Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I think you see where this is heading, right?

Laughter is the BEST Medicine

As I was attempting to do something creative (sic: taming it into place) with my hair this morning, I was reminded of a funny thing that happened over the summer while I was home visiting. I blogged about it here: I can't explain why I thought of this particular incident on that particular day while getting my hair "did," but it floated into my mind, and I have to tell you ... it made me smile ... even chuckle a bit. It also made me exceedingly thankful.

Thankful? For seeing an old, wrinkled, nekkid man (how we say it down in these parts)?

No! Not thankful for seeing an old, wrinkled, nekkid man! I'm thankful for the gift of laughter. I come from a long line of folks that love to laugh. Big goofs that love nothing better than to tell stories, and not just any stories, but stories that will make you howl. I come from a family of one-liners. Normal, educated individuals that are quicker with the one-liners than some of our best comedians.

And it doesn't really matter what sort of gathering or event it is, there is something to laugh about. There always is!

On July 4th, of all days, when we saw the old, nekkid man mowing his lawn ... in broad daylight, we laughed the rest of the day about that. Every ounce of conversation we had seem to revolve around that incident, and there was more than one time, one of us came close to wetting our pants ... for some of us, it's easier to come close to doing than others of us.

I'm blessed. I'm blessed that despite the circumstances, I can find the humor in life. It is the best medicine of all ...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In Honor of Football Season Commencing ...


Okay, so it's not the approved Albion College purple. Trust me! I know this as I have wasted, literally, hours of my life I won't ever get back having very frank discussions about what is and is not Albion College Purple and Albion College Gold. Still, I've donned SOME sort of purple in honor of the Brits.

What's For Dinner

I went to the grocery today and spent a RIDICULOUS amount of money on food and stuff. Therefore, whether I like to or not, I'm cooking my brains out from here and into the future -- and near and otherwise.

Here's what's for dinner tonight.....
Grilled Turkey Keilbasa and Tomato Basil Caprese Salad. The salad was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Silence is Golden

I believe I have been buried alive by fourth grade curriculum. Is there one of those necklace thingies that I can press the little red button and whimper, "Help me! I've slipped in my pile of teacher crap and I can't get up!"?

'cuz if there is such an item, and it can be mine with just three easy payments of $19.99, I'm there. I'm in ... I'm all in!

That's is, of course, the reason I've been so quiet around these here parts lately. I've slipped in a giant puddle of "work that is sure to bury me alive." I've sprained something vital. I've ripped something necessary. I've broken something very important ... compound fractured it, people!

Perhaps one day I will have a lifer preserver within reach ...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Spanx and My Disappearing Clothing: A special request

I'm going to warn my readers now .... if you get embarrassed when some one mentions Spanx or underthings or other delicate subjects, you might want to turn away from this blog entry now. All of the above items will be discussed, and the blog will surely elicit the following response from my mother: "I really thought I raised her better than this."

And then when she turns to my father, she'll say: "This is all of your fault, you realize. I really did try to raise nice young ladies."

My coffee maker is set.

My outfit for tomorrow is laid out and ready to go, as are my "delicates" and a clean set of towels for tomorrow's shower.

My lunch is made. The kitchen is cleaned up. The cat has been fed. The laundry has been folded and put away.

So, I am able to finally sit down and wonder about the following question:
EVERYTHING has been, how do I put this delicately, riding up, well, ummm, there, all day long, and I've spent the better part of my day attempting to gently yank everything back into place. And I'm just thinking ... wondering really .... Is my rear end getting so big that it's actually eating my clothes? Perhaps it's getting so large, it's a being of its own making.

It's a question for some serious chewing considering when I pulled my Spanx out of the washing machine tonight, I discovered they had begun to unravel.

Perhaps, my rear end has reached proportions such that my clothes have called a meeting in the laundry hamper. They've voted, and they are ready to stage a coup ...

"We can no longer exist under such extreme conditions! We must be given a break from our day in and day out strain of fabric, or mark our words, WE WILL FRAY!"

And then a white sock will begin waving limply in a defeated but valiant manner, as the laundry whimpers in collective sing-song chorus, "We can no longer overcome ...."

These are the things that clog my brain matter while the rest of the world is looking for ways to solve world peace.

