Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Vote

Despite having cancelled cable a couple months ago, I have been able to watch the two Presidential debates and the Vice Presidential debate online and on the Xbox. (Hey - I even got Davis to give his full attention to last night's debate. I have hope for him yet!) Here are my brief thoughts on the debates before I get into the issues I'm voting based on.

1) As humorous as it was to watched Mitt Romney dominate the first debate, I thought it was an embarrassing display on the part of our current President, especially given the fact that he said debate prep was "a drag". I almost felt bad for Barack, but it finally gave Americans some insight into the attitude and abilities of our current President. I'm glad Mitt Romney was forceful in pointing out when Obama was misconstruing Romney's plans and beliefs.

2) The Vice Presidential debate was a bit more of a debate, which I appreciated. I thought Paul Ryan was incredibly well spoken, particularly when compared to Biden's childish snorts, eye-rolling, and disrespectful attitude. That kind of behavior is something I expect from my 3 year old students (and even then they're given a choice to either be respectful or be removed from the group until they can control themselves). However, there was an awful lot of he-said, she-said going on, which I suppose is what happens when Vice Presidential debates have no real bearing on the election itself.

3) Last night the President showed up, and it was actually somewhat of a...well, a debate. However, we witnessed an incredible disregard for the moderating rules when Candy Crowley took Obama's side over the phrase "acts of terror".  She has since admitted that she shouldn't have taken sides and that Romney was actually correct. Are you kidding me?! She is supposed to be an unbiased moderator, and it's a shame that she couldn't follow the rules.

When I vote, I will be voting for the man who I believe has America's best interests at heart.
I'm voting for the man who embraces the Constitution instead of looking for loopholes around it.
I'm voting for the man who believes government has no right interfering with matters of religion, especially where contraception and abortion are concerned.
I'm voting for a man who will not make apologies to our enemies.
I'm voting for a man who has legitimate experience running a state, an organization, a business.
I'm voting for a man whose campaign budget is actually balanced.
I'm voting for a man who wants to bring stability to Social Security for the younger generations without endangering it for those who are currently near retirement.
I'm voting for a man who believes in the 10th Amendment, which states: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
I'm voting for a man who won't give details on his plan because he actually wants to sit down with Democrats and Republicans alike to formulate a plan together- no man is an island!
I'm voting for a man who knows that The United States of America should not be borrowing money from China to fund PBS (a group who has said that if the small amount of federal funding is pulled, Sesame Street won't be going anywhere because they rely heavily on other contributions).
I'm voting for a man who wants Americans to get off food stamps and into jobs that will provide for their families.
I'm voting for a man who understands that small businesses create jobs - not the government.
I'm voting for a man who, when he was Governor of Massachusettes, spent time working the jobs of other people including a garbage man, asphalt paver, emergency room volunteer, food server in a nursing home, and a child care assistant. I'm voting for him because he understands how hard I and all my colleagues work when he says, "I'm often asked which was the hardest job - it's child care, by a mile."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How Grad School is Like Preschool

Yesterday, as I was driving home from the second meeting of one of my graduate classes, I was thinking about how grad school can be a lot like preschool, especially on the first day.  Here are some examples:

1: The "Here's what you need to know" packet
  • Preschool = Welcome packet that includes everything parents need to know for the time being 
  • Grad school = Syllabus, schedule, due dates, and assignments
2: Seating assignments
  • Preschool =Assigned seats on the carpet (using previous teachers' opinions about who to separate)
  • Grad school = Assigned seating groups for the semester
3: Set the tone
  • Preschool = Here are our rules, routines, and expectations for the class
  • Grad school = Here's how the class operates, so follow that code of conduct
4:  Discovery as opposed to "preaching"
  • Preschool = Set up activities so that the students discover different concepts on their own
  • Grad school = Provide hands-on activities so that the teachers can learn the same way their students do
That being said, I am really enjoying the one graduate class I have been to (I'll go to the other one on Thursday for the first time). It's nice being on the Griffin campus, because it's small and intimate. Student Affairs met me and one other student at my class an hour early to take our photo, order our Campus I.D.s, and do a quick orientation for us since we're both new. How wonderful is that? As much as I love The University of Alabama, I can't say that they would have gone out of their way to set up a special orientation time for just two new students.

As always, Roll Tide!
And now, Go Dogs! (Go Dawgs?) Hrm, have to check on that one...

Friday, August 17, 2012

3 Weeks with 3 Year Olds (Almost)


We are 2.5 weeks into school, and it has gone incredibly well! I am super pleased with my students, and I have great parents!

