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...