Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Life in the Fast Lane

It's Thanksgiving eve-eve and I'm trying to stay awake and get everything packed up for our travel this weekend.  It has been quite a while since we've road tripped with the kids due to my grad school schedule, and I'm actually a little excited.  Which means that about an hour into the trip, I'll be over.it.

Remember the list I posted a couple of days ago, outlining the remaining things I needed to get done in order to finish school?  Well, here's how it looks now:

Complete coursework: Teaching the Exceptional Learner
*Write one information brief (note to self: figure out what an information brief is...)
*5 online modules/forum entries
*One teaching philosophy paper
*One InTasc reflection (don't ask, I promise you don't want to know)
*Prepare a presentation on students with Emotional Disturbance

6 practicum hours

1 E*portfolio presentation
*Revise any InTasc reflections that need revising
*Prepare a new resume
*Try not to panic

I'm feeling pretty dang good about that.  I present my e*portfolio in less than a week.  I'm taking my computer with me this weekend, but I can't even imagine a scenario which includes me having time to work on it.  Which means Sunday night is going to be a doozy!!

In other news, I got honked at in the car line today.  We can put that under the column heading of things I've never experienced before.  You'll be happy to know I resisted the urge to flip the bird to the woman behind me.  Here's the thing.  I try really hard to be a diligent member of the car line community.  It is beyond annoying when someone is not paying attention and they get left behind.  However.  I literally looked down at my phone for two seconds-which, naturally, were the exact two seconds the line finally decided to move.  I think you should hold off on the honking until I'm at least 5 car lengths behind.  I'm thinking of submitting this as a policy to the school handbook.  And do you want to know the really weird part?  The woman was right behind me during the portion of pick-up where we get out of our cars to wait for our kids.  And she kept LOOKING at me.  Seriously lady.  It was almost like she wanted me to thank her for honking at me.  She was a bold one, oh yes she was.  I did my best to avoid her awkward staring, which is something I've developed real skills in.  And then Drew didn't make it to my car in time, so I had to make another lap.  Yep, nothing like an HOUR in the car line.  I have never felt more incompetent than I do trying to navigate kindergarten!

I hope I'll have the chance to check in over the next few days.  If I don't, I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Like me, for some of you, there is always a tinge of sadness on days like these.  I hope you are able to find space for the melancholy.  I will be thinking of you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nothing Worked for Seinfeld

I have absolutely nothing of import to report today.

But, I'm writing this post because a) I'm procrastinating homework and b) I just felt like I wanted to stop by.  And chit chat.  I do love a good chit chat session.  Although, not usually on the phone.  I do talk to my sisters on the phone fairly regularly, but that's because when my kids start acting like mental patients (which is GUARANTEED the minute I pick up the phone) I can act mean without fear of judgement.

After yesterday's marathon day I could not get into bed fast enough.  Only, I'd had some late afternoon caffeine which hindered my falling asleep abilities.  This is the rub.  By 4:00 every day, I'm ready to cash it in.  Sadly, at 4:00, I still have a solid 3 1/2 hours of hard Mom labor ahead of me.  So, I usually end up having a caffeinated beverage to get me through.  And then it gets me through to at least midnight.  Which would be fine if I didn't have to get up at the preamble to the crack of dawn.  It's a conundrum, without doubt.

I cleaned out my car today for the first time in a long time.  When we have several busy weeks in a row, we basically live in the car.  I told someone not too long ago that if we got stranded in my car for two weeks, we could probably survive just from all the junk in there.  I cleaned out a lot of random stuff today, including, but not limited to: a whiffle ball bat, footy pajamas, a battery powered alarm clock, a purse, Buzz Lightyear, 4 pairs of Emily's shoes, and fingernail polish.  Don't ask, because I have no explanation.

Tonight at karate Drew got his sparring gear and his first go at sparring.  I'm here to tell you that nothing is funnier than little kids, in sparring gear that is slightly too big, trying to spar.  It's weird, because if you put these same kids on the playground without protective head gear, they are much rougher.  In the gym, all padded up, they all act scared.  I could feel my inner "sideline mom" rearing her ugly head tonight.  I did let some "encouragement" slip out, but it was nothing compared to what was happening in my mind.  Some really appropriate things like, "HIT HIM, Drew.  Don't let him push you back!! Punch him in the chest! Go for the head!"  The other kid was 4.  Maybe it's best if we don't involve Drew in any other sports.  I'd hate to have to explain a restraining order to my boss...