Here are some of the awesome things my 3 year olds can do already (most of the time):
Open their own milk carton
Walk in a quiet line
Remember to wash their hands before using the sensory table
Line up to go inside when they hear the bell
Clean up after centers

Okay, so these are things you would expect students to be able to do, but keep in mind that they’re 3, and we’re less than 3 weeks into school.

Zeke (instructional coach) has already observed me teaching 3 times, and that has gone very well. I've done something to impress him, so the goal is to continue doing so. It's reassuring to me that even after a year as a Para, I can still create lessons and teach :)

Last night was curriculum night, and I had 4 parents come (representing 3 different students). We got started just after 6:30 and didn’t leave until 7:50. The school was dark, and everything was shut down by then. I’m pretty sure we were the last cars in the parking lot. However, I actually enjoyed having that time to talk with these parents (being the nerd that I am). What really blew me away is that they asked me what I needed from them. How amazing is that?! One of the Dads is a tech person for another school that has just switched from PC to Macs, so he’s got a lot of supplies he’s looking to donate. We’re getting 5 netbooks with mice, and couple digital cameras, and maybe more. I’m SOO excited to be getting some technology in the classroom. So many blessings in the past 3 weeks!

Well, I'm going to lay on the couch and do nothing in an attempt to cure this gunky cold the children gave me over a week ago (hello back-to-school germs!). In my next post, I'm hoping to have some pictures of my classroom! 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympics Opening Ceremony

I have to say that the Olympics Opening Ceremony was fairly dreadful and underwhelming. Granted, I missed the first 45 minutes, but unless something spectacular happened, I don't feel like I lost any of the ... whatever it is they were going for. I did watch the next hour or so, but was so bored that I decided to record the rest and go to bed. This morning I watched the rest while working on purchase orders for my classroom.

Here are my thoughts on the following topics:

The Queen
Bored much? While the James Bond scene was creative, Her Majesty looked like she was bored half to death. I don't think I saw her smile at all; where's all that spunk that the NBC commentators said she had? And then there was the frowny, bland, single sentence statement declaring the Olympics open. Yawn.

The NBC Commentators
Unimpressive. And apparently, they skipped tributes to the Israeli victims and the 7/7 victims to show a dull interview with Michael Phelps. Hopefully NBC won't botch the rest of the Olympic coverage.

The American Uniforms
What are we, French? Berets. Scarves that look like the French flag. Is this the best the U.S. could come up with?

The Lighting of the Torch
By far the best part of the Opening Ceremony. I loved the "passing it on to the next generation" and the way they passed the torch among themselves. And, while I was clueless as to what the big horn-looking things being carried in were, the copper "leaves" being raised into the cauldron was pretty spectacular. It's rather unfortunate that that was followed a poor rendition of "Hey Jude".

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Classroom

Today was the first day I was able to get into my new classroom. I hadn't planned on starting until tomorrow (when pre-planning starts for the rest of the teachers), but I found out yesterday afternoon that there was a new preschool teacher planning session from 8-12 today. Since I was already there, I decided to spend the next few hours working on unpacking my room. My principal mentioned that there were a lot of boxes to unpack; little did I know what I was walking into...

There's another new preschool teacher who can't get into his room until Monday (they're still using his classroom because preschool goes through the summer). Suzanne suggested that he could come help me unpack boxes, and I gladly accepted his help. When I walked into the classroom, I realized that the boxes were all from Kaplan, Montessori tools, and other educational stores. Everything in my classroom is BRAND NEW (except the computer). Tables, chairs, puzzles, blocks, dramatic play uniforms, everything! It's like Christmas and my birthday rolled into one. Oh, and most of the furniture was pre-assembled - can't beat that!

Going through the boxes has been interesting, to say the least. I have more plastic play food than I know what to do with, 1 full set of sheets and 1 half set, and at least 40 different types of paint brushes. Ironically, the three things I haven't found anywhere so far are markers, crayons, and books. I have no storybooks at all for a classroom library; all I have are the books that we use in our language/literacy curriculum. I'm hoping to order some, but if anyone has any ideas where I can get preschool level books for cheap and/or free, please let me know!

I'll post some pictures once I've got my classroom set up.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Before and After

When we first signed our lease and moved into our new place, I was a bit worried at all the work that would have to go into making it feel like home. Sure, in our last place I didn't worry as much because I knew we would only be there a year. However, it is my hope to stay here for a few years (hopefully until we have enough saved for a decent down payment on a house).

As I'm sitting here watching Sister Act, I figure this is a great time to do a Before and After post.

