Thursday, October 30, 2014

Back to life ramblings

Can you notice the difference in me this morning?  After a two-week hiatus (fall break threw off my routine), I have found my way back to my favorite squishy chair in the nook of my favorite coffee shop.  Life can commence now as normal.  Apparently, I lost my head from sheer exhilaration because I promptly ordered a large coffee of the day but put a side of salted caramel cupcake on that.  That was not planned for in advance, my friends.  This mini-apolis may not have much going in the way of culture and whatnot, but it has phenomenal cupcakes at a best kept secret kind of coffee place.  So that makes up for a least on Thursday mornings.

***I used to get a semi-regular dose of these divine cupcakes when I would sometimes watch the daughter of a friend, who is big into cupcakes herself and thought we should share in the joy that is cupcakes.  We said yes we should and thank you.***

It turns out that I started a list of things to blather on about on here, but then I forgot what it was that the list was for, and apparently I took it to be some sort of rambling to-do list.  So I deleted one or two of my possible blog topics.  What I deleted was of such vital importance that I can't remember what it was that I so very desperately wanted to write about.  Not at all.  That's my gift to you this week cause who wants to slog through a blog of such epic unimportance? 

Instead, I'll throw a quick shout-out to the one item left on my fun-tastic list: family pictures.  We went all in with my side of the family for some fall-tastic family shots.  It was beyond-tastic of whatever you could possibly imagine.  Even though it was only two weeks ago, the couple of things that stand out in my mind are this:

1.  The boy and my dad both had to go to the bathroom the whole time we were there (2 hours).  Like the little boys that they both are, they stubbornly refused to get in the car and drive 5 minutes to someplace where they could make a quick stop.  They would have been gone 15 minutes max.  We could have survived without them for that long.  Neither of them would do it.
2.  The photographer wouldn't take pictures of anyone in the sun.  Is this a photography thing?  I know that you have to be aware of light and whatnot, but does late afternoon fall sun really skew things so mightily?  It seems like there were a-plenty o candid shots that were subsequently lost because of this.  Pose me not.
3.  My mom posed with her hands on her hips like Superwoman.  My mom is not one who enjoys the camera's attention, and for her to stand as such with all of us just proves that she's a good sport and that she loves her family quite a lot.   

And there you go.  I exhausted that topic it seems, which is good--how much more will you all take of this?!

In the meantime, enjoy your Halloween everyone (otherwise known as one of the biggest contradictions of parenting that there is: we shall spend much money and much time on our child's costume so that he/she can beg candy from strangers only for us to turn around and get cranky about how much candy our little angel has, which leads us to start figuring out ways to get rid of said candy on the sly...chucking it in the trash a few pieces at a time and foisting it off on random high schoolers are our two favorite routes of candy extraction)!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Spoken like a true 5-year old

Kids are all levels of hilarity.  Once they start stringing words together to form complete thoughts, all manner of mus-interpretations and fails in social etiquette ensues.

We have one of those awkward little persons.  She's five, bless her heart.

*This morning at 9:48, trying to put everyone's shoes on everyone's feet in order to walk out the door for church:

#2 was modeling a shiny, patent-y bronze, new pair of shoes.  #1 (i.e. the five-year old): "You look so cute!  You look like a...step-mother!"

*Just now, at 3:43, everyone wiling away the time with their individual pursuits, but it's a small house, so what #1 (who's in the living room) says to the boy (who's in the kitchen) is still easy enough for me to overhear (since I'm in my bedroom):

#1 is lounging in the recliner with her weekend screen time: "Hey Daddy, guess what?  You're going out to your car to get my blanket!"  And she's back to "Tar-ZAN!"  I've decided to try this tactic next time I want something.  "Hey, guess what?  You're going to change out of your PJs and go get me some ice cream even though it's 9 p.m. on a school night, and I'd like pecans and brownie chunks!"

