Wednesday, December 26, 2012

WNBP: The Best Laid Plans

At long is here!  The holiday break from school is the first "big" vacation and one that comes with oodles and oodles of awesomeness.  I have learned through the years that it is best to keep one's Christmas expectations reasonable.  It is a little too easy to let those visions of sugar plums grow into gargantuan monsters named Gotta Do and Shoulda Done and that always leads to a let down after the fact.  I'm pretty good these days about keeping my promises of holiday perfection to a level I might reasonably achieve.

The vacation part, however, is always a little bit dicey.  Somehow, I think that I have way more time than I actually possess.  I forget that there is the whole "holiday" thing plonked down right at the beginning of it all and that there will be one or two "reasonable achievements" I need to get finished.  Or that I might be a wee bit wiped out after all that reasonable achieving and need a day of down time.

Then there's the after holiday sales.  Those trip me up every time.  I can't be home remodeling the bathroom if I'm doing battle at the clearance table.

Still...a vacation isn't anything to sneeze at.  Vacations rock the house, remodeled bathroom or not.  They make remembering getting in a Wednesday Night Bullet Post on the right day a little tricky, but I usually manage it.  And tonight is no exception!

Here's your Christmas Vacation Version of the weekly highlights:

*I managed to survive the two days of teacher workshops scheduled right before break.

*We used to do these before Thanksgiving.  It was still Fall and we were all still rather excited to be educating the future of our great land.  Hence, we were pretty darned invested.

*Now they do it right before the holidays.  When everyone can only think about the unwrapped presents and unbaked snickerdoodles.

*We lack investment.

*Usually, I'm late signing up for workshops and have to take the leftovers.

*This year, I caught a break.  The registration system went down right after opening and kicked all the early birds out.

*I logged in seconds after everything went "live" again and the world was my oyster!!

*The goal of workshops is to "take away."

*As in "stuff you can use with kids."

*I scored big.  My first session ended with me connecting to a program that educates kids about the stereotyping of the elderly and has some pretty neat opportunities for community service.

*My "making paper beads" workshop with The Cheerful Teaching Assistant was great.  There are several math lessons in there and I made a whole bunch of beads.

*All of which looked exactly like little festive joints.

*My paper was too small.

*However, I achieved a perfectly tight roll.

*Had I only mastered this skill back in college, I'd have been the belle of the ball.

*At least with that group who always hung out in the dorm basement...

*The mandatory sessions and keynotes were a letdown.

*One of them made a grown man cry.  And I'm not talking figuratively, here.

*We were tired.  And the Mayans were having some sort of temper tantrum over the world not ending so it was raining sideways by 10:00.

* I'm really only surprised we didn't lose more to the Weepies.

*My last "choice" session was so amazing that it made up for the tears, raindrops and mind-numbing keynotes.

*I can't really use this one with the kids.  It's too complicated.  But I don't care.

*I now have the most amazing thing ever in the history of stuff!

It's a bag crafted from recycled coffee bags and duct tape!!!!

*My apologies for the bad photo.  I had to do a quick and very last minute upload from my phone since I forgot to take a better one earlier.

*Totally couldn't wait to show you the awesomeness of my most couture of coffee bag bags!

*When I got home I added interior pockets.  Now it is more perfect!

*With workshops out of the way, holiday prep could begin in earnest.

*I baked cheesy bread.

*I baked challah.

*I made my first attempt at my Aunt Marge's cardamom braided Christmas bread.

*And I wrapped.

*And I wrapped.

*And I wrapped some more.

*Note to self:  Do not leave wrapping until Christmas Eve.

*Second note to self:  Do not leave notes to self that you have no intention of reading.  You do this every year and have learned nothing from your late-night paper wrangling.

*OK.  So perhaps I did set myself up a bit with the expectations.

*I think it might have been more of a procrastination issue, but still...

*There were a few moments of quiet desperation.

*Short-lived, thankfully!

*Breakfast at the Sheepish Parental Household was scheduled for 8:00 a.m.  Sharp.

*I was right on time.  8:30.

*That is within the acceptable parameters.

*My acceptable parameters.

*I had wrapped presents so no one commented.

*And, you know what?  Christmas came whether I was late or not and Santa left all my presents at Mommy and Daddy's house just like he always does.

*And we still had our annual Orange Juice With Pulp Or Without Pulp debate, right on schedule.  It all worked out.

*I was well-gifted.

*My parents were each short a gift, though.

*I ordered late and knew it might be tight.  I even accepted it when parcel tracking told me they wouldn't arrive until December 26th.

