Thursday, October 25, 2012

I miss LOTS of stuff today

Against my better judgment, I took my kids to WalMart today.  I had to run to Kohl's (I wanted picture frames for a project I wanted to do at school tomorrow) and the grocery store, and I decided that I could just bite the bullet and accomplish both of those errands with a dash to WalMart.

Bad idea.

I hate this WalMart and have promised and sworn that I would never go back.  Today I had a lapse in judgment and decided to give it another try.

I ended up actually being afraid for my safety.

There was a woman there in the requisite pajama-pants flannel bottoms (with some awful cartoon on them, can't say I know what), flip-flops (it was 55 degrees out), too-tight, too-short shirt and with some crazy hairdo that I am not sure really constituted a "'do" as much as a "Do Not.  Ever." She had with her people I can only imagine were her two kids and her husband.  She was, of course, yelling at all three of them.  They were on the right side of the aisle heading towards me as I walked on the left side.  So I looked at her.  And she had approximately 8 piercings in her lips, huge circles under her eyes, and looked like she was no stranger to fights.  And because she was yelling and because I looked at her -- not stared at her, not stared her down, but merely looked to UP to see what the fuss was as I walked down the same aisle as she was in -- she stared me down.  And continued to do so for the next three aisles.

I got the hell out of that s-- hole and promised myself and my kids and God and everyone in the universe never to go back.  Fearful that some drug-addled freak was going to hurt me or my kids at 4:30 in the afternoon because she thought in her whatever-it-was that I was looking at her funny?

Two things.

1.  I need to carry.

2.  I will never, ever need to return to that WalMart.  EVER.  So help me God, there is nothing on this earth that I need that I can't find elsewhere or do without.

Thank you for reading.  I am done.  I was already in a funky mood this afternoon -- that awful combination of exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed and "homesick," and that little experience was just the icing on the cake.  I don't mean to be Debbie Downer.

Best of all?  I was so busy beating feet out of that place, I forgot the dang picture frames! 

Pouring myself a glass of wine and calling it a night ...  I think we'll all agree that's a good idea, no? 


Monday, October 22, 2012

pSEU-do Self Portrait

I figure if CAM can make portraits of me, so can Dr. Seuss.

This is about how I feel lately...

I'm not sure I'm doing quite the same good job at balancing.  I am certainly not as happy about it!  I've been a bundle of stress and nerves for about ten days straight!

... which is why I've been behind in posting.  I am hopeful that things will return to their normal levels of chaos this week and I can catch up with all of you sooner than later. 

We had a productive weekend, but I had an insanely busy (record-settingly so) two weeks at work, and although I don't typically take work home, I'm busy on the home front, busy on the work front, and the whole "running a home" took a hit. You know -- laundry, bills, planning-meals-so-we-don't-live-on-junk... bathing my children ... those kinds of things.

Anyway.  Work's still good, home's still good, unpacking's still going (and, for that matter, every day gets better).  If anyone wants to come along and help me attack my laundry and my to-do pile, though, I'm accepting all offers!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Me, by CAM

When we got home from school yesterday afternoon, CAM made this picture of me. I was was on the couch reading, Mick was next to me, WHM was asleep, and CAM sat and colored.  When she was done, she proudly showed it to me. 

"Look, Mommy, it's you!  Standing by a bunch of fruits!"

I asked her what the purple things were.  (Coconuts?  Bikini?)

She said, "No, Mommy.  You know."  I guessed, "Bikini?"

She came over to where I was sitting and touched my shirt and whispered, "No. You know."

I asked, "No, what?"

She leaned in, looked at Mick, and quietly said, "Those things you wear to cover your boobies."

Mick laughed so hard it was silent.


Things I Learn by Teaching

#1384364:  You get pink-eye when someone farts on your pillow.

"No, really, Mrs. M. It's true!"

I'm thinking I won't go out and test this theory ... and neither did I feel like explaining quite how one catches pink-eye.  They were happy in their belief and I wasn't up for correcting them.  (I'm also not sure they'd have believed me.  That farting thing was pretty well indoctrinated.)


Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Take Back Everything I Said ...

... about not being intimidated by the moving truck.

I have no idea where this will all go.  We've still not unpacked from our first round in August.  There are boxes everywhere and it's a giant Catch-22:  We can't unpack the boxes because there's noplace to put stuff, but we can't put stuff anywhere because there are boxes everywhere ... 