Kitchen
Before

The kitchen was pretty disgusting - very dirty, with caked on dirt and grease. So, after a couple hours of attempting to clean, I decided to try something that I had seen on design shows and magazines. I also wanted to add some color (the entire house was white and off-white, and if you know me, you know I don't do bland). So, I removed the doors from the cabinets, painted the insides white and the outsides "Guacamole" (just for you, Dad!). I then put the doors back over the stove (to hide all my plastic containers); bought baskets to hold my spices, baking supplies, and pantry goods; and purchased fabric and curtain rods to make curtains to cover the bottom cabinets instead of putting the doors back on. The kitchen is probably the room I'm most proud of because it has made a 180 degree turn from where it started.

After


Dining Room
Before

The dining room was our "I-don't-really-know-what-to-do-with-this-stuff" area. Once I was able to find a home for all of the random things, I put our china in the hutch that matches our dining room table. I also painted the long, back wall of the dining room/living room blue. The hutch also makes a great place to display some of our wedding photos.

After



Living Room
Before

The living room started off just as bland as the rest of the house.  However, it wasn't anything that a coat of paint, new curtains, and our furniture couldn't take care of! As a birthday gift, Davis bought me frames for my black and white photos that I took in Sicily, and they are now hanging on the wall above the couch.
 After

Bedroom/Bathroom
Before

 

I already had a pretty good idea what I wanted to do with our bedroom since it was the one room I had worked on in our old apartment. My mother-in-law bought me matching lamps for my birthday. We bought a dresser off Craigslist for $50, and I refinished it for Davis; it's very similar to the other dresser we already have. Black-out and gauzy curtains were hung, and a nice coat of green paint on the wall behind the bed gave me the pop of color I was looking for.

In the bathroom, (after bleaching everything) I de-glossed and re-stained the cabinets and fixtures to bring some life back into them. A bright shower curtain, corner shower caddy, and some bathmats finished off our bathroom.

After




My Library
Now on to my favorite room in the house... It started off as the second closet in our guest bedroom. I took down one shelf to stand up my taller bookcase. My shorter bookcase went on the adjacent wall, and my sewing box fits nicely in the corner. Oh, and my shoes are hanging on the back of the door instead of in our bedroom closet.


Guest Bedroom
There's not a whole lot in this room at the moment - I'm not really sure what I want to do with it in terms of decorating. Right now there's a bed frame and a couch that I want to recover at some point. 



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Two Southern Folks Go North of the Mason-Dixon: Part Three

This is the third and final post about our trip to New York (and back); check out the previous two posts for the first part of our trip.

After spending the night in beautiful Pennsylvania, we headed south again.  All along the road home, we had gorgeous views of the Appalachian Mountains.  It made the drive SO much better to have such wonderful sights surrounding us.

It took us a whopping 11 minutes to drive through Maryland (where you can't talk on the phone and drive); Approximately 20 minutes later, we'd passed through West Virginia as well.  In Virginia, we decided to try checking out the caverns that were advertised along the interstate.  When we realized they wanted $24 to "walk in a hole in the ground" (as Davis said), we quickly headed on our way.  We have been informed that we are cheapskates, but I reassure myself that while we can be a bit frugal, we also hadn't planned on spending much money anytime soon, especially considering that we've been working on giving our new place a face-lift.

This creepy statue welcomed us to Shenandoah Caverns

Saturday afternoon we rolled into Tennessee - the 10th state on our 4-day adventure! We had planned to drive the Tail of the Dragon on Sunday and then head home.  The Tail of the Dragon has an 11 mile stretch of road with 316 curves.  Driving this road is something Davis has wanted to do for a long time, so we couldn't pass up the opportunity.  Check out the video below to see part of the drive.  It shows the beautiful scenery as well as all the curves. This one is about 8 minutes long (less than 1/3 of the trip). While it looks like we're going pretty slow, the speed limit of 30mph was plenty fast enough for this road.  It actually made me a bit motion sick to film and watch the road at the same time, so we had to pull over for a few minutes after this particular video.

video




Monday, June 25, 2012

Two Southern Folks Go North of the Mason-Dixon: Part Two

To read about the first part of our trip, please see the previous post!

After a disastrous morning in the Hamptons, we headed to Coney Island; After all, we figured it was an iconic New York activity, so we should experience it.  And experience it we did...

