Monday, December 31, 2007

BITTERSWEET

Well, another great vacation in Michigan has come to a close.

It's always a bittersweet time. I hate to leave ... I miss my family and friends up here. And I always feel guilty that I couldn't make it to see everyone while I was here.

But I'm also looking forward to getting back ... I hate living out of a suitcase ... I worry about my cat -- did she survive the vacation alone ... did the massive amount of kitty food last ... furthermore, what has she managed to get into while I was away!?!?

There's always a tug in my heart to stay, but really, there isn't a lot here for me anymore.

I love my Michigan friends and my family and miss them a lot, but thanks to modern technology i.e., cell phones, email, and instant messaging, I can talk to them all the time, and that somehow makes it feel that I'm not so far away.

So, good-bye Michigan ....

Good-bye to another Christmas and all the magic it holds ...

Good-bye to 2007 for that matter.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm eager to see what 2008 has in store!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

MY NEW COLLECTION


I've started a new collection ... vintage bottle brush trees, like these picture above. The ones I picked up at my favorite antique shop AMAZING GRACE ANTIQUES (Marshall, MI) are green and flocked, and two of them have red berries with tinsel.
I just love these trees! I envision getting a whole wad of them as I wander through antique malls.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

NO HOLIDAY BLUES THIS YEAR

I can actually say that this is the first year in a very, very, very long time, I've not awoken, on the day after Christmas, feeling depressed and blue.

This is a moment to celebrate!

My parents have always done Christmas BIG, even in the lean years. It's always been every bit of Christmas build-up leading up to the big day, and I've loved every minute of it. But for me, the build-up leads to a giant sigh of ... I don't know ... maybe, "oh-no-it's-all-over-with."

This year, I purposed to really relax during the season, and, in doing so, I made a couple of goals for myself:
  1. I wasn't going to stress about money and spending. I would set a goal, get some ideas gathered for gifts for everyone, and set out to find what I could with the money I had available to me. Low and behold, I was able to get all of my shopping done in a few hours time, AND I got everything I went into the store looking for ... wahoo!!!
  2. I wasn't going to spend my time "wishing away" my holiday season. I wanted to absorb all I could. I didn't want to stress about a dirty house or silly superficial stuff like that. I wanted to take it all in, whatever I could. Yes, I missed a couple of Christmas programs along the way, but I enjoyed what I was able to take in.
  3. I was going to look forward to going home and not put a lot of undue stress on myself at trying to do it all or see everyone. I may miss hanging out with some folks, but you know what, I'm spending some amazing quality time with my family, and I am enjoying them thoroughly.
  4. I didn't have a lot of expectations for gifts this year ... not that I do any year, but this year was a year where I couldn't really come up with an answer to my mother's question; "So, what would you like for Christmas this year?" I've ALWAYS been able to more than amply answer that question. This year, all I could come up with was, "ummm ... steak knives." It made the gifts that I did receive even more of a surprise because I wasn't anticipating anything, if that makes sense ...
  5. I really tried to keep the true meaning of the reason for celebrating alive in my heart. For me, Christmas is important because it is the celebration of the birth of my Saviour. Focusing on that made the season that much sweeter.

What revolutionary concepts, right? And yet, up to this point, I've never been able to master/meet these goals.

I am very proud that this year, I've met each one! It certainly has made the holiday season much more enjoyable.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

TRAVELING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

Yesterday, I arrived in Michigan to spend Christmas with my family. It was an uneventful trip which is just how I like those sorts of road trips.

A few thoughts about my travels ...

1. If you are handing out gold stars, I deserve one! I managed to get ALL the way through Indianapolis without any wrong veers off onto random exits. Yeah for me!

2. To the girl driving the electric blue Ion on I-69 ... Could I introduce you to a little object we all like to call CRUISE CONTROL? It's a brilliant invention, really. You set your cruise at a desired speed, and, this is going to blow your mind ... your car actually STAYS at that speed ... indefinitely! Amazing right? Seriously, get with the program. Cuz, the whole 60 to 85 to 45 to 72 to 56 to 80 thing, I wasn't vibin' it!

3. God bless the person that invented Starbucks! Seriously! That coffee makes me sane during those trips ... or at the very least, it helps make the 6-hour drive do-able.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

MODERN CONVENIENCES

I've hesitated blogging about this because my mother will, inevitably, read this entry, look at her computer screen with that motherly "look," and say in disgust, "That has to be height of laziness, Meg!"

However, I was never more excited than the day the BP Gas Station opened up at the entrance to my subdivision. From that moment on, I needed merely to roll out of my parking space, travel around a few curves, and screech to a halt at the gas pumps, having only spent a total of 2 minutes in my vehicle.

Okay, for some of you, I realize this seems silly. However, I grew up in a tiny little town. For a small, small town girl, traveling 15 minutes across town to Walmart, is a much appreciated treat, as opposed to the journey across every hill and dale to the closest Walmart, 25 minutes away! Okay, yes, I've blogged on many occasions that Frankfort's Walmart is pretty much be what I consider hell to be like. Still, it's the convenience factor.

Having a gas station at the entrance to my subdivision also helps me answer the Dad Question, "What's gas running in your area?" It's a question I get a lot, and one I typically answered, "Oh, I think the last time I actually looked at the sign, it was like in the $2.90s." Now, I can answer this question with authority.

Because I know he will ask when next I speak to him, gas today, Papa, is $2.89.

The BP station is also very convenient when a certain fourth grade teacher is running late because she slept through her alarm (which is usually the normal time, normal people get up, but is late for me when one is used to landing in her room at 6:30 a.m.), and she runs out of the door without water or any thought to breakfast.

One Pop Tart and a bottled water later ... she is on her way to tackle the second to last day of school before Christmas break!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

INAUGURATION DAY IN KENTUCKY

No school today.


