Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dancing, Christmas, and Roses

I am so out of breath right now and am sweating like, I just realized I don't know any similes that make good, un-gross comparisons between people and stuff that sweats.  There's "sweating like a pig", but I don't really want to be likened to some damp, shiny swine.  How about "sweating like a tiger lily in the glistening morning dew"?  Yeah, let's go with that.  Okay, so right now I'm completely out of breath and I am sweating like a tiger lily in the glistening morning dew, and it's all Trinity's fault.  She got "Just Dance 2" for Wii for Christmas, and she talked me into trying it out with her two days ago.  Ever since then, I have been hooked.  The game is such an awesome workout, requires virtually no real dancing skills, and is SO much fun.  I might have to quit working out on the exercise bike for awhile in lieu of rocking out to "Walk Like an Egyptian" and "It's Raining Men." 

I promised to write a better post about Christmas, but I have sort of already lost steam with that whole topic.  However, for the sake of having something to read in the years to come regarding this particular holiday, I'm going to attempt to say a few words. 

On Christmas Eve, Clint's family came over to our house for our annual pajama party.  Like last year, we all wore our jammies and ate breakfast for dinner.  Clint and I cooked pancakes, homemade waffles with blueberries, eggs, bacon, sausage, and biscuits and gravy.  We wound up with way too much food, but it was all so delicious.  After dinner/breakfast, we exchanged gifts.  Mike and Amanda bought me a new white coat with black trim and giant black buttons adorning the front.  It is very cute; I wound up wearing it on Christmas day.  Clint's parents bought me a 410 shotgun.  I was utterly shocked.  I had no clue whatsoever that they were getting me a firearm, other than the fact that when I went to open up my gift, they kept telling me how much they loved me and acted like they were getting ready to dive for cover.  It was pretty hilarious.  The shotgun is the perfect size/weight, and when I hold it, it feels comfortable and smooth.  I absolutely love it.  I'm hoping to go out after New Year's to try it out.

Other than the mild, inner mood swings I was experiencing on Christmas, Christmas morning was wonderful.  The kids woke up way too early and raided their stockings.  We ate breakfast (leftovers from the night before) and then took turns opening presents.  The kids favorite gifts were their electric scooters, and then of course Shelly the tortoise.  Clint got me an iPod and a Ram-Bear (yes, he actually turned my crazy vision into a real item!  It's amazing!).  I got him a Nintendo DSI and some games, but in actuality he already knew what he was getting.  We both got each other a mutual gift of a new big screen TV, but both the TV and the new TV stand were broken, even though the two came from different manufactures.  So now we have to wait until the 4th of January for our new one to arrive.  Until then, we're still making due with our old big screen that only shows the image about 50% of the time.

After our own personal Christmas, we got dressed and headed out to my parents' house in Silver Lakes.  I'm not sure why, but every year, Christmas with my extended family gets more and more fun.  My sister pretty much outlined the day (link on previous entry), so the only thing I'm going to add is the whole wrong-gift hoopla.  My grandma makes my grandpa wrap and tag all the gifts, and in the last couple of years, he has begun to make small mistakes in which he accidentally tags the gifts wrong.  This happened three times on Christmas (although only two of them were Grandpa's fault), and it was so ridiculously funny.  The most hilarious incident was with little Shelby.  She tore off the wrapping from her very first gift, and it was a size XXL men's T-shirt.  She's only two, but she was so cute and polite, saying "Oooh, I like it."  And Shannon was like, "Um, thanks.  I'm sure she'll eventually grow into it."  Then my grandma started hollering, "Dang it Roger!  You tagged the gift wrong again!  That's Jeremy's gift!"  My grandpa just looked really confused, and my mom and I were busy crying with laughter the whole time.  Later, Cassidi opened up a throw blanket that was supposed to be Shannon's, and Samantha opened up fabric that was supposed to be my grandpa's.  I suggested that we might have better luck if we tear off the tags from all the gifts, throw them all in the middle of the room, and just go for it.

Wow, that was more than a few words.

Tomorrow I'm going to Pasadena with my Builders Club to work on the Kiwanis float for the Rose Parade.  Me and the advisor for the high school's Key Club decided to take our clubs together, that way we can save expenses by sharing one bus.  I am really looking forward to this field trip.  I have 22 kids going, and they are so excited.  Plus I love the Key Club.  We've worked with them a few times now (our town's fall parade and Salvation Army Bell-Ringing), and they are a very fun, lively group.  Key Club has somewhere between 15-20 kids going, so between both clubs, we will be chaperoning for a total of 35 to 40 middle-schoolers and high-schoolers.  Since we are volunteering only two days before the parade, we get the desirable job of "petal-pushing", which means that we will actually be applying the flowers onto the float.  The only downfall is that it is going to be a long day; we're leaving at 6:00 a.m., and returning at 6:00 p.m.  I'm curious how these kids are going to do, pulling off a twelve hour day.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Our New Tarantula...Sort of...

This is the only picture that any of us took on Christmas.  All of the beautiful presents, the sparkling tree, the lovely decorations, the huge smiles lighting up our kids' faces on Christmas morning, and the only evidence I have to show for any of it is this one very random picture of a tortoise.  Trinity took this photo with her Nintendo DS (yeah, I didn't know those things could take pictures either).  This is "Shelly," Trin's absolute favorite Christmas gift.  She was supposed to get a pet tarantula for Christmas (she's been begging for one for over a year now), but every single pet store in the desert had sold out of them.  Who knew that big hairy spiders were such a popular yuletide commodity?  The problem is we had already bought everything for her new tarantula weeks prior, so here we were with probably over $100 worth of glass tank, rocks, plants, heating lamp, etc., but no spider.  In our desperation to come up with something to put in that glass tank, we somehow wound up bringing home a Russian desert tortoise. 

Shelly came with a 15 day exchange, so after Trin opened up her gift and finished shrieking with delight, we told her that we could take the tortoise back to the pet store if she wanted and exchange her for a tarantula once new shipments arrived.  The reply we got back was basically the ten year old equivalent to a hell no.  So we had to go back to the pet store, buy a bigger tank, exchange the little tarantula cave for a bigger log, and get more supplies. 

Trinity just adores her new pet, and has been obsessing over her for the last 48 hours.  Shelly is only a toddler and has a life expectancy of about 75 years, so it's good to know that once the thrill wears off, we only have 74 years, 11 months and 22 days left to care for a tortoise.  Trin says she can't wait to introduce Shelly to her great-grandchildren. 

I was going to write a real entry about Christmas, but I spent too much time talking about our stupid tortoise, so I'll attempt a better post tomorrow.  Until then, here is my sis's entry about Christmas.  Just substitute her family stuff with my own, and it's close enough.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Cards

I have to post something else today, or once again I'm stuck with moodiness on the top of my screen.

Here is our Christmas card for 2010!  That statement is followed by an exclamation mark only because, for awhile there, I didn't think I'd be able to pull one off for this year.  I usually have our Christmas cards mailed out toward the beginning of December, but with Master's Comps and other added pressures, it just didn't happen.  Yesterday I woke up feeling hell-bent that I was going to make these damn cards and they were going to be in today's mail, in the same way that my sister woke up feeling hell-bent on crocheting a stupid pot-holder for no apparent reason.  ;-)  At this rate, I'll be lucky if these cards reach their destinations by Christmas Eve, but better late than never and it STILL friggen' counts.  Like last year's, I put the card together on a PowerPoint slide, using background images that I found from Google.  I saved the final product as a JPEG and sent it to Costco for print.  I will forever love the teacher who taught me how to use PowerPoint for stuff other than presentations.  Photo cards cost about $1.50 each when you use the pre-fabricated templates from the machines; these ones cost me .39 cents each.

