Monday, December 10, 2007

Back on the bandwagon

With a very quick post for you....but a promise of more to come. I had to play catch up last week--at work that is. And even though I told myself I was going to continue posting regularly, well, I just couldn't maintain. But I have three other post ideas already saved so that I can post regularly again. For today (because it is late and I have to still go shopping for the little girl I "adopted" this holiday season) you are getting a quick post..... a story....or rather, a conversation:

Me: N is going to pass out the wipes today because she won the Desk Gecko award. (Don't ask. All you need to know is her desk was cleanest. We are cleaning out our desks, as we do every Friday, and wiping the top of them.)

N: (Approaching me with an empty container.) Mrs. S, where should I put this container? It's empty.

Me: N, where do you think you should put the empty container.

N: (Thinks for a full 30 seconds.) Do you want it on your desk?

Me: Nope. Where do you think you should put a container that is empty?

N: (Again, a 30 second pause while she contemplates this question.) In the garbage?

Me: Exactly! (I turn away to help a little boy who always needs help during this process. A minute later N approaches me with a new container of wipes and the empty container in her hands.)

N: Wait, where am I supposed to put this again?

Me: N, where do you think an empty container of wipes goes?

N: (Again, the 30 second pause.) Should I put it with the other containers of wipes?

Me: No, those ones are full. Where should the empty one go?

N: Oh, yeah, in the garbage!

Me: Yes!

It's Friday at 3:00. Anyone who claims I am NOT patient just needed to be there for that conversation.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

NaBloPoMo!

I kinda can't believe this is it....I mean, I knew it was coming up, the end of NaBloPoMo, but this is it. The end of NaBloPoMo. A couple of people have told me they don't want me to stop posting regularly....I have to say, I am glad that I participated in NaBloPoMo. I needed something to get me going with my blog again, and posting more regularly. So, I'm glad I did this. And I am going to try to keep posting more regularly. Maybe not every day, but more regularly.

So, now I turn to the topic of my last post in November. Food. And throwing it up. I won't be insulted if you choose to stop reading now...

I used to hate throwing up. Now....well, now I still hate it, but I'm far more accustomed to it. I have raised it to an art form in fact. I have thrown up pretty much anywhere you can imagine...the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink, the basement sink...the driveway, a few parking lots, even in a plastic Stop and Shop bag while sitting in traffic on the Parkway. (That was fun.) And, of course, in various toilets around the state....including a few different ones at school. The funny thing about this is that when all of this first started, I was actually excited. I remember, the first few times I was throwing up, actually exclaiming to Russ "I'm throwing up, that means I'm pregnant! Isn't that AWESOME!?!?" Crazy, I know. That wore off rather quickly. Now....well, ultimately, I just want a healthy baby. If I have to throw up throughout my entire pregnancy, than I'll do that. But, I must admit, I really am getting a little tired of it.

The other funny thing is food. I don't really like food anymore. I don't like talking about food, looking at food, watching food commercials (there are a ton of them you know) or even watching Food Network (such a bummer). Eating is a bit of a chore, only because it's hard to figure out what to eat. And then, sometimes, I think I know what to eat, take a few bites, and discover that it just doesn't work. (That's what happened tonight with dinner....three bites into dinner and I had to run for the bathroom.) I want to eat. And, some days, I can. Most days I can in fact. But there is always that underlying nausea that follows me around all day. And that questioning if it will stay down or if I'll be running for the bathroom.

I don't mean for this post to sound like I'm complaining....I'm really not trying to. Like I said, if I get a healthy baby out if it than I'll do all of this and more....but I'm also kind of ready for the cravings and the non stop eating to start. Right about now.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Memoirs

Last year, for the memoir unit I teach my students, I decided to model one with them. So, I started to write one to use as a teaching tool. We recently began our memoir unit again, and the other day I pulled out the piece I had written last year without thinking. In the midst of writing workshop, as I was reading my memoir to my students I had to pause and catch my breath. So vivid were the pictures in my mind, it felt like a punch in the gut....I decided it is worth sharing in this space. Not because I think it's my best piece of writing, my intended audience was, after all, third graders, but because it carries a special emotional weight now, one year later. A slight disclaimer: I did many things on purpose- both good and bad- in this piece of writing. It was meant as a teaching tool, and I have used it as such. Also, we learn about certain craft strategies in this unit-- repeated phrases for example--and you will see me using them in my writing. (Kelli, the story is written in what we like to call vignettes in third grade!)
So, without further ado, here it is:

When I was little I went to Nonnie and Bebop’s house for every holiday and some other special occasions. Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, Easter…these were all celebrated at Nonnie and Bebop’s house. We gathered together around her big wooden dining room table.

When I was little, we all sat with elbows bumping, around the table. It sat, in the middle of the room, dark wood gleaming, looking so solid that you knew you’d never be able to move it, no matter how hard you tried. The chairs around it looked nice enough for a king and queen, and were covered in cranberry red velvet that was soft to the touch. The table was always set with a lacy white tablecloth, straight from Italy, and, because there were so many of us, mismatched plates and cups and forks.

When I was little the table was filled with food. There was so much food that you could barely see the tablecloth underneath it. You’d eat so much antipasto that you would be full before you even started the main course. We’d sit down and you’d have to wait, foot tapping, stomach grumbling, while the food got passed around. Hand to hand, pausing while someone took one more bite, until finally it got to you and you could carefully choose your favorites.

When I was little, I’d curl up in my dad’s lap, stomach full and eyes heavy, and doze. The voices of my family would blend together into one low comforting buzz, and I’d fall asleep to that noise of love and family.

When I was little, we gathered around Nonnie and Bebop’s big wooden dining room table and laughed and laughed and laughed together…

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This is it

I wasn't really sure what to write about today.....I could write about my student who earned a perfect report card today when he said, "Mrs. S, how can you be pregnant, you are so skinny!" (I do believe I would have hugged him to within an inch of his life if the poor little guy didn't blush so horribly when I told him that was the sweetest thing he could have said!)
Or I could write about the fact that our professor sent us an exemplar of our final exam so we could grade ourselves and I realized that my final exam seriously sucked.
Then again, I could also write about my curriculum writing work today and how we, once again, didn't get nearly enough done even though our next unit should be distributed on, hi, December 1st, and it's STILL not finished.

But, instead, I am going to write about something totally different. I was reading this blog and I was struck by something she wrote in her most recent post. She said that many people are searching...for love or happiness or the next best thing....I realized as I read this that I'm not searching. And then I decided that one of the most amazing feelings in life is to realize that your search is over. I remember, shortly after we moved into our house thinking, "This is it. I have a wonderful husband, a cozy house, a job I love, my family and friends around me....this is it." It stopped me in my tracks at the time. At the time I remember thinking, "When did I become such a grown up!?!"
Now we are on our next journey....a baby on the way....we are building a family now and creating a miracle. This really is it. My search is over, my life is filled to the brim. I have more blessings than I can even begin to express. I have my peace. And my happiness. Right here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Snippets.....a.k.a. vignettes

My friend Kelli did this recently on her blog, and I liked the idea so much that I'm going to go right ahead and steal it! But, at least I gave her credit!

After my rough Sunday, Monday and Tuesday haven't been so bad....just the usual morning throwing up and all day nausea. Totally manageable. It helped that Russ and I took the day off on Monday and we got to SEE our baby on an ultrasound again, and HEAR the heartbeat. I swear, it's still amazing to me that I'm actually pregnant. Bonus: everything that is supposed to be negative is, and everything that is supposed to be positive is. Yay baby!

