Friday, December 21, 2012

Now for the Christmas Spirit

And since my last post was negative, I'm going to do something positive.  Remember how I said I thought about blogging a lot during my blogging vacation?  Christmas was something I planned to talk about, at least a little bit, of course!  We have Christmas traditions that I'll probably share with you, but what I want to write for you first is a Christmas story.

As many of you know, Kyle works full-time as a substitute teacher in the school district where I work.  Lots of people wonder if he gets plenty of work as a substitute and the answer is yes!  Aside from days that he has requested not to work, I think this entire year he's only had three days where he has not been called in to sub for someone.  He works mostly at the high school, somewhat often at the middle schools, and only occasionally at the elementaries, which is the way he prefers it.  One day last week, however, Kyle went in to one of the elementary schools to cover a second grade class.  He of course came home exhausted (I have to hand it to elementary teachers...that's a job that requires a LOT of energy and a LOT of patience.  I couldn't do it!).  The best part of his day when he goes to the elementary schools are the stories of the cute things kids do or say and how he reacts to that in a school setting.  I love hearing these stories!

Anyway, on the day he filled in for second grade, the students were working on narrative writing (funny...we still work on that in high school).  The teacher left the assignment that students had to write their own Christmas story and Kyle put together one really quickly so they could see an example.  Here's the graphic organizer the teacher left that Kyle used to help structure his narrative (you can't read it very well, so I'll decipher it for you):

Prompt:  The room looks like a sea of gift wrap.  There are bows and ribbons tossed all over.  Boxes of different sizes are stacked high.  Everyone smiles with great joy for the gifts they received.  What's that?  Could it be?  There is one last present hidden behind the tree?  Who is it for?  What's inside?
Who is the story about?  Mr. Byard
Where does the story take place?  Mr. Byard's house
Tell what happens in the story.  Use details:  First, Mr. Byard opens the present.  It's a jet pack.  Next, Mr. Byard puts the jet pack on.  It looks so cool!  Then, Mr. Byard jets around the house breaking things.  Lastly, Mr. Byard promises to only use the jet pack outside.

Here's the story that came of all this planning:

It was Christmas day at Mr. Byard's house.  He and Mrs. Byard had opened all their presents--or so they thought.  There was still one very large package behind the tree.  It was for Mr. Byard!  He tore open the wrapping paper and stuck the bow on top of the head of his orange cat, Tiger.  Tiger hates bows.  Inside, the package was the most amazing sight Mr. Byard had ever seen.  It was a jet pack!  Mr. Byard quickly strapped the jet pack on.  It fit perfectly.  He wondered what would happen if he hit the starter button...


The jet pack and Mr. Byard took off like a racket.  Mr. Byard's brown and white cat, Max, ran out of the room.  He's a big scaredy cat.  Mr. Byard jetted back and forth and to and fro, knocking over lamps and piece's of his wife's decor.  He slammed into the china cabinet.  CRASH! went the plates.  He flew past the curtains, burning two big holes in them.  

There was almost nothing he hadn't broken or burned before he finally turned off the jet pack and fell to the floor.  Mr. Byard's black cat, Keebler, sneezed from all the smoke.  Mrs. Byard handed Mr. Byard a broom and told him to start cleaning.  Mr. Byard promised he would never use his jet pack inside ever again.

The kids couldn't believe he drew that!  And of course they found the story exciting and cool.  Little do they know that he'd really like a jet pack for Christmas!  He characterizes us all to well :)

Merry Christmas!!!

Christmas Break Come Early?

Hey, everyone!  I know it's been such a long while since I've last my defense, I've thought about blogging a lot...I've just never gotten around to it!  Well, today I have a little time since school's been canceled.  That's right, CANCELED.  On the last day before Christmas break!  This means that I start break just a little bit early!  Am I excited?


