Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday--Where Are My Keys?

For years I spent hours searching for my keys.

Searching for my purse.

Searching for the mail I just brought in.

For the mail I was supposed to take out.

Lost in my own house.

And the solution was so simple.

I put a swivel hook on my key ring. If the keys are not in the ignition, or in the door lock, they are hanging from the strap of my purse, so I don't have to dump out everything in my purse to find them. And they were always at the bottom of all the other vitally important junk in my purse.

Then I started putting my purse on a hook on the coat tree. Voila! Now I always know where my purse is! No more just setting it down wherever I happen to stop after I walk into the house, then searching all over the place because I can't remember where I set it down.

As for the mail....
well, nobody is perfect.

So get yourself a swivel hook for your key ring, and put a hook by the door to hang your purse on.
Works for me.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

We Could Have Died!

After posting the story below (Memorial Day 2006), it suddenly occurred to me that we could have died!

What if one of us had fallen off?

What if the sled had run up underneath the pickup? We didn't have any brakes!

What if the rope had broken?

What if a car had come up from behind, and not seen us?

Of course, none of this occurred to us at the time. We were too busy having fun! These are thoughts I have now, as a mother and grandmother.

Back then, we played with metal lawn darts that were really sharp. We didn't have seat belts. We played outside all day, and nobody checked up on us or worried that we would run away, or be kidnapped.

We could have died!

We climbed fences. We played with stray cats. We picked up baby birds off the ground and tried to feed them bugs and worms. We had china toy dishes, not plastic. We cut paper with pointy scissors, and had a toy iron that actually got hot, and an Easy-bake oven with a light bulb that got hot enough to bake tiny little cakes.

We could have burned the house down!

When we got a spanking, it was with a peach tree limb, and we had to go pick the switch and bring it back for the spanking.

We could have had our self-esteem damaged!

We didn't have sidewalks, or organized sports, or play dates.

Nobody taught us socialization!

We brought stray dogs home and kept them, unless a neighbor came looking for them.

We could have died!!

Amazing, isn't it, that none of us are warped, sociopathic, infected with ringworm or rabies, antisocial, or ax murderers. As far as I know, anyway.

What a great childhood!

Memorial Day 2006

My brother and his family came to the lake for the weekend, and we spent a lot of time remembering. Our Daddy was a World War II veteran, with his share of problems after those experiences. He lied about his age, went into the National Guard at age 15, and when the unit was called up, he and his three older brothers went together.

There are many memories we would perhaps rather not think about, but many that still warm our hearts. One of my favorites is the year it snowed.

Really snowed.

In this part of Texas we don't usually get a lot of snow. And since we don't get snow often, we don't have much equipment for icy roads and snow accumulation. No winter boots, no ski pants or jackets, no sleds. So when it snowed, we were not really equipped for it. Daddy, being a carpenter, decided to build a sled.

It wasn't the kind you see in pictures, with steel runners, like a Flexible Flyer. It was made of wood. And since we had only one hill, which dead-ended into a rather busy street, we started out pushing each other along the icy street in front of our house. The wooden sled was heavy, and with the added weight of the kids, we struggled to make much headway.

Daddy came to the rescue again. He used a long rope to tie the sled to the bumper of his pickup, and loaded us onto the sled. He then put the pickup in gear, and without accelerating he generated enough speed to make us feel as if we were flying.

The only boots we had were rainboots, and Mama put two pairs of socks on us to help keep our feet warm. We didn't have wet-proof mittens either, so she put bread wrappers over our gloves to keep them dry. Daddy pulled up us and down the road all afternoon. We couldn't have been more excited if Santa's reindeer had been pulling our sled.

We felt like the luckiest kids in Texas that snowy day. A wooden sled, a yellow pickup truck, and a daddy who made wishes come true--kind of a strange memory, for a hot summer day on the lake, but then again, on a hot afternoon, remembering that sled, and making snow ice cream, felt pretty good.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Star Thrower

Have I ever told you the story of the Star Thrower?

