Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WNBP: It's Just Nuts!

Greetings, All!  Your faithful Sheepie is here to regale you with the weekly Wednesday Night Bullet Post! Let's see where we are today...

*First of all, let's get one thing straight.  Anyone thinking of mentioning that they heard there might be some "weather" coming my way on Friday should reconsider all the available conversational options.

*In spite of the fact that there is a low probability of my area seeing much in the way of snow, I am still sort of cranky about the whole matter.

*Winter is over.  Winter should go to therapy and learn to let go.  No one likes a clingy season.

*Speaking of things that won't let go, the Stoopid Cold that installed itself into my sinus cavities is loosening up somewhat.

*But slowly.  Very slowly.  Its tenacity rivals winter's.

*I was up at 3:00 this morning hacking and gasping.

*Great fun for the cats.  They like it when Mommy is up and about in the dark of the pre-dawn hours.

*They think I'm doing it for them...

*Here's a little slice of the educational process you might not have known was going on in schools today:

The Future Farmer:  Hey, Ms. Sheep!  Lookit what I brought!

Ms. Sheep:  Just a minute.  I'm trying to take attendance.

TFF:  No!  Look!!!  (brandishes a large, foil wrapped ball)

MS: I need to call the bomb squad?

TFF:  No.  Listen...hear how it sloshes when I shake it?  That's cool, right?

MS:  I'm going to have to ask you to stop doing that.  And to set it down very carefully on the desk then step away with your hands raised.

TFF:  You're so funny, Ms. Sheep.  Imagine...being scared of a coconut!

MS:  You brought a coconut to school?

TFF:  Yup.

MS:  And you thought to wrap it in foil first?

TFF:  It's food.  That's what you do with food.

MS:  Okay.  You got me there.  And why, pray tell, did you bring a coconut to school today?  It's not exactly the kind of thing we generally have here at the middle school...

TFF:  It was on sale.

MS:  Good to know.  But it still doesn't explain why you brought it here.

TFF:  We are going to open it.  I don't exactly know how you do that, but I'm guessing we will need some tools and that I'll probably get to smash it at some point.

MS:  Yes...that does seem likely doesn't it?

*You can't exactly ignore a coconut in the classroom.  Nor can you deny a small group of young teens the opportunity to smash something.

*Whole class trooped outside to make the tropical magic happen.

*Final verdict:  smashing good.  Raw coconut:  bad

*In the words of the Cheerful Teaching Assistant:  I thought I was going to be getting the yummy inside of a Mounds Bar and what I got was a mouthful of mushy soapy stuff!

*I happen to like raw coconut, but I suppose it's more of an acquired taste.  And very fun to eat it in front of kids who are horrified by the act.

*The experience was best described by (the boy who is) Dark & Disturbed:  Oh my God!  This is awful!  I can still taste it way down in my throat hole!!!

*The Future Farmer scraped out all the remaining meat and discarded it.  Then he reassembled the shell and made a birdhouse out of it.

*Because that is just what he does...

*And in bookish news...

*I finished The Devil You Know (Felix Castor).  Loved it!!!

*As soon as payday rolled around, I snapped up the next one, Vicious Circle (Felix Castor).

*Devoured it.  Great fun!!

*It took everything I had to not activate my reader's wireless ability and buy Dead Men's Boots (Felix Castor)!

*I did not.

*I had The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 3) waiting patiently in the wings and knew I'd hate myself for not seeing how things were going in the land of the dead.

*I love this series.  I'm not saying it's an easy read or that everything about it is pleasant.  

*In fact, most of it is heartbreaking.  

*But it is painful in a way that makes it kind of beautiful.

*Insomuch as living in a world where the dead are strolling about, oblivious to the fact that it is impolite to not lie down decently once respiration has ceased.

*It's not campy and it's not sensationalized.  You'll just have to take my word for it.  

*It's literary zombie fiction.

*So glad I took a break from the trials and tribulations of Felix Castor for a bit.  I'll be back soon, I promise!

*Meanwhile, I convinced the Cheerful Teaching Assistant to start Tempest Rising (Jane True).

*Now she sits at her desk with her Kindle in between teaching moments and chortles happily.

*I do so love it when I can bring a fellow reader into the fold.  Plus, it gives me someone with whom to discuss plot lines.

*I knit exactly three rounds on the sock.  The Stoopid Cold didn't like it when I knit so I had to stop.

*The Stoopid Cold may be fading, but its influence lingers.

*I'm hoping to distract it with some decongestants tonight and see if I can't get a few more rows in.

*Since the weather has gone nuts and winter still lurks, I suppose I'll need socks well into July this year...

Well, that should about do it for this week's edition of the WNBP.  I think I'll not elaborate on the part where everyone down in the main office kept singing "I've Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts" as they watched us make our way back into the building.  It was funny at first, but lost some of its charm after the fiftieth refrain and you don't need to hear about that.  I'll just end it here and go do something productive.

Like stock up the cupboards for the storm.  They may be calling for more in the way of rain in my area, but this winter has been kind of nutty and I no longer trust that a person can't be buried in snow on April Fool's Day anymore...