It's Inauguration Day in the Capitol city, and, being that my school is in the very immediate area of the capitol, and all the streets in downtown Frankfort were going to be shut down, the powers that be decided to just not have classes.

It was a beautiful day for a parade ... balmy and sunny. I love a parade!

Photos will follow.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

LOST IN THE CHEESE

I have attempted to get into the Christmas spirit by watching as many Christmas movies as I possibly can ...

Okay, maybe what I'm really doing is masking the fact that I don't actually have much of a life beyond work these days, and so I spend a few TOO many hours each night burying myself in a fantasy-land veiled in Christmas themes ...

Either way you look at it, I've got myself a real Cheesy Christmas happening here.

The plots are all predictable ... the girl wakes up one morning and realizes her life isn't at all what she thought it would be so she wishes upon a star, BANG, travels back in time, meets her prince charming, falls in love, and lives happily ever after beginning on Christmas Eve night!

Or what about the guy that follows his heart and a hunch to a town he's never been, meets a beautiful girl, only to find out she's betrothed to another, falls in love with her anyway, BANG, The Kiss happens, they pledge their undying love to each other, and they live happily ever after beginning on Christmas Eve night!

Ick ... it's all so sugary sweet I'm almost gagging on the words I'm typing ...

And yet I fall for it ... every. single. time.

No wonder Lifetime makes a killing! Me and every other "30-something wanted it all, sacrificed it all, living a life teetering on the edge of crazy mundane and frenetic insanity, single girl" out there watches one of those saccharine infused, gag-provoking tear fests and thinks, for a brief moment in time, that they will walk out of their front door, head-long into a wintry wonderland and the arms of Mr. Right.

If only it were so ... back in the beginning of 2007, my friend Christy declared it the Year of Love. I embraced the concept whole-hearted. I wanted to believe in the Year of Love. I was going to find IT in the Year of Love.

Well, the year is almost over with ... I've found nothing but a pile of dirty socks I didn't know I had and a massive lint ball in the left pocket of my jeans.

To quote an 80s big hair band, "Love bites!"

Maybe they are on to something ...

Or maybe I'm just coming down off of my syrupy sugar high ...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

GIRL'S GOTTA KEEP UP WITH HER NEWS


I swear to you, she was watching the news!

REJECT FAMILY PORTRAITS




I'm always trying to come up with new ways to make my Christmas greeting different and unique. This year I somehow decided it would be fun to do a "family" portrait in front of the Christmas tree. Maddie the Cat was less than thrilled, as you will be able to tell almost immediately from the following FAMILY PORTRAIT REJECTS.


My life is so full, right? I mean, I'm now taking portraits of myself and my cat. What, exactly, is wrong with this picture?


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A CONVERSATION BETWEEN A DAD AND HIS DAUGHTER

Dad: Are the hunting seasons all done in Kentucky?

Daughter: I don't know.

Dad: Why not?

Daughter: Because I don't keep up with that sort of stuff.

Dad: You need to get yourself a hunter and then you would be up on all of it.

Daughter: And where does a girl like me go to meet a hunter?

Dad: A gun shop.

Daughter: Oh yeah! Cuz I wouldn't look at all out of place at a gun shop! I can see it now: "Can I help you ma'am?" "Nope, I'm just looking." Yeah, that would work out well!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

TEAM MEETING CONVERSATION

"What are you doing to help us get 100 % on our academic index in reading?

Me: "Ummm ... praying? Hard?"

"No, seriously. What are you doing?"

Me: "Everything I can. I guess that's why I'm not dating ... I'm here at 6:30 a.m., and I leave at 6:30 p.m. How do you meet men doing that? They aren't crawling out of the word-work around here."

"I just wanted to know how you were coming on the reading preparation for the standardized tests."

Me: "Oh."

Monday, December 03, 2007

A MINOR MISCALCULATION IN TIME

Western Kentucky is in a different time zone than the rest of the Eastern Seaboard.

I discovered this little Kentucky factoid at 10 o'clock this morning, when, after sitting and complaining for an hour at the audacity of everyone else that was late to this professional development I'd traveled two and a half hours to, I realized that all of the clocks in the room we were sitting in were actually set an hour behind the time on my cell phone!

I was an hour early to the conference!!! This meant that I was hour late getting home from the conference, which is only somewhat problematic when one considers I drove the school van that I was forced to sign out in order to go to this conference ... sign out with a time to be checked back in ...

Oops ... minor miscalculation ....

Sunday, December 02, 2007

OVERHEARD CONVERSATION IN AN UNDISCLOSED PARKING LOT

Me: Hey! Was that a snowflake I just felt on my head?!

Christy: No!

Me: Yes it was! Ouch! There was another one.

Christy: It wasn't a snowflake.

Me: Yes, it was. It's snowing!

Christy: Geez, Murray! You act like you're from Kentucky!

I'M SORRY. WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?

Is it just a little weird when the president of the school board suggests that I should sign up for Match.com?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

TO SCRUNCH OR NOT TO SCRUNCH

Yesterday, I attended the Frankfort High vs. Beechwood High football game. This just wasn't any old game. Frankfort High was working toward their first state championship since 1990, which isn't all that long ago ... I mean, it was the year I graduated from high school ...

Not that long ago ... until you start doing the math. Then you realize, it's actually 17 years ago, and most of the boys on the field weren't even BORN in 1990! Oh my gosh ... someone please pass me a paper bag!!! I need to breathe in it!

When I entered the football stadium, I was summarily handed a spirit pom-pom emblazoned with the Frankfort Orange and Blue. I immediately started scrunching it.

"What are you doing with that pom-pom?" one of my colleagues asked me.

"I'm scrunching my pom-pom!"

"Why?"

"Seriously!? You are asking me why? You can't shake a pom-pom without scrunching it. That's just ... that's just ... well, that's just wrong! We ALWAYS scrunched our pom-poms before we used them. Didn't everyone?"