It's been around a long time, but I still love it. I see it as a metaphor for what we do, teaching in a disciplinary program.
Here it is, if you don't already know it:

This short story now exists in hundreds of variations such as that below, based on one originally written by Loren Eisely and first published by Readers Digest in 1991. It illustrates the same principle in 1 Cor. 4-6: you are unique, and even apparently small things you do are of eternal significance.

I awoke early, as I often did, just before sunrise to walk by the ocean's edge and greet the new day. As I moved through the misty dawn, I focused on a faint, faraway movement. I saw a boy, bending and reaching and waving his arms – dancing on the beach, no doubt in celebration of the perfect day soon to begin.
As I approached, I sadly realized that he was not dancing, but rather bending to sift through the debris left by the night's tide, stopping now and then to pick up a starfish and then standing, to heave it back into the sea. I asked the boy the purpose of the effort. "The tide has washed the starfish onto the beach and they cannot return to the sea by themselves," he replied. "When the sun rises, they will die, unless I throw them back to the sea."
I looked at the vast expanse of beach, stretching in both directions. Starfish littered the shore in numbers beyond calculation. the hopelessness of the boys's plan became clear to me and I pointed out, "But there are more starfish on this beach than you can ever save before the sun is up. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference."
He paused briefly to consider my words, bent to pick up a starfish and threw it as far as possible. Turning to me he simply said, "I made a difference to that one."

Today was the last class day for this school year. My starfish are scattering in all directions. Some will go back to their home campus. Some will be back here when school starts next year, to finish their placement. A few will be sent here again eventually, because they are still not ready to live in the "real" world.

A very few, a handful, will stay in touch. I may get an e-mail, or a card or letter, maybe a clipping from the newspaper when someone graduates from boot camp and becomes a Marine, or a wedding invitation. Some just want to know, do you remember me?

Do I remember?

Yes. Oh yes. I remember. Because these notes, cards, calls, and clippings tell me that "I made a difference to that one."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thursday Thirteen--weird blogging habits

Jeana asked for this, so here goes:

1. I read blogs first thing every morning as soon as I get to work.
2. I write directly, rather than into a word document, which would make so much more sense, because then I would not lose those brilliantly funny sketches that get lost in the blogosphere when I don't hit the right key to publish.
3. I laugh out loud when I am reading other blogs,
4. and then have to explain what was so funny to the other teachers who are looking at me as if I am a loon.
5. I just discovered yesterday that I can change the font and the size,
6. but I realllly wanted chocolate to be in massive, cursive, or gothic letters yesterday,
7. and none of the fonts available really showed my deep and abiding passion for chocolate.
8. Sometimes I have a lot of trouble staying on topic, and tend to wander off on rabbit trails,
9. but usually I remember in time what my point was (and I do usually have one), and get back to it before I run out of time or words.
10. I *love* comments!
11. Even if they all say the same thing, they are from different people, and it is soooo much fun to read what they say.
12. I am tryng to think of another blog about chocolate, since that one generated more comments (other than family) than any other blog I have posted.
13. I am worried about fighting with my husband this summer, when we have access to only one computer at home, and he wants to read his message boards (I call them boreds, because they are all about politics), and I *need* to be reading blogs, and writing blogs, and commenting on other people's blogs!
14. to say nothing of the time I spend on e-mails.

Okay, yeah, I know that was 14 instead of 13, but that makes up for the time I didn't have 13 things to say.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday--Stress Management

Do you ever feel stressed? Feel as if the day is too short for all that you have to do, and too long for you to make it until the end? Grinding your teeth? Clenching your fists, even in your sleep?
Well, I have the solution. In one word.


Chocolate in any of its many and varied permutations. Milk chocolate. Dark chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate. Chocolate pudding. Chocolate cake. Chocolate ice cream. Godiva. Ghirardelli. Lentz. Hershey's. M & Ms. Peanut butter covered in chocolate. Chocolate covered cherries. Chocolate bonbons with creamy centers, mint, orange, vanilla. Chocolate covered orage sticks. Chocolate swizzles. Chocolate Pirouettes. Cocoa. Mocha. Chocolate milkshakes, chocolate blizzards, chocolate fudge sundaes.