Monday, March 28, 2011

Sick Drama

Last Friday, I returned to school after a day and a half absence.  I found myself a little sniffly on Wednesday and a little stomach buggy on Thursday.  Upon my arrival, I was greeted by The Boy For Whom All The World's A Stage:

"Oh my God!!  You're back!  I don't mind telling you I was VERY WORRIED.  You are almost NEVER absent, let alone for two days!  I thought you were DYING or something!!!

I assured him that I was not dying, although there were certainly points during the process that I wished for something maybe along the lines of a brief coma.  I still wasn't feeling tip-top, but I still felt like I was gonna beat this.  After all, every cold I've had to date this school year has been summarily beaten back by my iron-clad immune system and my stone cold will to survive.  I thanked him for his concern and suggested that he save his drama for something like earthquakes and starving nations.

My weekend was less than pleasant.  The cold, apparently the stubborn type who takes challenges seriously, hung in there.  I cancelled my appointment with The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach for the second week running and shuffled around the house with a tissue wadded up my nose because I no longer care what I look like.  My hair is a train wreck...why bother anymore?

I spent some quality time staring at the Very Bright And Peppy Toe-Up Sock, but after a while it started to hurt my watery eyes and I never really worked up the will to knit upon it.

I beat back the low fever that started on Sunday night and stocked my purse with cough drops.  My day and a half away from school resulted in a great deal of clean-up and my little inner voice told me I wouldn't be happy with myself if I took another sick day.

The Boy For Whom All The World's A Stage arrived late today.  He surveyed the situation and gave his assessment in true form.

Yeesh!  You look horrible.  You should be home in bed or something.  I'll just get a that hand sanitizer out of my bag and glop on a gallon or two.  Nothing personal, it's just that...HEY!  Where is the Cheerful Teaching Assistant?  Don't tell me she isn't here!  I cannot function in my Social Studies class without her!!  Is she out today?  Is she all right?  Is this going to be a long term thing or do I just have to suffer through one day?  Why does everything happen to me???

I calmly told him that the CTA was sick, but that she'd emailed and said she would be OK.  I promised to help him with his work and not so much as exhale my foul germiness in his general direction.  This seemed to soothe him somewhat.

Oh.   Well, that's OK then.  Besides, we have the Organized Teaching Assistant.  We'll be just fine.  All I need to do is breathe slowly for a minute...OH MY GOD!  Her desk!  It's empty!  WHERE IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY IS THE OTA?????

That one was more complicated.  The school's automated sick day system hasn't been working well for some staff and I honestly didn't know where the OTA was.  I did my best to reassure TBFWATWAS, but he wasn't buying it.

WHAT???  You don't know where she is?  Well, that's just great.  She's probably fell and is lying in her driveway right now, calling weakly for help and clinging to the hope that someone at school will miss her before she dies right there.  Alone.  In the cold.  AND THEN THERE WILL BE NO ONE TO HELP ME IN MY SCIENCE AND LANGUAGE ARTS CLASSES!!!

I wish he hadn't said that.  Now, all I could think about was my raging cold and how my teaching assistant was succumbing to hypothermia ten steps from her front door.  It was a long day.  And not just because I have a classroom that is open to students all day and that I was drinking lots of water to combat the cough with no hope of a bathroom break until the kids were dismissed at 2:45.

It all worked out, though.  I was able to reach the OTA on her cell phone and it turned out she wasn't face down in the gravel.  Two kids were dismissed early and I managed to sneak a bathroom break in around 11:00 right about the time the coughing started to make the bladder situation just this side of dicey.  With any luck, I'll have at least one person back on the team tomorrow and I can spend part of the day sitting in my office with a tissue stuck up my nose like a respectable sick person.

However, I am starting to think that TBFWATWAS might be onto something.  Normally, I find his theatrics a little amusing and sometimes maybe just a bit annoying.  He does tend to go over the top every now and again.

But maybe a dose of panic and dramatic expression isn't exactly out of place at the moment...


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WNBP: A Day Of Rest

My new friend, The Horrible, Terrible Cold and I would like to welcome you to the Wednesday Night bullet post.  I am currently pretending that the cold is my friend and that I love having it around.  I think that this will confuse it enough to make it lose confidence in itself.  Then it will have to go on a retreat somewhere in the mountains and leave me alone.  It's a theory, but I think it will pan out pretty well.

Meanwhile, here are your Wednesday Night Bullet Points:

* The cold got the better of me today.  

*Frankly, getting up at 2:00 in the morning to keep it company kind of took the wind out of my sails.

*Since I was fully staffed in the classroom and short by one (but very key) student, I decided to take my leave.

*It took me over an hour to get out the door, but I eventually made it back to my bed.

*I don't necessarily feel any better for having done it, but it was worth a shot.

*There is no scientific proof to support the healing properties of napping with a big, fat cat.

*But I don't think it hurt...

*I had to stay late last night for Parent/Teacher Conferences.  Again.

*Except I didn't have any conferences scheduled so I mostly spent the time talking with the custodian about how to plan for The Coming Days Of Hardship and The Art Of Stockpiling Dry Goods.

*When I wasn't doing that, I was downstairs talking with Mrs. Secretary Who Sits At The Back Desk about Zombie Survival Strategies.

*Neither of them wanted to talk about my cold, so that kind of limited the range of topics...

*Funny thing about being up at 2:00.  You get to see stuff.

