Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New Beginnings

August is slowly ending....summer is drawing to a close and fall is quietly tiptoeing in behind it. Back to school commercials are rampant (and have been for quite awhile much to my dismay)! Staples and Wal-Mart are overrun with frustrated parents and students clutching their supply lists. And of course, teachers.
It's always interesting being a teacher and wandering the school supply aisles at this time of the year. I often get funny looks as I throw ten packs of glue sticks in my cart, or eight packs of markers. Of course, I get to overhear all sorts of interesting conversations between children and parents too, and I'm often left chuckling to myself at the things I hear children say to convince their parents they absolutely positively must have something for school.
I'll admit it though, I get caught up in the excitement too. Interestingly, the traditions my parents started with us as children are still followed, by me at least! Growing up, we always went back to school shopping. We bought a new outfit to wear on the first day and stocked our backpacks with shiny new notebooks, sharpened pencils and markers. Once I became a teacher, I decided that every year I would make sure I have something new to wear on the first day of school, be it a new skirt, a fun shirt or some funky accessories. And I fill my cart (and my classroom) with shiny new markers and glue sticks, tape dispensers and stickers.
As I reflect on this cycle of new beginnings I am going through for the seventh year running I can't help but consider myself lucky. It is fun and invigorating to get a fresh start every year. To wipe the slate clean (pardon the pun!) and start new--a new group of students, a new classroom arrangement and a whole new chance to make a difference in someone's life. So, as summer draws to a close, rather than being sad (OK, I am a little sad) I am re-energized.


It's funny how when you first move somewhere--be it apartment, condo or house--you have to make adjustments. I don't just mean getting used to the creaks and groans any home makes, or getting used to the night sounds, or figuring out all of the light switches....I mean other things. The details that make up living in a home.
I've had to make a few adjustments, and am still trying to remember them!, since we've moved in. For example, when you close our back door, the knob is set just close enough to the door jamb that if you aren't careful you scrap your knuckles. It's only in the last few days that I haven't actually banged my hand and ended up muttering angrily at myself for not remembering to hold the handle differently. Also, at that same door, the lock is backwards. Whichever way you normally unlock a door, well, it's the opposite. That still confuses me!
Another adjustment has been shaving. Now, I love my clawfoot tub, but it isn't the most convenient for shaving my legs. First of all the curtain sticks to various parts of your body, secondly, there is nowhere to put your foot up to shave. So I'm left fighting the curtain and hopping a bit while I balance the tip of my big toe on the edge of the tub. Our cat has had to get used to the tub too. At our apartment she'd always jump up on the flat part and peek her furry little head around the curtain to check out what we were doing. (If cats can think than I could only imagine what she'd be wondering....) Now, she sits on the ground--right where you need to step when you get out of the shower--and meows plaintively at you until you reappear.

Of course, as I sat on my lawn this past weekend, doing some work and looking out at our lake (yes, I am very possessive) I couldn't help but think how incredibly lucky I am to be in this gorgeous house.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A whirlwind