That's it. Chocolate.

Works for me.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Memory Monday

I was trying to figure out just how far back I can must be somewhere between 2 and 3 years old. My daddy had a construction job in west Texas, near Midland. The three of us lived in a little tiny camp trailer. It did have a kitchen, but no bath. I hated the showers, and screamed and cried every time I had to have a bath. We were expecting family coming for a visit, so I had been scrubbed til I shown like a new penny. My grandmother said I looked strange, almost alien, because I had bright blue eyes and cotton-white hair, but was so tanned I looked Mexican or Indian--even my scalp showed tan through the white hair.

So there I was, all clean and dressed, and Mama had told me to stay that way until our comapny came. I was wandering around outside when they drove up. My cousin Danny, a year older than me, always had good ideas about what we could do together.

He dug a hole in the sand. In west Texas, that's pretty much all there is, is sand. He dug a big hole. Then he told me to lay down. Well, there wasn't room for all ofme in the hole, so I lay on my back and my head fit neatly into the hole. He then filled the hole with dirt.

When Mama came looking for me, my dress was still clean, and so were my hands and face. But my hair was full of sand. punishment was to head back to the damp dank shower house to have my hair washed again. I can remember screaming, "I ain't dirty!" all the way down the path, but I still had to take another shower.

Mama had made me some cute little pajamas, and since she was going to put me to bed to keep me out of trouble the rest of the evening, she put them on me. But I wasn't ready for bed, and was determined not to have the pajamas put on me. I kicked, cried, screamed, and generally threw a hissy fit, but Mama, with some help from Daddy, Granny B, and a couple of aunts, finally got those pajamas on me and put me to bed.

When she came back to check on me, I had cried myself to sleep.

And the pajamas were in a tangle on the floor.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saturday Night Thoughts---and Answered Prayers

I spent much of this evening reading blogs. A number of bloggers were requesting prayers for the daughter of a fellow blogger, or a best friend, or a family member. Everyday Mommy's blog about raising sons to be Joshuas extended that theme of prayer and how God answers.

We have two sons and a daughter, all of whom have chosen mates who we love. I started praying for those people when we were expecting our first child. I prayed for the child in my womb, and for the person he or she would marry. Despite many trials and discouraging times, those prayers were answered eventually, in ways I could not have imagined.

Tonight in a telephone conversation our coaching/teaching son was telling his dad about his decision to look for another school district for next year. He expressed his concerns about his family, his wife and children, and how he and his wife had prayed separately and together about an offer they decided to decline. He is seeking God's guidance, and his wife is deferring to him as the spiritual head of their household, while supporting him in prayer for God's guidance.

Our older son and his wife are praying for increased unity and growth in their relationship, and how to better reflect God's intentions for their respective roles in their relationship.

Our daughter and her husband are praying about the direction of his career path.

In my youth and ignorance, I prayed that my children would have easy lives, few problems, no crises. Now I realize that God ansered my prayers in an even better way. He has called them into a personal relationship with Him, and they search His word and listen for His guidance as they journey through their lives.

Are they perfect? No. They are human. But they are men and women of God. What an answer to my prayers.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday Thirteen--Teaching

I love teaching.
I can't think of anything else I'd rather do--
other than live on the lake full-time,
sleep until whenever I wake up,
have someone to clean my house every day and cook all the meals and wash all the dishes,
have an independent fortune--
as I was saying, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do.

