Wednesday, September 26, 2012

With Both Feet

The thing I really hate about September is how everything seems to go into overdrive.  I barely have a minute to appreciate the change of seasons and the beauty of the autumnal leaves because my whole life becomes consumed by the return to school and the four billion things that all have to be done right now lest we all perish in a horrific judgmental fire.  Which is why we have ten fire drills per week, I guess.

I might be exaggerating just a bit there.  But not by much.  We jump in with both feet and to heck with anything remotely resembling a "transition period."

Fortunately, I have a nice little blog to come home to.  It doesn't ask for much, only that I stop by once a week to give it a little attention.  The Wednesday Night Bullet Post seems to make it happy and it is a mighty fine thing to be able to say you spread a little joy around midweek.

Here's this week's bullet points:

*Today was Wear Full Shoes Instead Of Sandals For The First Time Since April day.

*I whined about the blisters on my heels all the way to my car this afternoon when school let out.

*The people still in sandals somehow looked very smug and superior to me, but I don't care.

*They'll get theirs any day now!

*We are almost finished with the school district achievement testing.

*My class usually gets tested last due to smaller numbers so we will probably still be doing that when next week rolls around.

*That is something of a problem given that we start state mandated achievement testing on Monday.

*That is the Very Big And Challenging Test That No One Likes And For Which Every Student Blames His Or Her Teacher.

*We, in turn, blame the administrators because proctoring and administering these things is a nightmare.

*I don't know who the administrators blame.  I assume they just wander around town pointing their fingers accusingly at anyone who dares to make eye contact when testing time rolls around...

*Achievement testing in the fall doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.  Kids haven't learned much in the way of new stuff yet.

*And they've managed to forget half of what they learned the previous year.

*Heck, I barely can recall what I taught them back then but that could be more of an age related thing on my end.

*The other thing I hate about going back to school is that it is time for my feet to go all puff-i-fied again.

*My feet are fine in the summer.

*The minute they see where are back at school, they suddenly go all third trimester on me.

*Stupid feet.  I've tried explaining to them that I am not standing or sitting for any more time than I did during the summer.  I'm careful about that.

*They just get excited or something and don't want to see reason.

*A couple of weeks ago, my phone rang after 8:00.

*My phone does not ring after 8:00.  Not on a school night.  Everyone knows about school nights in my world.

*School nights require the locating of matching shoes and shirts that do not have holes in unseemly places.

*That takes some time...

*Only emergency calls come after 8:00 on a school night and I feared the worst.  Especially when it turned out to be Mommy Sheep on the phone.

*I braced myself for the worst.  The last time I got one of these calls, I had to go out and buy a whole new funeral outfit since it turns out I don't have anything remotely mournful enough.

*And I can't wear that again because everyone has seen it and besides the seasons have changed.

*She was only calling to ask how I felt about Mustangs.

*I like Mustangs.  Both the horses and the cars.

*This wasn't about horses.

*For those who haven't caught on, my parents have a new car.

*For those who have caught on and are wondering about the details, they include, "cherry red," "2013" and "convertible."

*Yes.  It is true.  My parents are cooler than I will ever be.  Ever.  When they jump, they jump big.

*I drive a crossover station wagon.

*The kind you see soccer moms tooling around in...

*I don't hate.  Mommy and Daddy Sheep worked hard and deserve to enjoy life in a convertible.

*Plus they can drive it when they head south for the winter and that will be fun.

*Florida. Where, as Daddy Sheep puts it, you can't throw a rock without hitting an old fart in a sports car.


*The home improvement frenzy here at the manse continues unabated.

*Except for the part where I have to go to school on my puffy feet and test kids.

*I'm not sure if I was motivated to do this too late or if the summer ended too soon...

*Last weekend, I painted an accent wall in the living room.

*Which sounds easy but it wasn't because I have a Very Complicated Kitty who stripped most of the wallpaper for me a while back.

*And more of the drywall than I care to mention.

*Repairs took a while.

*But the wall is now painted a lovely shade of Toasted Pumpernickel.

*The bathroom, if you will recall, was painted in Belgian Waffle.

*I told the people at the hardware store that I'm going with a Modern Carbs theme.

