Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween in Gilpin Court

Some people from FSC went down to Gilpin Court this evening to help run some games at a carnival sponsored by a local church. As they told us many time, they do NOT celebrate Halloween and this was by no means a Halloween party. But hey, today is Halloween and that's where I was, so I had Halloween in Gilpin Court.

We had planned on doing this for a while. Ross and I are always talking about how people need to get involved in all parts of the city, and here we had an opportunity to practice what we preach. I totally didn't want to go. I had so much work to do and just wanted to stay home, watch MTV and knit. But no, we went.

Ross, MattWhite, and I piled into the car and drove down to Gilpin Court. We left at 5:15 and it took us an hour to find where we were going. I don't know if you've ever *been* to Gilpin Court, but I just know that every ounce of my suburban upbringing was pushing to the front of my brain, telling me to get the mess out of there. But, we pressed on and figured out where we were supposed to be.

The boys manned the Dodge Ball game, while Jennifer, Georgia sans Child (not to be confused with Georgia with Child), and I took over the "Krazy Kans" game. I have no idea why it couldn't just be called "Crazy Cans." Maybe spelling it correctly wouldn't be crazy enough. Anyway, it was just a simple game where we set up three wooden bottles (not cans, strangely enough) and people tried to knock them over with beanbags. Simple, right? Or how about THE MOST FUN AND POPULAR GAME EVER. The people were OBESESSED with this game, or else they just thought Jennifer was pretty, cause she was the one passing out the beanbags. Either way, we were a hit. There were toddlers that wanted to play over and over again (maybe because we would make the bottles fall down whenever they played) and even a grandmother who must have played 15 times. It was great.

So, by the end of the night, I was so glad I went. We were blessed with excellent weather and a very strong and visible police presence who kept everyone there under control and kept the rif-raff to a minimum. It was great to spend an evening watching those kids have some good, clean fun. I hope we get to help out with something like that again soon.

Are we as awesome as we think we are?

I saw Matthew and Morgan last night when Matthew was getting a super discount on our new phones. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen these together, but they are super cute and both seem to be so secure in their relationship. I mean, I don’t know if/how much they fight or whatever, but they seem to genuinely enjoy being around each other. Anyway, it makes me wonder how Ross and I seem to other people. We talk about all the time about how we are the *most* obnoxious people we know, but we also think we are incredibly hilarious.

Monday, October 30, 2006


And so, as any normal person would do, I shall turn to The Rolling Stones...

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need

Oh yeah, hey hey hey, oh...

Thanks, Mick.

Reese and Ryan, No!

Up is down, in is out, left is right. Say it ain't so.

Scary to the maxxxxxx

Let's be festive! What with Halloween coming tomorrow, tell me what things scare the CRAP out of you. Here are a few of mine:

1. Vampires. Hands down, the things that scare me more than anything else.
2. Birds.
3. The movie "Stir of Echoes" starring Kevin Bacon. It came out the same time as The Sixth Sense, so no one saw it but me. And I almost died.
4. Things getting poked into my eyes.
5. Babydolls-especially the ones that have the eyes that open and close. Buuuuuh.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Which is worse: Failing out of school or being embarrassed?

I started today with a very frustrating conference. I have an adorable little girl in my class who has failed math every nine weeks for the passed three years. She squeaks by in her other subjects with D’s, but I guess since she’s not a behavior problem and doesn’t stand out, her other teachers have just scooted her along to the next grade, assuming that she’ll catch on eventually.

I met with her mother today (who, btw, was supposed to meet me at school yesterday afternoon, but never showed) and we talked about her daughter’s progress, or lack thereof. Her daughter has already been tested for a learning disability, but nothing came of it because she doesn’t *have* a disability, she’s just got major gaps in her learning. Even though she is in fifth grade, she reads at a third grade level. She doesn’t know any of her math facts at all. After scouring her records last night, I decided that my recommendation would be that we move her back to fourth grade. I consulted my mentor teacher, who agreed with me completely.