"Huh ..." she said. Apparently, this too is a "northern thing."

I finished scrunching mine, and she looks at me and my pom-pom with envy. "Hey, yours does look a lot nicer than mine now! Much fuller."

"Do mine!"

Before it was said and done, I'd scrunched four people's pom-poms, everyone was exceedingly pleased.

Seriously?! Were we 80s girls in Michigan the ONLY ONES that scrunched their pom-poms?

Friday, November 30, 2007

BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE

I froze my butt off at a football game this evening. I did it in the name of school spirit, and because my principal was assigning points to our staff team competition and helped to form a human tunnel out on the field before hand.

I've not frozen my butt off at a football game in YEARS!!! I'm from Michigan. Freezing one's butt off at a football game is as much a sport as the actual game itself. The freezing can begin anywhere from mid-August to December 1st and beyond, depending on the season and chances of championships.

I remember the year my alma mater, Albion College, went all the way to win the Division IV Championship. Seems to me, they played one of their games in a freakin' snow storm ... somewhere in Minnesota ...

At any rate, before the game, I decided to pull out the Michigan Big Guns. After all, it was 47 degrees out, and I'm a delicate flower.

I layered up, I tell you! I was ready to go!

Layer #1: Form-fitting cotton long-sleeved shirt, heavy tights
Layer #2: Jeans, wool socks, wool turtleneck sweater
Layer #3: Hiking boots, big fluffy made in the Andes Mountains wool sweater
Layer #4: Stocking cap, mittens, and big wool scarf mom made me
Layer #5: Chapstick and quilt to wrap up in

Can't move, but at least I will still relatively warm.

I got to the game and was summarily laughed at!

"You've become a weenie, Murray!"

"Hey, don't you hail from Michigan? Don't football games start getting cold in ummm ... September?"

Yes, yes, and yes! It's true! You can experience all four seasons in one football game. Trust me, I have.

Still, I will admit I've gotten a bit ... how shall I put it ... thin in the blood department since moving down to Kentucky. I can't help it.

Even with all those layers, my legs and toes still got cold, and it has taken me the rest of the night to warm back up.

Oh, and I lost my voice from the cold night air ... and possibly from yelling too much.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

HAVING ONE OF THOSE DAYS

Have you ever had one of those days where you have had this amazingly, strong desire to shake someone until their eyes fell out of their head and rolled through a mud puddle?

Okay, maybe it's just me.

I have so little tolerance for adults that do really stupid things, and today, I've had to deal with adults that have done stupid things.

I know I should practice patience ... people like this are just like giant versions of a three-year old. But seriously, I've had a great deal of experience with three year olds. I feel fairly certain three year olds could manage themselves and their journey through life much better than stupid adults.

I think I will sit on my hands to keep myself from grabbing the next stupid person's neck, who happens along my path ...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

THIS DOES A TEACHER'S HEART GOOD

I received the following email this morning. It made my day! This is why I do what I do ....

I wanted to say that as a teacher, it is sometimes hard to know whether or not your efforts are paying off. And sometimes you never know. Although M has appeared to have struggled with Science, I think the following story should make you feel good. It certainly did us!

We were on our way to a friend's place this past Thankgiving. We were in Tennessee when my husband stopped for directions. It turned out that we stopped at a bank where some of the employees were trying to figure out why the Christmas lights were not working. My husband, a retired electrician, was eager to help. When he returned to the van, he proceeded to explain what had happened.

After trouble shooting the inside problem they were just down to dealing with the outside lightbulb string which still wasn't working. He suspected that one of the lightbulbs might be out and that when that happens the entire string won't work because ... and before he could complete his sentence a little voice from the back of the van said,"becauswe you have an open circuit."

Well after a moment of silence my husband says very surprisedly "that's right!" I asked him where he had learned that. M very proudly and matter-of-factly said that he had learned it in Science class. So don't give up on M he is absorbing! Thank you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I WANT TO RUN OUT AND DO THAT!

Yesterday, I received this email from Erin:

"You know it’s going to be a long day when you throw up in the parking lot when you get to work. Aahhh! I sure hope that it gets a little bit better as the day progresses. Oh well. The woes of pregnancy!"

Her story reminded me of a story Carrie told me about a year or so ago. She called me one day, while in the early stages of her pregnancy with Jack. This is a paraphrased version of her story:

"Dude, this baby hates me. I'm so sick all the time! The other day, I had to pull over on the side of the road and spew my cookies. I couldn't even make it to school!"

Yeah, I'm not sure they realize what a fabulous walking testimonial the two of them are on the "joys" of pregnancy. It makes a single girl want to run out and get pregnant immediately ... NOT!

Monday, November 26, 2007

HAPPY POST THANKSGIVING!

It's been awhile since I've posted.

So sorry ...

I was dealing with a bout of tonsillitis courtesy of my allergies mixed with nasty 4th grade germs. Then, I hosted my parents for Thanksgiving.

I've had a wonderful time hanging with my family as I always do! And when my parents leave, I realize how much I miss hanging out with them and my sister. We always have such a good time together.

It's the second holiday season my sister and I are spending down here in Kentucky, and I'm glad to be able to create some new traditions. The first one being going to the Southern Lights display at the Kentucky Horse Park. The lights are so pretty, and despite the crazy crowds, for me, it really started the holiday season off right! I loved hearing all the Christmas music while we wandered through all the displays.

We spent a good deal of time at Ann's new house, helping with quite a few home improvement projects. While I don't personally feel like I did much to help out, I did finish a small painting job Ann was eager to get finished, and I did whip up a mean tuna fish casserole another day while dad, mom, and Ann were busy working on various little issues.

Overall, her house is looking great! She's a tiny bit closer to getting her place settled and looking fabulous!

