Tuesday, February 19, 2013

President's Day Weekend

On Friday evening, we fairly collapsed. I can't even remember it, really.

On Saturday, we slept in (clear until 6:09 a.m. for me!) and then I went to my little rehearsal and K went to work. I cleaned and cleaned. Our hot date on Saturday night was Pho. I ordered pho and K tasted mine. He played it safe with orange chicken.

Sunday was church--3 hours for K and 5 hours for me. As I was observing a nursery class (ages 18 mos-3 yrs), I noticed there were some strong personality traits in that particular group of children--all sorts of cheek grabbing, head smacking, snack stealing, and tug-o-war with shoes and toys and whatnots. I personally would never want to meet up with Helen in a roller derby. Ronald was laughing hysterically one moment and inflicting pain on some trusting little soul the next. I love that I've never seen any of these children before in their lives and yet they come to me, lean on me, slouch into me, and climb up on me. One little tyke asked if I liked his tie. So darling.

And then Monday. We went to my school to work in my classroom. After awhile (I ran out of jobs for him), I sent K to the gym to shoot baskets so I could concentrate on a few matters by myself. We ate lunch at Culver's--I don't even want to guess what percentage of fat is in that custard. Then we went for a walk. Yes! A walk. We walked for an hour. Such an old-fashioned thing to do, but we loved it. It was around forty degrees so that was perfect. And then we explored some of the backroads in the Greater Lehi Area. Upon returning home we made Chicken Wheat Chili (tasty!). K tucked me into bed and said, "It was so fun hanging out with you today!" Likewise, my Dear, likewise.

Friday, February 15, 2013

It was Epic!

Blogger has changed their formatting AGAIN! I HATE you, Blogger! Grr... I don't have it figured out, so hopefully this post will make sense.

There's nothing quite like Valentine's Day in an elementary school. And new to me this year, was young one man proudly supporting his grandmother's battle with a shirt that said, "Walkers for Knockers!" I had a little chat with him, deciding if I should have him call home because, yes, we do have a dress code and I wasn't quite sure how to handle this. His grandma designed the shirt. I told him that I wanted to honor her, so we weren't going to call home, but did ask that in the future, he consider carefully which slogans he was wearing. Nobody else in the class mentioned it. Without being asked, the boy put his hoodie on. I thought that was respectful.

A sixth grader stopped by to deliver the student council's Valentine Grams ($.25 each)! He belonged to me last year and waltzed in asking, "Do you want these on your desk?" I nodded and then he came toward me, slipping his right hand into his pocket to bring forth a valentine telling me he missed me. Way to melt my heart! I love it when the sixth graders still remember me for Valentines!

A few kids also remembered K for Valentine's. It was great to be able to take treats home to him and prove to him the kids were thinking of him as well! How darling!

We have never been out to dinner on Valentine's Day because we hate crowds and waiting and fussiness. K made lasagna, we went snowshoeing in our canyon after school, and then returned home to get that dinner in the oven. He gave me a card and a rose and I gave him a card and a pizza stone. It was the perfect date night for us! It was a fairly warm day and the light is staying longer. Lady T was in her golden sleepy time pajamas and there were contrails everywhere, like a giant blue Etch-a-Sketch with perfectly straight white lines that disappeared without the shaking.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love Notes

I get a lot of notes from parents, but I've never had one written on both arms in permanent orange marker. Dad meant business! He and I have both been after the boy.

Over the weekend, I made a few love notes for my Sweetheart.

Anyway, K, in all of his darlingness asked, "Are you as surprised as I am that these turned out so well?"

No, I'm not. I guess he thinks that only his mother can make sugar cookies. The boy keeps me laughing. So hard.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"It's Just Sickening..."

My husband keeps me entertained. As in "laughing-so-hard-I'm-shifting-gears" entertained.

He is forever saying things such as, "Heavenly Father loves you more than me." And other untrue-isms. I have a habit of counting my blessings aloud and he has a habit of seeing those blessings and agreeing with me. He is not so apt to counting his own blessings aloud, so I guess it always seems like I'm winning, which I am not. The Lord loves K more than me! But really, it's not a competition.

For some strange reason, my back began to hurt during Church on Sunday. Curious. It got worse throughout the day. I was moaning and groaning and worried that I would never feel well again thinking, "This is it. I am officially old now. This is when the aches and pains begin to set in." I tried stretching. I tried alternating Tylenol with ibuprofen. I began to wonder about alternating ice and heat, but thought I should at least consult the internet to see if that was a wise course. Never got around to the internet.

Bedtime arrived. It hurt to crawl in. It hurt to lie still. I attempted to turn onto my side and it hurt. I managed to turn to the other side. I just prayed I could sleep a little. Water leaked from my eyes as I thought that I might just get a little teensy reprieve from my oppositions and then realized that no, here I was in the middle of a new trial. I concluded that my back pain was all my fault due to my weight and that it was my lot to suffer the natural consequences. The last thing I said to K was, "Don't leave in the morning until I am out of this bed because I might need your help getting up!"

