Friday, December 31, 2010

A Preview of 2011?

Currently, I am sitting in the living room contemplating the idea of putting together another bookcase.

Favorite, however, is trimming out the back bathroom.  Singing.  Miranda Lambert.

You've not lived until you hear a grown, hairy man sing "I'm just like you, only prettier."

I am not lying.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Debts to Pay

I owe you:

Pictures of my kitchen cabinets (I know.  But right now I'm going back and forth between two houses and I keep forgetting to grab my camera cord so I can show you pictures.  And baby, it's cold outside so I'm not getting it now).

A solid look into the Coach gorgeousness that my parents gave me for Christmas.  If you're lucky, I might actually get a picture with the soon-to-be sister-in-law so you can be doubly wowed by the beauty that is our handbags.

The opportunity to see my cute, cute, cute yellow teapot in my awesome kitchen.  While I'm at it, I'll attempt to get a picture of the furniture (!) they are delivering tomorrow.  We can't have all of it at once, but we're getting the couch and the "Big Man" chair and I am pumped.  Sitting in bag chairs is getting really old.

A joyous view at the television we'll be bringing home (once we pick it out).  Favorite's parents were VERY generous this year and have basically bought us a television.  Now all we need is to figure out the fireplace situation so I can get the living room arranged (and yes, it is driving me crazy, thank you).

A list of the books I'm going to pick up (as of now) this year.  I ended this year by rereading The Chronicles of Narnia and I was struck by the magic of allegory all over again.  Sometimes I'm amazed how fiction will often shove me to my knees in prayer much faster than nonfiction.  I am really excited because I received several gift cards to Barnes and Noble and I'll be looking for a devotional for Favorite and I.  We've decided we can spend 15 minutes together in the morning doing our devotional since that's about all the time we have (unless it's Friday or Saturday).  I'm really looking forward to it.

A brief glace into the shopping expedition I'll be taking on Wednesday.  Sephora (I just heard angels singing) is calling my name.

A couple of house update pictures.  We are hoping to hit some sales this week and purchase some things for the house--bookshelves, barstools, the perfect fireplace (yeah, I'm not holding my breath for that one).

So hold on to your horses and pray that my memory improves regarding that camera cable. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Although It's Been Said, Merry Christmas to You

It's been an interesting year.

Favorite and I took on a few projects:

We lost some things that were very dear to us:


We watched some people we love make a committment to a future of togetherness (sorry her eyes are shut--it's the only picture I have of that night):


And, of course, Favorite tried on a hundred hats in between every significant event:

We've watched people change jobs, move on to new stages of life and thrive in the circumstances.

We've laughed this year.  We've cried more.  We've learned what love really is.

And through all of it, we're so very thankful for the child in the manger who is the Savior of the World.

He is born, Christ the Lord.

Come, let us adore Him.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

For the Love

A former student (not mine, just one who attended hometown high) recently posted that she wants to get married and followed it up with a few explanations as to why marriage sounds appealing.

Her thoughts were pure and sweet and everything that they should be regarding marriage this stage in her life.  In fact, I was almost jealous that she gets to see it from this viewpoint.  Then I realized how much sweeter it is from my side of the fence.

I've been blessed with a man who is a provider.  He sacrifices, comforts, teases and works.  He tells hilarious stories from work, gets angry when schedules clash and misses me when we don't see each other.

He holds my hand and gets in my personal space.  He snores at night but often throws all of the covers on me because he's too hot.  He lets me read when he's trying to go to sleep and turns his light off when I'm ready to go to sleep.

His companionship is more than I imagined a relationship would be in a marriage.  His support has been invaluable--one of the things that has kept me together when I had every reason to fall apart.

But he lets me...fall apart, that is.  It doesn't scare him to let me cry.  And sometimes, we cry together.

Marriage has been a process for us.  We've discovered, learned and grown.  But it's been a blessed process because he's really the ooshy, gooshy wonderful I've painted him to be.

It's likely that not everyone believes our relationship is ideal.  It's certainly had its ups and downs; however, there are so many things you don't see--the ripples of experience and emotion that have gradually changed the waters of who we are individually and as a couple.

"Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away."
Song of Solomon 8:7

Monday, December 20, 2010

Just Keep Thinking

Two blessed weeks.  Two.  To read.  To rest.  To think of lesson plans for the next semester.

There won't be any turning my mind off in the next two weeks.  Every book I read, every movie I watch, every conversation I have and every life circumstance I face is going to help feed the ideas for the lessons I need to teach. 

I'd like to say those lessons will be compelling.  I'd like to say they'll change students' lives and they'll see the world in an entirely new light.

But I'm not unrealistic.

I know things don't change over night.  And I know it will be difficult to find a way to make Shakespeare's background a little more interactive.  But I'm still hopeful.

And I'm also open to input.  I would like to utilize the idea of a forum, and even though I've asked the same question a hundred times on Twitter, no one will answer my questions.  So much for changing my teaching life.  Yet that doesn't change the fact that I'm really interested in giving my students the opportunity to do some authentic writing.  Sometimes I get tired of reading the academic mumbo-jumbo students call papers.  I just want something real--an opinion, a thought, a few ideas.  Not every English paper requires research.  In fact, most of them require a real ability to unpack information.

And I need to find a new way to help them unpack those thoughts and opinions...while I keep thinking.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Flog Me with the Blog Stick

I realize it's been a while since I've posted.  And, unfortunately, tonight's posting isn't going to be that great either.  I just thought I'd check in before all of my followers believed I met my demise.

So I'm here--cleaning, polyurethaning, grading and recovering from a nasty sinus infection.  Tonight, I'm heading to bed early to try to recover. 

I'm really hoping we won't be in school tomorrow.  Of course, I have a small, $5 bet riding with another teacher on our attendance (he maintains we'll be there).  It would be nice to win...haha.

But stay tuned.  I have lots of plans for sharing when I've hit the Christmas holiday.  I'm hoping to recuperate a little then.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lovin' the Viking Life

If I believed in past lives, I would tell you that I must've been a viking in one of mine, because I'm really warming to this living in my unfinished house thing.  It's like an adventure where you get to see the puzzle go together one piece at a time.

Would it be nice to have doors on the bathroom when I pee?  Of course.  But you can't have everything all at once.

Currently, I'm listening to Favorite and his dad scream "ARG" at each other.  Ha.  Only joking.  They're actually attempting to get the plumbing on my kitchen sink up and running.  Today, Favorite and my Uncle almost finished the flooring in the laundry room and installed the door to the garage (which equals awesome).  Tomorrow, my dad will be here to join the festivities which may include getting doors put in place.  Hoorah!

I promise I'm going to update you with pictures of my beautiful kitchen cabinets soon.  Stay tuned for that to happen :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Letter Series: My Apologies to the Pastors and Wives

Dear Pastors and Wives of the local Baptist Association,

Hot water is a luxury.  Cold water is available to the masses.  Last night, I was the masses.  That might explain why I showed up to your annual Pastors and Wives Christmas dinner dressed like the defunct hippy.

In my defense, I didn't KNOW it was your annual Christmas dinner.  I just knew that my MIL invited Favorite and I to eat a meal she had cooked for a group of people so we wouldn't have to find food.  It's not like we're scavengers.  We've just had an interesting set of life experiences in the last couple of days.

Despite those interesting circumstances, you should know that I now have hot water and no longer have to contemplate the various sinks in which I can pee because we got a toilet installed, too.  Of course, none of those things explain why I showed up to your Christmas dinner.  But if you really want that story, I'll start from the beginning.

I didn't really want to live like a viking.  That was Favorite's idea.  Unfortunately, viking-hood was thrust upon me.  By whom?  Well, by the trailer, actually.

See, a hot water pipe busted sometime last week.  We're not really sure when it happened, but I noticed it on Saturday.  I was in the shower washing my hair and, all of a sudden, icicles came out of the shower head and pelted me.  I was being attacked by a force I couldn't fight.  The only thing I could do was scream.

Favorite, being the protector that he is, jumped up and ran into the bathroom and said, "What?!  What's wrong?!  Are you OK?"

"Whoo.  I'm fine...but the water is COLD!  I don't think our hot water is working."

Favorite responded, "Well, we've got a leak.  I noticed it yesterday.  I'll see what I can do later."

Unfortunately, later never really came.

In our defense, it's difficult to work on two separate projects at once, and since we have no intention of staying in the trailer, we decided to throw our efforts to the house.

So last night, we decided it would be in our best interest to move our bed and sleep up there so we have access to hot water.  On the flip side, however, my husband informed me that our lack of trim, closet organizers, grout, sink faucets, flooring (in the laundry room) a banister and other odds and ends meant we weren't going to be living comfortably in the house.  Nope, we have to live like vikings...vikings who carry their belongings out and don't leave anything in the normal places...like drawers.

But vikings can't be bothered with things like food preparation--even though they get hungry.