I'm supposed to be finishing my Grandpa's scrapbook today, but I'm having a hard time finding the motivation.  I just want to read a good book, eat some nachos, and pet the cat.  Tricky since I don't have a book to read, I have no nachos, and the cat doesn't like me right now.  I guess I'll get back to the joyous world of cutting out photos and gluing them to stuff.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rise and Shine Pills

I am sooooo tired!  I have been back in psychotic insomniac mode for the last few days.  On Sunday evening I took a real-life, actual sleeping pill for the first time.  I've taken the occasional herbal sleeping aids before, such as Melatonin, but never actual chemical-infused sleeping pills.  I figured since I was a sleeping pill virgin, it would have a huge effect on me...sort of like the impact liquor has on your body your first time drinking it.  I expected to be lying unconscious within a half hour of taking that pill.  Instead, two hours later, I was wired.  I took the pill at 9:00, and by 11:00 p.m., I was all over the place and feeling giddy and silly.  At about 11:30, I started texting Clint from bed, message after message, and I don't really remember what I was texting him about, but I pretty much wouldn't shut up.  I know at one point I told him that I had a great idea for a new invention:  a fluffy, cute stuffed bear that stores a 9 mm in a hidden slot, for females such as myself who are packing heat every night due to their hubbys' work schedules.  I told him I'd much rather cuddle with a teddy bear at night than cold, not-so-cuddly steel.  Plus on the occasions when I hear a noise and am forced to cruise the house, it looks much better from the kids' perspective if Mom is wielding a fluffy purple bear instead of a firearm.  And yes, I want a purple one (not sure why; purple isn't my favorite color).  I think after posting this blog, I'll check out e-bay and see what they have in the way of purple Rambo bears.  I wonder what my keyword search should be?

Oh yeah, but back to my original point.  So it turns out that sleeping pills are bad on me.  I did eventually crash toward midnight, but when I woke up the next morning for work, I felt a little drunk.  It took half of the day before I felt like myself again.  Maybe I should cut the pill in half next time.  Or try a Starbucks instead.

The rest of the week has been very normal so far, although I've been having these daily back and forth conversations with a troubling parent, and this has been a little stressful.  I won't get into the details, but she is one of those enabling parents whose darling little angel (same angel that threw Ms. Frisbee across my room) could never ever do any harm, and of course all of her son's shortcomings are somehow his teachers' fault.  I've lost so many valuable hours every week due to this mom, and it's starting to wear me down.  The vice principal offered to have her son removed from my class a few days ago, and it was the most tempting offer.  What a sigh of relief it would be to have both him and his mom forever out of my life!  But before I could stop myself, I told Mr. A that "I'm not a quitter."  So until I say the word, this kid stays in my class.  And since I will never say the word, that's that.  It's going to be a long rest of the year.  On the plus side, at least this whole thing is going to really test my patience--and hopefully strengthen it--as the school year progresses.

I'm not going to go back and re-read any of this cuz I am really tired, and hungry now, too, so sorry if this whole thing came out as gibberish.*

*Update: Okay, I lied.  Two hours after posting this, I added two commas and the word "although" into one of my sentences.  I can't help it--I'm an editing-addict!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Suckered Yet Again

This evening we went out for a few hours to do a little bit of Christmas shopping.  On our way home, we decided to swing by the pet store.  The kids love going in there to look at all of the lizards and snakes, and to pet the guinea pigs and rabbits.  Somehow, we wound up coming home with this:

She looks all sleepy and innocent in this photo, but she has been a hellion all night, wreaking havoc on our Christmas tree and climbing up every thing.  We lost her for about an hour and finally found her here--in the top drawer of Trinity's dresser, napping in a pile of belts, hats, and socks.  I named her Shera.

I'm not much of a cat person, but I am a sucker for animals in general, and I finally caved in to all of the begging and pleading.  Not from the kids (although they chimed in too), but from my ever-mature, feline-loving hubby.  On the bright side, at least we came home with just a kitten, and not a chinchilla, bearded dragon, and baby desert tortoise.  We really need to stay away from pet stores.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Engaging Students through Foul Language

In the credentialing program, the instructors teach you all of these wonderful strategies to help you be a more effective teacher and design compelling lessons.  But one thing they never teach you is the power of cursing.  At the middle-school level, throwing in a curse word from time to time is a great way to add a little liveliness to your lectures.  Not any of the big ones (dropping the F-bomb in the middle of class might be a bad idea), but the more mild curse words, such as "crap," "hell," "damn," and so on.  The reason is simple.  Ninety percent of your students don't really give a crap about what you're teaching (see how nicely "crap" slides into that sentence?), but if you drop in the tiny occasional curse word, you will suddenly have their undivided attention.  Especially with seventh graders.  They have just graduated from elementary school in which any type of foul language is a huge no-no, so when they hear a teacher slipping in even a mildly bad word, you can see their mouths nearly drop open in shock as they snap to attention.  For example, a few weeks ago I was teaching my students what it means to be "objective" in writing.  Here is an excerpt from that lecture:
Okay guys, if you were a reporter and you were covering a burglary, you would have to be objective, which means keeping all of your opinions and emotions out of your story.  It might sound something like this: "At approximately 2:15 a.m last night, three suspects were seen entering the Quickie Mart on Rodeo Drive, wearing black ski masks.  The suspects managed to flee the scene with..."
At this point I noticed the students were beginning to fade.  Enter curse word.  Back to lecture:
Now, did you guys notice how there was no emotion or opinions expressed in this news story?  It's not like the reporter said, "At 2:15 a.m last night, three suspects burglarized the Quickie Mart.  OMG, this really pisses me off!  What's up with all of these retard-criminals?"   
At this point, I had my entire class back, laughing and hollering.  Simply from using one mild curse word.  And once they're snapped back to attention, you have them for at least another good ten minutes before they start to fade again.  The above was a longer example, but this technique can also be played out in a short and sweet fashion.  Example:
Q: Mrs. P, why does the word 'goose' turn to 'geese', instead of 'gooses'?
A: Because it's one of those bastard words we talked about earlier that doesn't follow the rules.
The key is you can't over-use this technique.  If the word uttered isn't a shock to their system, it does no good.

On a somewhat related note, did you know that, according to Myth Busters, cussing actually increases your pain tolerance?  So not only is some mild cursing good for student-learning, but it actually provides the teacher some much needed therapy throughout the day.

So teachers:  Know your material, design engaging lessons, and...cuss a little.  Join me next week for Part 2 of this series: How Vodka can improve student retention.  ;-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Led Foot of Life

On my way up the mountain last night, I was listening to the radio (in and out of static) and caught part of the John Tesh show.  He was discussing the phenomenon that most of us can relate to: the fact that as we get older, the days start to feel shorter and, in general, life seems to fly by quicker.  Psychologists have actually performed studies on this curiosity, hoping to figure out why life seems to accelerate at a nearly alarming pace the further we age.  Based on their studies, they did actually come up with one viable theory.  What researchers found was that every time we, as humans, do something incredibly routine, our brains go into "auto-pilot" mode.  This is no big surprise...most of us already know this; the most obvious example being driving a familiar route every day and suddenly jerking to awareness when we have finally arrived to our destination.  But naturally the older we get, the more routines we establish, such as doing our daily jobs, running errands, grocery shopping, paying bills, cooking dinner, and so on.  Unfortunately, during these familiar tasks, our brains tend to go into that same auto-pilot mode as it does while driving.  Thus, for a huge percent of our lives, our brain is practically on a sort of stand-by, and this can make the days (and ultimately months, years, etc.) feel very short.

The solution, according to researchers?  New experiences.  Every time we engage in activities that breaks the mold of our normal everyday routines, our brains become fully alert and awake, absorbing every part of the moment.  Every new experience is integrated into our memory and can actually have the effect of lengthening our days and, overall, making our lives feel longer.

Now this is all theory, of course.  But hopefully it's legitimate enough to excuse the fact that I got completely drunk last night at a bar in Crestline, danced with a bazillion different people, and walked about half a mile in twenty-some degree weather at 2:00 a.m while eating a chocolate doughnut. 

Shannon, Jeremy, Sarah, Clint, and I all went out to celebrate Sarah's birthday last night.  We decided to walk from Shannon's house to the local tavern, that way we wouldn't have to worry about the drive home.  We arrived around 8:30 and stayed until the place closed.  We had an amazing time.  The place was rustic, warm and inviting, and Shannon and Jeremy knew practically everyone there.  The music played was awesome, and although the dance floor was small, this didn't deter anyone from dancing themselves silly.  I can't remember the last time I danced so much (and trampled so many people in the process). 

