California here we come, right back where we started from....

Today, we fly to California. I haven't been back to our old stomping grounds since 2007! I'm thinking of swinging by my old school... it's where I got my first teaching job and it holds all kinds of pleasant and not-so-pleasant memories for me.

It's where I went on my first field trip as a teacher. It's where I switched places with a general education teacher for a day, just to see what it would be like! And it's where decapitated gingerbread men were the perfect math lesson.

But I'm actually going there to visit with my grandma. And BONUS! My sister and her husband (either one of whom I haven't seen since January of 2009!!) are strategically planning their visit to grandma during the same week!

I have a few posts scheduled for the week, but if you don't see me around the Internet for a while, you'll know where I'm at:
I hope you'll all be here when I get back :)

Tootin' my own horn

This goes against everything I was taught (don't brag, stop showing off, don't draw attention to yourself, there's always going to be someone out there who's better than you). But today I throw caution to the wind! Upbringing be darned!

I'm here to convince you that I belong on The A List. First of all, I've been blogging since 2006 .... which makes me Time's Person of the Year for 2006. So... that's gotta count for something right?

Secondly, and most importantly, I blog about my adventures and misadventures in the classroom. This makes for some hilarious and heart-wrenching reading! Like the time when a parent asked a teacher if they could babysit for them too. Or when a student revealed her mommy's secret. Or when one of my students gave me the bad news about my future. Or my frustration over being taxed in my own school!

So if you're a student, a teacher, or a parent (or if you've ever set foot in a classroom), you're sure to find something to please you, amuse you, or anger you on this here blog. Come along and enjoy the ride!

Sleeping beauties

It was a joyful reunion yesterday, albeit a sleepy one. Something about being in the car for 27 hours straight, only having stopped for forty minutes to "sleep" during the night.

Not long after Max came home, Sawyer (the dog I was taking care of for the week) went home with his owners. As soon as he left, Barney collapsed in an exhausted heap in Max's lap, who was himself frozen in position on the couch, fatigue overpowering his will to move. Max managed to stay awake until about 7:30 at which point we all gave up and went to sleep (aren't we such EXCITING people?!?).

This morning, after eating breakfast in front of the morning news, everyone fell asleep again. Max is snoozing under the couch pillows and Barney is in another deep slumber on top of the couch. Even all three cats are sleeping.

I can't wait until all of my sleeping beauties finally wake up for the day so we can move on to more exciting things like unpacking, cleaning, going to our favorite pizza place!

Don't play with your food

Well, you learn something new every day! From the comments in the post below, I discovered that neither my husband, my dad, nor my father-in-law like pasta salad. Is this a guy thing?

But for all you ladies out there with sensible taste buds, you can find the recipe here. Make sure you add halved cherry tomatoes, though (you'll thank me later).

Guess who comes home tomorrow?? MY OTHER HALF!! Here's a recap of the past eight days (as reenacted by our salt and pepper shakers):

First, Max left for a state far, far away to go to some alleged "conference".

Which left me feeling sad and all alone. Also, with lots of pets.

But tomorrow, he will COME BACK!

And all will be right in the world again.

My week (in pictures)

Max has been gone all week (he'll be back Tuesday -- I'm counting down!!). Here's what I've been up to!

Supervising these two bozos:

Making food Max doesn't like but I do (how can someone not like pasta salad?!):

Reading this great book at the recommendation of a friend (if you liked "The Poisonwood Bible", you should like this too):

Watching movies I know that Max would be happy to miss:

And making new products for my Etsy store:

What have you been up to this week?

A cautionary tale

My husband is out of town for a little more than a week to go to a conference. Apparently, he couldn't handle driving 40+ hours across the country with no cruise control and no air, so he took MY car... leaving me with the car with no cruise control, no air, and MANUAL TRANSMISSION.

In preparation for his departure, he had been teaching me how to drive wtih a stick shift. I kinda have the hang of it, but it doesn't stop me from having a heart attack every time I need to use the car.

So last night when I decided I needed a gourmet sandwich with some gourmet ingredients, I thought to myself: "Why not avoid a panic attack and just walk the half mile to the store?"

It was a great idea! Except that it was 98 degrees outside and positively sweltering. When I finally made it to the store, I just about collapsed into a sweaty heap in the produce department.

When I recovered, I made my way to the deli counter and asked the nice 40-something lady behind the counter how much the prosciutto was. $12.99 a pound. Then she asked me how much I wanted.

"Three ounces", I said.

Meat Lady: "Okay, there's sixteen ounces in a pound, so.... that's about half a pound, right?"

Me: "..."

Me [once I picked my jaw up off the floor]: "Ummm. I think it's actually closer to less than a quarter pound"

The moral of the story?

Be cool, stay in school!

Oh, and Don't be a wuss, and just drive the car already!

Mowgli speaking

Dear Diary,

Today marks Day 5 of Doggy Domination. It all started when the humans brought in a second monster dog. Maybe forever? It's too soon to tell. New-dog is gigantic. Perhaps a horse? Will need to look it up. New-dog barks loudly. It makes my fur stand up on end. It's also thirsty all the time. It gulps water down its' gullet so noisily and so sloppily that a stream of liquid trails in its' wake.

Per my observations, three days ago boy-human left. Maybe forever. Girl-human is here all day. She only says "No", "Go outside", and "Play nice".

Old-dog and New-dog run and crash around my couch, my rug, my kitchen, and my hallway. There are only two places that are safe (note to self: look for more safe places): 1. under the guest bed in the nice hole I dug under the box spring, and 2. on top of the refrigerator.

Fool-cat goes anywhere she pleases, even in the middle of the dogs. She doesn't know she will get eaten. Good riddance to her, I say.