After giving the mother the facts, the mother went on and on about how she told her daughter’s teachers years ago that she didn’t have her basics and it didn’t make sense for her to move on to another grade, but they said no. First of all, I know that’s a lie because I talked to her other teachers. So, I went on and made my recommendation that we put her in fourth grade to give her six months to build up those skills before coming back to fifth grade and moving on to middle school where NO extra help is offered. The mother gave me a look saying, “How dare you even suggest that,” then back-pedaled like you would not believe. She said that she thought holding children back was bad for them socially and she thought her daughter would just completely shut down if we did that. I then made it clear that our Assistant Principal would not let her pass fifth grade if she didn’t have certain skills by the end of the year. I asked her which would be more damaging: Failing a grade or having your parent and teachers choose to put you in a grade where you can be successful because they are teaching at your level. I understand that the initial move back would sting some, but I would think getting all F’s for the fourth year in a row would sting a little more.

After much back and forth over this, the mother said that she was going to help her more at home. This, after saying that she only sees her daughter twice a week because of her job. I asked how she was going to help her if she only sees her twice a week, and she said she was going to cut back on time at work. Right. So, we’re left right back where we started, with a poor little girl who can’t keep up, me with my heart breaking over the fact that I know this girl is going to be behind for the rest of her life, and her mother more concerned with own pride than her daughter’s success. Dammit.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Birthday Present from God

As I peered in the mirror on the 25th anniversary of my birth, I noticed two things: a large blemish on my chin, and that the eyelid of my left eye is starting to droop more-so than the right. It’s as if God is saying, “Congratulations! You are not too old for acne, and not too young for wrinkles! Happy birthday, my child!” Seriously, though, the eye thing is freaking me out.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Missing “T’s” and Traffic Jams

Last night was my birthday celebration. I picked Ross up from work and we headed over to the Hill Café for some dinner. Because I’m now incapable of remembering things since I’m so old, I had forgotten about the traffic mess that was interstate 95 and we were forced to find an ass-backwards way of getting to dinner. We ended up on the other side of the river. I was tired, hungry, and caught in traffic. None of these things are good for me to be. So, Ross decided that we should stop at Legend at get a drink and some snackies until things cleared up. I ordered a drink because I don’t do beer, and we shared some crab/spinach dip sans the spinach because of the E.Coli. Just plain crab is fine by me. I had my drink pretty fast and I was feeling much better. Keep in mind that I rarely drink and one will send me to bed for the night.

Thanks to Ross’s unmatched navigation skills we finally made it to the Hill Café, only after we were chased by a fire engine and I declared it ridiculous that “Fasmart” has no “T” in it, like they have no time to wait for the lazy-ass “T” to catch up, so they’re outta here. As Ross was escaping the fire engine, I kept calling “Fassssmaaart” out of the window. Ross didn’t seem to think that was a good idea. Whatever it was my birthday.

Once in the restaurant, we settled in, ate some food, and I had some more drinks. I was in the middle of a sentence about how much I love Alicia Farrell’s blog when I started to feel the effects of the spirits I had partaken in. I don’t think I ever finished the sentence.

I remember making some phone calls in the car on the way home. I may have left somemessages. Funny how people called me back *immediately* when they got those messages. I remember Stephanie saying that she loves Drunk Valerie, Jennifer being very nice, my brother telling me he was going to save the message I had left him, and MattWhite not being convinced by my impression of Ross. I’m kind of nervous about seeing these people again.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Question: Who loves a slightly drunk birthday girl calling you on the phone?!?!!?!?!?!?1

Answer: Everyone!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Code Blue alternative?

People in the education world are all in a tizzy over this. Apparently in Fort Worth, Texas, school are teaching kids to fight back if a gunman comes into the room. They are being told to throw books, binders, anything they can find, at his head, and even rush at him if necessary.

In our school system, a gunman entering the school is considered a code blue. I won't go into what we actually do during a code blue because who knows what crrrrrazies read this page, but we definitely don't throw anything or even move at all. After reading this article, I'm wondering if that's the best choice.

