Friday, March 29, 2013

Hallway Conversation

(For maximum effect, read the following conversation as loud as you can.)

CAM (from the bathroom):  MOMMMMMMeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!  My bum hurts!
WHM (from his room, to CAM):  Dat's cause you pooped!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sweet as Pie: Crockpot Cheese Tortellini

Over at Sweet as Pie this year, we've abandoned the cookbook and taken to the renegade road.  That's right, kids, we're not bound anymore!  Pinterest, Facebook, random Web sites, tv shows ... you name it, we cook from it!

Ahem.  For better or for worse, in some cases.

Fortunately, this month looks to be all good picks (yes, even though I am roughly 25 days behind in cooking most of them, my own included).  Sunday, we made a crockpot meal.

Here's the review.

Crockpot Cheese Tortellini from The Little Fellows blog

Verdict: Not bad!  A bit heavy on the cream cheese for my taste, though.
Cook it again:  Probably.
Cost Factor: $15-ish.  Canned tomatoes, cream cheese, tortellini, chicken broth, and spinach. And some sausage meat of your choice; we used Jimmy Dean.

First of all, I'm always game for a crockpot recipe.  I like the prep-it-and-forget-it approach.  Unfortunately a lot of the time, crockpot meals call for processed foods, and this one was a nice compromise -- some processed stuff, and some you can't really help.  (I've made my own ravioli and loved it, and I am not opposed to making my own tortellini -- in fact, I'd love to.  Just not lately.)

You start out by browning the sausage.  Mick and I have taken lately to doing a lot of our grocery shopping at BJ's wholesale club, so he bought a 2-pound package of Jimmy Dean sausage.  We cut it in half (the other half will go in chili tomorrow --I'll let you know how that goes!) and crumbled and browned one pound.

Then, to our crockpot we added:
  • the sausage, drained
  • one 19-oz package of frozen cheese tortellini
  • one brick of cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • one carton (32 oz) of chicken broth
  • 2 15-oz cans of diced Italian-style tomatoes
  • a bag of baby spinach

When it's all piled in (well, minus the spinach and cream cheese), it looks like this:

 And we let it go on low for about 6 hours, until it looks like this:

Served with a super-fancy Pillsbury Grands! super flaky, only moderately overdone biscuit. 

So, why am I not jumping up and down about this?  Truly, it wasn't bad and it was certainly hearty -- but there are a few things I would change if I made it again.  First, it was too cream-cheesy for me.  I love a good bagel with all the cream cheese you can schmear all over it, but in this recipe the cream cheese wasn't really disguised enough.  I felt like I was eating cream cheese.  With a tortellini dish, I didn't think that was necessary -- or quite the texture/taste I wanted for a dinner.  If the goal is thickness in the resulting sauce, I'd rather just put in good, old-fashioned, heavy cream.

Second, the tortellini was way overcooked.  And I mean, waaaaaaay overcooked.  The original blogger said to watch for it and maybe stop cooking sooner, but that would have meant stopping after an hour.  It took the full six hours for the cream cheese to get to the right melty gooey creamy consistency (and even at that, we had to crack the lid of the crockpot the last hour to get it to thicken with the broth), and the tortellini was more overcooked mush than even the worst knock-off Chef Boyardee. 

So, would I cook it again?  Probably, but with some serious tweaking --

I'd skip the cream cheese and go with heavy cream.  I'd up the sausage and spinach, and probably even add a few red pepper flakes for a little heat, and then I would not add the tortellini until the last hour or so.

It was tasty, don't get me wrong, and very filling, and good enough that we ate it again as leftovers last night.  I'm not bashing it -- it just didn't quite live up to expectations.

Sigh.  That makes two blog/Pinterest recipes this week, both of which were touted as the "best ever," and both of which fell kind-of flat for such a superlative.

Oh well!  That's the point of the cooking club, and now I have yet another idea up my sleeve!


Monday, March 25, 2013

I Want More

Because more is better than less, you know.