I like her style.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The holidays are coming...the holidays are coming!!!

This week alone, I have come across 40+ gifts that kids can make which adults will actually use, 100+ specific non-toy gift ideas, and an article on how to buy experiences, not things.  Are we anticipating the holidays much?

I'm also realizing how I'm morphing into a specific version of my mom...namely the one that eats just a yogurt for breakfast.  In looking at our current credit card statement yesterday, I realized that I accidentally made purchases at a chain craft store three times in the last billing cycle.  I now own a glue gun.  This isn't really the adult version of myself that I anticipated becoming. 

Something's happening, friends.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Best advice -- #Blogtober

Look at that.  As soon as I declared that I was jumping on the #Blogtober bandwagon, I fell right back off it.  Here's my last ditch effort at putting my money where my blogging mouth is because Fall Break happened.  While I envisioned moments like right now where I would peck away at my keyboard while the boy was around to take over some of my normal time-filling activities (dropping off and picking up a Kindergartner, anyone?), instead I've been choosing to do things like create an indoor hopscotch board and watch Scandal.  Guess what...I discovered Scandal! and I know I'm behind the times, but Scandal!  

Advice is a funny thing.  You get it everywhere, both requested and unsolicited.  Occasionally, it sticks; most of the time, it doesn't.  (I'm looking at you random people in stores when I was pregnant.)  But here it is, my absolute favorite piece of advice that I ever received, which has carrie me through 9 years of teaching:

You will never have 2 bad days in a row.  I don't know why, but that's just the way it is.

When you're a newbie teacher, the advice of experienced, trusted co-workers can often carry more weight than later in your career.  Thanks, Theresa Pletch.  You were invaluable in boosting my confidence and helping me understand that I have a place in education. 

Her words from 9 years ago have come back to me every time I came home defeated or angry at situations sometimes in my control but often dictated by others.  And this advice has never once failed me, perhaps because I've pre-determined that the next day will be better.  It always has been.  Wonderous.


Monday, October 13, 2014

#Blogtober - That was then, this is now

I don't follow Instagram or Twitter.  I'm fairly technologically inept and am also fairly proud of that.  I'm a just-enough-and-then-no-more kind of user in this technological kegger of modern life.  But I recently stumbled upon #Blogtober, which apparently has been around for a while.  Look at me a'jumpin' on ye olde blog wagon, at least a little bit.  Maybe I'm the blogging equivalent of a hobo who just barely manages to get a piece of the caboose at it chugs on by, gets dragged for a while, and then falls off by the wayside.  That'll do. 

I'm going to try to be somewhat more purposeful about blogging off of the suggest list.  Truth be told, I'm jumping in this all willy-nilly a week into it, so I'm really just going to pick and choose what I want to write about.  Maybe you all could help me decide the next topic.  But we'll get to that at the end.

Ah, here's a beachball pitch for my first topic: What was your childhood dream job?  What do you do now?

My job outlook as a child was divided into two distinct camps: be like my mom & be like my dad.  That sounds about right for many kids, right?

In elementary school, I'm pretty sure "teacher" was the answer whenever I was asked "What do you want to be..."  My mum is a retired elementary teacher, and frankly, I grew up with a firm understanding of what the job entails.  I would hang out in my mom's room after school, grab a Pepsi from the machine in the teacher's lounge some days, play with the borders for the bulletin in her pull-out drawers, help her put papers in the graded trays.  I can still tell you what was in which drawer and how she used to hang an extra sweater in the tall cabinet.  The classroom has always been a comforting, knowing place for me.  I helped occasionally with some basic A, B, C grading at our kitchen table on a Saturday night.  From my perch, teachers were kind, amusing, and generally a smiley bunch of people.  When you're 8 years-old, what's not to like about that?  It was like I was accepted into the order before I earned my stripes. 