1. I get to work with some of the best and brightest kids in our district.
2. And some of the most needy.
3. I get to read their journals, which are often bright, funny, and inspiring,
4. But also sometimes tear my heart, because they have seen way too much, done way too much, know WAY too much for their age.
5. I learn from them all the time,
6. and once in a while, one of them tells me what he/she has learned from me.
7. I have the satisfaction of knowing that I am making use of a gift God has given me, and sharing it with others.
8. but I also know that I am lacking in many ways, and sooooo thankful for the help and support of others on my team.
9. I am confronted daily with the fact that I can't help every child, every day.
10. But I have the comfort of knowing that occasionally, for one child, I make a difference.
11. Every day I see growth in at least one child,
12. even though he/she may still have a great deal of growing to do to get to "age appropriate" behaviors and decision-making.
13. It's just 7 more days until summer!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wednesday Works for Me: Five-minute Flash Cards

I may have mentioned once or twice that I am not organized, and that I tend to procrastinate. I have been working on these two character flaws most of my adult life, and one thing that has helped me be more organized and less procratinationized regarding keeping my house clean is Five-minute Flash cards.
I bought a bunch of index cards, different colors, and made a list of stuff that needs to be done, daily, twice a week, weekly, or monthly.
I was overwhelmed.
It suddenly dawned on me that being overwhelmed is why I never seem to get anything done. The job seems so enormous, so time-consuming, that I get paralyzed, and never really finish anything. Add to the mix my total randomnimity, and you can see why my house was always a disaster area.
So I started breaking down the jobs into five-minute "bites". Clean the bathroom? Gee, I don't have time today. But I do have time to "swish and swipe"--I pour pine oil into the toilet and let it stand while I shower. Then I give the toilet a swish. After I put on my makeup, I use one of those disposable wipes, and wipe down the sink, faucet, and countertop. I don't move stuff around, or do a total cleaning, but the bathroom looks decent, and smells clean, and I am done with that flash card.
I don't have time to clean the kitchen before I leave for work at 6:15, but I can swipe the table, sink and faucet with another disposable wipe.
The cards are in a little file box, with dividers, and as I do one, I move it to the back of that section. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, and helps keep the house presentable until the weekend, when I do a whole set of the five-minute chores to really clean.
When I first started doing this, I would set the timer for five minutes. At the end of five minutes, whether I was done or not, I quit, and moved on to something else.
Then I started resetting the timer, for another five minutes. Somehow it helps me stay focused.
As an example of my randomnimity, here is how my morning started:
I went into the bathroom to take a shower. Between the time I took off my nightgown, and the time I actually got into the shower, I
1. Swished the toilet;
2. Put away the last bit of clean laundry that I had folded the night before, but never got around to putting away;
3. Refilled Frankie's water bowl;
4. Hung up a wet towel;
5. And searched a drawer for a string of pearls I wanted to wear today.
Then, finally, I remembered I was supposed to be taking a shower. the cards work? well, yeah, if I remember to
a. read them;
and b. do what they tell me to do.
Works for me..........
sort of.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Alphabetical Meme

