Sunday, August 29, 2010

There's no place like home

I just returned from a wonderful weekend spent in Tuscaloosa. I've come to appreciate going "home" more and more as I've gotten older. Staying at my parents' house makes me feel happy and relaxed and peaceful. I can't pinpoint exactly when the change occurred, but DennyJ and Mom somehow went from mega-embarrassing to hmm-they're-really-not-all-that-bad in the last few years. I'm proud of them for making such a big leap in such a short period of time :)

I spent yesterday afternoon with Grandad looking over books, old letters, and pictures in an effort to soak up some family history. Grandad has spent years and years tracing our family tree, and while I've looked at some of his stuff before, I can't make heads or tails of it. I asked him to sit down with me and explain it to me. I still probably wouldn't pass a quiz, but I learned so much and loved spending time with him. It was neat to see pictures of him when he was little, and to see pictures of family members that I never got to meet but have heard so much about. Grandad gave me some things to take home and look over, and I'm sure I'll have some questions after looking over that stuff. I appreciate him spending his afternoon with me and hope he's willing to do it again!

Last night, I went to a housewarming party for a nearly lifelong friend and his wife (someone I've also known for 20 some odd years). I'm so glad I went. Their new home is beautiful, and it was so good to visit with them. I love that we're still friends, even though we're separated by distance and life stages. I also enjoyed getting to talk to some of the mamas who were there. While I love meeting new people, there's something very reassuring about spending time with people I've known most of my life. It makes me feel grounded and happy.

We capped off the weekend with lunch after church today. Mimi, Grandad, Uncle Robert, Daniel, and Olivia joined Mom, DennyJ, and me at the ol' homestead for hamburgers and 7Up floats. I'm thankful that I live close enough to do things like this; I missed that while I was living in Auburn. Nothing like a fabulous weekend to kick off a (hopefully...) fabulous week!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today was one of those days where I thought it was Wednesday until about 1:00. Those days leave me feeling a little unsettled. What day is it? Who am I? What does it all mean?? It is indeed not Wednesday. It's Thursday, which means tomorrow is Friday. Which is never a bad thing. Unless it's not REALLY Friday, which, with my luck, could be true. Make sense? That's what I thought.

Today I am thankful for:
  • my family and friends...excited to see some of the aforementioned on Saturday
  • the genealogy lesson Grandad and I have planned for this weekend
  • my health
  • my job
  • the many things I'm destined to learn from my darlings this school year :)
  • tomorrow being the last day of my morning duty until November...I forget how much I can get accomplished in 30 minutes until I have to spend those 30 minutes supervising kiddos before school!
  • the "lightbulb moment" I had with a student during math today...makes it all worthwhile!
  • my tenure pay raise coming up...woohoo!
  • a few more days "off" before I dive headfirst into grad school
  • Sasha's successful interview (say that 3 times fast) today...even though we're branching off down separate post-grad paths, I'm glad I'll have an "I'm going back to school, too" buddy
  • supper with Byrne last night
  • feeling better than I did last week
  • the little, super-subtle whisper of fall we got to feel for a few's coming!
  • the beginnings of a way fun, wide open spaces kinda trip starting to stir
  • a weekend to regroup and rest and pull the pieces of myself back together...gotta love the first few weeks of school


Sunday, August 22, 2010

ready and waiting

*I'm feeling better. Still not 100%, but much better than I was Thursday night. After sleeping 22 hours over the last two days and providing my drivers license/signature/birth certificate/blood type/SSN/library card/three references/left arm/right leg to buy a dadgum decongestant at the drugstore, I think I may pull through. Hopefully.*

Dear Fall,
Now that summer, for all intents and purposes, is over, I'm ready for you. I don't want to rush you, but I'm excited about your arrival. I love you. You're by far my favorite season. I love you because you're not hot and humid like summer or cold and dreary like winter or pollen-y like spring. I love that you let me wear pants and long sleeves so that I no longer have to advertise what a white girl I truly am. I love that you bring cool breezes and pretty leaves. I love that your favorite colors are red and brown and orange. I like those colors, too. I love you for bringing football season with you (even though it technically starts in summer...we won't go there). I love that you bring me a reason to travel to Auburn nearly every weekend. I love you for bringing me Halloween and Thanksgiving. I love you for giving me an excuse to make pumpkin muffins* and light cinnamon-scented candles. I love that you make me want to be outside all the time and carve pumpkins and go on hayrides. If I could dress you up in a sweater and hold your hand and jump in leaf piles with you, I would. I love that you make me so happy. Can't wait to see you soon!

