Friday, August 27, 2010

Worn Out Already?!

School's only been in session for a week (I haven't even finished my Friday classes yet), and I'm already exhausted.  Mentally, physically, emotionally...socially?  Nah, not socially.  The only reason I say that though is because Jared is coming over tonight for dinner and we're all going to go see Iron Man 2 at Pruis.  That's something social.  And that's something I'm looking forward to!

Classes have been interesting so far.  The practicums are everyday from 8-10 AM, and that was hard to adjust to...after several years of staying up late and sleeping in until classes began at 10 (at the earliest), this has been one of the harder things to do this week.  Already I've slept through my alarm twice, but luckily was saved by waking up slightly and then panicking over what time it was and jumping out of bed.  My prof tells me it gets easier to adjust to a teaching schedule as opposed to a taking-classes schedule, but I'm not sure.  I feel sorry for her because the same thing is happening to everyone in my class, and we're not too interactive :(

Kyle and I have two literature classes together, and I feel as though those will be fairly intensive readings, but not unmanageable.  Best of all, if one of us can't complete the assignment completely, the other can help by pointing out what's important or what we can just look up on Wikipedia.  Awesome!

We both have English senior seminars as well, but not together unfortunately.  I feel like my class is going to be a lot of fun!  We're composing our own manifestos and then binding them in books ourselves.  Kyle is doing qualitative research.  Poor guy.  He can hardly get through the first few pages of his assigned reading, let alone have the desire to research.  I feel badly for him.  I've been trying to convince him to transfer into my class, which is definitely more up his alley, but it would conflict with his work availability, which is important, since my work hours have been cut by half :(  But he's good enough to take one for the team, and I'll remember that throughout the semester.  I've told him he can complain to me all he wants about the class and I'll listen attentively.

Other than that, I have a methods class which I think will be pretty easy, and Kyle has a screenwriting class, and he's definitely excited about that.  Part of his homework is to watch movies, and he's in heaven.  I think he'll really like screenwriting.

It's been a grueling first week...that's for sure!  I've only worked two nights, but those nights have been awful in the homework department because of it.  Kyle has worked a lot during the day, which he likes.  Mutual was fun this week as well, and although I was worrying about some of my assignments when I was at the church, it was a nice escape, and I think that will be very welcome :)  I love hanging out with the YW.  They're a lot of fun!

Did I mention that we're having Jared over for dinner?  I have to cut the blog short so I can clean and then after class go grocery shopping...I'm thinking about doing a pie for dessert, but I'm just not sure yet :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

9 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew

Here is an excerpt from an article I found on Yahoo! concerning the nine things teachers wish parents knew...none of these were surprising to me.  So do yourself, your child, and his/her teachers a favor and read away (also, since I copied/pasted, the links work)!

1. Don't be a stranger!
Talk to your child's teacher early and often. Back-to-school night shouldn't be the only time you connect, but it's a great time to introduce yourself and find out the best way to contact her in the future. Then stay in touch with updates on how things are going at home, questions about your child and his work, or to schedule conferences to head off trouble (should you worry about that string of C's?). Most teachers have e-mail at school, which is a great way to check in.
Related: 5 Tips for Talking with Your Child's Teacher

2. Learning doesn't stop at 3:15.
You can help the teacher do a better job by encouraging your child to show you something he's working on at school, suggests Ron Martucci, who teaches fourth grade in Pelham, New York. It doesn't have to be a big deal: "Ask him to demonstrate how he does long division or to read his book report out loud," says Martucci. "Every time your child gets a chance to show off what he knows, it builds confidence."
Related: Prepare Your Child for School with These Print-and-Go Shopping Lists

3. Stay involved — even when you don't know the material.
You can provide moral support and be your child's cheerleader no matter how well (or poorly) you did in a certain subject. "Parents tell me they didn't take trigonometry or flunked chemistry, so how can they check the homework?" says Tim Devine, a high school social science teacher in Chicago. "But we don't expect you to be an expert on every subject." Just knowing a parent is paying attention can be very motivating for a student.
Related: Check Out These Free Online Tutoring Resources