Okay, okay.  I am excited for break.  But there are a few reasons why I'm not excited to not be having school today:

  1. Today was supposed to be the end of our semester.  Now we have to extend it a day when we come back. I'm not excited to have my sophomores one more day after break.  I just want them to be on their way and to get a new set right as soon as we get back. And you better believe the day is going to be a wash when we come back!  What am I going to do with 25 sophomores (who are rowdy to begin with) on the first day back from break and the last day of the semester?  Movie! 
  2. I was going to submit grades today.  Thank GOODNESS all my grading is caught up!  But now I have to wait until we have that last day of the semester because kids will continue to turn stuff in at the last minute.
  3. We planned a party for our freshmen in which one of my coworkers spent two and a half hours popping popcorn for over 100 students.  AND we bought pop and had them in ice overnight.  So I'm sure when we return to the pop, they're going to be a big floaty gross mess.  Ew.  Don't want to deal with it!
  4. Of course, with our mild winter last year and my reluctance to believe any hype over the weather, I left all my things at school.  Dumb, I know.  I was just so tired by the beginning of this week of taking my bag home and not getting anything accomplished.  Plus yesterday I really did have other things to carry out and I just didn't bring my teaching bag with me.  It shouldn't be a big deal, but I've lost my swipe card to get into the building and hadn't replaced it yet, so of course I have no idea when I'm going to get in to get my stuff to plan next semester.  
  5. I left a cake in my room.  Don't ask...don't ask.  But I want to get it before any bugs or (heaven forbid) mice do.
Is someone likely to be in the schools today to let me in?  I'm sure there will be.  Will there be someone over the rest of Christmas break?  Yes.  With sports practices and janitors, I'll be able to get in if I need to.  Is it just a super big pain in the butt?  Yes.  And am I just in a bad mood because of all the days to get a cancellation, I can't sleep?  Yes.  

Everything really is going to be okay...I just like to complain a lot.  Enjoy this first blog post back!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Keebler's Sweater

Since we had to shave poor Keebs a few weeks ago, he has been trying to get used to being cold.  It's not as though our house is freezing or any other temperature then it was before we shaved him, but he just now has to get used to not having any hair!  It's grown out a little bit, but every time we pick him up, we notice his stomach is a little cold.  We cuddle him more and encourage him to sleep under blankets with us, but what about when we're not home?  It concerned us more than it maybe should have, so we decided to....

...get him a sweater.

And the following video is the result of this:

As you can see, I think Keebler would rather freeze than be humiliated by wearing this sweater.

All right, all right...we'll just take the sweater back...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What do teachers make?!

The elections are coming up (as we all know from the copious amounts of campaigning), and although I don't vote normally, I have made it a point to vote in general elections.  Sometimes when you're at school until 6:00 PM and you work about an hour away from your polling station, it just doesn't happen.  However, I've never been more excited to get out and cast my vote than this year.  The presidential race is exciting, sure, but seeing as I'm a teacher in the great state of Indiana, I, along with numerous other teachers, am more preoccupied with who gets the next bid of Indiana State Superintendent of Education.  And I, along with all of them, intend to vote for Glenda Ritz.

I know we're all tired of the mudslinging and the my-candidate-is-better-than-yours bologna, so I don't want to go into a long tirade about how awful Tony Bennett (the current Super) is.  He just is.  He sees our students as test scores and numbers.  And while there's something to be said about statistics and I understand we need to have a method of making sure schools are up to par, I seriously do not think his method is the answer.  As a teacher, I know of several kids who are bright and energetic and have great ideas and are Going Places, but who also cannot identify a soliloquy if it hit them in the face.  Or select the correct word that describes the tone of a text.  Or write a sonnet.  But guess what?  It doesn't make them failures.  It doesn't make them any less than those kids who can.  There should be more to our system than just the math and English numbers (and coming from an English teacher, I feel like that's saying something).

And don't even get me started on RISE. 

I urge you to please, please vote for Glenda Ritz!  For the sake of your children and grandchildren's education as well as for your teacher friends!  No kid should be treated like a number and no kid should feel like a failure.  Unfortunately, that's a little bit more of what I'm seeing every day :(

To learn more about Glenda Ritz, click here.

I also dug this treasure up.  It's an oldie, but I think it proves my point exactly.  Aside from parents and grandparents, teachers are the most influential adults in a kid's life (sometimes, even more influential than the other two!). 

