Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

Heading south today, to spend Christmas Day with inlaws. This will be the first Christmas since my children were born (except for one memorable family Christmas at the Outer Banks) that we've been away from 'home' on Christmas morning. Never mind that we have no common home this year! Ken didn't even bother with decorating in NC - how can you decorate boxes, an apartment fridge, and a futon? Mom and I decorated in anticipation of family gathering on the 28th, but she will be in Wburg with my sister tomorrow.

TC came to spend a few days with me last week. He came by school on the last day before the break, and gave all my freshman girls the flutters. I was the most popular teacher in school that day - it really is true that you are known by the company you keep. He is riding to Winston with me today, and back on Tuesday. Dave may come with us, but Ken won't be able to come up until Wednesday evening.

I've bought and wrapped all the presents for the boys and Ken, and am taking them with us today. Ken's family does this 'Dirty Santa' thing, where you pick and steal presents. The limit this year is $25, so the choice of gifts should be interesting. For my part, I seriously couldn't think of something that everyone would be crazy about (range from my 70ish mother-in-law, through my faintly creepy 35 year-old brother-in-law and my 6-figure income 40 something sister-in-law, down to my 18 year-old son - yeah, we all want the same thing!) So, I picked out something that I would want, figuring I could always steal it if no one else seemed to like it. It's a little mean. My in-laws are born and bred ACC fans, but only if the teams are from NC. My mother-in-law LOVES anything UNC, as does my brother-in-law. My husband likes Wake Forest and Duke. So, one night at a basketball game, I purchased a UVA hoody. I wrapped it up, and included the free foam finger received at the last game. The only people who might get excited about it (simply because it is, after all, a hoody) are my sons, and maybe my sister-in-law. In any case, I figure I'll get the foam finger back. Merry Christmas to me.

We do plan to go ahead and have our little family (Me, Ken, and the boys) Christmas tomorrow morning. Ken's family never does the Christmas morning thing, which makes me twitch. Since we'll be at my sister-in-law's house, I felt a little wierd about the whole idea, but Ken says it will be fine. Anyway, the boys expect to have something to open on Christmas morning and even though they are 'big boys' now, I hate to disappoint. So, I guess everyone else will sit around and ooh and aah over our presents. Fa la la

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tis the season....

I thought I was finished with my shopping. I braved the C'ville malls yesterday while the Skins were playing, figuring most people would stay home to watch the game. (Good plan, BTW) I stayed out and about for 3 hours, and managed to part ways with $400. But, I'm done!

So far today, I've received 2 gifts from people at work - no gift bought for them. I am informing people (as I see them) that I don't expect gifts. Replies of "Too late!" make me think I may need to go shopping again. AARRGGHH!!!

I'm not so jolly.....

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fa la la la la, la la la la

Started decorating for Christmas today. First, I had to get the tree out of the garage attic. I gave Mom something to do to keep her busy, so she wouldn't worry about me on that ladder. I reminded her of the times she 'helped' Karen get boxes out of that attic by holding on to her pants leg. I managed to drag the tree parts out of the attic, and in to the house. Spent the greater part of the afternoon putting the tree together, and draping 700 lights on the branches. Mom supervised, and told me where to put the ornaments. She lamented the fact she had no light-up star or angel to put on top.

After dinner, we realized we had not yet purchased a poinsettia for church. I lit out for Food Lion to buy one. Next door to the grocery store is a Family Dollar. I ducked in there, just to see what I could see, and EUREKA! a fiber-optic angel - for $8!!! Came home, put it up, and think I've never spent a more satisfying eight.
What do you think?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Field Trip!

Went on a field trip today - 'over the mountain' as they say 'round these parts. Three adults took a group of 5 kids to a vocational rehab facility in the Shenandoah Valley. Pretty drive, pretty day. Big bus, 8 people. What a riot.

We had a good time away from school, and best of all got to take our time eating lunch. Normal people don't realize that school kids and teachers have about 20 minutes to scarf down lunch every day. Not good for the digestion. Most teachers I know look forward to professional days because it means we can eat out for lunch, and take an hour to do so.

Did I dress in holiday style for the trip? You betcha! Today was a fleecy top with angels and snowflakes. Snowflake earrings and (of course) festive socks.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Festivus for the Rest of Us

I have a very bad feeling that I will be an embarrassment to my grandchildren, one day.

