Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WNBP: Of Cats Coupons And Cranberries

I suppose I have a lot to cover.  It's been a while since last I checked in.  I know this because Daddy Sheep keeps track and lets me know when my commitment to responsible blogging flags.

What can I say?  It's been busy over here.  Probably no more busy than any other year, but I think my age might be showing.  I can't recall ever being this tired after a day of teaching.  Sometimes I feel like I'm in one of those old buddy cop movies from the 80's.  My character would be the jaded veteran who periodically runs a hand across his haggard face and mutters, "I'm gettin' too old for this stuff."

It's that or I was always this tired and am only just getting around to realizing it...

But I'm here now and ready to catch everyone up.  Let's look back at the bullet points from the past month or so and see what's what.

*An Open Letter To The Enthusiastic Extreme Couponer Ahead Of Me In Line At The Drugstore:

Dear Enthusiastic Extreme Couponer,

Happy Holidays to you EEC.  I trust you are well.  I just wanted to take a moment and go over a couple of points with you.  Please put down your scissors for a second and tune in.  I promise I'll be brief.

First, you need to know that I do not think less of you or your frugality.  I actually kind of admire your ability to turn little bits of paper into piles of free merchandise.  I'm fascinated by it and think your dedication to the craft praiseworthy.

I do not mind waiting in line behind you at the store.  I'm as entertain as you (almost) watching the register count down to something close to zero dollars.  I'm perfectly willing to hang out and let you do your thing.  No harm/no foul.


I do mind the educational lecture that goes along with it.  Were you simply making your purchase and moving along, there would be no issue at all.  My time is your time when it comes to the actual transaction.  I do not need to know how it happened, though.  You don't have to tell the story behind every free item or where each coupon came from.  From the look on the sales clerk's face, I think it is safe to say that neither of us needed to see your coupon caddy or know that there was another couponer in aisle twelve who has an even nicer one that you wish to describe in exacting detail.  Let's agree to let the magic of couponing remain an alluring mystery once we've hit the checkout line.

If you are interested, I could refer you to several of my couponing friends who can share with you how they handle checking out.  Each of them is very much aware of how their transaction can slow up the works and they plan ahead for that.  It's part of the game when it comes to coupon wrangling, or so they tell me.

Thank you for your time, EEC and I look forward to watching you work your magic again someday.  Preferably in reverent silence.

The Soaking Wet Lady Behind You Who Just Ran In From A Torrential Downpour To Grab A Couple Of Things On The Day Before Thanksgiving.

* gotta love 'em!

*Well, the worst has happened over here at The Manse.  It's pretty much the end of the world as we know it.

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty has figured out that water will not melt the skin from his bones.  

*Water was all I had when it came to defending my property.  A quick squirt from the spray bottle was all it took to get him to back off long enough for me to put my dinner together or pour myself a beverage to go with.

*Not so now.  It's over.  I'm officially ousted as Head Of Household.  

*He's pretty much living on the counter and nosing his way into anything and everything he thinks might be edible.  

*When he's not doing that, he's lounging in the sink waiting for a refreshing waterfall to cascade over him.  

*Seriously.  I have nothing left.  Holiday baking has been a trial, let alone the daily act of providing myself with sustenance.

*The Very Complicated Kitty still trembles at the sight of a mere droplet, but it's only a matter of time.  He's been seen on the counter multiple times.

*Although he seems more interested in gnawing on my wooden spoons so maybe I still have time to turn this one around.

*If the splinters left behind after stirring things with what's left of my wooden spoons doesn't kill me first...

*I may have mentioned earlier that I made cranberry sauce this year.  I'd never done that before.  In my world, cranberry sauce came from a can with lines molded into it so you knew where to cut a slice.

*But I liked the homemade, whole berry stuff so much I ended up making a second batch.

*Then I got to thinking that everyone I know might want to eat my homemade cranberry sauce and had to run out to buy more cranberries.

*I ended up with a lot of cranberries before I took a good hard look at myself and realized that I might have a problem.  No one can eat that much cranberry sauce and I can only hand out so many jars of the stuff before I become known as The Crazy Cranberry Lady.

*I used up a bunch of the addictive little red balls making chutney, an endeavor that netted me about a billion jars of something with raisins in it.

*I don't really care for raisins.

*This did not occur to me until after the chutney frenzy but I figured I could give chutney to the people who didn't know about the cranberry sauce and I wouldn't look quite so crazy.

*After Thanksgiving, I took the two bags of cranberries languishing in the fridge and put them in the freezer.  They keep for up to a year and I could always use them later.

*You know...once the whole Sheepie Has A Cranberry Issue blew over.

*I found four more bags of cranberries in the freezer.

*Apparently, I had some sort of cranberry black out during the month of November.

*So, for those keeping track, I have about ten jars of cranberry sauce, nine remaining jars of chutney with yucky raisins in floating around in them and another six bags of cranberries in my freezer.

*And that's the last time I'm going to talk about it.  Some things should just remain shameful secrets as our forefathers intended.

*I put up my Christmas tree last weekend.  It seemed like the seasonal thing to do.

*Putting up the tree is always something of a production what with it being an Old School Kind Of Holiday Trapping.  

*No pre-lit, folding branches for this Sheep.  No sir!  We wrestle with strings of lights and try to figure out which branch belongs in which hole like they did it back in the day!

*This year, the whole experience was enhanced by my having sprayed the tree with bitter oil last season.  

*The Very Complicated Kitty is a chewer.  He chews everything.  Cords.  Shoelaces.  Paper.  And Christmas Trees.

*Also Christmas tree lights.  Spraying bitter oil is something one does when one wants to get another year out of one's old school tree and avoid some sort of electrical event involving a sparking feline with bits of colored lights between his teeth.

*I figured the oils would dissipate over the course of the year.  They did not.

*They marinated in the storage bag.  They perhaps even intensified.  It's OK now.

*But that first whiff was a doozy.  Not to mention what happened when I accidentally licked my finger before washing it.

*Today, I found the VCK merrily gnawing on the metal base of the tree.  It did not occur to me to spray the metal base of the tree.

*Because, well...why would it occur to me to spray the metal base of the tree?  It's metal.  Who chews metal?????

*Don't answer that.  I know who.  But, much like the cranberries, I don't believe I want to think about it too hard.

I think that should cover it for now.  I hit most of the highlights anyway.  I'm also getting really hungry and I think I have a small window of opportunity while the AGK steals ornaments from the lower branches of the stinky tree.  I could use that to cobble together something to eat before he rockets himself onto the counter to see what he can snag before I react.

Whatever I make, you can be reasonably certain of one thing.  It will probably contain cranberries in one form or another...


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WNBP: So...Where Were We?

I know.  It's been longer than the usual Sheepish Blogging Lapse.  I'd make some creative excuse, but I think by now you've heard most of the good ones.  Anything I try at this juncture would just sound kind of pathetic.  I think we're all better than that...

So, in the interest of forging ahead as if nothing happened at all, here is your somewhat belated Wednesday Night Bullet Post:

*The past two Thursdays have involved Parent/Teacher Conference Nights.

*Because we have a delayed start on Thursdays, the powers that be decided staff should come in two hours late and stay two hours longer to accommodate the need to chat with parents.

*No impact to students.  A little extra sleep for the staff.

*In theory.  

*Da Boyz don't know from parent/teacher conferences so they had me up bright and early just as if I wasn't being gifted with two hours of relaxation before the official start of the day.

*Tomorrow is Thursday.  But there are no conferences.

*They expect us to come in at the usual time for staff meetings.

*Which strikes me as somewhat unreasonable...

*I came home today to discover that The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty had turned on the air conditioning.

*This was highly unnecessary given that it is November.

*And probably ill advised since I've also removed the exhaust hose from the window.

*He had no comment on the matter.

*And yes.   I am certain that it was the AGK.  It's always the AGK.  

*No matter what happens, it is the AGK.  

*Plus I've seen him do it before.

*I should just unplug it, I suppose.  That would solve the problem.

*But when I think of it, I am not in a position to actually do it.

*And when I could handily reach the plug, the urgency of the situation isn't quite the same.

*I used to have a Cheerful Teaching Assistant.

*I was there when The Cheerful Teaching Assistant first made the decision to move in with her boyfriend.

*I was there when she got the ring.

*I was there when she planned the wedding and congratulated her when she returned to school after the nuptials were done.

*I was there when she bought her house.

*I was there for lots and lots of stuff.  Now she works at the high school.

*So I wasn't there when she had her baby girl and I had to find out about it after the fact like everyone else.

*Which is a little sad, but not so much so that I'm not over the moon thrilled for her.  I even found a pattern for a crocheted baby sacque thingie and I might even get it done before the kid heads off for college.

*If nothing else, I like the idea of a baby in a "sacque."  It's honestly and truly called a sacque!