So I just want you to know that I put on the only pants available to me at the time.  I'm sorry they were fleece camo.  I realize that's not exactly festive enough for the prestigious occasion you were hosting last night.  I'm also sorry that the only shirt I had to wear was the blaze orange one they gave me for Project Graduation last year.  Vikings work with what they've got, you understand.

I did want to let you know that the food was excellent, and I really appreciate the obviously sorrowful looks you gave me and Favorite as we walked in the door.  The good news is I'm going to be ok.

Vikings can take care of themselves.

Sincerely,
Crys, the newly crowned viking princess of Happy House's Holiday Ho-Ho Farm.

PS.  I'll have you know that while you were all pitying my condition, our "friends," Pastor Mark and his wife Mandy, were laughing hysterically at our misfourtune.  What would Jesus do, indeed!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tonight Will Be the Last Night

At least, I pray it's the last night I have to go without hot water.  I may have to trek up to the house in order to get it, but I'm willing to make that journey. 

It's been a long weekend.  The water coming into the trailer is COLD because it's freezing outside.  Needless to say, Favorite managed to get the hot water in the new house up and running.  Here's to washing your entire body with something other than an antibacterial cleansing cloth!

And unfortunately, that will be the extent of my blogging this evening.  I have to patron a laundry mat and find a shower curtain so we can make the water happen.  Wish me luck (and stay tuned for pictures from the new and awesome kitchen cabinets).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Steam and Coffee: Or, what I did this evening

The Shark Steam Mop/Vacuum is AWESOME!  Seriously.  At first I thought it was leaving dusty streaks, but it turns out when you have a really dirty floor, you have to switch out pads.  And since I've had a hundred dirty boys running through my house day in and day out to lay flooring, my floor was DIRRRRRRRRTY.  Seriously.  Christina Aguilera doesn't even know.

On another note, the holiday Folgers commercials make me cry.

Don't judge me.

In the [Almost] End

The grading is almost done.  Christmas shopping is half done (anyone know where you can find a monkey pillow pet/blanket?).  The semester is almost over.  Sheesh.  I should be really happy today, but I keep thinking about everything that has to happen over the next few weeks.  And then I keep thinking about the stuff for which we don't have time.

For example, our trailer now has a water leak.  The leak is somewhere after the water goes through the hot water heater because we are losing HOT water.  When you add this to the accidental hole in the ceiling and the crematorium, you see why we are so ready to move.

But the house doesn't have all the floors yet.  The cabinet guy is coming tomorrow, but we're also going to need toilets before we can move.  Yep...those are a bit of a necessity if you aren't an outdoors sort of girl (and I'm not).

My speech team kids are going to be upset with me, but I decided we wouldn't go to the tournament scheduled for Dec. 11.  I have some personal reasons for not going, but I'm not going to be able to explain those reasons to the kids and I genuinely feel badly for not taking them.  But I'm also afraid of putting too much on myself that day so maybe it's a good idea to stay home?  I don't know.  Those questions are so hard to answer any more.

But I have more day to go.  Maybe I'll be able to do a happier post this evening.  Maybe I won't get to post this evening since I'm steam-cleaning. 

Or maybe I'll enjoy steam-cleaning so much some sort of steam induced euphoria will take over my current demeanor.

PS.  I'd like to take some time off and just attend the Passion 2011 Event.  Wouldn't it be nice to let go for four days and spend all of your time learning about the Savior?  That sounds so relaxing to me at the moment.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Today Was NOT a Fairytale

How do you deal with a child who has severe authority issues in a classroom of regularly defiant students? 

It's taken me all semester to get them to the point where they would do what I asked because I asked them.  Now I've been dealt a hand I don't know how to play. 

Such is the nature of education.  Joy to the world.

I just feel like I'm running out of steam.  I, again, tried to stimulate conversation in English I only to be met with blank stares and "Yeah, I agree with him."  I said, "This is discussion.  You can agree with him and provide your own examples."  Then the crickets started chirping and I had to beat myself away from standing up and screaming, "I KNOW YOU TALK...YOU NEVER SHUT UP IN THE HALLWAY!"  *sigh*  Just proof that you can lead a horse to water but, according to my Uncle Jason, sometimes the thing will stand there and die of thirst just to spite you.

Thankfully, however, English III has turned in some papers that are really worthwhile.  Their opening paper discussed definitions for education...and I was truly impressed with how well thought out their responses were.  Turns out, they do sometimes listen when we talk.  And it's such a blessing to learn that particular fact.

I've also really been enjoying English II.  I think it's hard not to like a class of kids who just have great personalities.  We've had our fair share of struggles, but they've been a ray of sunshine for me this year.

On a lighter note, the cabinet guy is coming to install on FRIDAY!  :)  I'm so excited.  Favorite will have almost all the flooring down so I will very quickly update you with a few pictures--more than likely on Saturday.  I'm also going to get to try my Shark Steam cleaner for the first time this week and I'll be sure to let you know how to get ahold of one of those (for a decent price) if it works out as well as I've been told.

Here's hoping tomorrow will be a better day in the classroom.  If not, I may drink the hand sanitizer.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Conversation: An Exchange

You know what I love most about education?

Conversation.

I love the general exchange of ideas--sometimes with ulterior motives and sometimes just for the sake of discussion.  I think we learn so much from sharing thought processes or ideas about general concepts.

Tonight, as I had dinner with my former cooperating teacher, I remembered why I loved her classroom so much.  She was the type of person who could come up with really abstract ideas or thoughts and follow those concepts through to some seriously cool classroom activities/discussion topics.  She's an artist at heart, so the manifestations of creativity really shouldn't be shocking.

But they blow my mind.  Tonight we discussed the concept of "Into the Woods" and the way fairytales take people to that very place--literal or figurative.  We talked about food in movies and the way food is often portrayed in literature (specifically in reference to the Rossettis and "Goblin Market").

It was a stimulant for my poor, overloaded head.  I've spent too much time recently trying to figure out what grammar lessons I really need to address with my freshmen.  I'd forgotten the hidden jewel that is conversation.  I'd forgotten that the best conversation all year happened during my Genocide Unit.

The students and I were discussing the concept of objectification and I asked, "What does it look like?"  They came up with the general ideas of racism and sexism, but were completely shocked when I wrote "PORNOGRAPHY" on the board.

All of a sudden, twenty teenage boys look at the ground and refused to make eye contact.

It was awkward for all of 5 minutes.  Then we discussed why pornography fell under the idea of objectification.  We talked about letting small things into your head without analyzing them and how sometimes those small things manifest themselves into bigger ideologies.  They got the concept that pornography has the potential to grow into the something that cannot be contained or controlled.  Then, we find ourselves in a mess we never intended to experience.

It led to a brief conversation about the purpose of school, the practice of thinking and the need to become good citizens.  It led to a realization that the things they're doing now, the ideas they are cultivating, really matter.  Those things will affect who they are and who they become.

And all because of a simple conversation.

But I'm not content to stop there.  I want more conversation.  I want them to be willing to discuss concepts, ideas, movies, books, music and politics.  I want them to ask questions, listen to each other, provide feedback and address issues that affect high school or the world.

I want to throw out a topic and know that there's going to be such a whirlwind of involvement that I never get a word in edgewise.

But right now I'm kicking myself for forgetting that conversation is probably the best tool we have at our disposal as educators.  We have an obligation to engage these students in conversation and help them to understand that this type of communication is our best hope for education in America.

At least, I think that would be a good conversation starter.  Feel free to contribute.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The one where I whine and conclude

Warning:  Whining to follow

For the most part, I like being an adult.  I like the sense of independence I get from paying my own bills and coming and going as I please.  I like making my own decisions--even though sometimes I avoid. 

But I really hate that I can no longer pawn decisions off on other people and trust that the right thing will be done.  I hate that things seem so much more ambiguous now than they ever did when I was a kid.  I hate that there is no clear right or wrong when it comes to some decisions...but giving up and opting out aren't always positive alternatives.

I hate it when doing the right thing doesn't feel like the right thing.

I don't like being void a sounding board.  The ones I have currently are just as baffled as I am. 

So until I have a more definitive course of action, I'm throwing myself into school.  I'm thinking about communication.  I thinking about to incorporate realistic forms of communication in my classroom.  I thinking about how to get kids to use the knowledge I've given them from previous units on a project they are doing tomorrow.

But mostly, I'm talking through strategies, problems, words and exercises with them.  And while I'm doing that, I'm hoping that some amount of talking still makes a difference.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Bit of a Confession

So I have to confess something.

I'm a little nervous because I'm not sure how I feel about this myself.

I gave up Facebook.  Turns out, it was a really good choice for me.  It's making some things in my life a little less difficult.  It didn't serve a lot of purpose except to fill hours I really didn't have to devote to the medium.

But yesterday...

Oh, yesterday...

Yesterday, I joined...

Ok...I'm now part of The Twitter.