The only downfalls to the whole evening were 1. Clint refused to dance, and 2. Jeremy got into a fight.  Regarding #1, the fact that Clint won't come out and dance with me is only a minor issue, because either way I still dance, and he is pretty understanding about me occasionally dancing with other males.  I just feel like he's missing out on such a joyful, cathartic experience and I wish I could share it with him.  I told him today, "You need to stop forcing me to replace you with some random guy every time I want to dance.  Get out there and dance with your wife!  Better yet, throw caution to the wind and get down with your wife.  You should be out there grinding me on that floor and embarrassing the people around us."  Of course I was (mostly) kidding about that second part, but I was suddenly speaking his language and he started cracking up.

As far as Jeremy's fight, it happened as everyone left the bar.  I'm still not clear as to what instigated the fight, but it pretty much seemed to start with your typical verbal machismo contest between two drunk guys.  It eventually led to a physical fight, which was broken up after a minute or two.  Then, as everyone started to part ways, Jeremy suddenly lunged for the guy again.  At this point, one of the guy's friends decided to jump in, and they pinned Jeremy on the ground and were punching and kicking him.  It was horrible.  I remember I just wanted those guys to get off of him, and some other guy kept pulling me back saying "Just let them fight it out, sweetheart."  Aside from the belittling term "sweetheart," Mr. Chauvinist didn't seem to understand that I was actually all for letting them fight it out until it became two on one.  Then I was feeling aggravated that the whole thing was weighted so unfairly.  I'm pretty sure that Jeremy started the fight, but it still prickled at my sense of justice that there were two men pounding into him.  Eventually the fight was broken up and Jeremy's face had some bloody gouges, a swollen lip, and a slowly developing black eye, but overall he didn't look too worse for the wear. 

At this point we made the uphill trek back to Shan's and Jer's house in the freezing darkness (although I personally was still warm from liquor), and happily chitter-chattered about...stuff I can't remember.  I loved that walk home.  I could see my breath coming out in frosty puffs, and Sarah kept whining about having missed out on the whole fight because she was off making goo goo eyes at some cowboy, and the trees loomed so tall, and the stars were so bright.  Sorry, that last sentence was a bit of random stuff shoved together, but I just noticed that it's after 2:00 in the morning, so elegant writing just isn't going to happen.  My final thought is, last night may have not been perfect, but if the above-mentioned researchers are correct, the evening has officially added so-called time to my life (of course any time gained I probably just lost by blogging about it, so now it's actually a push--oh well).  I guess in this sense I don't have any regrets.  Although maybe I need to evaluate the evening a little more and get back to you on that one. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Serving on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving yesterday was very pleasant.  We spent most of the day with Clint's family, doing the typical Thanksgiving day activities such as gorging ourselves with way too much food and watching football.  Except for I didn't really pay attention to the game because I find sports on television to be painfully boring.  I spent most of my time talking to Clint's sister and his grandpa.  I enjoy talking to Clint's grandpa because he tells the most interesting and funny stories from back when he was in the military (like the time they had a female officer on board their plane and wound up having to make an unscheduled landing to find her a tampon).

Yesterday morning I served Thanksgiving meals to needy and homeless families with the Salvation Army.  I had actually wanted to have the Builders Club help out this year, but since I had never volunteered myself, I decided that this year I would try it out on my own first as a way to sort of test the waters.  I loved it.  From the moment I arrived, there was an immediate camaraderie between myself and the other volunteers.  After about an hour, we were joking and laughing together as if we were old friends.  In the beginning, I was in charge of beverages.  I loved this job, because it meant that I was out on the floor, getting to greet and talk with every single person.  I met so many interesting people.  Several of them were in wheelchairs or handicapped in some other way.  One lady seemed to be suffering from some sort of dementia and needed me to walk her everywhere.  One woman was a single mom living in a motel.  But I'd say about half of the people we served were just your normal, everyday people down on their luck and suffering from a bad economy.  Everyone we served was grateful and happy.  At times it felt like I was back to my waitressing days, joking around with customers with lots of fun, boisterous conversations. 

After about an hour, they had to switch me to the kitchen because they had a shortage of cooks.  The irony of course is that I am a very scatterbrained cook, and here I was in this tight kitchen with two other so-called cooks, whipping up sweet potatoes and cooking bin after bin of turkey.  I was in charge of the turkey, sweet potatoes, and gravy.  The stove was this giant archaic iron beast, and it had this enormous heavy door that refused to close all the way.  Every time I put in some new turkey and closed the door, it would slowly fall open again.  The other cooks were laughing at my attempts to verbally coax--and eventually beat--that damn stove into submission.

When it was time to go, all of us volunteers said goodbye to each other and gave each other hugs.  It was honestly an experience I will never forget.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Power of Wielding Names

I'm not crazy about my name, but I don't hate it either.  I love my sister's name, Shannon. It rolls off the tongue like a soft whisper. My name uses harsh, very unsensuous sounds...the sort of hard syllables that babies are able to babble early on because they are easy to pronounce.  It's one of those in between names.  It's not a beautiful name, like Cadence or Serena, but it's not as plain and uninspiring as Joan or Sue (if there are any Joans or Sues who read this blog, I hereby apologize!). 

Yet despite my indifference towards my name, I absolutely love it when people say my name.  For example, if I'm walking past a colleague at work and he or she utters out a quick "Good morning", naturally I will reply back with a cheery greeting, but the brief exchange will have already been forgotten in a matter of minutes.  Yet if this same colleague greets me with "Good morning, Jodi," I will remember it for the rest of the day, if not longer.  Something about having someone use my name makes even the most casual greeting seem so much more personal.  It's strange though, because hardly anyone is bold enough to regard acquaintances directly by their names.  It's almost like you have to cross a certain unwritten threshold before regarding others by their names, and if you haven't reached this point yet, using their names too soon is like some kind of violation of personal space.  I people feel invaded on some level when someone they barely know uses their name?  I hope not, because I am a massive name-user.  I make it a point to learn others' names as soon as possible, and I am often calling people by their names before they even know who the hell I am.

I remember back when I was a waitress, I would have the occasional complete stranger--usually a male--call me by my name (having read it from my name tag).  This would generally throw me off a little.  On the one hand, I would admire this person's boldness in being willing to look me straight in the eye and use my name.  That, from my perspective, takes some confidence.  But on the other hand, hearing my name roll off of the lips of a stranger could sometimes create a very subtle, unsettling feeling...perhaps because it almost felt like the balance of power in the situation was shifted to his advantage.  He was now able to use my name freely and command my attention, but the same was not true for me.  Maybe that's why people, in general, are reluctant to use others' names.  Maybe it's a subtle way of wielding some kind of authority over that person, and people lack the audacity to do that.  Maybe I should stop doing it myself.
On the other end of this spectrum, it doesn't matter how long I know someone--if he or she fails to call me regularly by my name, I simply feel no closeness with this person.  I have a few coworkers who fall into this category.  We're great friends, we get along famously, we laugh a lot; but they don't call me "Jodi."  They walk up and say "Hey, how's it going?" and such, but they don't regard me by my name.  I feel like telling them "Grow a pair, will ya?  The planet will not suddenly spin off it's axis if you call me by my name."

And then there are others who, when they do utter your name, it almost makes your heart beat perceptibly faster.  Those are the smooth ones who know the power of saying your name, and they aren't afraid to brandish that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mom's Gravy and Knott's

This is going to be a short post because I need to go work out and then go eat some tacos.  Earlier this week, we had a Thanksgiving-themed small group at our house.  It was my and Clint's very first time cooking a turkey, so that's one way-overdue milestone that we can officially cross off our list.  Clint pretty much took over with the turkey preparations though, so honestly I didn't contribute much.  But I did make homemade country gravy for the first time ever, without using a recipe.  I just remember as a kid, my mom used to make white gravy by combining turkey drippings with milk, flour, and black pepper.  I tried to follow this "memory" recipe as best as I could, but once finished, the gravy tasted a little plain.  That's when I remembered that Mom sometimes used to add a dash of Tabasco sauce into the gravy to give it a kick.  We didn't have any Tabasco, so I sprinkled some hot chili juice in it instead.  After that, it tasted good.  I do realize I'm going on and on about the gravy, but I am not exactly a Chef Ramsey, so making anything that is somewhat palatable is always a thrill.  Clint's turkey came out juicy and delicious, and with the food brought by everyone else, it was a great meal.  Once we were all seated at the table, Becky suggested that each person at the table share something that they were thankful for, to which we all loudly groaned.  But we did, and some of the things shared at that table actually made my eyes mist up a little because they were so touching.  That's the one thing I love about Becky; she is always the one to pull us out of our comfort zones, and ultimately, we're always glad we played along. 