My Favorite Commercial



I really didn't mean to let an entire week go by without a single post.  But that's the kind of week I had last week.  CAM threw up multiple times Sunday night, so that was a sleepless night.  I had an angry parent (a conference with whom turned out just fine, by the way, and the mom actually apologized for not coming to me first) and a psycho parent (whose child is no longer my student but who is still wreaking havoc. Thankfully, the entire school administration is in agreement with me.  Mom has threatened to contact an attorney.  My snarky response, which I kept mostly to myself:  She already has*).  We had meetings every single day last week, so that I had only one prep period, and only one afternoon free.  By Thursday, WHM was full-on sick himself.  And then there was a disproportionate number of kids badmouthing me, as kids will do, but it became a grade-level phenomenon with what felt like "everyone" asking about my Algebra 2 ... yep, last week stunk.

Fortunately, we also snuck in a snow day last week, and I'll tell you what:  I needed it.  Emotionally and physically, I needed it.  There are so many demands on our time -- and so many of them unnecessary or wasteful -- that it was getting to me.  Throw in the parent issues and also an issue with colleagues being less than collegial ... really,  last week was a big old mess.  I also learned from someone that there's a huge "backstory" to what was going on at work.  That was actually nice, in a backwards reasoning sort-of way. 

As the week went on, believe it or not, it got better.  Learning the back story made me realize I was not crazy and made me realize the nonsense, though it was directed towards me, wasn't about me.  (By the way:  do you feel like you're in high school?  Yep.  You'd think this kind of behavior would be left to the students, but apparently even some adults can't leave the drama to the kids.)  The parent meeting went well.  Even though I knew I was stressed, I didn't realize quite how stressed until it was over.  Then, I had some other colleagues express support for me without knowing the "other" stories.  That helped. We had a teacher work day Friday, which was 100% taken by meetings, but the meetings went fine and I was in a good "work group" that actually had interesting and intelligent discussions without getting ugly or juvenile.  Or letting big egos get in the way.

I sat here at my desk Wednesday morning and wrote a rather lengthy post about how I was "over it," done, toast -- and I intentionally did not post it because I knew I needed to let it sit.  I'm glad I did.  Things got better.

Don't get me wrong:  I teach in a public school.  Things are not great, and some days they are not even good.  But they are better today than they were last week, and I have a fantastic administration -- which makes all the difference in the world.

People are not happy about change, and that will happen wherever you are -- and right now, our school (and schools everywhere) are in the midst of a lot of change.  And I teach Algebra 2, which is to high school honors kids what organic chemistry is to pre-med majors: it separates the real ones from the rest of the bunch.  I'm used to it, but right around this time every year is where the going really gets tough. You'd think I would be used to it, but I never am, and it wears on me every year.  So there are administrative demands on my time, there are content-area issues to anticipate and head-off, and then there's the regular teaching and planning and grading and, oh yeah, running a family and a home. 

In the middle of the work saga that was last week, I also managed to make a few Pinterest and cooking club recipes, finally finish Downton Abbey season three with CAM, watch a few family movies, finish CAM's tooth fairy pillow, clean the living room 25 times, vacuum my car (finally! -- let me tell you, a snowy, slushy, messy Maine winter without being parked in a garage has trashed my car's interior), take the kids to the high school's production of Beauty and the Beast (which was fantastic!) and watch some cool History Channel shows with Mick.  We went to Palm Sunday mass, read a few books and -- dare I say it -- I even graded!

And now it's Monday, the marking period closes Friday, and I'm already a week behind in everything I need to do this week.  Especially laundry.

Oh, the laundry!


*Because I am an attorney.  Bwah hah hah

p.s.  I have lots of photos to upload.  I am going to try to download them from my camera right now, and then post about them in the next day or two.  I promise.  (To try, that is.  I can't promise I'll be all that great about the posts.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

St. Patrick's Day

Our kids love St. Patrick's Day.

This is last year.  The stripey guy in front?  That's Peeky.

Possibly my favorite picture ever.

We don't do anything particularly amazing, but they love it.  It's so wonderful to see.  They truly look forward to "Leprechaun Day" as much as they do to Christmas.  I think that's in part because the past two years, we've adopted the Southern (? I have no idea.  Is it?) tradition of waking up to a leprechaun-visited house, too.  Those leprechauns are tricksters.  Last year, all our kitchen chairs were on top of the table, our big arm chairs were flipped over, the toilet water was green, and there was green "leprechaun dust" (decorating sugar) all over.  This year, Mick and I were at the Grande Auction, so Mick's mom took on the leprechauning duties.  I forgot to ask her to take pictures, but the kids couldn't tell us enough just how crazy that leprechaun was!  TV trays were stacked on top of each other, the milk in the fridge was turned green, the couch pillows were everywhere, Bea's stroller was on top of the coffee table, and WHM's "Peeky" and "Monkey Boy"  (his "best friends," his two favorite stuffed animals) were on top of the freezer!