I'm feeling kind-of bitter with the universe today.  I won't lie.  Rainy, dreary days don't help, and we've had an oversupply of those the past two weeks, too.

Good news! Mick and his cousin Travis were able to put in a few hours' work this morning and made a huge dent in unloading the truck -- a good bit of the big stuff is now in our storage unit. I feel worlds better. Still a tremendous amount of work to do ... But I can breathe again. --Jen

Friday, October 12, 2012

Barbie Bungee

My honors Algebra 2 class sent Barbie dolls bungee jumping today.

It didn't even occur to me to take any pictures, even ones where I chopped off heads for privacy's sake.



Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Few Updates

Bullet-point style, because that's how I roll...

1.  (okay, list-style, because I can roll that way, too)  I have seen inside the truck.  It's still overwhelming, but not as tear-inducing as I had feared.

2.  They moved the driveway-destruction date from Saturday to tomorrow (Friday).  This is actually good, because once they tear up the driveway we can drive on the dirt, and so I don't have to feel bad about "wasting" Friday's unpacking time by being at work.  We couldn't be unloading anyway, while they're in destruction mode, but Saturday that project will be done (the tearing up, not the repaving), and we'll be able to park on the driveway and unload.  Phew.  Mick had asked if I could possibly take Friday off but it was pretty close to impossible for me, so I am glad things unfolded the way they did.

3.  I adjusted the auction-style review so that in my second Geometry class I gave each team "$1000" to use for bids, and then I took bids on all the questions before we allowed any presentations.  The teams were all pretty into it, and they did a surprisingly great job of keeping track of how much money they still had available for bidding.  It worked well -- and it was a lot of fun. Once again everyone got out of their seats to present, which was fantastic -- but I did forget to allow for steals ... so there are still some places where I can tighten this up a bit.  But I'd say this whole idea was a success, and it certainly went better in the second class than in the first.

That's it for me.  I am so tired my eyelids hurt.  I stayed up late to watch Nashville last night (excellent show, by the way) and then didn't sleep as well as I'd been sleeping earlier in the week.  Grey's Anatomy isn't on tonight and I am so thankful that I can go to bed before 10!


p.s.  Mick found some of my teacher boxes today while I was at work and I have already loaded up a giant boat-and-tote with some treasures.  I am so excited!! 

Mick's Back!

I didn’t tell you he was gone to begin with because, well, I’m afraid of psycho-killers (Psycho killer? Qu’est-ce que c’est?) and stalkers. But at long last, Mick went down to Georgia to get the rest of our stuff.  He left Saturday morning and got back yesterday afternoon.
Except that he wasn’t able to get the rest of our stuff.
He ran out of time and he ran out of space on the moving truck, and he’s flat-out exhausted and was ridiculously deliriously punch-drunk the past few days.
Good news:  he got most of our stuff.
Better news:  we learned that our apparent moving jinx has nothing to do with Mick’s trusty (bwah hah hah -- don't get drunk on the sarcasm!) old truck or towing, but might just have to do with Mick.  (Sorry, Mick.  I'm crossing my fingers for you, really, I am... not that it's a bad problem to have, to tell people you're not able to move them because bad things will happen.)
Remember this trip to move my sister and future brother-in-law to Florida?
And this trip to Maine with one of the big loads of our stuff?
Well, this time Mick flew to Atlanta with a friend and they rented a giant U-Haul.  And it broke down.  Three times.  They lost an entire day and a half of travel time and ended up stranded in South Carolina twice.
Mick finally arrived here yesterday afternoon, which was fantastic because he was able to pick up CAM from school.  She was expecting to have to go to after-care and was absolutely thrilled to see Mick and my dad there to pick her up at the regular time.
Oh I probably forgot to mention that.  I didn’t want to give away that Mick was gone, so I didn’t mention that my parents came into town Saturday – they came to watch WHM (and on Tuesday take him to preschool) while CAM and I went to work and school.  And, you know, to see their grandkids.  We’ve had a good week together!  (And we’ve eaten really well … WHM has a thing for the 99 Restaurant here in town and my parents were gracious enough to take us to eat there twice.  Then, when Mick came in yesterday, they took us all to Longhorn for dinner.  Not bad!)
Anyway …  now we have the daunting task of unloading the truck.  I haven’t seen inside it yet, but it’s a full-size moving truck (I'm pretty sure it's the biggest one you can rent before you hire an 18-wheeler), and it was packed by a moving company, so it’s filled to the brim in every nook and cranny with no real system except to maximize use of space.  So … I am quite dreading that project, especially because we are unloading into a house that’s already furnished, and into a storage unit that’s already largely full.  We’ve got our work cut out for us in the coming days until the truck has to be returned.
Oh yeah, and they’re tearing up the driveway on Saturday in order to re-pave it in a few weeks, so we won’t be able to unload Saturday until that’s done.
Thank goodness it’s at least a sunny day today.  Rain would be the icing on the cake!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Miss Central Time