Whenever Russ and I go to the grocery store he is typically the one loading the last bag and closing up the trunk while I put away the carriage. The man waits for me to return. By the side of the car. It doesn't matter if it's the dead of winter and freezing cold, or mid summer and broiling hot, he still waits for me. It makes me love him just a little bit more, every time he does it.

I decided after one of our doctors visits yesterday that our baby is a boy. I have no gut feeling, no visions or dreams or anything like that....I just decided that it's a boy. I figure a girl is made of sugar and spice and all things nice, and therefore would not be making her momma throw up regularly. Nor would a girl make the nice ultrasound lady have to poke and jiggle my belly for a full fifteen minutes. Or make me have to cough, or turn over, or have my legs up and my head down while being poked and prodded to get a good ultrasound picture. Definitely a boy. We find out for sure in six weeks. (I'll post the picture from yesterday's visit once I scan it in!)

Today is my LAST, FIRST administrative class. I'm pretty jazzed about that. First of all because it means I survived my first administrative course, and secondly because it means I get to go home at a reasonable hour on a Tuesday and go to bed! Woo hoo! I'm even thinking I'll get a good grade, which I'm really jazzed about, seeing as how it's the first course I've taken in eight years and I didn't know if I'd be able to be a student all over again.

I also decided that much like ballet dancers make the worst audience members at the theatre, teachers make the worst students....my friend and I spent the majority of this semester critiquing the way the professor taught the course. Or maybe it's not that teachers make bad students, but teachers are way too opinionated for their own good. Hmmm.....

I'm out of my classroom a lot this week and I totally hate that. I was out Monday for my doctors appointments (I had two, and it was too crazy to try to come to school), today a half day to score a math pre assessment, tomorrow for a half day to write reading curriculum, and Friday for a full day workshop. Not only because it's a pain in the ankle to write sub plans, but mostly because I really miss my kids.

Three more days of NaBloPoMo! I think I might actually be sad when it is over....even though I think the quality of my posts has seriously declined this month.....

Monday, November 26, 2007

An explanation

Wow. I am so sorry about my last post. It was, as I said, a rough day....

Before I got pregnant I had headaches in stages--Stage 1 warranted a combination of drugs and then pushing through to go on about my day. Stage 2 warranted the same combination of drugs along with a steaming hot shower and a cold Coke (or some other caffeinated beverage) and a pause in my day until my headache became more manageable. Stage 3 was the worst--everything came to a screeching halt. I had to take migraine medicine and lay in a dark, completely silent room with a cold cloth covering my eyes. Smells, sounds, movement....all made me nauseous. Yesterday, I had a stage 3 headache most of the day. And, of course, I couldn't take anything for it.

To top it all off, I couldn't keep anything down. I started the morning with two sips of chamomile tea and two bites of toast, and promptly ran for the bathroom. After waiting awhile, I started thinking....just thinking....about eating something else for breakfast. And promptly ran for the bathroom. Next, I waited a few hours then attempted some oatmeal (I don't know why, it seemed appetizing at the time and it's worked for me in the past). No sooner had I stirred the oatmeal--just stirred mind you, not even taken a bite.....then it happened again. Yup, another visit to the bathroom. I'm sure you are wondering how in the world I could have anything left to throw up since I hadn't eaten anything, but somehow, I did.

I then waited for a few hours until my Mom arrived with homemade soup. (Thank God for my Mom!) which I slowly, but with great excitement, ate. I was convinced it would stay down. Her soups always stay down. Thirty minutes later---yup. Another visit to the bathroom. A potato at dinner....didn't work. Soup again at 8:30 when I was ravenous....didn't work either.

At one point, I think it was my sixth time throwing up, I was so frustrated I started yelling at Russ. The poor man wasn't actually doing anything wrong, and I didn't necessarily need him to do anything for me, but I was so frustrated, and so hungry that I just yelled. He became very attentive after that though, which was lovely.

So, that was my day yesterday.....And that is why you didn't get a post yesterday dear bloggers. Today seems to be a tad better. Just my usual morning throwing up so far. Of course, despite the fact that I'm utterly starving, all I've eaten are two pieces of completely plain toast (blech) and three sips of almost flat ginger ale. Diet of champions I tell you.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Because I have to

It's been a rough day....and a rough night. More tomorrow. I am going to bed--hoping tomorrow is a better day.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fanksgiving Part 2 or How we Told the Family our Big News

Now I can tell the rest of the Fanksgiving story.....the part I couldn't tell until the news was out.

Russ and I used Fanksgiving to share our news with everyone. We planned it for weeks--pretty much from the moment we found out ourselves actually. It was quite a long time to wait, and quite a secret to keep. I was convinced that everyone would figure it out before Fanksgiving, but we managed to fool almost everyone.

Anyway, at Fanksgiving we do a Yankee Swap--everyone brings an unwrapped gift, then we all choose numbers. Number one unwraps a gift. Number 2 can either take the gift from number one or unwrap a new gift. And so on and so forth. Well, Russ and I decided that our Fanksgiving Yankee Swap gift would be our announcement. We brought a rather large, colorful bag, filled with gifts for our immediate family. The two sets of parents got framed pictures of the first ultrasound, my sister got an Aunt frame, my sister and brother in law got a Red Sox bib, my two nieces each got a book about a new baby and my brother got a tiny Red Sox t-shirt. The real Yankee Swap gift was the movie Knocked Up (in keeping with the theme)!


So picture this....we've planned this for weeks. Russ and I arrive at Fanksgiving at 12ish. Dinner is at 6, Yankee Swap sometime after that around 8ish. It was a loooooonnnnnggggg time to wait. And a long time to keep my mouth shut and pretend to not be pregnant. The icing on the cake of course was the grape juice. Because we knew everyone would be scrutinizing us, Russ and I smugged grape juice in a flask. He kept pouring my "wine" for me....very surreptiously I might add! Apparently that trick worked well, because I later found out that the whole family noticed I was drinking "wine" and were convinced I wasn't pregnant.

So, Yankee Swap starts....and NO ONE is picking our bright, colorful, rather large bag! My anticipation was through the roof at this point....finally, it's my sister's turn to pick and my favorite Cosette chose our bag. Thank YOU Cosette! Tina discovers all of the presents in the bag and distributes them, with some help from me. Momentary confusion on everyone's faces with comments of "Wait, this isn't how Yankee Swap is supposed to work!", dawning realization on others and then finally, with the first ripping of paper:
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!"

Tears and screams and hugs and general joy. Lots of questions, more hugs, more conversations, more screams.

It was everything I wanted it to be and probably the most perfect way to share our joyous news.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Thanksgiving story

'Twas the day after Thanksgiving and all through the house, not a creature was stirring.....because we were all still stuffed from eating too much turkey and stuffing. Seriously. This Thanksgiving my sister and brother in law outdid themselves not only with the sheer amount of food, but also with how good it all tasted.

The best part about Thanksgiving though was looking around the table and seeing my family around me. The older we get, the harder it seems at times to all be together. So when those moments happen, they are so special. This Thanksigiving felt a bit different too---knowing that next Thanksgiving there will be one more at the table with us- a five month old!