Accent: Pure D Texan. The members of my dissertation committee told me that I would never be taken seriously as a scholar unless I took diction lessons. I think I will not tell you what I told them about that.
Bible Book that I like: Ruth has been a favorite since I was a child, probably because I have an Aunt Ruth who is just the best aunt in the whole world ;). Although...I have to a married adult, my husband has taught me an appreciation of the Song of Songs.
Chore that I don’t care for: mopping the floors. I just hate it. It makes my back hurt.
Dog or Cat: Both. Currently a dog, Frankie the pom. In the past, at one point, we had two indoor dogs and four indoor cats. Wick says the RV is not big enough for Frankie *and* a cat--unless we move out.
Essential Electronics: Laptop and cell phone.
Favorite Cologne: Shalimar.
Gold or Silver: My wedding ring is a plain wide band, with a yellow gold engagement ring, but I do wear silver a lot. Sometimes both at once. gold and silver, I mean. I almost always wear the engagement ring and wedding band at the same time. Unless my hands are swollen.
Handbag I Carry most often:The one Jeana gave me. Last year it was black with a pink "J". This year is red, with a retro print of 40s style "cowgirls" with sequined and beaded vests and chaps, very flashy and cute, and I get all sorts of compliments on it!
Insomnia: No. I love to sleep. I have been known to sleep more than 12 hours at a stretch, if undisturbed by Frankie, Wick, or the telephone.
Job Title: Professionally, English teacher. Personally, MiMi to the grandbabies. Mom or Mama to my kids. Honey to my sweetheart of 36+ years.
Kids: Yes. Two sons and a daughter courtesy of biology, and two daughters and a son courtesy of the aforementioned children who had *such* good taste!
Living Arrangements: We live in our RV full-time. As much of that time as possible is at our lake place. Or traveling. Or visiting our kids.
Most Admirable Trait: Calm. Even when it looks as if one of my kids is bleeding to death on the neighbor's gold velvet chair. I only have hysterics after it is all over, and Wick is there to catch me when I collapse. Actually I don't think that is particularly an admirable trait--more like shock.
Naughtiest childhood behavior: I once smacked my little sister really hard, but only because she jumped on my tummy with her official Roy Rogers cowboy boots while I was lying on the floor, unawares.
Overnight hospital stay: Numerous. Tonsils, childbirth, hysterectomy, gall bladder removal, thyroidectomy, pneumonia several times. Not counting when one of my children was in the hospital.
Phobias: Yes. I can not bear to be in small, dark, enclosed spaces, especially underground. I once had a major panic attack in Carlsbad Caverns, and will *never* voluntarily go into a cave again.
Quote: "You use that word all the time. I do not think it means what you think it means." Well, actually, that is just the one that came to mind at the moment. I have lots of others. In fact, there is probably a future blog on the subject of favorite quotations.
Religion: Personal relationship with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but organized religion, not so much. Have I mentioned that I am not very organized?
Siblings: I was the oldest of four in our family, two younger sisters and a younger brother.
Time I wake up: 5:20 on days I have to go to work. On the days on which I have a choice, anywhere from 6:30 to noon. With a nap later.
Unusual Talent or skill: When I took the GRE, I scored in the 99+% in the verbal area. And an equally *low* score in the math/reasoning section. But I don't talk about that part.
Vegetable I refuse to eat: Poke salad. Collard greens. Mustard greens. Anything green and slimy (I *do* however love avocados and guacamole).
Worst habit: Procrastination. In fact, come back Wednesday, because my Works for Me Wednesday blog will be about my attempts to overcome procrastination. Don't come back until Thursday, though.
X-rays: Every time I have had pneumonia. Also, the time Wick accidentally dropped a jar of mayonnaise on my left foot.
Yummy stuff I cook: My brother says I make the world's best corn bread. Scooter likes my Chinese dinners.
Zoo animal I like most: Lions. And tigers. And bears. Oh, my! Oh and the heffalumps!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Emergency Room Memories

Jeana's last meme, in which she mentions a couple of hospital visits, reminded me of all the time we spent in ERs during her childhood. There was a summer during which we were on a first-name basis with the ER staff.

A neighborhood child hit Scott in the face with a stick that had a nail in it, and hair-lipped him, resulting in bleeding, stitches, and a scar which has faded eventually, although at that time I thought he was hopelessly disfigured.

Jeana flopped belly-first into a swing (which some jerk had set as a booby trap--he took the hooks out of their holders, then set them carefully in place so that when someone got into the swing, it would fall off), which sent her flying through the air face-first into a tree, resulting in major facial damage. Fortunately, after the blood was cleaned up, the damage was not lasting, and didn't leave any scars, other than the damage to my nerves, and a hopelessly blood-stained blouse which had to be trashed.

A neighbor's child (not the same one) threw a brick at Scott, hitting him in the head. I was busy sewing, making a play outfit for Jeana, when the said child appeared on my doorstep. Peering through the screen door, she said, "My mama wants you to come to our house." I said, "I will, as soon as I finish what I am doing here." She said, "Well, okay, but Scott is bleeding all over Mama's gold velvet chair." Concussion, unconsciousness, bloodstained chair, bloodstained towels (several), bloodstained car, and more stitches.

Jeana's daddy made her a lovely cradle for her dolls, big enough for Jeana *and* the dolls, as well as all her stuffed animals. Jeana for some reason decided to stand upon the side of the cradle, which of course rocked violently, resulting in the side of the cradle colliding with Jeana's mouth, which resulted in blood stained dolls, blankets, towels, and stitches. Fortunately, those were her baby teeth, and she eventually grew some lovely new adult ones.