*Had I known I was going to suddenly feel a desire to do all this, I might have forced my summer-not-puffy-feet to move a little quicker.

*Weekends are getting a bit tiring for me.

*I am redecorating on a budget.  Something along the lines of...wait a minute...

*Carry the subtract the other number...and...

*Oh, yeah.  That'd be a budge of "close to nothing."

*Hence, there has been a great deal of repurposing and recycling of stuff.

*Like those brass (ish) switchplate covers I thought were ever so sophisticated back in the 90's.

*And which now seem so very garish on my nice pumpernickel wall.

*I found a can of matte black spray paint in a clearance bin and figured the budget might stretch to cover it.

The need for a flash means the wall color isn't even close to what it is in real life.  But you get the idea.

*There wasn't a can of polyurethane on the clearance rack so I had to be careful with the screwdriver.

*And still managed to  put a little gouge in it.  I just squint when I look at it and then everything gets blurry enough to make it all look nice.

*I'm only ever going to invite very nearsighted people over from this point forward.  It will be fine.

*Reading hasn't been much of a priority since I decided to jump into the whole home improvement thing.

*And test kids until they cry.

*But I managed to find time to finally read The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.

*Somehow, I ended up reading one of the later books in the series years ago and I really wanted to go back and experience the first one.

*Yay for digital library loans!

*I also picked up my own copy of Taken (An Alex Verus Novel).

*Slow progress on that one, but not because I don't like it.  I do like it.  Love it, in fact.

*But that one is on my iPad and not the less expensive reader I can carry anywhere without fear of dropping it in the tub.

*I read about the trials of Alex Verus at bedtime and I'm tired from the testing, painting, foot massaging and being less cool than my parents.

*Tend to fall asleep before I get past three pages.

*Still, I highly recommend this series.  Great fun and a fabulous premise.

*I might even get this one finished sometime before Christmas break.

*When I can finally put my feet up and stop jumping around like a crazed grasshopper...

And that just about covers it.  If it doesn't, then it will have to do.  I haven't gotten to the point where I know what I'm wearing tomorrow and that has me just the slightest bit concerned.  It is also after 7:00 and I still haven't managed to cobble together some dinner.  If too much more time passes, I might have to settle for getting only one of those things done before bedtime and that isn't going to end well no matter which way I go.

One needs strength and appropriate footwear if one plans on continuing to jump...


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

WNBP: One Week Was Enough

Hello, Wednesday!  Nice to see you.  It is really impressive the way you roll around once a week like clockwork.  You are an incredibly prompt day and I salute your responsible ways.

That said...I surely do wish you had more of a Friday vibe going on.  This whole "working full time, five days a week" thing is really starting to wear thin.  And I'm saying that after having only really worked for one full week since the school year started up again.

No offense intended.  You are what you are, dear Wednesday.  And I shall give you your due since it's not your fault you aren't Friday.  Here is your weekly Wednesday Night Bullet Post as a reward for all your hard work and relentless dedication to showing up once every seven days!

*I worked five days in a row last week.

*This week, I have a dentist appointment on Friday so I won't be working five days in a row.

*I think that it is perfectly reasonable given that it was never my idea to make the work week five days long in the first place...

*I went to a training this morning.  Thought I might get to see the Cheerful Teaching Assistant and visit for a bit before we both went back to our respective new jobs in other buildings.

*I didn't.  But she caught the Organized Teaching Assistant and sent a hello my way.

*The New Teaching Assistant is working out very well.  I really like her.

*But I haven't come up with a nickname for her yet.  For now, we'll just stick with NTA.  At least until I come up with something better.

*Those of you reading this blog from The Way Back will recall the time I had the monkey pox (which was really pneumonia) and how I had to call in sick for days and days.  Then for another day when I suddenly spiked a fever of 104.

*A lot of people were out sick that day.  The poor school secretary was overwhelmed by the time I chimed in with my request for an absence.

*That was the NTA.

*Odd how things come full circle...

*I didn't even know she'd switched from the front office to the classroom.  Apparently, it's been a while.

*Glad she did, though.  She's really very good.  Used to work with the more severely disabled students.

*Which explains why she found a go-normous diaper in her school bag today.