Tomorrow I am staying home.  All day.  Just Em and I (and maybe a visit from my best buddy, Van) and I couldn't be happier about it.  Even if I will spend all day doing laundry and washing dishes, at least I can do all of that in my pajamas!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tick Tock


I am so close to having a completed graduate degree.

My life, right now, is about 75 degrees past bananas.  But the light? The one at the end of the tunnel? It grows nearer every day.

Today was a marathon day.  A day when I just don't think too hard about everything to be done, how many people I'm inconveniencing, or how ragged out my kids are.  A day that you just put your head down and make it all happen.

BUT.  I finished a large chunk of practicum hours today.  And my list of things that have to happen before I graduate is growing small.  Let me make this annotation-the actual list is small.  The work that will go into the list?  Not small.

Here is what is left to be done:

Complete coursework: Teaching the Exceptional Learner
*Write one information brief (note to self: figure out what an information brief is...)
*5 online modules/forum entries
*One teaching philosophy paper
*One InTasc reflection (don't ask, I promise you don't want to know)
*Prepare a presentation on students with Emotional Disturbance

6 practicum hours

1 E*portfolio presentation
*Revise any InTasc reflections that need revising
*Prepare a new resume
*Try not to panic

9 things left to do.  That's less than 10!  I can count those with my fingers!!

My real life?  I'm just about to get it back...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up

It's barely still Monday.

I meant to wrap up our weekend last night.  And then, well, I didn't.

Let's start our discussion of the weekend with the great news that for the second weekend in a row, I did not have to go to grad school.  Hallelujah. Amen.

Friday afternoon I picked Drew up from school.  Sometime during the day he acquired a Sweet CeCe's sticker, reminding us to go there and eat frozen yogurt so his school could get some more money.  Emily noticed the sticker and asked if we could go.  I said yes.  There was complete silence in the backseat.  They were totally stunned!  Hahahaha.  They did not think I would say yes.  I love a moment like that.

We turned the car around and headed over to load up on frozen yogurt and toppings.  After we hit the bathroom of course, because that's what we do.  The kids wanted to eat outside, so we did.  The weather was amazing.  I was relaxed and thoroughly enjoying myself, trying to soak in the Hallmark moment of it all.  Then it sort of went from Hallmark to Modern Family when one child complained that the other child had more yogurt than they did, and CRIED about it.  There may or may not have been a long lecture concerning OH MY GOSH, ARE YOU SERIOUS?  YOU'RE SITTING HERE EATING YOGURT ON A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND YOU'RE CRYING BECAUSE THEY HAVE A LITTLE MORE THAN YOU??? DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY KIDS IN THIS WORLD WOULD LOVE TO BE YOU RIGHT NOW??  Annnnndddd...relaxing afternoon over.

We all stayed in on Friday night.  We watched The Grinch on TV (the Jim Carey version). Emily fosters a complete love/hate relationship with the Grinch.  Fascinated, yet terrified.  Drew asked if he could stay up and watch basketball with Big Dan (only because there was no football on).  I told him yes, as long as he didn't wake me up in the morning, or let Emily wake me up.  I laid out breakfast (left over mini boxes of cereal from preschool) and left strict instructions to let me sleep.  And they totally did!  When I got up (at 8, by the way.  In case you were worried that my kids were on their own half the day.  In my dreams!) they were snuggled together in Drew's bed and he was reading to her.  Do you see how we ride the pendulum each and every day?

I have to admit I wasn't in the best of moods Saturday.  My family would probably call that an understatement.  At one point Big Dan said, "I think you might need to go take a nap!"  Ha! The bottom line is that I was feeling so much pressure to get 2 weeks worth of housework done in one day. We all know how that goes.  It's just darn hard to be productive with other people in the house.  I totally blew it.  I was really thankful when Sunday rolled around and I got another chance.  New mercies are my favorite.