These 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. start times for tv shows are killin' me, smalls.  Don't get me wrong.  Right now, it's relatively worth it: Nashville is awesome.

What won't be awesome?

The headache I get tomorrow right around 11am from sheer exhaustion.

I am sooooo tired ... and since we are still holding off on biting the bullet and getting DVR here in Maine, if I want to see it, I need to (gasp!) actually watch it.

I'm dyin' here!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Another Teaching Post -- I Need Your Opinion

I know, I know.  I said I wasn't going to be all teacher-blog-y on you, and I totally slacked this weekend except to post teaching stuff?  Seriously.  I don't even know why you're friends with me anymore!  But really -- I would love your opinion, so please keep reading and leave a comment!  

See, this morning I tried to do something kind-of cool – or I hoped it would be cool – with my Geometry kids.  We did a review worksheet.  (In fairness, we’d started it last week, but because we’d split that class with a quiz, we ran short on time.  So the kids mostly had completed the worksheet, but we hadn’t had a chance to go over it yet and in the meantime they had a four-day weekend.)  No, sillies, the review sheet wasn’t the cool thing.  What I had hoped would be cool was the way in which we went over it.

I despise sitting in my seat watching a teacher work problems (or, in my adult life, having an adult read to me from a PowerPoint) and I also despise being that teacher -- presenting the problems a la Charlie Brown’s teacher and droning on for no one’s benefit, including my own.  I saw online an idea for a review “auction,” where the teacher puts up answers to an assignment but not all of them are correct, and the different teams bid on which team gets to present which question, including saying whether the key was correct for their problem.  The idea is that the students have to have worked through the review enough to be able to discern what is incorrect on the answer key – keeping in mind that they have a team (of up to 4 people) to discuss with before they bid.

 Cool idea, right?  It embeds review, team conversations to check their work, and even some strategizing AND the kids don't know it, but that's deductive reasoning and that, my friends, is a learned skill and most definitely part of the Geometry curriculum, however stripped of proofs it may be these days.   Hey, even if the auction idea's not cool, it’s different and it gets the kids talking, and that’s the plan and the goal.   

But here’s the problem: I wanted to keep everyone involved, so I wanted to allow for “steals,” but I didn’t have a smooth way to do the bidding to work this out.  I let teams bid by question, and then we went over that question immediately, which quickly meant that every team was “all in” on every question.  I ended up having to have some stupid tiebreakers (“guess which number I am thinking of…” nonsense) in order to decide which team got to actually present the question.  In short, it was a mess.  And that mess led to some side chatter and made the activity take altogether too long.  

Now, there were some good things.  First, I had told this class that they were the guinea pigs, so they were way more amenable to rolling with the punches instead of just saying, “this is lame.”  Second, the school where I teach has school-wide rubric grades that all students receive, and I told the kids that today’s presentations would count towards a very informal first go-round of their oral presentation rubric.  So they were motivated in that sense to get their turn at the board.  (Side note:  they were very motivated, in fact, especially for a group that generally is not motivated at all.  I was quite pleasantly surprised!)

I’m thinking the auction style might still be fun, but I might have to give each group, say, $100 at the start of the period and do ALL of the bidding at one time.  In other words, if there are ten questions, I can accept bids on all ten questions at once, and they will have just their $100 allotment to ration out as they wish.  I’m not sure how that would work, either, but it would eliminate the “all in” opportunity – unless teams went “all in” on the first question they won.  (Of course, that logic would mean they were more likely to lose, and if they didn’t figure that out, I could just disallow “all-in” bids.)

Okay.  So … today’s class was hardly an epic failure.  Every single kid in the room got up to present a problem, and some kids got up twice. We went over the entire worksheet review for our test, and got to talk about some key topics.  If you were to walk in my room, you’d see kids working and talking about math – you’d have also heard side chatter and wondered about the chaos, but I had motivated kids, doing math, and working on oral presentations.   The auction didn’t work, but most of the rest did.