*My ordered items were at a facility 20 minutes from my home on Christmas Eve.

*Then they got the wanderlust.

*And went to a post office in Dover NH.

*Which is NOT 20 minutes from my home.

*The shipper optimistically predicted no change in the arrival date, though.

*As of this morning, my package was somewhere in New Jersey and I can't for the life of me figure out what I did to offend it enough that it would make the trek back to the mid-west.

*There is a major storm scheduled for tomorrow.  The shipper has put a disclaimer up in red lettering, although they don't seem to think it makes sense to change the arrival date of my package in any way.

*I like to think of this as a story I will tell later and find ever so entertaining.

*This is how I get by...

*Today, the after Christmas sales started.  I was excited because this year I was gifted with the means to participate in this time-honored tradition with wild abandon.

*Translation:  Mommy and Daddy Sheep tucked cash in various gifts under the tree and I have no plans whatsoever to be "sensible" with it.

*I knew which store I wanted to hit today because there was a great sale on and I also had a 20% off coupon.

*I was so excited that I could barely sleep.  So I went back to the website to peruse their goods a little longer.

*And discovered that they were opening at 5:00 this morning.

*I did not go to the store at 5:00 this morning.  That is just crazy.

*I went at 7:00 this morning.  Which is ever so much more sensible on a vacation day...

*The Early Bird sales were kind to me.  Very kind.

*Of course, I put a much bigger dent in the shopping budget than I planned so early in the game, but there is a storm coming so I was losing a day anyway.

*Justification.  That is also how I get by...

*Since I've been waiting for the next paycheck to pick up the new books I want to read, I've been accessing the digital download library as a stop gap measure.

*Figured I'd try The Furies Of Calderon series just for the heck of it.

*Started with Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, Book 1).

*It is quite good, but I am not really a fan of epic fantasy.  I lean more towards the "urban" variety of the genre.

*Still, it is well-written and engaging and very different from Jim Butcher's other works.  

*It's tiding me over until I can get some of the titles I really want.

*It wasn't how I planned to get the reading in this vacation, but what can you do?

*If nothing else, this season should prove to us that plans are really only there to get in in the way of what's actually going to happen.

So here I am on a Wednesday, once again realizing that I forgot to eat dinner and wondering if I can get away with leftover Christmas cookies as a food group.  That's another plan that went awry.  I honestly thought I'd be a bit more on track with meal planning now that there's no work to get in the way.

Of course, I also thought I'd get the wrapping done before darkness fell on Christmas Eve, that my parents might get their gifts only a little bit after the actual holiday and that I'd be able to sleep late during vacation.

But the gifts were delivered in festive paper and all baked goods were appreciated.  I even had something for my parents, if not exactly everything.  I've got enough leftovers from Christmas dinner and a whole bunch of cool stuff to keep me happy and entertained while I ride out the storm.  It's all good.

It's vacation.  How can it NOT be????


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WNBP: Not Quite, But Close

It's not really the last day of school before the holiday break.  I mean, it was...except not.  The kids are done.  Ms. Sheep isn't.

Ms. Sheep has to return for two days of mostly mind-numbing workshops before the powers that be will allow her to finally collapse in a giant heap of sugar coma.  This, the aforementioned powers seem to think, will make me a better person and a more dedicated educator.

We'll see about that.  I like to think the powers know stuff I don't because the alternative is kind of disturbing.

Meanwhile, I'm going to take what I can get.  It's two days without kids and a slightly later start to the work day.  If I don't focus on all the stuff I need to get done before the holidays, perhaps I can stay on task until the end of teacher workshops.

Or at least remain upright and semi-conscious...

Here's your Weekly Wednesday Night Bullet Post:

*Jolly Boy's mother likes to bake.

*She particularly likes to bake for Christmas.

*She is also an involved mother who enjoys including all her children in the process.

*She is quite creative, too!

*Which is why Jolly Boy showed up yesterday with homemade fudge wreaths for his teachers.

She puts a can in the middle of the cake tin and pours the fudge around it.  Seriously brilliant...

*I was prepared to be depressed that Jolly Boy didn't bring his mother's amazing cherry cookies again this year.

*But I got over it.


*I was going to have just fudge for dinner last night but that seemed wrong.

*So I had some leftover Christmas cookies that didn't fit into the goodie trays I was making up for staff gifts and that seemed to round things out nicely.

*Or round me out nicely...

*The Christmas tree remains upright, against all odds.

*And by, "against all odds," I mean "in spite of feline interference."

