Monday, June 29, 2009

PANIC ATTACKS AND OTHER SUMMER FUN

I went into my classroom today ... looked at the calendar ... and commenced with a panic attack.

Four weeks! F.O.U.R. W.E.E.K.S.

That is all the time I have left to get my act together for this new little group of kiddos, relax, chill, and play some for my self.

Four weeks.

Where does the time go?

I know part of it went toward a week of PD ... a week of my life I won't ever get back ... but no use crying over spilled milk.

I will be a little silent here for one of the upcoming four weeks as my good friend Denise and her family will be arriving in the Bluegrass State sometime tomorrow afternoon for a week's worth of vacation ...

It will sort of be like camping for them when you take into consideration the cramped quarters of my townhouse! I suppose they could consider it "roughing it."

Yeah ... let's go with that!

Weather is suppose to be brilliant, which I'm exceedingly pleased about! Considering the Amazon Rain Forest conditions we've had up until yesterday, brilliant is just what the doctor ordered! Moss was beginning to grow between my toes ... at least that's what I think was growing there ....

I've got a lot to do though between me getting up tomorrow and them arriving. And the more I think about tomorrow's TO DO list, the more another panic attack begins to settle in ...

In the meantime, I can always whip up a smoothie (to smooth out my rough edges) in my new blender that I finally broke down and purchased today. I hated spending the money, but using my old blender was a complete waste of energy. I could have chewed up whatever I was trying to blend and spit it out and would have gotten it smoother than that sorry excuse for a blender would have. The new blender made short order of the four bananas that were quickly on their way out. Perfect for some banana bread, and honestly, it was the best loaf I've made in a very, very long time. That blender is freakin' fantastic! I might just go on a liquid diet in an effort to make up for all the lost blending time!

Emmy has learned a new trick, and by trick, I mean, something extremely naughty, and, sadly, it's all my fault. Up until three days ago, she's not been remotely interested in jumping up on any sort of counter tops ... bathroom sinks ... anything! Then, for some reason, she got it in her head to jump up on the sink in the guest bedroom, and I thought, "well, what the heck! Let's see if she'll play in the water if I turn the faucet on a bit."

Really, it's like asking the question, "well, what the heck! Let's see if I get wet when I stand out in the rain," because OF COURSE she's going to want to play in the water -- she's a Maine Coon!

Now, it doesn't matter what sink it is, kitchen or otherwise, she feels she's got the unalienable right to jump in it and play! This becomes very interesting when I'm trying to do dishes, and we've had more than one occasion where I've chased her off of the counters with a spray bottle in hand!

And you thought your life was exciting ...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

WHAT YOU WOULD SEE DRIVING DOWN A KENTUCKY ROAD




THIS IS YOUR KITTEN ON HEAT & HUMIDITY

MY NEW FRIEND


Met this guy while at the Writing Retreat at Blue Licks State Resort. He's very showy, isn't he? Thus the reason for his name, I do suppose ... Royal Walnut Moth or Citheronia Regalis! Their homes of choice are deciduous woods, so it stands to reason that I discovered him on the edge of one!

VIEW OUT OF ROOM 209


Here's what I got to see from the deck of my room at the Blue Licks State Resort ... so pretty!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

8 DOWN, 42 MORE TO GO


INTO THE WILD
by Jon Krakauer

This book was ... interesting. It's a non-fiction account of Chris McCandless' tragic one-man journey into the Alaskan bush. Tragic because hunters later found his body in an abandoned bus, the victim of apparent starvation.

I'm not going to say I hated the book, but I'm also not going to say that I loved the book. You see, I can't begin to understand what would possess a man to leave a life behind, a life of privilege, to live in solitude in one of the roughest parts of our country, the Alaskan bush ... scrounging for berries and killing his own food.

I'm not a person of extremes and adventure ... not extreme adventure. Don't get me wrong; I do love a good adventure, but it usually includes suitable accommodations, and by suitable, I mean running water in the same general vicinity as the area in which I will sleep [read HOTEL into that statement, please].

The author, Jon Krakauer, he's interesting in his own right. While others questioned Chris McCandless' mental state, Krakauer almost seemed in awe of his willingness to shed society and go it on his own. He states that he understands the need for extreme adventure, and he even relates a trip he, himself took, that could have ended in a similar fashion to McCandless' ... in death. It seems the author is saying that it might have just been sheer luck or even fate that he survived and McCandless' didn't ... it could have easily been Krakauer that we were all reading about.

Still, I think there has to be a certain amount of "off-centeredness" that causes someone to abandon their family, their lives, their car and few earthly possessions, live in relative poverty, and then want to go it alone in a land that, in all honesty, he really didn't know all that much about. Had he taken the time to really educate himself before hand, it's my opinion that he might still be alive today, and therefore, the story would be much, much different.

