Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'm a Blogger-Girl, through and through

Sooooooo, I took a gander at this "Myspace" thing that everyone is so hyped about. I was thinking, "Ok, I've got the multiple blog thing goin' on, so maybe I'm ready to reach even further out into the Internet community. I began my exploration by looking up my hubs to see what his space on the Myspace was all about. What I found totally turned me off to this idea of making friends via a website all about making friends. I would say 97% of the friends he had listed on his profile are people he already knows in meat-space. That's not to say that I don't love each and everyone of the 97% very very much, but I'm just saying, I would rather have them at my house, messing up my kitchen and eating my food than looking at a teensy-weensy picture of them and sending messages back and forth. I much prefer the land of blogger well I selfishly only have to read what people have to say about what I think.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

They've successfully chiseled their way into my heart.

This is my third year of teaching. I feel that I now have a pretty realistic view of the profession and the children that accompany it. Consequently, it takes a lot for the kids to get to me now, and it takes even more for them to win me over. I'm not saying that I'm mean to them-it just takes more for me to be blown away by them than it used to.

I automatically fell in love with every single one of my children my first year. By the end of the first day I was convinced that we would be bonded for life, and by the last day of school I honestly thought that I would never have a better or more loveable class.

The students from my second year seemed pretty nondescript to me for a while (except for the crazy one who was in the hallway for the entire 2nd semester). But, by Halloween, I was won over by their desire to behave and please any adult that came their way. At our 5th grade graduation I started crying as soon as my first kid walked up to the podium, and I could barely squeak out anyone else's name as they lined up in front of me.

Yesterday, I left school feeling like this:

I had spent the day trying to reign them back in from the excitement that is 4 days off from school- a prospect about as likely as Paris Hilton wearing underwear. I've often said that teaching is like trying to put puppies into a box: once you get one in, another one jumps out. Except yesterday I was dealing with puppies who had spent the long weekend either in front of the TV or in the car. They all just came in and exploded. Needless to say, I was thrilled to herd them out the door at 3:36 on the dot. This scenario was pretty typical to my 3rd year bunch. They came to me as the chattiest, laziest, nosiest bunch of buggars you ever did see.

However, today had a completely different feeling. Something clicked with us. I was happy to see them and they seemed genuinely excited to be there with me. I had great conversations with most of my kids today, realizing that we've finally gelled and I know what makes them tick. And something great occurred to me: they're growing up and I have the privilege of watching them. In fact, today, I was walking around the room during our silent reading time, really looking at the kids and thinking about how far they've come in just 3 months. For example, in September, Veronica couldn't be quiet for more than 5 minutes. Now she is my superstar in class-I can always look to her to be a leader when it comes to behavior. Brandon started out the year bouncing off the walls with attitude oozing out of every pore. Now he's a model of showing kindness to his classmate. As I walked around, I teared up to the point where I needed to get a tissue. Luckily, none of them saw me. If they had, an explanation as to why I was crying would have been necessary, and that would just start a flow of tears that would keep going through June when they line up to graduate.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Two Turkey Days. What's a girl to do?

Being a child of divorce, I end up having two of every holiday. On Thursday the hubs and I made our way to my brother's house for Thanksgiving with Dad. Today we (along with our friend Chris) trekked out to King William for Thanksgiving with Mom. I must say that the latter is just more fun for several reasons:

1) There is music. I don't mean music on the stereo. I mean live music, courtesy of my uncles, my brother, and their guitars and banjos. Sometime my mom and my aunt will sing.

2) There is a baby. My cousin had a baby in June and we are having so much fun getting to know the newest member of our family. I must say, I think she likes me best.

3) My Uncle Joe is there. Joe likes to lie. And not just fib. He tells complicated lies that could get him in trouble. But once he gets started on a lie, he'll stay with it until the end. For example, he recently called my mother and congratulated her for being a grandmother-to-be. He told her that Ross and I had called and announced we were having a baby. My mother half-believed him. Joe also likes to tell people he's just met that he's a gynecologist, just to see what they will do.

4) We hold hands when we say the blessing. Sometimes we have to spread out all over the house to fit everyone in, but I love it. Uncle Joe says grace every time and he's the best blessing-sayer on God's green earth.

