Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Blog

Hey everyone!  Just a little note to let everybody know that I've begun a new blog called "Reflections in Middle School".  I've decided to start it because it's a great idea for me as an educator to reflect on my teaching, what works and what doesn't.  However, that's not the only reason. I've read some of those books written by teachers who share their experiences in the classroom and have always wondered if I could do that.  Well, I've decided to do that in my new blog and hopefully expand on it if and when the time comes.  I invite everyone to check it out and hope you enjoy!

Hunter in Distress

I may or may not have mentioned in the past that we not only have 3 dogs, or 2 horses, but we also have 2 rabbits. They are of a mix dwarf variety, very cute and cuddly. We had gotten the rabbits the same time we got the goats. Here's the back story. Flash back to 2 years ago....

Hubby and I bought a weekly guide book that has a collection of items for sale or for trade listed, and one of the listings was for rabbits. We decided one day to surprise the boys with rabbits, and brought them to the farm that was selling them. Kenny didn't take long and chose his right away naming it Fluffy. I know, not very original. Kerry, on the other hand, decided that he wanted something a little more exotic, having fallen in love with a couple of young goats. So, after careful deliberation, Hubby and I decided to let Kenny have his rabbit and Kerry could have his goat. The problem was that we couldn't take just one goat, we had to take two because they get lonely. We put the goats in the cage we had in the back of the truck and Kenny held on to the box with his rabbit in it and headed home.

On the way home, Kerry was telling us the names he wanted to call the goats. The girl he decided would be named Kate, which I wasn't surprised about, and the boy Horny. I know! Hubby and I looked at each other and I asked him if he had other possible names for the boy goat. Without a blink of an eye he decided Cutie was an option. Having avoided a struggle with having Kerry accepting a different name for the boy goat, we quickly agreed that Cutie was a great choice. Whew!!!



We arrive home and put the Kate and Cutie in their new home that we prepared for them, and Fluffy in the rabbit hutch we had found for free on the side of the road. Kerry kept wanting to get close to the goats, but they were too skiddish for us, so they kept running away from him. Eventually, Kerry grew tired and frustrated by this and didn't like the goats as much as he had before. Kenny, on the other hand, was holding and cuddling with Fluffy. Kerry decided that he didn't want the goats anymore, but Hubby and I couldn't see not keeping them now, because we had gotten attached to them. So, the next day, we trekked back to the farm we had gone to before and picked up a rabbit for Kerry too.

Kerry's rabbit on the right is named Oreo
and Kenney's on the left, Fluffy.

Now we had a male and female rabbit and a male and female goat. Babies were bound to soon follow.

Back to the present...

Just before lunch today, the family and I went to town to visit family and stopped at a salvage store to browse around in. Hubby and the boys found two tiny harnesses for the rabbits. When we got home, they put the harnesses on and tied the leashes and brought the rabbits outside for a walk in the back yard. Needless to say, Hunter, who has free range of our property and who loves to hunt, went wild. They tied him up, but the energy coming from his excitement was just too much for him to bear, and I didn't want the rabbits to be traumatized by him either. I brought Hunter into the house where he begged me to let him back out.

Poor Hunter.

I seriously think he was trying to speak to me, asking to be let out. I haven't seen him this excited since I brought Shelby home or when she was in heat.

Look at that tongue hanging out! Please???

Hunter continued to pace back and forth, from the bedroom where I was folding clothing to the kitchen door hoping to be let out. Finally, about a half hour later, the boys put the rabbits back in their cages and Hunter was freed from the intrapment of the house.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mood Swings

I can't believe how my day started. I woke up this morning and for no specific reason I can pinpoint, I was in a foul mood. I told the boys that I wasn't mad that them, but I couldn't help but feel bad later on in the day for my rotten mood. Nothing made me happy and nothing seemed to go right. Perhaps I'm just stressing because of the week we've had, sports every night and the new school year, or just the bills, bill, bills, but everything seemed to piss me off!

I brought the boys to their mom's before I headed to school, and when I got there she said how I looked spiffy. My legs were still raw from the hay bales the night before and couldn't consider wearing anything other than a light dress. That's the only reason why I looked "spiffy", but her compliment only brought a smile to my face and I told her how I had been in such a rotten mood. Later this evening at Kenny's soccer game, I told her that my day and mood turned around after her compliment this morning. She just cracked her sly smile and said, "I just have that affect on people." She's so funny.