Matt and Alana wound up staying until after 11:00 that night, and because I was still amped up when they left, I wound up not sleeping.  I'm all caught up on sleep now though, which is good, because this is my last very busy week of dealing with the Top Turkey competition before Thanksgiving break.  This Friday, I'm going on a field trip with our AVID students to Knott's Berry Farm.  We will be leaving for this trip after school at 3:00 p.m., and returning at 3:00 a.m.  I love amusement parks at night, so the hours actually excite me more than anything else, but I do wish I didn't have to get up at 6:00 that morning.  By the time we arrive back to my school's parking lot, I will have been up for 22 hours.  And this doesn't count the time that I may have to wait for stray students to get picked up by parents who have fallen asleep on their couches.  These logistics don't bother me too much though.  I'm still very excited.  I'm just going to pump my body up with caffeine all night.

So much for my short post.    

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Craving for Anonymity is Contagious

I'm beginning to feel bitter toward my blog, but not in an extreme way where I'm going to wipe the whole thing out and give up on it.  Just in a small, frustrated way.  It's the same old dilemma as always.  I simply can't write what I really want to say.  I still remember my first few blog entries in which no one knew that my blog existed.  I loved that feeling of being able to purge myself freely on a screen that no one else would ever read.  It truly was an online journal.  But now, those truly "purging" entries have long been deleted, and I have at least a dozen unpublished blog entries that I will never have the guts to post.  I used to write about things that mattered to me, but now I'm reduced to writing quaint, generic little pieces on teaching and life, for fear of offending someone or saying the wrong thing.  

Most of this is my own fault.  I went awhile where I thought I wanted my blog to be read, so I allowed it to be discovered through avenues such as Twitter and facebook.  After all, words that never get read is like art that never gets gazed upon...what's the purpose?  But now I am regretting this.  I miss the innate value of writing just to write, and I feel fake when I'm writing for the benefit of others.  I'm not sure what the solution to this is.  Yesterday I removed publication rights to Networked Blogs, deciding that it definitely wasn't for me.  I also took some other steps to pull back that I won't detail here, and overall, I guess I do feel a little bit better.  I still wish though that I could completely and utterly spill out what I really want to say.  I don't anonymous blog is sounding more and more appealing every day.  Or maybe I just need to go back to old school and take up journal-writing again.  The kind you do on real pages.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dreaming of Turkeys

That title makes it sound like I'm really excited for Thanksgiving, and don't get me wrong...I do enjoy this cozy, warm little holiday.  But it is not delicious, mouth-watering Thanksgiving Day turkey I have been dreaming about.  It is paper turkeys.  Or more specifically, paper turkey feathers.  And by dreaming, I mean quite literally dreaming, as in, my REM cycles are being saturated with paper feathers.

You see, our school has this tradition of holding a "Top Turkey Competition" every year.  Each participating staff member hangs a paper turkey in their classroom or office, and students buy feathers for their favorite staff members' turkeys.  At the end of the contest, the teacher with the most feathers is declared our school's "Top Turkey" and wins a crown of feathers and a frozen turkey to enjoy on Thanksgiving.  Proceeds for feathers generally go toward a good cause (Salvation Army this year).  My club, the Builders Club, is running the competition, and not only did we have to cut out a gazillion-bajillion paper feathers in preparation, but at the end of each day, I have to take all of the feathers students purchased and divide them up into little bundles to put into the teachers' boxes.  This translates to over 800 feathers that I have sorted through, paper clipped into little piles, and delivered (and this was after only three days of the competition). 

I'm having a great time running this fundraiser, but for two days in a row, I have been dreaming of feathers.  It's nothing specific, it's just that anything I dream about has feathers plastered all over it.  Like two nights ago, I dreamt of my friend Felisa's upcoming baby shower, and in the dream, the guests had paper feathers attached to their clothes and hair, and all of the gifts were covered with feathers.  Last night, after finishing the first book in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, naturally I had a dream about owls.  But ALL of the owls were covered with feathers.  Okay, I realize that owls are supposed to be covered with feathers.  But these ones were covered with paper, green, and blue ones.  It was just wrong.

I have one more week left of this competition.  This means only one more week of my subconscious being smothered with colorful paper feathers.  I'm just hoping I don't have any "NC-17" dreams this week.  I think I might wake up screaming.

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's Raining Cats and Dogs...and Rodents, if You're in Mrs. P's Class

Yesterday I was doing a really cool lesson that required students to listen to music from the "Braveheart" soundtrack in the dark, while watching abstract images play across the projector screen.  Every single student was completely riveted by the music and images...except for Rayne.  Being a perpetual attention-hog, he proceeded to talk and disrupt the lesson.  After several warnings, I told him to move to an empty desk in the back of the room where he wouldn't be so tempted to socialize.  He responded by huffing his way to the back of the room, sweeping up Ms. Frisbee (who was playing on another student's desk), and then proceeded to throw her about eleven feet across the room.  I was livid.  I marched into the vice principal's office when class was over, referral in tow.  VP's response?  He laughed.  A lot.

Okay, so I can admit that I do see a little humor in the situation.  I mean, administrators receive a wide array of referrals, with anything ranging from "student shouted obscenities in the classroom" to "student snuck Germ-X into another student's Powerade."  But I don't think anything can quite prepare a principal for "student had temper tantrum and threw rat across room."  Plus Mr. A was at a complete loss as to what box to check on the referral.  There is simply nothing on the school referral forms that address chucking rodents.  I think we finally settled on 'throwing dangerous objects' ("After all," Mr. A. stated, "that rat might have poked someone's eye out") and possible 'destruction of personal property'. 

So yes, I do see the humor.  But poor little Ms. Frisbee.  She is the sweetest thing (even though I know some of you are shuddering with disgust...sorry about that).  She trusts all of my students implicitly and never saw this coming.

This morning I decided to take Ms. Frisbee on a field trip to Mr. A's office so that he could see exactly the sweet little innocent creature who was thrown across my room and perhaps take the matter more seriously.  He isn't entirely comfortable with rodents, but I finally managed to talk him into holding her.  She then peed on his hand.  I really should have given her a better pep talk first.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Name-Changing Fanatic

If you haven't noticed by now, my blog is suffering from a massive identity crisis.  I am pretty sure I have changed my blog's title more often than I have dusted my house.  I was trying to brainstorm all of the different names this blog has displayed, and here are the ones I can remember, from oldest to most recent:
  • My Ramblings
  • Iridescent Bubbles
  • Fizzyjo (still my URL, and probably always will be)
  • Quarter after One
  • Trying to Fit the Ocean in a Cup (as of just now)
I'm pretty sure I also had "Mindless Meanderings" in there somewhere, and one or two other names I am presently forgetting.

But I will say that I love this new name, and I am really, truly convinced that this title will actually stick around for awhile (hey now, quit scoffing!  It could happen!).  I wish I could take credit for it, but I was actually inspired by the cover label for a that I have never once listened to, or even heard of, until about twelve minutes ago.  The CD is from a Christian artist, Josh Wilson, and having never listened to his music, it honestly could royally suck (although I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it's   awesome).  Either way, I still love that invented idiom.  Not the royally-sucking one, but the ocean/cup one.  Outside of its powerful spiritual implications, it's a playful reminder to me of people in life trying to accomplish the seemingly impossible.

From the blogging standpoint, the expression simply makes me think of how us bloggers try to squeeze our entire lives into these tiny snapshots.  In fact, a friend and fellow blogger recently stated, "Chances are, things will be forgotten because there’s no way I can recount so much in so little space" (Kristyn @ Pretty Pessimist).  I think we can all relate.  There is no blog or journal in the world that can accurately capture a person's entire story anymore than a photograph can capture a person's entire memory.  Trying to reflect one's self through these little written glimpses is like "trying to fit the ocean in a cup."  It's a practically ridiculous endeavor.  Yet, for a few of us, there seems to be something inherently worthwhile in this perpetual obsession with scooping up all of this salt water, trying to create one little ripple of purpose.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lazy Me

I am one lazy life form.  Today I went through my classroom fridge and pulled out eight or nine tupperware dishes that had collected over time.  I do have a sink in my classroom, so for about forty seconds, I actually contemplated undergoing the very reasonable task of washing the dishes and bringing them home.  But then, quite suddenly, all of the plastic dishes somehow magically propelled themselves from my hands into the trash can about eight feet away.  When I entered the house after work today, the first words out of my mouth were, "We need new tupperware."