*They chew on it and steal the ornaments.

No.  This isn't cute at all.

*Almost took my darned arm off when I tried to get it back.

*OK.  It was one of the Decoy Ornaments I use on the bottom of the tree to distract Da Boyz from their more fragile counterparts, but still.  It's the principle of the thing.

*He Who...PROJECTS came to school today fully prepared (and a little resigned) to class participation.

*Then he learned that today was a Fun Day for those students on his academic team who had finished all their work.

*At which point, he invented the I Don't Have Any Work Today song.

*Followed quickly by the I Won't Have Any Homework Either song.

*There was a little dance involved as well.

*All done to the tune of Jingle Bells.

*I'd give you the lyrics, but we were all laughing so hard I managed to miss most of them.

*For the record, recent media reports are misleading to the point of making me furious.

*Not all persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder are prone to violent outbursts.

*They are individuals with unique temperaments and life experiences just like everyone else currently wandering the planet. They should not be classified according to the actions of one disturbed person who happens to have a similar diagnosis.

*Sometimes folks with ASD are prone to bursting into spontaneous song.

*But that is only if they don't have homework for Christmas vacation so I don't think the general public has to worry about it too much.

*The powers that be allow us to sign up for a couple of wellness sessions during the teacher workshops and I signed up early this year so I had my choice.

*I decided to try my hand at paper bead making.  I didn't look too closely at the description.  I just thought that might be fun and certainly something I could later do with my class.

*Today, I went back to check on what I needed to bring for the session.  And I was giddy to see who was teaching it.


*I like The New Teaching Assistant, but I miss my CTA.

*And tomorrow I get to make paper beads with her.

*If I remember to bring some paper with me since that is a class requirement.

*Unlike HW....P, I have homework.

*It is still school time for Ms. Sheep.

*I finished reading The Business of Death: The Death Works Trilogy.

*Really a bargain for all three books and a unique read.

*I'm not sure how I feel about the ending of the third book, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that it simply cannot end there.

*I'll keep you posted.

*After checking the budget, I decided that I should go with library downloads until after the holidays.

*It took some searching, but I managed to find a good one that no one else had snapped up.


*Because you really can't have enough versions of the coming apocalypse.

*And because blue zombies seem kind of festive...

I have checked the clock upon the wall and suddenly realized that I haven't eaten dinner yet.  And I promised myself I would start remembering dinner before 7:00 from now on and the fact that it is actually 7:07 isn't going to deter me.  I also need to get a handle on the fact that it is only "almost" vacation and that I need to get up for school (sort of) tomorrow.

It isn't quite time for the No Homework song, I guess.  Almost, though!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

WNBP: The Tree Should Have Been A Clue...

Well, I am the very picture of befuddlement!  I've been hearing rumors for a while now about the holidays.  People kept telling me that they drew nigh, but I somehow found that hard to believe.

"Why, I have weeks and weeks to go," I said in an annoyingly lofty tone.  "I refuse to be one of those people who start panicking at the first sign of tinsel or cry when silver bells toll!"

So now here I am.  The last Sheep standing.  At least the last one standing in the very-picked-over Christmas card aisle.  It is nothing if not humbling and somewhat panicking.

I'm going to take a quick minute to knock out a Wednesday Night Bullet Post but let's not get carried away.  It seems I have quite a bit to do and far less time that I originally thought.

*The last full week of school before the holiday break is...interesting.

*Half the kids don't even seem aware of the impending wave of holiday cheer.

*The other half were done several days ago and are only showing up to keep their parents from returning all their gifts.

*I have a very small class on the best of school years.  Sometimes I only have one or two kids working in the room at a time, particularly during study halls.

*Today, two girls from one of the 7th grade teams came around to ask if they could come in.

*They seemed like the purposeful type of 7th graders who were on a mission and I know better than to deny that particular animal.  I welcomed them in.

*"Hello," they intoned, reading from their prepared script.  "We would like to ask for a moment of your time so that we could speak with looking around somewhat helplessly)...student?

*I guess they were used to a bigger audience.  

*But they persevered and delivered their plea for donations to the local animal shelter with aplomb.

*Then they asked if anyone had any questions.

*Which was a mistake because the only ones in the room were me and He Who...PROJECTS.

*HW...P always has questions.  They might not always be relevant, but I can assure you he has questions.

*Lots of them.

*About the time he got to asking the poor girls if he could donate his Lincoln Logs to the cats and dogs, I decided I probably should intervene.