Yes, I said THE twitter.

Don't judge me.

I joined Twitter because I've heard that "it will change your teaching life."  And I'm ready for my life to be changed.

In anticipation, I took a little survey in the two classes I actually managed to show up for today (I took a half-day at work...still feeling a little sickly).  Survey questions?

1.  If you could change anything (educationally) at this school, what would you change?
2.  If you could change anything in this class, what would you change and why?
3.  If you could change anything about my teaching style, what would you change and why?
4.  If you could change anything about yourself as a student, what would you change and why?

I told the students to seriously consider the questions because I plan to seriously consider their responses.  I got some good ones...but I want to spend some more time with those responses before sharing them just yet (or what I plan to do with them).  I will admit, it's nice to see things with a new set of eyes.

And since that was so helpful, I'm hopeful for the twitter.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Mind Never Stops

Today I'm home sick with a stomach bug my niece was so generous to share with the rest of the family.  I hate staying home from work.  It's not that I don't need the rest every now and again; it's that writing sub plans is often more difficult than hauling myself in and teaching anyway.  My doctor has, more than once, referred to this as control freak behavior.  Yet part of me wonders how she feels to let a really sick patient rest in the hands of another doctor--particularly one she may feel is less capable of handling the situation.

Regardless, while I'm home, my mind is in my classroom.  I've spent some of the morning thinking about how much I hate my English I curriculum and what I can do to make it better.  Currently, I have no answers.  I thought it might be easier to line out some of my thoughts instead.

*  Reteaching:  I have a wide range of English I students this year.  Many of them are new to high school, but their individual educational pasts are as diverse as the colors of the rainbow.  Most of them have one thing in common:  they have missed concepts that are going to pertinent in high school.  So I struggle to figure out what I can reteach, what I should reteach and who will/will not benefit from that time in class.

*  The consideration of reteaching brings up another problem--grammar.  Almost every single kid in my class struggles to avoid writing run-on sentences, fragments, etc.  I do a few lessons to fix these problems, but what I'm doing isn't working and I can't help but think that I'm obviously in the dark when it comes to teaching these concepts.  I need HELP.  Beyond sentence structure, these kids haven't managed things like differentiating there/their/they're or your/you're.  I've reviewed them until I'm blue in the face, but part of me thinks that if these students are unwilling to memorize specific things, no amount of teaching will matter.  Someone, HELP ME.

*  This is one of the first English I classes I've had where students are unwilling to talk about the material.  Cysts on ovaries are apparently fair game for classroom fodder (I quashed it.  Have some faith.), but discussing the role of teachers and students per The Miracle Worker leaves them tongue tied.  I just keep thinking that I can't make literature pertinent if they are unwilling to talk about it.

So there we are.  My recent frustrations in the classroom.  So far, English III is going alright.  I have some things I need to address in English II, but I'm figuring it out.  I'm just trying to figure out ways to expand creation in the classroom.  I seem to rely on paper writing far too often.

How do you get other teachers to join and comment?  I could use some ideas...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lack of Preparation

My college education program taught me what it was to sit in the classroom.  It gave me the opportunity to observe teachers in the classroom setting and even to teach for an entire semester.  But my education program lacked in more than one way.

The one on my mind today?  Dealing with parents.

I don't know how many of you educators have struggled to navigate the murky waters where diplomacy and realism collide, but I do know that it's a struggle that isn't going away.  For the most part, I've been really fortunate.  I've had parents who listen to me and know that I'm concerned for their student/student's grade.  I make every effort to be available to answer questions and help whenever possible.

Unfortunately, that isn't always enough.  I've had my share of "little darlings" who behave one way in front of parents and entirely different inside the classroom.  Then, when the darling gets in trouble for his/her behavior, the parent requests a meeting with the principal and the teacher because "I feel you just don't like my child"  (Yes, this actually happened to me).  I tried to explain that when the student snaps at me and says, "It's your job to answer all my questions," I feel a respect boundary has been crossed.  The parent felt that was up for interpretation.

In addition to behavior problems, I've faced students who simply do not want to do anything.  Normally, I would assign a grade accordingly and feel that was the reward for a job not done.  That, regrettably, doesn't work when the child continues to turn in work he/she did not complete on his/her own.  Even more unfortunate?  When the parent does the child's work for him/her.  Personally, I would think that parents have better things to do with their time than to write papers for a high school English teacher.  And, apparently, I would be wrong. 

Now, I came up with a solution that will likely work in my classroom.  Are the parents happy about it?  Hardly...as evidenced by the calls to my principal all day long.  Am I in the wrong?  I don't think so.  But I am curious to know:  how would you handle a situation when you know (because the student told you) one parent wrote/writes papers for the student?  I'm curious to see your answers.

Done

I've decided that the thirty day blog challenge thing isn't really working for me, so I'm quitting.  I don't blog when Favorite's home, and I have several other school-related things that I want to post on here.  I'm not a fan of posting more than once in a day because I like to give people time to read what I've written and (possibly) respond.

But today will be a two poster.  Just wait for what's coming...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

To Interject

A brief break from the thirty day blog challenge...

Recently, my English III classes have started working on a project I developed for the book The Education of Little Tree.  The project is worth 200 points and, without reading you the actual prompt, is basically five papers on different topics.

The one I've been most impressed with?  The question regarding education.  I asked the students to define education and then explain what did/did not fit into those parameters.  We have had some of the best conversations in class I've ever had with a set of students.  Some of the ones who were most adamant that they were "never gonna use this" declared that there can be purpose in fields of study they never considered worthwhile.

I was just shocked at the responses I got when I demanded that they clarify their thought processes and then put it in writing.  Many of them read what they wrote, erased it and started over.  Even they didn't like the sound of the words.

Similarly, English I has been discussing The Miracle Worker and how Annie's relationship with Helen relates to them in the grand scheme of things.  I asked them, "If you were Annie, do you think you would've given up or stuck it out knowing what Helen is capable of?"  Every single student in class had the same response:  "She has a responsibility to help Helen."

Since I'm a sneaky teacher, the next question I asked was this:  "So as a teacher, is it my job to continue to expect out of you, to push you when you don't want to be pushed and to occasionally give you a swift kick in the rear to get you back on track?"  It was a resounding yes.  Then I said, "If that's the case, why do you get mad when you know I'm doing the job you expect me to do?"

Crickets, people.  Crickets.

But they got it.

And I felt like such a success because of it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dream Big

Goals are a tricky thing to nail down.  Depending on what day you ask me, I may tell you my biggest goal is to weigh what my license says I weigh or even just to stop drinking coffee that day.  Often I have to set small goals (I won't eat the cookie...I won't eat the cookie...I won't eat...the other cookie).  But each day presents its own problems which then requires that I modify my set of goals to meet those challenges.

But overall, there are a few things that continuously come into play.  First of all, I want to be a godly woman.  I really do.  I fall short pretty well every day.  Today I was thinking about what a problem my mouth is and how I'm really going to have to start working on it in order to make this goal a reality.  After that, I guess I'll spend more time on compassion.  This is a gift Big Bro has nailed, and I'm a little bit jealous.  I don't make a good first impression.  People rarely like me when they first meet me, and even fewer people seem willing to listen to my viewpoint when it comes to certain topics.  I thought that would be different as I aged, but the reality may be that I just haven't come far enough in the godly woman thing to be heard.

I want to be a phenomenal teacher--you know, the one that students talk about.  What would I want them to say?  "Mrs. House was tough, but she was awesome.  You couldn't be lazy in her class.  She doesn't let people get away with anything, but she's usually fair."  Why do I want them to say those things?  It's really not for approval.  I don't need the kids to tell me I'm awesome to feel good about my job, but I do want my desires to be obvious.  I want to educate all of them to the best of my ability.  I want them to have as many options as they possibly can.  I want them to realize that not everything can be interesting and exciting, but some things they thought were boring were actually pretty cool.  I want to help them discover, learn, write and read.  I want to make them learn responsibility and earn their grades.  And I don't want to quit changing, learning and adapting to make education what it should be in my classroom.

I want to be mommy.  This is a pretty simple desire, but it's one that's a deep part of me.  Do I realize that this task is going to be frustrating at times?  Hello?!  I'm a teacher.  I deal with teenagers on a regular basis so I'm not unrealistic about the idea of parenthood.  But I can recall something I read in Tuesdays with Morrie.  To paraphrase, Morrie tells Mitch that there's nothing like parenthood.  You don't have to try it, but there's no replacement for the feeling of being a parent.  I want to know how that feels.

Most of all, I want to be the type of person others trust, value and enjoy.  Surely I'll make it there some day?

A Quick Update

Good news:  The painter showed up yesterday.  Our show is back on the road.

Oh, and Rebecca--MIA=missing in action

Have a great day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Slowly Crumbling Dream

My dream house?