I BLAME THIS ALL ON MY FATHER

I've spent the better part of an hour trying to mapquest directions to Blue Licks State Resort.

It's not that they don't have directions on their site. They do. But their directions are from the vantage point of "highway driving." I know, empirically, that there is a way to get from here to there without having to travel on the interstate, and I've wasted a good portion of my early morning trying to figure this out!

Of course, I blame this completely on my father! For as long as I've known the man, he's tried his best to find scenic by-ways to take ... picking his way across back roads and getting from Point A to Point B in a round-about fashion. I know part of it is that his photographic eye is looking for something more appealing than cornfields and rest stops. The other part of it is that he loathes highway driving these days.

Still, the irrational obsession for finding an alternative route has followed to this half of the next generation. I LOVE traveling back roads, and it really doesn't matter to me that it might take twice as long to get there. As long as I can find gas stations and food, I'm good! Back road driving takes a very interesting turn (pun intended) when driving the by-ways of Kentucky, as there never really is any direct route from Point A to Point B. In fact, Point A might never get you to Point B. Rather, you might find yourself twisting and turning until you finally land on Point Z-2 version 8.1!

At this point in the morning, I'm very much considering purchasing the County Maps of Kentucky at our local bookstore. This should give me a bird's eye view of any alternative routes, and I'm convinced there is one!

I might also want to plan on leaving much earlier than originally intended tomorrow ... just to make sure I've given myself plenty of time to back-track ... should the need arise ....

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A GOOD VISUAL OF HOW I'VE BEEN FEELING


THE HIGHLIGHTS (OR LOW-LIGHTS) OF A RELATIVELY CRAPPY WEEK

There's a reason why I've been relatively silent this past week.

I've been a crap mood ... with a capital C followed by every other capital letter and a few expletive symbols thrown in for good measure.

School officially ended for me on June 12th, but summer break came later, as we had a scheduled week of PD (otherwise known as professional development) this past week. Now, I was sort of looking forward to digging in and getting done what we needed to get done ... I'm a total dork that way. However, there was another part of me that knew what would happen with a delay in mental break time ... self-implosion.

For as long as I've known myself (does that even make sense???), I've worked my butt off at my jobs. I put my entire self into it, until I'm exhausted and completely spent both physically and mentally.

It's at that point that I must immediately put myself on a break or something ugly is going to happen, and I am powerless to stop it from happening. I'm pretty sure that's why Prozac was invented!

So, this whole week of PD? Yeah, that was a disaster in the making. I was exhausted ... I was cranky ... I was really down on myself. I got super frustrated over something I didn't understand ... the more questions I asked, the more frustrated I became. That meant I was immediately misunderstood ... others took what I said and made it about themselves, which I never meant to have happen. Ugliness ensued ... lots and lots of ugliness ensued ... hurt feelings blossomed ... leaders suddenly lost a lot of respect for me, I believe, and that makes me very sad.

I've put myself on a self-imposed exile this weekend, and depending how I feel, I might extend that into next week as well. We shall see how I'm feeling.

What I do know is that I need time away from "it" ...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

MY BODY HATES ME!

I jogged/walked the Pro.Active for Life 5K last night here in Frankfort. Other than being exhausted because it was the last week of school [NOTE TO SELF: don't sign up for a 5K that will occur on the evening of the last day of school ... soooo not cool!], I felt good. I also managed to shave a minute off of my finish time. I was excited.

The bad knee felt good ... my body felt good, just hot and sweaty. So, you can imagine my dismay when I got out of my truck after my ten minute drive home, and, upon stepping out onto my leg that has the good knee, I was in serious pain! I took two Motrin, but sadly, that didn't cut the pain. It was there all night, and, unfortunately, it was there this morning ... it's still there now.

I'm hoping that it's just a small tear on the lateral collateral ligament or a medial collateral ligament tear ... that just requires rest, icing, elevation and possibly some rehabilitation, which, I have all the stuff for what I did last year at physical therapy, so I think I can do it at home. It might also be the Chondromalacia Patella or Patella Femoral Pain, which is what I had in the bad knee. If I rest it, ice it, and elevate it and then do the exercises from last year, I might be able to avoid yet another summer in physical therapy.

Either way, I'm taking the weekend off to rest it. I guess that means I need to finish labeling all the crap in my classroom, stop moving the rest of the crap around, and go home and put it up!

I can soooo hear my mother's voice right now ringing in my ears ....

Friday, June 12, 2009

FINITE!

So ... it's done ... another school year is complete. I sent them all on their way this afternoon as the rest of the staff did ... in a flurry of silly string and water gun streams! Loads of fun and lots of tensions released!

Now, no rest for the wicked. Professional development all next week.

Either way, summer break has officially begun!

