Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas

Christmas started off with gusto...and fire.

On Christmas Eve day, I was working on the last couple of Christmas presents - melting plastic beads into bowls in the oven.  On the last stage of the process, one of the bowls was too close to the upper heating element, and it caught fire.  I turned the oven off and tried opening/closing the door to blow out the flames - to no avail.  I realized that I probably had only one choice to extinguish the flames, so I pulled the fire extinguisher out from under the sink.  After extinguishing the fire, I ran around propping open the front door, opening all the windows, turning on the fan, covering Cecil's bowl, and closing the bathroom and bedroom doors.  The fire alarm didn't go off at all! (Ironic - a real fire doesn't set off the alarm, but a little steam from a hot shower does...)

I spent the next 4-5 hours cleaning up after my exciting afternoon.  The fire extinguisher had sprayed a fine sand-like substance which, with the help of the vent and fans, spread throughout the apartment and left a nice layer of dust on every surface. Davis walked in as I was finishing up washing the last of the dishes (he surprised me by coming home early...).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have realized that I am still very much like a child when it comes to Christmas morning.  I can't wait to open all the shiny presents under the tree.  Davis and I ate sausage cheese balls as we opened our gifts.  We cooked lunch together - ham, french bread spread, and twice-baked potatoes.  And we laughed as we realized that we had nibbled too much while preparing the food, so we weren't hungry for the actual meal. Christmas afternoon was spent lazing on the couch watching Sons of Guns and (me) packing for my trip to Baton Rouge.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday morning, bright and early, I left for Baton Rouge, and Davis went to work (where he's been for 12+ hours a day for 6 days...).  Baton Rouge was a blast - seeing (almost) all of my cousins, hanging out with aunts on daiquiri night, and eating even more delicious food!  After lunch on Tuesday, and before our family gift-exchange, we had the first (annual?) Gingerbread House Throwdown.  The Gilstraps (with a May and several defects from the LoSerU side) dominated the Bama House.  The Broussards (Irvins and Charpentiers) managed to pull together an LSU House.

Bama House:
Licorice, houndstooth roof adorned with a twizzler "A"
Trent Richardson (with dreads) (front left of house)
Field goal and kicker on crutches (front right corner of the board)
Big Al (cheering at the rear) 

LSU House:
Honey Badger (looks like he's behind bars...)
Eye of the Tiger (compliments of my artistic Aunt Nanci!)
Tailgaters cooking red beans and rice (to the right of the house)
Lily's "dead dog" (to the left of the house)



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Davis and I were incredibly blessed this Christmas, and I am reminded of just how much I have to be thankful for.  Thanks to the wonderful-beyond-words friends and family!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Alderman

I would like to dedicate this post to my beautiful friend, Susan, and her new husband, Andrew.  They got married on December 17, and I am incredibly honored that I could share in their special day.  Here are a few pictures from their wedding weekend.


Kristen holding the bow bouquet that Mandy and I put together in 5 minutes right before the rehearsal.


Mandy, Susan, and I in our matching black shoes for the rehearsal.


Susan attempting to tie Andrew's bow tie.


My attempt...


More attempts at tying the bow tie...


Susan and her dad practicing walking down the aisle - I love Susan's smile here!


"Giving away" the bride


Exchanging their fake vows... "I, yadda yadda, take you, so and so, and stuff..."


The bride, Mandy, and Kallen (Susan's sister-in-law); We went to my house after a delicious rehearsal dinner at AJ's to practice hair, assemble playlists, and put together Susan's veil.  (For our "Songs Not to be Played at a Wedding" playlist, see the end of this post...)


Susan's veil looked quite nice on the bubblegum machine!


Doing our hair on the wedding day


I love this picture!  The photographer taking a picture of Ms. Lena fixing Susan's veil.


The bride with her minions, holding a letter from Andrew; Minutes away from walking down the aisle...


The sun played nicely off the tulle of Susan's dress.


Almost time!

(Unfortunately, that's all I have of the pre-wedding activities, but here are a couple of the reception...)


The bride and groom cutting their gorgeous cake (props to Mrs. Betsey for another fabulous tasting and looking wedding cake!)  Andrew was nice and didn't smear it on Susan's face...



Removing the garter, and the garter toss - notice the blur of movement on the floor...

Congratulations again, and best wishes to the newlyweds!

At about 1am the day of her wedding, Susan was trying to finish the playlist for their reception music; I was going through my music to see if there was anything she wanted to add.  Thus was born the idea of a playlist entitled: Songs Not to be Played at a Wedding.  (NOTE: We did use this playlist while we were getting ready at the church.)

1. Love is Strange (Dirty Dancing)
2. All my Loving (Across the Universe version)
3. Goodbye (Kristinia DeBarge)
4. So What (Pink)
5. Please Don't Leave Me (Pink)
6. Hold Me Tight (Across the Universe)
7. It Won't Be Long (Across the Universe)
8. It's the Hard-Knock Life (Annie)
9. Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
10. Picture to Burn (Taylor Swift)
11. Cell Block Tango (Chicago)
12. Hungry Eyes (Dirty Dancing)
13. I Don't Wanna Be in Love (Good Charlotte)
14. Forget You (Cee Lo Green - the edited version)
15. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) (ABBA)
16. It's Raining Men (Weather Girls)
17. It's Tearing Up My Heart (N'Sync)
18. Bye Bye Bye (N'Sync)
19. Wannabe (Spice Girls)
20. Let's Call the Whole Thing Off (Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong)

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...almost

Here's a bit of a picture post to briefly catch up on the past couple weeks. (For Susan's wedding, see the next post.)