*I decided that it was time to do a little work on the ol' hair color last weekend.  Even got a bit bold with it.  

*Went waaaaay too dark.  I mean waaaaaaaaaaay.

*All I could think when I was done was, "Look!  It's Elvira!

*That was Saturday.  Sunday was for fixing what havoc I'd wrought.  Time to bust out the color remover!

*I've been coloring my hair since I was in my mid-twenties not so much out of need as because I think it's awesome to live in an age where such things are possible. 

* I've experienced my share of disasters.

*Color remover is tricky, but living like the Dark Queen Of The Deepest Night seemed even trickier.  I simply don't have the wardrobe for it and maintaining a glower for hours on end is exhausting.

*Not to mention how out of practice I am with the Expected Evil Laugh...

*With a bit of skill, a smidgen of courage and no small amount of luck, I was able to time it out to the point that I removed the worst of the offending darkness in the top layer.  That was enough.  The darker underside is the sort of thing I can claim to have done on purpose.  

*Helpful Hint From Someone Who Knows Hair Disasters:  Always do the strand test when using color remover.  I actually needed far less time than the box indicated.

*Of course, it probably would have also been helpful to do a strand test before I dyed my hair the color of deepest, darkest, reddish evil, but that is something I don't think we need to dwell on.

*I was going to do a re-color, but I think it's best to let my hair recover a bit before plunging back into the whole activity again.

*Our new school staff rules have strongly advised us against posting information online about students.  
*Although I've been careful over the years, I like being employed enough that I'm going to do my best to comply.

*However, I cannot go another minute without sharing the following information.

*There is a kid in my class with the biggest sty in his eye that I have ever seen.  I mean EVER.

*It's the size of a commercially grown blueberry.  Except it's not blue.  It's red and he can't even keep his eye open.  I am afraid of it.

*I keep thinking it's going to suddenly start speaking to me.  Perhaps hint that it is planning some sort of world domination maneuver...

*I'm also afraid that the thing is going to burst right there in the middle of my classroom and I've already announced to anyone who will listen that, should this happen, I am done.

*I will retire on the spot because there is just no coming back from that.

*Insert horrified shiver here.

*On a lighter note, the school cafeteria served their yearly turkey dinner to the kids today.  Early, I know but you can't argue with a turkey dinner no matter when it lands in your lap.

*I don't eat cafeteria food even though I know all the staff personally and love them to death.

*So I stood there throughout my lunch duty smelling turkey and practically floating towards the kitchen like some old timey cartoon character.

*I ended up spending almost ten bucks on a cooked and ready to eat turkey breast at the grocery store on the way home.  

*Which seems crazy now that I'm all full of turkey but I still can't bring myself to regret it.

*I've been making cranberry sauce and canning it so there is almost a logical pattern to the turkey purchase.

*I've never liked whole berry cranberry sauce.  Or at least that's what I thought.

*Upon further consideration, I believe that I never actually ate whole berry cranberry sauce.  Now that I've made my own, I suspect that I actually really like the stuff.

*If my consumption of it is any indication...

I am reasonably sure that there is lots more going on here, but I can't seem to think of anything at the moment.  I am also pretty certain that this is one of the more random bullet posts I've thrown out there in a while but I don't think you can blame me for that.  It's been two weeks since I've put cursor to screen and I can't even begin to recall where I left off.

 I think I'm going to go pick a few more morsels off my Very Expensive Turkey Breast and toss a little more deep conditioner onto my locks.  Now that I think of it, I should probably do another circuit around the manse to see if my darling cat has managed to figure out how to trip any other appliances.

Well, would you look at that!  Remembering to blog is good.  It reminds me of all sorts of other stuff I should probably be remembering to do...


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WNBP: Of Mice And Cats

This is embarrassing.  I wish I could just stick my head in a hole and play the I Can't See You So You Can't See Me game.  I wish there had been a massive earthquake that only affected my living room and that this could be my excuse.  I wish I was out saving puppies from certain doom at the hands of coat-making, crazy-haired harridans.

But, as Mommy Sheep always used to say, if wishes were horses then beggars would ride, if turnips were watches, I'd have one by my side.  Which didn't always make sense to a 3 year old little Sheepie, and yet were wise words all the same.

My excuse for not blogging last week?  A massive temper tantrum brought on by a non-functioning mouse.  There were certainly ways I could have worked around this minor technical issue and made the Wednesday Night Bullet Post happen.  Surely all the various and sundry gadgets and gee-gaws around here could have been put to work solving the problem.

But, no.  I tantrumed and that is the sad truth of the matter.  I'm not proud of it.  I'm mightily shamed by it.  But I think I need to at least be honest about it, painful though that may be.  Perhaps it will be a lesson in the future.

With that out of the way (and my school laptop ready to do the job my stupid wireless mouse won't) I shall sally forth into the bloggy ways.  Here is this week's WNBP:

*I guess it's also kind of last week's WNBP, now that I think of it...

*I'm going to talk about stuff that I would have talked about last week had the whole mouse mishap not happened.

*Like how I had to take Da Boyz to the vet.

*We missed our summer appointment.  That meant we were low on Happy Pills for a certain Very Complicated Kitty.

*I do not care for the VCK when he doesn't have his Happy Pills.

*He wants to tell me stuff.  And he wants to chew stuff.  And he wants to bowl his hapless brother off his feet at random and highly disturbing intervals.

*There are no Happy Pills without a visit to the vet.  Happy Pills require blood work.

*Which is fun for the whole darned family...

*To make matters worse, the speed with which my shattered nerves required this appointment meant that we weren't going to be seeing The Cat Whisperer.

*AKA: The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty's Girlfriend.

*Actual conversational snippets from the aforementioned vet visit:

"Are you sure these cats aren't brothers?  'Cause they act exactly THE SAME!!!"

"I think I see some flea dirt.  There might be fleas, wait.  Never mind.  I think it's glitter.  Your cat is Bedazzled.

"There's something on the chart here I can't decipher.  It may be an important condition...let's see.  FDC?  What the heck is FDC?"

"Maybe this Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty would behave better with a treat.  He hates these treats.  Does he have a favorite treat?"

"Do you have any Italian food?  Pizza?  Ravioli?  He also goes wild for spicy Thai curry..."

"Darn it all...I wish I knew what that FDC stood for.  I'd like to know if it's contagious."

"Where are we on those claws?  Have we finished the first foot yet?  No?  Anyone got an ETA on when we think he'll be ready for us to try again?

"  I hate to interrupt, but I kind of remember the whole FDC thing.  It stands for Freeze Dried Chicken.  I think that is partially why he loves The Cat Whisperer so much."

*I love my cats and I take care of them.  In case you were wondering if one can put a price tag on such things as love and care, let me put the question to rest.

*You can.  It costs $311.00.  Make a note of it.

*And a day later, when the bad feelings and looks dripping with contempt for my betrayal were starting to subside, I got to fire it all up again when I delivered the flea/heartworm/everything else treatment.

*We are over it.  Mostly...

*I took a half day off for all this because that seemed appropriate.  When my staff need to take their kids to the vet they get to take sick time.  

* I'll bet their kids are better behaved.  And that they don't require the purchase of a new deluxe kitty house/scratching post to make things right or demand freeze dried chicken as partial compensation for pain and suffering.

*I was out of the classroom yesterday, too.  I had to take the safety procedures training.

*I used to teach safety procedures training, but I had to cover for one of my staff people so often that I couldn't teach enough classes to keep my certification current.

*So I couldn't teach it anymore.  They solved the problem by hiring someone else to do it.

*The staff person for whom I was covering is now teaching safety procedures classes.  She never misses a training date.

*Apparently the policy around excessive staff absences is to pay them to be absent more often.

*I don't question it.  I just shake my head.

*That's not true.  I did question it.  But all I got were a lot of embarrassed looks and mumbling so I stopped pointing out things that people don't want to think about too hard.

*Both of Da Boyz received clean bills of health when they went to the vet.  Even their respective weights, a constant bone of contention, were considered okey-dokey.  (That is a slight exaggeration with regard to the VCK, but he's still in the process of rediscovering his waistline so we decided to call it good)

*The AGK decided that this pronouncement of good health was license to live it up a bit.

*Yesterday, I came home to find that he'd foiled the childproof locks on the under sink cabinet so he could dump out the trash, root through the empty cat food cans and lick them clean.

*He'd also managed to pick the latch on the decorative cabinet that housed the kitty treats but I got those away from him before he gnawed through the packaging.

*Over the weekend, he helped himself to a mini cupcake.  He licked off most of the chocolate frosting before I caught him.  

*I was no more than two feet away at the time.  He's stealthy.

*When I turned my back to wipe up a bit of spilled sauce, he snatched a slice of pepperoni from the still steaming pizza that was only seconds out of the oven.

*I never found it so I have to presume he has a pizza burn on the top of his mouth but I don't feel badly about that at all.