We paid $10 for parking - the incredibly nice toll attendant trusted us to park, get cash from an ATM, and then come back and pay her. She was one of the nicest people we met in New York! After paying for parking, we headed up to the Boardwalk and down to the Atlantic Ocean. It was shady. The sketchy kind of shady, but no one else seemed to realize it.  There were people all over in the sand and the water (which was an icky brown, at best). As we were debating whether to stick our feet in, our attention was caught by the dirty diaper laying right at the edge of the water; we decided that we'd rather not catch some terrible disease and hurried back to the Boardwalk.  We each had a slice of pizza as we watched a storm roll in. 

The storm rolling in over Coney Island

While debating whether or not we should try riding one of the cheesy, fair-like rides at the Coney Island amusement park, thunder and lightning started popping up. At that point Davis said, "I don't want to ride anything. I was already anxious about a roller coaster, but the lightning makes it a no-go." We opted for over-priced ice cream, and then we started our walk back to the car.  At this point, everyone else was headed for cover (accompanied with shrieks and running).  Davis and I ignored it all and continued strolling back to the car. Huge raindrops started plopping down (and had the gall to splash in my ice cream cone!) By the time we made it to the parking lot, the sky let loose; once we were halfway across the lot, we were completely soaked, and the lightning was striking quite close.  I'm sure the sight of us sprinting to the truck (me covered in mint-green ice cream literally from head to toe) was amusing.  Thankfully, I thought ahead and brought an extra change of clothes, which I quickly changed into once we made it to the car. I did not relish the thought of driving 4+ hours in wet clothing.

As we sat in traffic for an hour trying to get across the Verrazano Bridge, I prayed that we would make it out of New York alive and without any damage to the truck. I should mention that when we came across the Verrazano Bridge into New York on Thursday, then wanted $12 for the toll. $12!?!?! Needless to say, we did not have that much in cash because we had banked on spending about $4 for the toll.  The booth operator told us to "Just mail it." Hah. Yeah right. But here's the kicker....To get back across the Verrazano Bridge and out of New York, then wanted $13!!! 

Oh, and I loved all the signs that we saw right around the Bridge area.
"Air Action Day is Thursday and Friday: Use Mass Transit!"
"Fireworks are ILLEGAL! To report illegal fireworks, call 311."
"Use of Cameras Prohibited: Strictly Enforced" (Notice how I blatantly disregarded that message. Come on, they asked for it!)

We finished Friday by having dinner with Jenny Z (one of my incredible Sicilian roommates!) near Harrisburg, PA.  And I have to say that it was lovely catching up with her and doing some reminiscing about our adventures around Sicily. (I'm still hoping that all the Sicilian roommates will be able to get together at some point in the next year or two!)

For the rest of our trip home, see the next post!

Two Southern Folks Go North of the Mason-Dixon

Last Tuesday Davis got a call from his boss - boss (the one out in California) about two recirculation units that had been ordered a few weeks ago; the lady who purchased them needed them "yesterday". (Here are the Recirculation Units in case you've got a couple thousand dollars just laying around...) Wednesday morning, Davis called me (woke me up) and asked me if I wanted to go to New York. Groggily I mumbled something about What? When? Why? Are we flying? He said that we'd be leaving the next morning (Thursday) and delivering the units Friday morning in Southampton. "Sure, why not!" was my answer (Ahh...the benefits of teaching and having the summers off!). Davis told me to go back to sleep and that he'd let me know when he was positive that he would be making the trip. Yeah right. Like I was going back to sleep after THAT news.

Around 4:00 that afternoon, I was in the middle of sitting at Meineke waiting for Davis's oil to be changed in his truck when he called to let me know that we were going to New York.  It turns out that Ms. Goldstein (the woman who purchased the units) was more willing to pay $1500 to have Davis deliver them to her horticulturist than $3000 to ship them overnight. By the way, I should mention that she wanted these units to have at the party where she was showing off her house. (In case you're counting, that's $3400 for the units, $1500 for delivery by Davis, and probably $300 more for the plants/horticulturist for a grand total around $5200.)

We left bright and early Thursday morning - on the road by 6:45am. We drove through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York before stopping for the night at 10:45pm; We still had another 45 minutes to drive on Friday morning into Southampton. Dinner consisted of some Lean Pockets from the hotel "market". (If you think Lean Pockets are pretty much like Hot Pockets, you'd be right except for the complete lack of taste in Lean Pockets.)  Before bed I did some research on seeing a Broadway play Friday afternoon on our way out of town. However, I quickly determined that nearly $200 for a Friday night show just wasn't in the time or money budget.  I told Davis that I'd settle for a Broadway show that comes to Atlanta.