Sunday we did church and then Sunday afternoon nap.  I've started laying down with Em on Sunday afternoons just for a little bonding time.  It's heavenly. Sunday afternoon was spent constructing a wood sculpture for Drew's kindergarten class.  Did you get that?  We had to make a wood sculpture. How fast can we order up a clone of me?  Drew did a great job coming up with his idea-a wooden turtle.  We glued and drilled and hammered until we had us a great, big, wooden turtle.  Today we carried it in school in the rain.  It was epic.

I'm so sad the weekend is over.  But, it gave me a taste of weekends to come.  Weekends with no school and weeks between with no homework.  I have the grad school equivalent to senior-itis.  Must.finish.school.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Funnies

I have never been so happy for a Friday in my whole life!

That might be an exaggeration considering I can't remember anything beyond about a week ago.

In any case, I'm glad to close the book on this one, kids.

I thought I'd leave you with a couple of random tidbits that made me giggle.

First, a couple of weeks ago we were in music class at the preschool.  The music teacher is a good friend of mine and she is pretty much like Elvis to the 3-5 year old set.  They ADORE her.  And it's because she's really good.  Anyway, she does this song with them sometimes called "Don't Throw Your Junk In My Backyard".  I hope you're familiar with it.  It's super fun.  In case you're not, basically she asks for volunteers to tell things not to throw in the backyard.  It's always funny.  Kids say some weird stuff.  But.  The last time we did the song, she asked a little girl in my class for her answer.  And she said kitties.  Only she's three and has some speech issues and used a "t" instead of a "k".  I'll give you a minute to mull it over...


I wish, wish, wish you could have seen the look on Mrs. Ruth's face!!  She froze.  And didn't know what to do!  I quickly came to the rescue with an interpretation and then set forth to DIE LAUGHING for the rest of the song.  "Don't throw your kitties in my backyard, my backyard, my backyard. Don't throw your kitties in my backyard, my backyard's full...of kitties."  Seriously.  Not to mention that with those friends the "girls" will henceforth be known as the "kitties".

Then there was the time I changed my pants in the car line at school.  That time was today.

We had a pajama party in my class today at school, complete with little individual boxes of cereal.  Because, really? Is there a better snack than your own little box of cereal?  Doubtful.  Anyway, I had to pop into Drew's classroom to talk to his teacher this morning, so I packed my p.j. pants in my teacher bag and put them on when I got to school.  Because, listen, I may not have much pride left at this point, but the shred that remains strictly prohibits me from wearing pajamas in public. Skip to the afternoon when I have exactly zero minutes between school getting over and the time I need to leave in order to make it to Drew's school on time.  So, I did what any slightly insane person might do.  I changed my pants in the car.  In the car line.  At school.  I had to do it fast because the last thing you want is to get honked at in the car line.  Particularly if you aren't wearing pants at the time.

Happy weekend, everyone!  I'm going to spend mine concentrating on not putting my phone in the washing machine.  Hope yours is filled with lofty goals too!

Render Unto Caesar

I bet you think this is going to be a post about politics.  It's totally not.  I told you I'm pretending none of that happened.  Although, it has been nice to see gas prices come down a little bit.  I'm sure they're headed right back through the roof until the next time it benefits a candidate for them to come down, but I'll count the blessing for today anyway.

Nope, this post is about the big, bad state assessment that took place at my school Wednesday.  When I first started my job I raged against the insanity of all the regulations.  Because, honestly, some of them are stupid.  I still have issues telling parents what to pack in their child's lunch, because, well, I'm not a socialist.  (To be honest, I don't know if socialists really dictate people's lunches, but in my imaginary world, they do)  I also work at a school where all the teachers are kind, loving, creative, and smart.  And I feel like sometimes these guidelines don't allow people to be who they are when they teach.