This is not to say that I'm all for my children running at armed people. But, I mean, if you were going to invade a school, wouldn't you choose the one where the kids do what you say over the one where you going to get body slammed by 30 children each weight approximately 75 lbs. and a teacher weighing 130 lbs? It's a sticky choice. Part of the current implications of being a teacher (at least in my mind) is that you would risk your life to protect your kids. If it's between one of them or me taking a bullet, I'd throw myself in front of them to take it. But, unfortunately, that scenario seems a bit more likely now. Maybe teaching the kids to fight back would keep us from having to make that choice.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Red hots, busted knees, homework, and knitting

Robin gets married on Saturday and as her maid-tron of honor, it is up to me to take care of certain duties. Tonight I did the favors for the wedding. They involve very small jars, large quantities of red hots, and tying ribbon into little knots. I worked on them for 2 hours last night and 3 hours tonight. I called her immediately after I finished. This was our conversation:

Robin: Hello!
Me: They are done. Please come and get them. I don't want to see them ever again.
Robin: I love you.
Me: I'm serious.
Robin: Ok, I'll be right there.

She then came over and we had a conversation during which I was only partially coherent. Our chatting consisted of me asking her questions about the wedding, yelling at my oceanography notes, telling her about school, and yelling at my oceanography notes again. Needless to say, she didn't stay very long because I had gone insane.

Determined to stay on top of things for my oceanography class, despite the craziness that is this week, I then made my way upstairs to settle in and get my crappy homework done. I was halfway done when I realized I needed a Sharpie to draw on my globe (don't ask, it's a stupid explanation). I turned and slammed my knee into the corner of my desk. It was one of those times where you have a full second to think, "Damn that is going to *hurt* in a few seconds. It will be a hurt that I know will pass, but one that will make me want to vomit nonetheless." I was right. I then curled up on the floor groaning, "Ooooooooh, ahhhhhhhhhhhh, ooooooooh, ahhhhhhhhhhh...ooooooh.......ahhhhhhhhhhhh............ooooooooh" for about 10 minutes.

After finishing my homework, I realized that I actually had time to knit. I hobbled downstairs and scurried into the living room. I picked up one of my knitting projects (they're both scarves, but they're *different*) and proceeded to sing this song to it; yeah, that's right, I was singing to my knitting:

Oh, knitting!
How I missed you!
Oh, knitting!
How I love you!
It's been so looooooooooong,
Since we've had fuuuuuuuuun,
Oh knitting I love you so.

Clearly, it's time for bed.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Questions children asked me today...

When is the last day of school?

If Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, how come he didn't get here until 1607?

Are we going outside tomorrow if it's raining?

Are you Swedish or something?

How do you spell dictionary?

Why doesn't Mr. Benedict have a real job like my dad does?

My tongue hurts, can I go to the clinic?


Tailgating Woohoo!

Every month a different grade level prepares some kind of “treat” for the staff. Usually this involves putting food in the teacher’s lounge for people to snack on during the day. October is 5th grade’s month, and we decided to do something different. Debbi, Janie, and I all love tailgating, and Jason just does what we say, so today we pulled their SUV’s up on the playground and served a bona-fide tailgating breakfast. Everyone came wearing their team colors and we had us a good old time. We had bubble bread, coffee cake, sausage balls, pigs in blankets, trail-mix, and cinnamon rolls. It was freezing cold, and sunny, and windy, and glorious. I had so much fun, even though I think I still smell like sausage from slaving away yesterday, up to my elbows in pork products.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Slowly going mad

I've got an INsane week coming up with about a million things going on. Here's the run down (and please note that not all of these are considered work, I'm just amazed how jam-packed everything is):

Monday: Get to work early, set up faculty breakfast, run about a zillion copies of a zillion things, teach the children, come home, make the wedding favors, do homework, maybe say hi to my husband

Tuesday: Teach the children, come home, go to Bible study, do the homework that I didn't do Monday night

Wednesday: Teach the children, get together plans for my substitute, go home, clean my house, have people at my house to watch Project Runway finale/go to Leah's bachelorette party