*It's too bad.  We don't really get all that much company.  I kind of thought we were heading for more sociable days...

*I am going to the pet store tomorrow and will purchase a suitable toy for the little doggies/kitties/other critters in order to spare them the large bag of leftover Legos and mismatched action figure torsos I suspect might be coming in later this week.

*It's all good. HW...PROJECTS is having a hard time with the whole "it's not vacation yet so please sit down and stop projecting your displeasure with the time/space continuum in the middle of math class" concept.

*I put up the Christmas Tree this weekend.  It's a coin flip every year.

*I don't really need a tree.  It's just a big thing taking up space in the living room and inciting the cats to new and exciting levels of poor behavior.

*But, I dunno.  I guess I just sort of like thinking I'm still a "tree person."

*Not putting up a tree kind of crosses the line between "active, involved individual" and "grumpy old person who throws shoes at people on her lawn."

*I realize that isn't true, but I can't help getting that shoe image in my head come December...

*Putting up a Christmas tree is usually a hint, the kind that urges people to recognize the dire situation the holidays present.

*It took me a while.  Longer than it should have, frankly.

*I finally got around to reading  Trapped (The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book Five)

*And now I can't imagine why on earth I waited so darned long!

*What a great addition to the series!

*Then, with holiday shopping in mind, I went with a less expensive read.

*I found an omnibus edition of a series I'd been considering and shelled out the eight bucks for it.  

The Business of Death: The Death Works Trilogy

*Less expensive, yes, but quite fun.  

*And a really interesting take on the concept of the psychopomp.

*I love the way some people in this novel are Pomps.  Who Pomp other people.

*Because saying, "pomp" is fun even if actually being pomped is kind of a downer.

*Cuz you're dead.  Well...most people who die get pomped.

*A few are unpompable.

*Like I said...interesting!

 *Having suddenly realized the 25th draws nigh, I spent some time reviewing the finances.  

*Then I spent some time reviewing the contents of my baking supply cupboard because homemade treats are probably my only hope for gifting a few of the people on the periphery of my shopping list.

*So I started baking Christmas cookies on Saturday.

*When you bake Christmas cookies, you say, "cookie" a lot.

*As in, "Who the heck stole all the vanilla I need for my cookies?"

*Or, "What's that I smell?  Is it my cookies burning????"

*And the ever popular, "I really should stop eating these cookies or I won't have any to give as gifts."

*That's fine.  Even if you live alone, you are aloud to vocalize and it's nice to stay on topic.

*Except that, in this house, the resident felines have come to know their nighttime treat as, "cookies."

*Which means that I pretty much upset the entire social order for two straight days and didn't figure it out until Sunday night.

*Every time I babbled on about my cookies, everyone got a really hopeful look in their eyes and started scampering around the kitchen.

*Every time I returned to the living room to watch TV and wait out the timer signaling the next batch, there was a general sense of betrayal.

*I'd feel bad except for the part where a certain Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty took it upon himself to relieve me of some raw cookie dough.  

*I think that evens the score.

*Should cats eat raw cookie dough?  I'm fairly certain they shouldn't but if I pushed the panic button every time the AGK decided to start sampling in the kitchen I wouldn't have time for anything else.

*And no.  I didn't bake up that batch.  

*And yes.  I did consider it.

And, speaking of cookies, I probably need to get back to the gingerbread I've planned to knock out tonight.  When you leave it all until the last minute, you kind of have to plow through the baking even if it is a school night and you really don't feel like doing anything except collapsing on the couch and trying to forget that you still have five more days with kids before they are Santa's problem.  Next year, I'm going to be more on top of things.

And I don't mean like how I said it last year and then forgot all about it.  For real this time.  I'm sure of it...


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

WNBP: The Ultimate In Random

I'd rather hoped that I'd have something in the way of a theme for tonight's post by now.  Even when penning the Wednesday Night Bullet Post I like to have a at least a tenuous tether between one thought and the next.

Sadly, it is not to be.  Last night was another fun-filled round of Let's See How Long I Can Fight It Before The Insomnia Wins and I didn't fare well.  Better than most nights when the ol' eyeballs won't remain shut, but still not good.

Long story short...I couldn't string together a coherent bunch of thoughts if my life depended upon it.  I guess we'll just have to see where this leads.

*In case you were wondering, my hair is rather fantastic these days.

*I know this because a lot of people have told me so.

*I'm serious.  I really nailed the color this time.  Even several male teachers with whom I work have commented.  And I'm talking about the old and stuffy kind of teachers not the cool hipster types who wear slim cut jeans and wicked snazzy scarves.