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was filled not only with turkey and all the trimmings, but all the blessings of family and laughter and love.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday Thirteen-- more reasons to be Thankful


1) My family...OK, that can take up reasons 1-100 probably, so I'm cheating and smooshing them into just #1. I have the most amazing, supportive, wonderful, loving, kind, intelligent, super family members. Every single one of them enriches my life every day, and brings me joy every day and I am so ridiculously blessed that sometimes it takes my breath away.
2) My friends....again, probably reasons 100-200....but I also am pretty darn lucky to have amazing, supportive, ambitious, wonderful, kind, intelligent, caring, sensitive friends. All of whom give fantastic advice and even better hugs and all of whom have been there for me through many of life's highs and lows. Again, ridiculously blessed.

3) My job. I consider myself one of the lucky people in this world that loves, absolutely loves what she does. Every day is interesting and every day I learn something new. And everyday I laugh, either at myself or at my students. Not many people can say that. So, even with crazy parents, nutty kids and a curriculum that seems to get harder rather than easier...I still love my job!

4) The miracle that is growing inside of me right now. Thirteen months of emotional roller coaster trying, two blood work visits and one HSG test and I have a miracle that I will be thanking God for every single day from now until forever. (Even when I'm throwing up! :)

6) My husband. Because not only did the man love me enough to marry me, but he's loved me every day since we said I do, and will love me every day until my teeth are falling out and my hair is thinning.

7) The smell of Christmas trees and holiday wreaths. I love this smell. Oh yeah, and wood burning stoves. And spring flowers opening. And the way the earth smells after a summer rain. And freshly mowed grass, and my Mom's sauce bubbling away on the stove and baby's heads.

8) When Linus, our cat, snuggles up next to me on the couch. (Even though he's not supposed to sit on the couch.)

9) When Russ is listening to his radio show, or watching his Ipod, and he starts to laugh at something he's heard. It's that deep belly laugh that makes me smile.

10) Curling up on a snow day with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa, while still in your pj's.

11) Getting a pedicure. Even better--getting a manicure and a pedicure. Best of all--getting a manicure or a pedicure with your Mom and your sister. Better even than that--getting a massage with your Mom and your sister. (Mom and Tina, that sounds good, let's do that soon!)

12) Hanging out at the beach house...and spending a lazy day in the sun where the biggest decision you have to make is whether you should be red or green when we play bocci.

13) Our house. Our cozy, comfy, character-filled house. Sometimes I look around and I can't believe that this belongs to US. I love our house. It is uniquely us, and so special because of it's age and it's history and the vibe you get once you walk through the door-like you can take a breath and just relax.

I can keep going....oh my, how I could keep going....but those are some of my reasons I am thankful this Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A return to high school

You're never going to believe this one....but I swear, I'm not making it up.

Yesterday, I was transported back to my high school days. No, no, no, I'm not talking big hair and bad fashions (did I really wear those MC Hammer pants!?!? And what was UP with pinning and cuffing our jeans?!?) I mean passing notes. Or rather, discovering notes that had been passed that were written about you.

That's right.

I was at a union meeting last night where a state attorney was doing a presentation. People were getting fired up because this attorney, frankly, sucked at public speaking and misspoke a few times. Get the vibe? Tense, angry, complaining. As soon as I walk in, I'm cornered by the tensest, angriest man of the bunch and asked if I managed to contact a person about a website for our union. I said we had been playing phone tag, but knew immediately that the answer I gave wasn't going to fly. So I step into the hallway, call the woman one more time, miraculously get a hold of her, communicate everything I need to, agree on next steps and walk back into the meeting to report back to Mr. Angry about my progress. Feeling rather good about myself. He rants for a few minutes about the lawyer that is presenting, rants for a few more minutes about some other minor issue he's going to make a major issue, I smother him with kindness (which is always my tack when faced with people like this. You should try it sometime, it totally throws them off!) And then I finally escape to the meeting. Phew. Off the hook, feeling good.

At the end of the meeting a friend finds a note on the floor that reads "Lisa hasn't contacted the website woman yet. It's been two weeks."

OK, first of all, who writes a note and then leaves it behind to be discovered?!? Secondly, (and perhaps this should have been first) but who passes notes in meetings!?! Everyone knows that all teachers just lean over and talk to one another during meetings. Sheesh. Finally, SERIOUSLY?!?!? Are we 12?
Yeah. So, I had all sorts of clever retaliation schemes in mind....the least harmful was to shoot him an email that said "if you are going to write a note about a person who is volunteering her time to chair a committee, then perhaps you shouldn't leave that note behind to be discovered by that same teacher." My husband suggested I add a box, much like middle schoolers do that reads: "Am I a jerk? Check one box: Yes No" Of course, I took the high road and did nothing. But I couldn't help but feel like I was back in high school all over again.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Books, books, books

Lately, I haven't had much time to read many books. Well, OK, that's not exactly true, I've read many books....Shredderman Secret Identity, Fireflies, My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother, My Name is Maria Isabel....third grade books. Good ones, but not exactly intellectually stimulating. And then there's my book for grad school--whose title I won't tell you because you'll fall asleep in the midst of reading this post.

But I haven't been reading for pleasure. At least not lately. My routine used to be to crawl in bed a bit earlier and read for awhile before falling asleep....lately my routine is to crawl in bed and, well, fall asleep. Or watch T.V. until I fall asleep. But I want to read again. I MISS reading. But I feel like I need a really good book to get me back into it. If I dive into reading again with a not so great book, well, I'll revert to my bad habits. So, that's where you come in, dear readers. I know not many people read my blog, but I know that those of you that do read my blog are avid readers. So, what book have you read lately that you loved? What book did you put down and think, "Wow, that book was so fantastic, I wish I wasn't done reading it?"

Let me know and get me reading again!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sundays

I love Sundays. Sundays growing up meant church with my family in the morning then the occasional Sunday brunch. Usually though, Sundays meant returning home and eating a yummy meal my Mom would cook. Sunday dinner was an event in our household. Then we got to laze around a bit, do homework if we needed to, maybe watch a movie....

Sundays as an adult hasn't changed much for me. I still go to church with my Mom and my Dad. And many Sundays, we go out to breakfast, or return home for a delicious meal that my Mom cooks. The older I get, the more I cherish this time with my parents. Not only do I get to go to church, and get time to reflect on my blessings, pray a little and get my dose of peace, but I also get my parents all to myself. We talk about everything and nothing, I share my news and stories and they tell me what's going on with the family....I love this time with them. As much as I love going to church, I love the time with my parents even more. It feels like a little bit of calm in a crazy busy life.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The one where I brag....just a little

I can't believe I haven't mentioned this sooner, but this past Tuesday I had a major presentation in class. I should say, we, had a major presentation in class, because, of course, given the opportunity to work with a partner, I jumped.
My friend and I spent several hours over a couple of weekends working on this project. We ended up dramatically cutting our original project proposal, moving from using four programs to two. We worried about this, so we ended up going deeper into the two programs than we meant to. What we did was use ctreports.com, a tool that reports out all CMT data, and Microsoft Excel to organize and graphically represent that data. We focused on mathematics, all of the different strands, over a series of years. We also compared the state, to our district, to one particular school. Snazzy, right?

Apparently, our professor thought so too....we were the first to present, so we had nothing to compare ourselves against, but at the end of our presentation our professor described our work as "phenomenal". Needless to say, we were jazzed. Then we got our score a few days later and apparently phenomenal translates to a 100. !!!! It made the five page take home exam a little easier to swallow, knowing we were going into it with a 100.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Life returns to normal

Russ is home....he's been gone since Tuesday at Nature's Classroom....but he is back.

It's amazing how I wasn't necessarily feeling bad about the fact that he was gone, but the second I saw him again, I felt better.

