Friday, September 29, 2006

Miles to go

Had I had my normal voice today, the words I said to a certain third grade boy would have been yelled. At least I think they would have. I don't like admitting that. I haven't yelled at any of the students yet. Thankfully, my voice was only halfway working today so it didn't come out that loud. But I was irritated enough and loud enough that I heard some other students' muffled reactions like, "whoa!" and "man!" Guess they saw Mrs. Schaeffer really pissed off today. Sucks to be them, because my training on discipline and classroom management doesn't come until after I'm hired by the district and have started teaching.

I also had to send a note home about behavior problems to a boy's mom today. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's not a great feeling when you know there may be consequences at home that are beyond your control.

On another subject, we had swordfish for dinner tonight. Okay, here's some advice if you don't already know, because we sure didn't. Swordfish is around $18 per pound. Tilapia can be found for about a buck a filet. Fish is fish is fish in my book. I'll take Tilapia and spend the other $17 on important foods like Bit-O-Honey, bean dip, and Frosted Flakes.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I'm curious what drugs other people rely on for general body aches, sore throat and ears, that does not make you drowsy during the day. Nyquil is my nighttime remedy, but I need something to get through tomorrow.


Am sick. Maybe the dozen times a day I wash my hands, in addition to the 3-4 times I use that hand sanitizer is not working. Anyway, off to school to spread more germs.

Monday, September 25, 2006

30-year old memories

I'm teaching third grade right now, and there are moments when it takes me back to my own third grade experience. For whatever reason, I have a vivid memory of being the fastest find-a-word puzzle solver. Mrs. Samuels encouraged us to do them as fast as we could, and I won A LOT. And I liked being the fastest. So much so that when someone else beat me, I recall being a bit miffed. How dare someone circle words faster than me.

I also remember being obsessed with the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series of books. I'm sure I read every one our library had on hand. There was just something about the transformations those bratty kids would go through in her books that fascinated me. Reading was a big deal to me in third grade - mostly because I think that's the grade when kids start reading chapter books and realizing they can get lost in a story. I want to say I read "The Diary of Anne Frank" that year, but that seems a little young. But I'm pretty sure I read "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," and was so into it that I remember taking it to the lake over the weekend and staying in the camper reading.

And then there were those lunch tickets. Today it's all electronic, but back then we were given certain color tickets according to how much our parents paid in advance. My mother usually bought us monthly tickets, the blue ones, and not many kids had those. Most had the smaller pink ones that were just a week's worth of lunches. But those blue ones - your parents had to write an $11 check out for those. That was BIG TIME money. And I had the responsibility of safely getting it from my pocket to the office without losing it. The cafeteria lady would hole punch the ticket each day, and the ticket would eventually become wrinkled and torn and who knows how it stayed in one piece until the end of the month. If we didn't have a lunch ticket, we'd take our 55 cents to school in one of those weird rubbery money holders. They were shaped like a little deflated football with a slit down the middle. You squeezed the sides to make it open so you could get your money in and out.

And now I'm so old that I've substituted at that same school, Rusk Elementary. I could actually be an employed teacher there in the near future, who knows. What a 360 that would be.

It's not okay until Junior's checked it out

It would have been funnier had Blogger allowed me to post this with the other pictures. But here it is anyway:

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Authorial switch.

Call it a case of a pinch-writer charging the mound. ;]

I typically try to avoid burdening my wife's blog with my run-on style, but it has been an all around good day and it couldn't be avoided any longer. It has been a phenomenal day here. It was one of those days where you can't even put your finger on what made life good, you just know that everything 'fit'. The high here today was in the 60's and that gave the air a wonderfully crisp fall feel, with little or no breeze and plenty of sunshine and the occasional high cloud. Both girls were home and in pretty good moods and the cat was typically mischievious which made him entertaining. The promise of fall in the air and the thought of mowing my yard without being absolutely pummeled by the heat, humidity, and my allergies absolutely sent me soaring. As an aside, may God, in his or her infinite wisdom, shower the creators of Claritin with blessings - as I would have had to shoot someone during the last 3 weeks under the hail of body blows my immune system has delivered without that fabulous drug.

Tanya and I make a good couple for a number of reasons, but our mutual love of food is very near the top of that list. When Tanya and I got around to starting dinner tonight we agreed that we would try a recipe from the food network. I can't remember the name of the show but I can tell you that Giada De Laurentiis is so good that I could watch her show on mute or without the picture and either way I would be in heaven. What did we try? Bruschetta with gorgonzola cheese drizzled in honey. Actually, we modified it to suit us, but it was a fantastically light and tasty meal. First we picked up a flute of jalapeno sourdough bread from the day old bread rack (yes, I remain a skinflint). We followed that up with two gorgeous tomatoes, the gorgonzola, and two kinds of lettuce. The menu for this evening was the bruschetta, salad, sliced tomato with salt and pepper, sliced bell pepper, and Robert Mondavi's Private Selection Johannisburg Riesling (2004).