*I know that it is the Very Complicated Kitty who is tearing up the wallpaper.

*I know this for two reasons.

*First, before he came...I had intact wallpaper.

*Second, I have seen him do it.

*But last night, I was able to witness a certain Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty taking a strip down for his general amusement.

*They are a team.  

*Not my team.  But a team, nonetheless.

*I did not bring my knitting with me last night.  

*Also didn't knit today after I got home because I felt that this would take valuable time away from my scheduled moaning, sniffling and whimpering.

*Best Conversation Of The Day:

Ms. Sheep (to the Cheerful Teaching Assistant) that brings us to the present.  Do you have any questions?  Have I covered the progression of my cold symptoms in enough detail or would you like me to go back and paint a more vivid picture for you?  It's no trouble.  I have the time.

Cheerful Teaching Assistant:  Er...

(the boy who is) Dark & Disturbed:  (ambling into the classroom and presenting his tardy slip):  Hey.  I'm here.  Sorry I'm late.  I think I have a cold.  I'm kind of sneezing and...

MS:  Oh, no you don't, Mister!!!  This is MY moment.  I am the sickly one.  You just get started on your Language Arts worksheet and don't bother the grown-ups.  I am about to describe in exacting detail how I plan to begin nasal irrigation later today and I don't think anyone wants to miss that.

(The CTA assumes an expression that is a cross between mild horror and sad resignation.  However, as Ms. Sheep is essentially her boss, she says nothing.)

D&D:  Sorry.  I was just saying that I had a cold...

MS:  Enough!  You are always saying you're sick and I never get to be the sick one.  You list symptoms every single day and we have to listen patiently.  It's not fair!!!

D&D:  I'm a Type I Diabetic.

MS:  Well....yeah.  I guess there's that.

*Fortunately, D&D, for all his goth tendencies, is a kind-hearted boy with a deep appreciation for patently absurd conversations.  

*And a genuine affection for his sickly, whining teacher.

*The CTA was pleased to hear that I'd finished Switched (Trylle Trilogy, Book 1).

*But is anxious for me to get cracking on Torn (Trylle Trilogy, Book 2).

*I'm almost done.  Soon, I shall be immersed in Ascend (Trylle Trilogy, #3).

*Then my teaching assistant can finally have someone with whom to discuss these books.

*The wait is killing her and I need to get a move on before she gives away the entire plot line.

*This is proving difficult because I found another series and it is sort of difficult to not get seduced away.

*The Devil You Know (Felix Castor)

*Great fun with a side of creepy.

*Opening Lines:

"Normally, I wear a czarist army greatcoat-the kind that sometimes gets called a paletot-with pockets sewn in for my tin whistle, my notebook, a dagger and a chalice.  Today I'd gone for a green tuxedo with a fake wilting flower in the buttonhole, pink patent-leather shoes, and a painted-on mustache in the style of Groucho Marx.  From Bunhill Fields in the east, I rode out across London-the place of my strength.  I have to admit, though, that  "strong" wasn't exactly how I was feeling; when you look like a pistachio-ice-cream sundae, it's no easy thing to hang tough."

*That.  Is.  Awesome.

*As is the rest of the book.  But I feel badly.  Sort of like I cheated on the CTA...

*To make matters worse, The Dark and Hollow Places. Carrie Ryan is waving warmly at me from the online bookstore.

*But, for the CTA, I shall stay the course. No more side trips.  Besides, I'm sort of curious to see how things work out for Princess Wendy and the trolls...

*No naps, cats or reading tomorrow, though.  Gotta go back to school and see what's left of the place after a day without me.

Well, I see by the clock on the wall and the growing pile of tissues at my feet that it is time for a dose of cold medications.  I might even treat myself to the Sleepy Kind.  You know...just as a little gift for the cold that keeps on giving.  Meanwhile, I trust that you all are having a pleasant Wednesday and are free from any viral complications.  If you need me, I'll just be here on the couch thinking healthy thoughts.

And resting.


Monday, March 21, 2011

The S-List

I have decided to compile a list.  I am cranky and I think that this will be very therapeutic.  It might even save a life because getting the grumps out has been proven to stop people from doing things they might later regret.  So, to that end, here it is.

Sheepish Annie's Stoopid List:

#1.  Winter

Winter is so stoopid it doesn't know that its reign of terror is over.  Winter should cut its losses and get out of here before everyone starts to realize how utterly and insanely stoopid it is.  But does Winter do this?  No.  Winter does not.  Winter shows up on a Monday afternoon and starts dumping snow on us like crazy. It's not even sticking, for crying out loud!  It's just blowing all over the place and getting in my eyes and I hate it but not as much as I hate Winter for being so stoopid!!!

 It's over, Winter!  Move on!!!

#2.  The Common Cold

Actually, I'm not targeting every cold.  Just the one that seems to think it is better than everyone else.  I've had a few colds this season.  The sniffles and snuffles start in and try to insinuate themselves into my otherwise happy-go-lucky existence.  It doesn't last long, though.

After a fashion, the cold runs up against my Flu Shot.  Soon it comes to the conclusion that I am now immortal and slinks off like a good cold should.  I've yet to succumb.  My Flu Shot has rendered me impervious.  I told my doctor about this and she didn't say I was wrong so I know I am right.