Things are not the same when he's not around....the house is emptier and bigger....the cats seem to whine more....the bed is far too cold....and I have no one to share the stories of my day. I am never the same when he is around....the biggest difference is that I just don't sleep as well. People kept saying to me, "How great, you get the whole house to yourself!" and sure, it was kinda nice to hog the T.V. (not that I watch all that many shows) but really, that was about the only nice thing....

Sometimes it's funny to think that four and a half years ago, I didn't even know this man and now, when he's gone, my world just feels a little off kilter.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thirteen firsts



Thirteen firsts....

1) My first year teaching, I cried in front of my students. (Not my proudest or best teaching moment, but, it was a first.)

2) My first dance recital costume was a teeny tiny greenish bikini and a yellow stuffed animal duck. (I still have that costume too. I think I can fit one finger in the leg hole.)

3) My first car I ever bought was a VW Jetta. (Ah, the beauty of financing!)

4) The first boy to ever send me flowers, give me Tiffany's or make me feel like the most amazing person just for being me was my husband. (Good thing I married him, huh?)

5) My first car was a Nissan Sentra hatchback. (I loved that little car too, even when the locks started freezing and you had to crawl in through the hatchback!)

6) I got my first kiss after I graduated high school but before I went to college (Thank God). (That's why when I hear stories about my sister in law's boyfriends growing up, I laugh, because I SO did not have that experience!)

7) The first concert I ever went to was New Kids on the Block. (Although my brother would claim it was Natalie Cole.)

8) The first job I ever had was an assistant camp counselor. (Back then I didn't understand the whole different work ethic thing and I didn't get how I, as the assistant, got paid less but somehow did more work.)

9) The first nickname I remember having is skinny banana--which is what my Dad called me.

10) The first (and one of the only) times I ever drank a bit too much was after college AND graduate school. In fact, it wasn't until my first year teaching.

11) Our first house was built by the great grandfather of the man we bought it from. (I personally think that is pretty neat.)

12) My first semester GPA in college was a 3.78. (That didn't last!)

13) The first time I ever ate sushi was with my now husband, at a little sushi restaurant in the Manchester area. Skeptical at first (probably because I hate cooked fish) I now love the stuff.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blink....blink.....blink.....

That's my title, because that's what the cursor was doing. For the record, it is currently 11:16. I am NOT changing the date/time, it IS still Wednesday. And, no, I'm not usually awake at this point, I fell asleep on the couch, and my husband is away so he wasn't there to wake me up and make me go to bed....so now it is 11:17 and I woke up to go to bed, realized I hadn't posted, and grabbed my laptop.

And, no, that's not my post for the day....that's just an explanation of the time!

I had a really interesting conversation with my teammates today. I think I've written before about how I'm a part of a team that is writing curriculum for reading workshop for my entire grade level to use for the entire year. Folks, this is a HUGE undertaking, and a LOT of work. And, for the record, I have said, on more than one occasion, that I'm uncomfortable being on a team of only four, writing curriculum for 40 something teachers. It's a lot of pressure....the funny thing about being on that team is that people seem almost nervous to critique your work. I know it's not perfect, in fact, I'll be the first to say it's a DRAFT and needs revisions, especially after it's been taught. So, I have a tendency to compensate by critiquing the work myself. I'll dive right in and talk about the problems that I have with the work that is done.

Today, my team and I happened to all be in the copy room by ourselves. One of my colleagues was feeling badly because she had missed the opportunity to fill out a reflection on our last unit. Of course we told her not to worry about it and we mentioned some things we had written on our reflection. I asked her if there was anything specific she would have added and she seemed comfortable with what we had said. Next thing you know, my other teammate launched into a confession of sorts....telling me what she's been doing in reading workshop, or rather, what she hasn't been doing. The funniest thing about that is I think she thought I might critique HER for this. As if, because I'm on this committee I'm some phenomenal teacher that's always doing everything she's supposed to and understands how it's always supposed to work and makes that happen every day. So not the case.

It made me think about perceptions....I'm not much of a person who toots her own horn. I don't go around telling everyone all about all the work we're doing on this curriculum committee. But people know I'm on this committee.....I've presented enough professional developments at this point that it's out there. How am I perceived because of that? Does that make me unapproachable? Does that make people think they can't critique the work that is done? It was funny tonight to notice that my team, the people who should know me best, seemed almost nervous to critique work that I would be the first to say isn't perfect. Critique away folks, goodness knows, I know it isn't perfect!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's sheer determination keeping me going at this point

Really. The only reason I am 1) awake and 2) posting is because it IS NaBloPoMo and even though some of my posts may have been cheesy, I have managed to post every single day. In case you don't know this about me, I'm a girl who makes a commitment and follows through. I don't really know how to NOT follow through.

But man, oh man, it has been a DAY. Let me break it down for you:

4:45 a.m. The alarm goes off so that my hubby can get ready to leave for Nature's Classroom, where he'll be for the next few days. The alarm clock is on my side of the bed, so I wake up enough to reset it and roll back over. For some bizarre reason the man decides to turn on the overhead light. Why this is a good idea is beyond me. So, I, of course, tell him to turn the light off and he tells me he's getting dressed. Even in my half asleep state I still managed to make the suggestion that he either 1) turn on the hallway light so it won't shine directly on me or 2) get dressed in the closet room (which is what he does every single morning, don't ask me why this morning needs to be different). He turns on the hallway light.

5:30 a.m. I roll out of bed, later than usual. For some reason since I don't have to make lunch or breakfast for Russ, I feel I have extra time and dawdle around the house until it is OH MY GOD 7:00 PANIC GET OUT OF THE HOUSE RIGHT NOW!

8:00 Arrive at school (Soooo late for me, but just in time for:)
8:05 go to a Library Media Technology meeting. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like.

8:45 The students arrive and they are hyper and chatty and all wound up because it is a field trip. The morning passes uneventfully (except the whole hyper chatty thing) until 11ish when we board the bus for our field trip (Thank goodness the weather cleared up.)

11:00ish to 1:15 Field trip to Mill River. All in all it's a nice trip, the students impress me with how much they remember from a curriculum that we haven't spent that much time on and we return to school on time, only to discover that---

1:15 The cafeteria manager has either 1) not received or 2) disregarded my various emails asking if we can eat lunch later. I now have ten kids without a lunch. A compromise is reached and she serves them pizza. No big deal because most third graders would take pizza over a calzone any day, especially if you take a look at the calzones they serve.
1:30 We eat lunch in our room, including me, which is, for some reason, completely fascinating to some students and they spend at least ten minutes staring at every single bite I eat and telling me it looks good. I shoo them away and then decide to take them outside to get rid of some energy. (Because believe it or not, they still have some!)

Our afternoon progresses without much to report, a short writing time, a quick math game and then some read aloud.
One would hope my day is over.....but no....

4:00 Time for a faculty meeting where we get to review the budget. Looks like I'll have a job (and a new teammate) next year--phew!

4:45 Faculty meeting ends, my friend is on the way over to my school to review our presentation for class one last time. I frantically pass out morning work, put up the schedule for tomorrow and write directions on the board then get to work clearing off my desk.

4:55 Said friend arrives and we begin to plow through our presentation. A few modifications later, we make some changes to our handout. I make new copies, we practice one last time then we realize that we are supposed to resubmit a new project proposal. We throw something together using our old one and dash out the door to eat dinner.

6:00-6:25 Dinner. Breathe.

