Monthly Archives: August 2008

I can still recall our last summer

Summer is almost over. School is just around the corner – three days left until the big one. Things are slowly coming together. Today was our second day of inservice, but more like our first “official” one. Yesterday all 200+ members of the MASD faculty went to Camp Victory for some team building activities. It was actually pretty fun, but it didn’t make me feel very “teachery” playing games. I got to meet a lot of people, though, even though I don’t remember half the names. Oh, well, I’ll get them soon. And on Monday I have 100 new names to learn: of students, that is!

I also realized that today is the Thursday before classes start at SU, which means that the freshmen have moved in and are spending their first night in the dorms. It kind of makes me sad, mainly because I can’t believe that chapter of my life is over. It just seems like it was yesterday that I was finishing high school and heading off to college. Now I am a TEACHER, getting ready to start school on the other side of the desk in three days. It is all just so crazy. The transition from student to teacher seemed slow at times, but now I can’t believe that it is really all over, that I succeeded in all my English and education classes, got through student teaching, went through the interview process, and am an official teacher. It is absolute craziness, I tell you, absolute craziness.

Actually, now that I think about it, the real craziness is going to start on Monday . . . *gulp*

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And if you wanna be the teacher’s pet, baby, you’d just better forget it

I have reached a turning point in my life this week. I have officially begun the long process of setting up my classroom. After being under construction (and in the dark) for most of the summer, my room has finally be opened to me and I spent the last two afternoons trying to figure stuff out. And let me tell you, there is a LOT of stuff to figure out. I am sure my predecessor was a nice lady, but, holy crap, did she leave me a lot of JUNK. In my classroom I found a half-full bottle of Mylanta, random pictures of students, a gallon milk jug full of soda tabs, chapstick, an entire drawer full of stickers, 6 containers of gold glitter, and about 1000 “Student Achievement” papers, not to mention the stack of books, papers, and random school supplies. I officially have enough staples, paper clips, and thumb tacks to last me for the rest of my teaching career, I think. Of course, these various odds and ends were not organized in any fashion, but rather stashed in the top drawer of the desk. Yeah . . . I am STILL cleaning it out.

We had a district new employee seminar today (complete with breakfast at Country Cupboard), in which we received a CRAP load of information about benefits, pay roll, and, of course, the teacher’s union. We had a lunch with our district union president (a teacher at one of our elementary schools) and our PSEA (Pennsylvania State Education Association – the larger “union,” if you will) representatives. They went over EVERYTHING; it was rather tedious. But I now have a better understanding of the “business” side of being a teacher, including the credits I need to start accumulating if I want to keep my certification. (For those who don’t know – in Pennsylvania, after you get your initial teaching certification, called Level or Instructional I, you have six years to get 24 additional credits in order to apply for your Level or Instructional II. If you don’t achieve these 24 credits, you lose your certification.)

Tomorrow we have a team building day at Camp Victory (human knot, anyone?), and I hope it only takes half the day so I have some more time to work on my classroom. Thursday is a “normal” inservice day, with faculty meetings and stuff. Friday I will probably also spend most of the day in my classroom finishing everything up. It’s been a little overwhelming, but the more time I spend at the school, the better I feel. Plus, I met two out of the three team members on my team (each grade level has two teams that teach the four core subjects), and they both seem pretty cool. I also met my mentor today (the other 7th grade English teacher) who is NOTHING like I had thought (but in a good way). I’ve also made some friends with new staff at the middle school, and a few of them are my age and fresh out of college, which is nice. I was worried for a little that I would be the only 22 year-old in a school of middle aged teachers.

Now I have to work on my classroom management strategy and make a poster for my classroom rules. Well, I’m not calling them “rules” – more of a contract, between me and the students. I’m going to read some parts of my Classroom Management book a little, just for some tips and ideas, and then get cracking! Wish me luck. I am going to need a lot of it these next few months.

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And Wii are the champions, my friends.

Okay, in case you weren’t aware of how much of an awesome wife I am, this post will undoubtedly change that. Last Friday was J’s birthday (26, the old fart). I wanted to get him a great present, because it would be his first birthday as my husband, and he gave me some suggestions. Unfortunately, the two main suggestions he gave me were a bit too expensive for me right now (I wanted to use the money I earned, and not any of his, and since right now I earn $120 a week babysitting, that’s not a WHOLE lot. Luckily pay checks are heading my way soon!).  At first there was a guitar that he was looking at but it was almost $600; then he wanted a beer meiser (basically a keg cooler with a tap) but the kind he was looking at were almost $500. So I debated in my head what I should get him, when, about a week before his birthday, suddenly it struck me . . .

A Wii.

So I went online to see if I could find a place (preferable somewhat locally) that carries Wiis. I know they are difficult to find, so part of me was nervous about it, but then again, they have been out for a well over a year now so they should be available SOMEWHERE, right? Well, I looked on some websites – Best Buy carried them but was out, Sears only carried accessories, Wal-Mart only carried $570 Wii packages. But somehow, admist my searching, I discovered that Toys R Us carries them. They had them available on their website, but I was worried about getting it delivered on time. So I called my two semi-local (each an hour away) Toys R Us stores, and heard the same thing from both:

“We’ll be getting some in on Sunday morning at 10 a.m.”