Nice-fluffy-cat slinks low to the ground from one place to another. She claims she has safe places, but they're not really. I tried to tell her but she wouldn't listen. Poor soul.

What New-dog doesn't know is that I have a secret weapon. I've been sharpening my claws to razor sharp daggers for years now in anticipation of just such an emergency. The humans try to clip them, but their efforts are always fruitless! So if New-dog manages to get anywhere close to me, I will scratch the snot out of his gullet.

Consider this a warning.

This post was written for Word Up, Yo! This week's word of the week was "gullet". If you'd like to play along, you link up at Mommy of a Monster, A Belle, a Bean, and a Chicago dog, and Taming Insanity. Have fun!

I won't forget you all when I'm rich and famous

When I was younger, maybe around middle school, I used to have a folder with an orange and white cat on it. Inside the folder, I kept sheets of notebook paper with character descriptions, story ideas, and half-written short stories.

The point is, I loved to write. I still do (hence the blog). For years now I've wanted to write a novel. It's even a part of my life list. Well last summer I thought of The Best Story Ever. And no, don't worry, that's not going to be the title! I haven't been able to work on it much (mostly because we moved to a new state, and I was going through the most stressful year of my career), but I've picked it up again this week.

Like the nerd that I am, I've been doing some research on how to go about writing a work of fiction. So far, I think my approach is going to be somewhere between this entertaining description of seat-of-your-pants writing, and this highly organized method called The Snowflake Method.

Tonight, I've even decided to go to our local "Writer's Connection" that meets at the Arts Center which is walking distance from our house. I have absolutely no idea what to expect. The flier from the library says: "Our main purpose is to encourage writers and help them improve their work through critiquing and sharing tips, ideas, and encouragement".

If nothing else, maybe they'll have brownies.

The Big Move

I'm already thinking about the upcoming school year. I really shouldn't... thinking about school in the summer is like picking a scab-- you want to but you really ought to leave it alone so it can heal properly (ie: rest up!).

I was shocked to learn that they are moving me from 4th/5th grade reading down to first grade reading next year! They are doing it to make the numbers more fair (and as the one who got stuck with 14 students last year when each of my colleagues had only six, I really do appreciate that!).

So I am leaving the land of hormones, "being cool", and accidentally witty remarks to the land of tears, dependence, and unconditional love.

I'm excited and terrified all at once!

If you have any tips, advice, or resources for me on how to be an effective teacher at this level, please send them my way! :)

Feline Friday

For the next ten days or so we'll be dog-sitting for Sawyer, a lab-mix puppy that belongs to my husband's classmate. They dropped him off today and things have been, how you say.... CHAOTIC. Barney is very glad to have a friend but they are both testing the waters, our boundaries, and our patience.

Our three cats may never forgive us for adding another monster to this household, however temporary. In honor of them, I thought I'd participate in Feline Friday, brought to us from The Thought Bubble.

This week's theme is "hepfulness", a trait all three of our cats have plenty of. Here is Mrs. Hufflepuff, who thought she would help me clean the windows by getting those pesky drapes out of the way:

I thanked her very profusely, of course, then promptly told her that her services were no longer needed. In fact, (after I took her picture) I told her quite forcefully to stop.

If you have a helpful cat, please share! You can join the fun and link up right here (you have until next Thursday).

Happy Feline Friday!

I got my book... do you have yours?

If you haven't seen this remake of "I gotta feeling" (Black Eyed Peas) sung by the administration and students of Ocoee Middle School, you are missing out! It will totally make you smile :) One of the teachers at my school showed this video to her fifth graders to pump them up for summer reading and they all loved it!

I've already started off my summer reading list with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Any story where an eleven year-old girl tries to solve a murder is going to be a hit with me!

What are you reading these days?

Happy Feet

 If you had asked me back in November if June 4th would ever come, I would have told you: "No way! I will die in this school building, under-resourced, under-supported, and over-worked. June 4th is just a myth."

I'm not usually this pessimistic, but I think it had something to do with the fact that I moved to a new state this year, and started teaching inner-city kids with all sorts of challenges and neediness.

In the very beginning, it felt like working here was like breaking in a new pair of shoes.

Almost immediately, I realized that there was a pebble in my shoe that didn't belong there. (Things got easier in March when I was able to remove the pebble and find a better quarry for him!)

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't like there were no scenic views on my journey this school year. My stinky fifth graders kept me laughing! Other highlights included explaining the word "diarrhea" and explaining "race" (Asian, Hispanic, etc).

Usually at the end of the school year, I am full of boundless excitement. Yesterday, as I was driving home after the students' last day (staff had to report today to clean out rooms, etc), I just wanted to have a good long cry -- some sort of cathartic release to acknowledge that this year is finally behind me.

And now.... I can't wait to put my feet up!! Maybe even indulge in a manicure!! Happy Summer Break, everyone :)

Drunk with power

As I was sitting behind my work computer finishing up IEPs and contemplating my ever-growing to-do list, I had an epiphany. At first I was just thinking: "I wish I could clone myself so I could get this all done faster and could leave before 5:30 today"

But then!

Then I remembered that I had twelve kids at my disposal who were ready to do my bidding at a moment's notice! So I worked my little army of elves to the bone today. I sat on my teacher stool, snapped my fingers, and gave orders left and right.

90 minutes worth of shredding? Done.
46 staples plied out of the wall? Done.
4 bulletin boards taken down with border neatly put away? Done.
8 desks cleaned out? Done.
12 piles of student work distributed to be sent home? Done, and done!

The servants kids were so excited to help, and I felt LOADS less stressed out. I even got to leave on time!!

Now if only I could bring them home and have them help me with my housework....

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