One of my students today threatened to burn my car down.  I know, *gasp*, but it was actually part of a bad joke.  At any rate, I asked said-student if I could choose which vehicle he decided to douse with kerosene, because my 2007 HHR was getting really dirty.  Washing your car can be a pain in the ass, and Lord knows I'll never actually cough up the change to pay for a real car wash.  I'd really love to just take that insurance money and buy a new one...nice and clean.  Like I said: Lazy.  It's lucky that we don't qualify for a new house every year, or else we'd be moving every time the spring-cleaning season arrived.

Despite my inherent laziness, my homeroom class won the Red Ribbon Week poster contest...first place!  Today we enjoyed our reward:  An ice-cream party early this morning in 45 degree weather.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Party--Take Two

I had published an entire post on yesterday's Halloween party and went in to add one more picture when somehow, the whole post got deleted.  Arghhhhhh.  So in lieu of me not wanting to recreate the entire thing, I'm just going to post some pictures. 

Clint and me...I love his hat!

Shannon and Jeremy...they were so cute.

Sarah, Shannon, and Jeremy

Shannon and Me

Me and Sarah

Jamie tried to sneak in a candid, but I saw her and
posed at the last second.  ;-)

Clint and me (again)

James and Jamie (our friends who hosted this party) got some great action shots during the party, but I don't want to post any of them here without the proper permissions.  ;-)  All in all, we had a great time.  James and Jamie are a fun, adorable couple, and I definitely wouldn't mind hanging out with them again.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Deer in Headlights

Earlier this week during the recent thunder storms, we had an incident in which lightening struck right behind our house.  It was one of those instances where you hear a deafening crash, and at the same time the entire room is illuminated with a flash of white light that is nearly blinding in its brightness.  It was so sudden and ear-splitting that our chickens were dead the next morning, having died of what appeared to be a heart-attack. 

When the lightening struck, Clint was awake in the living room, and I was sound asleep in bed.  I don't remember anything except for I was dreaming, and suddenly in the dream something exploded in my ears.  Ripped from sleep, I shot up in bed.  At this point all was quiet again, but the explosion was still reverberating in my ears, and I didn't know what was going on.  I sat there at the edge of my bed, heart pounding hard and fast in my chest.  After a few minutes, Clint came in to check on me, and he found me there, frozen and shaking in the dark.  I'm not afraid of lightening, but because I was asleep, I didn't know it was lightening.  I think it was the mystery of the noise that had me the most paralyzed.  But it's weird, because I don't remember feeling scared, or anything at all, for that matter.  I just couldn't get myself to move. 

Clint brought up the incident last night.  He mentioned that when he heard the crash of lightening, his first reaction, however irrational, was to jump up and grab his gun, as is the case with any strange noise.  He mentioned somewhat jokingly that humans are supposed to have a "fight or flight" response to fear (his being "fight"), but when he walked into our bedroom, I was neither fighting nor fleeing.  Instead, I was just sitting there, paralyzed in the dark, like a deer caught in headlights.  "What kind of response is that?" he had teasingly inquired. 

I was thinking about this, and it's true.  I don't react when I awaken to potentially traumatic situations.  I still remember being at my best friend's slumber party in 6th grade when we had that big earthquake (I no longer remember the details of the quake, I just know it was the strongest and longest earthquake I have ever experienced).  I was curled up on a recliner, fast asleep, when the quake struck in the predawn morning.  I immediately woke up, and items were falling off the walls all around me, and girls were screaming.  I remember I could see their silhouettes running out of the house, one by one, as they shrieked in fear.  But I just sat there, holding onto the arms of the chair, feeling nothing; frozen in place the entire time.  The whole house could have collapsed on me, and I probably would have been found still clinging desperately to the arms of that stupid chair.

A few years ago, when we were living in Silver Lakes, it was about 1:30 in the morning when the window over my bed shattered all around me.  Luckily it was November and I was buried in my bedspread, because heavy shards of glass fell all over my stomach and legs.  I thought someone was trying to break into my what did I do?  I just sat there, frozen in place, covered in glass.  It took about five long minutes before I could "un-freeze," using sheer willpower to get myself to move and call the police.  As it turned out, some reckless teens had thrown a large liquor bottle through my window.  But this incident, along with others, just highlights the point that I don't react in potentially dangerous situations.  What is my problem?

But I don't think I'm completely useless in moments of trauma.  I think it's just some kind of fear of the unknown.  One common trait shared by all of these situations is I had been jolted from sleep, feeling confused and disoriented, unsure of what was happening.  I know that in situations in which I'm awake, alert, and aware of exactly what is taking place, I'm one of the first to react and can usually keep my cool.  I just wish I didn't become so paralyzed when it's something unknown.  Heaven forbid there is ever a real disaster in the middle of the night.  I'd probably be useless.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pancakes and Costumes

Going to try to make this quick. 

Last night I lost a big chunk of my evening putting on the final touches to our anti-drug homeroom poster.  Every year, during Red Ribbon Week, our school holds a poster-making contest between all of the homeroom classes.  My class's came out cute, but the competition gets pretty competitive, so I'm not sure if we will place or not.  I remember a few years ago, my students did a paintball-themed poster, and it came out so adorable.  We felt certain that we would win, but we wound up losing.  The only time my class has ever won this competition was five years ago, when we did a poster with a music-theme, and turned our poster into a giant boom box.  This year our theme is "facebook," and it actually has a great anti-drug message, but we'll see.  No matter what, we always have a good time making the poster (who am I kidding...I want to win!). 

This morning we had our Aces Breakfast.  Everything was almost perfect, except for the fact that we usually have two grills, and this time we only had one.  As a result, I had a very long line of students who were waiting for pancakes, and I couldn't cook them fast enough.  I wound up grilling pancakes well past the first bell, and finally ran into my classroom nearly ten minutes late, still wearing my apron and covered in batter. 

Tomorrow night we are going to a costume party.  Clint hates Halloween, so this is a big step for him.  I'm just relieved to have finally found a costume!  We normally do our Family Themed Nights during Halloween every year (and we still will), in which I generally just piece a costume together.  I haven't officially shopped for a real costume in probably a decade.  I had no idea the direction costumes had taken in the last few years--wow.  I swear on Wednesday I thought I was in an adult toy store rather than a costume shop.  Today we found a better store--"Costume City"--and they actually had reasonable costumes.  I picked mine out in about five minutes, and Clint took about ten minutes more to pick out his, which was fast enough to make the whole process nice and stress-free (Clint gets edgy in Halloween stores).  Clint is going as some kind of Samurai warrior, and I'm going as Robyn Hood.  I'm really excited to have a good time with friends tomorrow.  I'm just hoping Clint doesn't feel too uneasy at the party.  I've done just about everything I can to prep him for the environment and have even suggested he stay home due to his wariness with Halloween, but naturally he doesn't want to send me off alone.  I'm sure, too, that a part of him doesn't want to be left out of the festivities, even though they're festivities he doesn't agree with.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

200 and Lights Out

This is my 200th post!  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  On the one hand, sticking with an online journal for two hundred entries might be viewed as somewhat of an accomplish, given that half the people who attempt a regular blog ultimately give up.  On the other hand, two hundred entries?  That seems like a lot of wasted hours of life that could have spent living instead of blogging. 

During first period today, there was a thunder storm.  I was in the middle of a PowerPoint presentation when the students and I heard two loud crashes of thunder, and suddenly the power went out.  My room has very little natural light, and with the darkness of the sky outside, it was nearly pitch black. I do have really lousy night vision though, so this could've just been me.  At any rate, we couldn't see, so we had to prop the door open in order to let more light into the room.  I kept thinking the lights were going to come back on any second, but after about ten minutes, I realized that we needed to find a way to occupy our time.  So I told students to get into one large circle, and we went into campfire-story-telling-mode.  I said the first word of our creepy tale, the next person said the next word, and so on and so forth, until we had one long, rambling, silly story. 