But this cold isn't playing by the rules.  At first I thought it was a Super Smart Cold that was lying in wait while all the Little Colds With No Self Esteem ran their courses and made me tired.  But now I think it is just stoopid.  It can't seem to process what its brethren figured out in a matter of days and keeps tickling my nostrils.  I'm fairly certain that my Flu Shot is laughing at it, but I can't really tell because it is hard to hear over the sounds of my own sneezes.

I will be very glad when this so totally stoopid cold gets with the program and goes away like a good virus should when faced with the god-like powers I now possess thanks to my Flu Shot....

#3.  Meetings

Most meetings are extremely stoopid.  The worst kind, however, are the ones that fall on a Monday morning and force me to spend my weekend typing up notes in case things go horribly awry.  The stoopidest part of it is that I know perfectly well that the notes probably won't be required.  Unless, of course, I don't do them.  Then they will be the most essential words ever transcribed in the history of meeting notes.  Hence, I must spend my Sunday typing my fingers down to the nub to ward off the stoopid before it catches me right between the eyes.

When you combine a stoopid cold with the need to have notes for a stoopid meeting on a stoopid Monday morning, you have the perfect storm.  The stoopid will rise up in a great wave and crash over you, drowning you before you can so much as cry out for help.

No.  My notes never so much as left my folder, in case you were wondering.  I did a Spell-Check and everything.  They were not needed.

#4.  Me.  I Am Stoopid.

For some reason, and I don't recall just when I first got to thinking this, I believed I was in charge around here.  I thought that my status as wage-earner and wielder of opposable thumbs gave me some kind of a leg up in the pecking order.

I do not.  I am just some chump who wanders around the place for the general amusement of the feline residents.

The Very Complicated Kitty has been giving me a hard time about eating his morning food.  Normally, I'd just say, "Oh well!  No harm, no foul.  You eat it when you're ready, sweet boy!"  But he needs to eat his food because that is where I hide his pill.  He needs the pill to retain a sense of calm in his otherwise stress-filled existence.  Furthermore, he needs to get the pill into him before his brother, the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty, swoops in for a nosh.  I don't have time to mess around with this, especially on a weekday morning.  So, yesterday, when the VCK pulled his little power-play stunt, I took his food away.  No more.  I delivered a lengthy lecture on the subject of who runs this place and how things were going to change around here.  Then I went about my day.

As did the VCK.

How is it that I thought there would be no retribution?  How could I have not predicted his nibbling on everything of a non-edible nature he could find until the next feeding time rolled around?  How did I ever let myself believe that a strand of working sock yarn wouldn't be chewed in half as part of the ongoing assault on my faulty belief system?

I'll tell you how.  I'm stoopid, that's how.  Too stoopid to be allowed amongst the smarter folk.  I'm the sort of person who tucks my skirt into my pantyhose and dances merrily through my day, believing that all the stares and smiles are because I am so totally awesome.

My punishment for this is having to tie the sodden, slimy strands together.  It is a patterned sock yarn and I can't find the repeat.  Well...maybe I could.  But I don't trust myself to do this because of the stoopidity.

You know something?  It is as I thought.  I do feel better after writing down my list!  The stoopid stuff is all still pretty much stoopid, but venting seems to take some of the pressure off.  This is a good thing.  Mental health is extremely important, you know.

Especially given that tomorrow night is the second round of Parent/Teacher Conferences and I have to sit there for four hours with no one to talk to except for my cold...


Thursday, March 17, 2011

TNBP: Just Think Wednesday Thoughts...

Oh, my dears!  Sheepie is so sorry!!!  I had all good intentions of getting the Wednesday Night Bullet Post out in a timely fashion, but things just sort of got away from me.  I have no excuse.  It was Parent/Teacher Conference night and I had nothing scheduled from 11:30 in the morning until 8:00 that evening.  Time was on my side as was ample bandwidth.  I just got sidetracked and, before I knew it, Mr. Principal was calling "time" on the whole business.  Once I'd made my weary way home, I just didn't have it in me anymore.  I went to bed.

Let's see if I can make up for the whole sorry business with some Thursday Night Bullet Points...

*This has been a long week.

*Today was the kind of day where a girl is glad she invested in extra boxes of Girl Scout Cookies.

*Massive kerfuffle at The Convenience Store Where They Call You Honey And Sweetie And You Don't Really Mind That So Much.

*I needed gas, but the pumps were broken.  No one knew that until I, the first customer of the day, arrived, paid for my gas and found there was none to be had.

*Got gas elsewhere and graciously accepted my twenty dollar credit at TCSWTCYHASAYDRMTSM.

*They like me over there.  They say I have a Very Positive Attitude.

*I was late to school on Monday, but it's worth it to be known as a Happy Little Ray Of Sunshine under such dire circumstances.

*I brought lots of stuff with me last night.  I knew I'd probably need entertaining during the long hours ahead of me in the classroom.

*Book.  Knitting.  Ipod.

*Used none of it.  Sort of had my Working Vibe goin' on.

*Got a lot of very teacherly things done.

*Poor sock sat in the bag all night.  I think I might have heard it crying at one point, but what are you gonna do?  

*This is my busy season at work.  Probably better to keep up with all the paperwork...