7:00-10:00 Class. We present our project first and it ends up taking us (oops) close to an hour. However, our professor says we did a great job and called our presentation "phenomenal". I'm jazzed, until she hands out our final (take home) exam which looks like more work than I want to do.

10:00-10:30 Drive home in record time. No, I didn't speed she actually let us out a bit early....
10:30 Begin a horribly boring post about my horribly long day.

Next time someone asks me why I'm tired, I'm going to send them this link.
Is it Friday yet?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day

It figures that my first day back in the saddle....back to teaching everything after a blissful two weeks of not having to prepare or plan or copy anything... well, it just figures that I'd have the kind of day where 1) I was in school on a day where the rest of the world had the day off 2) I lost my special so we could celebrate that day and 3) I'd end the day with a team meeting for one of my students. Nothing like being thrown right back into that fire!

All that aside, today we did observe Veteran's Day in my school. And by observe I mean gather together to sing a bunch of patriotic songs with a few Veterans present. We talked a little bit about the day, and the history of it, but most of the assebly was taken up with singing and introducing the Veterans.

This is one of those days where somehow it became our job as educators to teach our students about the value and the history of this day, but none of us really know how to. Is that horrible? These students I have now..... war is, in one sense, in their vocabulary every single day. Many of them were just toddlers on 9/11 so the Iraq war is all they've ever known, yet they really don't know about the Iraq war. They don't really know about war at all. Even though they are growing up practicing lock down drills right along with fire drills, it doesn't touch their lives in any real way. Which, of course, is a good thing. I can remember being in school, reading about World War II and thinking "My God, my grandfathers fought in that." Same for Vietnam and my father. Knowing loved ones that have lived through what you were reading about in the pages of your history book....well, that made things real in a way nothing else ever was.

I guess I'm not really sure where I'm going with this post.....I certainly don't want my students to know the horrors of war. Nor do I want them to have to live in a world where war is happening, or will happen....but as I sat in that auditorium today, singing Yankee Doodle Dandy, I couldn't help but wonder what the students were actually learning about Veteran's Day. And I couldn't help but think that this is one of those days where I'm failing as an educator. I don't think I taught my students about service, or sacrifice....about loving your country enough that you travel halfway around the world to defend what it stands for....I don't think I taught my students about patriotism. How do you teach a value or a belief system to eight year olds?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fanksgiving Part 1

I know you have all been *dying* to hear all about Fanksgiving....So, here it is, part one in a two part series.

Russ and I arrived mid afternoon to chill out with Russ' parents, his sister and brother in law and their dear friend Greg. The thing about the beach house (where Fanksgiving is held every year, and where we spend many weekends) is that as soon as you walk in, or, as soon as I walk in, I am instantly relaxed. Something about the ocean right out the window, and the house that has been in the family for years and years and is the center of so many stories, and the fridge and pantry that is always stocked with exactly what you want to eat, and the bed parked right in front of the T.V. with a collection of DVD's, and the trashy magazines scattered throughout the house that you can pick up and flip through....something about all of this and more makes you instantly at ease. So, we walk in, organize some of the appetizers we brought and instantly went about chilling out and catching up.
The other guests started to arrive, and we settled into our predictable routines. The women did some fantastic crafts, organized by my amazingly creative sister in law. While the men settled in to enjoy some other, less creative, pursuits:







What's Thanksgiving (real or fake) without football and beer, right?
Once my parents arrived, my father began a wine tasting, with one of the wines being an award winner (first place even)! He wouldn't tell which one it was though, and interestingly, I don't think anyone guessed it!






Once dinner was ready, we all gathered around the table:
And tucked in to do some serious eating. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, pineapple bake, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, breads, salad....And I'm not even talking about dessert! For dessert there was pumpkin loaf, homemade apple pie, homemade pear pie and homemade ice cream pie (honey walnut and mint chocolate chip both made by my honey). There was enough food to feed a small army, and although we made a sizable dent, there were still plenty of leftovers for us to bring home the next day!
Dinner ended and we gathered together for the Yankee Swap. I had never heard of this before I met my husband, but it is now one of my all time favorite traditions. My father, a die hard Yankees fan, unwrapped a Red Sox World Champions t-shirt, much to the enjoyment of the crowd. (I have pictures from the Yankee swap that I'll share in part 2, since I don't have my USB drive to connect my camera, the pictures in this post are from my mother in law).
Yankee swap ended, some said their goodbyes and the rest of us changed into cozy clothes and got comfy on the couch to watch some movies.
All in all, it was a fantastic day filled with good food, loved ones and laughter.
Happy Fanksgiving to all!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Last day....

In my excitement to write about Fanksgiving I forgot to mention another important event that happened yesterday....it was my student teacher's last day. Sort of. It was her last day of full take over, and we thought it might be her last official day, but then her supervisor counted the days differently than us (she started later with her count) so her last day was going to be Wednesday. But, now she got hired to be a long term sub in our school....so it looks like Friday might have been her real last day.

That's my long-winded way of telling you that I had two weeks of doing absolutely NO teaching, or planning, or preparing, or copying....and now I am back. To doing everything. Without the extra set of hands that I've had since the beginning of September. With twenty five third graders.

Slightly nervous? Yup. Obviously, I know I can do it.....I'm a teacher, and I've had this many students before. But to go from nothing to everything....it's going to be like the worse culture shock EVER.

I'm also anticipating some clean up work....see, the thing about having a student teacher is that they aren't quite you. They do a lot of the things you do--teach the curriculum you give them, adopt your classroom management system and even start to talk like you. But they still aren't you. My student teacher, as amazing as she is, has let my kids get away with some things that I won't tolerate. Talking all through writing workshop. Leaving the classroom a mess before going to lunch. Talking in line before they even walk out the door. Getting up during a mini lesson. Nothing earth shattering, I know....but enough that for the last week and a half my emails to a colleague have consisted of "I want my class back because...." So, now I have some work to do. Some exhausting, time consuming, frustrating-because-I-don't-want-to-do-this-in-November work to do.


But I am excited to teach again. It's awfully hard to be a teacher and not be teaching. It's REALLY hard in fact. So, at least I get to do that again.


I'm sure on Monday night, my post will be all about how exhausted I am. And how HARD it is to be a third grade teacher. But, for now, I am excited about having my kids back again.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Countdown

Fanksgiving is tomorrow...
What is Fanksgiving you ask? Why, it is Fake Thanksgiving! My wonderful mother in law (I am one of those lucky ladies who adores her mother in law and my father in law and my sister in law and gets along fantastically well with all of them) started this new family tradition once her kids were growing up and getting married. We get together a week or two before real Thanksgiving and celebrate together. The whole she-bang, turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pie....everything. That way, on real Thanksgiving no one is frantically trying to meet up with two families, or coordinate schedules or stuffing themselves until they pass out.

The best part is that this family tradition started out rather small....and has now grown to include my parents and my siblings, my brother in law's parents and siblings and other family members. I think we are up to twenty people this year....

And not only do we eat, but we do crafts! And we do a Yankee Swap! And we sleep over and watch movies! Then eat a yummy breakfast the next day! Wait, back up...what's a Yankee Swap you ask? (I didn't know what it was either, until Fanksgiving!) Well, see, everyone brings a gift, a small gift, under $20. Sometimes (shhhh) even a re-gift. Then we all take numbers. Number 1 chooses any gift they want. Number 2 can either take the gift from number 1, or choose a new gift. Number 3 can either take the gift from number 1 or 2 or choose a new gift. And so it goes....It's great fun, frankly, and if you've never done it, than you should.