*I have a full time job.  I don't need another full time job.

*But I am beginning to think it is a full time job having a Smart Cat.

*Mr. Principal (Formerly Mr. Assistant Principal) announced today that he thinks it would be a fine idea to allow the students to wear their Halloween costumes tomorrow.

*I'd call in sick, but I already missed one day this week and I have to cover for the staff person who is now being paid to be absent more often.

*I emailed a parent who asked about costumes to tell her that it was OK.  But I was careful to tell her that we needed to consider our festive garb and not go overboard.  I reminded her that things like excessive blood, masks and weapons wouldn't be a good idea.

*She emailed back to let me know that she didn't think it would be a problem.

*Her son is coming to school tomorrow dressed as a Rotarian.

*Member of the Rotary Club.  Civic organization.  He's wearing a suit.  

*Mom claims he looks rather dapper.

*I shouldn't have been surprised.  He's the most Rotarian kid I've ever met...

*My mouse still doesn't work.  I've replaced the batteries.  I've reset it.  I've chanted and waved holy water around the manse.

*It just sits there looking tired.

*I think I need a new mouse.  I also need a new cordless phone but I'm not sure that is a related problem.

*It's probably something more along the lines of If It's Not One Thing It's Another.

*Or When It Rains, It Pours.

*Or Stuff Breaks And The Universe Finds It More Entertaining When It All Breaks At Once...

*As I type this, the AGK is frantically pawing at the decorative cabinet that once held his treats and still holds the canned food.

*Strike that.  He's opened it.  For the third time since I got home from work today.

*I know I need a new mouse, but I think I'm going to forget about that.  I need to put my money into a nice, solid safe.

 OK.  I need to go deal with this cat.  He is perilously close to dumping the whole decorative cabinet right over onto its side.  I know this because it's not the first time I've had a decorative cabinet dumped onto its side.  I'm starting to think I don't live in a decorative cabinet kind of world.

Maybe it's just part of the ongoing payback for that vet visit.  Or the universe commenting on last weeks' epic mouse tantrum...


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WNBP: Is It Just Me?

OK.  I know that sometimes it really is me.  As much as I like to think that I'm not the cause of anything that goes awry around me, I suppose the odds aren't in my favor.  It is very likely that sometimes I'm partially at fault.

Or wholly and completely at fault.  It's probably one of those at least some of the time...

Other times, I can't help but throw my arms up and wave them helplessly about whilst shouting, "Hey, is it just me or is this an utterly stupid way of going about this?????"

Point of fact:  When you say, "is it just me" what you really mean is "this is so frickin' obvious that Me, all my friends and anyone within a ten mile radius can see the problem here."

With that in mind, let's take a stab at this week's Wednesday Night Bullet Post:

*I can't believe it is Wednesday.  Is it just me, or is this week moving along kind of rapidly?

*Long weekends will do that.  I love long weekends.

*They are longer than the average weekend and they make the following work week move along kind of rapidly.

*I thought I had another refill on The Very Complicated Kitty's medication.

*His Happy Pills

*AKA: The Pills That Make Life Around The Manse Bearable And Keep Him From Trying To Dig Through The Walls.

*I did not have another refill.  I also ran out of Happy Pills.

*Let me give you a mental picture.

*Fat Siamese running around in search of something he will never find, pausing only to tackle his brother, nip at his own tail and tell me stuff.

*Cats without Happy Pills are very fond of telling you stuff.

*"Hey.  Hey.  Hey.  Mom.  I wanna tell you something.  It's wicked important.  Look at me.  Look at me.  Look at me.  This time I really, really have to tell you something!!!"

*Eventually, I have to stop and listen.  I'm only human.  But he never remembers what he wanted to tell me.

*He will need to dart off, bowl the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty off his feet a couple of times and then go gnaw on the fan in the back bedroom for a while before it comes to him.

*Then we start back at the beginning.

*I ended up having to go out shopping on Monday, spending money I didn't really have, just to get out of the house.

*I now have four new bras and a mini cupcake maker.

*I also have an emergency prescription for Happy Pills and will be taking half of Friday off from work to visit the vet for annual kitty physicals.

*The immediate need for this appointment means that we cannot see the Cat Whisperer.

*I have not told The AGK yet.

*The AGK is partial to the Cat Whisperer.

*He is not partial to Anyone Else.

*And I'm almost looking forward to what happens when Anyone Else tries to trim his claws.

*I can't even trim his claws.  I don't see how Anyone Else thinks they are going to do it.

*And yet, somehow, The Cat Whisperer manages it handily.

*We will not be telling the AGK that he isn't going to see his girlfriend this time around.

*And that isn't just me.  I really do mean WE.

*Mum's the word, people.

*I didn't blog last week.  I didn't forget.  I know what I didn't do.

*Due to a convoluted series of errors, one of which I admit was mine but the rest of which were not, I found myself doing a massive amount of paperwork last Wednesday.

*Multiple individuals were involved in this calamity of errors.

*But none of them were at home trying to complete this mountain of paperwork.

*That was just me.

*And, in my defense, I did mention that this mound of paperwork was due soon.  I further reminded certain individuals that I could not begin that mound of paperwork unless one more piece of paper was added to the pile.

*It was kind of a key piece of paper.

*Meanwhile, others could have been churning out their own bits of paper and we wouldn't have ended up in this pickle.

*I say, "we."  But it wasn't really, "we."

*I ended up not taking the blame for the debacle, but still ended up trucking home more paper than any one forest could have produced.

*All this was distilled into one final document and sent to my director at 9:00 Wednesday evening.

*With a few terse, but respectful, suggestions for how we might handle this situation in the future.

*Step One:  I don't have to go to staff meetings tomorrow morning.  I can begin slogging through the other mounds of paperwork I have waiting for me, most of which are well beyond the mandated due dates for completion.

*I know it's just me who has an overflowing caseload with a minimum of staff to manage the situation.

*Most people who do what I do have a plethora of staff.

*I was personally told of one program that literally has one staff person per student.

*I do not.  I have two staff people who are trying to cover the support needs in three classrooms while I make up the difference.

*I do not have time to slog through mounds of paperwork.  I mean this in the most literal sense possible.

*Yesterday, the new Mr. Assistant Principal suggested that I reassign one of my staff to provide coverage for a single student.

*I did that thing where you kind of laugh and cry at the same time.

*Then I explained the situation.  Like how, if a student's individual education program dictates he or she have support in certain classrooms, I can't just not do it.  Even if there is one student who isn't behaving very well right now.  As things stand, my staff and I are only barely able to be where we need to be and do what we need to do.

*I further explained that I am currently teaching between one and three subjects at the same time during a single class period and that none of the students currently on my caseload are capable of working independently.

*I am doing this three out of four periods per day and spending the fourth assisting students with their Health projects.

*I finally offered up that the student in question might already be getting a lot of attention since he is in my classroom all day and that he doesn't go to any other rooms.  Short of adopting him and taking him home with me at the end of the day, I honestly don't think I can spend another minute with him.

*The new Mr. Assistant Principal now talks to me in a very soft voice and says very encouraging things.  Gently.  Kind of like how you'd approach the VCK when he doesn't have his Happy Pills.

*He also doesn't come within five feet of me.  Which is probably for the best.

*Today he asked me if my Director was aware of this situation.

*I don't know.  I do know she is currently out of town and that I can't ask her where she stands on the awareness scale.

*I ended today spending over an hour arguing with a student who stubbornly insisted that Freedom of Choice means he doesn't have to do the work I assigned for the day and that I should be reported to the school department for this flagrant violation of his rights.

*He didn't seem impressed when I pointed out that my choices in the matter might count for something or that his current behavioral choice was making several other students question their choice to NOT put a trash can over his head.

*Go figure...

*I'm starting to wonder if maybe that mini cupcake maker was a subconscious sort of purchase.

*The kind you make when, deep down, you know you really need to be eating more mini cupcakes.

*And then find a machine that makes them at half price...

*Tip:  The mini cupcake maker only produces six cupcakes at a time.  No one needs more than six mini cupcakes floating around the house at one time.  That is dangerous.  But you can mix up a bunch of batter, keep it in the fridge for use as needed.

*That is a good tip.  In case you were wondering how I was managing all the mini cupcakes.

*Oh and here's another tip, one that I know others have already discovered.  This is really not a "just me" kind of thing.

*If you haven't read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, you are missing something.

*Even if you don't care one whit about vampires, this book is haunting.

*It is really hard to connect with any of the characters, but I think that is a big part of it.

*Each and every one of them is fully developed, totally fleshed out.

*And, as such, they aren't all very likeable.  They are flawed.  

*And yet, even as you resign yourself to their ultimate fate, you can't help but root for them just a little bit.

*Or mourn when one of them makes a bad choice.  Even the really, really flawed characters.

*I listened to the audio version, but the print offering would clearly be just as awesome.