Perhaps capturing the essence of what made today so spectacular is beyond my ability to express but let me leave you with the fact that the air was just electric. Not 4th quarter game winning drive electric, more like drag out the hammock and thank God for putting you here-and-now electric. I recently heard a radio talk show host that I respect explain to a listener the difference between want and need. He patiently told the listener that merely by the fact of living in North America that the listener really didn't NEED anything because they wanted neither for food nor shelter nor clothing nor transport nor employment. Religous discussion holds little interest for me these days, but today I'm thankful to my creator for all the things that have made me who I am so that I could 'suck the marrow' of today.

Fat Cat

Look at me using a new font. There's an adven-turous side to me after all. Just thought I'd share some escapades of Junior, our very portly cat. We don't let him outside often enough, so he attempts to get out at any opportunity. Seems he misjudged the size of the window opening relative to his fat ass, so he was briefly trapped. For the record, we put the automatic feeder away a couple months ago. He's been on a diet of 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of food a day.

And then later he helped Alan with some laundry. But for some reason, Blogger won't let me add that picture.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

1st Homecoming

This is what homecoming should be like. Going with someone you really know, someone who is special to you. Not with someone you barely know but will go with anyway because that way you'll get to say you have a date to homecoming, will be seen at homecoming, and will get the must-have mum. I hope they had a great time.

And by the way, if you're as clueless as me and are thinking these mums are a little over the top, they're not. Addison says that hers was smaller than a lot of them with double and triple mums and with a lot more accessories sticking out of the sides and tops of the flowers.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Where did September go?

Such a long week - you'd think I'd have something to talk about. But mostly all I wanted to do every evening was come home, make sure dinner happened, see that some cleaning took place here and there, and attempt to be asleep on the couch before 10:00. I succeeded most nights, but those don't really sound like lofty goals. That whole falling asleep on the couch thing leads to some of the best, deepest sleep there is.

I was observed Tuesday and it went much better this time. I got better scores and received no tally marks of my negative comments. She wanted a show, and I obliged. Whatever....four more of those to go.

I feel completely out of touch with some people right now. I am way overdue with phone calls to at least three people. One of our friends had their first baby (here in town) over three weeks ago and I have yet to call them since they came home from the hospital. Sadly, what was top of my list this week was to tune in for Thursday night TV with no interruptions. I put the premier of The Office above friends, lesson plans, and laundry. What's worse, is I don't even feel bad about that.

Tomorrow will be filled with back and forth trips to Odessa to catch Bailey's games in a volleyball tournament. She's being moved to a starting position, taking the place of a girl who broke her ankle during practice this week. And tomorrow is homecoming, so I'll be driving back to make sure Addison and Ian have rides, pictures have been taken, etc., etc. The weather's supposed to be really nice, which is great since the retards who schedule these events decided to have the homecoming game at 2:00 in the afternoon. Who does that??

Anyway, that's my week without really telling much about my week at all. My next post will be Post #100, so I'm feeling the pressure to share something important. Don't hold your breath.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

That Sunday Night Feeling

Earlier I was talking to Alan's mom on the phone and she mentioned something about going to work tomorrow. As soon as the words "going to work" popped up, I had that tinge of dread that you get sometimes when you realize your weekend is gone and tomorrow it's back to the grind. I hadn't felt that yet on a Sunday night with the whole teaching thing, and it depressed me for about 10 minutes that here it was already. Don't you hate that? Let's say you feel it at around 6:00 p.m. You still have a good 4-5 hours of your weekend left, but now you get to spend it dreading the next day.

I don't dread going there, so I can't figure it out. Maybe it's that each week I have to add more to my plate or maybe it's that Tuesday I'll be observed and evaluated again. Consciously I feel fine about all of that, so why does that impending doom hang around?

So then I started thinking about how bad Sunday evenings used to be when Alan had to head back to Levelland every weekend. Funny how perspective can make your current situation seem so much simpler and brighter. I'm not sleeping alone this Sunday night, and I kind of like it this way.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday night lights?

I'm going to bypass giving an update on the psycho mom issue, since she's so friggin out of her mind that legalities may enter the picture some day and record of a blog posting could be bad. It's hopefully improbable, but still possible with The Monstrosity. However, my mentor teacher practically insisted that I program her cop husband's cell phone number into my phone.

Totally aside from that, today I found myself daydreaming of coming home and persuading Alan to take a spur of the moment weekend trip. Midland's really boring me lately, but I think it's best to wait a couple more weeks until we can celebrate our anniversary and hopefully have slightly cooler temperatures. We'll likely go to Ft. Worth, fatten up at La Madeleine and Papadeaux's, and I'll get to satisfy my art nerd desires at a museum.

This week I got to add Science and Reading to my teaching responsibilities, but I have to say that the highlight of each day has been the 10-15 minutes after recess of reading Charlotte's Web to the class. I was never a big fan of the movie, but the book is hilarious. Who knew.