These are the delicious treats I made for co-workers as a "holiday happy".  Waffle shaped pretzels with Hershey kisses, hugs, and caramel-filled on top.  Put in the oven at 170 degrees for about 5 minutes.  Take out of oven and press an M&M into the chocolate.  Refrigerate until no longer melty. Yum!


This is our "6-foot" Christmas tree.  Note that it's only 6 feet tall if you stand the top "branch" all the way up.  Because we don't have an angel or a star yet (after Christmas sale, here I come!), I put the favors from Susan's wedding on top - yellow, star-shaped suckers.



Unfortunately, Boris went to the big fishbowl in the sky yesterday morning.  For several weeks now, he has been very inactive.  I even got a heater for his bowl, but it didn't seem to help.  Since Davis and I were going to PetsMart anyway, I decided we should adopt a new Betta.  I am happy to introduce Cecil- a crowntail betta.


As a Christmas present for Oscar and Einstein, we got them a new (plastic) plant.  We also got them some tasty Christmas treats - 5 minnows and 2 small goldfish.  Einstein ate 2 minnows and half of a goldfish yesterday, but Oscar seemed very uninterested, which is highly unusual.  As of this morning, there were 2 minnows and a goldfish left.  Now, however, there is 1 of each (see bottom left of the tank), and Oscar and Einstein don't seem to care.

Now, I'm going to get started on preparing food for lunch/dinner tomorrow!
French bread & cheese spread
Glazed ham
Twice-baked potatoes
Steamed broccoli
Grasshopper pie

Monday, December 12, 2011

How do you know you're a teacher?

Compliments of my Dad...

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE A TEACHER? by Jeff Foxworthy

1. You get a secret thrill out of laminating things. 
2. You can hear 25 voices behind you and know exactly which one belongs to the child out of line. 

3. You walk into a store and hear the words, “It’s Ms./Mr. ____________ and know you have been spotted. 
4. You have 25 people who accidentally call you Mom/Dad at one time or another. 
5. You can eat a multi-course meal in under 25 15 minutes. 
6. You’ve trained yourself to go to the bathroom at two distinct times of the day, lunch and planning period. 
7. You start saving other people’s trash, because most likely, you can use that toilet paper tube or plastic butter tub for something in the classroom. 
8. You believe the Teacher’s Lounge should be equipped with a margarita machine. 
9. You want to slap the next person who says, “Must be nice to work 8 to 4 and have summers off." 
10. You believe chocolate is a food group. 
11. You can tell if it’s a full moon without ever looking outside. 
12. You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says, “Boy, the kids are sure mellow today.” 
13. You feel the urge to talk to strange children and correct their behavior when you are out in public. 
14. You believe in aerial spraying of Ritalin.     (I don't like this one)
15. You think caffeine should be available in intravenous form. 
16. You spend more money on school stuff than you do on your own children. 
17. You can’t pass the school supply aisle without getting at least 5 items! 
18. You ask your friends to use their words and explain if the left hand turn he made was a “good choice” or “bad choice.” 
19. You find true beauty in a can full of perfectly sharpened pencils. 
20. You are secretly addicted to hand sanitizer  washing your hands (gets your hands much cleaner, in my opinion!)
21. You understand, instantaneously, why a child behaves in a certain way after meeting his/her parents.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Week in the Cottages

(For those of you wondering, our classroom is called a "Cottage".  It sounds so much classier than "portable" or "trailer"...)

Monday: Honestly, who can remember what happened Monday?  Our volunteer didn't show up for small groups, so Kelsey and I had to split our time.  Oh, and parent-teacher conferences started this week.

Tuesday: Nope, can't remember Tuesday either.  I think it was a pretty good day.

Wednesday: Oh, what a day.  It was the kind of day that makes you reconsider teaching 4 year olds.  First of all, it rained.  (Cue frantic scurrying to find "indoor games" to occupy 22 children for an hour of "outside time".)  After finally convincing every child to go to newly designated seats while waiting for the music teacher to show up, we spend 15 minutes wondering when Ms. Sunny will come and trying to entertain the kids without them moving.  Cue "Quiet Game".  Decide that Ms. Sunny is indeed not coming, so we skip music and go to snack. (Yum!) Introduce a new game to pass 30 minutes of recess. (Which, surprisingly, went really well).  On to Work Time (a fancy term for "Centers").  Everything's going really well, and we decide to extend Work Time to take up some of our 2nd outside time (as the rain continues...).  Halfway through Work Time, a student throws up on half of our main carpet.  21 other children freak out and are simultaneously repulsed and engrossed with the puddle on the carpet.  It takes 20+ minutes to track down a custodian to help us clean up the mess.  During that time, I form a blockade of chairs around the mess and try to steer the other 21 children back to their centers.  Finally, we get the mess cleaned up and go to lunch. I spend lunch putting mats out, and we go directly from lunch to nap instead of having math (the carpet was still wet from cleaning).  Because the day's schedule was completely messed up, nap time was a wreck too. FINALLY it's time to go home!

Thursday: Brr...the rain brought very cold weather with it.  We find out that if the temperature is under 40 degrees, we can't be outside.  Morning outside time is spent eating snack and playing a new game inside. The day passes fairly uneventfully (thank goodness for small miracles!)  After school, Kelsey and I are chatting with the mom of a student as we wait for his dad to show up for the conference.  The mom tells us stories about her son.  One of the stories is about how I (Mrs. May) like to bite children while they're at school (NOTE: I do NOT bite the children). His mom told him that I (Mrs. May) probably like biting children, and how she can't wait to tell Ms. Smith (Kelsey) about it.  At this point, he laughs and screams that it's a joke, please, please, please don't tell them! Kelsey and I were nearly rolling on the floor laughing.  We also found out that our dog puppet - Disco - comes to lunch and eats scraps under the table. Who knew?!?