*Cats were very unhappy with the schedule on Parent/Teacher Conference Night.

*Like many, they do not understand why I have to be there when I don't have conferences.

*Nor do they care that these extra hours are what allows me to take the time off during Thanksgiving break and whatnot.

*Late feeding times do not make for empathy and an appreciation for the work ethic.

*The Cheerful Teaching Assistant has been after me to start reading these books she found.

*To appease her, I downloaded Switched (Trylle Trilogy, Book 1).

*Same person who wrote Hollowland [Paperback].

*But I couldn't start it until I finished Tracking the Tempest (Jane True) 

*And Tempest's Legacy (Jane True)

*The CTA grew impatient because Amanda Hocking's writing style does something to her psyche.

*She mulls, ponders and frets over what she's read.

*She wants to discuss it and I am useless until I have read the books.

*Finally got a start on the first in the Trylle Trilogy the other day and I can see the CTA's stress level starting to abate.

*She admits she might have a problem, but shows little desire to address the matter.

*I get that...

*Best Conversation Of The Week:

(Ms. Sheep and The Cheerful Teaching Assistant are chatting.  A Student Who Shall Remain Utterly Unidentified can be heard shuffling from Ms. Sheep's office, where he has been playing on his laptop.)

SWSRUU:  (gasping) Er...Ms. Sheep?

Ms. Sheep:  (grumpily)  I think we have had several conversations about interrupting others, haven't we?

SWSRUU:  (collapsing in a chair)  But it's an emergency!

MS:  Fine.  What is it?

SWSRUU: feels like I just got hit hard in a very Pacific place.

(It takes Ms. Sheep a moment, but she eventually dials in to the lad's current and very delicate status.)  

MS:  Um...Okay.  Let's go with that.  You've been hit in the Pacific.  Why don't I just help you down to the nurse?

*I took the student for a hobble down to visit with the nurse, periodically having to admonish him about the incessant moaning.  

*Bad luck for him that he had to wait in line with several girls before the nurse showed up...

*He ended up going home so I guess the Pacific took a bit of a hit.  No idea just what happened.

*And he's not talking...

*Other Best Conversation Of The Week:

(the boy who is) Dark & Disturbed:  I have standards when it comes to the ladies, but I'm not all about looks.  I don't mind a frog.

Cheerful Teaching Assistant:  Did you just say, "frog???"

D&D:  Well, yeah.  You know what I mean.  Looks aren't everything.

CTA:  But...frog???

D&D:  I'm above looks.  But it has to be a certain type of frog.  Maybe something like a Geek Frog.  They're usually pretty cool.

Ms. Sheep:  You know, you talk a lot about your frogs and your standards and whatnot.  But that's all in theory.  I saw you with an actual girl in the hall the other day and, because I'm just that sort of teacher, I had to mention that to you.  You blushed for an hour and half and it wasn't even your "frog."  It was your friend's "frog!"

D&D:  (voice rising and color deepening)  OMIGOD!  I told you not to talk about that again.  YOU ARE GOING TO GIVE ME A NOSEBLEED!!!!!!!

*He was lying about the nosebleed.  I never saw so much as a drop of blood.

*Spunky Girl, on the other hand, managed to get that loose tooth out and that bled quite a bit.

*She talked about the loose tooth for three days.

*Today she talked about the missing tooth all day.

*Suffice it to say that, between yesterday's early dismissal and all the ridiculous happenings going on in the classroom, there hasn't been much in the way of book learnin' this week...

There.  That's all I've got.  I hope it is enough to cover the fact that I missed yesterday's post.  If nothing else, it should serve to demonstrate that I have not been idle in my absence.  I am going to call this one "done" and see about getting ready for Friday.  I'd be lying if I said this wasn't a long week and that I'm sad to see the end of it.

On the other hand, I don't quite know what I'll do with all the peace and quiet.  Without bloodshed, angst and trouble in the Pacific, I might get a little bored...


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kids Will Get In Your Hair

The Time:  1:30, Friday Afternoon

The Place:  Ms. Sheep's classroom, where all have gathered to stare at the clock in the hopes that it will move just a little bit faster

The Situation:  Ms. Sheep is sitting stock still, eyes bulging and teeth gritted.  She is frantically casting about to get the attention of anyone who might rescue her.  Her posture is no different than that of any other helpless victim who is trying to get someone to notice that she has a bomb strapped to her chest before she goes ker-plooey.

Ms. Sheep:  (speaking without moving her lips lest she make the situation any worse):  Help. Me. Kid. Sniffing. My. Head. For. The. Love. Of. God....heeeeellllp.....meeeeeee!

The Boy For Whom All The World's A Stage:  I can't help it!  Just hold still!  It smells so good!!!!!

MS:  Either help me or kill me.  I don't care which.

TBFWATWAS:  I have to know!  What do you use?  (takes another deep sniff and sighs happily)

MS:  (resigned to the fact that everyone is too tired to care about her plight) Er...

TBFWATWAS:  What?!  Tell me!!!

MS:  Well...

TBFWATWAS:  (relinquishing his teacher's head so he can stand in front of Ms. Sheep and bellow into her face)  WHAT IS IT??????

MS:  Will you be quiet for a second?  I'm trying to explain!!