*We don't often find a use for those in my classroom, but I am getting closer to that age where continence might be compromised.  Maybe it's a sign of some sort and I should be looking into restocking my own school bag...

*Last night was Open House Night at my school.  Parents were invited to come and see the glory of public education in all its finery from 6:00-7:00.

*I had a few visitors, more than is usual.

*But still a long night and I was dog-tired when I finally made it home.

*Since I haven't been sleeping well due to some tummy troubles for several days now, it was no surprise that I fell into a sleepin' and droolin' state the moment my head hit the pillow.

*I can't be certain, but I think I might have either slept in one position without moving or spent the night rolling boulders up a hill.

*It's one of those because my neck and shoulder are killing me today.

*And I'm still exhausted which further props up my point regarding the foolishness of the five day work week.

*Never been so glad to have a dentist appointment in my life.  And I hate my dentist so that is saying something!

*The New Teaching Assistant would like some fingerless mitts.  The simple crocheted kind.

*I said I could do it easy-peasy and meant it.

*But it is still about a billion degrees outside, so I didn't feel too pressured to get going on this project.

*Today, whilst cleaning out the school bag, the NTA found a pair of mittens.

*They were right under the gigantic adult diapers.

*Thinking she might be embarrassed to find mittens in her school bag under the adult diapers during the warm weather months, I said, "Well, those could come in handy now that we have recess at our school.  It's really good of you to be prepared like that."

*Her reply?

*"Well, I wouldn't need them if I had some crocheted, fingerless mitts now would I?"

*See why I like her?  Even if she couldn't find me a sub during the horrible Monkey Pox days.

*The dealership where I get my car serviced just sent me a reminder that I will die if I don't get my tires replaced soon.

*They pointed out that they pointed this out several weeks ago.  That is a double point.

*The fact that I have already paid them oodles of dollars to replace those tires seems to be beside the point over at the dealership.

*If I do end up dying over not replacing the tires I already replaced, I am going to feel really stupid.

*But I'm taking that chance.

*I guess that is a reason for working five days in a row:  paying for new tires and the postage needed to mail me reminders about tires I don't need.

*I've been listening to the audio version of Beautiful Darkness (Beautiful Creatures, Book 2) to help pass the commute required for a five day work week.

*Since driving around for five days takes a long time, I was able to finish it and am now listening to Beautiful Chaos (Beautiful Creatures).

*I think I might have had a bad download because the audio was horrible at first.

*The reader sounded like he had the worst lisp in the world.

*Everything straightened itself out today, though.  And the enjoyment continues!!!

*I think I would have liked this one in print form just as much, but I have to say I'm pretty hooked on the audiobook.

*Almost makes me wish I was commuting to work on Friday.


Yes, I worked one whole week before caving.  And I'm not going to apologize for my weakness, although I still sort of feel like I should.  For what it's worth, I am not the one who suggested that dentist appointments come every six months any more than I am the one who dreamed up the five day work week.

It just turned out that way, darn it all.  What else can I do?


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

WNBP: Back In The Swing

There isn't much to say about being back in school full time.  It is what it is.  Getting up every morning pays the bills and it is actually kind of nice to have a routine in place.  Sort of.  I mean, let's face it.  The pace you set for yourself is always much more palatable.

But the time for that is over.  This week is the first full five days of school in a row and it's time to get back into the swing of it all.  I don't think the sunny days of summer would be half so sweet if I didn't have the school year for contrast.

At least that's what I'm telling myself.

And, as part of my dedication to looking at the bright side, I am forced to admit that a regular work week makes Wednesday easier to spot.  This year Wednesday should actually stand out a bit more, given that it is going to be a different kind of work day.  I might even start remembering the Wednesday Night Bullet Post before the sun starts to set and prime time television begins making its way towards my screen!

Here's your bullet points for this week:

*Our school district is using Wednesdays to accommodate two hours of staff development time this year.

*That means a two hour delay for students.

*But a longer work day with less prep time for staff.

*It's worth it, though.  We are saving literally tens of thousands of dollars on subs and finally able to keep up with the teacher training that needs to happen in any given school year.

*Daycare is being provided for families who need it.

*The community, for the most part, is on board with this.

*Today was the first delayed start day.  It went fairly well.

