Sunday, September 27, 2009

Random Sunday-ness

I've been keeping busy, nothing too new...

School: --Our class sizes are still not leveled. My afternoon class still has 29 students, though as an intensive reading course it is supposed to max at 21. Tomorrow we start the 6th week of school. It continues to be frustrating, but I'm trying to suck it up as best I can...

--One of the biggest struggles is that 25% of my student's grade is based on their READ180 software usage. Yet, due to my large class size, most of my students are only on the computer 1 or 2 times per week instead of daily. Thus, I am "winging" the computer portion of their grades, as it isn't fair to "fail" them when they can't be on the computer. Sighs.

--My Principal's mother died this week. Sending prayers for her family. And trying not to be selfish, as I know that this will likely prolong the re-scheduling of students.

--I LOVE my 3rd/4th period class. Awesome, hard working students. And I FINALLY have a well-behaved group of students to escort to and from lunch. They are the highlight of my day. Yea!

--I can't remember if I mentioned that our newest hired reading teacher resigned after only 4 days?? This week we hired a reading teacher who had been surplussed from another school in our county. Fortunately she is already trained in READ180 and is excited to have a job. I think she'll be a good match for our school. :)

Home: DH finished his novel today. 300+ pages in less than 2 months. Wow! Once he revises his first draft in a few weeks, I'll be allowed to read his script. I'm looking forward to it.

--He already has plans for another novel he plans to start this week. I am admiring his enthusiasm and self-inflicted work ethic.

Emma: Has recently started to enjoy the "Grease" movie and soundtrack. I was worried about lyrics such as "the chicks will cream," and "no customer would come to you unless she was a hooker." Then Em hit me this week with, "Mom, what does 'What the hell is that?' mean?" Apparently on the "Grease" musical soundtrack, Rizzo says, "What the hell is that?" to Kinike regarding the Grease Lightnin' car. I explained that it was a naughty way of saying "What the heck?" And now we're gently nudging her to other listening choices. I think the "Grease" CD might "get lost" this week...

Exercise: Um, yeah....I've reallllllly sucked at this. Since school started and I've been on emotional overload, I haven't exercised at all. I need to get back on the wagon, as I feel bleck.

Giggles: If you want a chuckle, check out my sister's most recent post at: She is a high school Spanish teacher and has encountered some recent translation bloopers that made me laugh out loud.

Blogroll: I'm trying to update my blogroll. If you stop by frequently, please make sure you're on my blogroll. If not, please leave a comment and I'll be sure to add you. Thanks! :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Disney Fun

Though just a short weekend trip, we had a blast...

Friday morning DH and I dropped Em off at school. We then went to Panara where DH worked on his novel and I did some school work. (Both of us were determined to have NO MORE work this weekend!)

Then I dropped DH off at work. I did some errands, checked some blogs, and loaded the car. I then picked Em up just after naptime at her school. We headed to pick DH up at work. Then we were Orlando bound.

We checked into our hotel and then walked around the grounds a little.

Em chillin' in a hammock near one of the hotel's lakes.

One of the best features of staying at Disney hotels is that they offer free transportation to all of the Disney parks.

DH and Em on the bus. Friday night we went to Downtown Disney to eat dinner and check out the shops. (Em spent her birthday money from Nana and Papa on a cute "Baby Minnie Mouse" plush toy.)

Saturday morning we were at the Magic Kingdom when it opened. At 8:50, there is always a short song/dance show as Mickey and other characters ride in on a train and "welcome" visitors to the park. The show ends with a countdown to the park opening. Em loved this!

We were able to ride Peter Pan, Snow White, and The Haunted Mansion without waiting! Then we headed to Splash Mountain. DH and I have ridden the ride many times and have never gotten too wet. Unfortunately, Emma and I were DRENCHED! She was crying and upset at first, because she was soaked and uncomfortable. Luckily it was a 90-degree day and sunny, so we dried out in time. But you'll see we both have flat hair in all our pics. Bummer!

