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...


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:

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