The alarm dictated the beginning of a new day. I stayed still and assessed my own well-being. Not a twinge. I rolled over. All parts seemed to be in good working order. I stood up. Gracefully. Everything felt fine. Just fine. I blurted into the darkness, "Honey, I'm so blessed!" He has a hard time with my Happy Little Bunny routine first thing in the morning. There was no reply. My joy was full and so I persisted, "I'm healed! My back doesn't hurt at all!" Because, you know, just hours prior I was on Death's door. And he said...

"Yes, it's just sickening how much Heavenly Father loves you. Of course your back feels fine. Of course you walk away from car accidents without a scratch. It's just sickening." I laughed. Heartily.

For the record, we are both tremendously blessed and there are no ill feelings from my husband. His expressions are just a little on the hilarious side at times.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Like a Crime Scene...

It's been a long haul. I shouldn't complain as I've been so incredibly blessed. So blessed. However (here I go!), in addition to teaching 34 rambunctious fifth graders, life has thrown a few curves.

Mom passed in December which is hard enough. I happen to be her personal representative and let me just say that the work involved is way more than I ever expected (fax this, Fed Ex that, provide this, prove that, this account number, that policy number, you have no idea unless you've done it). And do you know what? All of these people and organizations I'm dealing with, none of which happen to be in my state and only some of which happen to be in my time zone, want things done during business hours. I am just a tad busy during business hours. If I can't reach them during my 10:30 a.m. recess break, then all that important business has to wait until the next day. We are slowly getting there, but it will take a long time still. Mom was tougher than I can ever hope to be and Dad says Mom would be proud of the way I'm handling things, but it's a difficult thing to be in charge.

The car accident was miraculous. It was inconvenient. It must have stressed me out way more than I thought. Again, so blessed. No injuries, a wonderful teacher driving me to work for a week, supportive husband...it really was smooth as silk. However, it just grinds me to shop for cars because I have zero trust for any sales person and write off every single thing they tell me as a bald faced lie. If I hear, "We just want to earn your business," one more time, I might, I don't know, say it back to them in a snotty tone of voice.

This is how slimy the dealerships can be. We got pre-approved online for financing at our credit union before we even started to shop. I had to appear personally at my credit union for matters concerning my mom's affairs (how does one cash a check made out to one's deceased parent?). Since I was there, I asked a couple of questions about the loan as we had planned to car shop the following day. I know they are all about making money too, but those credit union ladies are so great. First there was one, and then two, and then three. I had three ladies warning me about some of the shady tactics they've seen dealerships try with their members. And sure enough, our dealership tried one of those tactics. Together, we and the credit union were able to fight them off, but I still wonder, "Why did I have to deal with that on top of everything else?"

As soon as we got the car, my immune system fell apart. I woke up sick and scooted right into the doctor. Got treated for pneumonia! Pneumonia moves in so fast! My doctor said, "I'm not even doing a chest x-ray, we're just going to get you started." I've had it several times (before AND after the pneumonia shot...FYI, the shot keeps you from getting "the killer kind" of pneumonia). I finished my antibiotic and am still using another medication along with my inhaler. I never missed a day of school for this. I just couldn't. I considered taking a day off, but couldn't handle the thought of writing out lesson plans for someone else. I heard that one day, our district had 300 subs because so many teachers were sick. I just couldn't deal with it. So, I ended up making it through my days and then resting as much as possible when I was off duty. K is so great about letting me heal and taking on extra chores. I'm starting to perk up!

The dealership keeps emailing. They want me to fill out a survey. I'm not doing it. Their survey is so completely rigged. Our sales guy was pleading, "This is like my report card." Yeah, well, they have these little percentages listed with the ratings: Excellent (100%), Very Good (59%), and it goes down from there. They keep saying, "If you need to rate us less than Excellent, please talk to us about it so we can make it right!" Did you notice there's no possible way to rate them between a perfect A+ and an F? They won't let you score them anywhere between 60% and 99%. So I'm not going to fill out their stupid survey. It's so biased.

I'm almost to the part about "the crime scene." I promise. Just hang in there a little longer.

Nursery. I am currently serving in the stake primary organization of my church (the children's organization, more particularly, the nursery, which is children between 18 months and 3 years of age). It's been fun going around to all of the wards for their ward conferences and seeing all of the amazing things happening in the nurseries. There are some wonderful teachers and leaders out there providing top-notch experiences for those kidlets. My favorite? Kids painting rocks with water. They don't make a peep for at least 20 minutes. Wish I could kiss the person who invented this! In our stake, they like to do all of the ward conferences in January and February. So, I've already been to 5 wards and we have 3 to go. Sometimes, I am in church for six hours on a single Sabbath. I don't mind it at all, it's fun! I'm just not used to it. On top of everything else, this is something new, additional, more demanding on my time than what I was doing before. I happily accepted the opportunity to serve, please note! I'm just getting all these curve balls at once!

