We'll see. Haha... get it? We'll SEE?

On a related note, when I was little and mom and dad would take me to the doctor, they would always "waste time" and ask the doctors about a gazillion questions (and some, not even medical). I would always perceive the doctors to be annoyed. That made me annoyed. I vowed I would never do such a thing when I grew up. WELL GUESS WHAT PEOPLE??? I am turning into my father! I wouldn't have noticed except that both ophthalmologists said I was their most curious patient ("What's that?" "What does that thing do?" "How is that going to measure the thickness of my cornea?" "What does the lasek procedure entail?" "What did people do back in the day before all of this technology?" "How old are you?"). Later, as I was firing my barrage of questions at the head ophthalmologist, trying to write down his answers on a scrap piece of paper (but kind of failing because my pupils were extremely dilated and I couldn't see a thing in a close range), he laughed (in a nice way) and said he hadn't had a patient take notes in years!

I was embarrassed, but I couldn't stop. Thanks, dad. Thanks a lot!

And So It Begins

I don't care what anyone says; across the nation, good teachers and bad teachers alike are ALL counting down until the last day of school. I don't care if you love your job, or if you hate your job, everyone's counting down. So I thought I would share my countdown with you...




After a long, busy, and stressful day like today, it's appropriate to keep in mind that I'm in the final stretch! My aide got hit in the head when another teacher pushed open the door of the lounge too quickly, and she apparently "saw stars". Fifteen minutes later, she was still feeling dizzy, so she had a friend drive her to the doctor's office. I wanted to make sure she was okay, but I was left without help for the majority of the day. It's times like these when I realize that I can't do what I need to do without her! I was running around all day trying to help ten kids individually on different assignments! Crazy, I tell ya.

Let's Call it a Day

Today was a Big Day. Not only was it the first day back from Spring Break, it was also the day I had to tell my colleagues The Announcement. It was a very emotional day for me. Thankfully, the Lord was merciful! It was easier to deal with The Announcement when the kids weren't running me ragged. I had two students absent, and a third one left before lunch for a doctor's appointment. That left seven with me--and because of speech pullouts and math mainstreaming, I mostly just had four or five students to deal with at any one time.

The kids were wet noodles today! They were so tired, yawning and slouching all the time. At one point in the morning, I suggested maybe we should all take a nap instead of Reading Group... and they literally cheered!! It was nice just to have a laid back day. I introduced the new ocean unit, read them the new/updated class storybook (it's all pictures of them and the fun stuff we've been doing throughout the year with simple text captions--they LOVE to read this book. It's like they're all narcissists or something...), and we talked about what we did over break. I know we did some language arts and math in there somewhere too, but it's all just a blur. You know, only getting six hours of sleep will make anything seem like a blur!
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