FATHERLY WISDOM

I had a really bad day yesterday, and my parents called just to talk, unbeknownst to them that I had been crying in my Raisen Bran, quite literally.

I explained the many, varied situations that had led up to the foul mood and pity party that quickly followed.

And my dad had two very timely nuggets of wisdom to pass on to me.

  1. "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." I've heard this one countless times in a variety of situations ... it has many places that it fits, and for last night's circumstances, it indeed fit.
  2. "You're in the type of job that you don't see the results of all of your hard work, and that's hard. But results there will be! You're planting seeds, and they will grow. Well, some of them will. Others are just duds." They are in a planting theme in rainy Michigan.

This is the same man that has told both my sister and I, "You've crapped in your own sombrero, now you've gotta wear it," or the always timely, "Keep your eye upon the doughnut and not upon the hole."

Who needs Chinese Proverbs when you have a dad that hauls off with gems like these?

And yet, despite the unconventional, roll-your-eyes-and-groan approach to parental wisdom, he does have a point ... sordid as it may be getting to the point at times ...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

GOING TO THE GROCERY AND BEING A TEACHER

There are certain things you just don't like doing in the town in which you teach. One of those things is grocery shopping. I always hated living in such a small town. Your kids' parents would see you in the grocery store, and they would immediately check out your grocery cart. You could see them taking a mental note of the items in the cart, too.

"Oh my gosh! I had no idea Miss Murray had a drinking problem! She's got two bottles of wine in that cart!"

Or ...

"That's why she's been so crabby this week ... I see tampons ..."

Moving here, I've successfully avoided seeing any of my parents in the grocery ... that was until last night.

I ran to the dollar store to pick up one thing ... silly string. Instead, I came out with a few odds and ends: a small carton of ice cream, mac-n-cheese, popcorn, and a little package of Jelly Bellies.

Of course, I ran smack dab into the fittest parents in my class, and the mom kept looking at my fat, flabby, bloated self with my arm full of crap, and all I wanted to scream was, "I'M NOT EATING ALL TONIGHT!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

SILLY STRING

Today was Cadet Buck store ... our school economy based on good behavior, if anyone was wondering.

For 100 cadet bucks, one could purchase silly string or a water gun, and just for effect, our principal, Mr. Harley, shot us all with one as we were walking into the store. Well, I've had my fair share of stress this week, and so I was all about letting off some steam. I sent one of my kids up to the room to get me 100 bucks, and I bought myself some silly string, which I proceeded to nail a number of my kids with.

Right there in the hallway, we had water gun fights and silly string craziness, and everyone had a ton of fun, including me!

I need to find a balance for fun and strictness in my classroom. Apparently, I've not found one, because one of my kids said, "And to think, all this time, we thought you were just mean and strict."

Nothing like being gutted two days before school ends -- leave it to kids to do the gutting. Ho-hum ...

FAVORITE FIELD TRIP QUOTE

Yesterday, we took all the fourth graders to the Kentucky History Center and the Old Capitol. While sitting in the Senate side of the Old Capitol, one of my students, we'll call him Timmy, raised his hand to ask a question. The following is the exchange that caused me to put my head in my hands and moan mornfully.

Tour Guide: "Yes? Do you have a question?"

Timmy: "Yes. I want to know what those holes in the ceiling are. There's light coming through them."

Tour Guide: "Ummmmmm ... those are lights."

Monday, June 08, 2009

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY

Today, all the fourth graders at our school toured the Governor's Mansion and the State Capitol. Being fourth graders, while we were touring the mansion, they were awfully curious as to whether or not Gov. and Mrs. Beshear had pets, seeing as the Governor's Mansion was, after all, their temporary home. Our tour guide informed the kids that, yes, in fact, Gov. and Mrs. Beshear do have a little dog named Tory. He further explained to the kids that if they reminded him, after the tour, he'd bring her up so she could greet the kids.



Who cared how opulent the mansion was after that promise! Forget the lovely marble! Don't even bother telling them about the oil paintings in the informal family dining room. BRING ON THE FIRST DOGGIE!!!



Tory the Terrier was a very gracious hostess. The kids all sat down in the ballroom, and Tory went from child to child, sniffing and licking and greeting each child with the southern hospitality that only a gubernatorial canine would possess! The kids just loved her, and she enjoyed visiting with them as she was exceedingly disappointed when she was summarily scooped up and taken back the official residence for the First Dog.



For the rest of the day, the highlight of the tour was meeting the First Dog of the great Commonwealth of Kentucky.