I have waayy too many Christmas sweaters, jackets, vests, and socks. I happen to like them, but I admit to looking over my shoulder occasionally for the "What Not To Wear" camera crew.

For the past several years, I've worn festive attire during the month of December. I wasn't sure how my holiday collection would be received in a new school, but I broke out the glitter, anyway. Turns out there's another teacher on my hall with the same tradition of tacky dress - - we are the tacky twins! Today, I wore my bright green turtleneck (WITH the ornament applique on the collar), and my reindeer vest. The coordinating reindeer earrings were an excellent choice. Over the top? Never! Add the sparkle-y socks? Maybe a bit much...

Not sure how administration feels about my sartorial splendor. My principal walks by, pats me on the shoulder, says, "Nice sweater." I choose to hear sincerity in his voice.

Sing along with me - "Do you hear what I hear?"

Friday, November 24, 2006

How to be thankful

Do you take many things in your life for granted? By looking at the world a little differently, you just might realize how much you have to be thankful for. Here's how to stop and smell the roses.

1. Look around and pay attention to the people around you. You will find that everybody has something to worry or complain about, not just you. It's easy to focus on those who seem to have it all, but you never know what's going on inside. They might look happy, but they might be miserable as well. Don't look at others and think "I should have it like they do." Look at those who aren't as fortunate as you are and count your blessings.

2. Practice acceptance. Stop dwelling on how things should be, what could've been, and what you don't have. Recognize what you do have--whether you like it or not, it's yours to keep or to change. Accepting your lot in life is not about resigning yourself to unhappiness. It's about not wasting time lamenting or denying your problems. Take them for what they are and...

3. Become a problem solver. Use your lemons to make lemonade. Get in the habit of asking yourself how you can turn the negative into a positive. The most successful people in life, and those who have the most to be grateful for, are also those who've endured tremendous trials and managed to persevere and turn it all around.

4. Learn to see hardship as a chance to develop character. Imagine yourself looking back ten years from now and recounting your difficult circumstances, and being proud of how you handled it and worked through it.

5. Focus on what you can control. Stop concentrating on your situation, and on conditions and incidents that happened to you and that you have no control over. Instead, shift your focus on what you can control: your response, and your behavior.

6. Take joy in the small things. Blow bubbles with your kids. Play with a puppy. Get lost in the park. Goof off and have a good laugh. Life's treasures are the small pleasures. Give thanks for each small gift you receive!

• Avoid negative people whose social interaction consists of comparing their lives and competing for who has it worse.

• Volunteering to help those in need will help put things in perspective.

• No matter how positive and thankful you are, remember that life will always have its ups and downs. You're going to have to take the good with the bad.

Initial Author: Alan J .
Contributors: Jody , Pastor Zack , Anonymous, Ben Rubenstein , Maths genius and others.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Time Out

My online class is finished, with final grades not due for almost a week. I'm on vacation for the next 5 days. The house is clean. I have clean sheets on my bed. It's cold outside, warm inside, and I'm in my soft clothes.


Hoo-vision redux

After my debut on Hoo-vision Friday night, I received quite a bit of flack at work Monday morning. Our SPED secretary (Joel) is a fanatic about UVA sports - all of them. I think he has season tickets to just about everything, including girl's basketball. His seats are directly across the arena from ours, and he saw me win my prize package at the game on Friday. On Monday, he accused me grabbing the guy in the stands and forcing myself on him to let me play the game. He gave me a hard time about winning a gift card instead of a TV. Funny stuff, Joel. Now, leave me alone.

So, we went back to the arena last night to watch the girls play Liberty. (they lost, btw) During the 2nd half, mom points up to the ginormous screen and says, "Isn't that the guy who works with you?" Sure enough, there's Joel - getting ready to play the same game I won on Friday! He wins! What does he win? A gift card.

Needless to say, I had great fun this morning when I got to work.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Christmas cacti in bloom - in November.

Mom wanted me to take a picture of them, in case the blooms were gone before anyone could see them. I told her it was a perfect excuse to throw a party.

Ignore the date on the photos. I just got this cheap camera, and I haven't bothered with any of the settings yet.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Luck of the Aisle (ish)

Those who know me best can remember the embarrassment of being slimed by a Lawrence Welk has-been in W-burg one summer. I should learn never to sit in an aisle seat.