Currently, it's being built right beside my trailer.  It's gorgeous, and it's completely and totally what I wanted out of a house.  I wanted an open floor plan.  Check.  I wanted to decent sized bedroom and a closet that is in my bathroom.  Check.  I wanted a porch that wrapped around the side of my house.  Check.  I wanted cherry cabinets.  Check is coming.  Chris and I wanted something that would grow with us. Check.  And eventually, I want a huge back deck.

Of course, I also wanted my house painted in a timely manner, and that was apparently too much to ask for.

Which must be why my painter has been MIA for the last week.  Yep, you read that right.  He hasn't been there since last Tuesday.

Paint is holding up flooring.

Flooring has to be done before cabinets or trim can be finished.

All of those things have to be done before we can move in.

So you see my predicament.

Feel free to leave thoughts on how to deal with MIA painters.  I've called a hundred times.  I've left messages indicating we need to lay flooring this week.

No, we haven't paid him.  And in truth, he has maybe two days of work left.  Maybe. 

Well, actually, if I were telling the truth, I'd say he should've been out of there two weeks ago.

Yet here we are.

Waiting on my dream house.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

There's Sunshine Ahead

Aaaaannnnd we're back!

Sorry for the brief recess.  I'll remind you that Favorite is off on Friday and Saturday and Thursday was a holiday so I went on a little shopping trip with some of my girls.  That topic to be discussed later.

Number 17 on the Thirty Day Blog Challenge is "What is something you're really looking forward to?"

The answer is simple here:  MOVING!  I cannot wait until we can say good riddance to this trailer once and for all.

Some of you may be wondering, "What's so bad about trailer dwelling, Crystal?  I've lived in a trailer and it was all that awful."

To you, I stick my tongue out in disgust.

Just kidding (a little).  I've mentioned on more than one occasion that our trailer wasn't new when we purchased it and it came with it's own fair share of baggage.  Previously, I told you that the ceiling doesn't leak but the walls do.  The doors don't shut.  And the floor has basically collapsed underneath part of the office due to a leaky pipe that wasn't found for quite some time.

Yet the pièce de résistance is the oven.

I am probably one of the only homeowners who is lucky enough to have the opportunity to turn my oven into a crematorium.

Before you freak out, Barky is still alive.

So is Favorite (for now).

So what did I cremate?

The residential mice.  En masse, it would seem.

Note to you:  Cremating things is a nasty smelling business.

Needless to say, I CANNOT WAIT to move into my new house.  And I am currently refusing to use the oven in the trailer.

So we should pray that my painter shows up again on Monday, because without him, the process is severely delayed.

And he's probably never had to roast a chicken in the microwave.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My MO (That sounds SOOOO cool, no?!)

Number 12:  What do you believe?

Part of me wants to break out in the Nicene Creed (which I know mostly thanks to Third Day), but I'm afraid that wouldn't be nearly as personal.  Truthfully, I do believe in God the Father (Almighty Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth).  I also believe in Christ Jesus.  But that relationship goes so much more deeply than I think I can explain on a blog.

How 'bout an example?

Right.  Examples are always good in times like this.

Things have been difficult for Chris and I in the past six months or so.  Without going into a lot of detail (because my blog is public and there are some things that just shouldn't be put on the WWW), we faced some difficulties that were completely new territory for us.  At some point in time during all the mess, I simply started praying the latter part of Matthew 8:25 ("Lord, save us!  We're going to drown!").  I prayed it over and over again. 

A few months ago, I really felt like God gave me a verse to pull Chris and I through these difficult times.  It did not occur to me until yesterday that His verse was a direct response to my prayer.  See, I was praying that God would keep us from drowning.  His response?  "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you" (Isaiah 43:2).

He has never left me. 

So when I tell you I believe in God and his resurrected son, Jesus Christ, what I mean is that I have a deep and personal testimony to a Savior who didn't leave me to my grief.  He responded directly to my need--literally and figuratively.

I believe Jesus was sent by the Father:  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth"  (John 1:14).  I believe Jesus poured out His life as a sacrifice so that we may live:  "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10b).

Salvation is available to you (Acts 2:21; John 10:9; Luke 18:25-27; Mark 16:16).  And I truly believe you will "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The iTunes Shuffle

Warning:  I listen to a variety of things.  I don't listen to everything on my iPod, but I keep a lot of it around "just in case."  You never know when you need a little "Eye of the Tiger" to make it through your day.  But if you never do get to that point, don't judge my musical tastes :)

1.  "Small Enough" by Nichole Nordeman--She is probably my favorite singer/songwriter.  I like her voice because it's simple and she doesn't rely on vocal gymnastics to make a point.  Instead, she spends a lot of time on her lyrics...and they certainly speak to me.

2.  "Me Against the Music"  by Britney Spears--Yeah.  I can't even justify this one.  I'm pretty sure it's on there because I liked the song "Stronger" so I loaded the entire CD.  Blog questions like this are the reason you should delete certain crap from your iPod.

3.  "You Don't Know Me"  by Ray Charles with Diana Krall--Seriously a great duet.  I love Diana's voice.  And this song is obviously suited to both of them.  It doesn't get any better than their soul-filled sounds (not even Michael Buble).

4.  "Change Your Mind"  by Sister Hazel--Is this band touring anymore?  If not, WHY NOT?!  I LOVE them.  I don't like this song nearly as much as "Your Winter," but I love the guitar and the sound of this guy's voice.  And it's relatively mellow music...which is nice.

5.  "Endless Summer Nights"  by Richard Marx--If you didn't know that I love sad, sad 80s singers, you are now learning something new.  I love, LOVE, Richard Marx and I won't apologize for that weird love.  Since one of Sheena's friends is currently touring with Marx, I keep praying I'm going to get to meet him in person...or that he'll sing at Ronnie and Sheena's wedding.  Please, please, please...

6.  "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" by Nichole Nordeman--This song came from the Sing Over Me CD, and I really like it.  It's extremely relaxing music.  I've listened to this song over and over again.  It helps me put things in perspective when I've had "one of those days."

7.  "Because I Told You So" by Jonatha Brooke--I'm a pretty big fan of acoustic guitar music and simple voices.  This girl has all of those loves nailed.  I love the whole CD.

8.  "Super Duper Love" by Joss Stone--Again, I just have a deep love for the sound of her voice.  I will readily admit that this is the song I probably love the most of hers.  I'm not a big fan of everything she's done...but this was nice.  She's got a deep, soulful sound.  I just wish she showed some versatility.

9.  "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" by Alecia Nugent--OK...you know the songs on your iTunes that have a story?  This is one of them.  Kate, Sheena and I had to sing this for a cantata one year, and we insisted that it was one of those songs that needed to DEEP country accent to give it proper justice.  My mom (the choir director) wasn't on board.  So I downloaded this to prove that I was totally right.  And I maintain that the country sound is part of what makes this song work.  And I STILL love singing it with my girls--accents and all.

10.  "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men--Make fun all you want, but Favorite and I do a KILLER impression of this duet.  Seriously.  Grammy material.

Feel free to comment.  I'm afraid these probably aren't even the weirdest offerings on my iTunes, but you go with what the random gives. 

I'm totally serious about meeting Richard Marx, though.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My OCD Tendencies

Number 16 on the thirty day blog challenge asks me to share something I'm OCD about.  I've spent the last 30 minutes trying to figure out how I'm going to narrow this topic into something people will actually read.

I have weird OCD tendencies.  First of all, I'm weird about the desks in my classroom.  They all match--as in, are the same type of desk.  When I realized I would need more desks this school year, I sweetly asked the janitors if they could make that happen...and then I asked if they could match the ones I already had.  I tell my students if they break a desk, I'm going to be pissed because there are no more desks available that match the ones I have.  And I cannot handle the thought of having one rogue desk.  I don't care if you find that weird.

My lesson plan book is set up in a specific way.  I like headers.  I like bullet points.  I'm very OCD about how neat everything is in there...and, until recently, I had a thing with highlighting certain things in specific colors.  I only let go of that one this school year.  Anal?  You bet.

My towels have to be folded correctly.  It's a compulsion.  They have to fit on the ledge.  If you don't fold them right, they lap over the ledge.  DRIVES.  ME.  CRAZY.

Oh, and my closet is arranged in rainbow order.  This will only get more pronounced as I get more closet space.  Deal with it.  I like knowing which red shirts are available on the days I want to wear red.

Everything in my purse has a specific space.  Since you'll never be in my purse, this won't be something you ever understand.  Consider it my OCD secret.

And lastly, I'm extremely OCD about the prompts I provide to my classes.  All of the instructions are lined out as clearly as I can possibly make them.  And it drives me insane when people cannot manage to follow those very clear instructions.

I also have a thing with bed covers, cabinets and routines in the morning.  But there's no need to make you think that I'm an obsessive control freak about EVERYTHING, is there?  ;)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What I Love About Life

Number 30 on the thirty day blog challenge (which I have technically already screwed since I won't blog when Chris is home) is "what do you love about life right now?"  It's a hard question to answer because I'm just in a really good place right now.