But guess what? Throwing a tantrum about ECERS did not make it go away.  Mercifully, I was not chosen my first year.  It's just not something you want to add to your plate your first time around the block.  Last year I decided to quit wasting my energy being a hater and do what I do when something makes me nervous.  I learned the material backwards and forwards.  (This sometimes does not pay off in my life, like when I google medical conditions and what not...still, it's how I cope)  I could have taken a bubble-in test, or an essay test, or given a speech all about the environmental rating scale.  I made myself look at the ways it made me a better teacher.  I also spent a lot of time thinking about those kids who don't have the option of going to a preschool like mine.  My school is, for sure, an exception. There really is nowhere else like it.  There are lots of great preschools and childcare facilities.  But we all know there are some that are not.  These standards GREATLY benefit kids in those places.  No parent wants their child in a subpar childcare environment.  But, sometimes they don't have a choice.

Anywho, I was picked last year, and because I have stellar luck, I was chosen again this year!  In some ways, I wish I had a hilarious story for you about something zany that happened in my classroom.  But I don't!  Everything we've worked on to this point in class, my kids followed through on without missing a beat!

We don't find out our scores until after Christmas.  And there's really no way to tell how you did.  It's fairly subjective.  All you can do is hope you don't get the school shut down.  Which, if we're all honest, would be a story I would end up telling.  I don't think it happened this year.  So, I did what any good citizen of the state does after a day like Wednesday.  I went to dinner with my teacher friends and tossed back some vino.

And then the next day I taught a really shady lesson on the "Triangle of Trade" to some fourth graders. And I may have laughed out loud, hard, when one student kept shouting, "I need rum! I need rum!"

I hear ya, buddy, I hear ya.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesday Talking Points

1. The Election-Don't be afraid.  I'm not about to post one, single opinion here.  That would be because I don't have have one, single opinion.  Let's just say I will not be receiving any outstanding citizen awards this election cycle.  All in all, I have pretty much pretended none of it is happening.  I just didn't have one ounce of space for any sort of social action stress.  I figure if I have to be in denial about some part of life, this is a pretty benign place to put my head in the sand.

2. Today I picked up some Burt's Bees Milk and Honey lotion.  I have forgotten how much I adore it.  When I opened the bottle and sniffed, I immediately felt so happy.  I am keeping it in my classroom for my chapped hands.  It's sort of like dishpan hands only it's from washing my hands 237 times a day to appease the Department of Human Services.

3. Speaking of DHS, our big 3-star evaluation is tomorrow.  I can't remember if I blogged about it last year, but I ended up being picked.  So, I'm not as afraid this year.  I might be a tiny bit apathetic.  But, my classroom looks pretty fab.  My actual class on the other hand?  Loose cannons, all eight of them.  There is just no predicting what mayhem and foolishness they will be into.  At least the evaluator will be entertained.

4.  Wanna know what I'm watching on TV right now?  Well.  I should say, "Wanna know what I'm watching on Netflix these days?"  I have a serious problem.  I like to call it a show binge.  When I hit on a show I love I have a tendency to make really poor choices, like staying up until 2 a.m. to watch just.one.more.episode.  It's a sickness. (You might remember the Friday Night Lights incident...)  I have been obsessed with Dr. Who (which is way out of my normal genre, but completely addictive), Revenge, and Army Wives.  And now I have to wait a whole week for a new episode of Revenge.  It's like the TV dark ages.  I am also super in love with Duck Dynasty.  If I could grow a beard, I totally would.

5. Being a sports fan in Tennessee is just brutal right now.  I'm sad over the state of things at UT, particularly with the football team.  The problem is, I get overly emotional about coaches.  I need to harden up and just say, "Hey, your team is sucking up it.  Peace out."  But, I can't.  I have a tendency to think about how devastating this must all feel to a man who probably thought he'd found his dream job.  This causes my husband to roll his eyes.  I am a fairly great football wife because I love it.  However, my inability to separate my emotions causes me to lose points.  I'm not sure what's going to happen.  Chances are I'll shed a tear or two before it's all done.

Get some sleep, kids.  We may wake up to a whole new nation tomorrow.

Monday, November 5, 2012

BOO! (Yippee!)

This is the post that almost never happened.  It almost never happened because the mother in this scenario is a complete mental case.  She put her phone in the WASHING MACHINE.  But, because of superior product (and by superior product I mean rice) her phone has been revived.  Don't call it a comeback.  Boom!

And you are going to be so glad.  When you see all the cuteness you're going to want to thank me.