TBFWATWAS collapses into a nearby chair, exhausted but still maintaining a look of urgent expectation.  Sort of a cross between "day before birthday" and "where is the bathroom?"

MS:  It's not a store-bought thing.  I make it.  It doesn't have like...a brand name or anything.  I just buy unscented liquid castille soap that they make for babies and add my own scent to it.

TBFWATWAS:  Huh?  You do?  How?

MS:  Some people use essential oils or make their own scented water with flowers and herbs.  But I just use the candle and soap fragrances from the craft store.  

TBFWATWAS:  That doesn't make your hair all goopy?

MS:  No.  You just use a few drops.  I am a fragile flower with delicate skin and whatnot.  I can't use a lot of fragrance.

By now everyone was looking at me with expressions that said, "Ms. Sheep has waaaay too much time on her hands..."  Except for one, that is.  TBFWATWAS seemed to appreciate the information and probably wanted to know more.  However, his nostrils were also starting to flare somewhat alarmingly so I thought it was a good time to drop the matter and see about getting everyone ready for dismissal.  They didn't need to hear the entire saga. how this winter has been pretty tough on my hands and has caused drying, cracking and bleeding.

...or how my ragged skin was catching on the sock yarn in a manner that was less than helpful to the process, not to mention the aforementioned bleeding problem.

...and that, being "real" soap, it is mild enough to be used as not just a hand wash, but as a shampoo, face and body wash.

...Unlike regular detergent-based cleansers which have not been kind to me over the years.

...and that, even though I gasped at the price of those two big bottles at first, the stuff can be used for just about anything.

...or how it ended up being cheaper in the long run because it rinses cleanly and works as a general, all-purpose cleaner for anything from dishes to floors to hand-wash-only sweaters.

I'm fairly certain that TBFWATWAS would have found that pretty darned fascinating, actually.  This is the kid who didn't like the very expensive vacuum cleaner his mother purchased and went out to buy one for his own use.  He also buys his own cleaning products and has the most well-stocked first aid kit in his backpack that I've ever seen.  Yeah.  He would have probably missed his bus for the chance to hear all about the castille soap situation.

But I didn't dare chance it.  We'd crossed enough boundaries for one day and I think it's good for kids to take their own journeys of discovery.  I'm happy with how mine worked out for me.

I'm rethinking the fragrance thing, though.  I don't think I can take another afternoon spent with a kid's nose in my head.  I'm going to look for something different.

Maybe something in a "homework scent..."


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

WNBP: Spring Is In The Air

Ah...March!  It always amazes me how I can have a week off in February and so completely lose track of time.  When school starts back up, I leave the house in broad daylight instead of pitch blackness and I suddenly start thinking that spring might just make it to my corner of the world after all.

The downside is that it is not spring yet and no one really has any patience left for this winter nonsense.  I think that it is worse to have to suffer through this particular time of year with middle school students.  Suffice it to say, it has been a long stretch since those halcyon days of winter break.

I'm just going to use the Wednesday Night Bullet Post to work through it all.

*I am seriously not going to make it another four months with these kids.  It is them or me.

*What am I saying?  I know perfectly well how this is going to play out.

*It is them.

*They have youth and sheer numbers on their side.  I am but one old, tired woman...

*The Very Complicated Kitty has decided to take a break from wallpaper removal.

*He's back to removing the molding from around the bedroom door.

*Serves two purposes.

*One: Redecorating.

*Two: Making me get up at the crack of dawn because this results in food and his general amusement.

*Students have their uses.

*Spunky Girl's sister is a Girl Scout.

*The kind who sells cookies once a year.

*Spunky Girl arrived at school yesterday laden with bags.

*Filled with cookies.

*My order plus all the ones that she got when I took her cute little face all over the school and guilted my colleagues into buying.

*I am eating too many cookies now.

*I may have gotten a little over-enthusiastic when I saw the cookie form...

*Cookies are keeping me from sock knitting.

*Hey, it's almost spring.  How many socks do I really need?

*Cookies are for all seasons.

*The Future Farmer came back from lunch today blushing, stuttering and sweating.

*Girl punched him repeatedly.  Then asked him to sit with her and her friends.  Who giggled at him for fifteen minutes.

*In addition to the whole spring-thing, Love is also in the air...

*Best Conversation Of The Day:

*Future Farmer:  She's in my gym class!  What am I gonna do?  Am I supposed to talk to her?  Omigod, I can't feel my feet!!!

*Ms. Sheep:  Calm down.  We'll get you through this.  Just breathe...

*(the boy who is) Dark & Disturbed:  (kneeling down so he is eye level with the hyperventilating younger boy):  It's OK, little feller.  Relax.  The Love Doctor is here.

*MS:  The Love...oh for crying out loud!!!  You never leave the classroom.  You just sit there predicting the end of days!

D&D:  Hey!  I am TOO the Love Doctor!  Just the other day, this clerk at the store asked if I was 18.  I'm a chick magnet!

MS:  I'm feeling very dizzy right now.  And you are 14.  I am going to start putting up posters to that effect immediately.  Then I'm calling your mother.  And any state agency who will take my call.

D&D:  (waving off the threat dismissively):  Look, little dude.  Here's what you do.  Quote the Bible.

(silence and puzzled looks all around)

D&D:  I'm serious.  It makes you sound wicked smart.