Friday morning we were up bright and early again, and we reached the horticulturist's by 7:45am.  The drop-off went smoothly, and Steve (the horticulturist) recommended The Golden Pear on Southampton's Main Street for breakfast.  Davis and I both opted for the Cinnamon Infused Belgian Waffle.  We were sitting outside at a table waiting for breakfast (which took quite a long time considering we ordered 2 waffles) when the Manager walks out the door and directly over to us. The conversation went a bit like this:

Manager: Are you eating breakfast here?
Us: Yes, Sir.
Manager: Have you ordered?
Us: Yes, Sir.
Manager walks off.


In case you can't tell, that was the Manager hustling us for our seats because we didn't look like we belonged there. I considered telling him to please refund our $29 and we would be happy to find some other place to eat, but I held my tongue like a good Southern lady.  By the way, the waffle was the densest, blandest, most expensive waffle I've ever eaten; the fruit on top wasn't so great either. After many disdainful glances from the others at the cafe who could tell we didn't belong, we decided to drive around and see "The Estates" in Southampton. These "Estates" consisted of decent houses surrounded by hedges; So, basically, we saw a bunch of hedges. Pretty hedges, but only hedges nonetheless.  We finally give up on the Hamptons, and decide to head to Coney Island...the tale of while you will have to read my next post for!

Hedges in the Hamptons

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Kitchen Crackdown

I just turned on HGTV to keep me company while I write this, and the program that just came on is called "I Hate My Kitchen". That couldn't be a more appropriate description of my feelings toward the kitchen in our new apartment.

When Davis and I first looked at the apartment, we didn't see all the little things that were wrong with the place. We asked to have the major things such as the broken garage door fixed in our contingencies before we signed the lease. However, they didn't fix everything in our contingencies (like the cables coming through the windows instead of the walls), so they'll certainly get an earful from me about that on Tuesday.

We signed our lease Friday afternoon (also the last day of school for me - it was a terrible idea, never do it to yourself!). I knew that I wanted to clean everything before we moved in, so I began by vacuuming. It took me over an hour to vacuum the living room, two bedrooms, and the stairs. And I sucked up so much dirt there's no way it was professionally carpet cleaned by the previous tenants.

Saturday we went to the new place with the plan to clean baseboards, wipe down walls, and clean fixtures (thermostat, light switches). However, one small wipe with my washcloth pulled the paint right off the light switch plate and the baseboards. I stopped and called the realty company, and they tell me to stop and they will contact the painter. Oh, but the painter's out of town, so it will have to wait until Tuesday or later. Great. I get completely dis-railed and end up helping Davis with the fish tank before I start the next task of cleaning the kitchen.

I had already planned on pulling the cabinet doors off and having open-face cabinets on the top and curtained cabinets on the bottom. However, I underestimated the atrociousness of the paint job and the dirtiness of the previous tenants. The cabinets were coated in dirt, grease, and other icky things. I managed to get all the cabinet doors off - no easy task because the hinges and screws had been painted over so many times that they literally were painted on. I took all the screws out of 3 doors, and the doors just hung there. It took quite a bit of strength to yank them down. I then used Windex (the knock-off brand, of course) and tackled the remained cabinet frames.

The "Before" shot of the kitchen

After a break for dinner, Davis and I came back and started picking at the paint on one of the cabinets. It pretty much peeled right off of the cabinet with a little help from a straight razor. Davis decided to go purchase a sander to sand the paint off so we can paint it (and not be adding a 10th layer over already peeling paint). The sander works amazingly quickly, but gums up easily due to the amount of paint it's pulling off. We finished about half a cabinet and a couple drawers (which I did with a straight razor) before we finally called it quits for the night. (See pictures below.)

 
Drawers and doors have been removed and cleaned

Davis beginning to peel the paint. Notice how whoever painted
the inside shelves only painted halfway...



Kitchen drawers "before" (left) with knobs covered in paint, contact paper, and peeling paint.

Kitchen drawers "after" (right) with knobs, contact paper, and paint removed.

The plan for today is to dominate the rest of the cabinets so they're ready for painting - sooner rather than later!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Week in Numbers

Here's my week in numbers - and there are a lot of them!