We also brought the kids home some treats that I made, quite literally, on the ten-minute drive from the hotel to the house.  (Thank you, Pinterest, for the inspiration.)

Rainbow Twizzlers, marshmallows, and Rolos.  Easy-peasy and so cute!

Here are CAM and WHM this year -- not exactly sitting outside in the sunshine, but still loving each other and all decked out.  Well, minus CAM's pj pants which she insisted on wearing all day.  Can't blame her - it was Maine out!

The only photo where they are BOTH looking at me!

Isn't CAM's shirt precious?  I discovered the world of "custom" kids' clothes and had this made for her.  I love it!  (WHM's super-fantastic shirt is pretty cool, too -- a Gymboree steal from last April that I've been saving for a year!  heh heh!)

Now it's Sunday night, Mick and I are watching tv, the kids are sound asleep, and I'm trying to fill you in on all the fun we've had lately.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Indoor Camping

Last weekend, Mick and I surprised the kids with an indoor campfire, S'mores, and family movie night.  We* even camped out in the living room.

Our cracking, super-warm fire.

The rocks are from CAM's collection -- much like Tiny Pteranodon from Dinosaur Train, my little CAM has a "co-wection," as her little brother calls it.  CAM has collected rocks since she could walk.  They all rest on a little end table in the living room, so it was an extra treat that we needed them for our campfire.
 We made s'mores in the oven.  Kraft makes flat marshmallows now, and we splurged on the "real" graham crackers.  We layered a cracker, a row of a Hershey bar, and a flat marshmallow, and baked at 325 for about three minutes.  Then we put the other cracker on top.  They were delicious!

(I may have put too much chocolate in each s'more ... if you're the kind of person who thinks that's even possible.)

By this point we had Bea, Peeky, Monkey Boy ... it was a campfire party! 

Our movie was Wreck It Ralph.  We turned off every light in the house, so it was as if we were at the movies -- or watching outside.  The atmosphere we created was lots of fun, and the movie itself was pretty cute.  Slow at times, but not so much so that you check the clock out.  The graphics were great, the storyline was cute, and the jokes were funny for adults and kids without being the kind of adults-only crassness that makes me cringe when they throw it in a kids' movie.  It was a family movie through and through and we loved it.  In fact, we loved it so much that we watched it again, first thing Sunday morning.

Too cold to camp in Maine?  Not for us!  And we even had an indoor restroom!


*By "we," I mean the redheads.  Certain adults among us chose to go "camp out" in the master bedroom where they could take over the entire bed without being kicked for trying to take over the entire bed.   

This Weekend...

... was busy! 

I left work Friday, picked up CAM, and she and I came home and we all relaxed.  (Well, the kids and I made a wreath, but we ran out of material for it, so it's still a work in progress.)  We had a wonderfully unremarkable Friday night (as compared to last weekend, about which I still owe you a post).  But then yesterday was crazy!  CRAZY!  We woke up and Mick headed out to do some work on his truck, and the kids and I had our usual cinnamon rolls.  And from that point forward, apparently time evaporated!  CAM and I raced to shower and get dressed, and off we went to her very first birthday party in Maine.  Hooray!  It was very different from a Georgia party, but it was so wonderful that at last, she's been invited to a party.  And she had a fabulous, wonderful, screaming, yelling, jumping, running, eating, singing, being-five-and-turning six good time.  I was so happy.  I also got to spend some time chatting with some other moms, and that was also so very wonderful.  We may not end up best friends, and we may not actually have all that much in common, but our kids do go to the same school and it was nice to talk to other parents.  Heck, I talked to more people yesterday than I have in a long time!  It felt good!