Then, I got home and what did I find in the mail? Four bars of goat's milk soap. I was excited when I saw the box. It nearly felt like Christmas or my birthday. ;o) I could smell the scents through the box and couldn't wait to open it up and check out the bars. Now the dilemma. Which bar of soap should I try first? Until next time....

Razors and little needles!!!

In my last post I talked about the hay that Hubby and his buddies decided to do on their own and the wonderful, wet experience we went through to put the tarp back on the mountain of hay. Yesterday, Hubby was actually home early enough for supper, which hasn't happened for nearly 2 weeks now. Being home for the first time in a long time, he decides he has work he'd like to do, one thing being removing the hay from the trailer that it's been sitting on and piling it on pallets and covering it again. Never mind the mountain of laundry that was waiting for me to do, I had to go help move the hay.

I finish cleaning up the supper dishes (still love my dishwasher) and went to change into grubby clothes. However, no one (Hubby) thought to suggest that I wear something other than shorts. It didn't take me long to discover my mistake. It took us an hour and a half to move nearly 300 square bales of hay then cover it back. By the time I got home, my forearms and legs were raw as if I'd been carrying bales of needles or razorblades instead.

This is a picture of one of my forearms this morning. This is just a small snapshot of what my legs look like. Sorry, I'm not including a picture here. As someone commented on my last post about learning a lesson with the experience, I certainly did in this one. Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hay, hay, hay...

Hubby and a few friends decided to get together to harvest hay for themselves rather than buying hay from other farmers at a much higher price. They pooled their money together, Hubby bought a square baler and one friend bought a round baler. They got a rake (or already had one...not sure), and another implement that they need after they cut the hay and before they rake it. They ordered the tarps to cover the hay and the rope to tie the bundles and rolls. It took some doing and organization, but they got everything they needed and the plans were made. One problem, though...they needed to work around all of the rain we got this summer.

Finally this past week, the weather took a turn for the better and they could cut the hay, let it dry, then do something else to it (can't remember what it's called), then rake it and bale it. The down side was that Hubby couldn't help like he wanted to because of work. He had been working long hours, late into the evening, and there was no way he could be there. But the great friends that he has, they baled the square bales and loaded a trailer with about 250 to 300 square bales, then they covered the entire pile with the ginormous tarp that he had.

All was well, then sometime during this Sunday evening and yesterday morning, the tarp flew off and all of the hay was exposed to the little rain showers we got. When I found out about it, I couldn't do anything about for a couple of hours, at least not by myself. That pile was huge! When the tarp was covering it, the pile looked like Suffalupagus (I think that's how it's spelled) on Sesame Street. You know, Big Bird's friend from the 70's who looked like a brown, woolly elephant. Anyhow, by the time Hubby could get to the field were the hay was piled, it had started to rain. Not a light rain, noooo, it had to be large, heavy drops accompanied by some thunder and lightening. But, there were were, Hubby and I trying to get the tarp back over the hay and tie it down in the downpour. We managed to get it all covered, but not before the rain got to it. Now Hubby is worried that the hay that was exposed to the rain will mold and won't be good for our horses. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

After all of that activity, I was soaked. Litterly. My shorts and tanktop were sticking to my body, which is not a flattering sight; trust me. My hair was dripping and had lost any style that it previously held, and my sneakers and socks were so soaked that they squeeked and squished when I walked. The only bright side to the whole thing was that it had been hot and humid for a few days, and the rain was so refreshing that I really didn't mind being as soaked as I was.

Now, I sit here in a dry change of clothes while Hubby is hanging out with our friends discussing the hay and the rain. I can hear the rain through the open windows continue to fall, although now, it's more gentle rather than the huge drops that dived-bombed upon us throughout the entire ordeal. This wasn't excitement that I wanted to have tonight. Hopefully, tomorrow will be less exciting.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Today I had a rare moment; I was completely alone! Hubby had already left around 5 a.m. to go to work. The boys are at their mom's for the weekend and come home at noon Sunday. So I had the entire house to myself; just me, the dogs, and bunnies.

Today marks the one of the last two days left of my summer vacation, so I took advantage of being alone. I had 2 close calls with being alone this summer, but Hubby came home early and I didn't quite get the R&R that I longed for. So today I relished the thought of not being a referee, and doing what I wanted to do without considering who'll have to do it with me or who will be left behind.