5) People say "I love you" and hug each other a lot while we are there. I mean, what more could you ask for when you're around your family?

So there it is. I did what a child of divorce is never supposed to do: I chose a side. But I'm a grown up now, so I guess it's ok.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you felt the love, too.

Monday, November 21, 2005

You have GOT to be kidding me...

As I strolled around the classroom this morning, watching my little darlings dutifully completing their study guides for tomorrow's test, an unpleasant smell whafted by my nose. It was indistinct at first, and still quite subtle. Then Veronica, a very sweet young lady who would rather die than cause a problem, whispers to me, "Mrs. Catrow, do you smell something?"
"Yes, Veronica, I do. Do you?"
"Yes, ma'am, and it's making my stomach hurt."
"Well, don't say anything because the rest of the class will just go crazy."
"OK," she muttered and tucked her nose inside of her shirt collar. I surveyed the room in a panic, checking to see if anyone else had noticed. Some of you may know that things such as bad smells, wasps, farts, and snot, will break a class's concentration for days if not handled immediately. Slowly, but surely, the other kids started looking around, and following Veronica's lead, their little noses hidden from the smell that we all recognized by that point. To give them credit, the kids got into line and changed classes without comment or incident. But suddenly, Charlie, being the narc that he is, rushed up to me in a fury.
"Mrs. Catrow! Makia's got Fart Spray."
"He's got WHAT?!?!?"
"Fart Spray. He just told me that he sprayed it in your room. He was spraying it on the bus, too."
"Well, why didn't you say something ealier, Charlie?!?!?!"
"I couldn't smell it earlier. Now my stomach hurts and I think he should stop."

I walked into Makia's math class and demanded that he come out into the hall. He automatically put on the "What did I do? I'm a perfect angel" face as he shuffled out into the hallway.

"Empty your pockets, Makia," I said in my scariest, monotone voice.
"Wha-why? All I have is lunch money."
"Empty your pockets right now."

He shuffled through his pants, showing me his lunch money in his front left pocket, his house key in his back pocket, all the while I'm noticing a suspicious shape in his front right pocket.

"Now that one," I said, pointing.
"I didn't spray it," he said emphatically.
"Didn't spray what? Show it to me." He reached into his pocket and pulled out this:

"I didn't spray it, I swear!" Makia kept insisting.
"Well, if you didn't do anything wrong, then I guess you have nothing to worry about when you explain to the principal why you even have this in school," I snapped, leading him swiftly up the hallway and into the office. As I presented my culprit to the office staff, I could tell that they all had trouble not laughing. Relieved of my hoodlum, I made my way back to my classroom, wondering, "When in the hell did I sign up to teach on Saved By the Bell?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Eating the Oreos

Many of you know that I am not one to stuff myself full of deserts. I'll pretty much only try something sweet if i heart dorks has made it. In fact, I tend to prefer store-bought goodies over the homemade variety. Thus explains my love for the Oreo. On paper, there is nothing good about Oreos; they are expensive, bad for you, and many people can eat a bag in one sitting. And by many people, I mean me. I love them, deep in my heart of mega-hearts. But the thing is, it's not the crispy chocolate cookie outside, and the creamy...uh..cream center. It's HOW I eat the Oreo.

Throughout much of my childhood, as my body grew, so did my OCD tendencies. One thing that really got under my skin was how when you dunked the Oreos in milk, your glass was soon filled with cookie-bits, making the beverage undrinkable, by my texture-standards. As my brain matured, so did my Oreo eating technique. Below, you will find the steps that make the Oreo-eating experience all it can be. I share this with you because I love you and want to spread this perfection to all those who will listen.

1) Put the entire Oreo in your mouth. Yes, the whole thing. There will be no untwisting and licking of any creamy centers.
2) Take a sip of milk and hold it in your mouth. DO NOT SWALLOW. Yes, it's true. You now have an entire cookie and a mouthful of milk in there.
3) Just sit for a few seconds, allowing the milk to soften the cookie. 5-10 seconds should work.
4) Swallow the milk. Not the cookie, just the milk.
5) Chew up and swallow the cookie.
6) Send me a thank you card for opening up your mind to this bliss.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mama pup's uterus causes public mockery of offspring

A golden retriever gave birth to a Martian-puppy. Ok, the puppy was actually just green. See? It seems less weird when you read that it was an alien first. Anyway, yeah it seems that the California Canine popped out a green one about week ago. Apparently the placenta can cause such things to happen. Ew. Clicky for the story and pics. Be sure to click on the slide show-the last image really shows the contrast between the normal puppies and the freak of nature.