For me, one of the highlights of the trip was our Saturday afternoon lunch in Cinderella's Castle. Em and I had never eaten inside the castle before. DH hadn't dined there since high school. I made the reservation back on Father's Day, because reservations fill up quickly, as you can book the date up to 3 months in advance. The lunch is called "Cinderella's Royal Table." It's wonderful because there are a variety of princesses that visit each table during the meal. Each of them took time to autograph Emma's book and pose for a photo with her. Every diner is also entitled to a photo package of photos of the diner with Cinderella. Em LOVED the excitement of eating inside the castle, and was tickled pink to see many princesses there.

Em with Belle
(Emma thought it was funny when Belle saw her shirt and said, "Oh! I should have a picture of YOU on my shirt!")

Em and Sleeping Beauty (A.K.A. Aurora)

Em and Princess Jasmine (1st time she "met" this princess)

Em and Snow White

Ceiling view from our table

Em at lunch. Note the Mickey shaped kid's plate.

DH at lunch

Em and Cinderella.
(Emmaism of the weekend: Em to Cinnderlla "Your castle is lovely." Awww!)

After our awesome lunch, we headed to some more rides...

DH and Em check out the loot after riding Pirates of the Caribbean

I don't know what we'll do when she gets too big for the stroller. We haven't had a Disney visit yet, where we haven't convinced Em to take a mid-day nap so that she can stay up late for the evening parade and fireworks. It's worked every time!

Close-up of Em's hand. She fell asleep holding the "Wishing Star" that was given to all diners in the castle.

See the gold ribbon on the carousel horse? On our way to the Magic Kingdom, the bus driver was giving park trivia. He informed us that there is only one horse on Cinderella's Carousel that has a gold ribbon on her tail. This horse is named "Cindy" and is Cinderella's personal horse.

Of course, Em immediately wanted to ride on Cindy. We explained that with 50 horses on the carousel and numerous people waiting in line, there was no guarantee that Em would be able to ride Cindy. Fortunately, Emma seemed content to at least "find" her.

However, as luck would have it when we were waiting in line to ride the carousel, we ended up being FIRST in line to enter for our group of riders. Thus, Em WAS able to ride Cindy. She was thrilled!

Em on Cindy and Daddy on an anonymous horse

Em was fond of the purple roses that adorned Cindy

We were able to ride many rides. Though the forecast predicted rain, we had a lovely sunny day. We watched the evening Spectralight parade and saw some fireworks before riding a few last rides. Em thought it was hilarious when we sat behind DH and rode Thunder Mountain during the ending of the fireworks show. DH would point at the sky as though he were creating the fireworks. Quite humorous.

We left the park 15 minutes before it closed, caught the bus back to our hotel...and fell asleep easily!

This morning we were able to have some time at the lovely Coronado Springs Resort where we stayed. The hotel had many lovely features.

The decor of the hotel is Spanish themed. Below you can see the view of the restaurant, conference center, and gift shop buildings. They were located across/around the lake from the room we stayed in. (It looks far, but was easily walkable.)

Em and the Minnie Mouse doll she bought pose by the lake.

Awesome waterfall at the hotel swimming pool.

Em and Minnie at the hotel playground. (It was super hot, so we didn't play much. Though we did enjoy the lovely heated pool this morning. Awesome!)

Em took this photo of DH and I just before we left the hotel.

Lovely, lovely weekend! And I'm feeling much less stressed...let's hope it lasts! :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Random Ruminitions

School: I'm having a rough back-to-school start this year. I have two classes that are outstanding. But I still have one large class that is over the capacity of 21 students, where Intensive Reading classes are supposed to "cap." The large class is a daily frustration, as it is impossible for me to have every student on the software for 20 minutes, as my curriculum program requires. Due to only having 7 student computers in my room, there are not enough minutes in the class block, nor computers for 30 students to rotate to. (Read180 is supposed to cap at 21 so we can "rotate" with 3 blocks of 7 or less students.) I have 30. It is SO frustrating! The needs of my students are not being met. I have sent multiple messages to my principal and vice principal, who both assure me they're "working on it." Next week is the FIFTH week of school. What the heck is taking so long? I don't understand why my class size has not been lessened. (Both of my morning classes have less than 21 students, so all that needs to be done is to create schedule changes for some afternoon students in order to move them into one of my smaller classes.) UGH!