It's so easy, at the holiday season, to get down, depressed, and homesick. I refuse. I am so blessed in so many ways. I have a roof over my head, and I have a good job. I have a family that I love and that I know loves me. Oh sure, we can all get on each other's nerves every now and again ... misunderstand each other ... generally act like idiots around one another. However, I think, when it comes right down to it, we love each other and would stick up for each other no matter what! So many people don't have that with their families. So many people haven't any relationship with their families due to the extreme disfunction. I am very thankful for my family!

Overall, it was a good start to the holiday season. It's my goal to savor every last bit of it. Perhaps I will pack my calendar full of stuff to do! I want to experience every tangible nugget of this time of year!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I PAID HOW MUCH??

I recently read a magazine article that said a person can save a huge wad in their grocery bill by purchasing JUST from the sale ad.

Okay, I'm all about saving some cold hard cash to pay bills or save for traveling. So, I thought to myself, "Self, let's try it. What have you got to lose?"

I headed off to Kroger East last night, sales ad in hand ... ready to rake in the dough I was going to be saving. I spent hours in there, pouring over every sale tag in the place. I was determined to save money!

Then, I hit the register ... and the price kept going up and up ... $52.85 ... $67.32 ... $76.77 ... $83.12 ... $90.81 ... $117.85 ... a cold sweat broke out on my forehead, and I think I become death-bed pale. The computer calculated my savings by using my Kroger Valued Customer card, and that took the total down, yes, I said down, to $107 and some change.

"Is that it, ma'am?" The clerk said ... she being the one who had reminded everyone within a 20-mile radius that she couldn't wait to leave for the evening.

"Good glory!" I croaked.

"Something wrong?" She practically growled at me.

"No, it's just that I've never spent that much money grocery shopping at one time."

"Huh," she muttered completely unnerved by the fact that I was taking the time to write a check. Heaven forbid!

"Need any help with this ma'am," the bag boy smiled cheerfully.

"No, unless you want to pick me up from my poor spell." The bag boy laughed.

"She's never spent this much at the grocery store before," the clerk yawned, mocking me.

"Yeah, do I get a prize for this or something?"

"Wouldn't that be nice," the bag boy laughed. Apparently, I'm a hit with the grocery sackers of the world, but not the apathetic grocery clerks.

Anyway, I spent my short ride back to my place fretting about the amount I'd spent. That was until 4:30 this morning ...

I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. So, what's a girl to do?

Balance her check book!

As I started looking at the amount of money I spend, on average, running to THREE different stores buying groceries that are on sale, it adds up to just about what I spent last night at one store!

Huh!?

I remember, when I first started out making my own way in the world, I could buy two-weeks worth of groceries and not spend more than $50 or $60!

Okay, yes, just starting on my own, occurred roughly 11 or 12 years ago. So, I guess, to answer my own question, inflation happened ... a bear market happened ... the sub-prime happened ...

Oh well, one person ... $100 every two weeks. Does that seem extravagant?

Friday, November 16, 2007

MY BIG, GIGANTIC HEAD

I came down with a head cold. Nothing to knock me completely out of commission, but just enough to muddy the waters quite a bit.

For instance, Carrie called me after school on Wednesday. I wasn't able to answer because I was teaching my after-school class, but I made sure to buzz her as I was driving home. She, however, was in the process of getting beautiful hair at the salon. So, I had to leave a message.

I left a rambling message about not feeling well ... wishing I had some one at home that would get me hot tea and dote on me ... and did Tom do that for her? Or did he just annoy the crap out of her when she was sick ...

I left all of that and more. Then I just set my phone down on the seat next to me.

I am not sure how much time went by ... what I might have said while motoring home in commuter traffic ... what I might have screeched to along with the radio ... because I don't remember how, exactly, I got up E. Main Street. It's all a bit foggy until the recorded voice from Carrie's voice mail shouted at me, "You have now run out of time for recording your message. Please hang up and call again."

It's a wonder I didn't run off the road!

Example number 2 ... looking at a small package sitting on my dining room table last night, I wondered out loud, "Hmmm ... wonder what this is?" And then realizing, with a sickening lump in my stomach, that it's the little something I planned to send to Denise on her birthday ... which was a few days ago! By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DENISE!!!! You will have something winging it's way to you very soon!

Yeah, a good head cold makes for an interesting week. I can honestly say, I don't have a clue what I've taught my kids ... not one clue! I think we learned about coming up with a main idea in reading, but it's all a bit vague to me ...

Maybe that would explain the underwear on my head ....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NOT FUNNY, GOD

You know what's not funny, God? The gray hairs I am having to pluck out of my eyebrows! Sooooo not funny!

Also, not funny, is the head cold I now have. I don't see the punch line in this ...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

OPUS

Probably 13 years ago, I went with Denise (correct me if I'm wrong, Nene) to see MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS in the theatre.

As I recall, the movie didn't garner great acclaim. It seems to me that it barely registered a blip on the MOVIES THAT ROCK OUR WORLDS arena. But it rocked my world. It was ground-breaking for me.

At the time, I was viewing the movie from a former student's point of view ... and from the perspective of someone who just desperately wanted to make a difference in her world and didn't have a clue how.

I remember being in tears as Mr. Holland walked into that auditorium and the crowd burst into uproarious applause in those final scenes. To be able to plow through a life and make that much of an impact on people ...

Today, I watched it again except, this time, I was watching it from a teacher's perspective. I gotta tell you, I wept more this time around than the first time I viewed it. It had a greater emotional impact for me than I ever could have imagined.

What an impact this man had on generations of students, in a job he didn't even want in the beginning ... it became the one thing he hated giving up.

How I can relate!

This career isn't something I went searching for ... rather, it found me, and it wouldn't let me go.

Mr. Holland loses his job at the end of the movie, when his principal is forced to cut the entire arts department in an effort to make budgetary cuts that will save his district. The scene where Mr. Holland sat in the empty classroom, with his last few boxes packed and ready to be taken away ... it brought me to tears ...