OK.  The scents wafting from the kitchen tell me that I might have some chicken ready to come out of the oven.  And, if the scents weren't doing it, the AGK prancing between the living room at the kitchen would probably serve as a strong hint.  I'm going to wrap this up.

Sometimes it's just me.  Other times it's me saying, "is it just me..." when I know it's really everybody.  And still other times, it's just me floundering about in a mound of paperwork or slogging through an endless logic loop when I'm pretty sure I should be doing something else.

Is it just me, or are all those things starting to blur together just a bit?


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

WNBP: There Oughta Be A Law!

I'm not what you'd call 100% rule bound.  I like to go my own way.  I daresay I even flaunt convention every now and again.  Admittedly my flaunting is a good deal less flaunt-y as I approach the half century mark.  I am more on the "look I wore a quirky pair of striped socks today, ain't I just the bee's knees?" end of the scale.  But sometimes I wear them on days when more somber attire is required so I count it.

Still...I believe that some rules should be followed merely out of simple respect.  You offer your seat to an older lady on the bus.  You don't slam the car door when you get home after 9:00 because others are trying to watch prime time television.  Even if you really want that last slice of pizza, you should never, ever try to stab your dinner companion with a fork to avoid the competition.  That's just plain old good manners, for crying out loud.

We have laws for a reason.  Rules are there for the good of all.  And where's the fun in flaunting them if you don't follow them most of the time anyway?

Wednesday is the night for bullet posting and I'm going to follow that rule this week.  I sort of blew it off last time and it's in the consistency that one finds joy in the lack thereof.

There should probably also be a rule about convoluted logic and sentences that attempt to follow them, but I'm too tired to go back and edit the thought.  Just go with it while we explore this week's twists, turns and rules gone wrong.

*I firmly believe that once I have to go back to school, there should be no more summer.  It should immediately revert to autumn.  Or it can snow.  I don't care.

*However, as my reasoning for that is more selfish than anything else since I resent anyone enjoying the summer I no longer have, I don't think that should be a rule.

*It's more the kind of thing I think about a lot and try to not say aloud.

*However, I believe it most certainly should be a rule that October behave itself in a sensible manner.

*There is no earthy reason for it to be over 80 degrees on the second of October.  None whatsoever.

*In my corner of the hemisphere, October has been issued a mandate.  Crisp, cool days and pumpkins awaiting kids to smash them on every doorstep.  And crunchy colored leaves.  And apple crisp.  Warm apple crisp.

*It should not be a day when you have to dig around at dawn's early light for a sleeveless top and sandals so you can survive the coming work day in your third floor classroom with limited window access.

*One of my first clear thoughts this morning was, "Oh no.  I am going to have to spend an entire day in an overheated room full of overheated students, most of whom have difficulty with understanding why things aren't the way they are supposed to be."

*Even worse, I knew I was going to have to give up at least one full teaching block to state mandated achievement testing.  That, in case you didn't know, represents a schedule change.  

*Schedule changes do not go over well in my world.  Schedule changes cause trauma to minds that thrive on the expected.

*Also, I was going to have to explain why it was hot.  

*And I am not a meteorologist.  Nor do I control the weather.  

*Although it seemed highly likely that I was going to be blamed for it.

*Thankfully, it was the second day of testing so most of the kids were feeling a little more comfortable with the whole thing.  Sort of...

*And the humidity stayed reasonable so it didn't seem quite as hot as it really was.

*Which is good because the heat caused the wasps that live in the surrounding trees and apparently the ceiling, to think that summer was back.

*Wasps follow the rules even when the weather doesn't.

*I sent an email to Mr. Principal apologizing for what I expect will be dismal test scores this year.

*It is a little hard to focus when you have to duck, dodge and flee the scary wasps that bumble around the ceiling in search of sky.

*The periodic shrieks of terror probably didn't help much either.

*And, in case you were wondering, explaining that a wasp is more likely to notice the kid running around the room, flapping his arms wildly and screaming, "BUG!  BUG!!!" is an exercise in futility.

*He who is terrified by wasps is going to run, flap and scream no matter what you say.

*I checked the hole in the plywood covering the window that was broken five years ago to make sure our paper towel stuffing was still in place.  

*It is.  No wasps sneaking in that way.

*They are coming from my office ceiling.  Which is where the only windows are located in that area of the classroom.

*So I had to keep the door closed.

*And it was 80 degrees.  

*Hot or wasp attacks.  Pick your poison, people.  I can't grant you amnesty from both.

*And yes.  You still have to take your state mandated achievement test.

*Did you also know that there is no limit to how many times you can tell kids what page they need to start their test on?  You can say it and say it and say it.  It's free and, since it's a standardized test, it is also a rule.

*You can check each student's page before the test begins to ensure that all have fully understood the direction.  

*Heck, you can do a little interpretive dance just to make sure they're paying attention.  No rules around that.

*And it doesn't really matter anyway.  You'll still have one that somehow ends up taking the wrong test.

*We have a staff meeting the first Wednesday of every month.  We didn't used to have them on Wednesday.

*At least I don't think we did.  I remember having them on Wednesday last year, but it never really stuck in my mind.  I'm still on the Tuesday meeting schedule mentally.

*Which is why I planned to run a few errands after school today so I wouldn't have to do it on Thursday when I have scheduled the late meeting.

*I will be running my errands tomorrow after my late meeting.

*By the time I get around to remembering that I have a required staff meeting on the first Wednesday of every month, I will either be retired or they will have changed it to Thursdays...

*I am never retiring.  Not at this rate.  They keep changing the rules around when teachers can retire.  And I will probably still be paying my car off anyway.

*I'm fairly certain that, by the time I might be able to consider retiring, they will have invented a way to make me a cyborg so I can teach and teach forever.

*I'll still be at the top of the state's longevity scale and without hope of ever seeing a big pay bump but I guess it won't matter then.

*Cyborgs just need routine maintenance and probably don't eat much.  I'll just need a bit of walking around money and something to cover rustproofing.

*In spite of the glitches and drawbacks, I'm still setting up the surveillance camera before leaving each day.

*It seems prudent.

*Today's Cat Related Classroom Conversation:

Boy Child #1: Ms. Sheep, did you just say you have cats?  I didn't know that.  That's nice for you.

Boy Child #2:  Yeah.  She sets up a camera so she can watch them all day.

Ms. Sheep: Yes.  I do that.  Wait...did you just roll your eyes?  I think I saw you roll your eyes.  You know what, Buster?  You just try living a day in my life and see if you don't start recording stuff that goes on in your home when you're not there.  You see what it's like living with creatures who don't care one little bit that you are the Mommy and set the standards for appropriate conduct.  You try existing in a world where the chicken you left on a plate last night for JUST ONE LITTLE SECOND suddenly DISAPPEARS and you find it BEING DRAGGED ACROSS THE NICE NEW KITCHEN RUG!  YEAH...THAT'S RIGHT!  JUST TRY IT.  DON'T JUDGE ME!!!!!

*It is entirely possible I have some difficulty separating my issues from the workplace.

*But I have more issues with Da Boyz so I think I am justified in being a little sensitive over the whole matter.

*My I-Don't-Play-Tennis elbow is still wreaking havoc at the worst possible moments.  

*I may soon have to bow to the doctor's strong suggestion and start considering seeing the OT.

*I don't want to see the OT just now.  I don't want another afternoon appointment.  Nor do I want to pay what the insurance won't cover.

*Nor do I really know for certain exactly how well the negotiations worked out on our latest teacher's contract.  The law of averages would seem to indicate that I shouldn't expect much.

*For all I know the 85% coverage I had last year is now gone and the only thing my provider will cover for occupational therapy is leeches and happy thoughts.

*Or maybe one of those rack thingies.  The kind that stretch you out until you don't care so much about the pain in your elbow.

*The one that doesn't swing a tennis racket.

*This time last week, I was in the throes of what looked to be a rather ugly oncoming workplace dispute.  

*It was going to require some confrontation.  I am not good with confrontation.

*As a rule, I avoid it.  

*Couldn't avoid it this time.  If the situation was what I thought it was, I needed to go in hard.

*And I did.  My stomach hurt and I didn't sleep the entire previous night.  But I took a stand, fighting against every natural urge I have to scamper away and promote my agenda from the sensible safety zone found under my bed.

*The situation was not as bad as I thought it was, although rules were broken in small ways. However,  the clearing of the air was a healthy thing in the end.  Seriously cathartic.  My adversary and I parted on friendlier terms than most people in the school building can say.

*But I made someone cry and I don't feel good about that even if I couldn't help it.  Someone had to ask the hard questions and it was apparent that no one was going to do it for me.

*So I had M&Ms for dinner along with a vanilla Coke that didn't have the word "diet" inscribed anywhere on the label.

*I don't know if that is a law, the consumption of sugar after a stressful experience where you have to take a stand even if you don't want to and you realize that you and the other party have both been put in horribly awkward positions by others who got to just kick back and watch from the sidelines.