*Only one staff person forgot and, by my count, only one bus screwed up the later run.

*Of course, it happened to be my new teaching assistant's daughter that got left standing by the curb.

*Which meant that my new teaching assistant had to leave school to go get her because she was hysterical at the thought of missing school.

*I honestly don't understand the kids of today.

*In my day, when the bus didn't pick you up you stayed home, watched cartoons and you liked it, by God!!!

*Wait...I have to go get the lumpy, misshapen biscuits out of the oven.

*There.  Now I have lumpy, misshapen biscuits.  Life can go on.

*I brought the car back in on Saturday to finish up all the work required for my state inspection.

*I'm in for five hundred bucks now but the car passed.

*I spent Sunday driving around so I could wave gaily at the local police on patrol.

*I think they appreciated my pointing out my shiny new inspection sticker.

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty loves the shiny new sticker.

*The cost of the car repair meant I had to cancel the dental cleaning he had scheduled for today.

*I love the AGK and it shames me to no end that we have reached the point where a dental cleaning is necessary.

*It costs more to clean a cat's teeth than it does mine.

*I do not require full anesthesia for a cleaning.

*Although, considering my dentist, I should probably consider it...

*I'll be bringing the foul-mouthed feline in next month, lest you think I am a bad mother who doesn't care if her baby has gingivitis.

*For all my grousing about the new school year, I really do have to say that I kind of like my new job.

*Still an intensive caseload, but intensive in a different way.

*Like I said in the teacher's room today:

I can't believe no one has thrown a chair at my head yet!

*Tomorrow we have been invited to shuck corn in the cafeteria's kitchen.

*It's Celebrate Local Produce Day.

*I don't have to come up with a lesson plan for shucking corn in the kitchen.  I just take the kids down and we shuck corn in the kitchen.

*Which is good because my school-issued laptop isn't printing with any kind of reliability and lesson planning has been something of a crap shoot now that I can't share any of my brilliant materials with the eager pupils.

*There is a fire drill tomorrow.

*Which I have only just realized is scheduled right in the middle of corn-shuckin' time.

*That should go well.  A bunch of kids still getting used to the new schedule...corn...shrieking alarm bells...

*Yeah.  I can't possibly envision a scenario where things go badly.

*The cats don't seem disturbed in the least that I am leaving them every day.

*In fact, they seem kind of happy about it.

*Which makes me wonder exactly what the heck goes on around here all day when I'm gone!!

*I have less time for reading these days, but I'm doing my very best.

*I finished A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy).

*With time to spare before it needed to be digitally returned to the library, I might add.

*Probably going to cut it a little close with the sequel, though.

* Rebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy Book #2) is really good, perhaps even better than the first in the trilogy.

*But I've had the whole school thing going on and that has seriously cut into my reading time.

*We have a sustained silent reading period at school, but it seems that I spend most of my time signing bathroom passes and telling people they should be reading.  

*Oddly, I find I can't make much progress on a story while at school.  Weird, that...

*But, the bills will be paid this month (if you don't count the whole crusty-mouthed-cat-thing) so I'm going to accept the situation for what it is.

*And remember that there is bound to be a vacation week hidden in the school calendar somewhere.

Well, I must dash.  Part of staying in the swing of things is making sure that I have clean underpants for the work day and figuring out if there is anything in the fridge that might constitute a lunch.  You have to allow enough time for that or you'll end up with underpants in your lunch bag and no one wants that.

Trust me.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

WNBP: Not Into It At All!!!

This year's summer vacation was longer than is usual.  That is good.  We like the vacation time.  And, while it took me a while to get into the summer groove, I like to think I did the season proud when all was said and done.

I'm good at summer vacation.  If my stuttering re-entry into the world of teaching is any indication, I should probably consider doing summer vacation on more of a full time basis.  Seriously.  This whole "getting up and going somewhere that doesn't allow bedroom slippers" nonsense is really just not working out for me at all.  I can't seem to get into it and I suspect this is going to be a problem if I don't get myself together soon.

Here's your bullet points for this lovely Wednesday.  If nothing else, I can say I've managed to keep to the blogging schedule in these dire and uncertain times...

*I almost said, "forget the blog" tonight.  I'm all flustered and out of sorts and perhaps thought that punishing the blog would do something about that.