I remember the day I left my classroom in Michigan for the very last time ... I'd received yet another pink slip ... everyone else had already left for the summer, and there I was ... in an empty classroom, in an empty building, with just the memories of children's voices hanging in the air around me. Shutting the door, rattling it to make sure it was locked, it broke my heart. I remember leaving the building in tears ... knowing, deep in my soul, I wouldn't be coming back ... and not having a clue where the rest of my life was going ...

The pivotal scene is watching a tearful Mr. Holland lead his current and former students through a stirring performance of his opus, composed over a thirty year span of life and love and loss ...

I saw a student from last year at the book fair yesterday. She gave me a hug and then said, "We all miss you! We've taken a vote, and every single one of us want you back. You were an amazing teacher."

Beyond the fact that for one brief moment she buoyed my little ego, I felt almost sick in my heart. I don't want her to miss me. I want her to be irrevocably changed by something I said or did in that classroom. I want her to feel like she can tackle the world, as a woman and as a scholar because of something she discovered in my classroom. I want her to be a ripple in the sea of her humanity because of the impact of learning!

If she can do that ... if she is shaped by the things she internalized ... if she can be a better human being and a stronger woman because of a nugget she was able to analyze in my classroom, then it will all be worth it ... all the tears ... all the hard work ... all the sleepless nights ... all the sacrifice I've made, financially, personally, socially ... that, my friends, will be my Opus ...

Friday, November 09, 2007

QUEEN OF THE 4TH GRADE TRICKS ... I'VE TRIED THEM ALL

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty as well as the innocent.

Callie* fell spread eagle on the pavement the other day as we were heading in from recess. She's constantly taking spills of one sort of another. I really thought she'd hurt herself this time.

As she's picking herself up, three of my boys, Brian*, Jimmy*, and Zed*, commence to laughing ... out loud ... obnoxiously. None of them bothered to see if Callie was okay. They just started laughing.

"Gentlemen!" I bellowed. This could be the reason I have a permanent case of laryngitis -- I don't know. "Gentleman, since you thought that was so funny, you get to spend tomorrow's recess writing letters of apology to Callie. HOW RUDE! Did it not occur to any of you to help her up or see if she was alright?"

"No ma'am," said in unison.

"Unbelievable!"

Fast-forward to today.

Brian, who has just looked up at the board and realized that he will be walking for his next 18.72 recesses (we make them walk laps around the playground to "pay recess back"), sees an opportunity for some negotiation.

"Um, Miss Murray," he says meekly. "I wasn't laughing at Callie yesterday. See, Mitchell told a joke, and I was laughing at that."

His name has been on the board since yesterday. I can tell it's taken him the whole morning, today, to come up with this little gem. This could explain why he's gotten nothing else done!

"Really? Huh. What was the joke?"

You could just see it in his eyes and all over his face ... "D'oh! Didn't think she'd ask that!"

"Ummmm..."

"Yeah, nope. Not buying it. Get your clipboard and start writing!"

These kids don't believe me when I tell them. I AM THE QUEEN OF TRICKS! I wrote the book ... I've field tested them all! There's not much you can pull over on me.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A WORD ABOUT TRAFFIC

That word?

GRRRRRRR ....

Someone in the ivory tower of government has decided to shut down a part of I 64 to do some bridge work. I'm not complaining because I sure don't want to have bridge collapse or anything like that. However, shutting down I 64 means that they have to reroute traffic THROUGH Frankfort. This translates into: "Send 'em down the EAST-WEST CONNECTOR, folks!"

The East-West Connector is exactly that ... a road that connects the eastern portion of town to the western portion of town. What this means is that a BAGILLION and one cars and trucks are now laboriously motoring down the connector on any given day during any given time of that any given day.

Now, motoring implies one is actually MOVING, when in actuality, it is more like a slow meandering marked by a violent stomping of the brakes, every half second. I made the silly mistake of trying to get to my bank on Friday -- its one and only branch situated right on the corner of E-W CONNECTOR and HELL. It wasn't fun.

All of the locals are aware of this traffic snafu, and, so, they are dutifully altering their routes. This is all well and good EXCEPT when I am trying to get home after work, and your altered route comes in direct contact with my getting home ... as was the case today.

Okay, I will give you the fact that I chose to leave at the exact same time that ALL the state employees were heading off for home ... do try to avoid that time of day like the plague! However, getting stuck behind the man hell-bent on following the speed limit for COVERED WAGONS sort of sours a mood quickly.

Seriously, people! It SAYS 35 miles per hour! Let's try to keep up!

It also didn't help that I'd spent an entire day -- actually my second day -- in a building where the outdoor temperature was ACTUALLY warmer than inside. Yes, I did have the heat on so high and at such a rate of speed that my eyeballs did, in fact, begin to adhere to the insides of my eyelids. HOWEVER, this should have IN NO WAY impeded my ability to get home.

And yet, I was impeded!

And while we're on the subject of ANNOYING-THE-CRAP-OF-ME people in their cars, the lady that drives by me with the NEW MOM AND BABY ON BOARD sign ... I have a few choice words for her:
  1. Honestly, while I'm thrilled that yet one more couple has figured out how to procreate, I really don't care that you are a new mother. Really. My life will go on ...
  2. You've been driving by me with that sign stuck in your window for months! You have ceased to become NEW any longer!
  3. Am I supposed to start following the SPEED LIMIT FOR COVERED WAGONS upon visual contact of your dumb little sign? Because if so, you might want to do some self-analysis of your own driving abilities. I mean, flying by me like a bat out of hell, doesn't necessarily exude CAREFUL, WATCHFUL driving.
  4. Does being a new mom give you more of a right on the roadway? Or are you just warning us that you are operating a heavy piece of machinery on little to no sleep? Just wondering ...

I think I need a good, stiff drink ...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

THE KISS OF DEATH

I'm trying not to take this personally, but I'm beginning to think that my karma is the KISS OF DEATH.