We got home, and frantically tidied and did a few things, and then my in-laws arrived and Mick and I were off to CAM's school's annual "Grande Auction."  We had no idea what to expect, really -- right down to how the dinner would go, since we only know each other and were seated at a table for eight -- but it was a TON of fun!  From 5-7 there was a silent auction, and then at 7 there was a live auction with the "big ticket" items.  (To give you an idea, the silent auction included bags and totes and cakes and gifts, ski passes, gift certificates for local establishments, that kind of thing.  The big auction included a kayak, a week's stay in a condo on Sanibel Island (FL), two four-wheelers ... you get the idea.)  We put in bids on a few things in the silent auction and ended up winning CAM's class "chair."  The look on her face when we walked in with it this morning was worth whatever we might have paid, but we actually got away relatively easily.

[photo to come -- it's too dark in here now to take a good one!]

We also ended up seated with some pretty great people and that made for a fun night.  That part of the night had some regular raffles, some whole-group games, a nice dinner, and of course the auction went on, so it was a good time.  (There was also a cash bar.  Just sayin'.)  It was nice to get dressed up and go out, and that we loved the folks at our table was the icing on the cake. Of course, we get dressed up to go out so infrequently that we actually forgot to take a photo to commemorate the event.  So I'll sum it up:  I looked amazing and so did Mick.  Got the visual?  Great!

Today, Mick and I ran some errands and then basically vegged.  CAM and I finally worked on her French bulletin board -- one of those errands was to get the board from Home Depot.  I didn't bother with the play-by-play today, but here are a few snapshots of the finished product.  Check out those fabric-covered buttons -- CAM and I made them!  If you don't have a five-year-old redhead and need a tutorial, the redheaded girl dancing all over the fabric is Fancy Nancy, and she speaks French to be extra fancy.  We love her in our house. 

It's two feet wide by 18 inches tall.  I had the plywood cut, and all the rest CAM and I did together. 

I also went deeeeep into my craft supplies (frustratingly, whatever I need always seems to be still in a box -- it's magic like that) and found my poly-fil, so I was able to finish CAM's tooth fairy pillow.  She and I had started it earlier in the week.  She designed it, I sewed it, and then we needed to find the stuffing.  We finally crossed that off today, and although I wanted to embroider her name and forgot to do it before I closed it up, CAM is thrilled with it.  Yes, my friends, the Tooth Fairy is going to visit us soon!  We can't believe it, and CAM can't wait.

CAM picked everything out, colors, thread, the works.  Don't mind the bulge by the tooth; we fixed that.  Her tooth goes in the pocket ...

... and we'll keep a little record of what tooth was lost on what dates, in the back pocket.  The blanket stitching is not perfect, but it's pretty good and we're okay with it.  It's pink.  CAM loves it. 

And that, my friends, is it.  It's 9:30 but feels like 2 am.  I am not sure I am really up for a full day of work tomorrow, and as has been the routine, I don't have a prep period because it's usurped with meetings ... but I'll make it.  I am not going to grumble about work tonight!  (I may well grumble tomorrow ... stay tuned!)


Friday, March 15, 2013

Here's the Story ...

I think I've mentioned to you all how the PBS here is much different from what we had in Atlanta.  For starters, we had about 3 different PBS stations to choose among.  Here, it's much smaller, and the kids' programming that we love is not on at a time that meshes with our schedules.  (It's a bummer: instead of Dinosaur Train, we get Charlie Rose.  The kids are not so much fans.  Me, neither.)

Don't get me wrong: we have Netflix and Roku and Apple TV and the kids can navigate their ways around there faster than you can say, "Hand me the remote!"  So it's not as if we really lack; it's just that our schedules and routines are very different. 

Netflix, though, is far from ideal.  We either don't know if it can be done, or don't know how to do it, but we really want to create a limited "kids can select from these shows only" list.  (We are not big fans of kids' shows.  With a few exceptions, it's pretty much PBS Kids or bust around here, and even then, Caillou can move to siberia as far as we're concerned ... likewise a few other programs.)  Mick and I have been trying to wean the kids from Netflix because we realized a few weeks ago that WHM was taking the iPad and watching waaaaaaay too much Netflix.  He'd be "playing" in his room, under a blanket-made tent, watching some junk cartoon we'd never approve.  A few warnings and threats didn't work, so we've made good on the threats -- no. more. iPad.  We've always said we wouldn't let the tv babysit the kids, and the whole iPad portable-whatever-you-want-it-to-be has put a wrench in that plan, so we've taken some action.