I can relate to many aspects of this video--I've called home with praise before and set a parent crying because of my words.  I've shamed a group of students with a glare and a slight shake of the head to the point where they couldn't even look at me anymore.  I've rallied behind students so they could bring their grades up from Fs to Cs--they could do it all along; they just thought they were dumb.  I've stayed late and arrived early for students.  I work through lunch almost every day and hold off going to the restroom after several hours of teaching because I know I have special ed kids in study hall during my prep who need those quizzes graded and dropped off so they have the maximum amount of time to redo them.  I read the homework with my kids and do almost all of my own assignments so my students can see examples and know that nothing I assign is impossible.  I plan out which students I want to touch base with on the way to school and grade in the car on the way home when my husband drives.  When I go to a game, or a play, or a parade, or see my students in public, they wave and smile and are excited to see me.  I do my job because I care and I don't ask for personal recognition--just recognition for the profession.

I know that when I retire, I will miss my job.  Even if I could quit now and not have to work at all, I don't know if I could do it.  I don't have the type of job that someone else could do exactly like I can.  I don't work in a factory, or an office, or a building where things are the same every single day.  I work with real kids who will grow up to be real leaders and who will do real things and make real changes and I'm proud of that.  

I guarantee all of my teacher friends are proud of that, too, so please show them your support on election day!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Keebler's New Haircut :)

On Monday, Kyle and Keebs got haircuts.  They were both just a little bit on the fluffy side!  Kyle's hair grows incredibly quickly, and *sigh* so does Keebler's.  Keebler's haircut was actually more important than Kyle's, because at least Kyle will brush his own hair.  Keebler's hair was getting so long it would tangle, which made brushing painful.  We'd never gotten him groomed before, but it was time to just grit our teeth and pay for it.


So embarrassed by all the hair I have...I can't even look at the camera :(

I think Max was between my feet, actually, and drew Keebler's attention away.

Max is actually fascinated by the camera and must follow me around with it.  Because of this, I actually had a hard time photographing Keebler alone.

 And after!
A little bit of a shock at first (we had a good laugh), but I think we'll get him a little sweater and call it good :)

He's so much happier now...he's willing to be pet now that he feels clean and light!

"Where your hair go?"  Poor Max was so confused and wouldn't quit sniffing where Keebler's hair used to be.
Now time to schedule my own haircut!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Decorating the House for Fall

This is the second year in a row that I've missed decorating for Halloween.  I had plenty of time in mid-September and mentioned to Kyle a few times that I should get down the Fall/Halloween decorations and get crafty.  "It's too early," he'd say.  Or "nooooooooo....I don't want to think about it getting so cold!"  Okay, maybe that last one was me.  But anyway...

The point is I thought about doing it early (just like last year).  And we decided it was TOO early (just like last year).  So Halloween won't be celebrated, unfortunately (just like last year).  I knew I'd get really busy since the end of the nine weeks fall smack in the middle of October (just like last year).  So, instead, I decided to be early for once in my life and just skip straight to Thanksgiving (just like last year).

Normally I would do base fall decorating with leaves and pinecones and other autumn-y stuff.  Then I'd put the Halloween stuff sort of front and center but easily moveable to make way for Thanksgiving items.  Didn't have to worry about that this time.  Also, I have about a million strands of fall leaves that I normally put above my kitchen cabinets during fall time.  Didn't do that, either.  During the rest of the year I have this evergreen/gold stuff on top that is really for Christmas but I leave it up because it looks okay throughout the rest of the year since it matches our wall colors.  Without anything up there, you can tell that our house isn't level!  

I decided, though, for the sake of my sanity now and a month from now that I'd just leave the other stuff above my cabinets.  It seriously takes an hour to change it!  Positioning things just right and opening/closing all the cabinets to make sure nothing I have to stand on the cabinets but since we don't have high ceilings I sort of have to hunch over.  Needless to say, I'm always in a bad mood after changing out the decor on top of the cabinets.  Seemed easier to just go without.

I love decorating for a new season, and I love shopping for seasonal decorations.  You all know me, though...I look for them on the cheap.  Many of the things I got for fall were either highly discounted or from Goodwill.  I never pay over $5.00 for anything seasonal in my house, simply because I don't keep it out to look at all year.  It's always a nice surprise when I open my boxes from the attic because I always forget what I have.  For about a week afterward, I sit around and revel in the fact that my house looks so good.  Then it gets dirty and I get used to the new decorations.  *Sigh.  