--I've been thinking about calling the Teacher's Union. But I don't want to "stir the pot" and cause negativity between my administrators and I.

--In addition, our new reading teacher only lasted four days. She turned in her resignation. I've spent MANY planning periods helping the substitute in that classroom complete district required testing with the students. I am frustrated...I have had minimal "ME" time this year, because as department head I've been repeatedly asked to help others. UGH again.

Emma: My sweet girl turned 5 this week! Wow! The time goes so quickly. Things I love about my sweetie...
--She LOVES tracing letters. She's been working on lowercase letters, as she has been able to free hand all of her uppercase letters for a while now.
--She LOVES drawing. Recently she has been drawing small "U" shapes on the clothing of people she draws. She informed us that these are "pockets." I had to giggle...the first day of school, her teacher asked the students to draw a picture of themselves. Emma drew herself in a dress---with 2 pockets. The teacher asked me, "Are these boobs?" ROFL! No. My 5 year old doesn't think she has large breasts, she just thinks it would be cool to have pockets on everything she wears.
--Swinging. My girl loves it. She mastered the art of pumping her legs in and out in and out last summer. This year I can't believe how high she can swing. SO fun!
--She scored a 20/20 on screening given to all 4/5 year olds at her school. The screening indicates Emma has "mastered pre-reading skills...such as print knowledge and phonological awareness." YEA! Her teacher has already told us that when she divides the class into "reading" groups in November, Emma will be in the group with students who are learning to read.
--Manners: I love that she (usually) has manners when it matters most. When we went to C.racker B.arrell for dinner last night, a man held the door open for us. She looked right at him and said, "Thank you, Sir" with no prompting. Smiles. Then she said "Excuse me ma'am, can I have some cake please?" to the waitress...again without prompting. LOVE it.
--By the way, last night was Em's first experience with restaurant workers clapping/singing for her birthday. She was a little bashful and dumbfounded at first, but was grinning by the end of their song.

--My parents sent a package including many goodies. Em LOVED the SuperGirl outfit my Mom bought. (See pics below.) (This may be her Halloween costume, we're not sure yet.)
--My sister Laurel sent a package as well. Em has been playing with the Kelley and Stacey dolls (a "teen size" and "kid size" B.arbie) every spare second she can.
--We arrived home yesterday to a card on our door from Nana and Papa (DH's parents.) Em was thrilled to see money in the card, and was even more excited to have spending money for our weekend...

Weekend Getaway: As we use nearly all of DH's vacation time during the summer in Ohio with my family (and some of DH's extended family,) we don't really "vacation" with just Emma, DH, and I. Thus we try to venture to Orlando once or twice a year, especially when we're able to get post-summer Florida resident discounts. This weekend we'll be going to visit the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. Em was super excited when she found out her "big" birthday present from us will be eating lunch with the princesses in Cinderella's Castle tomorrow. She can't wait!

--I ordered a (free) Disney World vacation planning DVD, which Em enjoys watching. In the DVD, the narrator states, "At Disney World, the princesses are real..." Em was thrilled by this. She knows that Mickey and the other costumed characters are "just somebody dressed up." But the DVD confirmed her belief that the princesses are REAL. She was amazed by this. Unless she asks me directly, I'm not going to correct her. And since she runs to and hugs the princesses, but continues to be petrified of large costumed characters, why adjust her thinking just yet?

--I took the day off today. DH is off at 3. So, I'll head to pick Em up from pre-school at 2:30, then we'll pick up DH and head to Orlando. Hopefully I'll be able to post some pics on Sunday.

Pics of my Super Girl:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Emotional Struggles

(Sorry in advance for the depressed tone, but this blog is my place to vent...and the paragraphs below explain where I've been emotionally the past week and a half.)