MS:  Wha.....???

D&D marched to the front of the classroom and for the next minute proceeded to pace and gesture dramatically whilst quoting scripture as if born into the pulpit.  There was nary a closed mouth nor a dry eye in the house.  He finished and there was silence, broken only when Ms. Sheep finally dared to speak.

MS:  Wow.  That sounded...wicked smart.  I am not sure about that saucy wink at the end, though.

D&D:  Too creepy?  I kind of thought it might be too creepy, but the ladies seem to like it...

MS:  Just so you know, they do not cover this in any college class I ever took.

*It might help you to know that D&D owns an extensive collection of Japanese fighting swords, writes his own manga and will only break up his black wardrobe with festive touches of gray.

*He's kind of a Renaissance Man, I guess...

*I've been reading a lot of really good books lately.

*Well-written books.  With finely crafted sentences and imagery so sharp you could cut your finger on the page.

*I think I may have lost my ability to appreciate a "fun read."

*Too much fillet Mignon and you can't see the beauty in a simple burger, I suppose.

*I think that's why I had a hard time getting into Tempest Rising (Jane True).

*This is the sort of book whose advertising has something along the lines of "If you like Sookie Stackhouse..."  in the wording somewhere.

*I like the Southern Vampires series.  Honest, I do!

*But, after finishing The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker it was kind of jarring to read something so contemporary and not so much with the "literary."

*But I am a simple girl with simple roots and a love of hamburgers so I stayed the course!

*Everyone needs a fun read every now and again, right?

*I'm so determined to get back to the fun that I also picked up the sequel, Tracking the Tempest (Jane True).

*This isn't the best series I've read, but it is a nice quick fix when everything else you want to read has yet to hit the shelves.  

*And it's fun.

*Heads up:  I read a few online reviews for this one and several people commented that they mistakenly got this for their young teen readers.  The cover art does make it look like a YA/Middle Grade book, after all.

*Ignore the Bratz Doll image.  This is not a novel for your impressionable offspring.  Adults only, dear friends.

*Spring may be in the air and cafeteria romance on the rise, but let's not rush things here!

I see by the clock on the wall and the gathering of starving felines at my feet that it is time to move on.  I'll need to get an outfit suitable for work tomorrow if I want to keep paying for the foodstuffs these two seem to be demanding.  Spring fever and the brightening of our mornings is no excuse for altering the schedule, after all.

Maybe if I don my best black sweatshirt and start reading from the Bible, they'll be impressed enough to stop yowling.  I'm not doing the wink, though...


Monday, March 07, 2011

A Matter Of Taste

There really is no accounting for taste.  Nor is there any way to get around the fact that we all have our own opinions regarding what "works" and what "so totally doesn't."

I see handknits proudly displayed and worn that don't quite fit my own personal taste.  I often hear people rave over meals that leave me feeling nothing but an overwhelming urge to go get a pizza. I don't love every pair of shoes I see on the feet of my friends and colleagues.  On the flip side, I'm pretty sure that there are people out there who are saying the same thing about my stuff right at this very moment.

Sometimes "taste" can even fool you.  I came into my classroom today only to hear The Boy For Whom All The World's A Stage belting out "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones.  I fairly clapped my hands to my bosom in shocked delight!

"I must be a truly amazing educator to have so influenced this lad's musical ear," I thought to myself.  "Why, he is now crooning one of my absolute favoritest songs ever! And I never even so much as mentioned it, let alone taught a Music Appreciation class!!!"

It turns out that I was less of a fabulous teacher and more of an irresponsible cell phone owner.  While I was downstairs helping to supervise a student in gym class, my phone's distinctive ring tone could be heard emanating from my office.  It was a near thing for TBFWATWAS since the Cheerful Teaching Assistant thought it was his phone and nearly took away this only link to the outside world that he isn't supposed to have in class.  The situation was resolved by everyone standing in my office with their ears cocked towards my purse.  Education as we know it ground to a halt thanks to my inability to remember to hit the "off" button.

By the time I got back, the poor boy was recovered from his near-trauma but now unable to get the song out of his head.  Maybe I influenced his taste after all...

Thankfully, the purse everyone was staring at is a cute one.  I don't much think about style when it comes to other stuff, though.  Interiors, for example, I barely think about at all.  Furniture is for setting things on.  Walls are for keeping out the zombie hordes and propping up the clutter.  I don't agonize over paint chips and I have never once wondered if my space is a "reflection" of anything.  But when you have roommates, you sometimes have to live with a conflict of opinions when it comes to decoration.

The Very Complicated Kitty has taken an active dislike to the wallpaper in the living room.  A very active dislike.  A dislike so intense that it has inspired him to remove it three square inches at a time.  I wake in the middle of the night to subtle tearing sounds.  When I stumble out in the morning, I shuffle through drifts of paper scraps.  Most of his work is near the baseboards, but I am now finding little swipes taken at heights which are well above the reach of the average feline.  Apparently, his hatred of the wallpaper has escalated and we are now in full-on worker mode with or without the usual tools of the trade.

HEY!!!  Teh union rules sez I gets a stepladder and a thirty minute lunch!!!