Friday: One girl hands me a card as soon as I walk in the door from car rider duty.  Inside it says "I love my teachers, Love, M****". What a way to start the day! Too bad it didn't stay as delightful the rest of the day.  Nearly 1/3 of our class didn't line up from outside when the bell rang (just being contrary, I suppose).  5 boys had a marker war at the art table.  I caught them and made them find every marker and lid that they could. After 10 minutes of searching, there were still 10 markers without lids, so I told them that I figured they owed me 10 minutes of sitting on the carpet watching everyone else have fun (I'm so mean!). Kelsey kept 4 girls in from recess for a bit so they could finish cleaning their mess up in dramatic play (took them 20 minutes total). Lunch. Science (or, as we say, Let's Find Out About It). Nap Time - during which one student took up all the pieces of tape marking the waiting line for the bathroom. Story (well, half a story because it took forever to pack up everything they had to take home today). Dismissal.

Now, I'm writing this as I wait for my husband to get home on his day off.  The only reason he went in today is because it's looking like he can sell 2 cars today (fingers crossed)!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Don't get your hopes up

I apologize to all of my faithful readers out there!  The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind.

A few weeks ago I had a meeting with the instructional coach at my school.  I wanted his feedback on whether I was doing what a paraprofessional "should" be doing.  I needed to know that I was doing what I was supposed to without overstepping my boundaries and stepping on my lead teacher's toes.  I was really worried about that.  While she knows how much I want to be a lead teacher, she deserves to run her classroom the way she wants - without me taking over.  By the end of the meeting, I felt very reassured and confident that the administration could see how strong of an influence I am in the classroom.

The next day, Zeke (instructional coach) mentioned to me that there was a lead 3-year-old teacher position open and suggested that I apply.  I did.  I found out the next weekend that I had an interview.  I tried to keep it on the down-low from my colleagues because I didn't want to get my hopes up or have it spread around the school (partially because I didn't want my potential competition to know about the opening - not very nice of me, I know).  My interview went really well, according to my principal.  I did not get the position - it went to another para at the school (who I am sure will do an incredible job - I'm glad he's the one who beat me out for that position).

Since that interview, I have tried to take a step back in the classroom.  I try not to take control outside of the times when it is "acceptable".  I have been doing lots of things that Kelsey doesn't tell me to do.  I added colored water to the sensory table (spray it on foam peanuts!); I am working with the students on writing their names; and I made a turkey centerpiece with all the kids for Thanksgiving (thanks pinterest!).  Slowly but surely I am finding my niche in the classroom.


I used solid colored paint chips and actually cut them into "feathers".  The kids loved it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Susan's Bachelorette Weekend!

This past weekend, I went to Memphis to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of Susan Price and Andrew Alderman.  Okay, we really went there for Susan's bachelorette party/weekend.  Instead of detailing what we did, I thought I would re-quote Susan's status about the weekend and then leave you with a few pictures (don't worry - they're all safe!).

"Tiny car, febreze quest, audrey hepburn, darn good hot

 cocoa, room switch, tiara, free tea, "do your worst,"

 shoes vs corkscrews, presents!, hard rock, beale st,

 puppies, cookies dough, lost glasses (still lost), photo

 opp. Memphis adventure complete."




The bachelorette getting ready for dinner Saturday


Oaklawn Gardens in Germantown, TN (Sunday)


The Bachelorette!


Maybe we had a little too much fun...


Just hanging out on a fence


Sending Susan, Kallen, and Kirstyn off on the train


Just keep walking....just keep walking...


Beautiful North Alabama on the drive home

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Good News!

WE'RE GOING HOME FOR THANKSGIVING!!!!

I am so incredibly excited!  Over the past couple months, I've been a bit homesick.  Okay, some days I'm a lot homesick.  I think Davis has been too.  I haven't really made any friends outside of work.  My "work friends" all live in Decatur, so there's no getting together on the weekends.  And I'm still trying to find a church that I'm comfortable with, but it's hard to compete with St. Francis.  I have a feeling that making friends is going to be a long process.  While I consider myself a friendly person, I certainly did not inherit the same social skills as my brother and sister.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand - Thanksgiving!
Davis managed to be scheduled off for Tuesdays during November, and everyone has Thanksgiving day off, so he asked his boss for Wednesday off.  Surprisingly, Joel said yes!  Our plan is to drive home (Madison) early Tuesday and stay through Thursday afternoon sometime.  I am looking forward to spending time with family and eating some delicious "Mama" food :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Life is winning

It's hard to believe another week has passed and that I'm already due for another post (I try to update once a week).

Over the last week, I had quite a few battles with life - most of which I lost.  Please be aware that this is a whiny post

To get to work, I travel 16 miles on 985 followed by 18 miles on 85 South; After that I get onto 285 East/South for another 6 miles or so before taking various roads for short distances to Decatur, GA.  My normal commute is right at an hour when I leave at 5:50-6am - putting me at school by 7am on most days.  Wednesday morning, it was pouring on my way to work.  If you think Atlanta traffic is bad normally, you should see what happens when you add rain to the mix.  Two accidents on 985 meant it took me about 50 minutes to travel the 16 miles to 85 South.  It is now almost 7am, and I know I am going to be late because I hear reports on the radio about two more accidents on 85 South in the 18 miles I travel.  Fantastic.  I call the school to let them know I'll be late; I also alert the other para I do car-rider duty with in the mornings.  Another 45 minutes passes before I make it to 285.  It is now 7:35am with another 15 minutes to the school - thankfully, no accidents the rest of the way.  I arrive at school at 7:50. Car rider line is already closed, and I haven't had any time to prepare for my day.  I am nearly an hour later than usual.