I wish I had a robot to clean my house for me.  But that's another blog post entirely.

Here are the decorating results:

Did I ever mention we had to get ANOTHER bookcase to hold all our movies?!  Yes, we're that ridiculous.

Plate I made last year!  Still love it this year (even though I chipped it when I packed it away last winter).  The turkey and pinecone package?  Goodwill find for like under $1 apiece.

My greatest secret about with the china cabinet?  We have a plastic Jack o'Lantern at the top.  Turn it around, and you have a pumpkin for the whole fall season!  Scarecrow, autumn sign, and little pumpkin beanie on the middle shelf?  Goodwill!

This was the most fun to decorate because we didn't have any of this stuff last year.  I love trying new ideas!  Scarecrows are guessed it...Goodwill.  I rigged together the pot-idea with leftover wedding supplies.

Have I ever mentioned how glad I am that I put my old bedroom dresser in the dining room?  Great storage and I LOVE decorating it!  Scarecrow on the dresser and on the countertop in the background are from Goodwill. And so is the wreath you can see a little of on the kitchen door.

This is new, too.  I wanted something different for the table...nothing big and complicated.  So I rigged up this bouquet of leaves in a terra cotta pot left over from our wedding decorations.  I love it!  Leaf bouquet pieces are from...well, I don't even need to fill it in for you.

Well, house decorating is done for another month!  Our Thanksgiving decorations always have a "putting away" date, unlike all the other season's decor.  No matter what, we ALWAYS decorate for Christmas the first Sunday of the Christmas season after we get home from church.  My and Kyle's tradition.  These decorations get to outlive Thanksgiving by three days only!

I love fall...and I love the holidays!  We're getting close to my favorite time of  year!  The holidays seem to go so quickly, though.  I wish I could just pause fall!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Funeral in Michigan

On Monday of this week, Kyle's step-grandfather Wayne passed away from Wegner's disease.  His mom, Michele, called us on the way to school Monday morning to let us know the news.  We were so grateful that she told us right away so that we could begin making preparations to leave for the funeral as soon as possible (since I'm pretty anal about my classroom and plans it can take a couple of days for me to make subplans--what with all the nit-picky things that you know and remember from day to day but someone else would need explained to them).  The funeral arrangements were set for Wednesday and Thursday in Michigan, so we took off Wednesday and the following Monday from school.

All in all, we handled Wayne's passing fairly well here in our house.  Wayne had been sick for a little while, and I'm very glad that when we were in Michigan this past July that we got to see him.  Although Wayne is technically Kyle's step-grandfather, he is as grandfather as it gets to Kyle.  Wayne had been together with his grandma Brenda since 1967--waaaaay before Kyle was ever around!  He is the grandfather that Kyle knows from that side of the family, and he is as much a dad to Kyle's mom Michele as he was grandpa to Kyle.  

The funeral meant that we got to see Kyle's grandma Brenda, which happens on average once every other year if we're lucky.  We got to see his uncle Doug and aunt Annah, whom I met on our wedding day out in Nauvoo (Doug and Annah live in Iowa) and whom Kyle has met only a handful of times.  Last, but certainly not least, we met Kyle's cousins Justin and Matt.  Justin and Matt are a few years older than Kyle but were last in Michigan about sixteen years ago!  Holy smokes!  Kyle met them once before when he was about seven, but that was it!  Kyle's younger brother Jacob doesn't even remember meeting his cousins before.  

Needless to say, although we grieved for Wayne, Kyle and I were very grateful for the opportunity to spend time with his mom's family.  We all decided that it's really silly that we haven't really seen each other as often as we could.  Michigan and Iowa (and Missouri, where Justin lives) isn't really all THAT far away.  We discussed getting together maybe once a year or so, and I really, really hope that happens!  All of us's such a riot :)  I think I heard from Justin and Matt that Michele might have slugged Doug a good one before we arrived?  I'm not sure if that's exaggerated or not!

The one thing I wish I could have changed (besides the circumstances, obviously)?  Kyle's sister Kelsey wasn't able to come to the funeral.  Driving for several hours with an arm in a sling from getting tossed around in college rugby wasn't a very good idea.  Add that with the midterms she's got going on right now, and she had a good pass.  WE MISSED YOU!