Case in point ...

I was laid off every time you turned around when I taught in Michigan. In case you aren't sure about the calculations, that is pretty much ALL THE TIME.

Last year, I took a job down here in Kentucky ... in a district where they haven't seen lay offs in they couldn't even tell me how long (their words, not mine). Three weeks after the year started, the powers that be started talking about pink slips. Amazing!

Apparently, along with the financial ruin that I brought to my new job, I also managed to drag done here Michigan's infamous weather patterns, where as a person could very well experience spring, summer, fall, and winter within a span of a couple of hours. I know this, because we had UNSEASONABLY frigid temperatures this past winter. I am sure this is the reason, too, that a drought came to stay for the summer months, essentially wiping out half of most farmers' crops, and thus, their pay. Again with the financial ruin!!

Tonight, after sending my after-school group out the door, I was piddling around in my room, when my friend, and fellow teacher, Jody walked in.

"Just so you know, there is smoke coming from the ceiling of the cafeteria."

Jody's husband is a fire fighter. I figured she had this one under control.

"Ummm, okay." I reply. "Is the fire department coming?"
I can see the firehouse from my classroom window. Furthermore, I CAN BLOODY HEAR THEM every time they scream out of the barn, not that I'm complaining or anything, but it's at least 6 times on average ... A DAY.

No such activity was occurring at this precise moment.

"Well, Rich [our principal] is looking into it right now."

"Okay," I say, still with much hesitation in my voice. I mean, he's a great guy and all, but last time I checked, I didn't see any turnout gear hanging in his office.

"I just thought I'd tell you, in case you were planning on staying at all."

Okay, so I've lived through one fire at a school. One was enough. I threw what I could into my bag and made a fast exit.

"So, is the fire department going to be called to look at this ... ever?" I asked Jody as we exited the building.

"I think they might," Jody said, "eventually."

"Would this be before the school burns to the ground? Or after?"

"Rich called Eddie [our maintenance man]. Eddie's going to check it out."

"Oh," I say looking to see if I see smoke rolling off of the roof of our building.

Seriously, people. Is my karma turning around and biting me in the butt or what?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

WAIT A SECOND! SERIOUSLY!?!?!?

Today is Election Day.

Kentucky is gearing up for a pretty hotly contested race for the Governor's seat. We shall see how it all ends.

I heard this announcement on the news this morning; "Don't forget citizens. Liquor sales will be suspended today for election day. It is illegal to be intoxicated at voting polls."

Okay ... wait a second!

I've never heard of such a thing ... stopping the sale of booze for an election!? Unbelievable!

While I'm pretty sure it's illegal to drink and vote in Michigan, I don't ever remember Michigan banning the sale of liquor on Election Day. Although, I could be wrong.

So, this is a problem in Kentucky? Have there been wide-spread drinking and voting epidemics? Hmmm ... have I been approaching my voting technique completely wrong all these years?

I mean, there might be a call for such a thing ... say, with the upcoming Presidential Elections. I mean with the plethora of shifty candidates we've got on both sides and the flip-flopping on "principles" that seems to be prevalent in our American politics these days, a fifth of bourbon and a yank on the old election poll lever might be just the thing to turn this country around ...

I don't know ... I'm just sayin' ...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

AN HOUR OF MY LIFE GONE FOREVER

I just spent an hour watching a KENTUCKY AFIELD Hunting Special.

Okay, now, my friend Erin, who will eventually read this, is going to say, I guarantee it, "Why would you do this? What's wrong with you? That's an hour of your life you can't get back!"

Erin also just her foot down with her husband, Joe. Not another dead deer head on the living room wall. Three's the limit.

I would tend to agree with her. Seems to me, they are just crying out to be decorated in all sorts of fun ways with hats and sun glasses and scarves and other such accouterments ... but Joe says that by doing so, you are disrespecting the deer. Who knew!

But I digress ...

So, I sat mesmerized by this call-in hunting show.

It caught my attention because one of my neighbors was on the show as well as a friend of Erin and Joe's that I'd met in the past. However, what kept me watching was all the interesting information I gleaned.

For instance, did you know that there were such things as bearded hens (female turkeys with male/Tom beards)? I didn't!

Also, were you aware that there are horned does walking around our Earth (female deer with antlers)? This fact escaped me somehow!

I also learned that the deer population here in Kentucky can suffer from a disease called EHD, commonly known as Blue Tongue. It makes their internal organs hemorrhage (yuck), and their tongues swell and hang out of their mouths. This was fascinating to me ... slightly morbid, but nonetheless, fascinating. Our deer population has been hit particularly hard this year, based on the number of dead deer bodies along water sources ... interesting indeed.

AND, there are white-spotted deer -- slightly rare, but not too rare ... I had no idea!

You can hunt bobcat too, but there is a limit of 5 and only 3 can be taken with a gun. Amazing! I had no idea.

Being the good daughter that I am, I called my dad to share my new-found knowledge.

Apparently, he was already aware. I guess that stands to reason considering he's spent the better part of my life (and then some) pouring over any sort of wildlife what-not-and-so-forth he could get his hands on.

I suppose, all this information will find it's way into my TRIVIAL KNOWLEDGE ABOUT TRIVIAL JUNK file in my brain, only to be pulled out at cocktail parties ... when I run out things to say ...

I'm a hit during those 7 second lulls in conversation ...

"Say," I say, sipping my white wine, "have you heard about the biting midges that pass EHD disease to the Kentucky deer population?"

A HALLELUJAH SORT OF MOMENT

I have been having a pity party for myself the last two weeks.

I've been frustrated with my job. Things have not been going according to plan. I am under an immense amount of pressure from all angles and corners, and I know my every move is being monitored by my team under a microscope, for what reason, I am not sure.

I am being made to prove myself under unreasonable circumstances, and my kids aren't cooperating.