*But it should be.

*However, I have noticed a tendency since then to find justification in bad eating habits a little more easily.

*And I'm not really sure if it is appropriate to reward one's self with candy because of a glitch in the weather that turns October into July...

So there you go.  That's this week.  And a smidgen of last week.  Although I hope it isn't a glimpse into next week because I cannot imagine further summery weather infringing upon what I consider to be the rules of the fall season.  Things need to cool down and we need to get back to the business of wearing shoes that cover our entire feet.

Although I'm not sure what the wasps will do.  I don't think they wear full shoes...


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

WNBP: Various And Sundry Mundane Disasters

I think I'm finally managing to get back into something of a routine.  Or something that kind of resembles a routine if you squint and look at it from just the right angle.  If nothing else, it feels as though I never left school for anything remotely resembling a summer vacation so I must be back in form.

Or, at the very least, something kind of like it...

That said, I must admit it hasn't been completely smooth sailing.  There have been bumps.  Hiccups, if you will.  On the other hand, I remembered that it is Wednesday and that it's time for the Wednesday Night Bullet Post so I must be doing something right.

Here's what I have for you this week.

*Open House was scheduled for last Thursday.

*Open House is what I like to think of as a Necessary Evil.  Great for parent relations.  Not so great for keeping to a routine or having a restful evening after a long day in the classroom

*It is usually still kind of hot at that point in the school year.  Summer likes to taunt us with a few extra days of searing heat whilst we toil in our classrooms.

*You know...just to make sure we miss our lazy days of restful relaxation to the full extent possible.

*Plus, who doesn't like explaining to children that adults don't control the weather and that it's hot because it's hot five billion times a day?

*Open House night always falls on a hot day.  It's like clockwork.  And the coming of the darkness doesn't seem to make much of a difference.

*This year, the hot was made even more delightful by the addition of rain.  Hot rain.

*And I'm not talking a pleasant drizzle here, people.

*I'm talking buckets.  The big buckets that they sell at the hardware store.

*Not the little ones you get at the supermarket on your way to the beach.

*It poured.

*And poured.

*There was thunder.  And lightening.

*I had some time to kill before Open House started and I really needed to get some gas for the car.

*However during dismissal, when a particularly enthusiastic burst of the sky fire crackled overhead and caused the power to flicker, one of my students became suddenly overcome with the thought that his teacher might be struck by lightening on the way to her car.

*I know the odds of getting struck by lightening are slim.  I told him that.  I swore that I wasn't going to be hit by lightening.

*Of course, if I stopped for gas during the storm, I pretty much figured I'd be hit by lightening.

*Whatever the odds might be.

*And then, in addition to having been struck by lightening, I'd have to listen to this kid telling me, "I TOLD you that you'd be struck by lightening.  But did you listen? Noooooo...."

*I honestly don't have the time or energy to spend another year building up the trust with this kid.  

*And I hate hearing, "I told you so."

*I also assume I'd hate being hit by lightening but, without any direct experience, I can't say for certain.


*I had a meeting after school on Open House night.  It ran a bit late.

*By the time I got downstairs, there was a lake waiting for me.

*Literally at the bottom of the stairs.

*Indoor lakes are never a good thing.  I went to tell Mr. Principal post haste.

*He heard my report.  Then he sighed.

*"Yeah," he said, "we'll get to that right after we deal with the waterfall in 307."

*The night custodian informed me that he found the leak and climbed a chair to get a closer look.  Upon inspection, he determined it to be serious.

*He knew this because the ceiling tile shattered soggily at his touch and a torrent of water began pouring onto his face.

*He's a professional.  He knows when a situation is serious.  I trust his judgement.

*So, to recap: there was a lake on the main floor, a waterfall on the third floor, I really needed gas in my car and was cursed to be struck by lightening.

*Plus something smelled funny.  And there were a lot of sirens in the distance.

*Fortunately, we were not on fire.

*Unfortunately, the house just down the street was very much on fire because the lightening decided to strike it instead of me.

*There is no more house down the street now...

*In spite of the post title, that isn't really a mundane disaster.  That's kind of major, especially to the people that lived there.

*They are fine, by the way.

*We persevered.  We are Middle School Teacher, darn it.  We forge ahead with our Open Houses.

*Surprisingly, it was a success.  

*And I had enough gas to get home.

*We used to have our late start days on Wednesdays.  Kids start school two hours late.  Teachers come in for all that pesky staff development stuff we can't get to on regular days but have to do anyway.

*Now we do it on Thursdays.

*Which makes it kind of hard to remember that it's Wednesday.  

*Look at me, remembering to blog on a Wednesday!  And without a late start to prompt me!

*I don't have Bad Cats.

*I have Interesting Cats.

*One is neurotic and anxious enough to require daily medication.  The other is smart which wouldn't be so bad except he is also willful.  And hungry most of the time.

*Not Bad Cats.  But Bad Things sometimes happen.

*Hence, I have resorted to setting up a survellience camera during the day to check in.

*You know...just to make sure things are OK.  But I only have the one iPad to use as a remote camera so I have a limited view.

*Today, I checked in at lunchtime.  Got a nice view of my Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty rolling playfully around the living room floor.  So cute!

*Then he disappeared into the kitchen.  As God is my witness, I honestly believe he gave me a Meaningful Look right before doing so.

*Then I heard the soft sound of someone wandering around the kitchen counters and knocking things to the floor.

*Might have to rethink the survelleince camera.  It's all well and good to see what's going on.

*It's another thing entirely to be sitting helpless and miles away whilst Bad Things are being perpetrated upon my kitchen.

*I came home to find a shredded potato chip bag in the living room.  An empty potato chip bag.

*The high tech, cat proof clip I'd used to seal it was intact.  For what that's worth.

*To add insult to injury, the bag was left directly within view of the camera.

*Almost as if it was placed there purposely.  To mock me.

*I can only be thankful that I had a class to teach and wasn't available to watch my chips being devoured before my very eyes.

*For the record, the chips are normally stored in the microwave because that's the only thing the AGK can't quite figure out how to open.

*But I used the microwave this morning making breakfast.  I was still on schedule at that point.

*Then, suddenly, I wasn't on schedule anymore and I rushed out the door before putting the chips back in the vault.

*Need to work on the schedule....

*Figure out a way to work "return chips to microwave" into the morning routine.

*Also need to determine how I'm going to manage dinner tonight.  I'm having chicken with ginger teriyaki sauce.  I had it last night, too.  It was good.

*The AGK likes that as much as chips, apparently.  

*Don't turn your back on your chicken with ginger teriyaki sauce.  Not even if you are trying to make some rice to go with it or wash the spoon you were using to stir with because the cat keeps trying to steal it.

*You will find less of your dinner in the pot upon your return.

*The distance between my sink and my stove is about three feet.  Which doesn't matter at all when you have a cat who really likes chicken with ginger teriyaki sauce.

*The rice didn't seem to do much for him at all.  Part of me took that personally...

*I'd set up the camera to watch my chicken while I wash the spoons tonight, but I'm still sort of stinging from today's Chip Taunt.

*Maybe I need to take a break from my stealthy Bad Cat spying activities.

*I shudder to think what that camera might capture next...

*Daddy Sheep is recovering nicely from his Dentist/Wandering Crown/Lung Plunging experience.  No ill effects whatsoever.

*He gets lots of rest because he doesn't have to go to Open Houses now that he's retired from the teaching game.  Nor does he make a habit of being in buildings that are flooding.  He also doesn't have cats which require nonstop monitoring.

*Rest is the key to healing.  That's why I'm thinking of canceling my next dentist appointment.  I can't risk anything happening.  

*I've only got the one crown and it's pretty firmly seated.  But never know.

*Disaster lurks around every corner these days!

Well, I've run out of steam.  Truth be told, I think that remembering my chicken kind of stirred up a desire to eat some chicken.  Or at least the leftover bits that my cat doesn't want.  I suppose I should get to it.  It's good to get some protein into the body.  Gotta keep up that strength.

Because even mundane disasters can take their toll...


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

WNBP: It's The Heat...

My God!  I can't even put together a coherent sentence tonight.  The unrelenting heat has possibly rendered me incapable of written language.   As I said to a colleague today, "I'm good with this sort of thing in June.  I know it's just something I have to get through in order to make it to summer vacation.  But in September?  I just have no use for this!!"

Let's get to this week's Wednesday Night Bullet Post before I melt and lost all ability to make contact with the keyboard...

*It is hot.

*Like 95 degrees hot.

*Which, as I previously stated, is something I have no means for managing in the second week of school.

*I'm not kidding about the 95 degrees either.  This isn't just a case of Sheepie exaggerating for effect.

*In fact, my car informed me that it was 97 degrees outside when I vacated my third floor classroom with the one window we can't open because of that kid who broke it five years ago.