Doug and Michele.
Justin, Matt, Kyle, and Jacob
Add Gary!  Cute.
I jumped in for one.  Thanks for taking the picture, Annah!
I meant to get one with Grandma Brenda, but by the time it was all over, I realized I'd forgotten.  Eeeks!  We'll just have to go back really soon :)

It was a beautiful service, and everyone who meant anything to Grandpa Wayne was there.  R.I.P. Wayne!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pet Post

I was looking through my camera last night, and I realized the only pictures I had on there were of pets.  Ours, my parents', my sister's, my in-laws' I decided to upload them all and do a pet post.

The pictures are a little bit random, but that's okay:

Max and Tiger (BFFs) looking out the back window.  This is their favorite thing to do together besides wrestle.

Max and Keebs watching cars go by.

Charlie-dog (my in-laws' doggie) is asking Kyle why he is sitting on his couch cushion.

And why are YOU laying in front of my space heater?

So, defeated, he sits with Michele on the couch.

These videos are of my sister's dog, Eli, performing tricks for us after my brother's confirmation a few weekends ago.  The first video he doesn't do anything right because he's so distracted by my parents' cat Miss Kitty, who is lurking nearby.  Missy slaps the snot out of him whenever he's in the house.

And here we took him outside so he can show us his tricks.  He can do several because he's a smart puppy!  He does sit, stay, speak, roll over, play dead, high-five, jump, shake hands, and lay down.  Also he does eat bologna, but he doesn't need to be commanded to do that one...

We love our pets!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wicked, Samurais, Near-Murder by Hillbillies, etc.

Since we didn't go anywhere this summer for vacation (due in large part that we were vacation-broke from the spring break cruise), we planned a weekend getaway to Louisville.  It was supposed to be a worry-free-Kyle-and-me only sort of weekend (i.e. no school worries), and for the most part, it was.  I did do some grading on the way down, but Kyle allowed that.  And for the worry-free part, we did most of that too...except for the part where we got lost in Clarksville about three different times.  My question is how can you not get lost in Louisville but you can get lost in Clarksville?  Still don't know how that happened!  Anyway, here are some pictures documenting the trip.

KING SIZE!  Kyle and I have NEVER slept on a king size bed!  The queen at home is roomy enough, but this bed sure was nice!  For some reason, hotels think it's cooler to put a two-queen room up for cheaper than a king room, so we've never gotten the king.  I like it!  Kyle and I didn't have to be all up on each other's side of the bed AT ALL. 
Last year for my birthday, my in-laws got me a voucher for Across Broadway tickets.  They figured we'd (I'd) be interested in going to see Mary Poppins, but alas, it was during spring break last year, and we were already planning on being out of the country.  Hmmm...what else could we see?  When I saw that Wicked was on the fall lineup, I about shrieked for joy.  I've always wanted to see Wicked.  And so that's what we saw!  It was seriously the best production I've ever seen, hands-down.  Although Spamalot is pretty darn close! I know for a fact I had "Defying Gravity" stuck in my head all weekend.  Best part, though?  Saw it courtesy of Gary and Michele (thanks guys!).

Whitney Hall in Kentucky Center for the Arts.  Waiting for them to open the doors for Wicked!

Broadway-show-attending attire.  Isn't he handsome?

New scarf and accessories!  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out my last post.


This photo was strictly FORBIDDEN.  But I took it anyway because I'm a sneak.
The show was beautiful and I'm pretty sure I cried.  We got out super late and headed back to Clarksville.  And MAYBE we played Batman a little know...approaching our car cautiously in case Joe Chill was going to pop us off after we left the theater?  Putting my seat down completely as Kyle sped over the bridge out of Louisville, pretending my fear toxin was wearing off and I had no idea where I was?  Blaring the Dark Knight soundtrack in the background (Kyle's idea to bring that one as his "driving music")?  Worrying that the convicts were going to escape Gotham (I mean...Louisville) before we were?  Okay, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, go see the new Batman trilogy....

Anyway, we got back to Clarksville okay, then got lost trying to find the Kroger for morning doughnuts and water bottles.   We ended up on some dead-end, one-way street (how does that work?) with a lot of creepy houses and stray cats roaming around.  With the Batman music playing the song in which the Joker is approaching, I seriously thought we'd be murdered by hillbillies.  We saw several walking strangely around in Clarksville all alone, and then a group of teenage boys who ran at our car when we stopped to let them cross the street.  Probably one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. 