(Note: Long post covering the last several days ahead!)
The past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind. I got back from my conference and kicked into high gear: you know what that is, when you frantically run around cleaning everything in sight, purchasing enough food to feed an army and alternating between extreme panic to relative calm over the fact that in just a few short days guests will be descending on your house for the first time ever. Luckily for us, my husband and I alternated those moments of panic, otherwise our household really wouldn't have been a pretty place in the days leading up to our first housewarming. The day (Saturday) dawned sunny and bright, some last minute cleaning was done (I must have been crazy to let my husband talk me into purchasing a white bath mat. That thing has been cleaned more than my counters I think!) and we were ready to go.
The housewarming was, if I do say so myself, quite a success. A nice blend of family, friends and neighbors, one extreme bocci game and tons of yummy food. All went well and my husband and I realized that we could really get into this whole party thing (especially when you have your Moms bring some of the yummy food!)
Monday, I met my sister for lunch, follwed by a brief (but successful!) trip into this store and ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. It was a wonderful afternoon and one I wish I could repeat at least a dozen more times before school begins again.
Tuesday morning I awoke to a frantic phone call from my nieces were sick, she was throwing up and she needed help. I threw on my clothes and dashed over to my mom's house to help care for two of the cutest little girls around. Spending time with these two, even when they are sick, is always fun and makes my heart fill to bursting with love for them so it was a day well spent.
Wednesday is when the trouble began.....I woke up early, feeling a little nauseous. Convinced I had caught whatever my nieces had I called my Mom. That's right, I'm a thirty year old married woman who calls her mom when she's sick. C'mon, you know you do it too! Well, she was convinced it was morning sickness, despite my protests.
(No, I'm not making an announcement right now!) I got myself dressed and headed to my meeting, opting to skip my usual tea and the plain english muffin I had toasted. Well. I threw up three times. The first two I kept quiet about, but the third one was in front of everyone (the bathroom was occupied, it's not like I wanted to be heaving my guts out in front of a committee of my colleagues). After the third time I went home and crawled into bed where I spent a miserable day alternately sweating and feeling chilled, painfully aching in all of my joints and throwing up all over the floor (which my husband cleaned up without complaint. If ever there was any doubt about his love for me, I think that pretty much clears it up!)
Thursday morning dawned and I felt (almost) human. It might have had something to do with the fact that I ate absolutely nothing the day before so there was nothing in my stomach to throw up. My husband had an interview in the same school district I teach in and I did manage, in my half asleep state, to wish him good luck. Oh wait, did I mention that Thursday was my birthday? That's right, the big 30. I was so out of it for most of the day I almost forgot! Russ had planned a large dinner party involving parents and siblings. By midafternoon they were dropping like flies.....everyone was sick. We went from a dinner party of 12 to a dinner party of 6. But, at the end of the day, we had a lovely time and I even managed to eat some of everything! Plus, midway through the preparations Russ got a call: he got the job!!! All in all, a pretty fantastic day. Here's hoping I'm back to my (old) self tomorrow in time for my last wedding of the season!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bragging rights

Check it out, my brother's photo is on!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I just spent the past two and a half days at a CEA (CT Education Association) sponsored Summer Leadership Conference learning about health insurance. I have a few thoughts....not so much about the topic I chose to learn because not only was I the youngest teacher in the room, I was also the least knowledgeable and much of what was said was so far above my head I could barely make sense of it. No, I have some thoughts about casinos in general and this event in particular.

Let's start with casinos: whoever decided not to put clocks in them was clearly brilliant. I arrived Monday morning and left Wednesday afternoon and I can tell you that nothing ever changed the entire time I was there. The lights never dimmed, the music never stopped, the staff were never absent and the guests were always, always, gambling. The whole experience was, frankly, a little surreal. Logically, I knew I went to bed-twice, and woke up-twice. But there was no other way for me to tell the passing of time. And no, I didn't gamble once. Partly because our schedule was pretty full and partly because I'm just not a gambler and mostly because we just bought a house.

On to this conference: now, I am a teacher, which means volumes to some people and very little to others. One of the things that teachers do not get are very long lunches. During this conference I had an hour to an hour and a half to eat lunch. This meant, since it was a room full of teachers, that most of us finished in about ten to fifteen minutes and then sat around chatting for the rest of our time. I couldn't help but wonder if this is how things are done "in the real world". Do people in business really get hour long lunches? If so, what in the world do you do with yourself every day?

Also, being a teacher, I've never been exposed to "panels". I guess in the business sector that is how things are done, but I spent the last two and a half days looking at a panel of experts and listening to them as they spoke from their chairs about the topic. The idea of sitting and instructing is completely foreign to me. I have a desk, yes, and I do sit at it--before school and after school. There is very little time to sit at it during school (read: when my students are in the room). The topic this weekend was interesting, but I couldn't get over the fact that these experts essentially sat in a chair and talked at us all day long. I also can't imagine attending professional development during the school year and having that be the manner of instruction. Again, is that really how it's done in the business sector and if so how in the world do you keep yourself focused and attentive?