Thursday: Keep Robin from going insane, get a manicure and pedicure, freak out that my students are misbehaving, keep Robin from going insane again, go to Robin's bachelorette party

Friday: Pull Robin off of the ceiling from stress/excitement, freak out again that my students are misbehaving, go to wedding site and help set things up, pick Robin up off of the floor, rehearse for the wedding, go to rehearsal dinner

Saturday: Pick Robin (now called the Bride) up, make sure we've got all of the Bride's things before leaving, take the Bride to get her hair done, get my hair done, driving the Bride to the wedding site, squeeze my top-heavy self into my dress, getting the Bride into her dress, get the Bride down the aisle, cry during the ceremony, get a new brother, pose for pictures, eat some food, make a toast (eek!), dance with the hubs, roll my eyes at things the hub says, get the Bride and Groom off to their hotel, load up the car with stuff, take the stuff to the Bride and Groom's apartment, go home, die from exhaustion

Sunday: Get miraculously resurrected from death by exhaustion, sleep late, go to church, go back to sleep, wake up and pester Ross about my birthday present


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Personal space

Today my children were acting like puppies. They were all over me every second of the day, swarming me at every turn. Finally, I picked up my yardstick and beat them. Just kidding. Actually, I picked it up, held it out from my body, and declared that they were not allowed to get within three feet of me. It worked amazingly well. See, guys? All kids need are very specific boundaries.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


My school is full of ladies. As we know, ladies are often concerned with their weight. Every year, my school has some sort of weight loss competition. They divide into teams and whichever team loses the most weight over a given period of time wins a reward. This year, it’s gotten ugly.

We walked into the lounge this afternoon and found our tables covered with trays of cookies, cake, and candy. A sign stood next to the treats stating, “Please help yourself and enjoy!” At first we thought, “Oh how sweet.” However, upon closer inspection of the handwriting, we discovered that our school secretary, a member of the winning weight loss team, wrote the note. It was a set up. An awesome set up which, being that I (notably not a member of a weight loss team) thoroughly enjoyed as my colleagues ate their South Beach microwave meals.

Monday, October 09, 2006

"It stabbed him in the abdomonian!!!!"

These precious words were exclaimed by young Nicholas as he watched the trapdoor spider (we think that's what is was and since I'm the science teacher and I said it, it is so) go about his ferocious feeding habits.

We came across the spider's web while walking out to recess. There are 4 distinct groups out at recess and they are as follows:
1. The kickballers
2. The jungle gym kids
3. The double-dutchers

and my personal favorite...
4. The dirt diggers.

I generally stick with watching the double dutchers and the dirt diggers. It's not my affinity for the letter "d" but rather I fell into both of these groups when I was a kid. I can't double dutch, but sometimes they will cheapen themselves and turn one rope so I can play,

Anyway, the dirt diggers were crawling around on the dew-soaked ground (yes, they all look as if they've pissed themselves by the time we go in) when all of a sudden I saw them all freeze. This is usually what happens when they've found something awesome. A complex web was spread out on the grass, reaching about 12 inches in diameter. The center of the web funneled into a small hole leading to the bottom of the mound of spider gunk. Now, dirt diggers understand that you do not mess with something as amazing as this. There will be no stepping on it or stirring of it with a twig. They must investigate. I was beckoned over, consulted, and it was decided that I should gently prod at the hole with a piece of grass. I did so, and out scurried a big brown spider. Dirt diggers don't shriek, no matter their gender. Instead they explode with shouts of "AWESOME" and "OHMYGOSHTHATISTHECOOLESTTHINGIHAVEEVERSEENINMYLIFE" and the like.

Being the awesome teacher that I am, I told them to go find a cricket to see if we could get the spider to eat it. I thought this would keep them occupied for the remainder of recess, but dirt diggers are a determined folk. They were back in less than five minutes with the lucky representative cupping a cricket in her hands. The young lady then gently (because, I mean, she didn't want to kill the cricket, she wanted to see the spider do it) placed the cricket near the hole in the web, making sure that it got stuck. Then we sat. And we watched.