Next, we played "Telephone."  I started the game by whispering "Raining cats and dogs is my favorite idiom."  After the message passed through 36 sets of ears, it came out as "Pink gay bunnies."  Needless to say, that was a dismal fail, so we switched to "Spelling-Bee Ball" (made-up game)  Toward the end of the game, a campus assistant came in and told me that class was dismissed (they had no bells to notify us due to the power outage).  When the next period resumed, the power was still out.  One student walked into class late.  I stated "You're tardy Elise, but I have no proof, so have a seat."  This had the class giggling.  For this period, I told students that they were to create a two-minute funny/spooky skit, using any props they could find in the classroom.  I gave them fifteen minutes to prepare, and then we just sat back in the dark and enjoyed the "shows."  The skits were hilarious; we had everything from sorority girls being stalked by Sponge Bob to helpless victims getting attacked by a giant rat (played by Ms. Frisbee).  I have to admit, I felt a little pang of disappointment when, towards the end of the skits, the lights finally came back on.  The rest of the day was just "business as usual".

On a completely unrelated note, I'm back to working out again.  I started about two weeks ago and was exercising every other day, but these last few days have been the most streneous.  Although life in general has been good, I've had a little bit of "heavy-hearted syndrome" that I've been trying to get over recently.  Exercising lifts my spirits, if only temporarily. 

It is still pouring outside and the lights keep flickering.  Time to hunt down some candles.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nature Found Our Pond

Look what we found in our pond tonight!  Well actually, it was sitting on the sidewalk right next to the pond.  Clint thought it was one of my little garden statues that the kids moved out of place, and he went to kick it out of his way (real nice honey, thanks), but before his foot even touched it, the alleged garden statue suddenly started hopping away.

We can't figure out where he came from.  The closest body of water is 'Tumbleweed' Lakes, but geez is that a long walk--er hop--for one little bull frog.  Or toad.  Or whatever he is.  But the kids and I were so excited to have a new pet that of course we all had to take pictures with him.

I was thinking about giving him a quick peck to see if he would turn into a prince, but then he peed all over my hand.  So I decided to pass him to Elijah instead.

 Elijah petted him, and then passed him to Trinity.

Trinity held him (probably a little too tight), and then passed him back to me.  I then let him go back into our pond, where he swam happily away.  I hope the cat doesn't eat him.


Goodnight, Prince Charming.

Monday, October 11, 2010

With Halloween Approaching...

Last night we went out to dinner with Clint's parents, and Carey was telling me about a spooky incident that occurred in his hotel room a few weeks ago while he was at a conference.  While listening to his story, I believed everything he said, simply because he is a trustworthy man and not the sort to exaggerate.  Yet somehow, if this is even possible, I simply don't believe in ghosts (as mentioned in a previous post regarding my vibrating mattress).  I don't know where I get this scepticism from; my parents believe in ghosts.  Clint's parents believe in ghosts. Clint himself even believes in ghosts, although he has a different perspective on what ghosts actually are.  In fact, I think everyone around me believes in the paranormal to some degree. 

When I was about eight years old, I fell off my bunk bed during a nightmare, and when I opened my eyes, there was an apparition standing in my doorway, slowly waving its arms up and down as if it were trying to fly.  It was lipping words that I could not hear, but I could understand.  Even then, as a little girl, I wrote the whole incident off as some kind of optical illusion; an extension of the dream I had just been experiencing.  Never once did I actually think it was a ghost.  About ten years ago, I had another incident occur in which I saw "something," and this time, Clint saw it too.  But even when he tells the story to our friends, I write it off as something that must have a more logical explanation. 

Again, I don't know why I have such a conviction to doubt that which I evidently see with my own two eyes, whereas I insist on believing in That which I can never see.  Maybe a lot more rides on ignoring the former and believing the latter.  So much of what you believe is a choice, and I choose not to believe in ghosts.  I just do not see a purpose for putting my faith into that particular belief.  I do see the flaws in this theory, however.  For example, you can "choose" not to believe that fire is hot, but if you touch it, it's still going to burn.  But I feel relatively confident that I will never be scorched by the supernatural, so as of now, I am going to stick with my belief--or lack thereof.

Moses's Attempted Carjacking

I'm feeling all mushy and sentimental right now.  I need to stop listening to pretty music and go to bed, but I'm still waiting to feel tired.  This could take awhile.

This week has been busy!  Monday night we had small group at Matt and Alana's, which was a lot of fun, although our focus for our discussion that evening was pretty heavy and left me feeling a little disturbed.  It was leaning toward the whole "Where you go when you die" issue, and even as a Christian, I just don't enjoy 'going there'.  But we ended the night on a high note by staying for an hour after small group had ended, chatting with Matt and Alana while enjoying some hot tea.  Wednesday night Mike and Angie came over for dinner and a movie.  Clint made enchiladas and we watched "Date Night," which turned out to be pretty cute.  The kids played in Trin's room the entire time, so ironically the whole evening did wind up feeling like a double-date of sorts.  It was very relaxing and fun.

Friday I conquered our new evil gradebook program, turned my first quarter grades in ahead of schedule, and have been enjoying the three day weekend ever since...although we did have a little incident with Moses.  Friday night Clint went to take the dogs for a quick Jeep-ride around the block (long story) while I waited in the yard. When he turned back onto our street about a block from our home, Moses jumped out of the Jeep.  It was pitch black, so the poor dog just sort of disappeared into the dark.  While Clint situated the Jeep into the backyard, the kids and I stood out on the street, yelling for Moses to come.  I finally could see him in the distance, turning the corner and running toward home.  But suddenly a red car passed, and my heart sank a little because I knew that the driver probably wouldn't be able to see our dog.  I started running like a crazy person, hollering for Moses to get out of the street, which really made no sense because the stupid dog doesn't understand a word I'm saying, but it felt right at the moment.  Luckily the driver came screeching to a stop in the nick of time...maybe she saw the crazy person in her rear-view mirror.  When she opened her door to check on Moses, he immediately jumped into her car and into the backseat, where her teenage son was texting and apparently oblivious to the fact that a 140lbs. dog was now drooling on him.  I managed to drag Moses out of her vehicle and about twenty feet down the road, but then he got loose, tore straight for the woman's car, and jumped into her backseat again.  At this point the woman announced that she worked for animal control (no, the irony here doesn't escape me) and pulled out a big leash.  I started to tell her that our dog was licensed and all that stuff, but then I realized she just wanted to help me get him home.  So we clipped the leash on him and managed to drag him back to the house.  When we walked up the driveway (my bare feet now scraped raw from asphalt), Clint casually sauntered out of the backyard.  I'm pretty sure that my hands were on my hips and my voice was full of mock-attitude as I asked him, "Where the hell have you been?"

Finally starting to feel tired-yay!  Apparently giving a play-by-play of my week is enough to bore me into tiredness.  But before I go to bed, here's the culprit:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Virtual Sunflower

I can't really write a post today because I just got home from work and we have company coming over in a couple hours, but I just had to post this picture.  I was having another grim sort of day at work when I received this image through my cell phone.  Sunflowers are my favorite flowers, so opening this image during 5th period just lifted my spirits for the rest of the day.  Especially since I know the painstaking effort the photographer went through to find a real-life sunflower in his particular community.  :)  Based on the quality of the photo, it probably took him some time to take this picture, as well.   

I wonder if every female has a favorite flower?  I'm also curious if a woman's most favored flower says something about her personality.  I bet there's a facebook quiz out there somewhere that claims to solve that riddle.   

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pie and the Sky

Every morning Clint gets home from his night shift no later than 7:00 a.m., just in time to pass the car to me so I can drive myself to work and begin my day.  We have other vehicles, but the Oldsmobile needs a new battery, and the Volkswagen is having issues running (translation: it's a piece of crap).  So this morning, as I was getting ready for work and the clock was creeping closer to 7:00, I called Clint, feeling concerned that he wasn't yet home.  He informed me that he was still at work (an hour away), forced into overtime.  After a few initial seconds of panicking, I decided that I was going to have to ride my bike to work.  