All of this is to say that we recently discovered that one channel airs three or four straight hours of The Brady Bunch every weekday afternoon and evening.

I'd love to give a photo credit, but I have no idea where I got this.  I did a Google Image search and got more hits than I could count.

Perfect!  Clean, conservative, the kids are well-mannered and well-behaved, we can watch it as a family -- what's not to like?!

It's still a new thing, though, as we've only watched the Brady Bunch two days this week.  But the kids are mesmerized.

Here's a conversation we had last night while we watched another family favorite, Wheel of Fortune:

WHM: Mommy? I want to watch dat show about the boys and the guurls (holding his hands out to show two different groups) and they were together but they had nobody to live with.

Mick: The Brady Bunch?

WHM: YES, the Brady Bunch. Living all togevver but all awone!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Job Update

Right now I have one parent who has called everyone this side of the pope (in fairness, for a week she didn't have one to call) gunning for my job for completely fabricated tales.  I can abide a lot of things, but lying about me, I just can't get past.  It's been a struggle for almost two weeks now, KNOWING I need to "not worry" about it, but letting it consume me. 

The administration has been nothing short of AMAZING.  Uh-Maze-Ing.  I should be able to throw my head back and walk away confident and content, because they've been so incredible.  But I can't.  People are out there lying about me, and I can't get past it the way I should.

Then tonight I made the mistake of checking work email and there's an email from another parent -- different kid, different class -- to the principal, complaining about me.  The principal forwarded it to me -- he's an awesome guy and such a straight shooter -- and I really don't have reason to worry that he will be anything less than reasonable, and again, I've done nothing wrong.  But in the meantime, the letter is again filled with one-sided stories and outright lies.  In this case, it's how I say all sorts of things I've never said, and how the kid is failing, and the class is a handful.  Point of fact:  the class IS a handful, but do you want to know one of the ringleaders?  You got it.... the mom's little cherub.

It's funny that the kids whose parents complain the loudest are the kids who do the least work and are the most disruptive.

Sigh.  These are the kinds of things that have nothing to do with grading or lesson planning or likely anything that anyone thinks of when they think of what a teacher does.  But they are the things that literally interrupt my sleep, gray my hair, and generally hurt my heart.  I like to think I have a thick skin, but I suppose when it comes down to it, I don't.  I do get upset.  I do get hurt.  I do, quite frankly, get angry -- especially when people lie about me.  Attacks on me are attacks on me, and that people would blindly believe whatever their kids say blows my mind.  So, as you can imagine, I got this email tonight, and despite knowing in my heart that I have nothing to worry about and have done nothing wrong, I will more than likely not sleep tonight.  What is WRONG with me?!  Sheesh!  Buck up, kid! 

I adamantly believe that there is a difference between quitting and cutting one's losses.  I've tried to cut my losses twice now, leaving public education because I no longer believe in it and because I can't continue to do this to myself, and twice I've been pulled back.  (Okay, once I was pulled back, and once I was forced back.  But you know what I mean!)  And when it's good, it's very good; but when it's bad, it consumes me.  It eats at me.  It will put me in an early grave.  If you didn't know me, you'd think I was two people, simultaneously wanting to quit this minute and not come back ever, and at the same time, planning for "next year, I can't wait to try ..."

I need your help, friends.  How do I let this not get to me?  What do you do when you KNOW you need to not sweat something, but you just plain can't help it?

I know I am not the only teacher (heck or person!) who lets this kind of stuff get to me.  But man, it sure is getting to me.   


Monday, March 11, 2013

Epic Mom

Okay, so let me just say that in the midst of all the sad feelings last week and the week before, I also got a lot of mail.

No, no not bills and junk.

Okay, yes, lots of bills and junk. 

But I am not talking about that.  (Really, when am I ever talking about that?!)

I'm talking serious packages.  Parcels.  Big, padded envelopes.  Boxes with strange return addresses.

And for me, it doesn't matter if it's for me or the kids, as long as the fun stuff keeps on coming.  I pull in the driveway every day after work, get CAM out of her car seat, and run to the house like a kid running to get candy from a broken pinata, "is there mail? Is there mail?  What did I get?  Did anything come for me?!"