I suppose this isn't exactly the sort of thing I should be tolerating.  Cats who tear up the wallpaper are generally thought of as "bad cats."  But I've put a great deal of time and energy into reprogramming this train wreck of a beast and I'm really just too tired to care at this point.  Besides, it's not like my attention to decorating detail is so keen that I took care of the places where the paper was coming up in the first place.  He's not really wrong in his decision to deal with the situation.  It is something that needed doing and if the VCK wants to do it, more power to him.  One less thing for me to worry about.

What does concern me is how his Absurdly Gi-normous brother has started picking at the carpets.  I am willing to paint, but I am so totally NOT putting down new carpets.  I don't care what it says about my taste in home furnishings or if the resident felines think we need a new color palette.

I'll just grab my purse and let it play some Ramones.  That'll drown out any further commentary...


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

WNBP: Day 2 Is Harder

Everyone at school was in agreement on one thing.  The second day back is harder than the first.  At least we had that in common.  My students were so grumpy and out of sorts that they had little patience for things like structure, order, direction and education.  As for the staff, we weren't so thrilled with that either, but we didn't really have the same freedom to voice our objections.  It sort of felt unfair to have to do it all over again after we made the supreme sacrifice of returning to work following a week's vacation.
We did it for one day.  Why should we have to do a second?

I'm exhausted from arguing all day.  I'm just going to do the Wednesday Bullet Post because that is easy and doesn't require that I justify every single decision I have made.  The WNBP doesn't think I'm stupid because I happen to believe hanging from the doors and swinging merrily back and forth is a bad idea during math class...

*Having a snow day Monday really screwed things up for me.  How am I supposed to get back into the routine when Mother Nature is determined to keep me snuggled up in bed??????

*We are in trouble with the snow days.  The government has some fairly strong thoughts regarding the number of days children go to school.

*Our district does "build in" make up days, but that doesn't take the sting out of having to go longer than you'd hoped.

*Plus we got the memo reminding us that we all have to go to teacher workshops the week after school gets out.

*My department has to go for the full four days.  


*We get paid for it...but still say, "Boo."

*I was tired at a meeting a while back and not paying attention.  Didn't hear the call for "volunteers."

*Hence, I was the last to shout, "Not it!"

*This means I am now on the committee that is responsible for the workshops during the first week of summer vacation.

*Got the email today confirming my being added to the committee roster and welcoming me aboard.

*These are my new friends.

*I shall have no others amongst my teaching peers from this day forward.

*Wore my new socks today.

*The ones I finished over vacation.

*Nice!  Even on a day when you are struggling to get from one minute to the next.

*There came a point today where the Cheerful Teaching Assistant looked at me in mild horror and said, "My God.  You are one step away from having your own cult..."

*All because I told her how I was growing my own sprouts in Mason jars on the kitchen counter.

*Visions of me in some remote compound with my merry band of off-the-grid followers...

*That is ridiculous.

*Two words:  Zombie Apocalypse.

*I will need sustenance in those dark days and have no plans for wandering out to hoe the garden whilst the living dead are shambling through my yard.

*Besides, it was just a few pinto beans.  That doesn't make me a hard core survivalist.

*Now, if the pea sprouts work out then we can talk about reclassifying me.

*I miss being able to read all day.  That was a nice vacation perk.

*I finished Fallen in short order.

*Was then compelled to read the sequel, Torment (Fallen).

*The cover art on these books is stunning.  

*I was kind of stymied after I was done.  What should I read next?  

*Sort of felt like I'd had enough Teen Angst And Youthful Drama.

*I teach young teens so it is probably good that I break things up a bit.

*Sometimes a book title is so intriguing that you just can't help yourself.

*The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

*Seriously.  Tell me you don't want to at least click to see what's up with that??????

*I clicked and then had to purchase because you gotta respect an author who says, "I'm going with the crazy-long title and to heck with how much of the cover it takes up!"

*A nicely grown up book with all sorts of ghosties and spookies.

*But classy and proper as befits the Victorian sensibilities.

*Sequels and series are my weakness so, of course I had to get the next one.

*The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker

*Again with the long, but strangely satisfying title.

*I finished that one earlier this evening and found myself stuck again.  

*I'm giving Tempest Rising (Jane True) a shot.

*Also some rather nifty cover art.  

*I'm not sure about this one, though.  I'll get back to you.

*All the books I really want to read are sequels and not out yet so I'm really in something of a holding pattern...

*I discovered today that there is a big difference between sitting at home and occasionally chatting with the cats and spending seven hours standing up and talking to students.

*Opened up that tongue wound incurred during my recent dentist appointment.


*Best Conversation Of The Day:

Ms. Sheep:  This has been a horrible day.  I hate everyone and everything and am now just looking for reasons to eat chocolate for dinner.

Little Farmer Boy:  (tossing his science worksheet to the floor)  I'm not doing this!!!

MS:  Oh, yes you are, young man!  And since when do you tell me what we do in this class???

LFB:  Well, you said you wanted a reason...

MS:  In your own way, I think you like me a little bit.

After a long day, a sore tongue and with the blessing of the Little Farmer Boy, I felt that some chocolate ice cream was in order. What the heck?  I was eating sprouted, steamed beans for dinner and that is healthy enough to justify ice cream without having to resort to Kid Approval.  Besides, tomorrow is Day three.

I don't anticipate things magically becoming simpler.