Monday, August 08, 2011

So I *finally* finished a book that didn't have PhD level words peppered throughout it ... or discussed the appropriate strategies for working with a struggling reader ... or that had a specific deadline for finishing it up -- I refuse to consider a library's due date a deadline, clearly, as I've been harassed numerous times via email to BRING THE DING-DANG OVERDUE BOOKS BACK!

It took me ... are you ready for this? It took me the ENTIRE summer to read this book!

That's sad, isn't it?

Don't answer that.

I will answer it for you.

IT'S SAD!!!! SAD, SAD, SAD ... head-hanging, hand-wringing, sad. Pitiful.

I will say that it was A.) a busy summer
B.) a boring book

Okay, maybe not a completely boring book, but it was boring enough ... Okay, it was three quarters boring. The last quarter was very good. It was just the first three-fourths of the book that just about did me in.

But I was invested, and for whatever reason, I stuck with it .... until the bitter end. Except the end wasn't bitter; it was rather endearing.

See, the whole book centers around a series of letters. Well, I can write plainer than that. The entire plot is told through letters ... letters from the main character Juliet to her friends, to her boss, and to a group of people she's introduced to at the conclusion of World War II.

Juliet was a popular wartime columnist that wrote fluff, assumedly in an effort to lightened a pretty somber mood. So popular was the column that the best were compiled and published in book form that, while popular, was not something she ever intended to have happen. Juliet actually hates the fact that she's known for the wartime column and that those columns turned into a best-selling book. She searches out her next writing project, something that she wants to be substantive. It's in that search that she discovers a search book society on the English island of Guernsey, and she's thrust into the wartime horrors of these amazing people. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society help Juliet find her way to a book subject that will move her and her readers. They help guide her way in life, and they help her find her way to love.

I think it's because the genre was written as a series of letters that first annoyed and bothered me. But I tend to find it bothersome when two authors share the writing duties of the same book. For whatever reason, I sense the incongruity of it all, and it doesn't settle with me. Call me crazy ...

However, the book itself has an endearing quality, and I believe that's what made me want to stay with it. Admittedly, I am glad I did. I ended up loving the characters in the literary society, and I was thrilled with how the plot evolved.

I'm not giving it a complete "thumbs up," but I'm not giving it a "thumbs down" either. It was a good book ... once you got past the boring first half ...

I'd suggest it as a read for those that like a little different spin on things.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Saturday, August 06, 2011

A Letter to the General Public

Dear Great Citizens of these United States,

I am a teacher. Crucify me; vilify me; or celebrate me. It doesn't matter. I am one of the few links between your child and their future. I am one of the cogs in a whole network of cogs that turn and grind together to help your child become the person he or she would like to be ...

I take great exception to the complaints about school supply lists ... the way I've decorated my room ... the way I choose to manage my classroom ... the way I choose to teach concepts to your child ... the homework (or lack thereof) that I might or might not assign to your child ... the tests I do or don't give ...

I take my job very seriously. Most days, I take it too seriously, to the detriment of my health, my personal life, and my social life -- which, let's face it, is pretty much non-existent. I must be very sick before I will take off from teaching your child, because I know that he or she is missing a day of instruction when I am not there. Thank goodness I don't have a child of my own! If I did, I would constantly feel guilty about not being with my sick child, because then your child will not be getting what he or she needs. When you're a teacher, you teach every one else's child to the detriment of your own child.

Lest you think I'm complaining, I'm not. I've chosen this profession ... it has chosen me. And for every single hair-pulling, scream-inducing day, I have ten that humble me to my very core.

I just wonder ... for all those people that are complaining ... complaining about test scores .... complaining about tenure ... complaining about having to buy stuff for their child's classroom ... I just wonder, have you talked to your child's teacher to see why they are asking for those items? Have you talked to your child's principal? Or the board?

You see, in most districts around the United States, district operating budgets have been slashed almost in half. Sometimes, more than half. Slashed seems like such a banal word ... raped. Our school budgets have been raped, and it's on the backs of your child and his or her friends. Your child's teacher will still work hard to make sure Little Johnny or Little Mia get what they need. They will take second, sometimes, third jobs. They will ignore their own families and friends to make sure your child knows what they need to know for the coming year. They will cut into their own, personal budgets to purchase the things your child will need for school ... to make your child comfortable while they are in their classrooms ... they will call on friends and family to help donate items for your child's education. All because teachers believe in the future ... their future ... our future.