*It's not the blog's fault I spent the last few days of summer vacation in complete and utter denial regarding the need to get up at 5:00 on Tuesday morning in order that I might start another school year. The blog had nothing to do with that at all.

*Hence, I shall feed the blog and do so with something resembling good grace.

*After yesterday's lengthy round of teacher workshops, I was spent and not looking forward to the kids arrival come Wednesday.

*The best line of the day, "Um, Ms. Sheep?  You don't think we have kids tomorrow, do you?"

*I did.

*How the heck did I manage to forget that we have an extra day of workshops this year due to all the building changes?????

*That is a fairly significant detail, the whole kids vs. no kids thing.

*My school used to be a 7th and 8th grade middle school.

*Now it is a 6th and 7th grade middle school and this honestly did require a whole extra day of discussion.

*I'm not being facetious.  There were great differences between how the 6th grade school was run and how the middle school went about its business.  We still haven't completely come to agreement on how we are going to manage some of it.

*I just sit back quietly and nod sagely, like I really have deep thoughts on the matter.

*I've moved classrooms, schools and school districts about five billion times to date.  It's all the same to me.

*Yesterday, Mr. Principal introduced each of the new teaching teams and handed out school t-shirts sporting our respective team colors.  Everyone had to say what they taught, how many years they've been teaching and how long they've worked for the school district.

*I don't quite know how I feel about being forced to admit I've been doing this for a quarter of a century...

*The last day of summer vacation was not relaxing.  I had no car, having left it in the tender, loving care of the dealership the previous morning.

*When I got it back, it still hadn't passed its state inspection and required many, many dollars to release.

*Also a promise to return it for the rest of the work next weekend.

*Then I had to go register said vehicle with the town and pay my excise tax.

*All this irked me beyond belief because I wanted to keep those dollars with me.

*Furthermore, there was a Dr. Who marathon on.

*I do not feel that I should be running around doing things I put off doing until the last minute when there is a Dr. Who marathon on.

*That should be a law.

*My bathroom startles me.

*I go in there and it's not my bathroom.

It's clean and someone painted it!!!

*I think I like Belgian Waffle as a paint color.

*Almost as much as I like Belgian Waffles...

*Over the last month of summer vacation, I cleared my bedroom of a great deal of outdated clothing and furniture.

*I cleaned the kitchen and got rid of more useless gadgetry than any one person should ever have.

*I have come to accept that I am a stupidly sentimental person who will save a candy wrapper if I can attach meaning to it.

*No.  Seriously.  I found a Sentimental Candy Bar Wrapper Of Great Emotional Import in a kitchen cupboard.

*I no longer own the wrapper.  There has to be a limit to sentimentality.

*And now I have a place to put my yogurt maker!

*My Nook account doesn't have much in it.  But, since I was rummaging around in that particular section of my electronic library, I figured I'd read some stuff.

*I found the first three books in the Dulcie O'Neil series and decided to re-read To Kill A Warlock: The Dulcie O'Neil Series (Volume 1).

*What the heck?  It's there and it's a fun little story that comes with other fun little stories.  Why not give it a read?

*The start of the new school year is a good time for fun little stories, just to keep things light and whatnot.

* I need "light."  Most of my focus really needs to be centered around getting up in the morning and remembering what I have to do to be presentable.

*That isn't going well so far.  Good thing we had the second workshop day or I would have been sunk this morning.

*The good thing about commuting again is that I get to listen to the audiobooks I've been saving for just this time of the year.

*Thrilled to be finally listening to Beautiful Darkness (Beautiful Creatures, Book 2)!

*Finally allowing myself the pleasure almost makes me forget that I am in the car and wearing shoes.

*At least I hope I wore shoes.

*The way things have been going, there is a good chance I wasn't but I don't want to think about it too much.

*Nothing I can do about it now, right?

Well, tomorrow I can only hope I've come to terms with my new reality.  The kids will be arriving whether I am shod or not and me showing up in slippers might just set a bad tone for the rest of the year.  I'm going to get to bed early tonight and think positive thoughts for me getting out the door sometime around the scheduled 6:00 departure time.

I figure I have a 50/50 shot but that's better than I expected...