5:00 (5:15) - Wake up, shower, dress, makeup, make lunch, make breakfast (if I have time), pack bags for school
6:00 - Leave for school (drive 45 miles)
7:00 - Arrive at school
7:00-7:30 - Work in classroom preparing for the day (set up small groups, remove paintings from the drying rack, hang artwork, take chairs off the tables, etc)
7:30-7:55 - Car rider duty
7:55-8:05 - Check student folders, enter attendance, help late students unpack
8:05-8:25 - Morning meeting, music & movement, story time (all conducted by Kelsey while I monitor behavior)
8:25-8:50 - Small Groups (I work with my group and monitor other independent groups)
9:00-9:25 - Math (Monday, Friday) or Library (Tuesday) or Music (Wednesday) or Yoga (Thursday)
9:30-10:00 - Snack on back playground
10:10-10:20 - PAC time (phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, concepts of print) (conducted by Kelsey while I monitor behavior)
10:25-11:10 - Centers (work with students, check email)
11:10 - Give the 5 minute warning and have the Block Center begin cleaning
11:15 - Centers are over, guide students with cleaning up, have lunchbox helper pass out lunch boxes
11:30-12:00 - Outside time on the front playground
12:00-12:10 - Students wash hands/use bathroom before lunch
12:10-12:20 - Check off students who bought lunch from cafeteria; open orange containers, yogurt, cheese sticks, milk cartons, applesauce, ....
12:20-12:25 - My bathroom break (don't forget to check the mailbox on my way back
12:25-12:35 - Lunch (while correcting students' eating manners)
12:35 - Give students 5 minute warning - "finish eating"
12:38 - Give students 2 minute warning - "finish eating; if you're done, throw away your trash"
12:40 - "Lunch is over; throw away your trash and pack up"
12:45-1:05 - Walk back to classroom; read a story before Rest Time
1:05-1:10 - Students get blankets and go to mats
1:10-1:50 - Rest Time (I spend most of this time telling students "Still and Quiet.") (I arrange our small group chart for the next day, record jobs for the day, write notes home, stuff folders, ....)
1:50-2:00 - Wake students up from nap while Kelsey puts mats away
2:00-2:05 - Pass out folders and have students pack up (When they're done packing, they stand on their spot and wait for a high-five)
2:05-2:15 - Let's Find Out About It (Monday, Friday) or Math (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)
2:15 - Bus riders leave
2:20 - Car riders and walkers leave; after-school students come to my room
2:27 - Walk after-school students to the cafeteria
2:30-3:30 - (Monday - Thursday) Prepare classroom for next day: put chairs on tables, return forms to the proper administrators, work on field trip information, hang up art work
2:30 - (Friday) Go Home early!
3:30 - (Monday) Go Home 
3:30 - (Tuesday - Thursday) Go to Glennwood Elementary for tutoring 
4:00-5:00 - (Tuesday - Thursday) Tutor 5 first graders 
5:00-5:45 - (Thursdays) Plan for tutoring next week
5:00 (Monday)/ 6:00 (Tuesday, Wednesday)/ 7:00 (Thursday)/ 4:00 (Friday) - Arrive home (45 miles), watch TV, make dinner, do dishes
9:00 - Get ready for bed
9:30 - In bed

16.5 hours
90+ miles/day
480 miles/week
2+ hours of driving/day
11+ hours of driving/week
7 hours with students/day
8 hours of (paid) work/day


Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 14 more days.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chugging along

It looks as though I've been gone for so long that Blogger has updated.  The first thing I saw was the stats section that tells me how often my page has been viewed, and it goes as follows:
Yesterday: 2
Last month: 81
Total all time in history: 1738

Who knew that many people had visited this thing? I'm guessing that about 1500 of them stumbled here on accident...

Anyhow, I am sitting here on the couch updating this blog (that, apparently, other people read) while my husband plays Minecraft.  I think he's in Hell right now trying to get a blazing rod or something silly like that.  We've had a delightfully lazy day.  I went to Kohl's to spent the $10 promotional gift card they send every couple months and did a bit of grocery shopping, but that's pretty much it.

What I should be doing is applying for jobs, but so far that's been disappointing at best.  I found out during my tutoring job at one of the elementary schools in my school district that the other tutors (paraprofessionals from that school) had both been offered interviews.  I've heard nothing, and am starting to believe that I may have missed the opportunity.  The jobs have been removed from the website for two weeks now, and I've received no calls. I've also applied for Gwinnett and Fulton county, and I need to update my DeKalb county application from last year, but that will probably wait until tomorrow.  I don't look forward to re-ordering and sending transcripts or answering the same questions over and over. But, in the end, I just have to suck it up, get over it, and move on. Right?

Davis and I have also resumed our search for an apartment.  We're looking at a duplex neighborhood of sorts not far from Plants on Walls, where Davis works. (P.S. Check out Plants on Walls - they're vertical hanging gardens!) Anyhow, we checked crime for the area, and there was nothing for the past 6 months; considering how close we are to Atlanta, that says a lot about the area we're considering moving to!