So, Fanksgiving is tomorrow! Russ and I are busily preparing ice cream (we are slightly famous for our homemade ice cream, but that's a story for another post) and wrapping Yankee swap gifts and making a few appetizers.

I will be sure to report on all the festivities as they enfold!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

How do you know you are a teacher?

by Jeff Foxworthy
(I realize that I'm cheating here but 1) some of these are way too true and I couldn't resist sharing and 2) folks, I went from hardly posting at all to not missing one day so far. Forgive me this one little cheat?)

1. You can hear 25 voices behind you and know exactly which one belongs to the child out of line.
2. You get a secret thrill out of laminating something.
3. You walk into a store and hear the words "It's Ms/Mr. _________" and know you have been spotted.
4. You have 25 people that accidentally call you Mom/Dad at one time or another. (This happens more often than you might think.)
5. You can eat a multi-course meal in under twenty-five minutes. (I'd say 15 minutes.)
6. You've trained yourself to go to the bathroom at two distinct times of the day: lunch and prep period. (Only job in the world where you have to plan when you take sips of water.)
7. You start saving other people's trash, because most likely, you can use that toilet paper tube or plastic butter tub for something in the classroom.
8. You believe the teachers' lounge should be equipped with a margarita machine.
9. You want to slap the next person who says "Must be nice to work 8 to 4 and have summers off." (Oh my Goodness that makes me MAD!)
10. You believe chocolate is a food group. (Wait, it isn't!?!?)
11. You can tell if it's a full moon without ever looking outside. (Sooooo true! So true, in fact that it's a lesson I teach every single one of my student teachers.)
12. You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says "Boy, the kids sure are mellow today."
13. You feel the urge to talk to strange children and correct their behavior when you are out in public.
14. You believe in aerial spraying of Ritalin.
15. You think caffeine should be available in intravenous form.
16. You spend more money on school stuff than you do on your own children.
17. You can't pass the school supply aisle without getting at least five items!
18. You ask your friends if the left hand turn he just made was a "good choice or a bad choice."
19. You find true beauty in a can full of perfectly sharpened pencils. (Sadly, this is true too.)
20. You are secretly addicted to hand sanitizer and finally,
21. You understand instantaneously why a child behaves a certain way after meeting his or her parents.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Good deeds

I almost forgot to post today.
I know, I know! I was about to head to bed (after falling asleep on the couch trying to catch up with Tuesday's episode of Dancing with the Stars. Thank God for DVR. Best thing we've purchased in awhile, it took me four tries to get through the show because I kept falling asleep!) when the thought that was tickling the back of my mind finally blossomed--I haven't posted yet!

So, since it is late, and I am tired, you will be subjected to a post that is slightly random, but with a common theme: doing good deeds.

My morning started out with these two emails:
Dear Karen and Lisa,
I just wanted to take a minute and let you know what a great job you both did yesterday. The work that has gone into the unit is amazing and you did such a great job presenting it to the third grade team.
Kudos to you both!!!!!


And:
I find myself looking forward to these PD meetings! I learn so much! I cannot say that about so many other PDS I have attended in twenty years! THANKS for everything!

See, yesterday a colleague and myself presented a professional development- for three hours-in the morning. Now, unlike the pd we presented at the beginning of the year, my colleague (who is not a teacher but a Language Arts Coordinator) did the lion's share of the work preparing for this pd. However, what we were presenting on was the Reading Curriculum work that I have been writing for over a year. A process that has been enlightening and frustrating and difficult and challenging and eye opening and....you get the gist.
I have to say, it's really difficult to stand up in front of every single third grade teacher in the district, and a few paraprofessionals, interns and special education teachers, and share curriculum that you have spent hours and hours writing and analyzing and rewriting and finalizing.... you have to wonder if they'll find the time valuable (our district is notorious for professional development that is a waste of time) and if they'll like the work that you are sharing.

In true pay-it-forward passion- after receiving these emails I bumped into another colleague who, at an afternoon meeting yesterday, had a bit of a breakdown. So I asked her how she was, and if I could do anything....she didn't want to talk much since she was in such a rough spot, and she had to run off, but as she was leaving, she mentioned that she didn't get her tea. Well, I went and made her some tea and brought it up to the classroom she was visiting. And then I got this email:
Lisa,
I just got back to my office and was sitting down to write you a note. You just blew me away with your kindness. It is always amazing how something small, like bringing me the tea, has changed my thinking and my day. Thank you so very much.
Thank you again for being my friend.


These emails made me feel so good. Good about the hours upon hours and the tons of frustration I've gone through with the reading curriculum committee, and good about noticing a friend that was having a rough day and trying to cheer her up. Why don't I do this more often? Say Thank you more often...Tell people who help me out that I appreciate their work....tell a friend that I'm glad they are my friend....I need to do that more. It made me feel so good just to get these emails....imagine how good it could make others feel.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tales from my world

Remember how I recently told some stories from my classroom, illustrating how interesting my class is going to be this year?
Well, I've got some more....

The other day, after distributing a reflection on their writing, I was running through the three questions the students will have to respond to. I wrote some of the answers on the board--the genre they wrote, the title of the unit...and then instructed the students to respond to the rest of the questions about their writing on their own. After running through the directions and repeating the directions, I asked if anyone had any questions (sometimes a dangerous question with third graders, but necessary nonetheless). One of my little girls raised her hand and said "So wait, are we answering these questions?"

Recently, at our Halloween party, I had a conversation with a student that went something like this:

Me: Did you bring in plates and napkins for the party?

Student: (With a blank stare.) Shakes her head no.

Me: Your mom sent me an email, saying that she was going to send in enough napkins to last us for the year, and some plates for today. Do you remember if you carried those upstairs today or yesterday?

Student: (Looking puzzled) No, I didn't bring in any plates or napkins. Neither did my Mom.
My student teacher, overhearing this last part of the conversation chimes in with: "Oh yeah, she brought them this morning, they are in the closet, I'll grab them."

Later on, I asked, just out of curiousity, if she had, in fact, carried the plates or napkins upstairs or if Mom had dropped them off. My student teacher informed me that my student did carry up the plates, and her Mom carried up the napkins.
Apparently she didn't remember doing so.


Finally, one last conversation:
Me: Put your math sheets and number cards in your math folder.

A student, sitting directly in front of me: Wait, where do we put our sheets?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Manic Monday

Today was one of those days where it was a good thing I have a student teacher....if I hadn't, there was no way I could have gotten everything done.

The day began with a parent teacher conference. Even though conferences are long since over, I have five parents who cancelled or never scheduled their conference with me so we are doing make ups. This week I have four. Today I had two.
The morning started with some very pointed questions about her child's reading ability. Questions like, "Well, could he do the assessment if he didn't have to write it?" Maybe he could, in fact, I'd say he probably could, most third graders are better in their oral responses than their written ones. But, on the other hand, the assessment is written. Every assessment they have to take, including the CMT's, are written. Whether I agree with that or not, that's the way that it is, at least for now. I understand the point of her question, she wants to know if her child could do better if the situation were different. At the same time, I don't understand the point of the question. I always feel it's best to focus on what we have to do....rather than on what we maybe could do if things were different.