I realized last night how much I love small town living and I could talk about that right now.  I love Mom and Pop restaurants that end up having the worlds BEST food.  I could talk about hometown high and how blessed I am to be teaching there (and I graduated from there!).  I could talk about the coworkers who've become such supportive friends that it seems a disservice not to call them family.

I could tell you how much I love my family and how much we laugh.  I could tell you how family dinners are unpredictable because of the combination of people.  I could tell you about feeling at home with those people and knowing that they love me even though they know me.  And I could mention the hilariousness that is my husband...

I could tell you about the house and how close it is to being finished.  I could tell you how excited I am at the prospect of having Christmas there or even purchasing a nice Christmas tree for the first time since we've been married.  I love the paint colors, and I'm pumped about the flooring.

I could talk about any of those things, and it would be an accurate explanation of what I love about life right now.  But I'm going through such a sweet time right now and I wanted to share that instead.

What I love most about life right now is where Jesus has brought me.  While it's never going to be easy, I've begun to rest in the knowledge that I have about Him.  I know that He is good.  I know that He will be true to His nature.  I know what grace feels like and I'm grateful for His offering.

I want to be clear that what I love about life has very little to do with anything I've done or any accomplishment of mine.  It has everything to do with Christ's willingness to meet us where we are.  It has everything to do with His willingness to bind up the broken hearted.  It has an awful lot to do with the fact that the waters I'm walking through aren't going to sweep over me, and that I've been summoned, redeemed and claimed.

Life is far from perfect.  It's a messy conglomeration of broken hearts, relationships, lives, etc.  And while I've had my own fair share of brokenness, the thing I love most about life is the fact that there is a Healer.  He is also provider--Jehovah Jireh.  And He loves me.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Recent Photo

Tonight, Favorite is home and I don't want to spend a ton of time doing this when I could be hanging out with him.  Also, my thirty day blog challenge may have to exclude weekends because Favorite has Fridays and Saturdays off, and I do so enjoy my time with him.

At any rate, for your viewing pleasure I thought I'd provide another shot from our target hat adventure that I hadn't shared previously.

If that doesn't make your heart happy, I don't know what will.

Enjoy your weekend :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Frankly, I'm Scared of Everything

When I read the topic "Share something you're afraid of," I automatically laughed, because I'm pretty much terrified of everything.  I don't think I've always been fearful so maybe it's a symptom of adulthood?  It's definitely something I've been trying to overcome in the last few years.  But, in the name of being a good sport, what follows are the things I'm afraid of:

1.  The dark.  Seriously.  I realize I'm 30 years old and this is supposed to be something one overcomes at age 10.  I'm 20 years behind and I don't even care.  It's not even the dark that really terrifies me.  It's the possibility that lurks in the dark.  *shiver*

2.  Doing a bad job...at pretty much everything.  I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist, but I certainly like to do things well.  I want to be good at teaching and coaching.  I want to be a great wife and Christian.  Most of the time, I feel like I fall short.  And in falling short, I'm often terrified that affects someone else....which is just another thing to add to the list.  Basically, I'm terrified that I'm not doing it "right"...whatever that may be.

3.  Missed opportunities.  There are things in life I'd like to do.  I'd like to build a house and live in it with my husband.  We're very close to checking that one off the list.  I'd like to go back to school at some point in time--just because I like learning.  Will I get the chance?  I don't know...and it worries me that I will be missing out.  I'd like to be a mom.  Actually, just between us, I want a house full of kids (four or five).  Sometimes I'm scared that isn't in the cards for me.  It scares me to think that people I love may not come to know Jesus in a personal way.  Sometimes I'm just scared that I'm missing out on the bigger picture.

4.  Losing people I love.  I am who I am because of a few people so it stands to reason I am deeply attached to them.  And while I know that we will meet again, living without them is a terrifying thought.

5.  People thinking untrue things about me.  Should it terrify me?  Nope.  But there are precarious situations that get difficult to  navigate when people want to believe things that are less than true.  Is there anything that I can do about it?  Nope.  They'll just have to keeping thinking.

I think I'll let those sum up my fears for now.  There are probably a hundred tiny ones I never mentioned (spiders, anyone?), but these are the biggies.  I'm sure some of you can relate.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shows and/or Concerts

Anytime my students are attending a particularly great concert, they always ask me if I'm going.

Student:  Hey, Mrs. H.  You going to see *insert famous band/singer here*?  I've got tickets...it's going to be awesome!

Me:  Nah.  I don't really like concerts.

Student:  You don't like concerts???  Why not?!  They're awesome!

Me:  Um.  Well, I don't really like people.  And concerts are filled with crowds and there's no space to walk.  It just makes me uncomfortable.

Student:  *Gives me a really strange look*  Um.  Ok.

So it's obvious that my dislike of concerts isn't understood by all audiences.  Unfortunately, it doesn't make the statement any less true.  I don't like crowds, and I hyperventilate if I feel like I can't get out of a crowd of people.  And before you say it, yes, I know there's medication for that.

That said, I have seen some amazing shows on stage that require a mention.

I saw Aida in New York with the original cast and was mesmerized.  It felt like the entire play took a week--and not because I was bored and looking at my watch.  The vocalists were amazing and the props were out of this world.

I had the privilege of seeing Les Miserables and Footloose while I was in New York, too.  They definitely deserve an honorable mention.  So much great singing and dancing.  And you wouldn't believe what they can do right in front of your face--movie special effects need to move over.

Phantom of the Opera requires a mention here, too.  I saw it at the Fox in St. Louis.  That theatre must have been build specifically for shows like Phantom, and the whole experience was wonderful.

My mom and I saw Showboat while I was in college.  It was good, but I think it was better because she was so excited to see it.  Apparently, it was one of her favorites from high school.

Those mentions should be enough to keep you from thinking that I just sit at home in order to avoid all people all the time.  I'm not a complete recluse, and I don't hate all people.  I am, after all, a teacher.  Hm...maybe hallway traffic is the reason I don't want to be crowded?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gone, baby, gone, baby, gone

Some people say that if they could go back to high school they totally would.  I've never understood this mentality because high school was a pretty traumatic time in my life.  But there are definitely things that I miss that are long gone--and not just from high school.

I miss the days of less responsibility.  I can remember thinking that people expected way too much of me in high school and parts of college, but it seems an unfair comparison these days.  Maybe I'm just too busy?  Maybe the expectations are still too high?  But the sense of responsibility is there, and there's no denying that the footloose and fancy free days are long gone.

I miss the "fat" I was in high school.  If I only knew then...

I miss my Grandma and Grandpa Mays.  They were great people, and I often wonder what life would be like if they were still around to discuss circumstances and decisions.  My gramma was really great about listening.  She didn't always offer advice, but you always knew she was paying attention to what you said.

I miss "hanging out" time.  A couple of years ago, I participated in a marriage seminar with the Family Living class at our school.  One of the questions the girls asked me was, "How do you find time away from your spouse for yourself?"  I told them that it seemed like I was searching for time together instead of time apart.  Unfortunately, that doesn't just go for time with my spouse.  It's time with everyone I love.  I remember when it was a regular event to meet up with all my college buddies and sit around and chat.  Maybe there's a reason I was less stressed then?

I miss my naivete.  Am I completely not naive?  Ha.  Hardly.  But there are situations in which I am a little too knowledgable...and I miss the innocence of ignorance.  I can't say I would go back, but if I were still naive, I'm not sure I would choose the circumstances I'm living, either.

I miss my husband.  He didn't leave me, but I hate that he has to go to work about the time I'm getting off.  I miss spending time with him.  We actually enjoy each other's company so we aren't exactly adjusting to this schedule.

I miss Alex.

The list would go on, but it would get mundane after a while.  Thankfully, I don't believe missing things means I can't look forward to what is to come.  I just appreciate what is now past.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

How did you come up with that title?

I'm taking part in a thirty day blog challenge to post something new for the next thirty days.  I thought some of the topics were interesting, and while I should probably wait to start until tomorrow, I thought I'd go ahead and begin today.

Personally, I don't think "A Life in Ordinary" is a particularly original title.  I've lived in a small town my entire life, and I've been privvy to a lot of small town living. 

But don't mistake small town with unimportant.

I've met amazing people--people whose ordinary lives were examples of consistency and blessing.  People whose ordinary lives were a facade behind which an amazing person resided.  People whose ordinary lives still mattered.

We spend so much time chasing the red carpet that we miss the amazing gifts that ordinary living has to offer--the relationships, the experiences.

So I decided that's exactly what any blog I write would have to be--ordinary.  I'm serious when I tell you I'm not exciting.  I don't do interesting things and, while I AM a teacher, I don't significantly change the world on a regular basis.  But I don't believe that means my relationships and experiences don't matter.