A neighbor's child (the same one who threw the brick) talked Jeana into drinking motor oil. Her daddy had poured some into the lawn mower, and left the open can on a shelf. Jeana loved butter, and the motor oil was a lovely golden color, like melted butter. She came in the house with motor oil all over her face, hands, hair, and clothes, and told me she didn't feel very good. Once I figured out what she had consumed, I was on the phone to the poison control center. The nice lady asked me how much oil did she drink? I said, "I don't know, I wasn't measuring it." She then told me to stay calm (too late), and not to make her throw up, because she could inhale the oil into her lungs, and there is no antidote for that. At that precise moment, my baby girl was throwing up on the floor at my feet. I left the phone dangling, threw her into the car, and raced to the ER, where they strapped my baby to a papoose board and pumped her stomach. They made me stay in the hall, because I was crying so hard. I could hear her gagging and retching, and then her tiny little voice, saying, "Oh P'ease don't do dat again!"
When they released her from the hospital, the doctor said, "Give us a call if anything goes wrong." I said, "like what?" He said, "oh, well, you know, like if she stops breathing or anything."
I spent the night sitting on the side of her little bed, alternately putting my hand in front of her face, and holding a mirror in front of her nose, to see if she was still breathing.
All of this was when they were little children, before baseball (more concussions), football (broken bones, *more* concussions), and a car wreck (suspected broken neck, still *more* concussion, and a partial scalping).

And the people from Child Protective Services very kindly did not arrest us, after their investigation.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

1. All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. (yes, I plagiarized that from Abe Lincoln, but somehow I don't think he would mind.)
2. Being a mother has brought me great joy.
3. Sharing my daughter's adventures in mothering is another of my great joys.
4. Having sons is a blessing indeed. Our eldest son Ron, next in age son Scott, and Scott (aka Scooter)--I know that was confusing, but it is only because I have two sons named Scott, one by birth and one by marriage. Like on the Bob Newhart show, this is my son Scott, and my other son Scott.
5. My daughters keep me young. Daughter Jeana buys me cool purses and gives me fashion advice; daughter Jamie is reliving my days of shuttling kids from soccer fields to baseball diamonds to basketball courts, and she does it with grace and humor; daughter Nikky who loves purple as much as I do, and writes the most marvelous long e-mails.
6. Being a mother enabled me to become a grandmother to seven amazing young people. And provides me with seven more items for my mother's day blog ;)
7. Sydney, 14, who plays club soccer, has her mother's eyes, and is a head and a half taller than me, but will still sit in my lap.
8. Josh, almost 12, all around athlete, who promises to outgrow his daddy before long, and is always willing to help me move, carry, push, or disassemble whatever needs to be moved, carried, pushed, or disassembled.
9. Merideth, 10, fashionista of the family, who knows all the designer names, and says one day she will marry a man who can afford to buy her a Luis Vuitone shirt that says "spoiled rotten".
10. Katie, almost 10, who just returned from England, writes to me often, and has her mother's sense of humor.
11. Aidan, 8, who plays the fiddle for me (*not* the violin), and can already play Waltz Across Texas like Bob Wills used to.
12. Libby, 7, with the beauty queen smile, missing a couple of teeth right now, and with the curly hair all of us straight-haired gals envy.
13. Dawson, 5, who always has something to say, and always makes me laugh.

They call me Mama, Mom, or Mimi, and they light up my life.