So, this morning I decided to clean the house, windows, floors, etc. to get it over with. I then laid out in the sun for about an hour while reading a book, then baked a fresh raspberry pie and made some shepherd's pie to freeze for a quick meal later this week. After having sweat through all of that, I then enjoyed a nice, cool shower. The weather finally changed this week and we've finally had temperatures in the 80's. It's been close to 90's yesterday and today, and trust me, I'm not used to this heat. So, as much as I'm enjoying the idea of finally getting a summer and having beautiful, bright sunny days, I'm trying to cope with the heat and humidity.

I wanted to go for a walk today, but with this heat, I decided to wait until later when it cooled down, otherwise, I'd been looking at another cool shower. Although the temperature dropped to the low 70's by the time I went for my walk, the humidity was still there and I couldn't help but make it a shorter walk than usual.

Tomorrow will be my last day of vacation. I'll have until noon to lounge around and do the quiet things I enjoy doing. Then the boys will be home and I won't have the house to myself. As much as I enjoyed the idea of solitude, and enjoyed today, I'm looking forward to having the boys home tomorrow.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The early bird....

Yesterday morning we had a little excitement. We have a small shed that's attached to our garage where our bunnies, or should I say the boy's bunnies, live. It's not completely closed in at the top, which left room for a bird to make a nest. It's been there for several years now and there's always a robin each year with usually a couple of babies. It's always so cute to see them.

Occasionally, a baby bird will decide to fly out of the nest, but usually into the shed rather than in the other direction, which would take it outside. The boys went to take care of their rabbits yesterday morning and found a baby bird sitting on the window sill. Not wanting it to stay stranded, Kenny decided to try to capture it and bring it out of the shed. He wasn't as successful as he had planned, and it kept getting away from him. When the boys told me about it, I went out to give them a hand.

At one time, during my former life, I had 4 parakeets, 6 cockatiels, 2 lorikeets, and a cherry-head conure, so I knew how to catch a bird without fear of being pecked and without hurting the bird. Kenny, on the other hand, was a little fearful of hurting the baby robin, so it kept getting away from him.

Poor little thing. I caught it and held it to my chest while the boys went to get the ladder in the garage. They set it up and I climbed to the top to put him back in the nest. Of course, things don't always go as planned and he took off again into the shed. The mother and it's sibling were in the nest and flew out right above my head and toward the nearby chokecherrie bushes. Great! Now I had to go get the bird again, but the nest didn't seem like the best option now that his mom and his brother were out. The second baby landed in the grass, not far from Bandit (our huskey), who began licking his chops. I grabbed that one up and placed it on a branch of the same bush that the mom was on. Then I went to get the first baby in the shed, again. All this time, Mom's scolding me and the feathers on her head were so fluffed up, that she looked like she had spiked hair.

Finally, I got the first baby and placed him/her on the same branch as the second one and we left them alone and brought Hunter with us. I could still hear the mom scolding at whomever while we were back in the house. Hunter kept pestering to go out, so I tied him, poor guy...

Eventually, Mom and babies left the bush and headed elsewhere, but when we untied Hunter later on, he must have found him (hence his name...), because I could hear her still scolding away.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It being within a week of our first days of the new school year, I find myself questioning my devotion to the teaching profession. I guess all teachers go through this at different stages of their careers, during the highs and the lows, and the in-betweens. But, I became concerned about my lack of enthusiasm for the new school year, when in the past I was counting down the days.

At the end of the last school year, we left with the knowledge that there was a possibility that jobs could get cut, and that I could be on that list. I've struggled mentally, emotionally, and in my faith to deal with that possibility. Twice, our budget didn't pass in the town referendum, which now leaves us hanging. To top it all off, our superintendent, who we hired with a 5 year contract, has left for another job closer to home. This time, a permanent super didn't leave because of town politics, but because of personal reasons. But now, at the beginning of a new school year, we have no budget and no super.

Last week, I began going back to school to prepare my room, but found that I was struggling to get on track. Why? In the past, I was there, fully aware of what I wanted to accomplish each time I went. I didn't feel motivated at all. I basically had to make myself go at some point. This worried me a lot.

Why was I lacking my enthusiasm? Could it have been because we didn't have much of a summer with all of the rain? Did I not enjoy the kids anymore? Did some of the negative experiences from the year before ruin my enjoyment of teaching? Why was I struggling like this? It finally made sense to me this week.