And I certainly don't believe that means that my life isn't funny.

Here, I'm just as likely to share my weight loss struggles as I am to post a hundred pictures of Favorite wearing hats that just don't fit his head.  I might talk about an awesome meal I had with friends, or the teachers who have reminded me of the type of person I want to be.  I'm likely to share my belief in Christ and my struggle with that relationship.

I will share inconsistencies, constants, hair colors and make-up favorites.

And I will share all of those things because that is what ordinary life is about.  Sometimes, I'll find a miracle in all that ordinary stuff.  But I'm just as likely to smile over the experience, publish the post and go on about my life.

Because the ordinary doesn't stop.

Even when they take up the red carpet.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Worth of Education

As mentioned earlier this week, I've really been trying to figure out how to make students aware of the intrinsic value of education.  Today, I realized we're starting at the wrong place.  High school is just too late.

Why did I realize this?  Well, dear readers, my niece, SugarBean, is four years old and in Pre-K.

Currently, we refer to Pre-K as "Fight Club."  Most of you are probably conjuring images of toddlers biting one another and throwing classmates to the ground for the last cookie.  You would, however, be imagining the scenario all wrong.

We call Pre-K "Fight Club" because she won't talk about it--won't even answer questions about it.  And since the first rule of Fight Club is "You don't talk about Fight Club" it totally goes without saying that the first rule in Pre-K must be "You don't talk about Pre-K."

Today, however, she got a little more verbal.

Favorite:  What did you learn at school today?

Sugarbean:  NUFFIN'!

Favorite:  Nothing?  You just sat around all day and stared at the wall?

Sugarbean:  Yep.  Aww (all) they tew (tell) us is to sit an' wait for your pawents (parents) to get hewah (here).

Me:  They tell you to wait for your pants to grow hair?

Mother-in-Law:  HAHAHA.  No...for their PARENTS to get THERE.

Me:  Good.  Because I didn't know how long it took pants to grow hair, but I figured it was a long time.

Sugarbean:  I pway (play).  The ufer (other) kids just watch.

So there you have it.  Education can't be worth much if all "they" tell you is to wait for your parents to get there...and then only one kid gets to play.

Which stands to reason why the first rule of Pre-K is that you DON'T TALK ABOUT PRE-K.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fast Livin'

When I quit facebook, I had hoped that the blogosphere would offer a sort of communication without all the distraction facebook has to offer.  I would post my thoughts and feelings about various subjects, and then you would comment and we would have a conversation (of sorts) about said subjects.

Unfortunately, comments aren't always forthcoming.  Do I blame you?  Not really.  I read a ton of things on a regular basis and don't always feel the need to comment.  Part of the game, right?

Yet that part of the game often leaves me staring at the screen, stumped for material.  I don't have a funny story to tell and, thanks to my forthright comments, no one has asked me if I'm pregnant this week.  I don't have any fun student stories, and there are no pictures of the house to share because we are still in the process of finishing drywall.  Nothing exciting has happened, folks, but I maintain that particular sentiment is consistent with the title of the blog.  No shock, right?

The most exciting thing that happened in the last few days?  Lowe's discounted the flooring we're going to buy, and I got a new purse:
Like Vera or not, you have to admit that particular accessory is adorable.

My uneventful life will continue this weekend as I pay bills, eat out, attempt to clean my house (or look like I'm doing so) and make an honest effort to pick out paint colors that aren't going to make me gag as soon as the house is finished.

I might even read a book or two.

I know.  I should slow down.  Too much fast livin' isn't good for anyone.

Advice/comments welcome.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Value of Education

I can't predict student behavior so I was a little bit surprised when a student came to me the past two days and asked, "Why are we doing this?"

Those who have or work with teenagers understand that intonation is everything in a conversation with the age-challenged.  And this kid? Was not asking for the purpose of knowledge.  His goal was to ensure I understood how stupid he thought the assignment was.

Nothing like having a 14 year old question your methods to cap off a great day.

Of course, this incident makes me realize that all the things we've been discussing in our RTI (Response to Intervention) meetings are pertinent--crucial even.

What have we been discussing?  Well, I'm glad you asked, because I'll take all the input I can get.  The question at hand?  How do we make students and parents understand the intrinsic value of education? 

Sometimes, those are questions I struggle to answer.  I know the things that are going to be valuable to the majority of my students.  I realize that not all of those things are going to be super-exciting, or even useful for the rest of every student's life.  Yet I hesitate to say that these skills will never be useful.

Will my students, in their adult lives, ever go on to write a literary analysis paper about a book they've read?  Not many of them.  However, the good majority of them will be required to read documents that require ample analysis before they should put pen to paper and sign their names.

Will many of my students go on to deliver public speeches?  Probably not.  But almost all of them will face a job interview at some point...and the skills learned for a public speech are easily transferable to this particular situation.

You get the point.  So the question remains:  How do we make sure they understand the real value of an education (as a whole...not individual assignments)?  What could we say or do that would make a difference? 

Maybe we need to mount an advertising campaign?  Do we need to share life circumstances that may not matter to them for another 10 years?

Or maybe, we just let them make snide remarks like "Why are we doing this?" 

In the meantime, I'll work at not talking through my teeth when I say, "Because you obviously don't understand..."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Decompress and Laugh and Write

I am a dweller.

I dwell on things I need to fix.  I dwell on lesson plans that are good but could be better.  I dwell on relationships that aren't going the way they should be going, and work situations that really shouldn't require my time.

It doesn't take long before I need to decompress, but I'm not as good at that as I am at dwelling on the problems at hand.  If you know a great way to decompress, share.  Until then, I'll tell you that my chock-full weekend was actually completely enjoyable--mostly due to Favorite.

He's such a relaxed person, and he makes me enjoy company.  Since we moved Lil' Bro this weekend, I was also reminded how often I laugh with my family.  And it's great to laugh--even if you laugh until you cry or get the hiccups.

Anyway, I thought I'd offer you a little decompression the way I saw it this weekend:

At first, he thought he'd act sad that I was making him try on hats.

Then, he realized how much fun we were going to have and got excited :)


Then he got downright giddy.


But why just try on hats when you can try on hand warmers...


Or maybe even a fur vest.  Doesn't he look like Dog the Bounty Hunter?  (You should know he almost couldn't get out of this vest after he got it on...)

Hope you enjoyed the reason I laughed the entire weekend.

___________________________________________________________

Now, for something that may require your help.

On our way home from moving Lil Bro, Favorite and I encountered a first.  See below.


This is a pair of pants WITH a belt still in the belt loops.  They were laying the middle of the road on the way home from my mom and dad's house.  Your job?  Come up with an interesting (and clean!  It's a public blog!) story that might account for a pair of pants in the middle of the road, and I'll come up with a fun prize for the winner.  I am an English teacher, so  make sure your story makes sense and is well-written.

I look forward to your submissions...it'll give me some fun decompression :)


Friday, October 22, 2010

The Letter Series: Dear Insurance Guy

I don't know how things work at your school, but at our school we have to fill out new insurance information every year.  Every year they place this guy in our lounge because it's the easiest place to catch every teacher.  Unfortunately, it's also the most public place. 

I don't know how you feel, but I'm not an advocate for sharing every medical problem in the company of prying ears.  There are some people I trust and other people I think need to mind their business, so the fact that he was sitting across from me in a room that had just enough people in it to make me uncomfortable, wasn't a scenario I relished.

While I realize this is a public blog, please keep in mind that I will be keeping a few of the better parts of this conversation to myself.  They are not public information.

Insurance guy:  Fill out the top of this form and give it back to me and we'll get started.

Me:  No problem.

*Brief pause while I fill out personal information*

Insurance guy:  I need your height and weight, please.

Me:  *Of course I answered this question, but will I be sharing that answer with you?  Hardly.  Keep dreaming blog-world.  My weight will never be public knowledge...but keep in mind this is where the interesting part of the conversation takes place*

Insurance guy:  Are you pregnant?

Me:  No.

Insurance guy:  *I don't remember the exact exchange here, but we moved on to some other stuff where we went back and forth asking and answering questions*

Insurance guy:  Are you pregnant?

Me:  Um, no.

*More exchanges about current medications, blah-blah-blah*

Insurance guy:  Are you sure you're not pregnant?

Me:  I'm sure.  Just chubby.  Not pregnant.

Now girls, I realize that an insurance rep needs to know of any impending births.  But rest assured, I know my body and I am not, in fact, pregnant.  I wanted to hold a damn big sign to make this point clear since I was asked the question THREE SEPARATE TIMES.  I also wanted to make it clear that maybe I wasn't super comfortable with his line of questioning.

First of all, I know I'm chubby.  I've been working on it.  But the battle with PCOS doesn't make this the easiest pony to ride.  Get off my back.