Later on, when I figured out that Algebra makes sense to me because things line up neatly, and I liked writing out equations, I flirted briefly with the idea of going into business.  I liked the idea of having a space of my own--a desk or cubicle, either works.  I like the idea of having a title.  I like the idea of moving around a building to go to a meeting.  Heck...I have rarely participated in a meeting that I haven't been happy to be a part of.  Meetings = a group of people who belong, who have something to contribute, who have been accepted, who belong.  I want to belong.  My dad worked the proverbial 9-5 office job for around 30 years, which again led to some understanding that this was a solid effort at earning a living.  But that only lasted for a short span of time, maybe a year or so as a younger teenager when I realized that once you earned your way into the cubicle that you had to have some understanding of business practices.  Next.

Now...where am I know?  Ta daaaa: teacher.  I've been employed with three high schools and two colleges and have been teaching all but 2 semesters of the past 9+ years in some capacity.  I have yet to have the same semester schedule two times e-v-e-r, and rarely read a piece of student writing that I haven't read before. 

And, interestingly, my career bent is taking me in the general direction of seeking out a hybrid situation of both teaching and business.  Just let me have an office and a classroom both, and I'll be set.  Plus (BONUS!), I won't complain about coming to meetings.  In fact, I'll be there early with a pen and paper, maybe coffee, and an open seat beside me reserved for you.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Creating happiness?

There is someone sitting dangerously close to my niche in my coffee shop.  But I think that he's eating oatmeal, so I guess that it's legit. 

Here's the deal in a nutshell: I keep coming back to this concept that happiness is a personal construct, not one which is inherent in each of us but must be fostered and developed.  I'm struggling with this.

First.  Prior to the last year or so, I've never questioned this concept.  Of course I'm happy.  Of course it's a natural feeling.  It's not something that I have to work on. 

In a variety of ways, I've felt schooled as of late that this is not true.  I don't know.  How can there be such varying degrees of understanding about this?  It's just happiness

In one of the classes that I teach, part of the grade derives from a series of open forum discussion points whereupon students respond to a concept with their own beliefs and justifications.  A couple of weeks ago, the topic at hand (in response to a common reading) was "happiness."  Truly, I felt let down by them not because the students failed at the writing but because there was no depth beyond the standard and the cliche.  Repeatedly, I read "You have to create your own happiness."  But how?  But why?  What part of living a fulfilled life means that you also have to figure out how to bank happiness, not unlike setting up and maintaining a 401K?  As someone who has this sense of "happiness" as mercurial and organic, I'm struggling with committing to the Kool-Aid on this one and working at cultivating this feeling. 

Second.  Blips are becoming emotionally draining episodes.  This semester, I've had 2 really positive, out-of-the-blue exchanges with a student and a former student.  These are the moments that shore me up when I'm facing another round of grading late work (just about the worst for me).  I've also had a few rounds in the proverbial boxing ring with 1 irate student (Creepy McCreeperson), which both came at me out of nowhere and escalated beyond rational logic.  Out of this whole episode, I found out that my school has my back.  And the boy, bless his loving heart, literally waited for me in the parking lot for 40 minutes with 2 crowbars in the car (if you know him, what do you think the odds are of Mr. Conscientious Objector from ever using them?) to make sure that I made it to my car okay.  And, I want to give Campus Security a big old hug.  Lovely people, all.  So I've had some good vibes coming my way--support and appreciation.  Those are strong, uplifting, sentiments.  But Mr. Creepy and his vicious attacks drown that out.  Do I have to consciously cling to the good and actively work to forget the unpleasant in order to create the happiness?  That makes "happiness" seem like a lot of hard work and a set-up for failure. 

Third.  At what point do I try something new?  There's a position here in town (a rare occurence) for which I am qualified and about which I am moderately interested.  But it's here.  Which would mean that we're not leaving.  Which moving piece needs to be nailed down in order for the other parts to fall into place?  I have no answer. 