Hormones make you hormonal. AWhaaaahhhhhh?!?!?!?!

The makers of the birth control patch Ortho-Evra issued a warning on Thursday that women taking this Patch get 60% more estrogen than women just taking the Pill. 60 effing percent! Apparently this is because when you take the Pill, most of the estrogen is absorbed into the bloodstream and digestive tract, causing about half of it to be "lost." Women on the Patch are getting a constant dose of estrogen throughout the day, making them more at risk for such side effects and blood clots. Or in my case, craziness.

I went on the Patch the last month of my senior year of college. I was all "I'm too busy to take the Pill and I just don't have time to, blah blah blah." Translation: I'm lazy and don't like having to *bring* them places and having to *remember* to take them. So I went on the Patch. And then I went insane. I would call Ross one minute, being totally in love with him and gushing about our impending nuptials, and the next minute be crying, insisting that he was only marrying me out of convenience. I called my doctor and literally said this, "Ever since I went on the Patch I've been going crazy and I cry a lot. Is that normal?" He said no and told me to take the Patch off. About an hour later I was completely fine. I've been with the good ol' fashioned Pill ever since. Moral of the story: Don't be lazy or you'll be crazy...and dead from blood clots.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Call to action

I must say that I have been very disappointed with the lack of new posts on my friends' blogs. I try very hard to give you delicious morsels of my thoughts almost everyday, and I'm just not getting much back from the rest of you. Also, the whole posting something on 2 blogs, not cool in my book. Not. Cool.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I need a haircut

The time is approaching when it is just before my monthly shearing, and I want to cry every time I look in the mirror. Between Monday and today, my hair has apparently grown just enough to go from being quirky and cute to sans-shape and mom-like. It only could have grown fractions of an inch, but apparently those fractions are very important to the maintenance of my style. Just this weekend, my hair looked much like this:

Or that's what I like to think it looked like. And now, it's looking more like this:

Ok, maybe it's not that bad, but it feels that bad. So, if you are going to Stephanie and Van's rockstar chic dinner party on Friday night, be sure to compliment my hair, as I will be very much on edge in anticipation of my Saturday morning appointment.

Vain Valerie

Little minds are blown so easily

Soooooo, I have like the most boring day ever today because the kiddies are taking their quarterly math assessment. I don't teach math, so I'm simply here to proctor the test for half of the kids. It's a 50 question test and the answer sheet has places for answers to 60 problems. So, the kids reach the end of the test, mark the answer to problem 50, and have one of the two following reactions:

A. They have a complete kuniption (totally made up spelling), demanding to know where the rest of their test is because they are so terrified of failing (thank you, NCLB)

Or, my more favorite and the much more amusing B. They calmly raise their hands and ask me if they should just go back do numbers 1-10 and mark the answers in the spaces for 51-60 on the answer sheet.

Meanwhile, I've got 4 ESL children in here who can't even read the test. Pulic education, it's a magical mystical world of nonsense.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Another laugh

My first 2 conferences for this morning were cancelled, so I spent my time finding different pictures of my new favorite animal. After trying several variations of its name, I found that calling it the "Shoebill Stork" lead to some tasty discoveries, such as this:


Monday, November 07, 2005

Apparently I am 2 years old

My ears hurt like none other and it has put me in a horrible mood. I keep rubbing and pulling on them, just like a big, ol' baby. That's weird that we use the term "old baby." It doesn't make any sense. And that just makes me angrier. If you could see my face right now, it would look much like this:

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Good for a belly laugh

Last night, the hubs and I drifted off into dreamland while watching something on Animal Planet that counted down the ugliest animals ever. Topping the list was this guy:

Meet the Shoe-billed stork. If you look closely at this thing, it seems to belong more in Labyrinth than on our planet. Go ahead. Keep looking. The laughs will keep coming.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A little Taco Bell, and everything is ok

I left work (at 6:00pm, mind you) in quite a fluster today. As lead tech teacher at my school, report card time is pretty hectic for me. Last year we switch over to a report card system that is strictly done online. It's an incredibly easy program to use if you're of my generation, i.e. capable of basically just opening up a program and being able to figure it out. The thing is though, I work with ladies who are, on average, 25 years older than me. There is a constant flow of frustrated teachers in and out of my room all day, asking me questions that I have either answered a million times or have just addressed in a meticulously crafted email to the school. And yet through it all, by the grace of God, my patience stays with me and I manage to greet them all with a smile and a calming voice. Unfortunately though, my willingness to work with them caused my car to be the last one to leave the parking lot this evening. The recent time change has caused it to be very dark at 6:00 now, so Estelle the night custodian walked me out to my car, carrying her broom in a very formidable way.

The whole way home all I could think about was all of the crap I needed to get done tonight and all of the looming junk of tomorrow. I shlumped my way inside the house and was greeted by my husband, all handsome in his white T-shirt, bearing not only a Taco Bell dinner (and, no, he didn't forget the Fiesta Potatoes), but also my prescription that he selflessly picked up for me. Needless to say, I now feel a million times better and will enthusiastically recommend marriage to anyone who asks me. Especially marriage to someone like my guy.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Oh, George

I think the best part of teaching in my school is that we have a very high ESL population. A lot of teachers look at this as a drawback when it comes to SOL scores, but the sheer joy of being around these kids dramatically outweighs the struggles. My school has very high Hispanic and Asian populations, and the number of Middle Eastern students is going up substantially every year. Most of the time, when these kids come through our doors they are "right off the boat" as we inappropriately put it. This basically means they know how to say "hello," "goodbye," and "Where is the bathroom?" That's pretty much it.

This year I am blessed to have a young man named George in my room. George is 11 years old and from Egypt. Funny enough, that was all he could say to me the first week of school. I would ask, "George do you have your lunch money?" And he would respond each time, without fail, "I am George. I am from Egypt." The sad thing is, the reason why he probably just said that is when someone finds out that a kid is in the ESL program, they just ask them their name and where they are from, that's about it. But George made it through his first week beautifully, smiling the whole time. We found a way to communicate through a lot of nodding, pointing, and repeating things very loudly. I only have George for homeroom, Science, and Social Studies, two subjects that he doesn't get a grade in because of his limited English proficiency. He goes to another teacher for Math and Reading, so his time with me is intended basically as a way for him to just absorb as much English as possible within a context different from reading books and writing sentences.

Teaching George has been a challenge. Everyday I am left with no choice but to stretch my teaching abilities to the limit, looking for ways to make information accessible for him, to present it in a way that helps his language skills and knowledge of the material grow. And I love it so much. We have so much fun together and his smile is one of those that makes you belive in God.

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting with George's parents. They speak no English whatsoever, but we were able to secure an interpreter for our meeting. In my time teaching I have sat in on several conferences with our ESL parents, but never have I been part of a meeting where I truly realized what these parents and children go through when they decide to come to this country. First, the majority of the conference was conducted in Arabic which has a cadence and tone that bares no resemblance to English whatsoever, so I had no clue what was being said. Not only that, I found out that these parents left their own successful businesses in Egypt to come work factory graveyard shifts in the U.S. so their kids would be able to have an American education. Meanwhile, they are unable to even help their kids with their homework because they don't understand the language it's written in, or even how the grading system works. But the thing that really got to me was that never once did it seem like they were complaining. All they wanted to know was if there was anything more that they could be doing at home and if we needed anything here at school. One of the few phrases these parents knew was "thank you" and they kept turning to me and saying it over and over again, knowing that I would understand how much they appreciate the work I do with and for their son. I was completely blown away.

I really don't know the point of this post, except to just explain how lucky I am to be where I am. Within our county, my school is definitely one of the "have nots" as we call them. Parental involvement is almost nonexistent and, consequently, our kids have to go without a lot of the time. But, I'm just sayin', I'd rather have a kid like George than a new computer any day.