Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Resolutions for 2010

It's amazing that when I'm working five days a week, busy and perpetually overwhelmed, I can somehow manage to regurgitate a blog entry just about about every-other-day. But when I have two weeks off for Christmas, I can't seem to accomplish one entry.

I'll write an entry tomorrow about Christmas (or maybe I'll just copy and paste from Shan's...no one will notice, right?), but I have only a few minutes before Clint and I leave for dinner, so I wanted to write down my New Year's resolutions. That way next year I can look them over and laugh at myself for being so foolish to actually think I could accomplish them. =)

Okay, so I have two:

1. To stop cussing. Believe it or not, I cuss like a sailor in the privacy of my own home. In front of the kids and everything. I would like to be a good example for my kids and teach them that there are ways to colorfully express yourself without having to resort to bad language. The kids are starting a "quarter jar" on January 1st, in which I have to deposit a quarter every time I cuss. We already discussed what words I am no longer allowed to say. Luckily I still get to keep "crap," "piss," and "bastard," but I did lose "damn." I fought to keep that one because I don't view it as being a very strong curse word, but ultimately the kids won out, so if I'm going to keep saying "damn it," then I'm going to go broke. And of course, the big ones are gone: the "a" word, the "b word," the "s" word, and the "f" word. Should be fine, as long as I don't stub a toe anytime soon.

2. To write more. And this includes taking the actions to try to get something else published. I just sat back and stopped trying after getting the True Story article published, and I'm not sure why. I think in my mind, it was like I had hit some important milestone, so I just sort of expected that I no longer had to work at it. At this point, I would rather get rejection slip after rejection slip then sit back idly, doing nothing. I have so much respect for people who are working to achieve a dream, even if they never see that dream come true. Just their striving to reach it becomes a permanent part of who they are. I want to be a person reaching for something, even if I never attain it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Don't Drink the Water

Last night Clint and I had mapped out our day for today.  For the first half of the day we would go to Costco and buy all of the essentials for our Christmas feast, not to mention all the plasticware, etc., for the kids.  For the second half of the day we would clean the house spotless, steam clean the carpets, etc.

So one little bump in our plan.  Clint decided that blacking out in the kitchen, cracking his head on the tile floor, and getting five staples in his head would be a much more appealing way to spend our day, rather than shopping and cleaning.

So it started this morning.  I was asleep in bed when I got whacked in the head with a hairbrush.  It was Clint, sitting on the toilet on the bathroom (with the lid down, just to clarify), immobilized with confusion because he was bleeding from his head and he couldn't quite figure out what happened.  He tried to holler at me to wake me up, but I didn't hear him, so he flung a brush at me.  After some initial confusion, we finally *sort of* pieced together the events that led to his head bleeding all over the place.

Clint woke up before me this morning and went into the backyard to feed the dogs.  When he came back into the house, he chugged down a 20 ounce bottle of water.  This isn't anything out of the ordinary; he always drinks a ton of water.  After slamming down the water, he had a dull ache in his chest; that small stabbing sensation that's typical of drinking too fast.  He leaned over the counter for a second, and that's the last thing he remembers.  When he woke up, he was lying on the hard tile floor in a puddle of blood.  He was very disoriented; at first he thought he was still in bed.  Eventually he made his way into the bathroom, but was still unsure of what was going on.  Enter: Hairbrush.

So I woke up this morning to a nice polite brush clobbering me in the head, followed by walking into the bathroom to see blood running down my husband's head.  My first exclamation was, I believe, "Oh my God!  What happened?!"  He tried to explain it to me, but he was still confused himself.  He kept mentioning the dogs...I was beginning to think he had gotten attacked by a dog.  After piecing it together, the next sentences were (and these I remember clearly), "Okay, we have to...well, oh shit.  We have to get you to the hospital.  Shit.  I'll call your mom and have her pick up the kids, and, oh shit, let me get my contacts on.  Shit."

The emergency room ushered us right in.  They tested Clint's blood sugar, and also did an EKG and a CT on him.  Everything came back normal.  They're not sure why Clint fainted, but the doctor thought it might have something to do with drinking the cold water too fast.  He said that there's a chance that Clint cooled down his "inner-core" too quickly, causing his blood vessels to constrict and temporarily ceasing oxygen flow to the brain.  In other words, just a freak-thing. 