Riding my bike made me realize how out-of-shape I am...I was breathing so hard by the time I pulled into the parking lot.  I had to store my bike in my classroom, which made my students very curious, but otherwise the whole bike-riding thing was fun.  Until that afternoon when I was ready to leave.  I was busy loading up all of my papers onto my bike, along with the rat carrier, when suddenly the sky took a big ole' gulp of air and started spitting all over me and my plans.  It started pouring sheets of rain.  We haven't had rain in the desert in like eight or nine months.  The very first time I ride my bike to work, it rains?  Really?

Clint called soon after to let me know that if I just hung tight for twenty minutes, he would come get me.  So Cole and I kept ourselves entertained by playing with the two Mrs. Rats and running out in the rain.  Eventually Clint texted me to let me know he was waiting out in the parking lot.  I rode my bike through the campus out to our car, with papers and rats in tow, when problem #2 (or is this #3 now?) reared its ugly head.  My bike wouldn't fit in the car.  Clint immediately decided to be the ultimate gentlemen and insisted on riding my bike the thunder and pouring rain.  But the thing is, my bike, well, it's bright purple.  With giant hibiscus flowers all over it.  And sparkly purple and pink streamers hanging from the handlebars.  Just typing about it is impossible for me to do without giggling.  The imagery just kills me--this 230 lbs. absolutely drenched man lumbering over a shiny, purple, girly bike with sparkly streamers flying out behind him.  I tried to get a picture of this scene on my cell phone as he pulled up into the driveway, but he jumped off of that bike so quickly it might as well have been a volcano getting ready to erupt.

The only other note-worthy thing that happened today was I went to our school's annual "Rock n' Lock n'", where students get family and friends to sponsor them to sit in a chair and rock for four hours--although most students bring lawn chairs and wind up just sitting.  At the Lock n', I let a student throw a pie in my face.  It wasn't a surprise thing; I had volunteered for this event a couple weeks ago.  I'm not one to normally allow food to be smashed in my face, but it was for a good cause.  The student who clobbered me with the pie had really good aim and absolutely creamed me (no pun intended).  A campus assistant (Cole's mom) helped me clean up afterwards, but my face still feels a tiny bit sticky.  I'm secretly hoping that whipped cream has some sort of skin-clearing or anti-aging properties that no one has yet discovered.

After my collision with pastries, I went to my sister-in-law's house to see my brand new niece.  She is really cute.  Holding her reminded me of holding Trinity when she was a baby, which brought on a few waves of nostalgia.  I guess it was a little awkward for Trin when we got home and I was patting her head and telling her how much I love her, but she'll get over it soon.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mrs Frisbee and Mrs. Whatsit

This school year, for the first time ever, I have classroom pets: two rats named Mrs. Frisbee and Mrs. Whatsit.  I know the mere mention of rats makes most people shudder, and I'm not going to claim that they're cute in the traditional sense.  But they are cute in a gremlin sort of way, and have added a ton of personality to my classroom.  Not a day goes by where Mrs. Frisbee doesn't run off with a student's pencil, or eat a purple crayon; while Mrs. Whatsit meanwhile is chewing up my teachers edition of our Interactive Readers or eating the corner of someone's homework (okay, maybe I should keep them locked up more often--point taken).  Last week we had a fire drill, so naturally students took Mrs. F and Mrs. W outside into the student assembly area with us, because heaven forbid the rodents get left behind in the event of a real fire.  Last week, one of my students went to run a few errands for me, and without my knowing, he smuggled Mrs. Whatsit in his pocket and took her on a little field trip around the campus.  The students have endless fun with these rats and, for better or worse, they have become somewhat of an icon in my classroom.

And it's not just the students--I have my own little unsolicited adventures with these two troublemakers.  The first time I took Mrs. W and Mrs. F home for the weekend, I had nothing to carry them in, so I stuffed them in an empty tissue box.  For obvious reasons, this didn't work out.  The following weekend, I used a tin lunch box.  Unfortunately, the two were jostled around so much against the hard tin that I decided I needed something else.  So last weekend, I put them in a much more soft and comfortable large vinyl lunch box.  It worked for the ride home, but on the ride back to school on Monday, Mrs. Whatsit chewed through the vinyl, and both rats escaped.  I can't even begin to describe how much FUN it is digging through your car, trying to find two rats running around in there amidst kids' sweaters and toys, and meanwhile hoping that no other teachers pulls up to see you going through this process.  So having learned my lesson, this weekend I put the rats in a small plastic kitty carrier.  It was the perfect solution, because they wouldn't be able to chew through it, yet the rats would have enough space to avoid getting knocked around.  But when I arrived to school this morning to pull the carrier out of the car, there was only one rat.  Somehow Mrs. Whatsit had yet again escaped.  Feeling rushed and desperate, I called out, "Mrs. Whatsit!  Come on out!"  I know this had to be a coincidence (either that or I'm the Rat Whisperer), but she suddenly peered out from underneath the passenger seat and scampered out.  I quickly shoved her in my purse and proceeded to class (don't ask to borrow my chapstick, by the way).

Trust me when I say that if you are a teacher who wants to add liveliness and adventure to your otherwise mundane day, get a classroom pet.  Better yet, get a pair of lively, personable rats.  You will laugh every day.  But trust me also when I say that classroom pets--especially rodents--are not for the faint of heart.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Counting Sheep

I'm still struggling to write a decent entry. It's been so long and I feel like I need to get on here and talk about the latest going-ons in my life, but I really don't want to talk about life. Hmmm...where exactly does that leave me from the blogging standpoint...?

Last night I was having a hard time, as usual, going to sleep. So I went out into the kitchen to get a midnight snack, using my cell phone as a flashlight so that I wouldn't disturb the kids.  I sat on the cold kitchen tile, in the dark, eating yogurt and drinking tea. I sat that way for a long time, feeling so tired, but in an indescribably pleasant and fuzzy way...almost the way you feel after you have taken a shot of a good, hard liquor, and the initial burn has finally passed.  Sometimes I hate insomnia, but sometimes I love it.  There is just something so intimate about having that part of the quiet pre-dawn morning all to yourself, with no sounds other than the clock softly ticking in the background.  And knowing that somewhere in the country, someone else is lying awake too, contemplating the night right along with you...and even if you never see this person, you are unwitting partners sharing the dark morning together.

Okay, I realize that I am over-romanticizing insomnia to the Nth degree, but when you have it as often as I do...well, it just seems like the healthiest approach.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Need you Now

"It's a quarter after one, I'm all alone and I need you now...".  I love those lyrics by Lady Antebellum.  That song has recently become somewhat of a lullaby to me every time I'm struggling to go to sleep.  It's obviously the world's worst lullaby though, since here I am, wide awake (that's actually not quite true.  I'm nearly delirious with exhaustion right now).

This might just be my shortest entry ever.  I'm going to attempt to bully my consciousness into shutting up for a little while so I can go to sleep, and try not to sing along to "picture perfect memories scattered all around the floor...."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Poor Blog--Stuck Outside with No One to Play With

I have a severe case of blog guilt.  It's kind of like the oh-so-common issue of the neglected outdoor dog.  Every day you can see him wagging his tail through the back door, immensely excited to see you.  But you feel incredibly guilty for not playing with him for such a long period of time, so you ultimately avoid going outside to pet him or give him attention (this would force you to face your guilt), thus perpetuating a never-ending cycle.  Same with blogging.  The longer you go without blogging, the harder it is to get back into it.  You just don't want to be forced to acknowledge the fact that you have failed to write for over a month, and that you are being a lousy blog owner.

So this is my attempt to throw my blog a bone. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Just Another Bedtime Conversation

Spinning off my last post, not only is learning healthy ways to "argue" in your marriage important, but good communication is vital to any long-lasting relationship. Clinton and I, for example, make it a point to share with each other every day, and to be attentive, respectful listeners (stated with a perfectly straight face). For example, a few nights ago, I had another dream of a big earthquake (probably prompted by Sho's recent disaster dreams, I'm sure). Last night, as we were climbing into bed, I felt compelled to tell Clint about my dream. Here is a transcript of that conversation:

"I had a weird earthquake dream last night."


"Yeah. In the dream, we lived in L.A., but in a really fancy area, like the Hollywood
Hills, and there was suddenly a big earthquake--except for, in the dream, we weren't really us--."

"Huh? We weren't 'us'?"

"No, we were a different family of different people."

"Did we have the same names?"