But I can't lie to you, folks:  I get just as excited when stuff comes for the kids as when it comes for me, but

[insert screeching sound here]

Okay, that's a lie.  I like it when I get something other than a bill in the mail with my name on it.  I am shallow and materialistic and stuff and especially like it when the stuff in the mail is for me.

And two weeks ago, it seemed that nearly everything that came was really for me!  See, I sold a few things on eBay which meant, naturally, that I could buy myself a few things on eBay (or other online retailers conveniently accepting that devil and angel itself, PayPal).  It's a vicious little circle, and I love it.


Among my new treasures?

This wonderful little gem.

Do you read We Band of Mothers?

1.  If you don't, you should.
2.  See #1.

Last year, it was Marianne and her Irish Catholic Chicago Married-to-a-Fireman self that kindly swapped with me for Leap Blog Day, right when I was a brand-new blogger and completely unsure what to do or say in this whole universe.  In the year since, I've faithfully read Marianne's blog and come to "know" and love her.  She's a fantastic writer, but what's especially nice is that Marianne's both funny and human.  She writes some amazing pieces that make your heart smile, and some hilarious pieces that make you laugh out loud.  Actually, come to think of it, I've never heard Marianne rant, because even her "rants" are hilarious(Note to self: take a lesson from Marianne!)

I had to have it, but I was a little slow on the ordering process... and finally, the week before last, I got my ridiculous act together, ordered it and it arrived!

I'd like to go on and on about how fabulous it is -- and it really, really is -- but you know what I really love?

The inscription.

Now, I'm happy to do a review and give you some teasers about her book (and I will soon) but really -- don't you just want your own inscription?

Marianne:  that seriously made my week, and it still makes me smile every time I think about it.  Thank you.

(And in the meantime, what are you waiting for friends?!  Order Epic Mom!) 


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Not this week, but last ... a rant

Not this past Thursday (two days ago), but a week and two days ago, I was driving home from work and I was pretty bummed.  It was one of those days where the dreary weather and all the stresses of our lives were wearing me down, and I was just ... I won't even say glum, just sad.  Just plain, old fashioned, lonely and sad.  We're here in Maine, but we're not really unpacked yet, things are still in storage and/or MIA, the kids don't really have a playroom yet, and I was really incredibly sad about how I have no girlfriends.  I felt like I had (have, really) no one to grab a quick lunch with or meet for a playdate (for the kids and Mommies!) or walk the mall with, or ... heck, even just sit around with a glass of wine and talk to. 

As you can imagine, once I was thinking too hard and feeling so sad, the list kept coming.

  • CAM (at the time) hadn't been invited to a single birthday party -- and I know the kids in her class must have had birthdays, right?  So is she cursed with my gene?  Or is it just that they don't "do" parties up here? 
  • Neither kid has been able to go to Kindermusik, because it simply doesn't exist in Maine.
  • CAM's birthday is coming up, and we'll have a party, but WHM's is close behind and there are only four kids, including him, in his preschool class.  Who will we invite to his party? 
  • I don't have a place to craft, and Mick's "office" is the kitchen table...
You get the idea.  I was sad about not having friends and I was feeling lonely, and the whole thing snowballed on me.   

(Point of fact: I teach as part of a team, and my teammates are nothing short of awesome.  I love them, and I am thankful every day that I had the good luck and God's grace to end up with them.  They make my job great on the good days, good on the bad days, and bearable on the unbearable days!  So I do have friends, I just don't have the kinds of non-work friends here that I had there. And yes, I realize that's vague.  That's because I have friends in NH and Mass and Alabama and Georgia and my sister is in Florida, but there's no one here.  In Maine.  Where I am.  Remember the movie "Kids," where the guy sings "I have no legs"?  Think of that, only "I have no friends."  That was me.)

Here's the link if you want to get the song in your head.  heh heh heh!  (You're very welcome, by the way!)

Okay, okay, so it wasn't quite a pity party, but it kind-of was. You get it.  I was sad.  Rough week. 

Then I came home, and a friend who's never been a teacher posted on Facebook a link talking about how wrong tracking is in high school classrooms. 

And THAT's when I about lost my mind.  You see, this person is in a position of authority -- a position to enact such policy -- in a school system.