I have refused to let Clinton do anything today but rest, so this has resulted in us being seriously behind schedule with our Christmas preparations.  After dropping Clint off at home, I went and did all of the shopping.  Clint's mom came with me to help, because she knows I'm a scatterbrained shopper.  With her help, we flew through all of our shopping in about an hour, and that counted going to two different places.  Once home, I cleaned the master bedroom completely, which is a miraculous feat in of itself (the master bedroom is the pack rat room).  I was going to keep going on to the rest of the house, but I felt physically drained.  So Clint and I popped in a movie, which brings me to the present.

So tomorrow, I have to finish everything that we were supposed to finish today, all before 4:30 in the afternoon, because that is the time we celebrate Christmas with Clint's side of the family. 

I should feel overwhelmed, but I don't.  I don't know what my problem is, but I can't seem to muster up any stress or anything.  I just feel very oh-well-ish and even a little serene about everything right now...maybe because I'm just glad that Clint's head wound wasn't anything serious.  But hopefully this feeling isn't that deceptive calm before the storm.  Gotta just keep this smile plastered on until after the holidays. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Scrappin' Frenzy

I've been in scrapping hell for the last few days.  If I'm not scrapping, then I'm battling the Christmas shopping chaos with Clint or reading my new "Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books," feeling guilty that I'm not scrapping.  And my dining room is a scrapping vortex of little cut up pieces of paper, sticky glue globs, photos spread haphazardly everywhere, die-cuts, fibers, brads/eyelets, and multiple other decorations that I would be more than happy to never lay eyes on again.  But the good news is I have only two more pages left to scrap, and then I am done!  I am so relieved.  This year I will be done early; most years I am putting on the final touches all the way up to Christmas Eve.  And considering I give my mother-in-law her pages on Christmas Eve, this is a pretty stressful form of procrastination on my part. 

Speaking of my "Idiot's Guide," I've read eight chapters now, and I LOVE this book.  I don't know if it's the type of book that you are supposed to read straight through (it would be like opening a textbook and reading it from cover to cover), but that's what I'm doing.  It is just so user-friendly, practical, and easy to read.  I'm hoping to finish the book over break, because once I start back to work, it's all over for me.  But I also have to squeeze in the novel The Kite Runner, because I promised one of my students I would read it. 

Time to go back to my scrapping dungeon now and finish this damn project.  =)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sanctioned Spousal Abuse

No one's updated their blogs in the last few days, probably because of the busy holiday bustle, but still...dang slackers.  Don't they realize that I'm on break now and in dire need of some good reading material?  =)

Today Sarah came over and we scrapped some pages together.  I'm not much into scrapbooking anymore, but once a year I create pages for my mother-in-law's "Family Theme Night" album, and I give them to her as one of her Christmas gifts.  The book is quite impressive, and huge, since I've scrapped every Family Theme Night since 2003.  This year I actually had to buy my mother-in-law a new book, because the other one finally became too full.  Sarah and I started at around noon today, and by 5:30 I had only four pages scrapped.  It takes a really long time to do each page--especially when it's a gift for someone else, because I try to make everything perfect.  I wish I could lighten up with the whole thing, but I'm just anal like that (I hate the word "anal," but I'm lacking a better word at the moment).

After scrapping, we took the kids to McDonalds for dinner.  Then Clint and I went to K-Mart to pick up a few things.  On our way home, we drove passed the house shown below.  The picture doesn't do it justice; in person, it is stunning.  The little silohuettes in front of the house are our kids, so enraptured by all of the lights that they begged us to let them out of the car so they could get a closer look.

Unrelated, but I mentioned in an earlier blog that I was going to be Clint's partner in kickboxing for the first time.  I just wanted to give a quick update about how that went, and I can sum it up in one sentence:  He kicked my a#@!  We were working on defense maneuvers and counter punches, and every time I was supposed to dodge, I didn't dodge fast enough and I would get clobbered.  Not by Clint's punches (I blocked those), but by his feet.  We were supposed to purposefully try to stomp on our partners' feet to motivate them to dodge.  My left foot was so smashed by the end of the class that I wasn't even sure if I could wear my shoe.  I don't bruise, which sucks for me, because I still feel bruises, but I just have nothing to show for the pain.  And let me tell you, I have the biggest, nastiest, and most invisiblest bruise on the top of my foot right now.  Damn I wish you could see it (and me too); you'd be like, "Wow, that's a nasty bruise," and I'd be all like, "Oh this?  This is nothing," while inwardly sucking in the attention and feeling proud of my battle wound.  But this scenario will never happen, because I have nothing to show for my agony other than a slight smudge.  (On a side note, I hate it when my students say "I was like..." and "she was like...," but for some reason the shallowness of those words seems to work in the above imaginary conversation).