In some ways, I feel like life right now is a mirror image of last spring at this time: find a place to live (and move) and find somewhere to teach.  But, in a lot of ways, life is so much different; the biggest being that I'm married and living in Georgia, so far from family.  But I love coming home and having just enough time to unwind before my husband walks in the door and makes all the stress of the day fade away. I really am very blessed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Fever

Here I am again, feeling as though I should write another blog post (I feel a bit obligated since I know some family members keep up with what I'm doing on here...).  However, it is 6:15pm, and it's been the kind of day that only Cheetos (well, the Publix brand cheesy poofs knock-offs) can fix.

The children have been crazy. Not normal crazy. It's the kind of crazy that makes you assume there must be a full moon (but there isn't - I checked!)

They've been the kind of crazy that no matter how many different times you tell them that No, no play guns, knives, swords, other weapons, or play fighting are allowed at school, you still find yourself having the same conversation over and over and over (like a broken record).

The kind of crazy that sends children dancing, skipping, and running down the hallway, despite the fact that you're right there, watching them, telling them that they need their bubble and safe hands. It means that I constantly have to "help friends walk" down the hallway.

The kind of crazy that sends two little girls into hysterical laughter because they think it's funny that the entire class is watching them clean up so everyone can go outside - well past the time when they should have been done picking up.

The kind of crazy where I finally break down and ask a neighboring teacher if Child G can nap in her room today, and could she possibly scare the daylights out of her so that she'll never want to come back?

The kind of crazy that makes you want to go around screaming every statement so that the children realize how annoying it is to hear them yelling all day. (Example: I'M GOING TO DRAMATIC PLAY NOW TO PLAY WITH THE BABIES!) (No, they're not upset, they just can't regulate their inside voices...)

Is this Spring Fever?  If so, come on SUMMER! (which is only 2 months away!)

All I have to say is...Thank GOD next week is spring break!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

GRE = brain mush

Over the past couple weeks, I have been studying for the GRE.  I've really hit the books/computer in the last week trying to learn new, big words (of course, right now, I can't think of any of those fancy new words to use to describe the type of words I'm learning...did that make any sense?).  I've also done math.  A lot of math.  The kind of math that I haven't done since high school since most of my college level math was elementary-focused.  The kind of math that, ironically, I was wanting to do just a few weeks ago. (What can I say...sometimes I want to do calculations that aren't "How many cubes do I have?" "What is one more than 8?" "Which one is longer?")

Thankfully, several words and math formulas that I learned in my high school PSAT prep class are coming back, slowly but surely. (Thank Ms. Shivers, Ms. Reed, and Ms. Daniels!)  However, there's still a lot to do, and I take the test in less than a week.

Besides studying for the GRE and doing taxes (blech!), I've been focusing on trying to be more positive about work. I have struggled all year with being a paraprofessional and dealing with the fact that it's not "my" classroom, at least not in the sense that I had planned on for the past 4 years.

Oh, yeah, I picked up a sporadic after-school job.  Tuesday-Thursday, the 5 elementary schools in Decatur have a 1-hour tutoring session for each grade.  The tutors are hired through the City of Decatur. I am a sub for the tutors.  My first time subbing was last Wednesday, and the tutor coordinator at that particular school asked if I would come every Wednesday and tutor the kindergarteners because their regular tutor couldn't do Wednesdays.  Of course I said YES! (Heck, that would pay for my gas to/from work for almost 2 days!)

I am sticking my feet through every possible door I can, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.  In the meantime, I continue hoping and praying for a lead teaching position next year.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day

Yes, I realize it's 8:07 on Valentines Day morning, and I am already up and about while Davis slumbers away peacefully.  I decided that after a restless night's sleep, I might as well get up and be productive instead of tossing and turning in bed and waking Davis up too.  After all the activity of yesterday, I thought I was going to sleep like a log, but no such luck.  Let me back up a little and explain what went on yesterday...

The Back, Back Stories
A little over two weeks ago Davis quit his job selling cars (insert Hallelujah Chorus here).  To make a long story short, they were trying to steal his deals and his money, and he was working so much that his search for another job wasn't going anywhere fast.  So, he's been on the job search since then.

I'm on vacation this week (gotta love winter break!) I set up my "wellness" exam with a doctor here in Oakwood.  This wellness exam is required by my insurance so that I pay a lower premium.  I figured that it would save me a couple dollars a year, and it can't hurt to know if you're "well" or not.

In the fall, we bought a fish tank and two oscar cichlids.  Well, Oscar has grown too big for our little 20 gallon tank, and Einstein has stayed small to survive, so we figured it was time for a bigger tank - sooner rather than later.