I don't want to get too much into the tracking issue here -- trust me, I'll get ramped up again and post about it some day, I'm sure.  For now, let's just say that there's enough garbage that teachers have to deal with these days, that having someone who's never been a teacher tell me (or an entire school system) that that all kids should be together is someone who deserves to teach a in "heterogeneous" classroom!  They should get all the the warm fuzzy "everyone can achieve at the same level," "the smart kids can and should help the lower achievers," socialist nonsense love they can muster for a year.  Heck, I'll even sing kum-ba-yah for them.  Then, come back and let's chat.

Until then, I have two words.

One starts with F and the other rhymes with "cough."

Rant over.  Thank you for reading.


p.s.  this is not meant as a personal attack on my friend.  In fact, she's the kind of friend where we could sit for a long time and have an intelligent discussion on this topic and I know she'd be open-minded in terms of listening to the opinions and experience of a teacher (or teachers).  In fact, I'm sure she'd welcome such a discussion with me or anyone else.  I suppose my dander was up more because if that's how she feels, what about all the other people in positions of authority who are NOT reasonable, and who just act based on nothing but theory?  Well, we end up with the nonsense we have now, and it's incredibly frustrating and infuriating.  That's what.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Some of My Favorite Earrings

I had a student call me a "fucking loser" today at school. 

This was after the student had already had a phone out (which I took) and had mouthed off a fair amount to me most of the class period leading up to that.  I don't want to go into too many details here (for a variety of reasons; I'm pretty confident I could tell the story stripped of enough detail to render it perfectly safe for confidentiality stuff), but let's just say this is a kid who'd been reasonably good all year, and who seemed to have flipped a switch in recent days.

When I took the phone, the kid prayed ("JESUS CHRIST!  That's ridiculous!") and we all know PRAYER is not allowed in schools, so I sent the charmer to the office.  And that's when I got the "FUCKING LOSER."

Just another one of those delightful days in public education.

Anyway, I posted about it on my personal Facebook page.

Here is what I wrote:

According to one of my charming, more articulate students, I am a "fucking loser." This was said to my face. Doesn't that make you all wish you taught in a public school?

It was just enough to vent a little, nothing more.

A few of my friends posted sympathetic or outraged comments, and I appreciated that.  But then I had a former student -- a wonderful "kid" I had ten years ago, who is now married with a beautiful wife and "brand new" baby girl, and who is now a teacher himself -- comment. 

This is what he wrote:

Mrs. [redacted] was and still remains one of the most intelligent and passionate teachers I've ever had. Hated math until I had her sophomore year. Now I have a great appreciation for all she did and continues to do as an educator myself. That kid doesn't know how good he has it....I had some real lemons for teachers and you're about as good as it gets! Keep doing what you do so incredibly well!!

And that's what makes it all worth it.

Thanks, "former student."  I don't want to call you out by name here, because I don't know if you're comfortable with that.  But a thousand thank-you's.  You reminded me why I do what I do, and I love you for it.

Now, here's the best part:  

I had this student when I was very much a new teacher, still getting my "teacher legs" and trying to figure it all out.  I wasn't always the very best teacher, not by a long shot.  In fact, sometimes I think back to just how BAD I was and I absolutely cringe.  I really liked this student and his class, though, and I think we all had a great rapport, even if I was still so very green.

Anyway, this student's mom was wonderful to me when she found out we were moving from GA to NH.  She came to see me in my room one afternoon and told me how disappointed she was that I would not get my student's little sister one day, and how I was doing a great job (something that, at the time, I was not at all convinced of).  

At the end of the school year, this student and his family gave me a generous gift certificate to the mall.  I decided to not spend it on silly stuff, but to spend it on something that I would keep forever, to remember them by.  After a lot of "nope, nope, nope" wandering, I bought myself a nice pair of earrings at a jewelry store.  I still wear those earrings.  I have wondered on occasion, when I put them in and get to thinking, if my student even remembered me.  You know -- was their impression on me more lasting than my impression on them?  Do they look back now and think I really wasn't all that great?  But every time I put on the earrings I remembered him and his class and his family.  

I guess he did remember me, after all.  

I'm so thankful for the turns life takes.  I think I'll wear those earrings tomorrow.  


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I am soooooo poetic

I have an idea
Lesson summary Haikus
Let's see what kids write