I blame this melancholy on another maddeningly cold & rainy Thursday morning.  And #1's inexplicable banshee wailing and whining for about an hour this morning.  Thanks for sticking with me.  I'll try to come back mid-week with something light and fluffy like a snoring puppy. 

In the meantime...snore on. (We have a blanket that looks like him.)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

When there is nothing to say

FOR SERIOUS.  I was very specific last week that Thursday mornings are henceforth supposed to be deliciously sunny for my weekly ME binge.  Someone out there made a mistake and ordered the wrong kind of weather today.  I will probably forgive you, though, so feel free to let me know who it was.  You might not get a Christmas card from this year, however. 

I don't have much to write about today, but I like this time for writing, so I'm going to throw something out there anyway.  Plus, we were able to finagle a new, free (what to the what what???) laptop (touch screen, too...weird) over the summer and got it a few weeks ago.  As much as I hated the last one, which we still have and which still works, I actually don't like this one a whole lot better.  Other than the keyboard...other than the keyboard.  It's clackity-ness is really ideal for promoting writing.  Watch out students!  I'm going to be writing longer comments on your writing!!!  Not so much. 

Lest you think that I over exaggerate my point about not having anything to write about, I will now recount a short conversation I had on the phone with my dad yesterday. 
Dad: So what's new with you?
Me:  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.
Dad:  Nothing at all?
Me:  No.  Really.

Boring, no?  Boring, yes. 

Did I tell you that there's a C.O.T.D. (coffee of the day) at my new fav Thursday morning hangout?  It's kind of a high point of my week now--guessing what the flavor will be.  I'm never right.  But I will be one day (shaking fist in the air, all Scarlett O'Hara style)!

(I warned you...I have nothing of much interest to really write about.  Thanks for sticking with me.)

Oh, I got some serious hate mail from an angry, petulant student this week.  Yaaaaay.  Bless his creepy, 40-something heart.  In 10 years of being employed as an educator, and having some seriously disgruntled students in that space of time, this ranks right up there at the top of the list.  My top 3 list of angry student/parent encounters: the student who threw a highlighter at me as he left my class for the office because of who knows what (and was summarily removed from my class); the angry mom who blind ambushed me in my classroom after school and ripped me apart for the lies that her son was telling her to protect himself (and he was there...wouldn't look at me); and the juvenile, angry, creepster who really should know better (this is college, my friend) & has a history of childish behavior I have since found out.

I kid you not, I have a taser (gift, of sorts, from my dad to all of the females in the family) and will probably start carrying it with me on Monday nights.  The boy suggested pepper spray.  Another person proposed wasp spray.  Suffice it to say, campus security has been notified.  Sad, friends...sad.     
I didn't tell my dad about angry 40-something-male student.  He already gave me a taser, no need to instigate a litany of "Be carefuls..." 

The sun came out!  I'm actually part cat, or so the boy claimed in college.  See, I had this 2nd story south facing window in my room (shout out White House!) during my senior year, which afforded me a small patch of late day sun.  And in that drafty old place, the warm spots were hard to come by.

Lest I ramble ad infinitum, I'll end with this happiness.  I had Sweetness with me in the grocery story yesterday for a yogurt, eggs & bananas run post-gymnastics, and at one point, she climbed out of the car-cart to look at something when I stopped for a moment.  While she was out, I had turned the cart around to move on, and when she turned around, she was obviously surprised as she loudly (loudly!) exclaimed "Yowzers!"  Really.  Yowzers.  It's no wonder I can't help but kiss her little pizza dough cheeks.   

So with that I say here's to the end of another nothing-happening week.  Yowzers!

P.S. If you're wondering about what kind of technology our Kindergarten program is using, I posted a follow-up comment about apps and such.  Feel free to chat about what you think, what you use, and home schooling if it applies to you.  I might write about homeschooling in the near future as it's an intriguing option that seems to be mushrooming wildly.  Maybe I just run with the cool cats.