Photo from Mrs. Beshear's official website: http://firstlady.ky.gov/ You can the First Dog there on the right!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

IT'S A SOUR CREAM AND CHIVE THING

Friday hit me like a ton of bricks, and I found myself, that afternoon, on my cell phone, talking to Carrie's voice mail, and I think it went something like this: "I'm having a particularly crappy day and I just want to have this school year over with and to stop dealing with people that are mean and I'm so sick of three years later STILL having to prove that I'm worthy and people can be so catty and I'm so catty and why do I suck so much and oh my gosh, I'd give my right arm for Charlie's Sour Cream and Chive Fries ... It's a Sour Cream and Chive Fry day ... call me back!"

Back when Carrie and I taught in the same building ... in the same STATE ... Sour Cream and Chive Fry day was code for This Day is Crap! I need to Vent! It usually started out with one of us flopping on top of a student desk, sometimes in tears, and it ended with us eating our way through a platter of Sour Cream and Chive Fries at Charlie's Pub, the dive joint we loved to eat at! It added Crisco to our cans, but man did they ever taste good!

I've been thinking a lot about friends lately. I don't know what it is, but I've been blessed in the friends department. And I really don't deserve it. In the whole grand scheme of things, I'm not the most patient person. I can be moody and geeky and flighty -- I will warrant you that. Somehow, though, I have a core group of people that appreciate all those things about me or love me despite it all! Either way, I'm blessed.

There have people that drifted in and drifted back out ... friends for a season in life. There are others that I've had to let go ... the relationship was just too unhealthy ... those sorts of times always hurt. But it's the core group of people that see me for who I really am and love me anyway that I am so very thankful for.

For those of you I count as good friends ... those that have stuck with me when life gets silly out of control ... for those that have dealt with my moodiness and decided to ride this journey with me anyway ... for those that have supported my drive forward and for the drives off the cliffs ... for those that are new friends and those that are old friends ... for those that are renewed friends and for those that I count as close as blood ... I love you ... you know who you are. Thank you for being willing to pour into me and for loving me and for calling me friends.

I'd share my Sour Cream and Chive Fries with you any day of the week ... I hope you know that.

Friday, June 05, 2009

SURVIVING THE POLAR BEAR SWIM AND FIGHTING MENTAL EXHAUSTION

Yesterday, we had our annual All-School Swim on a local public pool. A local outdoor pool ... where the pool is exposed to the elements ... outside.

Picture this ...

55 degrees ...

Rainy ...

Me in Capri's and flip-flops. Thankfully, I had a sweatshirt on and an umbrella. All my kids had fun splashing around in the pool despite the poopy weather.

It was almost nostalgic really ... memories of swimming in similar conditions in Michigan.

SHOOT! That is swimming in Michigan every May ... what am I talking about?

On a different, yet somewhat similar note, I'm physically and mentally exhausted. This morning was day two that I literally laid in bed until the very last minute, and even still, as I sit and type this, I can't stop yawning. If I weren't so exhausted, I'd be crying out of sheer frustration ... trying to figure out how I'm going to manage 5 more days ...

Yep, I'm exhausted because crying wouldn't be my first reaction.

I think whining would be my first reaction ...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

7 MORE DAYS AND THE HEADACHE FROM HELL

This morning I woke up with a headache, which, technically I went to bed with last night. So, I'm not necessarily sure it would count as a new one. However, it was a rip-snorter of a headache, and only after 3 ibuprofen and massive amounts of caffeine has it calmed down to a dull ache. And all of this with 7 more days left and a room full of children that can hardly contain their excitement at the prospect of being done with school.

The fan motor appears to be out in my truck. Timely considering it runs my AC, and yesterday it was hotter than the Hubs of Hades. According to the mechanic, the part itself is only going to cost $45. But it's tied to the ignition, and of course, one must tear apart a steering column to get to it, so one never knows how much labor will cost. I will be one happy camper if it's under $100. It'll be a good day!

I left my bedroom window opened just a little bit. So, of course, we had a torrential down pour. Why not!? That just makes me that much more happy about the crappiness of this day. Really!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

PAYING IT FORWARD, BACKWARD, AND ANY OTHER WAY I CAN

So, I met with a mortgage broker yesterday afternoon. My goal?

  1. See how much I qualified for currently with all my debt
  2. See what I needed to pay off first in order to better qualify for a home loan

Having met with this woman, I now have some specific goals that I am working toward in order to be a first-time home owner. However, I've also learned a very interesting lesson ... student loans suck! It is amazing to me that in order to get a good education so that one might acquire a good, stable job to pay for things like, say a home, one must be penalized for a lifetime for taking loans out in order to get said good education. Please explain to me who came up with this ridiculous concept, because I'd like to strangle them with my bare hands within an inch of their life!

Monday, June 01, 2009

10 MORE DAYS LEFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In case you didn't pick up on that not-so-subtle hint, I have 10 more days of school left. 10 ... 10 whole days. We have now moved into the torturous phase of "the Final Days of School" .... that phase where the end is in sight, but not yet close enough to touch. It's a "hanging by your fingernails" sort of time ...