Secondly, when someone tells you something once, twice and three times a lady, you should realize that you asked that question a few too many times.  An apology might be in order.  Blame it on old age so I will not spend the rest of the year silently wishing some angry teacher with an insurance claim hits you in the face.

Thirdly, Really?  I mean, seriously?

So for future reference to those of you in the blog world:  I am not pregnant.  I am fat.  End of story.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Thankful Heart

Have you ever had one of those days where you just looked around and realized how well you have it?  I had one of those days today.

I realized how blessed I am to have a job I enjoy.  I truly do.  I find some weird sense of satisfaction in hearing kids say "I get it" or "Hey, this is interesting."  I like discussing things with them because I think so much great learning comes from discussion.  I've been willing to discuss everything from sports (which I know little about) to movies to literature.  Sometimes the kids are shocked to learn there is a book that goes along with the movie; although, they're rarely surprised to hear the book is better.  They tell me it's almost always that way.

I realized how blessed I am to have Favorite.  We work opposite shifts, so I don't see him a lot during the week.  Most of the time, I have a lot of things to occupy my attention.  But tonight, on my way home from parent/teacher conferences (which went find, by the way), I realized how much I missed him.  It was a tangible ache.  I realized how much I love him and all the great things he brings to my life--and I'm not just talking about new houses, etc.  I mean, the companionship and pleasure he brings to my life.  I truly enjoy his company.

I realized how blessed Chris and I are to be in the financial position we are in.  The Lord has truly given us so much.  Sometimes, I forget how very blessed we are.

Mostly, it's nice to know that when things aren't going my way, I still have ample blessings to consider.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I do miss you but I've been busy.

Tonight is official laundry night.  I have water again, and the trailer is not currently collapsing with some other issue.  In fact, Fave even managed to light the pilot light and now I have heat.  Good news since I like feeling my toes.

How's your week been?  Because I don't feel like I've had much time to relax.  I had dinner with a friend yesterday (which was actually really nice), but I stayed in my classroom until 5:45 pm and graded.  It didn't make much sense to go home when I was meeting her at 6, but three straight hours of grading papers might have been a little much.

But has the stack in my basket diminished, you ask?  Nope.  Still a lot to go.  Not that I'm complaining.  I don't mind grading; I just hate feeling behind.  Since I haven't had a lot of parents sign up for parent/teacher conferences, I will probably spend my time doing that.  *sigh*

The good news is that I get off at noon on Friday and we are heading up to the Lou for the lil' bro's new life adventure.  I'm really happy for him and his new job, but I'm going to miss the booger.  I'm used to having him around for various outings.  But now he's got his own apartment and a new job with an Air Force Base.

Saturday, Fave and I have to head to the closest Lumber Liquidators so we can check out some flooring.  Needless to say, it's going to be a busy weekend.

And during that busy weekend, my mind works and worries.  Pray that I can rest and relax and enjoy the time with my family.  Pray for my mouth during parent/teacher conferences.

PS.  Today at the gas station, I heard a kid call his mom awful names.  It just disturbed me.  She didn't even bat an eyelash.  Is it any wonder that crazy behavior seems to be the norm for students these days?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Beginning of the Trailer Crash

I don't normally post twice in the same night, but it turns out I have some time on my hands.

I purposefully left everything at school because I was devoting my evening to laundry and general clean up around the trailer.  House stuff has left us a bit on the messy side in our current dwelling.  Unfortunately, that clean-up (minus a minor pick-up) won't be happening tonight.

For the last year or two, Favorite and I have had to use a screwdriver to turn the hot water on in our shower.  It's just one of the joys of living in a trailer.  It wasn't a big deal, and the screwdriver worked plenty well...until this week.

This week, we realized the screw was starting to strip.  Bad news.  I told Chris, "You're probably going to have to change that screw before we move, because I don't think it's going to last until December."  Who knew how prophetic my statement would be.

When I came home from work today, there was no water to my trailer.  Why, you ask?  Because Fave couldn't get the hot water to turn off in the shower.  The screw is officially stripped.  Joy of joys.

Unfortunately, he didn't have time to fix it.  So here I am, with little to do that doesn't require water.

I would never survive outside of civilization.

Unless you don't count a trailer as civilization.

Weekend UPdate

I'm so sorry I haven't updated in the last few days.  It's been hectic around my house.

Emphasis on HOUSE.

Favorite and his crack team of a family friend, Uncle J, Gloria, my dad, my mom and the FIL managed to get ALL the drywall up and clean the general area so the finisher can come in tonight.  Of course, getting the drywall up alerted us to a couple of potential problems we needed to address right away.

1.  There really wasn't enough light in my kitchen.  Fun and decorative fix?  Beautiful track lighting.  And it's going to look symmetrical...which is an added bonus.

2.  Fave forgot the outlets in my bathroom.  Since I've been living without outlets in my bathroom for the last 7 1/2 years, I suggested he might want to rectify that problem.  Thankfully, he was already on it before I asked.  Who could ask for a better man.

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Saturday was the last day for drywall, so Fave and I planned to make a trip to Lowe's.  We had a little detour before we could take off, though.

A couple from our church was celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary.  FIFTY YEARS TOGETHER!  Isn't that amazing?  I thought it was wonderful.

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I spent the rest of the weekend in a mad grading frenzy trying to catch up on everything from the past few weeks.  I've started wondering:  am I assigning too much work if I'm having trouble keeping up with the grading?  Or maybe I'm assigning papers for English I, II and III all at the same time and that's making things more complicated for me.

Ugh.  Either way, I'm almost caught up.

Parent/Teacher conferences this week.  Go team.

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And that, ladies and gentlemen concludes my wrap up from the weekend.  It's going to be a busy weekend this week, too.  Lil Bro is moving (sad face...but happy for his new job), Fave and I have to pick out flooring, and it will be a bit of traveling.

Stay tuned for the updates.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 15th

Friday is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. 

While you may not be aware, about 16% of all pregnancies in the United States ended in miscarriage or stillbirth.  That's a startling number, but one that may not make much sense without actual numbers.  According to the pregnancy and infant loss website, "[According to a 2004 survey] 1,003,000 of the 6,401,000 pregnancies in the United States ended in either a miscarriage or a stillbirth." 

That's an absolutely devasting thought.  Unfortunately, it may be difficult for us to imagine the range of that particular statistic.  It's likely that we will only imagine the loss of a million babies and the devastations their parents face.  What we will fail to understand is that miscarriages (and infant losses) affect would-be parents, would-be grandparents, would-be aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc.  There is a ripple effect that serves waves of grief to all parties involved.

More than likely, few of us can prevent the loss of a pregnancy or an infant.  We can, however, prepare ourselves to respond to those who will face this horrific event.  This website gives several great suggestions regarding what you can/should say.  I won't pretend that it's not awkward, but saying something offensive can make an awkward situation even worse.

Do not under any circumstances expect these women to "get over" their grief in a matter of months.  It just won't happen.  Unfortunately, there is no alarm that sounds when it's time to quit grieving.  The best thing you can do is allow your friend to grieve and talk when s/he feels the need and then go about life as normal. 

Do not tell the couple they can have another baby.  That's insensitive.

Do not tell the couple that it was for the best or that the baby is in a better place now.  While the couple may have a strong faith in God, that particular sentiment is really difficult to swallow when you can't make heads or tails of a horrible situation.  Be sensitive to those struggles of faith.

There are more suggestions from those websites, along with ways to get involved.  Mostly, just be willing to remember.  Be willing to pray.  Be willing to put your arm around someone so that survival doesn't feel empty.

Personally, I am taking this day to offer some personal recognition to a girl who lost her baby at 20 weeks.  I want her to know that I care about her, but that I haven't forgotten her loss. 

All pregnancies are special.  Don't forget.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tests, Drywall, Appliances and Evaluations (Basically, everything but the kitchen sink...but that's only because we haven't bought one yet)

There are some really important things that are taking place this week, and I will update you about one I hold very tender tomorrow. 

Today, my brain is shot because it was all-testing-day at my school.  That means that the freshmen, sophomores and juniors are all taking a different (but required) standarized test for the first half of the day while the seniors attend senior day at a local community college.  To make a long story short, it was a LONG day.  During testing the proctors are not allowed to read, write, grade or do anything otherwise productive.  We have to stare at the students the entire time.  Likewise, the students are not allowed to read, etc. when they finish tests early.  Instead, they can put their heads down or stare off into space (or stare back at me...which is just a little creepy).

It's BOR-RING with a capital b.  Not only that, but I was thinking today that the students can clearly see what it is we value, and while I see the necessity of these tests in a day and age that promotes NCLB and Race to the Top, I don't particularly value these instruments as a true measure of education.  Just made me wonder if they could sense my conflicted feelings on this front.  Since teenagers are pretty decent at smelling emotions, I'll vote a hearty yes.