There have been moments where I've felt like throwing myself off of the Singing Bridge in a giant heap of books and assessments and portfolios.

Then I faced having to put together what I felt was a stupid presentation for my Ketucky Reading Project meeting earlier today (yes, you read that correctly ... a Saturday morning meeting ... boo hiss!).

I opened my assigned reading begrudingly and ....

... and I had a HALLELUJAH, MEET JESUS sort of moment.

Come to find out, this particular reading was exactly what I needed ... the shot in the arm necessary to help me recognize that I need to get back to what I know is important ... teaching to the individual needs of my students. The short passage I wasn't at all willing to read, validated who I was as a teacher and a person ... it helped me recognize, once again, that what I know to do in my classroom is best practices ... is appropriate ... will make my students succeed!

I am doing it right!

So, my new plan of action is to ignore the nay-sayers that keep telling me to do it their way. My students will succeed if I follow the philosophical fiber of my being and what I know is best practices.

So there!

W

Friday, November 02, 2007

PORTRAIT OF AN ALLEGEDLY BROKEN TOE



Please ignore the fact that my toes haven't seen a good polish in weeks ... flip-flop season is, sadly, over ...

BROKEN TOE

I woke up yesterday morning, wandered into the bathroom in a sleep-drunk haze, and crawled into the shower, where I immediately SMASHED my right pinky toe on the side of the tub.

Note to self: be a little more awake when entering any shower area.

I now have what I feel pretty confident is a broken toe.

How would I know this?

Well, it's two times bigger than it should be, and it's purple! Oh, and did I mention I have trouble fitting it into any shoes, and when I try to move it, I feel sick to my stomach from the pain???

Yeah, good times!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HAPPY FREAKIN' HALLOWEEN

If I can make it through this day without wanting to give myself a lobotomy with a coat hanger, it will be a good day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

IT'S OFFICIAL! I'M A WEENIE!

I put my flannel sheets on my bed. I couldn't hack being cold again.

Tonight, I am sitting here, in a tiny little ball, trying to stay warm.

Crap! I'm going to have to go down stairs, wrestle my old filter out of the furnace, and wrestle a new one in.

Then, I'm going to have to brew some coffee, because I will never be able to survive the evening with out some substantial warmth.

Yes, it is official!!! I am a big, fat weenie!

RANTING AND RAVING

My principal keeps reminding us that we only have 39 days in this quarter -- actually, today we only 34, as we ran through 5 of them last week.


He's stressing me out ... not that I wasn't already.


What a week!


Not one I want to repeat ANY time soon!


I started our first week back with Early Bus Duty. If you aren't familiar, Early Bus Duty begins at 7:15 a.m., and you must stand there and watch to make sure those that come in on an early bus, consume a breakfast and generally stay out of trouble.


Early Bus Duty throws a wrench in your works, ESPECIALLY on the first week back from break.


It was a full moon last week.


I don't care what anyone says, a FULL MOON affects the way children think (they don't), the way they behave (they don't), and they way they generally move (they don't) through their lives.


As if that weren't enough, we had report cards to send home on Thursday, and my H drive decided to crash, taking EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM I'D SAVED with it!


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I had to RE-DO EVERY LAST ONE OF MY REPORT CARDS.


Oh, and did I mention a meeting I had to attend that seemed to last longer than it took God to create the Earth?


I logged a 10-hour day on Monday, pretty close to a 12-hour day on Tuesday, a 13-hour day on Wednesday, and an 11-hour day on Thursday.


I'm tired ... spent ... at a loss for how to regain my energy for this week ... and it's a HOLIDAY week.


Heaven help me! It's Halloween on Wednesday and all the insanity that will create. Then, I must deal with the sugar hangover on Thursday.


I love me job, really I do. I just thought maybe I could catch a teeny, weeny break before the insanity of the Christmas holidays begin ....


Guess not ...


No rest for the weary ...


No mental peace for the nearly dead ...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

THE BLACK CAT CHASE ... REVISITED

I'm sure my entire readership ... all 8 of you ... have been eagerly awaiting the finishing time in the Black Cat Chase.

Well, in my age group, Women 35-39 (that alone is slightly depressing), I finished 35 out of 39. Please keep in mind that was with a lot of women in my age group RUNNING the thing. I was WALKING it. My finishing time was 49:59.09. Not bad, but I could definitely do better, I think. I mean, come on. It was just over 3 miles.

At any rate, I think I'm hooked. This is the next 5k run/walk I want to do http://www.ymcaofcentralky.org/media/pdf/reindeer_ramble_2007_brochure.pdf. The Reindeer Ramble. Sounds like fun!!!!

Am I insane or what??

Friday, October 26, 2007

THE BLACK CAT CHASE

I did it!

I finished my first 5K run/walk.

Oh, did I mention I WALKED it? Yeah, this body ain't made for running. Nothing aerodynamic on me! Trust me ... I've got all the parts that will weigh you down and cause a lot of wind resistance.

But I finished.

I wasn't the head of the pack or anything. One of the teachers (we did this as a big school group ... about 50 of us or so ... lots of team spirit ... there were costumes involved) I work with is pregnant. She's due in January or February ... she was waaaaaaay ahead of me.

You can come to your own conclusions on that one, but I know for a fact that she doesn't suffer from asthma ...

At any rate, I finished ... and I think I'm hooked. I want to do another one really soon!

In the meantime, you will just have to wait until I find out what my final time is ... rest assured, I will post it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

YOU KNOW YOU ARE A BIG GIRL WHEN ...

... you get BEYOND control excited over the prospect of buying your favorite laundry detergent on sale ... 2 for $5!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

MELLOW MUSHROOM





Asheville, NC, is very, very, very, granola-crunchy. No offense to any of my friends that are. I love you still! It's just that I've decided, after my concentrated stay in Asheville, that I am not.