Last week I had a bit of an internal emotional struggle. Emma's former classmate's mother, AB was induced and gave birth to a lovely baby girl. I struggled because the baby was born on my Dad's birthday. (The envy set in---why couldn't I be having a kiddo on that day?) But mostly, I was upset because AB is the only person I know in real life who was pregnant when I was. Back in January she and I found out we were pregnant the same week. We talked about how neat it would be having both of our kids the same ages. Then a week later I miscarried Peanut. Sighs. I am happy for AB (and her family,) but even though I think I've "moved on" miscarriage wise, AB is the one person it is still difficult for me to face.

Over the summer I saw pregnant friends, held newborn babies of friends, even looked at a scrapbook/babybook one friend made, and I was truly happy for them AND okay emotionally. But I think because I associate AB's pregnancy with my own pregnancy, it's just a little much for me to handle.

Thankfully, AB and her DH opted to change schools for their son this year, so I haven't seen AB in person for a while. I'm able to pick and choose which emails I read fully, or skim and scan over. There seems to be a ratio... Emails talking about AB's general health = read fully; emails giving every baby detail = skim/scan/delete. Am I a jerk, or what?

Why can I read details of online friends' pregnancies and view pictures of their children or growing bellies or ultrasounds and be thrilled for them? Yet a woman I know personally is difficult to acknowledge?

I have to guiltily admit I felt RELIEF that I'll be out of town this weekend. Another girlfriend sent an evite to a jewelry party she's having. After I RSVPed "no," I noticed that AB had RSVPed "maybe," and had added a comment that "it might be nice to get out of the house for a bit." ACKKKK! I hate that I felt relieved that I won't be seeing AB just yet. But when will I be ready?

The social worker in me senses avoidance. The mama-who-wants-Baby #2 in me senses survival.

I thought my heart had I'm not so sure.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

When it Rains, it Pours...

Wowie, the old idiom when it rains, it pours has been true literally and figuratively this week...
(And begging your pardon in advance, as the following may turn into a giant venting post.)

Weather: Though only the 5th day of September, we've already had TONS of rain. This makes escorting my class to/from the cafeteria a daily adventure, as we dodge puddles and try to avoid rainfall leaking through the roof of the outdoor walkway. Good times, great fun. Seriously though, I heard on the news that in the first 2 days of the month we had OVER the amount of rainfall usually gained the entire month.

Family: DH's Great-Uncle Charles died last week. DH's dad and sister were able to drive from Jacksonville to Ohio for the funeral. As Peggy and Charles lived next door to DH's Mamma, we would always see them during our visits. Wonderful, kind-hearted people. Our thoughts and prayers are with Peggy this week. I hate that we were unable to attend the services.

Car: We ended up taking my car to the shop FOUR times before they adequately fixed the problem causing the "check engine" light to come on.
1st time---diagnostic test; at our regular car shop $56 (price lowered from $80 when they said the tests indicated there might be a leak, but it was something they didn't have equipment to test further for. "If light comes on again, take it to the dealer." Ack!)
2nd time---new gas cap; at Dealer $10
3rd time---replaced part of hose/gas line; at Dealer $42
4th time---replaced charcoal filter (I think...something with charcoal...I'm forgetting exact name); at Dealer $46
UGH. As of yesterday the light hasn't come on again. You know how Murphy's Law of Cars works, right? The light didn't come on allllll summer when DH or I would drive the car. But the first day of teacher planning the light came on as I was driving to work. Sheesh! At least now it seems to be taken care of. And I'm grateful we were able to fix it for only $150...when our regular fix-it place referred us to the Dealer, I was concerned we'd get hosed for big $$$.

School: Including myself there are 4 teachers in the reading department at my school. Last week one of the teachers, Ms. J was promoted to a Standards Instructional Coach position. Thus, she has a long-term sub. This meant that I had to help the sub with logging students into the computer software, as our district deadline for ALL reading students to be tested is this Friday. (Note: A new teacher, Ms. Y was hired. Her start date is Tuesday 9/8.)