Anyway – what do you think? Any ideas as to how I could make the “auction-style review” work????  Teacher friends, help me tighten this up!  Please?????!!!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Real Number System -- Matryoshka Style

Don't worry.  Just like I'm not turning this into an education-policy blog, I promise I'm not turning this into a teaching blog.  But since I am teaching and all, I wanted to share this with you and whomever out there happens to stumble upon this page.  I'm also doing some cool stuff with notebooks and other activities so if you read me regularly, consider this your warning that I do plan to post some of that this weekend.  You know, instead of grading.  ;) 

Every time I teach the Real Number system, I teach it using a sort-of flow chart/family tree kind-of thing.  At the top of the page we have Real Numbers and Imaginary Numbers, and coming down from Real Numbers we have Rational and Irrational, and then from Rational we have Integers, Whole ... you get the idea.

The kids, I have learned, either get it or don't.  For the kids who don't, they don't understand the nesting concept or even (for some of them) how to read a flowchart.

So then I supplement this with a Venn Diagram.  But kids don't always get that, either.

This year I had an epiphany.

I present to you my "matryoshka-doll-style Real Number system."

The pink can actually does fit in the green one.  It's the same height, but narrower.

In each can, I put little cardboard cutouts of numbers, so that in the natural numbers I had 2, 15, 45846876524, etc.  Then for whole numbers I added zero and threw the little can inside it.  Then for integers, I added negatives and put the other two cans in in.  Then I added fractions and decimals.  Then for the two same-size cans (rational and irrational) you get the idea ... I spent some time talking about repeating and non-terminating compared to non-repeating, non-terminiating decimals and let the kids tell me what went where.  We went through this starting with the smallest cans and putting them into their next biggest cans, and then taking the cans out and talking about the groupings and what we were losing/being more specific about/more general about each time.

I am so excited to say that for the first time in my teaching career, the Real Number system was a little less boring and a little easier to understand.  "The Cans" system, as one class called it, just clicked for them. 

The kids loved it.  They got it!  It was AWESOME!


p.s.  So if you're wondering, the rational/irrational numbers are from cans of Cento tomatoes.  Then it's a full-size can of Progresso soup. Then a regular-sized can of mandarin oranges, then a tiny can of chipotle peppers.  I have a GIANT can of tomatoes that was just slightly too small to hold both rational and irrational, so I put them in a box that I labeled Real Numbers -- and when we get to imaginary numbers in Algebra 2 later this year, I'll break these back out and add an identical box labeled "Imaginary Numbers."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

We Are Not Alcoholics

However, we do listen to country music.

I'm fearing a note to the teacher may be in order.
It gets better:

I have no idea what made CAM say that her dinosaur doodled a picture of a toilet.  Perhaps the dinosaur enjoyed the contents of too many Red Solo Cups.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Car Theology

The kids and I had to run some errands tonight.  I worked late and Mick dashed out the door almost as soon as I got in.  I spun around a few times, dropped stuff off and picked other stuff up, and the kids and I were on our way to our nearest Target, 35 minutes away.  (Does that make you cry?  It makes me cry.  Every. Single. Time.  Sadly, my days of a quick dash over to Target are behind me.  And hopefully in front of me.)  Anyway, it was a rainy night here in Maine, but thankfully not super cold.  Still, on these backroads of Maine, it's dark.  Very dark.  And the lane markers aren't that sparkly stuff that you could see from the moon if you needed or wanted to, either.  Taken together, all this stuff means that it was a bit of a challenge to drive home -- the rain, the missing sparkles, and the pitch blackness except for the occasional not-quite-helpful blinding headlights coming my way required my attention.  Two hands on the wheel. 

So, there I was -- focused on staying in the right lane and brainstorming ways to get the kids fed, bathed, and in bed by 8.  The three of us were all just quietly riding along listening to some country music.

And then the kids decided to talk about God.

Here's the best part of the conversation:

CAM:  Where does God live?
Me: Well, he's all arou-
WHM:  He wivs in our hearts, CAM.  God wivs in our HEARTS.  Wif Jesus.

Yep, I am definitely happy we went our kiddos to a private pre-school the past two years, and that CAM's in private school now.  These are the evening conversations that make it worth it.