I had to go to town before going to school to pick up some last minute school supplies at the store. I ran into a couple of my former students and one who I'll be teaching this year, and I felt that wave and twinge of excitement that I usually get when I see the school supplies come on sale each fall. That feeling of excitement mixed with butterflies that makes me catch my breath and want to skip over to the notebooks and pens to buy some, whether I need a new one or not. It's comparable to the feeling a child gets on Christmas morning, or Easter when they look for the hidden eggs, or their birthday knowing their party will be that night. The child in me comes out a bit and I get that excited feeling that this year will be better; I'll reach all of the kids and accomplish everything I had hoped for.

Once I stopped at the main office at school, the cloud of the school and town politics loomed above. I could feel it when I walked in and that's when it occurred to me; it's not the kids or my job as a teacher that's making it hard for me to be motivated for the new year, it's the politics. I love my students, even the tough ones, and I enjoy seeing them during the summer and breaks. On the first days of school I get a rush of excitement that I'll see my students again, and dread the loss of the 8th graders on the last days of school.

Please don't get me wrong. As an educator, I understand that it's important to be involved and know what's going on around you, in your local communities and your world. However, I also know my limitations and what my stressors are. Politics, to me, is a negative thing, with all of the backstabbing, lying and cheating going on, and it's exhausting. I can't seem to wrap my head around a lot of the jargon and policies that are attached to politics. Politics for me is something that creates more stress than anything else that's tied to the teaching profession. Hearing the rumors and listening to everyone's fears as they talk in a hush in the teacher's room and halls, although I have to admit I had let myself get caught up in it last spring, just makes things worse and becomes too much of a distraction.

Although I agree that it's important to get involved, it's equally important to separate the politics from the classroom. The kids feel it and I want them to have a positive experience rather than a stressful one. School doesn't need to be stressful, for either the students or the teachers, at least not in the sense of politics getting in the way.

So...I've decided to put on my blinders as of now, walk into my classroom when next Wednesday comes, and focus on the kids and how much I enjoy teaching them. There's a time and place for everything, but the classroom is not the place for this kind of politics.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I never thought...

When I was a kid, I would get excited about getting things, like new clothes, toys, shoes, jewelry, and so on. Sometimes whatever I got didn't have to fall into any of these categories. I just liked getting stuff. Who doesn't, right? I still get excited about getting things as an adult. However, the things I get now that give me that thrill are nothing like what I ever got as a kid.

I'll never forget during the first few years of my first marriage. My ex and I had gotten his uncle's washer and dryer, which still worked great, but was quite old. About 3 or 4 years later, the washing machine died and we couldn't afford to get a new one for several weeks. I had to trudge to the laundry mat with my many loads in tow to do the laundry. Had there been a decent laundry mat where all of the washers and dryers worked it would have been fine, but in our small little town, there was only one (at the time) with probably half of the machines not working properly. If I was lucky, I had the whole place to myself and I was able to wash all my laundry at the same time, but that didn't always happened. Being able to do all the laundry in such a short time was the only thing I liked about it. I hated the dirty feel of the place, and the one I was at didn't have many light bulbs that were working properly, so the lighting was too dim to see the stains I missed. Needless to say, I pushed my ex to get a new washer quickly.

The day arrived when my new washing machine came home. It was the cheapest one available, minus all of the bells and whistles. Keep in mind that this was in the early 90's, so the bells and whistles were nothing compared to what they have now. It was just the thought of not having to lug all the laundry to the laundry mat, sit for a couple of hours while the loads all washed and dried, then fold the clothes I didn't want to get wrinkled on the grimy counters, and then lug everything back home. I was so excited! I realized a little while later, after the excitement wore off and reality set back in, that I still had to do the laundry. I reflected on how excited I had gotten over my new washer and couldn't believe that I was excited over a household appliance! Had I finally reached adulthood (I was about 21-22 at the time), that I would be so excited about a washing machine? It's not like it was a new car or anything.

I managed to experience that same excitement these past few weeks. Before Hubby and I got together, I had a dishwasher. Although I couldn't imagine life without it, I had truly lost my appreciation for it. Then I moved in with Hubby and had to wash the dishes by hand. There were days when I was gone from home for most of the day, yet the dishes still piled up. Life can get so busy, yet the dishes don't stop coming. During the summer, I would resort to paper plates and plastic disposable cups. However, wanting to be more environmentally friendly, I cringed at the thought of doing that again this summer. Not only that, it also gets expensive, and with Hubby doing his internship before his last semester of college, I wasn't willing to spend our money on that.