On Tuesday of this week, the lone guy in our department received news that his mother had died. (On a side note---his brother TEXTED him the UNEXPECTED news while he was teaching. What bullshit!!! I couldn't believe his brother wouldn't call the school to pull Mr. B out of class instead of broadsiding him with the news while he was in front of a class of 6th graders!) So, Mr. B was out from half of Tuesday through the duration of the week. And I had to help his sub with logging students on the computer software for testing.

Add to this that department heads received an "urgent" email on Monday requesting that we take a TDE ("temporary duty elsewhere") day on Tuesday because the principal received news that our School Improvement Plan (SIP) was DUE on WEDNESDAY instead of on 9/11 as she had previously been told. ACCCCCK! So, Monday afternoon was spent prepping for a sub. And while I truly appreciate and applaud anyone who is willing to substitute, I think I speak for most teachers when I say---it is a HUGE pain in the arse preparing for substitutes! I would much rather TEACH and be in class MYSELF than have to prepare lessons for a sub. My biggest issue is that my reading classroom is set to have 3 rotation groups---independent reading, computer software, and small group with the teacher---each day. But since all my kids hadn't finished testing yet, I was unable to have them rotate to the computer software group. This left me scrambling to find a curriculum-appropriate activity for students to complete instead.

Tuesday was spent in the conference room in our school media center working on the SIP. During "breaks," I would check in with the subs in Ms. J and Mr. B's room to see how the testing of their students was going. And of course this is the day that our S.cholastic rep for the R.ead180 program picked to "drop by" our school. So I met with him and reviewed the technology, equipment, classroom libraries, etc from each of our reading classrooms.

Wednesday...a mostly normal day.

Thursday...the second Instructional Leadership Team (department heads and administrators) meeting for the year occurred before school. Apparently myself and 4 other department heads missed the email that went out Wednesday evening saying the meeting had been moved from 8:45 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. (Um, yeah....Em has gymnastics on Weds nights, so I hadn't checked my email since 7th period.) So I arrived late. Oops. Apologized to my principal after the meeting. She said not to worry, she found out she had to move the meeting because until our new contract is signed, she isn't allowed to hold meetings during our morning planning time. Doh!

After the meeting, Thursday was a normal day. I had to stay late after school to prepare for a substitute, as I was previously signed up for a training session on Friday. (Are you catching this? This makes TWO days this week that I had a substitute.)

Friday...I attended a really great training session. The session was about our R.ead180 software and the county's goals for reading classrooms this year. VERY informative. I'm glad I attended! Yea!

This coming Tuesday is my school's Open House. And the "testing window" for students closes this week. I'm hoping that means things will be less busy by the end of the week!

So now it is Saturday, and I am WIPED out! :)

DH: Today is DH's and my 11th wedding anniversary. (Thank you, sweet DH for putting up with me! Especially during this crazy back-to-school time of year! I'm proud of you sticking to your guns and writing, writing, writing. Can't wait to read your first draft! Muchas smooches!)

Emma: I can't believe my little girl will be FIVE in 2 weeks. Where does the time go?? Today she was thrilled when we took her to purchase booster seats for our cars. She FINALLY meets the height/weight requirement to not need a "car seat." Though DH and I cracked up...the label on the booster seat box says "For 40 pounds to 100 pounds. This seat can be used for 4 to 10 year olds." If DH's petite grandmother and aunt are any indication of Em's future....I think she is very unlikely to be 100 pounds at ten years old. (Though one of the oldest in her class, she continues to be one of the smallest.) We got a kick out of visualizing Emma riding to the prom in a booster seat. Lol!

Em continues to be very excited about school. I love her zest for learning. (Wish more of my 8th graders were still "into" school!) She was super excited this week to tell us at dinner that her class will be going on field trips "on a real bus" this year. Too sweet!


On nuisances:
"Daddy, you're getting on my nerds!" (ROFL. Nerds, nerves...whatever.)

Regarding food re-heating:
"Can you put it in the microwave and hot it down?"
(Really, why do we heat UP and cool DOWN? Why not 'hot it down?')

On man's best friend:
"Dogs are just like people, except they can't climb trees or watch movies."
(Um...yeah. And I can't lick my butt. And Viggo can't cook dinner. But who's keeping track?)