That was my first conference....then came my second. One that I knew would be long, but ended up taking an hour. Largely because there was a lot of back and forth. Not between me and them, but between the mom and the dad. These are parents I've had before, and I absolutely adore them, but a note to all you parents out there: don't have disagreements in front of the teacher. These parents also had a concern about their child receiving extra help. Again, I understand what they were saying...they were worried it was too confusing for her to be pulled out and miss classroom time in one subject to get the support in a different subject. And they are right, I don't disagree with them, it is hard to get pulled out and switch gears. But, she needs help. Extra support. For me, and what I expressed to them, is that any help in reading was a good thing. I'm not so sure I convinced them since they asked me to see if I could switch the time of her support (which I know I can't)....but I said I'd give it a shot and we'll see what we get.

Next came a meeting with my student teacher's supervisor. Again, it should have been brief. I had nothing but positives to say, nor did she. My paperwork was filled out, t's crossed, i's dotted...yet somehow it turned into a thirty minute conversation. Then she had to meet with her supervisor, leaving me alone with my students for the first time in a long time. A nice treat to be honest, but I was anxiously looking at the clock so I could go meet up with a colleague to discuss a professional development I am presenting tomorrow. Forty five minutes later, she came back upstairs and I ran out to meet with my colleague. An hour later, I dashed out of that meeting to run to another.....

Like I said....manic Monday.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A change in the making

There is a change in this educator's household lately. And frankly, I blame the neighbors. I should clarify, it's not necessarily a bad change. In fact, I somewhat enjoy it...it's a little fun to watch it happening. But it's a transformation nonetheless, and like any transformation you never really know if you'll like it until it's fully complete and settled into your life for a bit.

Here's the change--it's my husband. When I first met and started dating him, he was unique (in many ways). He didn't watch sports. I mean, he'd flip to the occasional game. Catch some of the World Series...but never once, in the early stages of our relationship, did I know him to spend an entire afternoon watching a game. Never was I subjected to cancelled dates, or worried about losing him to an afternoon of beer drinking, chip eating, yelling at the TV sports games.

Lately, that's been changing. And, like I said, I blame the neighbors. They took him to not one, but two Patriots games. And they did the whole she-bang--driving up early, tailgating (with a mini grill), sports paraphernalia, late night drive home. He's hooked. Completely. Now, he'll actually watch whole games. He's yelling at the T.V. He's quoting statistics and weird football terms at me (P.I.?!? What the heck is that!?!). He's even DVR'd games to watch later, or again. AND he's watching ESPN Sports Center. It's madness I tell you.

I don't really mind. Like I said, I actually enjoy it. It's fun to watch my sweet, mild mannered husband yelling at the players on the screen. It's even more fun to watch my admitted sports-phobe husband get so into sports that he's learning names of players, stats of quarterbacks and the history of teams. So, for now, I'm enjoying this new discovery as much as he is. And, if I ever start to not enjoy it, then I'll go the route of my friends: I'll shop while he watches the games. That's a fair trade off I think.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Friendships that never change

Yesterday my best friend got married.....(More on that topic later. I want to wait until I have my pictures ready to upload, so you can experience the full beauty and sheer love of the day.) She invited, as we all have, some of our closest high school friends. There is a small group of us that became friends back in seventh grade, and remained friends all through high school and beyond....

We've been through a lot together--birthday parties, confirmations, graduations, weddings, births, deaths....and we've created and maintained some of our own traditions. Back when we all lived within driving distance of one another we went to the same restaurant every summer before school started. Now that life has scattered us to various states we get together once a year--sometimes over a long weekend (Veteran's day was popular for awhile) and sometimes for the wedding of a friend. Another tradition (bizarre though it may sound) began one band/choir trip years and years ago. We take pictures of our feet. (I know, I know, I have no idea how this started, but it did.) And now, I have pictures of our feet through the years- on band trips, at weddings, at showers....for my wedding they took the picture (without me, my Mom was my stand in) and for my friend's wedding this weekend, we did it again. And it is a measure of how long we've been doing this that after the picture the bride said, "I feel that there are feet missing." Because there were feet missing from our photo--the feet of a friend who is just days away from giving birth.

There is something to be said for friendships that are so comfortable. That feel just as cozy as the clothes you slip into once you get home from work. The kind of friendships that, no matter how much time has passed since you've last talked, you pick up right where you left off, and it is as if no time has passed at all. There's never a readjustment period when we are together....never any awkward let's-catch-up-on-our-lives-in-five-seconds- or-less when we first get together again....never any weirdness at all. Instead we slip right back into conversations and jokes and stories as if we had just seen each other yesterday in the halls of our high school. Although the stories and the jokes have changed, the feelings stay the same.

None of us could have predicted--way back in the uncomfortable stages of flashlight tag and braces, report cards and first kisses--that these friendships would last a lifetime. Yet somehow, they have. So to you, Ness, Di, Lyn, and Amy--and to the men you have married and brought into our little fold- Rob, Jakel, Chuck and Greg-- to you I say, I love you all from the bottom of my heart. My life is better for having you in it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Day #2

Sorry, I couldn't think of a more clever title...I mean, I know I gave you a few clever titles just a few days ago on my blog, but I'm sort of holding onto those ideas for when I can't think of anything else to write about....and right now, I have a totally new writing idea.

First of all, I'm posting during school hours. How is this possible you are wondering? Ahhh... such is the beauty of the student teacher. She is teaching, and I am blogging. I do have stuff to do, which I'm sure is no big surprise for any of you who know teaching. Even if you aren't teaching there are a hundred things to do. Right now I have nine things on my To-Do list that I'm choosing to ignore....

Anyway, that's besides the point....back to what I was saying- the beauty of a student teacher is that they have to do two full weeks of complete take over. That means they are in charge of everything. From what the students do in the morning, to small group instruction in reading workshop, to conferencing in writing workshop, to math lessons, homework assignments, copying.....everything. The only thing she isn't doing right now is dealing with parents, or preparing for conferences or report cards.....It's a nice little "break" for me. And an opportunity for me to do extra stuff, stuff that you try to cram in in between the ten thousand things you do while teaching a group of 25 third graders.

The flip side of this is, of course, that I am me. I write the following knowing full well that the curse of every teacher I know is that we are control freaks. We do things a certain way and we like things a certain way and in our little world, we control things as much as we can. It is VERY hard to let that all go. My student teacher this year, unlike in the last two years, is really quite good. She's organized and planned. She gets the kids and clearly adores them. She's kind and caring and hard working and, best of all, she is willing to listen and learn. In short, she's going to be a great teacher.

But she's not me. I'm listening to the things she is saying and watching the things she is doing and more and more I. Want. My. Class. Back. It is really quite difficult to be a teacher, and not be teaching. These are MY kids. This is MY class. I don't like feeling disconnected. I don't like missing out on what they are learning and saying and doing. I also don't like that my kids are getting away with things that I wouldn't let them get away with. Getting up in the middle of a mini-lesson for example. Talking in line before walking out the door. Keeping their cubbies so disorganized it's impossible to slip even a piece of paper in. These are little things, I know, and I know she is learning....and yes, I have talked to her about it. The thing about teaching though, is that it is A LOT of work. And, honestly, four student teachers later, I can tell you that it takes a veteran teacher to be able to do those small detail things and deal with everything that is thrown at you in a day. I know my standards and expectations are high. I recognize that. But even though I can rationalize it, well, it doesn't mean that I don't want my students back, or my classroom back, any less.
Five more days until they are mine.....then you'll be reading a post about how much WORK it is to be a teacher, and how, when you have a student teacher, you forget how much work it really is.....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Beergaritas, tambourines and boas...a short guide to a fantastic bachelorette!