Life = 1
Robyn = 0

On Thursday Davis suggests we go up to Meineke to get my Service Engine Soon light checked out.  We know it has something to do with emissions, but that's it.  The guy at Meineke tells us that it's my catalytic converter and that the part is going to be between $600-800 for a proper replacement.  Don't forget the $170 for labor.  He tells us he'll call tomorrow (Friday) when he gets in touch with the company he buys catalytic converters from with a definite price.  On the way home, Davis notices that my break light is out.  He takes it apart and checks it - bulb is fine, so he puts it back in.  The next day, we find out that it is out again (we're headed out in a few minutes to check the wiring...)

Life = 2
Robyn = 0

Friday morning as I'm leaving the apartment headed for school (at 5:55am) I decide to try to knock off some of the condensation by rolling my windows down.  The driver's side window gets caught and drops out of its track, down into the door.  I know exactly what's happened because this is the second time I've experienced it.  I also know that we have to take apart the door to fix it, which I don't have time to do before school.  I make the decision to drive to work without the window and figure it out when I get there.  It's 40 degrees at 60-70mph.  I get to work and decide that the easiest fix is to duct tape a towel to my door and close it in the door.

Life = 3
Robyn = 0

I pray all day that no one will notice that my car is an easy break-in (we are in Atlanta, after all).  After school I stop by the dealership to see Davis.  He notices how upset I am by the window and everything else that happened this week, and he decides to come home a couple hours early to help me fix the window.  By 9pm, the window is finally back on track and my door is reassembled.

Life = 3
Robyn & Davis = 1

The good news?  Last week is over, and it can only get better from here.

Oh yeah, and I have the most fantastic husband in the world.  He came home from work yesterday with these...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bits and Pieces

Per the request of my father (and my grandmother via my father), I am updating the blog.  I don't mean to leave you hanging, it's just that I can't think straight by the time I make it home from a day in Pre-K, which means that my post would probably be somewhat incoherent.

As far as Pre-K world goes, things are starting to smooth out.  We finally got our scheduled nailed down (only took us 6 weeks!).  We are now going outside before lunch instead of before nap - which was a nightmare.  For our non-nappers, we have quiet activities such as puzzles and books for them to do in the second half of naptime.  I've also picked up several books on CD that we play for the second half (thank goodness for public libraries!).  One of our students who is very active and can't stay still for naptime actually sits and listens to the stories.  When one is over, he applauds and says "Yay!"  It's actually quite adorable.

I'm still struggling with being a para, but getting the hang of my role.  I am glad that I get the chance to see what being a teacher is like before jumping in head-first.  It is currently 6:25pm, and I have yet to receive a lesson plan for next week, which is one of the thing that kills me most.  I don't know if my lead teacher is required to send me the plans, but receiving it on Monday morning gives me about 15 minutes to prepare for the day before going to car rider duty.  I'm hoping that improves.  I'm trying to give her some slack because she is a first year teacher, and I know she's got a lot being thrown at her right now.  Still.

On the home front, things are going pretty well.  The fish are doing fine except for the fact that Oscar (Davis's fish) eats all of the food before Einstein (my fish) gets a chance to.  Thus, Oscar is getting fat and Einstein hides in a bowl all day.  We also think that Einstein might be blind in one eye, which explains why he can't find the food.  Boris is still alive, though is he quite obviously getting old.  He spends most of the day sideways in the rocks at the bottom until I shake food in.  It's the only time of the day that he gets excited.

Davis sold a car yesterday.  Hooray!  I think that brings it up to 3 this month.  Luckily, he grossed a lot on that one car, which means commission on that car will be larger than normal.

As my parents keeps not-so-subtly hinting, they are eager for us to come home to visit.  Davis and I are both a bit homesick for family at the moment, and we're concocting a plan to come home at the beginning of Thanksgiving week.  Davis only gets that Thursday off, but if he could get Tuesday off (regular schedule rotation) and ask for Wednesday, we could both come.  If not, I'll be flying solo.

Finally, I'm getting really excited for Susan's bachelorette party.  For those of you who don't know, Susan is one of my best friends from Madison, and she is getting married in TWO months (and one day)!  I am so excited for her and Andrew! Her bachelorette weekend will be spent in Memphis, which means a road trip for me.  (The real disaster, however, is that I will miss the LSU-Bama game...)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Attack of the Zombies

I spend an hour every day out on the playground - two 30-minute sessions.  Our principal encourages us to interact with our students while we're out there, which I love.  I play a lot of tag/chase, which can be fairly humorous with 4-year-olds.  At any point in time I could have 5 kids tagging me telling me that I'm "it".  I crawl through tunnels, climb up walls, and fly down slides.  A lot of the boys enjoy being some kind of character - bad guys, good guys, animals - and chasing each other.  So, I decided to join in the fun.