*I may or may not have had a meeting this afternoon, but I left anyway.  Too hot and tired to even bother checking on that...

*Tomorrow night is Open House for the parents.

*God help me if there isn't something in the way of a weather break between now and then.

*I actually thought hateful thoughts for the librarian and my favorite secretaries today because they get air conditioning and that seemed like the most unfair thing in the world by 1:00 this afternoon.

*The weather people assure me we are heading for a cold snap in the very near future.

*If the weather people are lying to me then they shall be added to the list of Most Hateful People.

*That means absolutely nothing since I really don't have the guts to confront anyone on that list.  Few even know they are on it.

*But it gives me a warm glow to know I have a list.  It makes me feel productive.

*Productive people have lists...

*Last Thursday, I sent the following email (or something almost exactly like it) to Mr. Principal (formerly known as Mr. Assistant Principal) and my director (formerly known as my director):

Dear MP and Director,

You have expressed your dislike for my long, involved emails and stories so I'll be brief.  Here is the situation:

*Yesterday, Daddy Sheep went to the dentist to have a crown replaced.

*Then a whole lot of people started saying things like, "whoops," and, "catch that!" and "Um...we're not sure.  We've never actually seen this before."  There were also a number of phone calls made.

*Now he is at the hospital being prepped for a procedure to remove the crown from his lung.

I'm sure everything will be fine but, in case I need to leave suddenly to donate blood or a spare lung, I wanted you to be aware.


Ms. Sheep

*Mr. Principal took a while to email back.  His went something like:

WHAT?????  It's only the second day of school...

*Yes, it was quite the drama.  Not your normal dentist appointment at all.  The crown was handily removed, fumbled and it quickly disappeared down Daddy Sheep's gullet.  

*From there it hung a right and cozied up in a lung where it resisted all reasonable attempts at removal, requiring a pulmonary surgeon's expertise and an overnight stay at the hospital.

*Two overnight stays, actually.

*The dentist felt downright horrible because he is actually a heck of a nice guy.  He took care of my parent's car, his staff called the hospital multiple times to check on him and Daddy Sheep was visited by the dentist during his first night at Chez Sick Spot.

*Oh, and if you really want to lose some sleep before your next dentist appointment, get this next part!

*Most of the people my dad saw along the way from the dentist's office to the Urgent Care Center to the hospital were befuddled, having never ever seen such a thing before.

*However, The Queen of Pulmonary Procedures (not to mention many of the poor crown fumbling dentist's older colleagues) said that this kind of thing happens all the time.


*I've shared tales of my horrible dentist many times.  Many.  

*He's dislocated my jaw, performed a root canal without working anesthesia and spent a portion of one appointment scoffing at the idea of a woman ever being the vice president.

*He hasn't shot a crown into my breathing hole yet.  

* But, statistically, it seems highly likely.  Like I didn't have enough dental angst...

*Daddy Sheep is fine now and has some rather interesting x-ray images to put in his scrapbook.  

*All of which my parents were told could not be put on the Internet or believe you me, I'd be requesting copies of those bad boys every day until I could post 'em!

*And he went back to the dentist for a temporary crown the day he got out of the hospital.

*He's tough.  Plus all the women in the office wanted to hug him and I think he kind of liked that.

*While there, Dad asked the dentist if he'd ever played football in high school.  The dentist said he played briefly, but that it wasn't really his sport.

*"Fumbled a lot, I suppose," replied my father.

*It took a minute for Fumble Fingers to get it.  Eventually, he caught the correlation.

*I had my first extended conversation with our new Mr. Assistant Principal today.  I was really hot and cranky, but I felt I owed it to him to share the full extent of my wit.  

*I was, if I do say so myself, on a roll.  The educationally specific one liners were flying!

*I'm used to the old Mr. Assistant Principal.  He has a very good sense of humor, one possibly not shared by the new guy.  That or I'm more of an "acquired taste" than I thought.

*Fortunately, the new MAP didn't look offended.  Just really confused.  Perhaps a little overwhelmed. Maybe he was just wondering if the heat was getting to me.  

*Or if I required medication of some sort...

*I refuse to work for someone without a functioning sense of humor.  No school administrator is going to last long without one.

*Daddy Sheep is a retired school administrator.  And he makes fumble jokes to his dentist after a crown removal gone horrifically awry.  

*I intend to make the new MAP my personal pet project.  I will see that he has a sense of humor if I have to spend every day down in that office with a ventriloquist's dummy and silly string or my name isn't Laugh-A-Minute-Sheepish-Annie!!!!

*Watch the news.  I fully expect there to be footage of me being forcibly removed from the school whilst struggling against my straitjacket and screaming, "It's not my fault!  The man wasn't exposed to enough 70's sitcoms as a child!!!!!"

*It won't be tomorrow, though.  It will take a few hours for the heat to dissipate from the building and no one has the energy to drag me out until temperatures return to normal...

So there's the week that was.  And part of the week that is.  All of it brought to you courtesy of a fried brain and typed by fingers that stick to every key they touch!  Not too bad, if I do say so myself.

Now it's simply a matter of hosing off the sweat for a third time and trying to figure out what to wear tomorrow.  I need something sort of professional looking for Open House night, but lightweight enough to deal with that residual heat.

And possibly fire retardant.  With these kind of temperatures, you can't be too careful...


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

WNBP: I'll Do My Best

I am exhausted.  And my feet hurt.  And I think I still have 342 emails left to answer.  Oh, and I can't seem to put together enough coherent thoughts to guarantee that any of those answers will relate to the subject lines.

Yes, the signs are all in place.  Today was the first day of school.  I survived.  All tweens involved survived.  A few even thrived.  That, dear readers, is what we in the teaching game call A Good Opening Day.

That doesn't help my sore feet, though...

My first thought was to bail on tonight's WNBP, but that has gotten a little easier to do these days.  Since the ol' blog is really just hanging on by a thread lately, I think I should just put my nose to the grindstone and do my best to cobble something together.

And maybe later, I can put that grindstone to my left foot to see if perhaps I can take the swelling down enough to match the right one!

*The online service we use to manage our special education paperwork went Ker-flooey last week.

*Since a lot of stuff was still up in the air when I left school in June, I had only a partial idea of what I needed to do to satisfy state and federal requirements for my students.  

*Or even who those students might be.

*I was able to log on yesterday.

*Which, as you may have surmised, was THE DAY BEFORE SCHOOL STARTED!!!

*Wanna know what I found?

*Last year's caseload with one new student added on because he moved to the district late and apparently only the Johnny-Come-Latelys get counted.

*My caseload is never correctly updated, but this is the worst it's ever looked.

*We were cut back to one secretary in the special education office last spring.

*She decided that the most efficient way to handle the start of the school year and an online file management service going Ker-flooey was to take a week long cruise.

*Let's face it:  we all decide that at one time or another.  I decide that three or four times a day and that's not even on a particularly bad day.

*But I've never actually had the guts to go and do it.

*My email to my director yesterday begging for assistance with this situation required a follow up email extending apologies for my possibly having been a bit snippy.

*She said that I wasn't snippy.  She then demonstrated snippy by sharing a very, very small fraction of her feelings regarding secretaries who take week-long cruises during the first week of school and under Ker-flooey Konditions.

*She and another clerk at central office had been frantically updating online caseloads for grades 6-12 late into the previous evening.

*She also noted that, while doing so, she was surprised to see how "diverse" my own group of little darlings is this year.

*That is an understatement.  Now that I have figured out who is who and who needs what, even I can't help but marvel and the amazingness that I shall be demonstrating this school year.

*Or lack thereof.  

*It's going to be one of those...

*Seriously.  We are all over the map here.  

*And the home screen listing listing my caseload was bursting at its virtual seams. More kids than I anticipated.

*Yesterday, while we were sitting through the second of three Very, Very Long Teacher Meetings, a parent came in to register another one.

*Also mine, I came to learn.

*For the record, the secretary over at central office is actually a pretty hard working lady.  Very nice, too.  And always willing to step up if you need help with something.

*If anyone deserves a cruise, I'd have to say it's her.

*But the timing is kind of...odd.

*I spend a great deal of my summer putting up meals.  I discovered home pressure canning a few years ago and now it's something of an addiction.

*The rule is: Don't break into the jars until December.

*Weird, I know.  But there's something giggle-worthy about eating summer green beans during a snow storm...

*I tried two new recipes this summer, however, and wanted to give them a test run before packing them in my lunch box come the winter months.

*Yesterday, I cracked open the Asian style turkey meatballs.  Very tasty and went well with a bit of rice.

*Of course, the Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty loves turkey.  He loves it beyond all reason and would probably marry a turkey if he could.

*It would be a union of extremely short duration, though.  The bride probably wouldn't make it through the reception.

*Hence, I had to eat my turkey meatballs all hunched over the bowl whilst casting furtive glances about the immediate area in order to protect my dinner from surprise attacks.