Ah ha! You thought I'd skip out on the first post of the month, didn't you!?! I'm here....a little late, but it's still November 1st! And not only am I starting NaBloPoMo, but I'm starting it with some pictures! Woo hoo! Everyone loves pictures!

A few weeks ago was my friend's bachelorette party....it was held in NYC and....well....let's just say the even was a HUGE success.

The evening began with a pot luck dinner and wine tasting by Swirl. That's right, they came right to the apartment with WINE! And they even brought cheese! On a snazzy slate board serving platter! We walked through a few different wines, rated them by celebrity (Rupert Everett- fruity, in a good way....Johnny Depp- lots of layers, a complex drink.... Russell Crowe- meaty with a lot of angst...Britney Spears- started off well, but ended in disaster.) and ate cheese along the way.

Next, a stretch hummer limo (yeah, you read that right, it was the biggest limo I've ever been in!) picked us up to drive us around to various bars in NYC. The best part about this (well, there are several best parts, but one of the best parts) is that the bachelorette's sister (the host) knew the owners or the bartenders, so we snuck right in to each and every bar. Needless to say, we ALL felt a little VIP! At our first bar, we were offered Beergaritas-- something one of the bartenders had invented and apparently a cross between beer and a margarita. Now, I'll usually try anything once, but I hate beer (I know, I know...I'm weird....) so I opted out of this one. But one of the brave ladies went for it, and claimed it was quite yummy. I took her word for it.


The bride-to-be wore a boa and a tiara (because really, that's what you should do on your bachelorette night). Here she is with her future sister-in-law. But the accessory of the evening was clearly this one:





That's right.....a tambourine! Never has a girl had more fun than with that tambourine. Especially at the last bar we hit-third on our list but probably first in our hearts. It was a bar with giant TV screens everywhere (I think you can see one in the background of this picture) that played 80's videos. That's right folks, 80's videos. We were in our element and there was much singing and dancing at that bar, let me tell you.


We ended the night with a short walk, an attack on the left over food, and all of us curling up in various couches and air mattresses around the apartment.

And awoke to a VERY loud jackhammer early the next morning. Which, apparently, has never happened before--the jackhammer I mean. Ah well...we drowned our early morning misery with some Dunkin Donuts and hit the road to come back to sleepy CT....filled with great stories....








Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Something's gotta give....

Between class, and conferences, and teaching, and...well....life....something had to give. And, unfortunately, it was my blog. Then, of course, when I do have time to write (which, admittedly wasn't very often lately) I get caught up in two different states. The first being "oh my goodness, I haven't written in so long I have so many stories saved up" and the second being "oh my goodness, I haven't written in so long, who is interested in what I have to write???"

Anywho....I'm back, briefly (class tonight and I have to track down a document that my professor insists is online but so far I haven't managed to find it) to give you a taste of some upcoming posts. I'm going to try this whole post a day thing in November. I know, I know, you are thinking, "The woman barely posted in October, now she's going to try every single day in November?!?' I have no idea if I'll make it, but I'm going to try.....So here it is, a list of upcoming posts to tantalize you:

1) Tales from my Tiny Kingdom (more stories about my delightful group of third graders)

2) Conferences: who are they really for anyway?

3) Beergaritas, boas and tambourines....a short guide to a fantastic bachelorette!

4) To raise a big stink... or not....that is the question

5) Fanksgiving--a (new) family tradition revisited (that one you have to wait for for awhile, since Fanksgiving isn't until November 10th this year)

OK, that's it for now....I'd hate to give away all of my posts ideas at once! Stay tuned....more to come, if not tomorrow then soon!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Putting things in perspective

My professor told a story at class this week...she was running a course with some administrators from around the U.S. and one woman from Ohio who was a newly appointed principal at a high school told how she walked into her school and saw, proudly displayed, a graduation requirement for all of the senior girls.

Any guesses?
Here's another hint- it was a small agrarian town, and many of the teachers had been at that school for years and years. Only the girls had to do this requirement. And it was something on display.

Are you running through the possibilities in your head? She made us guess, and we came close, but were a bit flabbergasted when we learned the truth....ready for it?
Men's boxer shorts.
That's right. The graduation requirement for the girls was that they could sew a pair of men's boxers. And their final projects were displayed in the foyer.
I'm sure you are thinking, as we were, that this must have been awhile ago. At least thirty years ago....nope. This was in 2000.
Crazy, right?
This story made me appreciate my Connecticut high school experience.

Then, my friend--my friend who is my age, whose wedding I was in, who is taking this class with me--my friend tells me that they found cancer cells on her uterus.
She isn't quite ready to become pregnant, but we have been talking lately about how she is closer and closer to that point. And, she is the friend who is ALWAYS sensitive to my situation....she always prefaces her conversations about getting pregnant by saying "who knows, it could take awhile..." and I have to say, I love her for it. So hearing this news....well... it kinda punched me in the gut. And of course, her biggest concern, the question she kept asking the nurse was "can I have children?" Which, of course, no one can answer yet...so...for a lack of anything else to do, I did the only thing I could think of....offered her anything she needed. And said a prayer for her. And while I was at it, I said thank you--for even in the midst of our pregnancy struggle, I am one lucky girl.

Nothing like a little perspective in your life....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

To remind you of the ones you love

I believe, with all of my heart, that life is made up not of the big dramatic moments....but the tiny little ones in between. Weddings are great. And magical and beautiful and special and amazing and all that jazz. But they are a day. It is the small moments, the ordinary moments, that build a life together. The way Russ rubs my back when he first gets out of bed on the way to the bathroom to shave and shower. The way Cosette shouts "I am your munchkin!" when I ask where my munchkin is. The way my students laugh at me when I stumble over my words and end up saying BLAH! in a very loud voice. The way my mom's cheek feels when I kiss her hello--soft and warm and very mom-like. The way my sister laughs at me when she is the only one who catches me doing something totally stupid. The way my mother and father in law greet me with the biggest smiles on their faces, no matter where we are or what we are doing. These small moments are the moments that make up a life and that build memories....

Nothing reminds me of this more than Nonnie. Lately, there have been moments in my life that have reminded me of her. One of those moments happened recently.

I have been slowly making an effort to become more "Italian". To learn the home cooked meals like Nonnie used to make. Well, this summer, I decided to try something new--making sauce using tomatoes from my backyard. The best part about this story is that my memory of how this worked was clearly skewed. I remember Nonnie's rather large veggie garden. And I remember the fireplace she had outside. And I clearly remember a big pot on that fireplace, where she'd toss tomatoes, seemingly fresh off the vine, to cook.

Apparently, there were a few steps in between that I missed. When I asked my mom if I needed to dice the tomatoes, or just toss them in the pot whole, she laughed and explained the process. First you wash them and cut off the tops. Next you boil them until the skin just begins to crack. Then you cold shock them, and peel them. If you are really snazzy you can seed them now too, but I'm not that snazzy, and neither was my Nonnie. Then you chop them roughly and then, and only then, can you cook them in the big pot that I remember.



A few weekends ago, I did this (again....the first time I went to my Mom's house to learn). In that moment, with tomatoes standing like sentinels on my counter, spatters from the sauce all over my stove, the smell of fresh sauce bubbling away and all of the accouterments of cooking scattered across my kitchen....well, in that moment, I felt closer to Nonnie than I have in awhile. These are the memories of her that will last a lifetime, and that I will cherish for a lifetime.