When asking the boys what they were, here were their responses:
a Pokemon
a wild cat
a ninja
a pirate
a werewolf

What could I be that would be interesting and exciting to 4-year-old boys?  A zombie.  Yep, I became a zombie.  I started walking funny and chanting "I will eat your brain".  I followed them around the playground; when I caught them, I "ate" their brain.  One of the boys caught on to what I was doing and decided he wanted to be a zombie too.  However, when I tried to eat his brain I found out that zombies don't eat each other's brains (obviously).  In five minutes, every child involved in the game became zombies and were walking around the playground as such saying "I will eat your brain".

And that's how I converted my PreK-ers into a hoard of zombies.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Exciting New Additions

Last weekend Davis and I went to WalMart to get a harmonica (Davis wants to learn how to play).  He made the mistake of turning down the animal aisle, where I got sucked in by the fish tanks.  At first I was just thinking about getting a friend for Boris, but Davis really wanted to get an Oscar. 15 minutes later we were at Petsmart.  We bought a 20 gallon tank and got it set up before we went back to get our fish.  Davis got a tiger oscar and I got an albino tiger oscar.  Here are some pictures of them and their new home.

Davis's tiger oscar...named Oscar.  Oscar is a fatty and eats all the food before my fish can.  He's also a bit of a bully.


This is my albino oscar, named Einstein.  Einstein is a bit of a moron, thus his name.  Whenever he tries to eat, he usually misses the pellet once or twice before Oscar swoops in and eats it.


Their tank now has two bowls and two bouncy balls on strings.  Einstein likes to stay hidden under the bowl, as you can tell.


Sometimes they chase each other, and sometimes they hang out in a bowl together....



And that's how Davis and I became parents to two new scaly fish.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dear Atlanta Drivers:

Dear Atlanta Drivers,

Here are a few little guidelines for driving, from me to you.

1) There are these things that are built into every car that help others know where you're going.  They're called turn signals.  You can use these for either turning or merging lanes.  If you do, then the people around you won't risk running into you.

2) It's okay to give a little personal space to the car in front of you. That means more than 2 inches.  I should be able to see most of your front bumper.

3) If you don't like the fact that I'm driving a smidge slower than the rest of traffic (for the safety of my vehicle and myself), please choose another lane.  You have SIX others to choose from.  While moving to another lane, please refrain from waving wildly and shouting what I'm sure are obscene phrases through your closed window at me.  And don't forget your turn signal.

Sincerely,
Robyn

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall Break

After two 4-day weeks, I had a week off for fall break.  It seems crazy to have a break so soon, but I have to remember that every other school in the district has been in session since early August - a whole four weeks more than Pre-K.  Although I have spent most of the week being sick and lazy on the couch, I did accomplish something this week...I converted a dress into a skirt!

This is a dress that my dear roommate, Elizabeth, passed on to me (like she did with a lot of the clothing she no longer wanted).  The dress was really comfortable, but it just did not fit well on top.  I had to wear a cami or other shirt under it, which just ruined the comfort level.  Thus, I never wore the dress.

This is what I started with:

I tried on the dress and decided that I needed to cut along the bottom edge of the elastic waist.  After cutting, this is what I was working with:


I got rid of the top portion and added a waistband to the skirt portion.  I had some leftover elastic, so I didn't have to spend a penny!  I folded over the top to form a waistband and sewed around the band.  I forgot to leave a hole to thread the elastic through, but that was easily remedied by pulling out a few stitches.  I slid the elastic all the way around, stitched it together, and repaired the hole.  

Here is the finished product:

I attempted to do a similar thing to yet another dress (again, courtesy of Elizabeth), but have run into a few snags.  I may have to invest in something to repair the hem since I pulled the ruffles off....

That's all for now!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Remembering 9/11: Ten Years Later


10 years ago I had no idea what the World Trade Centers were.  This is my attempt to journal my experiences from September 11, 2001 – something I never did ten years ago.  I am doing this because I don’t want to forget.  Not that I would ever be able to forget an event like that.  This post is fairly emotionless, mostly due to the fact that I (a) didn’t really know what was going on while it was happening and (b) I didn’t yet understand the magnitude of the events on that day.

The planes hit the towers at 7:46 and 8:03 CST.  I would have just started class during my seventh grade year; the first class of the day was World History with Coach Topik.  I can remember sitting in the library with the rest of my classmates doing research for whatever happened to be the project of the week.  The librarian and Coach Topik were in the large storage room that held the TVs teachers could use.  As we wondered what they were doing over there, one classmate informed us that the president (George W. Bush) was making a speech.  My thought?  Big deal.  He’s just the president talking about something boring. 

I didn’t thinking anything else about it until I made it to my 3rd period class – creative writing with Mrs. Tigrett.  Word had begun to spread about the attacks, and a friend of mine said that planes had crashed into the World Trade Centers in New York.  “That’s sad,” was my thought.  Once again, it got pushed almost to the back of my mind as I turned my focus to school (big surprise there). 

However, by the time I made it to 5th period, the student body was buzzing about what was going on in New York.  I found out that there was another plane that air control couldn’t locate on radar and that it was supposedly connected to the events of the morning.  At this point, I was hungry for information about what was happening – obviously it was something big and important.  Word was that teachers had been informed that they should not tell us what was going on, though some apparently did pass on information.  Classes continued for the rest of the day with no new information seeping through the cracks.