Despite my smashed but perfecty healthy-looking foot, I had an amazing time in class with Clint as my partner.  He and I fought each other so energetically, and I've never had a partner so aptly keep me on my toes before (or smash them, for that matter).  The other students were so entertained by our sparring; after awhile I became conscience of the fact that several students in the class were watching us intead of practicing the moves themselves.  Some were even shouting out at us (stuff like "Get em' Jodi!" or "You gonna take that from your wife?!"), and the verbal baiting was just energizing us even more.  At one point I punched Clint, hard, expecting him to block as usual.  I was shocked when my jab landed square on his forehead...it had caught him off-guard.  I immediately dropped my gloves and cried out, "Oh my God, honey!  Are you okay?!"  That gave everyone in the class a good laugh.  I guess despite it all, I'm still just a girl.

Overall, working with Clint is such a far cry from the "polite" sparring that I normally do with the other white and orange belt females in the class that I don't think I'll ever be able to go back.  After class, I determined that this "sanctioned spousal abuse" (as Clint jokingly dubbed it) is very therepeutic and I'm already itching for some more.  I think this might be slightly psychotic, but I'm okay with that.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Mom's Smoking the Big One

Earlier this week, my students asked me if my own kids still believe in Santa.  I told them in a playful tone,
"Oh yeah, my kids know that the second that they stop believing in Santa, they no longer get gifts.  However, I will say that when it comes to the big ticket items, we put 'Mom and Dad' on the tag.  Cuz let's face it, there's no way I'm going to let the big guy in the red suit take the credit for Nintendo DSes and laptops." 
The kids all had a good laugh, and we moved on.

Then this afternoon, I received a phone call after school from my vice principal.  He regretfully informed me that a parent had called, complaining to him and feeling incredibly upset because I had told her son that Santa wasn't real. 

Um...huh??  I have a couple of problems with this.  First of all, it's not like I walked into the classroom and said "Okay, everyone take out your notebooks and number your papers one through ten.  And, oh yeah, Santa's not real."  I'm not much in the way of shattering students' hopes and dreams--I mean, really, there's generally only three or four days out of the month that I actually derive some kind of sadistic pleasure out of trampling spirits and squelching dreams, and this was not one of those days. 

But secondly, and most importantly, I teach seventh grade!  Twelve and thirteen year olds!  So even if I did perform said atrocities above, who cares?!  Why on earth is your almost-teen son still believing in Santa?  Is my next principal phone call going to be because I take his binkie away in class and make him stand to use the potty?

Seriously.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quitting, then not Quitting

Feeling very light today! 

I stayed up until 3:00 a.m last night talking to Clint over the phone (he was at work), and as a result wound up calling in for a sub early this morning.  I always feel guilty calling in for a sub (especially when I'm not sick), but last night's conversation made it so worth it.  Clint had been very dark and moody all day yesterday over something really trivial, and I was very frustrated with him.  I had just come home from a long day of work, ready to enjoy the rest of my evening with my family, and instead I was accosted by his negative, broody attitude over something that had nothing to do with me.  But once we hashed it out over the phone, I completely understood where he was coming from.  In fact, I really wanted to just hug him when he explained why he was feeling so upset.  Next time, I need to try to be more patient with Clint when he is going off the deep-end over something seemingly small, because chances are his uncharacteristically jerky attitude is just his tough-guy attempt to cover up vulnerable feelings.  He puts up with all of my hormonal mood swings...he should be allowed to have his moments once in awhile, too.

Today we slept in until 10:00ish and then finished Christmas shopping for the kids.  Afterwards, we went to La Casita for lunch.  It was such a pleasant lunch--the kids were still in school, so we had the whole table to ourselves and just talked for over an hour uninterrupted.