Thankfully, we lived.  The next morning we visited the Frazier Museum in Louisville.  This museum is British and American history.  Awesome!  With our free admission tickets that we got online, it was even better!  The exhibit I really wanted to see was the Princess Diana exhibit.  They had tons of her dresses and personal effects, including her wedding dress!  Yes...I saw it in real life!  As usual, pictures weren't allowed, and I was not about to take chances because they were kicking people out for it.  Kyle was most interested in the Samurai exhibit.  Thank goodness we went when we did, because it was the only weekend that both overlapped!  Check out our pictures from the museum:

Of course, Kyle was all over the ninjas.

The only part of the Samurai exhibit that was cool to me...Harakiri is called seppuku in Japanese, and for my World Literature class in college I did a paper over the short story "Patriotism" in which a husband and wife commit seppuku.  Ten years or so after the short story was written, the author himself committed seppuku.  Gruesome, I know, but it's sort of how Kyle and I got to know each other better (right before we got together).  He knew a little bit about Harakiri, I found out, and I asked him to proofread my essay before I turned it in.  The rest is history!

I wanted to see this historical interpretation of the beheading of Anne Boleyn.  One of my favorite sections of British history.  Way cool!

This actress portrayed one of Anne's ladies-in-waiting. 

 A reproduction of the sword that chopped Anne's head off.  And I got to hold it!  Very, very heavy.

Kyle wanted to see the Arming of the Knight Interpretation.  It was this kid's birthday, so he got to act as squire and help dress the knight.

Queen Elizabeth I and I are BFFs.  High-five!

Pocahontas and John Smith

And of course, at the end of the day, we had to see this Samurai vs. Ninja historic interpretation.  It WAS pretty cool.  Kyle and all the other boys under 5 were on the edge of their seats.

Ninja takes a blow from the Samurai while the Japanese woman (same actress from Anne Boleyn) looks on in dismay.

Reproduction Jackie Kennedy jewelry.  Cool!

All in all, a successful trip to the museum!
We also got to do some goooooood eating and made it home safely (no getting lost).  A very, very good weekend trip.  I think we need to do this again sometime!

Flea Market-y Goodness

Two weeks ago, my sister, my grandma, my cousin, and I went to Atlanta, IN for some flea-marketing goodness.  And oh my, was it goodness!  They had TONS of booths set up ALL OVER town.  And I mean ALL OVER!  We each found a plethora of wonderful little odds-and-ends things that we just had to have.  Maybe I spent more money than I planned to, but hey, I shop discount for 100% of all our other things, so I reserve the right to spend a little more here and there.  Right?

Check out some of the cool things I found:

This isn't all the home decor stuff I got, but other stuff I've put away for Christmas presents, so I can't show the pictures :)  I'm most excited to put the birdhouse out, but it's for our attic after we renovate it.

SCARVES!  And so cheap, too!  $28 for all 8 of these cuties!

The jewelry was where I hit rock bottom....oh goodness, how I love my accessories (I was smart enough to stay away from the handbags!)

Close up!  Sorry it's blurry :(

Another close up!

And of course, I couldn't forget about Kyle.  I spied these unopened Batman action figures from various TV shows, movies, etc. and gave him a call to see what he wanted.  He wanted everything!  I told the man selling them to give me one of everything unopened (he had some duplicates).  I got everything here for $20!

Kyle was super-excited because some of them he had when he was a kid but he'd lost the heads for.  Others were ones he said his parents wouldn't buy for him (probably because he lost the heads on them).

See the Joker with a pogo stick at the top right?  Guess how much it lists for on Amazon/Ebay?  Anywhere from $50-$250 depending on condition of the box.  Holy smokes!  And guess who accidentally got a second one stuck in the box from the guy selling them.  THIS GIRL!  But it was slightly opened, so that's a bummer.

I think I really saved myself by buying the action figures for Kyle.  Since all of them were worth $10 or more apiece, I'm pretty sure I won the right from Kyle to go back next year.  And if he forgets about that, don't worry--I'll remind him :)