I was going to stay after school to audition for a play.  When I got to auditions, I chickened out and chose to sit in the bleachers and work on homework instead.  After school, Mom picked me up.  I don’t remember what happened at this point – it’s possible that we talked about school or the events in New York, but I’m just not sure.  I do know that when I got home, I glued myself to the TV until dinner and the radio after that.  My classroom gossip was confirmed – the World Trade Centers had been hit by terrorists, the Pentagon had been hit, and a plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

As the years have gone by, my love of this country has grown.  I am so proud of all the men and women who have, do, and will fight to protect this country.  And I am proud to be an American.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Days in Pre-K

Well, the first week of school was last week, which explains my mysterious disappearance.  I would have updated this weekend, but, let's face it, I was too lazy. Now I'm waiting for my hard-working husband to get home (at 9:30!), and I'm struggling to stay awake, which is the perfect excuse to blog.  "To blog".... that makes this sound so official.  Maybe they should call it "to ramble", which is what I tend to do.

Anyway, here's the low-down on last week:

Monday:
Kelsey and I finished up the classroom and stuffed communication folders with paperwork in preparation for the Meet & Greet.  We met most of our students - probably about 18 of the 22 - and their parents.  This marks the first time that I've felt like a legit teacher.  The parents were asking me questions; the crazy part is that I actually knew the answers!

Tuesday:
First day of school.  Kelsey and I decided that we wouldn't give the students assigned seats so we could figure out who shouldn't sit by whom.  Big mistake.  By the time we realized our mistake, we didn't have a chance to fix it that day.  Then, after we came back from the playground, we had one student who decided he no longer wanted to be in our class.  He proceeded to jump off the carpet and run out the door - straight into the parking lot (we're in a portable "cottage").  Luckily Kelsey caught him ..... and took him straight to the principal.  For the next 30-45 minutes, the principal sat with him in our classroom.  We struggled through the rest of the day.  That afternoon we met with our principal and instructional coach, and they gave us tips and feedback.  We stayed until 7:30 rescheduling and planning for Wednesday.

Wednesday:
So. Hard. To. Wake up.  Wednesday went SOOOOOO much better.  Zeke scolded us for staying so late.  Our runner stayed in the classroom the whole time he was supposed to.  We only stayed until 4:45.  Such an improvement from Tuesday.

Thursday:
The days just keep getting better.  The hardest part was nap time (which we continue to struggle with).  Our students are understanding our routines, walking in a semi-straight line, and staying fairly quiet in the hallways.  At 5:15, we packed our bags and headed home.

Friday:
I made it to school in 52 minutes - a record!  Best day so far.  Routines are running smooth.  I'm loving teaching and I'm actually pretty good at it.  Who'd have thought?  4:30 rolls around, and we're ready to head home for a nice, long weekend.

This week promises to show improvement every day.

P.S. If anyone has tips for getting 4 year olds to nap - especially those who don't nap at home - I would be more than grateful!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Labels and Lesson Plans

As I have checked my friends' blogs over the past couple days, I have noticed a trend.  I'm calling it the "No, I haven't abandoned my blog" trend.  And I am following in their footsteps.

This past week, I spent a good portion of my time at school working in my classroom.  We finished labeling and organizing the 6+ centers, sorting through the math cabinet (finally!), cleaning, and beginning lesson plans.  We checked out how lunch and dismissal work - though it will change slightly once school begins.  Right now, College Heights is hosting "summer camp".  Basically, the Pre-K program was cut from 180 days to 160 days (thus why I'm starting next week), so CH offered summer camp for the four weeks that other elementary schools in the area were in session.

Monday is the Meet & Greet, and I'm hoping that a lot of our students and parents are able to make it.  I've met one little girl already, and can't wait to meet the others!  School starts Tuesday.  On the agenda for the first week is teaching them how to....line up, go through the lunch line, handle materials - crayons, blocks, books - wash hands, use the bathroom, eat snack, play on the playground......  And the list goes on! We'll be doing some "academic" instruction and lots of stories.  However, we don't even know our math curriculum yet - the training isn't until September 6.

I had a bit of a personal crisis earlier this week as I realized - I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing!  I'm a paraprofessional, which is essentially a teaching assistant.  But do I write lesson plans?  I have written a couple for the first day (which I am a bit rusty on after 4 months on vacation).  I find that I have formed some very specific ideas about how "my" classroom should look and operate...then I remember that I have to defer to Kelsey.  It is ultimately her decision.  It's her classroom.  For four years, and especially the last 2, I have been planning on having my own classroom.  Where I am the lead teacher.  I am envious of my friends who have their own classes.

But I don't want to leave the school district I'm in.  It's such an inspiring group of teachers, staff, and administrators.  I'm hoping to ride out the next year and learn as much as I can (especially about all the paperwork!).  I'm lucky that Kelsey - the lead teacher - wants us to have more of a partnership.  She just graduated as well, so we're learning about all of this together.  In the meantime, I'm going to continue checking the jobs posted site for Decatur and hoping that a lead teaching position will open at one of the local elementary schools.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mac vs. Mac

If you were to ask me, I would tell you that I love my MacBook computer.  I've only had 2 problems with it in the 4 years I've owned it.  (1) Cracked plastic around the screen and keypad and (2) Crashed hard drive.  Granted, a crashed hard drive was frustrating, especially since I lost several papers I had worked ahead on.  But, because it was a faulty hard drive in the first place, Apple replaced it for free - a HUGE bonus to a broke college student! As far as the cracked plastic, I've had it replaced twice now - also for free because it is a "known problem".  Great!  Apple's on a roll here.  They've created a quality product and the service is incredible.

I've always known that Macs and PCs don't talk well, but most of that has been taken care of or made easier over the past few years.  Also, the school district I'm in now is all Mac-based, so I feel like I'm ahead of the curve.