Last night I officially decided to quit kickboxing.  But then today I changed my mind.  Yeah, I can't keep up either.  =)  I have been playing with the idea of quitting for quite some time now.  The reason is simple: because I suck at it and do not seem to be improving.  What actually finalized my decision ( or so I thought) was seeing Sensei Brandon fight last Friday.  It just brought to the surface once again how much of a professional he is in this arena.  I can't seem to get past the feeling that people like me are just a waste of his talents. 

So I told Clint last night that I was going to finish off the rest of this week, and then let Brandon know that I was dropping out of the class.  I was feeling pretty depressed about this decision though, because I have made some good friends at the dojo, plus I actually really love the work-out portion of the class.  In fact, I was going to look through VVC's catalogue to see if they were offering any kind of high impact aerobics class to replace the workout that I would be losing by quitting kickboxing.  But regardless, the whole thing had me feeling heavy-hearted.

Today, however, during lunch, Clint and I came up with a plan to help me stay in kickboxing.  He is at a much higher skill level than me, so he generally partners with guys who are around the same belt as he is (which makes complete sense, because you don't want to have a partner who slows you down).  But he really doesn't want me to quit kickboxing, so he said that from now on, every Tuesday and Thursday, he will be my partner.  On Mondays and Wednesdays, he'll continue working with someone at his own level.  This way he can help me master some of the techniques two days a week, but still get in the practice he needs the other two days. 

I guess it sounds strange, but even though Clint and I are in the same class, we usually have very little to do with each other. He does his thing with his buddies and I do mine. Tonight will be my first night partnering with Clint, so it should be interesting.  I don't know if this is going to be the miracle cure I need, but I'm really happy that we are at least trying one more option before I quit.  I'm hoping that working with Clint will help me to become more skilled, ultimately building up my confidence and compelling me to stay in the class.  I guess only time will tell, but it's worth a shot. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Quote of the Week

No time for a post today, so instead I'm going to do a quote of the week (now keep in mind that a quote of the week doesn't mean that I'm going to keep doing quotes of the week...this is probably the only one you will ever see):

"I have my new dissertation topic: A pscyhodynamic approach to anxiety disorders prevalent in young children whose parents surround their Christmas trees with barbed wire and pit bulls with Santa hats...what do you think?"       ~Shannon S.

Okay, goodnight!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tearing it up in OK

Last night was utterly exhilerating!  You know how guys obsess about sports such as football, and they will sit there and holler at the television screen while us females just sit there, perplexed, wondering what the hell the big hoopla is all about, it's just a damn game?  Okay, that was a run-on question.  But anyway, I finally got a taste of that kind of enthusiasm. 

Last night Sensei Brandon was in an MMA fight in Oklahoma.  He has been training for months.  Usually our dojo holds classes on Friday nights, but since his fight was scheduled to stream live starting at 6:00 p.m., we decided to bring a projector to the dojo and project the fight on a giant screen so that his students could watch it in a movie-like atmosphere.  Clint treated everyone there to pizza and soda, and we also brought our popcorn machine so that we could munch on some popcorn while enjoying the fights.  Once the fights began, we turned out all the lights.  Brandon's fight was the fourth one.  After watching the first three, I was truly anxious for him.  The first three fights were pretty hard-core, with two guys getting hurt (one was knocked out, and the second one looked like he had broken his hand). 

But once they announced Brandon's name, all my nervousness fled and was replaced with excitement.  It was truly awesome to hear our own little city being announced.  The energy in the room was nearly palpable, with no one in the dojo even able to stay in their seat.  When Brandon appeared on screen, we all started screaming and going crazy.  Then, before we knew it, the fight began, and we watched our sensei kick ass.  His opponent was completely outmatched.  Brandon was patient but lethal; every single opening that his opponent presented was met with jabs.  This guy got the crap beat out of him.  Now, don't get me wrong, I don't advocate fighting and don't particularly care to watch it, but when it's your kickboxing instructor tearing it up on the big screen, it is an absolute high.  Clint even recieved a text from our brother-in-law, who was watching it from home, and the message contained only one word which quite aptly summed up the fight: "Duuuuuuuuuuuude." I've never screamed at a screen so much before.  When Brandon won, all of us started jumping up and down hysterically.  It was ridiculously fun. 

I definitely won't be forgetting this night anytime soon.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cookies Galore

Whew--so busy! I haven't even been able to touch my blog in a week, and even now I should be going to bed. I'll make this a quick entry.