*This is what we here at the manse refer to as Dining A-La Prison Chow Hall.

*Tonight I tried the sweet and sour chicken.  The AGK likes chicken, too.

*Not as much as turkey, though.  Maybe it was the pineapple...

*My dinner was eaten at a much more leisurely pace and with less of the furtive.

*Hard to believe this is the same cat that was stealing entrails out of the sink while I was wrestling with chicken parts this summer...

*Mac folks with paranoid tendencies might enjoy the Presence app.  It's free.

*It lets you turn your devices into a home surveillance system.

*Mac folks with paranoid tendencies and a burning desire to see what their cats do all day might like it, too.

*For the record, I think Da Boyz know I'm spying on them now.

*Living room hi-jinx were non-existent today.

*The kitchen, however, was fair game.  And only the spot just out of camera range.

*I'm fairly certain that the soaking wet sponge wasn't exactly what they wanted.  There has never been a run on soaking wet sponges here.

*But, apparently it's any port in a storm now.  Or any forbidden item located in non-observable areas in a storm...

*Soaking wet sponges are not nice things to find dripping all over the kitchen floor.

*Or to step on...

*With your big, fat swollen foot...

*Tomorrow, I'm going to put the camera in the kitchen.

*And expect the living room to be turned into Thunderdome.

*I have been awoken at a quarter to oh-my-god in the morning every day all summer long.

*Cats don't know from vacation.

*Today?  Nothing.  Not a peep from the feline roommates.

*Kind of inconvenient since I forgot to set the alarm last night.

*On the first day of school.

For what it's worth, I made it out of bed and out the door with ample time to herd the children.  And, in spite of the issues we may have had (like running out of lockers, seats in the cafeteria and patience) it wasn't the worst day I've ever had.  I can cross another First Day Of School off the list of stuff I need to do for thirty years or so.

But I think it's fair to say I've had my share of sore feet and Ker-flooies for a while...


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WNBP: Stuff's Getting Real Now

Last week, due to my mistakenly wandering a week ahead on the calendar track, was an emotional roller coaster.  In my mind, it was the last week of my summer vacation and I mourned it hard.  Then, when an exasperated sales clerk demanded repeatedly that I change the date on my check so that it represented the correct day, I realized the truth.  I still had another week to go.

By then, it was too late.  I'd already unpacked a great deal of the emotional baggage that comes with summer's end and trying to refold everything was just too difficult.  Now that the actual "end is nigh," I'm not sure how to feel.

What I do know, however, is that a sense of reality is beginning to creep in.  It's not the same diamond  edged clarity I had last week.  (And that, as we all know, was of the cubic zirconium variety but it was close enough to wear to a semi-formal occasion and be able to fool the masses)  But it is definitely a feeling.

Yeah.  It's maybe starting to get a little real up in here...

So here is your last Summer Vacation Edition Of The Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  May it adequately express all the confusion and mixed emotions of the day!

*I always make a lot of promised to myself before summer vacation.  Mostly about things I will do to improve my life while I have the time to do them.

*During the school year, I spend most of my down time on the sofa wondering if I have the strength to get up and go do it again tomorrow...

*This year, per usual, I promised myself stuff all willy-nilly.  I know me and I don't expect it will all get done, but I like to think I get to some of it.

*The one thing I promised seriously, however, was that I would finish clearing out the spare bedroom.

*AKA: The Border Hoarder Room.

*Not quite up to genuine Hoarder Standards, but you can see the potential.

*I did a lot this summer.

*I painted the living room during a heat wave.  I also painted a contrasting wall that leads into the kitchen.

*The latter involved patching a large hole.  There was drywall involved.

*I refinished and reupholstered my grandmother's sewing chair.  

*One of those things I snagged right before the house was sold.  Not sure why I took it, but it's been a handy little chair.  Very sturdy.  A solid chair to have about the manse.

*Especially when I realized I didn't have a step ladder for painting.

*Which is why it needed to be refinished and reupholstered.  

*Gotta respect the handy chair.  Even a workhorse likes to look its best.

*I installed a new light switch in the bathroom.

*One that stays up or down as my mood and lighting needs dictate.  

*It also doesn't make that weird sizzling sound when it can't decide which position to take.

*That is comforting.

*I installed roman shades in the living room.

*I rearranged several pieces of furniture to update the look around here and replaced some of the art to reflect something other than the Late Nineties And Too Lazy To Do Anything About It period.

*Budget art shopping.  Took some time.  Took some digging.  

*I hung several shelves.

*I replaced my printer for a wireless model that could be stored less obtrusively but still used.

*I found a killer deal on a faux fireplace and built a faux hearthstone upon which to place it.

*Faux mantel is forthcoming.  I ran out of Faux.

*And Time

*I did a lot.  More than I've listed.

*What I did not do was finish cleaning out the spare bedroom.

*I've cleared a path.  If you look at it with one eye closed and think positively, it almost could be considered charmingly cluttered.

*That is probably going to have to be good enough.  The reality is, I'm out of time to do the job fully.

*And out of steam.

*I went to the doctor's office last week.

*And was promptly sent home because my real appointment was for this week.

*So I went today because it seemed like the right thing to do.

*I have tendinitis.  Of the Tennis Elbow variety.

*I have moved one too many pieces of furniture and I can't help but hearken back to that time I was crawling around under the sink yelling to myself, "Hey, stupid!  Your arm doesn't bend that way and you should have just bought the correct wrench like the internet said in the first place!!!"

*I have the wrench, but I think we are going to add "replace the sprayer attachment on the kitchen sink" to the List 'O Stuff That Shall Remain Undone.

*Gotta get real about that.  

*Now I am supposed to wear a Tennis Elbow Brace.

*I'm not just making up a cute name for it.  That is what it is called.  A Tennis Elbow Brace.  You can get them at the grocery store for fifteen dollars.

*You probably already knew that was a real thing.  I did not.

*I also had blood work done today.  I have my rheumatoid factor tested every few years just to be on the safe side.

*Family history of rheumatoid arthritis.

*Thought you only had to do that once and, if cleared, all was well.  I was quickly disabused of that happy notion by a nurse with RA.

*The factor is shy and hides until it isn't a so much a factor as a reality.  Hence, I re-test every so often just to be sure I've covered my bases.

*I bring it up because I am right handed.  Which is why my tennis elbow is on the right side.

*And where they tend to take blood.

*It is nigh on impossible to wear the brace so close to the site of today's vampiric carnage.

*To be fair, I don't give up my corpuscles easily.  Nurses have to work for it.

*I try to keep it real and not scream obscenities at them as they fish about with the needle hoping for a glimpse of red.

*Very bruised inner elbow.  Very sore outer elbow what with the tennis influence and arm wrenching that occurs when a frustrated nurse is desperately trying to make blood appear.

*I don't have arthritis, of that I am fairly certain.  But, I almost feel like I've earned some sort of diagnosis after this.

*I can't be mad at the nurse.  I just can't.  She's real nice.  And she thinks I'm funny.  

*It's not her fault she has to weigh me or stab me.

*My doctor was late to my appointment.  

*Stuck behind a school bus full of kindergartners.

*The kids were fine.  The problems were more centered around parents clinging to the bus and begging reassurances from the driver.

*She lives in my hometown.  A place where school has already started for the year.

*My school starts later than most.  We get away with it because we don't take much in the way of staff development time out of the regular school year.

*It works.  And gives me a few days of non kid-impacted shopping/driving/basically enjoying life during the last week of summer vacation.

*Now that I think of it, the plethora of kids around last week probably should have been a clue that something was off with my date calculations...

*I spent fifteen minutes rhapsodizing to my cats about the features of my new back-to-school bras.

*I was enthused.  To say the least.

*Da Boyz were clearly less than impressed with my description.  In fact, I can't help but think they were not even really all that interested.

*I understand, but they could have at least faked it for the sake of politeness.

*It is entirely possible that it really is time for me to go back to school. 

* Not just in the temporal sense.  In the personal sense.

*I might be in need of some Daytime Structure.

*And a little reality check...

And there you have it.  The limit of my recollections for the week. As much as I'd like to continue thinking Summer Thoughts, I need to get real here.  Vacation is pretty much done.  A couple more days and then it's just a plain, old weekend.  Just like the one I get during the winter months.  Except for the part where Monday is a holiday, but you get the idea.

Ready or not.  Reality, here I come...


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WNBP: Don't Mind Me. Seriously. Question Everything.

It seems that when I miss a week of blogging, it is cause for concern.  I suppose this makes sense, given that I have been fairly regular since I switched from the 6-days-per-week format to the current once-weekly version.  But I honestly didn't give it much thought last week when, after a day of shopping for party supplies with The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach, I was too spent to do much of anything, let alone compose intelligent sentences.

I probably should have guessed that my parents would be contacted...