4. Keep your child organized.
That means helping teachers with the paper chase. "I spend way too much time tracking down tests or forms I've sent home for a parent's signature," says Judy Powell, a fifth-grade teacher from Richmond, Virginia. Usually, the missing items are crumpled up in the bottom of the kid's backpack, along with lunch leftovers and other clutter. Powell's solution: Have your child empty his backpack every day as part of a regular after-school routine. Set up a special place, such as a box in the kitchen, where he can put the day's papers, and provide another spot, such as a desk drawer, for old assignments that you want to save. A bright-colored folder is a good idea, too, for toting homework — and signed papers — to and from school. And about those supplies: Keep plenty on hand. "Kids run out of pencils and paper, and it'll be three weeks before they'll remember to tell you," says Powell.
Related: The Best Kids' Backpacks

5. Let your child make mistakes.
Don't forget, he's learning. Teachers don't want perfect students, they want students who try hard. "Sometimes parents get caught up in thinking every assignment has to be done exactly right, and they put too much pressure on their child," says Brian Freeman, a second-grade teacher from Red Spring, North Carolina. "But it's OK for kids to get some problems wrong. It's important for us to see what students don't know, so we can go over the material again."

Is your child struggling with an assignment? Help him brainstorm possible solutions. If he's still stuck, resist the temptation to write a note. Instead, encourage your child to take charge by asking the teacher for help the next day.

Hands off bigger assignments, too, says Marty Kaminsky, a fourth-grade teacher in Ithaca, New York. "I assigned a project on inventors, and several kids brought in amazingly detailed reports with slide-shows. They looked great, but they clearly weren't the work of a nine-year-old," he says. "I was much happier with the posters with the pictures glued on crooked, because I knew those children did the work themselves. What matters isn't the final result; it's letting a child have ownership of the project."
Related: Is Your Child Cheating? How to Deal with It

6. Raise a good reader.

Even if your child isn’t a natural-born bookworm, you can encourage him to love literature. Keep reading together, even if your kid can breeze through a book on his own. Reading aloud can expand his vocabulary, and your chats about the book will help him understand and enjoy more. But you might want to shelve books that seem way over his head. It’s tempting to push literary limits, but the goal is understanding and enjoyment.

Use audiobooks as a tool to inspire love of reading. They aren’t “cheating;” they’re a terrific way to engage kids in a good yarn.  Check out for more with books kids will enjoy.
Related: Top 13 Books for Middle and High Schoolers

7. If the teacher deserves a good grade, give her one.
Teaching isn't easy, and there are days when a kid has a tantrum, or a teacher feels like crying because a parent speaks to her harshly. So why not e-mail or call when your child enjoys a class event or says something nice about the instructor? And if you feel the teacher is doing a good job, let the principal know. Volunteering is another way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and support, even if you only have time to help out once a year. It shows your child — and his teacher — that you really care about his education.
Related: What to Do When Your Child and Teacher Don't Get Along

8. The teacher's on your side — give her the benefit of the doubt.
Rachel James, a third-grade teacher in Reson, Florida, was having a terrible time with one of her students. For days, the boy had been disruptive, rolling his eyes and sighing dramatically whenever anyone spoke to him. Naturally, she had to reprimand him. "His mom called and accused me of picking on her son," says James. "When I told her what was going on, she was shocked." After the mom had calmed down, they worked out some ways to change the boy's behavior. "A lot of parents go into attack mode when their child complains about a teacher," says James. "Or they take the problem to the principal, so the teacher feels blindsided. But parents need to get all the facts before they react."
Related: Etiquette Tips for Dealing with Teachers and Other Parents

9. There is a secret to better grades.
Set up a brief get-together with your child's teacher(s) early in the school year. A one-on-one conversation is the perfect time to bring up important issues, like the fact that your child struggled in math last year or tended to hand in homework late. Also check in with the school district’s or teachers’ website in order to stay on top of your child’s assignments, grades, test dates and scores — and more. Find out what resources there are for you, and use them.  If your child is having a tough time in a particular class, don’t just swoop in and try to make things right. Encourage your child to meet with his teacher to resolve a problem on his own.

If there’s issue between your child and a teacher, don’t automatically run to the principal behind the teacher’s back. Certain situations that involve your child’s safety do merit a meeting with the head of school, but otherwise, going over the teacher’s head signals a lack of respect. When you can’t agree on a solution, set up a meeting with the teacher and a school administrator, who can help work things out.

For a look at the full article (which mostly just included pictures and possibly an introductory paragraph) or to comment on the original website, please view here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Update on the urns.