Wednesday Redux

Ok, trying once more to correct my errors.
Jeana tried to help me put in a link for my last post, and I somehow lost everything except the first word. And it was a really good discussion about how to get three meals from one little chicken. I just don't seem to have the right touch when it comes to doing anything more than just blogging--I can't post pictures, I can't make a link work without losing my whole afternoon's work, I guess I am blog-challenged.
Maybe I should have stuck with pen and paper.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

After the Fair

Did we go to the job fair? yes. Did we see lots of old friends from when we taught in that district before? yes (this was the fun part). Did we come home with job contracts? But we did get to talk to several people who might, at some point in the dim and distant future, have openings, for which we may or may not qualify, and for which they may or may not call us to arrange interviews.
Actually, the event was interesting, and good practice for interviewing. The way these things work is like this:
You sign in, give your name, address and phone number, and write down what your areas of certification are, then put on a sticky backed name tag which may last until you actually get through the door into the "interview" area. Here you are, in a huge foyer/hallway/gallery, lined with tables all decorated with confetti and streamers, megaphones, pennants, and loaded down with free pencils, gum, mints, and occasionally chocolate which will disappear faster than a dime sized water puddle in the middle of the Sahara. A certain number of these tables will be manned by people from real schools, with real jobs, and signs telling which kinds of positions are open. The others are manned by people who want you to rent their luxury apartments (read: EXPENSIVE), subscribe to their newsletters, magazines, or newspapers, enroll in their pet causes, or pay money to join their organizations, each of which is the ONLY one that REALLY represents the interests of classroom teachers.
The way you tell the difference is to look for lines. Long lines. Interminable lines of people clutching resumes, briefcases, file folders, clipboards, and the kind of ring binders carried by high school students, with glittery borders around pictures of themselves and their friends at drunken orgies. They will be wearing everything from business suits to shorts, dresses to pedal-pushers, even one guy in jeans and a white t-shirt (you know, like John Travolta in Grease), and all with anxious, painful smiles stuck firmly in place with a combination of nerves, determination, and stark fear.
When they get to the front of the line, they reach a table where they sign in AGAIN, give their address and phone number AGAIN, write down their area of certification AGAIN, and wait AGAIN to talk to a real person who can offer a real job.
The relaxed people, with the fixed smiles of trained actors, are the people screening the applicants, making vaguely nice, polite comments that really mean, don't call us, we'll call you.
All of the people who were glad to see us, the ones who hugged us and said oh we are SO glad you are coming back to our district, all of those dear sweet people who might actually HIRE us, didn't have openings on their campus that require the subjects in which we are certified.
The ones who have openings, openings that correspond to our subject areas, are all standing or sitting at the front of a line of people who are ALL determined to be the ONE who gets the contract.
So we stood in line. And stood in line. And stood in another line. And stood in MORE lines. Waiting. Clutching our resumes to our breasts, smiling our anxious smiles, and reassuring each other that if we can just get to talk to the administrator at the end of the line, surely he will recognize our superior qualities, and go on one knee, extending a contract, and begging us to sign on the dotted line.
At the end of the day, we had actually met and shaken hands with a number of principals, talked more than two minutes to some of them, and more than a few minutes with a few of them. One principal knows and likes both of us, but said that he and the others had been told not to make a decision until some time next week, because they are also going to a giant job fair Monday, which will draw representatives of over 60 districts in the metro area, and thousands of applicants, so in fairness to THEM, no one who came Saturday can even be offered a follow-up interview yet.
One principal interviewed us together. That seems kind of hopeful, since we would love to be on the same campus. However, there are no openings in the disciplinary program, which would be our first preference. But maybe that is not what God has in mind for us this time.
Another assistant principal talked to Wick first, for about five minutes, I think. I was talking to the man who called Thursday night to ask if we were planning to come to the job fair. When we met up again, we went to the hospitality room to get a coke and sit down for a few minutes. We checked off all the schools we had already tried, and which we still needed to check on. As we were going back downstairs, we saw the asst. prin. Wick had talked to, and Wick said, hey here is the English teacher I was telling you about.
He spent a few minutes talking to us, then left, saying he was going to speak to his principal about me. We both sort of thought, yeah, right. But he did come back, and did introduce us to his principal, and spent about 20 more minutes talking to me and asking me questions. They both gave us their business cards, and said if we don't hear from them in a few days, to give them a call. So.....
Here we are with another cliff-hanger, which will probably not be resolved for several days. Will the handsome hero find a job? Will his lovely wife be offered a contract? Will Frankie the pom ever get another bag of Pupperoni, or will he turn up his pointy little nose at the Ol' Roy brand?
Stay tuned....