Thankfully, there is sunlight on the horizon.  My house is very quickly coming together.  Drywall is making a very quick appearance thanks to the help of Tim-the-toolman (real and true, people), my dad, my father-in-law and my amazing husband.  Seriously, these guys have worked their hindquarters off, and that's resulted in the entire ceiling being drywalled and most of the walls.  After we blow the insulation into the interior walls (isn't that awesome!  We had enough left over to make it happen!), they'll be able to finish the drywall and the finisher can come *hopefully* Monday.

That means the cabinet guy will be making an appearance very soon.  And he's going to be happy with us because...you might want to sit down for this...

Chris and I bought our kitchen appliances.

I hope that excites you as much as it excites me.  Honestly, we had no intention of buying them on Monday; however, Lowe's was having a great sale.  I ended up getting nicer appliances (than what I previously picked) for less money than we were originally going to pay.  AND we came in UNDER budget.  Hallalujah.

Now, here's hoping my evaluation tomorrow goes as smoothly as planned.  Given my ability to freak out and develop a high-speed-come-apart with no prior notice, it's up in the air.  Pray, people.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Not To Shop

I no longer need to visit llbean.com or landsend.com because I'm really going to want new couches as soon as the house is done.  Well, new couches and a new bedroom suite.  Actually, just a new bed and side tables.  And maybe an armchair and a reading lamp.  But definitely new couches...which means that spending $300 on clothes from either of these sites is out of the question.

Besides, my stomach is not as flat as it probably should be (suggestions here?) so some of these outfits wouldn't look nearly as cute on me as they would on someone who mimics a washboard.

But that's not nearly as much of a turn off as realizing that I'm gonna want those couches.  A lot.

I mean, spending $50 wouldn't really be a problem.  And it's always nice to have dress cothes to wear to work (because I'm all about the professional look when I can get it to fit my perfectly round body).  But I'm pretty sure I won't be able to stop at $50.  That's right, Crystal.  Steer clear.

Instead, check your email and then go read a book.  Work on lesson plans.  Download more information from discoveryeducation.com.  Freak out over your evaluation.

But stop looking at super cute sweaters.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Provider

Most of the kids I see on a regular basis are working their way through what it means to be a boyfriend or a girlfriend.  They date, fight, break up, cry, etc.  Sometimes those events don't stay outside the classroom.  That's generally when I have to step in, but it's not a job I relish.

I don't spend a lot of time getting involved in their affairs because, in the end, I can't make their decisions.  Sometimes, though, I want to share parts of my relationship.  While my marriage is far from perfect, I want to tell them how great it is to have a husband who provides--who sees it as his job to provide for his family.  I want to tell them how wonderful it is to have a man who loves me and is willing to work his hindquarters off just to do something that makes me happy.

I want to tell them what it means to function as a team as opposed to two individuals with individual goals.  I want to tell them how great it feels to know that you're functioning as a team.

I'm so thankful to have a man who got up at 5 am in order to work a double shift.  He won't get home until 11:30 pm, but he won't complain once about his sacrifice.  He'll tell me that he does it for a specific reason, and then he'll get up early the next morning in order to go back to work on the house--not because he's punching a time clock.  Not because someone will be waiting on him.  Not even because he's going to be making a little money.  He does it because he knows that it's his responsibility to provide.

I love him.  Could you tell?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Letter Series: A Little Note to Preservice Teachers

When the bell rang at 3:12, I realized I hadn't sat down at my desk once today.  Generally, I get a little bit of a break and I get to do a bit of grading.  Today, that didn't happen.  I have a pile of grading still on my desk, but I finally decided to leave at 5 pm because I needed to quit for the day.  Here's hoping I manage to catch up before next week.

Days like this are frequent for a high school educator.  I realized early on that I wouldn't be able to clear my desk every single day and sometimes it's necessary to leave a stack of papers for the next day.  I really like my room to be organized and together so that has been a rough one for me.  Of course, it's just one of a long list of things I wish I would've learned while in my core classes at the university.  Here are a few more:

1.  Develop thick skin--High school students aren't always the friendliest crowd.  Likewise, their parents can be a formidable opponent.  If you take everything personally, it's going to be a rough school year.  I say this realizing that this is a big downfall of mine.  I think everything is a personal attack on my character, and that's just not the case.  If you can remove yourself from the situation, you'll be a lot better off.

2.  Maintain accountability--This probably isn't a shocker, but students lie.  Granted, not all of them are liars, but when it comes to trouble, many of them will tell a fib to save their own backside.  If you don't hold them accountable for their actions, you aren't doing them any favors.  If the policy states that the student receives a zero, it doesn't matter how much you like the kid.  S/he gets a zero.  End of story.  Will that kid hate you for the moment?  Absolutely.  But, in the end, these students will realize that you were the same person with every single kid who walked through the door.

3.  Love what you do--Nothing translates in the classroom like genuine excitement.  Our math department makes that abundantly apparent.  I hope that's what my students get from me.

4.  Be yourself--Part of teaching them often means developing some sense of relationship with them.  Don't be afraid to make yourself human.

5.  Don't be petty--There is a difference in consistent discipline and bird-dogging a student.  To quote Rebecca Nurse from The Crucible, "There's prodigious danger in seekin' loose spirits.  I fear it."  In other words, you tend to find what you're looking for.  Constantly look for misbehavior out of particular kids, and you're likely to find it.  Am I saying that giving them the benefit of the doubt is going to bring you two together?  Not likely.  But you'll be a lot less stressed.

Unfortunately, I've realized that doing all these things doesn't mean that every kid will love you.  Some of them will despise you on principle.  Some of them will just hate your subject.  But some of those kids might actually like you.  A few more of them might learn something...or discover a new talent.

And that makes it worthwhile.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Think Pink

I didn't get to start this month the way I'd orginally planned because of the homecoming festivities, but now I want to draw attention to something that deserves support and a spotlight.

Welcome to breast cancer awareness month.

Cancer seems to be an unavoidable evil these days.  Seems most of us have been touched in personal ways by this horrendous disease.  But recently, the United States Preventative Task Service put out a memo indicating that yearly mammograms are no longer necessary.  Most organizations have stated that this finding isn't necessary wrong, but it cannot be a blanket suggestion for all women everywhere.  And for every woman who may not benefit from a yearly mammogram, there is also a woman who survived because of early detection.

I don't know what it's like to be diagnosed with breast cancer.  To be frank, I know that breasts are a big part of what it is to be a woman.  But they don't define you.  Neither does cancer.

This month, every time you wear pink, say a prayer for someone who may be struggling with this disease.  Say a prayer for the woman who was just diagnosed, or the one who is fearful because she has yet to receive a diagnosis.  Pray for the families.  Pray for the doctors.  Pray for a cure.  Then, believe in the words of the Deliverer: 
"Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.
I've called your name. You're mine.
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.
When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you're between a rock and a hard place,
it won't be a dead end—"
--Isaiah 43:2 (The Message)

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Brief Book Break

I've been working on a post (in my head) for preservice teachers.  I have a lot of information I want to share regarding my personal experiences.  I am by no means experienced in the realm of education, but I am at this in-between stage that gives me the opportunity to remember what would've been helpful to learn during my time at a university.  Stay tuned for that as soon as I have enough brain cells, time and sleep to write something understandable.

Until then, check out this book:

I'm only in the first chapter and it's truly fascinating.  Of course, I am fascinated by Deitrich Bonhoeffer and have long since wanted to learn more about his life and his influence on theology.  It's rare that I read a book this thick with information without the desire for a nap, but I assure you that this book is well worth your time.

Now...on to laundry.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Homecoming Week: Friday

Unfortunately, we lost the game.  I think it's fair to say that the kids we were playing against were just bigger and faster.  Despite that fact, it's hard to lose--particularly when we were 5-0 going in to the game.

The Juniors also lost the float competition.  I won't share my feelings on that front because this is a public blog, but I will post pictures of our awesome float later.  And trust me, it was amazing.

I want to do a couple of shout-outs for this week worth of homecoming adventures:

To Jason who obviously spent a lot of time making sure we could "pop" the robot's head--we appreciate your effort.  I owe you your drink of choice.

To Morgan who is the best co-dean anyone could ask for.  It's good that you're more laid back than I am, and it's even better that you are as competitive as I am.  It's nice to know that I don't have to carry things by myself and that you are not only dependable, but proactive when it comes to activities.

To the juniors who stepped up to work the concession stand:  Thank you.  Prom doesn't go on without this effort, and I appreciate that you listen to the pleas of a slightly deranged English teacher.

To the football team, cheerleaders, student council, homecoming court and anyone else who makes homecoming something to be remembered:  I appreciate your school spirit and your tenacity.  Without you, there would be no reason for class competitions, float contests, points and the spirit cup.  And I do love all of those things.  But mostly, without you, we would be missing that sense of community that homecoming seems to bring.

I told Chris that I really love football games because I feel safe there.  I'm sure that sounds stupid, but I like that everyone seems to come together for a common cause.  I wish it happened more often.