We're still stumped about the urns.  I feel like I've tried a lot of ways to figure out how we got them.  I tried looking up the crematorium where they were supposed to be sent, but there was nothing on that.  I tried phoning the distribution center that sent them to us, and there was a weird voicemail that did not sound like it belonged to a business at all.  I looked up the distribution center online to see if they had a different number, but the distribution center apparently does not really exist.  According to Google, the address for the distribution center actually belongs to a company called Internet Kitchens.

And something tells me that a company called Internet Kitchens does not manufacture or distribute urns.

So I'm stumped on what to do with these little guys.  I guess we could look into calling the crematorium here in Muncie and asking if they want them.  But that would be a weird conversation, wouldn't it?  I've also considered getting rid of them online, but since they're not really ours and we didn't purchase them (just got stuck with them), I wouldn't feel right in selling something that rightfully should belong to someone else.  

Someone recommended just decorating with them, but I can't get past the fact that they're urns!  

Any other opinions?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Furniture is DONE :)

Last August, just after I moved into our house on Bethel and before Kyle moved to his apartment in Muncie (this was before we got married), my mom took both of us to look at some bedroom furniture she found on Craigslist for a mere $80.

The guy who was selling the furniture was some sort of collector and also loved to "dabble" in refinishing furniture.  He looked like he was about halfway through with our set, but decided to sell the extra set before he and his family moved to New York.  No biggie.

So we didn't like what he was doing to the furniture (it's real wood, people, and he decided to stain it BLACK.  That's not normal, right?), but my mom bought it for us as kind of a housewarming gift and we put it in the garage to be worked on and refinished.  We'd just helped remodel a house, so we were totally up for the task.

Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I'm not sure that it was the biggest mistake we'd ever made as a couple (because it's done now), but it MIGHT be the biggest headache we've given ourself yet as a couple!  The furniture needed a LOT of TLC and because of our school schedules and work hours we just couldn't give as much attention as we would have liked to our furniture.  So, sad to say, but the bedroom set sat in the garage until June.  It was a guilty reminder every time we got in to use our bikes of all the work we had in front of us.  And, I'll admit, it was a lot easier to just shut the garage door and ignore it.  

But we got tired of sleeping on a mattress on the floor.  Then, we got tired of the little rickety Menards bedframe.  We got tired of the plastic tote drawers as dressers.  We decided that after my summer classes were done, we'd tackle the bedroom furniture.

It took AGES (seriously, like almost two months of working on it about 10 hours a week!).  We had to put on this gloopy chemical to take off any paint and thick stain, then we had to strip the rest of the stain (which was a total mess and what took the longest).  Then we had to use stripper wash to clean off the chemicals from the previous steps before conditioning the wood.  After that, we applied two coats of stain to everything.  Here's where parts got tricky...we had to redo the headboard THREE TIMES because the stain either wouldn't spread, was almost black (growing trend), or didn't match the already finished pieces.  We also had to redo a few drawers as well.  When this happened, we had to repeat all steps to now, and that was quite a task.  

Finally, when things were just right (we had to give Kyle's dresser a third coat of stain and rough up a perfectly good nightstand to give it more stain so that everything would match), we glossed it all to make it shiny.  Last, we fixed a drawer, put on new (and expensive!) handles and knobs, cleaned the drawers up, and put the mirrors back in their frames.  

Would you like to see the finished project?!

Please notice the awesome comforter and pillow set!   That was a gift from Kyle's Aunt Joanie and cousin Dani for my bridal shower.  That was last August, too!  I told Kyle we weren't gonna use it til the furniture was done, so now it's like I have a whole new room!

 I feel so short in my bedroom now...all this furniture is MASSIVE.

Don't laugh, we need new lamps :(  I was also thinking maybe like a sort of woven basket hamper (we can't fit ours in the closet really anymore) or a little chair there in the corner?  I'm so excited to DECORATE!

I feel like such a big kid now.  And you better believe we slept well last night :)  

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I hope our kids are this amazingly awesome!

by Billy Collins (2002)

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Daleville Sneak Peak

Check out where I'll be student teaching in the spring:  Daleville Jr/Sr High School

This time last week I was sitting in faculty meetings in preparation for the Daleville Community Schools' 2010-2011 school year (I would have blogged about it earlier except for the internet issues at our house).  I was there on Wednesday from 8-3 and sat through a meeting with the elementary and secondary teachers put on by the superintendent (trying to pump us up for the school year) as well as the school nurse (safety first) and a representative from the Credit Union (deposit your teaching checks with us, please!).  At first I was excited about this meeting, seeing as how I've never sat through a faculty meeting before, but after about the first hour, it became pretty boooooorrrrriiiiinnnggg.