Yesterday
While looking at the form that I had to bring to my doctor's visit, I realized that they were going to have to take some blood.  Great.  I asked Davis to come with me even though I had previously declined his help.  The nurse, Crystal, and my doctor, Doctor Gibbs, were both incredibly nice and sweet.  They made me feel very comfortable (yes, me - comfortable in a doctor's office!).  The lady who drew my blood told me about her 2, almost 3, year old son the whole time - what a great way to keep my mind off the fact that she was sticking me and taking tubes of blood!  I successfully did not pass out, but was light-headed enough that I had to eat some peanut butter crackers from the nurse and have Davis walk out with me.  (Yes, I'm a wimp!)

Davis told me that he had been searching Craigslist for a larger tank while he was waiting for me.  He found a guy with a 55 gallon tank, stand, filter system, heater, and a light for $100.  The tank also came with 9 fishy friends.  After convincing the guy to hold the tank for an extra $15, we grabbed our 5 gallon bucket from the house (for transporting the new fish) and headed to Snellville, GA.  When we got there, we plopped the fish in the bucket, helped the seller drain the water, and loaded everything into Davis's truck.  Once we got home, we moved the bucket'o'fish into the living room and took the tank, stand, and decorations (oh yeah, we got 2 castles, a dragon, and some pillars) to the local Spray'n'Wash car wash.  I don't think the guy we got the tank from had cleaned it in about a year, so we needed the big guns.  It took about 30 minutes to clean the tank and wipe down the stand at the car wash.

We brought everything home again, lugged it up 3 flights of stairs (why, oh why, did I want to live on the third floor again?!?).  We cleaned the rest of the aquarium equipment in the sink, added some new rocks, and set the tank up by the window.  Oh, and we had to rearrange the furniture in our apartment to make the tank fit. Because we needed the 5 gallon bucket and the tub to fill the tank, we needed a container big enough for all 9 fish (including a foot long sucker fish).  Why not use the sink? (See picture.)  Davis filled the tank while I scrubbed more algae and gunk off the light and monitored the fish in the sink.


Finally, the tank was full, running, and ready for fish.  Davis carried them a few at a time from the sink in a net.  Once in the tank, they freaked out for a moment, but then began to enjoy the clear water, clean filter, and open spaces to swim.  We decided not to put in Oscar and Einstein until this new tank runs for a few days; also, we're about to head to the beach with Davis's parents for several days, so we don't want them in there unsupervised.
For size comparison, our new tank is almost 
3 times larger than our previous tank.

Close-up of the new tank.
It sits where our love seat used to be.

Thanks to Davis's friend, Alex, we were able to identify some of the fish in the tank:
1 (very large) sucker fish
1 female convict (a cichlid, like Oscar and Einstein) (it's as large, if not larger, than Oscar now)
1 peacock eel (very tiny, likes to burrow in the rocks)
1 loach
2 knife fish
1 Jack Dempsey - we think (another cichlid, and one of my favorite due to his bright blue spots)
2 UFFs (Unidentified fish friends)


The sucker fish, named Herbert (Bert)

Bert greeted me this morning by hanging on the front glass of the tank.

The female convict

One of our UFFs

We may be trying to get rid of some of the smaller fish (eel, loach, knife fish, UFFs).  We're not sure if Oscar and Einstein will try to eat them or not.  So, if you know anyone who may want them, let me know.

In the meantime, I will be putting order back into our chaotic apartment...

Oh, and Happy Valentines Day!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Wonderful Husband...

... and, no, Davis did not hack my blog.  I really do have an incredible husband.

I came home after work on Friday to find that Davis had started laundry, run the dishwasher, planned dinner, and gone grocery shopping.  For any of you who don't know, Davis absolutely despises grocery shopping.  I was a bit skeptical at first because Davis doesn't like taking the time to find the less expensive items.  However, upon questioning him, I found that he bought mostly store-brand items.  He got Crystal Light instead of store-brand drink mix because he knows that I like it.

After dinner, I convinced him that he owed me a dance on Just Dance since I've played other games that he likes.  He dance to several dances with me - and even beat me once (which I still can't figure out...).

The whole evening was quite delightful, and I enjoyed watching Davis (try) to dance!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back to School

Tomorrow is our first day back to school with students.  I feel as though I should mark this occasion somehow, but I find myself lacking in words. So, I shall simply say this...

We're getting to school at 6:30 to get ready for the day/week.
It will be about 22 degrees when I am doing car rider duty.
It will stay below 40 degrees all day, which means no outside time to run out energy.


I will definitely need a drink when I get home.