And now, for a re-cap of this past week. On Monday, we had what are called Collaboration Presentations. This means that our grade level team got to present to our school community council (parents, administrators, no pressure at all) about what we are doing in fifth grade and how we're doing it. We get scored and paid according to our scores. Our team did well presenting together and we worked together to prepare, but, you know, it's a wee bit stressful to lay it all out there and then take questions. On Tuesday, our principal wanted to meet with each faculty member individually to "see how things are going." So great to be able to meet together, but it does translate to more time away from the classroom. Wednesday and Thursday were parent teacher conferences. I won't even try to explain the preparation that goes into this, but if you teach, you understand. Also, some folks think that conferences are during the day while the kids stay home. Nope. We taught all five days this week and had conferences in addition to everything else in the evenings. Our hours for those days were 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., but some of us show up early and stay late out of necessity. It's great fun to meet with the parents and let them know how successful their child is--I really enjoy conferencing--but it's also very wearing. On Thursday morning, I had to leave my classroom (do you even care? are you still reading?) for two back-to-back IEP meetings for a couple of my students. This necessitated making lesson plans for the people who would be covering my class in my absence. More conferencing. More time away from my kids. And just as I returned to my classroom, a boy tripped on his chair, hit his head, and started gushing blood. I quickly escorted him to the office. Poor guy, it was just an accident...he wasn't doing anything wrong. Just another instance in my list of crazy. Got through conferences and showed up again to teach on Friday. I was asked to interview with the assistant superintendent to evaluate my principal (it's a normal evaluation procedure in our district). I had a great conversation with that guy and was able to share so many positive things about my principal (he said, "Say that again, I'm writing it down as an exact quote!"), but of course, it meant that I was out of the classroom again while someone else covered. Bottom line, I survived this busy week with extra stress! We had a snowstorm blowing in, so I left school to get home safely and now finally, I'm getting to the crime scene.

K got home from work sometime between 5:45 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. He noticed my shoes, my backpack, and my winter coat discarded and strewn between the front door and the dining room, left in random places where I had dropped them. He saw that I had been on the internet checking Facebook because I didn't shut anything down. Guilty as charged--electricity waster! Amusing to him was that I had used tongs to reach high up into his special treat cupboard to snag an unopened package of Winter Oreo Red Creme Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with 4 Fun Winter Shapes. The treat cupboard door was left wide open with the tongs on the counter along side the torn package of cookies, some missing. He proceeded to the bedroom where he found me "sawing logs" while Downton Abbey's Season 3 Episode 1 was blaring away on my Kindle on the night stand next to me. He turned it off and thought to himself, "Poor girl, it's been a long week for you."

I woke up at 8:15 p.m. and grabbed three mandarin oranges to eat next to K on the couch while he watched basketball. We held hands, never saying much. We went to bed after the game and I had no problem going back to sleep. I love that he understands. He just let me sleep. He fixed his own dinner, which he often does. He's willing to let me have what I need. I will cook for him today and we will spend time together. All of this is nothing. Our little trials are really nothing much. We're just practicing for when life gets really challenging.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Things I Learned at Parent/Teacher Conferences

I teach children in the fifth grade ("the very best grade" as I am so fond of saying). A couple of days prior to parent/teacher conferences, I give them a little form to fill out. They have to rate how the school year is going and explain why they chose that rating. They have to rate their organizational skills and again, explain. They have to choose an academic goal they'd like to work on as well as a social goal. The form is open-ended enough that you just never really know what you're going to get.

This time I got a lot of honesty and candor. "I always get all of my homework done and turn everything in!" "I never turn anything in." "I've had some ups and downs." "Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. (me too, buddy, me too)" "I just shove papers in my desk." "I feel completely confident!" "I'm planning on getting first place on the Honor Roll." "I've already said goodbye to my Xbox."

A couple of the social goals made me chuckle this time. "I need to stop being abusive to my classmates." "I'm never going to the principal's office again!" "My goal is to share myself evenly with my friends so that everyone gets equal time with me."

And then there are the conferences themselves. A boy, excited to show his parents our glacier (science experiment). A girl who fairly bounces in her seat while smiling and revealing to her dad, "I'm pretty chatty lately!" The family planning a trip, asking about all the history sites. Another boy, proudly indicating to his mother that he knew she would check his desk so he made sure it was whistle-clean ahead of time. Parents, stunned to know that their child started a club at recess called "The Includers" so that kids wouldn't be lonely on the playground (yes, those Bully-Blocker/Prevention Dimension lessons are getting through!). The spark in the boy who asked if he could do a math assignment all over again to improve his grade (he's starting to really care!). The girl with tears dripping down her face because her mother finally spilled the beans as to the poor dear's somber mood this week--her favorite chicken, Tweety, was dead in the hen house with no warning! The shock and trauma was too much even for her journal. I almost cried myself!

The parents who say "thank you." I love my job!!! It's all worth it!!!