Last night, we went to the UVA women's basketball game in the new arena. Very nice place - not so handicapped accessible. Parking was fine, but you have to wait in line for a teensy elevator, and then walk around the arena to your section. Then, there are steep steps down to the seats. After the game was worse, due to the crowd of people wanting to take the elevator. I ended up using the stairs (much needed exercise), and meeting mom at the exit. We made it, but it was not easy, nor accessible.

Anyway, our seats are on the aisle, and I took seat 1. Good seats, too - right at mid court. During half-time, a young man came walking up the aisle, looking for a victim. There I was! Would I be interested in playing a game on 'Hoo-Vision'? I could win a free pizza and a gift certificate! My only question - 'Will I look stupid?' Answer ' "no, not at all." Ok - all set - he'll be back at the 16 minute time-out.

For those who don't know - in the new arena, there's a huge, four-sided screen mounted over center court. Throughout the game, you can watch play-by-play, and during time-outs you can watch as the camera pans over the fans. Very entertaining. It's Hoo-vision.

Here comes the second half, and sure enough, about 3 minutes later the guy is back - with a microphone. Time out is called, and there I am -- on Hoo-vision. The game I have to play is the old 'which cup has the ball' thing. Only this time, the game is animated, with three basketballs, one of which has the Virginia logo hidden 'in' it. Now, for some reason, I've always been good at this game. Visual learner, I guess. When the balls stop bouncing around, I say the logo is under #1. I win! What did I win?



for my entire row!

Aren't I a lucky sun-of-uh-gun? Who wouldn't want to be me right about now?

After the game (VA won, by the way) a guy comes up to me and asks "What size TV did you win?" I laugh, then he says "No, really. Last week the prize for that game was a flat-screen TV." "$#@$#$@$##@!!!" I say.

I look at the back of my ticket,

find I can get a free apple pie with my next purchase!
Life is good.
Who says the aisle seat ain't lucky?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

5th Period Duty!

Every day, after my lunch, I sit in the computer lab 'monitoring' students. Most of them are seniors, working on a project for AP English. Pretty good kids - not much monitoring to do. The lab can also be used by students from various study halls, and this is where the fun comes in.

To my left is a guy who is here every day, playing some online game. Across the lab is a couple who are 'working' every day. I think my job is to prevent them from making puppies. So far, all I have to do is give them my patented teacher look, and they pretend to go back to work until my back is turned again. Some days, I feel like Linda Blair - whipping my head around every few seconds to make sure nothing inappropriate (for the computer lab, anyway) is happening.

Is this a good use of my time? I get paid pretty good money to do this for a half-hour every day.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Yeah - and here's another one...

No more, I promise!

Told you I was turning in to some kind of science nerd...

Evidently, when you combine Mentos (chewy mint candy with a thin candy shell - very refreshing!) with Diet Coke, you get some spectacular effects.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I was working on some presentations for lessons next week. We just finished up the chapter on minerals in Earth Science, and I wanted to include a little review before we moved on to the rock cycle. Ok - I'm turning into some kind of Earth Science geek. I know - I look at rocks differently now...

Anyway. I typed in a google search 'minerals' just to see what might come up. I found this video and it made me laugh. That's worth it, sometimes.

Parent Conference Night! Woo-Hoo!!

Ok - so here I sit, the lonely Special Education teacher. All around me, teachers are meeting with parents of students. Some are here because a child is failing. Some are here because a teacher is failing. Some are here simply because we invited them to come. I've been waiting for 4 hours and 15 minutes now, and the only visitors I've had are other teachers, asking "You had anyone yet?" I've planned my lessons for next week, and my grading is all done. I have another 45 minutes to go tonight, and 3 hours tomorrow morning. Good news is - we don't have to be here tomorrow until 9, and we can go home at 12. Makes up (in part) for this endless, 12-hour day.

Hey - but the Beta Club fed us dinner, and it was every bit as good as those Baptist Homecoming spreads I got used to down in NC. I'm full as a tick, and gettin' sleepy sitting here at my desk.

Tomorrow, I'm bringing my iPod, full of music, and my laptop to work on some presentations for next week.

Ain't life grand?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Mighty Greenfields!

Now, this is my kind of political ad! Same mentality, same empty promises....

I, for one, am glad this election is over. I'm tired of political correctness, and I'm tired of being villified if I don't want to wear a tee-shirt on a teacher workday proclaiming a politically correct viewpoint (not necessarily my own). I kept hearing about how such displays 'open dialogue', but I saw and experienced the opposite effect.