"No, I don't think so. Actually, I don't even know if we were the same sex."

"What? That makes no sense. How can you say it was 'us' in the dream if we're completely different people?! That's like me saying I had a dream of Cassidi and Dylan last night, but Cassidi was really me, and you were actually Dylan--."

"No, no, it makes perfect sense, because even though the people in the dream weren't us, they had our consciousnesses, so they really were us."

"Oh, okay honey. Well if I ever call out someone else's name in bed, it's actually your consciousness I'm thinking about. So it's all good."

"You know, I don't think I really want to tell you about my dream anymore."

Oh well. I'll try to supply a better communication example when I actually have one (twelve years and still waiting...). But until then, people, communicate with your spouses.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Climbing Trees Barefoot and Drunk

The Advantages of Climbing Trees in a Forest in the Middle of the Night Barefoot and Drunk: 
  1. It's fun
  2. It makes you feel like a little kid again
  3. If you fall, the pain is numbed by your blood alcohol level
  4. You can't see all of the little critters that might be in the tree (ants, spiders, etc.), hence enhancing your bravery
  5. No one can see how idiotic you look, cuz it's dark

 The Disadvantages of Climbing Trees in a Forest in the Middle of the Night Barefoot and Drunk:
  1. Even the dark can't hide the fact that you look like an idiot
  2. Being intoxicated gives you a false sense of bravery
  3. You wake up the next morning with gashes and scrapes, with little recollection as to how they got there
  4. The trees wobble even more so than usual when you're drunk
  5. People around you have these contraption-thingies called "cameras," and they're not afraid to use them
So there you have it.  Probably the only list available online outlining the advantages and disadvantages of climbing trees in a forest in the middle of the night while you are barefoot and drunk.  Don't forget to site your source if you use this information within your master's thesis or dissertation.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Good Fighting/Bad Fighting

Fighting in marriage is unavoidable, but most married couples who have been at it for awhile realize that there are both bad and good ways to "argue." So for those who are still a little hazy as to what constitutes "good" fighting versus "bad" fighting, here are a few examples to help illustrate.

Good fighting involves listening attentively to the feelings of your spouse. It involves using "I feel" statements to avoid putting your spouse on the defense, and...all that other good psychobabble stuff.

Okay, so now onto "bad" fighting. An inappropriate way to fight would be to immediately start railing your spouse with accusations and insults without listening to what he or she has to say. And if the wife is droning on and on incessantly, it would be bad for the husband to spray her in the face with the shower nozzle in order to get her to shut-up. This can have the effect of elevating the fight to a new level. Now, if you are a wife who is in this situation, you probably shouldn't retaliate by shooting your husband in the crotch with baby oil while he is wearing his nice karate uniform, knowing that he doesn't have time to change because his class starts in five minutes and hoping that he will look like he wet himself.

That would be a bad way to fight.

But if you are a husband who finds himself in this situation, you probably shouldn't exact your revenge by throwing your wife in the tub and spraying all over her nice clothes with the water nozzle, meanwhile battling her for the baby oil which is now being sprayed all over the room. It's also not particularly nice to make sure that the oil gets all over her hair.

And you definitely shouldn't do all of this in front of the kids, who are laughing hysterically that Mommy and Daddy are kicking each other's asses in the bath tub.

Again, this is a bad way to fight. Not to mention it floods your bathroom to the point that, three hours later, there is still a pond on your floor.

But, of course, all of this is just a hypothetical illustration to help you, the reader, avoid these types of displays in your own marriages. I'm glad that I, for one, am in a mature, adult relationship.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fireworks and Earthquakes

I've been so busy planning for my grandpa's 80th birthday party (and being obsessed with the soul-sucking internet) that I haven't had time to write a decent post. I had a fun, memorable 4th of July, in which my sister describes in more detail than I have the patience to give at the moment. The highlights for me were the beautiful fireworks at Lake Arrowhead, great conversations with blogging friend Damien, the terrible "B"-type volcano disaster flick we watched that night, the delicious breakfast that greeted us the next morning, and the end-of-the-world plan my sister and I sat and concocted on her patio while our hubbies exchanged meaningful glances conveying messages such as "How'd we wind up marrying these lunatics?"

One other memorable incident from the 4th ocurred as a result of bringing Moses with us to Shannon's house. He was *supposed* to be in the yard with Shan's dog and pig (yes, my sister has a pig. In the mountains. Her name is Charlotte. As in "Charlotte's Web," even though Charlotte was actually the spider. They keep calling their pig a dog though. Not sure what else to say about that...). Anyhow, I woke up quite suddenly that morning to Moses sniffing all around me. I couldn't wrap my mind around this fact so early in the morning, but Moses was mysteriously in the house. We learned later that he had pushed his way through two unsecured doors, busted into the house, woke me...who in turn prodded Clint awake with an exclamation of "What the hell is Moses doing in my sister's house?!" That was right before Shannon's two year-old came and collapsed on me with her cup of crackers because she thought I was her mom. So between a 140 lb dog and a toddler suffering from mommy-twin-confusion, I had my hands full that morning. I think Independence Day is slowly evolving into one of my favorite holidays.

The only other thing worth mentioning (and if you live in California, I apologize, because this is getting really old) is we had an earthquake today. It was a very pleasant 5.4. Just big enough to get the chandeliers swinging, but not big enough to cause alarm. I had called my grandma to ask her a few questions concerning my grandpa's upcoming birthday, and I was just leaving her a message when the quake rolled in. I interrupted my message to her with "Uh...Grandma, we're having an earthquake right now..." and, without realizing it, sort of "narrated" the quake for her over her machine as it was happening. She called me back later this evening, laughing at the fact that, even though they couldn't feel the earthquake in Camarillo, she was still able to experience it through my message. Hey, I'm here to serve...and apparently to leave weird messages on people's machines when nature strikes.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Why Can't I Get Into this Damn Book?

Bookworm Challenge Update: I finished The Last Olympian eons ago but never wrote a review.  So I'm going to make this quick: 

Great conclusion to a light, enjoyable series.  Rick Riordan tidies up all loose ends with a very satisfying resolution, leaving just enough mystery to leave the readers intrigued at the possibilty of a whole new series in the distant future.

I am currently reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and I am struggling with it.  I'm on page 184, and I still have not become absorbed by the book.  I was expecting a captivating love story, but what I'm getting is a long-winded comedy of manners amongst all of these snobby self-absorbed class-consciousness characters.  It's like an 1800's rural England version of Gossip Girl.  Of course I've never watched Gossip Girl before, so I can't really vouch for the validity of that statement.  I'm going to give the book until page 201 to start captivating me (I know, sort of a random number there), or else I'm tossing it in lieu of something much less timeless.  I know, I am the WORST English teacher EVER.  How can I teach seventh graders about literature, and not be able to get through a classic work of art by Jane Austen?  Lord help my poor students.       

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer Funk

I didn't do anything productive today.  Well, I take that back; I did four discussion posts for my online class, I wrote two sentences for a paper I have due on Sunday, and I ate three bowls of rocky road ice-cream.  Other than that, I've been a lazy sack.  I told myself I was going to take Moses for a walk today, but I didn't.  I told myself I was going to ride the exercise bike today, but I didn't.  I was supposed to go to kickboxing tonight, but I skipped it in lieu of working on my paper...the same paper that now has two whole sentences to date.  Ughhh.  Bummer of a day. 

Clint strapped 5 lbs ankle weights to my ankles earlier to see if I might want to try them out, and Trinity just came out of her room and asked me what they were.  I explained to her that by carrying around those extra pounds, it was helping to build my leg muscles. 

"Yeah, but don't you have to be walking around for that to work?" She asked.

"Shut it, child" was my eloquent reply.

So here I sit, with my stagnant ankle weights, hoping tomorrow will be more productive.  I get it that part of summer break for teachers should involve some R&R, but all of this relaxation is just depressing.

You know what, this is ridiculous.  Here I am, whining on my blog that I didn't accomplish anything, when this day isn't even over yet.  Screw it, I'm jumping on that exercise bike.  Who cares if it's already least I still have the chance to do having music blasting through my eardrums always lifts up my spirits.

*Update:  I dragged out the exercise bike, got my iPod ready, and wound up sitting on the couch watching TV until bedtime.  Yay for moments of motivation.