My initial reaction was one of humorous dismissal.  "That's nice," I said with a chuckle, "but I'm pretty sure I've got things under control over here.  No need to push the panic button just because I took one night off!"

I've since had cause to rescind that statement.  In fact, I now believe that everyone should question everything I do rather carefully.  Furthermore, if I cannot be located for more than an hour's time, a search party should be assembled post haste.  I am, no doubt, at the bottom of a well or attempting to coax a rabid raccoon into a box so I can keep him as a pet.

At no time should it be assumed that I know what I am doing.  Ever.  Even if I say I know what I am doing, don't be fooled.  I don't.

Here is this week's Wednesday Night Bullet Post, on schedule except for the part where I lost track of time and started it a bit late:

*I somehow lost track of July.  I do that sometimes, lose track of days, weeks...yes, even entire months.

*I remember doing stuff.  I recall afternoon naps.  I know I celebrated Independence Day.  

*But it all kind of blurred together and suddenly, without warning...

*It was the last week of summer vacation!!!!

*That one hit hard.  I thought I had more time.  Worse, I still hadn't been in to school to set up the classroom and organize any of those Very Important Files Without Which No Learning Can Commence.

*I hate going in to school during the last week of vacation.  I prefer to get it done during the second to last week so I can use the final days to mope around properly.

*Somehow, I missed that window.  This irked me.

*Worse, I'd scheduled appointments!  What was I thinking?????

*I overslept yesterday.  It was only by an hour or so, but that isn't tolerated around here.

*I now need to add Shampoo The Living Room Carpet Again to the list of stuff that I need to get done before school starts.

*My feline overlords are generally benevolent dictators.

*Not so much when breakfast is late, though.

*I went in to school yesterday after doing some spot cleaning on the carpet.  

*I took poop on the carpet as a sign.  You don't ignore signs.  Clearly, I needed to get myself back on schedule.

*I planned on a two hour marathon.  Work it hard and get 'er done!  Home by noon!  

*Napping by 1:00...

*Oversleeping and having to spot clean poop out of the carpet kind of puts a damper on schedules.

*Nor is it reasonable to think that an entire classroom, plus filing, can be assembled logically in two hours.

*It also cannot be done in three hours, but that was all I had in me.  It was hot and the posters kept sliding off the walls.

*Had I done this last week, it would have been much easier.  It was far less humid.

*Why, oh why did I put this off until the last week of vacation?  How could I have been so stupid?  How does one lose an entire week???????

*And, believe me, I said this to anyone who would listen.  Which wasn't very many people since the school isn't actually open yet, but I made the effort.  I hunted down individuals to whom I might air my complaints.

*However, it was nice to add that the room was pretty much done and that I was ready to start next week.

*As much as I'm not really ready...

*I finally straightened out my online banking issues.

*And, by "online banking issues" I mean, "I haven't been able to access online banking ever."

*The system refused to allow it.  Multiple bank representatives were made aware of this over the years.

*All of whom assured me that I should have no problem signing up for online banking if I just tried again.  

*And one of whom assumed that I didn't know how to use a computer.  And said so.  To my face.

*Little Girl, I was learning how to write code before you were born...

*I did not say that.  Partly because I didn't think of it in time and mostly because writing code in the early 80's wasn't really all that impressive.

*It mostly revolved around solving for X in sophomore algebra.  

*And my flow charts never flowed well towards that goal.  Nor did my if/then statements inspire the room-sized panel of flashing gadgetry to do my will with anything remotely resembling fluid processing.

*OK.  So maybe Steve Jobs wasn't hunting me down to beg that I join his dream team in the garage, but I do know how to use a computer.

*When I went in to drop off my sort of late car payment, the nice young man asked me why I didn't just do it on-line.

*For well over a decade and then some, I have been reduced to telephone banking while I hum the soundtrack from Pretty In Pink to distract me from the fact that I am banking it 80's style.

*Although I do love me some Psychedelic Furs...

*I laughed right in the nice young man's face because a decade plus and then some is far too long to maintain one's sense of politeness and gentility.

*This time, however, a manager was in earshot.  A manager over the age of twelve and with some sense of customer service sense.

*I say "some sense" because she obviously still assumed the issue was on my end.  

*At least until the system shut her out of my online banking access.  

*Phone calls were made.  Special access codes invoked.  My footprints already in the system were erased in order that we might make a clean start of it.

*In short, I am now a proud member of the online banking community.  Something I have been trying to do since I first picked up that floppy disk on display in the bank's lobby.  The one that promised to set me up for futuristic banking.

*A floppy disk, for God's sake!!!

*No one knows why the system believed I already had a password.  I never got past the first two floppy disk prompts.  There is no way I could have set up a password.  

*Floppy disk bank blocked me!

*We decided to just call it One Of Those Things and let it go.  Except I kind of couldn't...

*Later, when I attempted to use my telephone banking pin to see if the information matched up with the version I saw on the screen, all was clear.

*My accursed telephone pin was the culprit!  When the Banking Guru erased me from the system, he/she made that go away.

*Thus clearing the path for new millennium style, updated soundtrack banking.

*Which, in hindsight, is maybe something they should have known.  Perhaps even mentioned to me.

*The floppy disk certainly didn't, but I think it had attitude problems.

*Busy day today.  I figured I might as well get as much done as possible while I was out and about so I checked store circulars before I left.  

*Maybe it's just me, but I think that stores should update their data regularly.  It does not help me to know what was on sale last week.  Just an observation.

*And one I made rather pointedly to Da Boyz, but I don't think they cared.  Food arrived on time this morning so their interest in me had waned a bit by then.

*First Stop: The doctor's office.  I had an appointment at 8:15.  I know this because it was written on a little card.

*And I quoted that little card to the nice receptionist when she told me that I did not have an appointment today.  No one had an appointment today because there wasn't even a doctor to be seen today.

*I repeated what it said on the card.  She repeated what it said on her computer screen.  

*Computer screen trumps card.  I left.  

*People are not cooperating with my last week of vacation at all.  I was contemplating sending a memo.

*It was now 8:20.  And I had three and a half hours to kill before meeting Mommy and Daddy Sheep for family lunch.

*I went to the Farmer's Market for the Weekly Visit With The Vegetables.  The last one of the summer.

*I fondly stroked a few eggplants and murmured sad good-byes to the melons.  

*Then I realized that one shouldn't be stroking and murmuring to produce because it causes people to look at one oddly.  One should purchase some melons and peaches and definitely that eggplant one was molesting and get out of Dodge.

*I found some very reasonably priced roman shades at a store known for discounted merchandise.  I wasn't exactly in the market for roman shades, but I was planning to buy new blinds later.  I figured roman shades thrown in my path were probably meant to be.

*This is a pay week.  I have money in my checking account.  I know this because I can check it online now.

*But, three days before payday, it's always nice to slow things down a bit.  I wrote a check for the shades.

*A check that I was assured would be happily accepted as long as I corrected the date.

*"You wrote the 28th," the nice man said.  "It's the 21st.  You need to change that."

*My response:  "Huh?"

*Now clearly believing that I was trying to pull some sort of check-related tom-foolery, he pointed to the paper and said, "You can't write that for the 28th.  It has to be TODAY'S DATE."

*I made a few uncertain and garbled noises, but I changed the check.  If this guy wanted to believe it was last week, so be it.  Not my problem.  I just wanted some cheap roman shades.

*And yet he seemed so certain...

*I pulled out my phone when I got back to the car.  I checked the date.  Sure enough.  It is not the 28th.  It is the 21st.  

*It is not the last week of summer vacation.  It is the second-to-last week.

*I am surrounded by calendars.  Paper versions.  Digital versions.  The bank is nice enough to put one right in the lobby for me to look at.  

*Over the past two days I have spoken to more people than I care to count about my sadness over this being the last week of summer vacation.  Several of them work with me.  They are on the exact same schedule.  

*I stood in the doctor's office today and quoted a card which listed my appointment as being for August 28th.  I quoted it twice.

*There were two people who heard it.

*I don't know whether to be horrified by how stupid I sound in public or concerned that no one saw fit to correct me until it involved possible check fraud.

So there you have it:  proof positive that I can never be left to my own devices.  Sure, I might sound like I know what I'm talking about.  I may come across as confident.  I might even use big words.  But don't for one minute let me out of your sight.  Or, if you have other things to do besides making sure I don't lick bare wires poking out of the wall, set up a rotating schedule so no one gets stuck with Sheepie Duty for overlong.  Whatever you have to do to make it work is fine with me.  The goal is to keep me alive and somewhere in the vicinity of where I need to be.

Oh, and by the way, you might want to make a note of this for the schedule.  You know that doctor's appointment I went to that isn't until next week?  The one I insisted on having made?  Yeah...that's actually for my yearly mammogram and doesn't occur anywhere near my primary care physician's office.

It says so right on the other side of that little card...