Alright, so I'm sure this is no indication of how the rest of this weekend is going to play out, but Alan's asleep on the couch right now after being off all day and has been sleeping for 2 1/2 hours. I'm giddy with excitement.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More fun in third grade

"I understand that being a newbie, you have not learned how to pick your battles...."

This was the beginning of a degrading, handwritten, full-page note from a parent that I received first thing this morning. The parent's son handed it to me, and in retrospect I now recall that the boy seemed oh-so-happy to deliver. The letter is basically a mom ranting about something I make the boy do, that the mom has a major problem with. I wasn't threatened in the letter, but the tone was disrespectful enough that the principal wants to personally handle the matter and will be calling the boy's mom today. The mom is also not to set foot near myself or my mentor teacher without the principal or assistant principal present, per the administration. Indefinitely. And by the way, "The Mom" (a name she refers to herself as) is no less than 6'2 and 350+ lbs.

So what was the unreasonable thing I made the boy do? Dry his hands with a paper towel. Grow up and learn a life skill.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Glory day!

I'm not making this up. A minute ago I tried logging in to Blogger, and got this error message:

Blogger Problem:

This server is currently experiencing a problem. An engineer has been notified and will investigate.

I know I feel much better.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Die already!

I might as well blog away this weekend (if Blogger will stop acting up), since I probably won't have much time this week. We did go see "Little Miss Sunshine" last night, and it was very good. There weren't many people in the theater, but there was a lot of laughing out loud. Really loud, especially if you happened to be sitting next to Alan. :-)

I am way ready for Fall. I lost all interest in trying to keep a tan a good month ago and am so disgusted with the flowerbeds that I don't even want to look out the back windows. Bring on the cooler temperatures and let everything die! Alan has kept the lawn looking nice, but the flowerbeds (my responsibility) are embarrassing. I guess I have no shame though, because I'm posting a picture of how bad it really is. I just want to dig everything out down to the roots so that hopefully these perennial viney things will go away. And the weeds - geez! I need to figure out a solution that does not involve my going out there every other day and pulling weeds, because I'm just not going to do that. I have bon-bons to eat and reality shows to watch.

On the brighter side:

Alan is feeling better.
I cooked two whole meals this week.
Bailey is playing volleyball again.
I got to play Bunko Tuesday.
The highest temp this week was around 85.
We're going to see "Little Miss Sunshine" tonight.
I've now written 15 out of 20 lesson plans today.
I still like teaching.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I'm being watched...

I haven't posted much this week because 1) I've been tired and 2) my mind is elsewhere. Wednesday I had my first observation, which didn't leave me feeling very positive. Apparently, according to the hatch marks that my supervisor made ON the official evaluation form, I used nearly 50% more negative comments than positive reinforcement. My mentor teacher was appalled and totally disagreed with the evaluation, but I just felt bad that I came across so negatively. It's the kids that these so-called negative comments are directed towards. And just because someone criticized me and I didn't like how it felt, doesn't mean I shouldn't take some of that person's comments to heart. Anyway, I'm not a teacher yet, haven't really been trained how to teach in my schooling, and am therefore just learning.

However, one person's idea of negative is subjective. For instance, if I discovered that a student had been goofing off and not working along with us on his/her paper during the lesson and then brought that up to the student, that marked me as negative. I was told I needed to use a lot more non-verbal communication to get my message across. So instead I guess I'm supposed to walk over to the student and just point at his paper. And by the way, I'm supposed to utilize all these techniques I've never been taught while someone is staring at me and grading my every move. Yikes.

Other than that, it wasn't all bad. But I was told I needed to put on a "dog and pony" show anytime I am being observed. I purposely did not do that, because isn't that sort of fake? Oh well, I guess it's all about the show and not about the kids.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Where is that parenting manual?!!!

Here's the deal. When one of your kids is grounded, you're grounded. Everyone's heard that before, but it's really true. Especially if you've grounded them from things like the phone and computer. You feel you can't leave the house (meaning, leave the child unattended) unless absolutely necessary. Because everytime you leave, there's always the chance that they'll sneak those little privileges back. And if you catch them, then hooray! More fun confrontations ahead!!

So worse than being stuck at the house is the tension that hovers around. You can't fully enjoy yourself when one of your kids is unhappy, whether they deserve it or not. No doubt, this kid deserves it, but it still sucks.

I've decided to get tougher. I guess too often in the past I've been a softie. Which sounds so strange coming out of my mouth, because I feel like a bear a lot of the time. So I'm getting on board with her dad and stepmom and Alan, and this little bundle of joy is severely grounded for a long time. Will it work and convince her to change? No. Absolutely not. I stopped being naive about that a long, long time ago. But we still have to do it. She messed up big.

And today I know without a doubt that there will be at least a couple of third graders who will disrespect me, at least once. I just tell myself that they might have parents at home who haven't lost hope in their kids either.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

When you're bored, you're boring.


Surely I have something to talk about. Because if I don't, that means the only thing left to do right now since Alan is sick and we're just hanging around the lesson plans.

I thought grocery shopping was the most dreaded chore, but lesson plans might be worse.