After about 10 minutes of frantically telling each other to "shhhhhhhhh" and "back up so they wouldn't scare the spider" my little nerdy friends were rewarded. As the cricket made a valiant but futile attempt to leap from the web, the spider bolted out of its hole, jumped on the cricket, and dragged him to his doom down in the hole. This is when dear Nicholas placed his face directly on the grass to peer into the spider's mound and gave us the play-by-play destruction of the cricket's "abdomonian" (it was too funny to correct) and eminent death.

So, what did you do at work today?


Ross: Sometimes, I wish you were more of a slut.

What the mess.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine. Or as I like to call it "Little Miss Best Movie Ever."

Ross and I ventured out into the monsoon tonight to finally cash in our movie passes. See, when you buy a house through Cabell Childress, he randomly sends you gas cards, vouchers for basketball games, and movie passes, just to thank you for doing business with him. We had gotten the latest passes a while ago, but just tonight found both of us with enough time to go and see a movie together.

We’d been wanting to see Little Miss Sunshine for a while. Luckily it was still playing at the Westhampton. So, after stopping at CVS for more large adhesive bandages (see here for why) and contraband, i.e. non-concession stand candy to be stashed in my ridiculously large bag prior to entering the theater, we made our way up to Theater #2 (our favorite-don’t ask me why) to watch this movie we’d heard so much about.

I’m very hesitant about giving two entire thumbs up or five stars. I’d much rather cop out by throwing a ½ in there so I don’t have to really commit to anything. But, I’m gonna say it: this movie gets full marks. I won’t go into the storyline because I’m not very good at summarizing, and if you really care, go see the movie. However, I will tell you that this movie is one of the best ones I’ve seen in a very long time. I didn’t even realize how long it’d been since I’d seen a good movie. But this one was great enough to show me that I’ve been watching crap for a good long while. There’s nothing pretentious about it, but it’s not fluff in any way. Its message is simple yet important, and you leave it feeling good - but not a cheesy good, like an authentic, useful, real-life good.

Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette are perfect as the married couple dragging their family along in their efforts to get their daughter to a beauty pageant. Steve Carell is hilarious as usual, but not in his typical ridiculous way. I think we often forget that comedic actors are typically the best ones. I’m not saying that I want to see him as the leading man in an epic romance, I just mean that he is capable of giving a very layered performance, without beating you over the head with his character’s plight. Paul Dano is great as the angsty (I really hate that word and I don’t think it applies, but I couldn’t think of another one), even though he doesn’t speak until the movie is almost over. And, I must say, I am totally in love with Abigail Breslin. This child makes you want to have a million babies in hopes that you will have just one like the character she plays.

So, in short, go see it. Or just Netflix it. But definitely watch it. And FYI: The horn is the best part.

Something I highly recommend:

Watching someone take off a sweatshirt when they don't know you are watching them. Woo.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

So cute.

I have found the most effective classroom management tool ever: The Witches by Roald Dahl. I started reading it aloud to my kids on Tuesday and they are obsessed with it. Obsessed. Anytime they get rowdy, I hold up the book and shake my head from side to side. Apparently the possibility that they might not get to hear the story is painful enough to shock them back into normalcy. Or out of normalcy and into perfection. I’ll take either one.

I discovered a way to make them love it even more. They all sit on the carpet and I switch off the overhead lights. For some reason, having a book read by a “real” light makes them so happy. They got out of music early today, so we had an extra 15 minutes to kill before dismissal. The noise level was getting a little crazy, so I just pulled my chair onto the carpet, sat down, and opened the book. They immediately (and silently) flocked to the carpet as Travis adjusted our lighting and Michael shut the door. Then they sat in complete silence, listening to me read until the bell rang. As I shut the book, they begged for me to keep going, with one of them even saying, “Can’t we just all call our parents and get permission to stay until you finish the book?”

Thanks, Mr. Dahl.