If you were to look at my computer now, you would never be able to tell that it was four years old.  Sure, the design is slightly different and I still have an actual apple on the command key, but it still looks pretty good.  I didn't even realize my computer was getting "old" until I went to have the cracked plastic repaired a couple months ago.  The "genius" from Apple took one look at my computer and said, "Whoa...you've had this a while."  I was thinking to myself "A while?  I've only had it four years...".  I didn't think much about his comment after that until today.

I wanted to video chat with Amanda - my sister - and see what her dorm room looked like and how college was going for her so far.  First we tried Skype, but I couldn't hear her.  She couldn't set up iChat and doesn't have Gmail (shocker, I know!).  I tried to download Facetime...only to find out that I had to have the Mac App Store to do so.  But I can't get the app store because the software on my computer is too old.  To upgrade the software would cost me $29.99.  So, Amanda recommended Oovoo.  I ran into the same problem there - I needed to have Mac OS X 10.6 or newer.  I have Mac OS X 10.5.8.  Really? 5 different video chatting methods, and not a single one was working for us.  I am quickly realizing that my 4 year old computer just isn't up to speed with the brand new technologies that are emerging daily.  The problem is...my MacBook is such a quality product that I don't want to even consider having to replace it anytime in the near future.  I guess I may just have to splurge for the software update.  But that will have to wait for another day and a paycheck...

Friday, August 12, 2011

To move or not to move...that is the question

When I tell people that I'm working an hour away from where I'm living (which you've probably heard me bemoan several times already), they always ask why we don't move.  That's a good question...why don't we move?  My response has been that we can't break our lease, which isn't up until next June.  In March, when we signed all the papers, we chose the beginning of June because the school year would be over and I could facilitate moving at that point.

Well, Sunday, after returning from graduation, I pulled out our pages upon pages of paperwork to check about ending our lease early.  I found the section that detailed the fees and penalties associated with early termination, and they included giving 60 days notice, paying an extra month's rent, and paying "market value" for the months we have already lived here.  We signed the lease when there was a special for $125 off monthly rent.  Once we calculated the fees, they amount to nearly $2000.  Then we had to take into account moving costs.  To make a move worth it, we would have to lower what we pay each month in rent despite the fact that we'll save money on gas.

To my surprise, we found several properties online in Duluth - where Davis works - that fit our parameters.  I spent Monday and Tuesday visiting different complexes, looking at apartments, and gathering more information.  I also used crimemapping.com (a nifty tool if the local police departments participate) and apartmentratings.com  to find even more information.  (One of the complexes we looked at only had a 7% recommendation rate!)  And I came to a conclusion.  I don't want to move.  I LOVE the complex we're in now.  For the space, price, quality, and safety of the apartment, it just can't be beat.  If we were to move, we would be compromising on safety and quality.  I told Davis all of this, and he agreed.

So, this is the saga of how we decided NOT to move.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Graduation Thoughts

Tomorrow marks a day that will be bitter-sweet.  Graduation.  It is the official ending of my 4 years at The University of Alabama.  It is the closure that I didn't have in May.  And as much as I yearned for that closure just 3 months ago, I am almost sorry to see it come now.  I am glad that UA postponed graduation.  It is supposed to be a happy time, and in May - even now - we're all still dealing with a tragedy.

Throughout May and much of June, I felt like I was blowing in the breeze.  I felt as though, come August, I would be returning to UA, just I had the previous 4 summers.  I even had dreams that involved me being late for classes and stumbling my way through student teaching - typical "back-to-school" dreams.  By mid-July, training for my new, grown-up job began, and it was then that I felt a real change.  I realized that I am no longer just a student, but a teacher.  I have a classroom and a roster.  I get to help my lead teacher plan and execute lessons - though it seems as though I will be doing a bit less as far as lesson planning than I did as a student teacher.

In just three hours, I will be on my way to Tuscaloosa.  But this time it is to say goodbye.  I know - it's never truly a goodbye.  I will always have the memories, friends, and Roll Tide spirit (even though I'm in the heart of Georgia territory).  But I am still sad to see this chapter come to an end, even though I have already begun another.  It's like when you finish a really great book.  I always want more from the author - maybe another character's point of view or a second book in a series.

My hope today is that I don't lose touch with the friends I made.  That those who attend graduation tomorrow will celebrate not only their time at UA, but also the time of those who can't attend and the lives of those who died in the tornado.  That the spirit of Tuscaloosa shines proudly.

Roll Tide.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Muffins of Fire

What a week!

Tuesday, the City Schools of Decatur had a welcome back ceremony.  It was closer to a pep rally than a formal ceremony.  All the schools in the district were dressed up with glow sticks, clackers, and pompoms, and there was lots of cheering.  In short...it was the BEST back-to-school welcoming ceremony I've ever been to (nevermind that it was the only one I've been to...).  After the ceremony, Kelsey (the lead teacher in the classroom I'm working in) and I went back to CHECLC to see what we had in our classroom.  We worked on arranging it for a couple hours then decided we needed to sleep on it some now that we knew what furniture we had to work with.

Wednesday through Friday was spent working in the classroom.  Arranging furniture and centers. Taking inventory of books, the art cabinet, and the literacy/science cabinet.  Re-labeling baskets of science stuff.  Rearranging blocks. Playing dress-up.

Friday morning, the school was closed to all the children (the birth-3 years program is year-round), and we had a full staff breakfast.  After breakfast, Zeke decided that we all needed to have a "group experience".  So, he taught us how to "Wobble".  In case you're wondering what that is, here's a link...
Official video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fE_64SdD27w&ob=av3e
How to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msxoXsnPljo
And, no, I cannot move my hips like that, so I looked ridiculous attempting to do this dance.