I stayed up late grading the rest of my response to literature essays on Saturday night, so it has been refreshing this week having that burden lifted. But it is almost the end of the semester, which means lots of deadlines to meet. Next week is our last week of school before Christmas break, so Benchmartks and report cards are quickly approaching. This week was a lot of fun though--we're doing a whole unit based on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Tomorrow is our "Jingle Bell Rock" dance, and as usual, I'll be chaperoning.

This week me and one other teacher were chosen to attend a six day GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) certification conference. I couldn't be more thrilled. GATE certification is an add-on to a teaching credential that makes a teacher that much more valuable. Having this certification means that I will actually know how to teach GATE students, which would be very useful to me considering I've been doing it for a year-and-a-half now with no prior guidance.

The downfall to the whole thing is that several teachers put in for the GATE training, and three of the teachers who were not chosen have more seniority than me. One of them, Niecy, is a good friend of mine, and she was really upset--not at me, but at what she described as blatant favoritism. Ultimately she brought her complaint to our union reps. She was very sincere through the whole process. I told her from the very beginning that I completely understood her perspective, and if her pursuing this issue meant my losing my slot, I could live with that.

Yesterday, Niecy told me that she had given it some thought and decided not to file a grievance with the union, after all. She said that she needed to pick her battles, and this was one she decided to let go. I don't know if it's because she and I are such good friends, or if she just lost steam over the issue, but I still feel bad about the situation. She's an awesome teacher and deserves to go. Of course, in spite of myself, I'm still thrilled that I'm going.

So February is the big month. I'm excited, but will have to do six days of subbing plans (it's every Monday and Tuesday) for three weeks. Plus my being absent for six days is going to put my classroom into chaos. I just hope I get a good sub. Either way, it's worth it.

Next week my students are doing a cookie recipe exchange. I gave them each a recipe card, and they have to come up with a recipe that appeals to them and bake cookies for the class. They are bringing one cookie for each student (and for me), so each student will wind up with over thirty different cookies (to be taken home to share with their families). I'm compiling all of their recipe cards to create a class recipe book. I'm going to send the book to our district printshop, and have one made for each student. Some of these kids have never baked cookies from scratch before, and they are SO excited. Today they were sharing the recipes that they wanted to do, and they're pretty much baking everything from gummy worm cookies to Russian Tea cookies. I've never done this activity with students before, so I'm hoping it goes well. But at the minimum, at least I'll get to take home a LOT of cookies--102 if every student participates! Merry Christmas to me!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Belt Test

The internet is taunting me right now. It is agonizingly slow every time I try to click on a new page, and the pages keep coming up with errors. I have been so busy these past few days that I haven't had the chance to peruse some of my favorite blogs, and now that I have ten minutes of free time, the internet decides to be completely uncooperative. I'm not even sure if this post will publish.

So, as stated, I have been really busy since we started back to school yesterday. I have heaps of grading that I just can't seem to catch up on, and with report cards looming ahead in three weeks, parents are suddenly very interested in scheduling parent-teacher conferences for their children who have been slacking.

Kickboxing was great tonight. A little rough because we had that week off, but a great night, overall. I confessed to my friend Rachel my phobia of taking the belt test, and she spent probably about ten minutes talking to me about it and encouraging me. The belt test starts out with an hour-and-a-half workout, and once you're thoroughly exhausted and ready to collapse, you must spar with a purple or brown belt for a three minute round. The workout is brutal...you're not allowed to leave the floor whatsoever for the full workout period; not even to go to the restroom or get a drink of water. The only exception is if you have to throw up (which is pretty common), and in this instance, you must leave the door open so the sensei can make sure that you are indeed puking and not taking a break, and then return immediately to the mat. If you leave the floor for any other reason, your test is over.

Ironically, it's not the workout that scares me the most. I'm sure the workout is going to be a total ball-buster (Clint's lingo, not mine) and I'll probably want to pass out and die, but it's the sparring that really scares me. I've never officially sparred before, and I just know that all the techniques I learned are going to fly out the window and I'm going to look like a complete fool. Luckily, the test isn't until January, so I don't have to stress out about it yet. But I have to take it this time, because it's starting to be embarrassing that I'm not progressing in the class.

Time for bed! I'm aiming for eight hours tonight--crossing my fingers that insomnia doesn't kick in because I really need the sleep tonight.