Friday, May 05, 2006

Freaky Thursday

Okay, y'all, be patient, cuz I just got totally freaked out last night, but it will take me a while to get to the point.
Y'all know that Wick and I have resigned from our jobs, and started looking for something else which will pay enough to feed us and keep Frankie the pom in doggie biscuits. Well, yesterday afternoon, instead of working on my electronic grade book, which I should have been doing, since this is the third week of the reporting period, and progress reports are due, I was busy sending e-mails to everyone in my school e-mail address book telling them not to use the school e-mail address afte the end of May, since I won't be here to read their messages, or to answer them. (Breathe).
So... as I was saying, I sent out a gazillion e-mails, and some--well, okay, a lot--of them went to people from my e-mail address book at my last job, last year,when I also sent out a gazillion e-mails to everyone in my electronic address book, telling them I was leaving there, and coming here. (Is anybody still with me?)
One of those people was a man I used to teach with, and his wife was an aide in our school. Dear people, solid strong Christians, just wonderful people, but we had not stayed in touch other than accidentally runing into each other at a restaurant or the mall or whatever.
To make a long story short (I know, too late), He got my e-mail about changing e-mail addresses, and guess what? he is now a principal--that means he hires teachers to work for him--and he wanted to know if we were planning to come to his district's job fair Saturday?

Well, *yeah*, definitely (we are *now* even if we weren't before). So we are going to this job fair to see our good buddy who is now a principal, and knows other principals, and even if he can't place us on his campus, maybe he knows somebody who could, and wow doesn't it just freak you out when God opens a door that way, even if you didn't actually say a prayer when you were sending out all those gazillions of e-mails? It does me.....I am still feeling like, oh my word, what just happened?
Is God great or what?

Stay tuned for further developments to find out if Frankie is going to continue to get his favorite Pupperoni, or is he going to have to settle for Ol' Roy's cheapo treats?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wednesday Works for Me

I hate coming home from work and having to cook. So I try to find ways to cook less often. Here's one idea.
When we buy bulk hamburger, I cook it right then. 5 or 10 pounds at a time, if we have freezer space. Hamburger, salt and pepper, and chopped onion is the basis for several different recipes--chili, spaghetti sauce, creamed hamburger, Mexican casserole, taco salad, to name just 5. Divide the cooked meat into recipe-size portions, put in freezer containers, and into the freezer. Or put the portions into freezer bags, flatten as much as possible, and squeeze out as much air as possible. These flat packages freeze faster and thaw faster than containers.
Move one to the refrigerator in the morning, and by evening it is ready for whichever recipe we want that night. It seems to me that the meal is half-done, when the meat is already cooked. For taco salad, just warm up the meat, add chili powder, add some fresh chopped tomatoes, and wrap in lettuce leaves, or pour over lettuce.
I'm just not willing to spend more than ten or fifteen minutes geting supper on the table when we get home.
Another tip: marry a man who cooks better than you, and turn the kitchen over to him. Works for me!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Eighteen Days to Go

Eighteen more school days left in this school year.
18 more days to get up at five a.m. to eat breakfast, throw on my clothes, and drive to school.
18 more days of...
Grading papers;
Entering grades in the electronic grade book:
Planning lessons for ten different classes;
Making copies of lessons for ten different classes;
Dealing with students who think they are in charge instead of us;
Orienting new students;
Not having enough copies because we got new students without previous notice;
Keeping a discipline log on each student;
Sitting with students who have detention;
Driving to and from school with Wick;
Having lunch with Wick;
Working in the same classroom with Wick;
Wick winking at me without changing expression so that the kids don't notice;
Being able to talk about the day's events without much background explanation, because we both know the people involved;
Wick helping me figure out how to make the on-line grading program work;
Sending each other e-mails during our conference period, so that we are communicating without anyone else in our office knowing what we are saying;
Praying that we will get jobs together for next year.