All that aside, I did learn a few things, which is always good, and I did get to stay at Foxwoods for free, in a nice big room all by myself (my roommate never showed up) so all in all, it wasn't such a bad three days.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A losing battle

While still living in our apartment, I decided to plant seedlings. Recognizing that I was a bit ambitious to try to begin a garden in our first house when it needed so much work inside, I nevertheless embraced this opportunity to have my very own garden. I went into this endeavor with more enthusiasm than knowledge, and relied heavily on advice from parents to help.
Well, the seedlings started to grow, along with the dreams of harvesting my own veggies to bring to family and friends and, of course, use in my own cooking. Shortly after closing on our house, I planted the seedlings in our newly tilled garden. And this is when I met my first obstacle.
A woodchuck.
See him in that tree? Yeah, he looks cute and furry and friendly. But he's not. Minutes, that's right minutes after I had planted the seedlings in the ground, that cute furry woodchuck came and ATE them! My zucchini were reduced to bare stalks and my cucumbers....eaten down to nubs. Not to be beaten my furry foe, my husband and I went to Home Depot and got a fence. We quickly erected the fence and I breathed a sigh of relief as, day after day, my plants seemed safe.
I was convinced my cucumbers would not recover, and worried that the zucchini were also doomed, but after a few weeks things started to grow. Convinced that the new growth had something to do with my care and attention, I bragged when squash flowers showed up and practically cheered when the very first baby cucumber recently appeared.
Apparently, my joy was short lived...that's right, a new critter, a mysterious beast, has been chomping (that's right chomping) on my gloriously lush veggies. Again, the zucchini and the cucumbers seem to be the victims, with the tomatoes and lettuce untouched. The worst part is that I can't even figure out what is eating my plants. Curiously, the top leaves are eaten off, while the bottom ones are untouched. My husband is convinced we have deer, which is entirely possible I guess, but why now? And how are they getting past the fence that surrounds our property? I still refuse to admit defeat and am now continually peeking out the window to see if I can catch the culprit in the act. I'm also fervently hoping the two baby cucumbers survive. The zucchini....well, if those grow it really will be a miracle at this point.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I got tagged for the first time! Thanks KTP!

Five items in my freezer:
1) Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby and Fossil Fuel (they were on sale!)
2) The metal bowl to our ice cream maker, just in case we decide to stop painting and unpacking and make ice cream.
3) Grappa (a gift).
4) Dumplings. (My Mom generously filled my freezer for me upon our move, and she knows how much my husband loves dumplings.)
5) Ice cube trays. (Not very exciting, I know.)

Five items in the closet: (The funny thing is, we don't really have closets. We have a closet in one bedroom upstairs, but it is currently empty. No other closets. The house was built in 1921....not sure how that explains things but that's the only explanation I can come up with. So, I'll do five items in my pantry. Remember, we just did major work on our house and we are still unpacking and working.)
1) Nails from 1921. (They were too cool to throw away.)
2) Plastic forks, cups, spoons, knives and plates.
3) Left over bag of chips from a lunch we ordered in ages ago.
4) Contractor garbage bags.
5) A tupperware container filled with sawdust, random screws and two boards. Really must throw that out now that those workers are gone....and maybe unpack the box labeled food and put it away in the pantry.

Five items in my car:
1) Pattern blocks (used them for summer school)
2) A bag of clothes that needs to be taken to Goodwill.
3) My Ipod.
4) An extra pair of sunglasses.
5) Mix CD's. (See Kelli, I have those too!)

Five items in my backpack:
1) Post it notes-with lines.
2) Markers, crayons and a glue stick. (Hey, I teach third grade, those items are a necessity!)
3) My plan book.
4) Advil. (Also a necessity for any teacher.)
5) At least one (usually more) professional book that I use for planning, or that I'm planning on reading.

Five people I tag:
Ummm....seeing as how all the people I would have tagged have done this already, I'm going to say no one right now.