Today, Sunday, I decided to cook some muffins for breakfast while Davis got ready for work.  As I was pulling the tray out of the oven, I burned my fingers and dropped the tray.  Into the bottom of the oven.  Which was still on.  Two muffins hit the coils and went up in flames; so I slammed the oven shut and grabbed for the fire extinguisher under the sink.  Davis checked the oven again and, luckily, one muffin was no longer on fire.  Davis managed to blow out the other one.  We scraped enough unburned bits of muffin out of the bottom of the oven to have a semi-decent breakfast.  Now, I need to work on cleaning the rest of the oven, so it's Ciao for now.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How the Cupid Shuffle saved my life and other random notions

This week has given me my first real taste of what my job is going to be like when it begins in August.  We had curriculum training for all the new lead teachers and paraprofessionals, led by Zeke, our instructional coach.  And I have to say, the training was AWESOME!  It wasn't just sitting around learning about the curriculum.  We played Jeopardy, musical chairs, learned a line dance, did the Cupid Shuffle, and participated in the Amazing Race.  College Heights ECLC had a huge turnover in teachers this year for some reason, so about half of the teachers/paras are new.  It's a really great group of diverse people.  The school itself is like one big family.

It was interesting for me to see the Pre-K educational focus, especially as it relates to an elementary school. Most of the focus was on reading stories, comprehension, and enriching vocabulary.  We reviewed phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, phonics, onset rime, .... I actually understand it now!  Apparently, by the time children make it to kindergarten, they should already have a good understanding of letters, sounds, rhymes, and onset rime.  Talk about eye-opening.

I used this week to gauge how long my commute would be.  Today it only took me about 55 minutes.  Yesterday took me 1 hour, 20 minutes.  It's amazing how leaving 5 minutes earlier or later can change the drive time.  I think I've figured out that I'll have to leave at 6 - 6:15 to ensure I make it by 7:15.  Yikes!  It's the afternoons that are the worst; my car is usually warm, which makes me sleepy.  Yesterday I was really struggling to stay awake on the drive home, and the Cupid Shuffle came up on my CD.  So, I promptly started dancing....well, the best I could considering I was driving.  The person next to me on the exit looked at me like I was crazy.  But, dancing did the job!  I made it home without any accidents.  And that's how the Cupid Shuffle saved my life.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Picture Post

Time for some pictures!

As requested by Susan, here are the dresses that I have been working on.  So far, three complete dresses with 10+ patterns that are cut and ready to be sewn.


One of my favorite things to do now that I have my own kitchen (and now that Mom can't stop me from experimenting!) is try my hand at cooking.  So far, I've made some pretty good food, if I do say so myself.  My favorite was the ham, cheese, and spinach quiche.  Below is a picture of banana bread - I'm proud to say that I used my Mom's recipe, and it turned out pretty well!


This is where I will be working in August!  College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center
I've already met some of the staff, and they seem really great!  A nice big family :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Confusing grown-up stuff

Yesterday, I took the hour long journey to the location of my new job.  Yes, you read correctly.  I will be driving an hour (more when you account for traffic) to get to College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center.  I picked up all my paperwork from Human Resources and had my photo snapped for my new I.D. badge.  Then I headed over to the school where I met the instructional coach and the principal.  Zeke, the instructional coach gave me a tour of the school.  I found out that I will be working with a new teacher, so we'll be figuring all this out together, which is exciting.  Also, I got an early preview of the classroom I'll be working in - it's 1 of 4 portables in what have come to be known as the "learning cottages".  How cute!

After a few more wrong turns, I made the trek home again where I began to fill out all the paperwork.  As I tried to fill out tax forms and medical insurance, I realized that it was quite confusing. So I ran to my Dad for help.  The next hour's phone conversation included a string of words and acronyms such as... HRA. HDHP. HMO. G-4. W-4. Out of pocket. In network. Out of network. Deductible. Dependents. Allowances. Marital status.  Woah!  I was somewhat more enlightened post-conversation but still have a long way to go.  I filled out the forms to the best of my ability and will leave the rest to human resources.

Oh, and there's still all the retirement brochures and paperwork that I haven't even looked at yet.

So, my conclusion at the end of the day was this:
1. Growing up is easy.  It's the "grown-up stuff" that is confusing.
2. I can't wait to start my job.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sewing!

Last summer my parents got me a sewing machine for my birthday.  My first project was an apron - something simple for me to get accustomed to using the machine.  My second project was one that my mom probably thought I was crazy for undertaking.  Instead of going for a simple skirt or pillow cover, I went for a dress that included a zipper, collar, and sash.  It turned out spectacularly, if I do say so myself.

Towards the end of the summer, my mother-in-law showed me patterns for dresses that their family would send to Nicaragua on their mission trip.  I volunteered to make the dresses under the delusion that I would have time to sew once I made it back to school, and Mrs. Linda bought the fabric for me.  I pulled out the sewing machine once last fall and sewed exactly one dress. The machine got put away for several months, being shifted from dorm to home to apartment.

The other day, as I was documenting our "valuables" for insurance purposes, I saw my sewing machine sitting wedged in the corner with all my other sewing stuff.  Then it hit me - I had promised to sew all these dresses and had failed to follow through on that promise.  So, my mission for the rest of the summer is to sew these dresses.  I should clarify that these dresses are for little girls, and they are a fairly simple pattern.  I have completed 3 with many more to go, so wish me luck!