Instead of cursing us for our supposed careless disregard for your income and lifestyle, perhaps it's time to talk with the folks that can do something about it, and whose decisions have, up to this point, been the entire cause for the fact that you find yourself out buying not only crayons and pencils this year, but now copy paper and hand sanitizer ... perhaps it's time to have a frank conversation with your legislator(s). They are the ones raping your child's education.

Until we, as a collective group of citizens ... of voters, are willing to storm our state capitols and Washington, D.C., and show them how angry we are, your state legislators, Republican and Democrats together, will continue to steal from Peter to pay Paul. How much longer can your child shoulder the lack of concern for education? How much longer can you shoulder the cost?

Let's put the blame where it really needs to go ... with the men and women that vote to cut education budgets. Please do not blame your child's teacher. Most understand the budget restraints you are under. We are under them as well.

A Teacher

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

When the Sun Goes Down

I often wonders what goes on in the life of my cat when the sun goes down. What goes on, for instance, when I fall asleep, and she leaves my bedroom to do ... well, see this is where the big question mark comes into play. What, exactly, is it that she does?

She will stay with me in my bedroom much like a parent of a toddler does ... just until I'm relaxed or just drifting off to sleep. Then, it's almost as if she thinks, "Okay, she's almost out. It's time!"

I'm relatively sure whatever it is she's thinking it's time for is stuff that, had I actually been up, would fall into the NAUGHTY category. Pretty sure ...

Back around Christmas time, my amazing college friend, Amy, came with her little guy Ronan for a quick visit. Amy being Amy, she came bearing gifts for both myself and Emmy. Emmy was the proud recipient of a pink mouse that I quickly dubbed Pinkie.

Pinkie is, by far, her FAVORITE toy ... EVER! She carts that thing ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE. Because of this, he's a disgusting gray color now, usually covered in cat hair and the random schmeg from where ever he's just been "hiding." I frequently find him in the basement. Not sure why ... I suppose he likes to hang out down there. It's cooler in the basement, you know.

This morning, I stumbled out of my bed, as per usual, headed for the kitchen, and punched the coffeemaker. I was getting stuff laid out and ready to go for my departure to school, when something on the dining room table caught my attention. It look suspiciously like a mouse.

I walked over to the table only to realize that the item ON. MY. DINING. ROOM. TABLE. was, in fact, Pinkie the Mouse. He was ON the table! Him and all his gray, slobbery disgustingness.

Just to be clear, he was not on the table when I went to bed. In fact, his owner, Emmy, knows SHE'S not suppose to be on the table ... ever. So why Pinkie managed to find himself on the table, I am not really sure.

But it certainly makes a person wonder what in the world DOES go on around here when the sun goes down ...

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


I'm at that point in the day where I am so overwhelmed by all the STUFF (capital letter emphasis totally intended), that I just sit and stare off into space rather than actually get busy doing something ... anything.

Make a lunch

Make sure coffee maker is ready

Get clothes laid out for tomorrow

Retype unit plans

Write out weekly plans

Finish filling homework folders

Finish organizing student information

Finish ... finish ... finish ... finish ...

How is that it's only the second day of school, and I'm already stressed beyond belief? There's only like 17o days in a school year. So, by calculations, I've got approximately 168 days left of this feeling of being buried alive in hot, refuse-laden sand.


Monday, August 01, 2011

First Day of School

Well, I know my sister is going to be disappointed, but no one marched into my room this morning, and led with, "Hey Miss Murray! Who cut you?" as they pointed at my thyroidectomy scar. That's Ann's favorite part of my whole year last year. That's life in these modern times.

No one compared how much their tennis shoes cost ... or their basketball jersey cost ... or where they got their new school clothes.

No, this year started off banally enough ... typically enough ... with my newly minted fourth graders stepping into my room with much fear and trepidation. You see, there is this "ugly" rumor floating around that Miss Murray is mean and nasty and ugly and mean and nasty ... and, well, you get my drift. They spend the first half of the day looking for the supposed wart on the end of my nose and wondering where I park my turbo-boosted broom.

I don't do much to dispel these rumors as it makes getting them whipped into shape that much easier on me. It's not so much that I'm mean as it is that I am just really strict. I want it done my way, and I want it done efficiently and with little disruption. I want my room running like a well-oiled machine, and I feel like, spending the little time fueling the WICKED WITCH OF THE NORTH rumors really helps me to get the well-oiled machine a lot quicker.

So, another first day of school is under my belt, and so begins the business of educating my kiddos. It's gonna be a great year; I can just feel it!