Your #1 fan and not-so-secret admirer,
*True story: I was on a waiting list last year for canned pumpkin at Publix. Have you ever heard of such? And did you know that there's a pumpkin shortage? Well, there is. It makes for some desperate times when you have to make pumpkin muffins for that weekend's tailgate and there is. no. pumpkin. to be had. Thankfully, Publix came through and rationed 2 cans for me during an especially desperate time last October. Perhaps I should ask if they've started a new pumpkin waiting list for this fall.
*True story #2: Santa Claus may or may not have put 4 cans of pumpkin in my stocking last Christmas. And it may or may not have been the highlight of my Christmas morning. Yep. True story.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I'm sick (bleh! BLEH!) with the sinus crud, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet. And maybe not even sweet, but definitely short. I'm not thankful that my head feels like it's going to explode, my ears are throbbing, and my current method of oxygen intake is that gross, creepy-kid-on-the-schoolbus mouth breathing. I am thankful, however, that I feel like this every once in a while so that I can appreciate being healthy when this passes.

I'm thankful for all the usual things: my family, friends, job, students, the upcoming weekend, etc. I'll try to make next week's Thankful Thursday the best one ever, or at least better than this one. For now, though, I feel my Benadryl coma closing in on me and I can't fight it any longer. Here's hoping that I wake up feeling like a whole new person tomorrow.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

under my teacher "umbrella": mama, coach, encourager, disciplinarian, nurse, therapist...and now, magician

I love my job as a teacher. It's really the only career I've ever pictured for myself, and I truly enjoy it most days. I counted the other day and I've had 98 students (including my current ones) in my 3+ years of teaching. That's 98 little people that I've had the chance to impact; what an awesome opportunity (and responsibility)!

I try really hard to focus on the positive in things and to spend minimal time dwelling on the negative. If it's something I can't change, I try to accept it and move on. As I've spent my afternoon preparing for the first full week of school starting tomorrow, it occurred to me that I'm going to have to be a magician as well as a teacher this year. I'm going to have to make the state and district-mandated timeframes magically fit into my day. I've got about 6 hours of mandates to fit into a 5 hour instructional period. Hmmmm. I'm no genius, but that doesn't quite work, does it?

There is such a push for MORE in education right now. MORE reading. MORE math. MORE techology. MORE small group instruction. After all, No Child Left Behind states that 100% of American students should be proficient in reading and math by 2014. (I'm going to say nothing else about that statement. It could get ugly.) It truly would take a magician to make it all work. When working within a set timeframe (say, a school day) it's impossible to add MORE without doing something else LESS, right? It works out to LESS social studies, LESS downtime, LESS time for activities/experiments/projects.

It makes me wonder sometimes what this educational system is going to do to this generation of kids, long-term. Are we instilling a love for learning in these kids? Or are we pressuring them to constantly perform better, without ever showing them why learning is important?

Thankfully, the teachers/administrators at my school are trying hard to achieve a balance between pushpushpush and instilling a love for learning. As challenging as it is, I try to do that every day and I see my coworkers doing the same. I feel that we owe it to these kids to not burn them out before they even make it to middle school.

Bleh! Rant over. I feel great about this week coming up. The kids in my new class are sweeties and I foresee a lot of fun memories being made between now and May. I'll be ready for tomorrow as soon as I make my lunch...and remember where I put my magic wand.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:
  • my family and friends
  • my health
  • surviving the first day of school today!
  • my new kiddos and the things I'm sure I'll learn from them this year
  • the plan God has for me and these kiddos this year
  • officially earning my tenure as of 2:45 TODAY...woohoo! I'm IN :)
  • the weekend coming up tomorrow...much-needed
  • guests this weekend...always love seeing Kira, Oliver, and Princess Elizabeth :)
  • plenty of other stuff but my bed is calling to me