*The kind secure enough in their gender to discuss hair color.

*I'd like to take a moment to enjoy this follicular triumph, but I can't.

*I seriously couldn't remember what color I used this time if someone put a gun to my perfectly highlighted tresses.  I just know it was on sale.

*Which is pretty much how I make all my color decisions...

*I have a vague memory of the picture on the box.  Maybe it will go on the sale rack again.

*Let's hope it wasn't the clearance rack.  Discontinued hair color could be a disaster here.

*I bought some wheat grass seeds for The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty.

*I'm at the point where I'll do just about anything to stop this business with him dangling from the drapes whilst nibbling on the hanging pots of flora.

*Now I have to clean up little bits of grass and dirt from the floor and try to locate the little plastic planter that holds the grass.

*Because the AGK likes to drag it hither and yon as he yanks out the blades in clumps.

*Still preferable to a cat hanging from the drapes...

*Greatest words spoken unto me this week courtesy of The New And Amazingly Efficient Teaching Assistant.

"You know, I learn something new and weird about you every, single day."

*I think that was when I was telling her about how I can't remember to eat or go to bed without television to prompt me.

*Three days without cable sort of left me all turned around...

*On the other hand, I got a stupid amount of stuff done around here without TV to distract me.

*The cable company and I reached an agreement on Friday morning, thus ending our standoff.

*It went something like this:

*I agreed to pay them all the money they wanted plus a five dollar fee to push the "restore" button.

*They, in turn, consented to make the big glass rectangle glow again.

*I think it all worked out.  Don't you?

*It was the weekend.  They had me right where they wanted me.  I am never going to be the leader of any great social movement.

*But for those three days without cable to guide my waking and sleeping life, I was like Norma Rae over here!

*I have developed a sudden and overwhelming urge to make cranberry chutney.

*I have never made cranberry chutney in my life.

*I have never eaten cranberry chutney.

*I'm not saying it's a rational urge.

*We had a staff meeting after school today.  I was tired from all the not sleeping and then teaching of the children.

*A major point of discussion was the rescheduling of various duties.

*Mostly lunch duty and recess duty.

*If you say, "duty" enough times, it sounds like, "doody."

*And if you are very, very tired, it starts sounding like doody a lot sooner.

*We discussed what would happen if you haven't had a doody for the past three months.

*Or if you've had ongoing doodies for the past three months.

*We are, apparently, not allowed to trade doodies.

*Overall, we are being urged to be much more conscientious about our doodies.

*Did I mention I was tired?  It is not my fault that these things are funny enough to double me over mid-meeting even if no one else understands quite why.

*As I type this, I am coming to realize that the word, "duty" isn't really all that funny and that I might lack the maturity necessary to educate young people.

*I finally got around to reading Devil Said Bang: A Sandman Slim Novel.

*Fair Warning:  The ol' Sandman isn't exactly a good guy.  In fact, reading the series is really pretty dependent upon your ability to see concepts like "good" and "evil with a little flexibility.

*If you can do that, he's a pretty darned likable fellow.

*I burned through it fairly quickly.  I'd missed my favorite anti-hero of the underworld.

*Then I figured I'd better take a walk on the more angelic side so I downloaded a copy of Where Angels Fear to Tread: A Remy Chandler Novel.

*Remy is a good guy.  Mostly.  Not so much when he goes full-on warrior angel but you kind of have to forgive him that.

*If you will recall, Heaven got a little dicey for a while there what with all the Lucifer-instigated rebellion going on.

*Angels had to hang up their harps for a bit during the whole hullabaloo so you will have to forgive a certain amount of post traumatic stress disorder.

*I like these books.  But I can't help but think they should have been written in the first person rather than the third.

*Or maybe I've just read too many first person perspective novels lately...

*Still just seems kind of "off" for this book.

*Not enough to make it worth putting it down, though!

*And in Audiobooks For Commuters News?

*We're killing the morning drive time with Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, Book 4).

*Just good fun and the miles whiz by like inches!

*It even keeps me awake which is good after a night of insomnia...

OK.  That does it for tonight.  I need to go dry my hair before bed lest it be less than magnificent come the morn.  I don't know how much longer I can ride out this good color thing and I'd hate to waste a minute of it.

Hey!  I made a connection there!  Beginning and ending with my hair.  That's awesome!  Maybe I'm not so loopy with the tiredness as I thought!

Or maybe I'm just so tired that even the nonsensical seems somehow highly logical...