Then, because Indiana has done away with half-days, we had to squeeze in all our staff development in the rest of the day.  We went over the handbook and changes to the pickup system, the dress code, the tardy system, and how to teach children according to their different strengths.  By the end of this meeting I was staaaaaaaaaarrrrrvvvinggggggg.

Then we got Subway :)  One of the better points throughout the day.  After that, more meetings with the principal, then we had these group sessions for Writing Across the Curriculum and my cooperating teacher and I had to teach math and PE teachers how to use writing in their classes somehow as well as how to grade the assignments.  Interesting.  

After that, another meeting (I don't even remember what it was about because there were so many meetings) and then I got my textbooks that I'll be using to teach from my cooperating teachers and got to go home!  Yay! 

On Friday, I went in for the first student day, which was also pretty boring since all the teachers did was introduce me and go over the rules (so I basically sat at a desk and watched the whole time), but it was interesting to see the students and really observe the differences between 7th and 9th graders.  As of right now, I'm pretty certain I'm going to like teaching 7th grade better, which is completely different than who I thought I'd like teaching best.  I've always planned on teaching high school, but I'll be able to decide officially after I get experience with both of them.

One of the better parts of visiting?  I know what I'll be teaching!  In 7th grade we'll be working on basic mythology and myths, writing their very first essay, the screenplay Brian's Song, as well as some minor grammar and literature terms (like cause and effect and summarizing).  In 9th grade, I'll be covering To Kill a Mockingbird, a nonfiction unit on the assassination of JFK, The Odyssey, a tad of grammar (verb tense and modifiers), as well as helping the 9th graders learn how to write an intense research paper.  Exciting!  And the books are AMAZING.  Last semester we learned how to construct a unit on our own, but with these books?  I don't even HAVE to create a unit!  I can just pick and choose from ideas that I like best and add what I want!  The hard part is mostly finished for me, and creating units was the biggest stressor of teaching.

Aaaaah....I feel much better about student teaching.  

PS--don't ask me to do anything, because after the homework's done and projects are finished throughout the semester, I'm going to be using all my spare minutes working on my student teaching units :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back from vacation!

Okay, okay.  So I haven't been on here for several weeks.  Before we left for vacation, there was nothing to really blog about.  And when there was, I wanted to put up pictures, but I didn't feel like uploading.  Lazy, I know.  And then when we got BACK from vacation, our internet wasn't working, and I wasn't about to walk all the way to the library just to blog.  But, happily, we have our internet back, and I've got pictures uploaded, and I'm ready to blog again!

So Kyle and I had the whole week off from work (unpaid, unfortunately).  But we did some pretty neat things with our week.  First we went camping up near the Indiana Dunes.  

This is a picture of our campsite.  It was my first time camping since I was in elementary school, and it was pretty fun despite the thunderstorms that hovered the entire time we were there.  And I've never really been so bitten up by mosquitoes in my entire life.  It was also really hot in the tent all night and Kyle had to sleep semi-diagonally so he could fit properly in the tent, and that of course limited my sleeping space.  Maybe next time we'll go when it's cooler.

We also went to the beach while we were there!  The beach was great even if it was overcrowded.  We both burnt like lobsters, though, so next time we might not stay out so long.  This also made sleeping in the tent painful because neither of us could get comfortable :(

We also made it to the Outlet Mall in Michigan City but didn't buy very much...just some student-teaching pants, really.  On the way home, we planned on going to Indiana Beach, but we got rained out.  So, instead, we went to the Indianapolis Zoo on Friday and then out to Yats afterward (for more vacation pics, check out my facebook page).

We also went to the movies during the week to see's great!  I recommend it to anyone!

We also spent some time working on our bedroom furniture and got the headboard, footboard, and my dresser stained.  Now only one more coat of stain and a coat of gloss for them, and they're finished!  We still need to find some sort of frame for the bed, though, as well as some drawer handles before we can move them in.  I'm really excited.  We'll probably keep working on them tomorrow!
So it's back-to-work time, but at least it's not back-to-school yet!  Still have two more weeks before the ball and chain are back on :)