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

juggling act

School starts this week (Thursday, to be exact) and it seems like I'm juggling 895,432 things right now. Every time I cross one thing off my ever present to-do list, I add two more. Meet the Teacher Day is tomorrow and I feel like I should have taken a pillow and toothbrush up to school and made a night of it. I always want everything to be PERFECT on this day. My new kiddos and their parents will be seeing the room and meeting me for the first time. I'm praying that it will go well and I really am excited to meet the new kiddos. I know God has a plan for our class this year, and I can't wait to go along for the ride! Now if I could just get these 120 labels cut out and put on folders and get into bed, I'll be ready for that ride to begin...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thankful Thursday...Sunday...whatever

Life has had me on the move lately, so Thankful Thursday didn't happen. Thankful Sunday will have to suffice.

Today I am thankful for:
  • my family and friends (especially my sweet Mimi, and even though our Chattanooga trip didn't turn out quite like we planned, I still had a fabulous time with her)
  • the baby news a sweet, far-away friend recently shared with me :)
  • my health
  • summer's over after today (weep! wail!), but I've enjoyed nearly every second of it. This is hands down the best summer I've had since I started teaching, and I'm most thankful for it!
  • a job at a great school to return to (tomorrow! sob!)
  • finally getting registered for my grad school classes...all that's left is to write a hefty check and enjoy the 22 days I have left before classes start
  • a few days to get back in the swing of things before the kiddos arrive on Thursday
  • how hard my fam and friends worked to make my birthday weekend so one in recent memory!
  • getting to go to Olivia's graduation yesterday...hoping she finds a job soon!
  • the fabulous new kids' books I've been able to trade for at the used bookstore...25 new-to-me books for my kiddos to read
  • Shark Week...I look forward to it every year...honestly, I watch to get tips on surviving a shark can never be too prepared...I've learned so much that I've decided not venturing in past my knees is the way to go...if a shark wants to come get me knee-deep and I don't see it in time to get away, it deserves to have a little nibble


Sunday, August 1, 2010

birthday weekend recap

I turned 25 on Friday, and had the most incredible weekend to celebrate my milestone birthday. Here's the (stream-of-consciousness) rundown:

Lunch at the Depot/cupcakes at school with Sasha on Thursday. Birthday in Tuscaloosa with Mom and Denny J. Bought some great books for my classroom. Birthday lunch with Mom at Taco Casa (where else?). Locked my keys in my car (first time Enchiladas and sangria for birthday supper. "Official" birthday lunch on Saturday with Mom, Denny J, Mimi, Grandad, Bubba, and Olivia. Chicken & grits, green beans, and pavlova for dessert. So very, very good. Thoughtful presents, including my much longed for boots. So excited! Back to Bham. Overnight guest named Kate. DQ with Kira, Oliver, and Princess Elizabeth (who's now smiling and cooing...such talent in that child!). So fun! Rogue Tavern for supper with Byrne, Guy, and fellow concert-goers. Really hot...disgustingly humid...occasional breeze...but mostly just really hot. Kinda like trying to breathe through a hot, damp towel. Try it sometime. Eric Church concert at Sloss Furnace. Sweat. Lots and lots and lots of people. More sweat. Worried my cuteness is fading. Will Hoge opened. Dripping. Waited an eternity for Eric Church to come out. Hair in a ponytail, wiping off every trace of makeup, no longer concerned with looking cute or even remotely human. Eric Church played. Phenomenal and absolutely worth the wait. Love him. Truly one of the highlights of my year. Slimed on by countless sweaty, shirtless people. Once home, 3 glasses of water and a shower were required immediately upon walking through the door. I don't yet feel human again. SO worth it, though!

I had such a fabulous, fun weekend! I am more blessed than I deserve to be. I've got one more week of freedom, some things to sew, and a quick trip to the glorious state of Tennessee before I rejoin the workforce. Plus, Shark Week starts tonight :) It's been such a great summer!

PS--Is there such a thing as sweat-communicable diseases? I'm going to look into this. If I never touch another sweaty, smelly, sticky, slimy person again in this lifetime, it'll be too soon. Ick.