I'm tired of president bashing. No matter who is in office, someone isn't happy,and is more than willing to let me know about it. Funny thing is, no one ever asks me what my opinion might be - it is simply assumed that my opinion is the same, and we've got to be right, right? Or left, right? Whatever...

As I often tell my sons and my students - the loudest one doesn't always win.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Teaching a class online is supposed to be relaxing - I can do it whenever I have a few moments, I can do it in my PJs, I can do it while watching TV or listening to my Ipod - Right?
This month, I have a class from.....

Out of 8 students, I have three who are driving me crazy. They don't like that I grade their papers for grammar and spelling. They don't like that I expect them to work on their assignments like adults. They don't like that I'm not holding their hand through every discussion. One of them is talking about me in the Team folder as if I can't read everything she posts. Hello? I'm right here! I've already sent out a copy of the Student Code of Conduct to her, and given the Instructional Specialists at the university a head's up. She will definitely NOT be happy with her grade, and will try to file a grade grievance.

I've spent most of the day right here, in front of my computer, trying to explain to these 3 people how to act like Master's level students.

I've gotten nowhere.

This guy is crazy! I want to be just like him when I grow up...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Happy Halloween!

The best show - ever
Dave at a Halloween party. I think he's dressed as a golfer - not sure...

This picture was taken from Skyline Drive, just south of Big Meadows. The view is to the west - toward Harrisonburg.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I had an interesting week. I received an invitation to a baby shower for a colleague who is in a lesbian relationship. Her partner is expecting in late November, so we all got together to throw them a shower. Now, they are registered at Target, so I ventured out to buy a gift from the registry. Here's the problem - The gift registry gives the option of searching via the mother or the father's name. I didn't, at the time, know the pregnant partner's name (whom I would assume would be listed as 'mother'). What to do, what to do? I hesitated, then finally touched 'Father' on the screen. Of course, the female name I typed in did not appear in the database for fathers. Along comes a red-clad, helpful Target associate. After a brief discussion of options, we chose 'Mother' and typed in the name I knew. Voila!

The shower was lovely, and the couple is ecstatic about the imminent arrival.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Random thoughts..
  • I miss my family.
  • I miss my dog.
  • I never thought I'd ever be homesick. I can't remember a time when I was homesick, not even as a kid. I especially didn't think I'd be homesick for NC, since it's not really home - although I lived there for over 30 years.
  • I like teaching high school. There is a sense of freedom and maturity that I've missed. I like being able to have adult conversations with students.
  • My mom is one of the most amazing women I know. Even at age 85, she can be so much fun to be around. She has made me feel so welcome and useful over the last 3 months.
  • I love the mountains of VA in autumn. My drive to work each morning is a prayer.
  • I can't wait for my husband to move here with us and really start behaving as a family again.

Ok - that's all I have for now. Good night.

Pretty good day (hence the change in font color - uplifting blue). My flash drive mysteriously appeared in a sealed envelope on my desk today. I laid a HUGE guilt trip on the 9th period class yesterday, and I guess it worked. Now, I have 2 flash drives! Looks like one of my children will get a flash drive for Christmas...

Monday, October 23, 2006

I had some issues today with people being disrespectful to me. Not students - colleagues. Not cool. I don't know why, although I could take some educated guesses. It's so hard to start over in a job after you've worked so hard to earn respect in your last job. I'm not used to being treated like the village idiot, and I'm afraid I may say something I shouldn't very soon.

On the bright side - I was able to take a little time for myself this afternoon. Had myself a pedicure, and it was good.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Went 'over the mountain' today after church - to look at the leaves and eat lunch. The leaves are at their peak this weekend, and are a riot of color. Then, I went to the grocery store, and as I walked out the door, I see this beautiful tree right at the end of the drive. Who needed to travel to see beauty?
Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to get up in the morning. Can you imagine what's going on in his little, shrimpy brain??

Friday, October 20, 2006

While my back was turned today in school, a student made off with my flash drive! All my notes and presentations for the next chapter - gone. I'm so .....grrrr....So guess what I get to do this weekend, in my spare time?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Change is good....right??

Not so sure, after this afternoon. I love teaching, I really like the kids in my classroom, and I like the teachers with whom I work (for the most part). I don't like paperwork, and I despise feeling like a moron because I don't know all the rules yet. I never thought changing schools (and states) would be so difficult.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A beautiful Sunday in Central VA! Dontcha just love the picture? Found it, and couldn't resist posting it.