For seven years I washed the dishes by hand. I'd occasionally had help when there weren't other things that needed to get done, or homework to be worked on. Hubby pitches in once in a while too, as well as the boys, but it doesn't always work out. One day, Hubby asked me what I wanted. For all the time we were together, he'd get things like a motorcycle, tractors, and more recently, horses, but I'd never ask for anything. So I thought about it for a while. Some time later, when he asked me again I was ready. I wanted a dishwasher.

Now, my family always had one and can't see them willingly living without one. My in-laws did have one at one time, but they were never really impressed with them, so they have since continued washing their dishes by hand. So, mind you, convincing Hubby to get one took some effort and sympathy. Eventually he came around. Two weeks ago I got my dishwasher. Granted, it doesn't have all of the bells and whistles that many dishwashers have out there. But I'm a simple girl and felt that I was fully capable of putting the dishes back in the cupboard myself.

Since then, Hubby and the boys all equally enjoy the dishwasher as I do. They put their dishes in the dishwasher themselves! What's even better is when we're in a rush, or have managed to go through the day without creating more dishes than a few bowls, cups, and plates, it's nice to have a place to put the dishes until they can be washed. Before, my counter would become cluttered and I would hate it when people would drop by and I didn't get a chance to do the dishes. I'll now have more time to do other things, such as laundry, sweeping the floor, and once school starts back, my nightly planning and/or correcting, and get to bed at a decent hour. I guess the kid in me will never leave when it comes to getting stuff, no matter whether it's clothing or a new household appliance.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Waiting to see...

In my last post, I talked about how we had someone coming to look at our house. He came with his parents in tow checking everything out. Things seem to have gone well. Out of the 5 houses he looked at yesterday, he seemed to like ours along with one other. So...needless to say, we're hopeful. In the meantime, Hubby is still considering our options, and I'm being more receptive to the discussion as well.

In the meantime, life goes on and I've got just over a week left of vacation. I went to my classroom today (This is a picture of the middle school portion of our school. Mine's on the the bottom floor starting from the 3rd window from the left and includes 7 windows.) and didn't spend as long as I had originally wanted to, but I got some things accomplished just the same. When I came home, I continued working and got more rubrics and projects worked out. They're the same as I had the kids use last year, but I revamped things a bit. While it was still fresh in my mind, I made some changes that I felt were necessary, and now I'm making them so I can print them out tomorrow and make enough copies for the year.

I find it's hard to be motivated when it makes twice that our school budget doesn't pass the referendum vote. Our local mill is struggling right now having filed Chapter 15 Bankruptcy (like Chapter 13, but international), so everyone's panicking and worried that the mill won't be able to cover the share of taxes it did in the past. I can't say I'm not worried about the mill either, but does this mean that I will have to purchase my own supplies at some point? Being the only one bringing in income right now, spending money on supplies for school is not an option.

So, today was a mixed bag. We got some good news about the house situation, and I struggled with the situation at school. I'm heading back to school tomorrow, and having had accomplished what I did today, I'm sure I'll feel better about things tomorrow. Only time will tell how things will pan out. Until next time...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Counting My Chickens...

It makes over a year since Hubby and I put our home for sale. As mentioned in the earlier post, we got our hands on vinyl siding and now our unfinished garage is coming along. Most of it is done, but we need to pick up some of a different color to put in the top part of each side to match the color scheme of the house. Nevertheless, the garage looks a lot better!

Late yesterday afternoon, we got a call from our real estate agent. Someone wants to look at our house this afternoon right after supper. Before, I would go into hyper-mode and attack the house from top to bottom, stressing over the fact that strangers will be coming into my home and it will need to sell itself. I don't know if it's because I've been home all summer and have been able to keep up with the house, but there's not much to do. That's a relief. I will pass the lawn mower today, but there's not much else to do.

Last night, Hubby had trouble getting to sleep. He kept considering our various options if our house sells. There were several lots we looked at, but they're either in another town where the boys would have to go to another school, or the lot doesn't have a home on it and we'd need to buy one. I understand what he's trying to do, have a plan so we'll know what we're doing and where we're going. My problem was that I can't get my head around it. Not knowing if our house will sell this time makes it hard for me to begin planning. I can't help but fear that we'll just be let down again.

This is where my faith comes into the picture. I'm leaving it up to Him, in his hands, as to whether we sell the house or not, and what happens after that. I understand where Hubby is coming from, because it is nerve wracking when you consider that we don't know where we want to move to, but it's hard to plan when your home doesn't sell and the place you wanted does. Patience.