Erin and I were put off by the number of people sporting dred-locks and no deodorant. I so appreciate the divergent thinkers of our world, but I worry about what lives in those masses of unwashed, untouched hair ... and no deod? Ick. I'm sorry, but ick.

So, on Tuesday night, we chose to dine at a funky pizza place called THE MELLOW MUSHROOM. It was great food, but I did come away with a few insights about the place as well as me as a person.

  1. I am not of the artsy-fartsy persuasion. I'm more the "go to an art gallery opening, sip wine and be snobby about the whole thing" sort of person. God love the artsy-fartsies out there, though! If it weren't for you, people like me wouldn't exist.


  2. I am IN LOVE WITH THE MAN OR WOMAN THAT CREATED deodorant. Really. I LOVE YOU!!!!


  3. I am in LOVE with hair salons! There is nothing like running your fingers through a silky, critter-free head of hair ... really!


  4. I do believe, if verbalized appropriately, I could have actually ordered, and received a real, honest-to-goodness 'shroom! Seriously! It was that kind of place. We asked our dred-locked server what her opinion was of the parmesan pretzels versus their other pretzel offering, and her response was a sort of dreamy, hazy, "dude, I'm not down with the garlic pretzels." I think she'd sampled some 'shrooms, if you know what I mean.

The photos above are of Erin and I trying to look mellow. Erin did a pretty good job, but I look an oddly "mellow" senior portrait. The blurry photo is of what I think my surroundings would have looked like should I have partaken of a 'shroom.

Friday, October 19, 2007

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY





If you EVER get the opportunity to drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you MUST! It is absolutely breathtaking.

Here are a variety of pictures depicting my cheese-eating grin as I exclaimed, ad nauseum, "Isn't that gorgeous?!?!"


HIKING IN THE MOUNTAINS

Erin and I decided that we would go hiking while we were in North Carolina. The original plan was to drive the Parkway to Linville Falls and then hike back to catch a glimpse. However, after we got on the road, we decided to hit the Crabtree Meadows Falls instead.

I was soooooo excited. You just can't even imagine how excited I was!! I packed my honest-to-goodness hiking boots and everything!

I was excited ..... until my eyes landed on this sign ... ummm, hello! BEARS!?!?!? All I could think was, "Great! I think I smell like food ... I sprayed Plumeria Body Splash on this morning. That's gotta smell like air freshener (see #4 on the Bear Alert). Plus, we have no cell service AND no side arms, and my dad ALWAYS said it's safer to hike with a side arm. I don't even know how to fire a side arm!"

Erin was looking forward to the hike as well, and, apparently, she didn't see her life flash before her eyes as I had when I read that Bear Alert. So, for her sake, I started down the trail, convinced I heard growling in the distance. As we walked, we happened upon a lovely couple, Bill and Debbie from western Indiana. Debbie was also being a weenie, as Erin put it. The Bear Alert had not gone unnoticed by Debbie either. So, we decided we were stronger than the bear in a larger group. We picked up another couple from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the six of us hiked down to the Crabtree Meadow Falls. It was an incredible view, and we were able to get
relatively close to the falls.



























This final photo is of Erin and I, back at the trail head. Notice how flushed and sweaty we are? Hiking is hard work!

THE BILTMORE ROSES





The roses still managed to look amazing despite the fact that we were well past their peak.


MORE BILTMORE -- THE CONSERVATORY AND WALLED GARDENS

These are photos of the Walled Garden. In the first photo, you get an idea of what meets your eyes as you walk toward it. The Conservatory can be seen just beyond all the flowers.


Mother, please note the vast amount of decorative grasses!! Isn't it pretty!?!?!? If George Vanderbilt could do it ....














MORE BILTMORE -- SOUTH TERRACE, ITALIAN GARDEN, & PERGOLA OVERLOOKING FORMER LAWN TENNIS COURT


Photo 1: Erin standing on the South Terrace looking out over the lawns ... the mountains are in the distance.

Photo 2: Erin walking down the stone steps ... we're heading to the Conservatory and gardens. In the background, you can see them setting up a tent in the Italian Gardens. Therefore, we weren't really able to roam there.

Photo 3: The Pergola and the background shows the lawn that was the former lawn tennis court. Every multi-billionaire had to have one!

Photo 4: The South Terrace.

Photo 5: Me on the South Terrace. Check out the mountains in the background!









THE GHOSTS OF GEORGE AND EDITH VANDERBILT?


These folks were strolling around the grounds ...


Thursday, October 18, 2007

ERIN AND MEGAN'S BIG ADVENTURE

It all started innocently enough a few months back. Erin and I were talking about traveling ... what we want to see ... what we like to do ... all of our dreams for traveling ...

Come to find out, we LOVE the same sorts of things ... want to see the same sorts of things ... want to do the same sorts of things ...

"So, why don't we plan a trip somewhere?"

That was all it took for Erin, who believes Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel fame has stolen her true job, to begin the planning of ERIN AND MEGAN'S BIG ADVENTURE.

We had originally thought that Memphis would be a riot. Then, Erin said the magic words ... "Or, we could go to the Biltmore in North Carolina?"

That was it! I was sold! You see, this summer, I'd listened to another teacher go on and on and on about the amazing scenery at the Biltmore.

BOOK IT!

The following pictures are of our little road trip. What a freakin' riot!

MONDAY ... OUR NORTH CAROLINA ROAD TRIP BEGINS!







Photo #1: This is Erin as we leave my neighborhood. The trip has officially begun!!!




Photos #2: I quickly became OBSESSED with views we were seeing all around us. They were amazing. I think I took 20+ shots of JUST the scenery along the highway. How sad is that?

MORE OBSESSIVE SHOTS OF THE SCENERY ... ON THE WAY TO NC!






THE BILTMORE MCDONALDS





Photos taken from a McDonalds right outside of the Biltmore Gates ... supposedly the classiest McDonalds in the world ... made all the more classy by Erin and myself!