See what I mean???  I thought we'd start with this one.  My sister Kristin came across a lady who makes super cute custom dresses for little ladies.  And she has purchased a few for Emily.  Three cheers for an aunt who spoils you rotten!!

I am currently in a phase of my life where I literally live one day at a time.  This means that I did not think about Halloween until, well, Halloween.  Thankfully, Lyla had a costume party for her birthday, so we already had costumes.  Because if we didn't, there's a good chance we would've hit up Target on the way home from school Wednesday.  While we had costumes, we did not have a pumpkin.  And Kroger was out.  OUT of pumpkins.  Sheesh.  I had a slight moment of panic where I envisioned me having to hop the fence at the pumpkin farm to procure a pumpkin. Luckily, it's the 21st century and there is another grocery store within .1 miles of the Kroger.  And they had pumpkins.  Crisis averted.  So, just in the nick of time we cleaned out our pumpkin and carved him up.  Sadly, I just realized I did not get a picture of our finished pumpkin.  And, well, today he was chopped up and put in a plastic jar. So my class can watch him decompose.  I know, I know.  My job is glamourous.

Don't you love her face in this one??

After a good dinner, we costumed up and got ready to hit the 'hood.  

This was, without a doubt, our best go at Trick or Treat yet.  Both kids were big enough to really get into it.  Emily was especially into it as she made BFFs with every neighbor we visited.  She kept close tabs on things like how many dogs people had and what they were watching on TV.  Drew was much more get the candy and get out.  

We hit quite a few houses and then Drew waved the white flag. He was ready to get home, and I feel sure he was motivated by needing to eat some candy stat.  We examined the stash, stuffed our faces, and put the rest in a communal treat box.  Big Dan and I are currently imposing the candy tax as often as possible!

It turns out you can still make memories and have a great time even when you don't have a plan.  This is big news for me!  I am so, so thankful for my babies.  I am having a blast being their mom.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The One Supposed to be Titled "Boo!"

I was so excited.

I snapped some great pictures of the kids cleaning out our pumpkin.  I got some great shots of them in their costumes.  I even had a few pictures of them trick or treating.

I was going to write a witty post about how I waited until the.last.minute. to do all things Halloween related.  About how we almost didn't have a pumpkin to carve and how we almost didn't get it done in time.

And then I was going to wrap up with what a wonderful night it turned out to be.  How my kids were awesome and hilarious trick or treaters.  How they had no problem dumping all the candy into a communal treat box and how they encouraged me to eat some, too!

It was going to be amazing.

And then.

I washed my iphone in the washing machine. My iphone is where all my pictures are because my camera got lost.  I had been putting off downloading the pictures onto my computer.  Too bad about that because now my iphone is sitting on my counter in a bag of rice.  I'm telling you, I would put anointing oil on it and try out speaking in tongues if I thought it would help revive my phone.

I thought I was going to throw up.  And I may or may not have thrown a giant tantrum in my car on the way to the store to get rice.  In the middle of a thunderstorm.  It was not a proud moment.

It's kind of been one of those weeks, you know?  The kind that ends with a bang when you somehow manage to load your phone in the washer with the laundry.  I did not want to find things to be thankful for like you're supposed to do when things start going wrong.  I didn't want to count my blessings, dang it.  I wanted to scream and spew and stomp my feet.

And then, I found a little note tucked away in a pile of paper in my kitchen.  In tiny kindergarten writing were the words "I love mom!"  Did you notice the exclamation mark?  Because I did.

Perspective.  And without even meaning to, I started naming things I am thankful for.  Counting my blessings, one by one.  Slowly but surely, I was able to take baby steps back from the ledge.

I was ready to get my blog cranked back up again.  I was going to start with a fun little Halloween post.  You probably know by now that I can't really outrun the "real", you know?  So, my phone is in a bag of rice on my counter, but I have two healthy babies asleep in their ample beds upstairs.  They are warm.  They are fed.  They are kind and hilarious and beautiful.  I have a hard working husband upstairs in my ample bed.  And although I do exasperating things like put my phone in the spin cycle, he's here.  I have a God who takes all of my mistakes and uses them to teach.

I have that little note from my sweet boy taped to the top of my computer.  Just so I remember.

Besides, it's not like I love to talk on the phone anyway...