It was Friday. So I had a dilemma: wait and drive an hour on Sunday, sometime after church, without letting J know what was I doing or where I was going, and risk them being out, or order them online and pay more? My debate took two days. I called Sunday afternoon around 2:00 and found out they had TWO left. Unfortunately, they couldn’t hold them for me, so I drove all the way to Muncy with my fingers crossed that they wouldn’t get sold while I was getting there.

They didn’t. We are now proud Wii owners.

J was ecstatic. We spent Friday night at his birthday dinner playing the Wii sports game that comes with the Console. Saturday afternoon we stopped in Muncy again on the way to South Williamsport to buy another remote, nunchuck, Zelda game, and Wii Fit! Whoo hoo! We spent almost six hours playing Zelda yesterday, and are working our butts back into shape using Wii Fit. It’s been a lot of fun. J keeps saying how much he loves his new Wii. And I love it too.

Hence, the awesomeness of me.

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I’m just a child of nature

I think I’ve realized that, as I’ve contemplated this blog, I may have to hop onto the bandwagon and make this a “green” blog. Not because I’m trying to be trendy (like I said before) but because it has become so much a part of my life now that it’s what I want to talk about. Also, why blog if it can’t be used for the greater good? I figure I can at least provide some awareness to people who are close to me. And let’s face it, if a girl born and raised in rural Central Pennsylvania, in a town known for its Wal-Mart mecca and a yearly monster truck rally, can increasingly go green, then who can’t? This week I have become interested in two things: natural (not organic or whateverchemicalisbadforyou-free, but actual natural substances found in the environment) cleaning, for both people and home, and cloth diapers.

 ChickachickaWHAT? Cloth diapers?! I know what the majority of you are thinking, and no, I am not pregnant, and not even close to being so. However, ever since I was engaged, I have spent a lot of time on the discussion boards on theknot.com and its sister site, thenest.com. Now that the wedding is over, I have found myself increasingly on the nest, and have found some great green ideas and environmentally friendly posters on a green board. Unfortunately, this green board, and the only one on the nest, is technically considered a “baby” board, so a lot of the posters on there have babies/children, and almost every single one of them cloth diapers their kids. So, while I have been getting some great ideas about using white vinegar as a disinfectant and floor cleaner (making me regret that Swiffer wetjet I just bought a few weeks ago, even though it smells wonderful), and how to compost (considering this for next summer, as well as maybe a tiny garden?), I have also read many, many posts on cloth diapering. And, I must admit, I have become intrigued. When I was a senior in high school, my chorus teacher had a baby, and informed us that she was using cloth diapers (I forgot why she told us). Anyway, I thought she was nuts, but now that I have read up on it a bit, I’m kind of catching her drift. Let me tell you, first of all, cloth diapers no longer have to be those fabric squares that we use to clean our eyeglasses and burp our babies. A lot of them look like disposable diapers, complete with velcro tabs. And apparently cleaning them is not the big of a deal either.  I mean, yeah, it’s a little gross, but let’s face it, diaper-changing in general is gross.  Plus, there are many reasons for cloth diapering your kids – you save tons of money (in my reading some estimates were in the thousands of dollars), your kids are not exposed to funky chemicals near their “dainty” parts, they look cute (and I’ve seen pictures. They do), and finally, all those crappy diapers aren’t going to landfills. And if you think about how many diapers a baby goes through, times all the babies that are in diapers now plus all the babies that have EVER used disposable diapers (I read a statistic online that says that all plastic ever made is still on the planet, and another statistic that says it takes 500 years for a plastic diaper to break down in landfills), and . . . ok . . . that’s a LOT of diapers. And am I willing to contribute that much junk towards landfills? I really don’t think so.

The other thing I have become interested in is natural cleaners. I’ve been reading some other green blogs, and one talked about how they make their own shampoo and bath products; use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and other natural products to clean their home; and avoid any type of cleaner or beauty product that has any kind of warning or caution on the bottle (including commercial “organic” or “natural” cleaners). Those who do this swear their houses are cleaner, their hair is in better shape, their skin is softer, etc, and so I have become rather intrigued. Right now I’m using some natural products to clean, mainly vinegar (I just bought a huge bottle of it at the grocery store yesterday for less than a buck and a half), but I also use a lot of commercial natural cleaners (citrus magic, which, according to the label, doesn’t look too bad) and some non-natural cleaners (my swiffer wet jet, Lysol, Febreze). I am considering switching to all natural cleaning products once the ones I have wear out, but I’m a little nervous for a few reasons, the main one being natural cleaners’ disinfectant properties. While many who clean green swear that vinegar works just as well as commercial products in disinfecting surfaces, I have also read studies that show that it really doesn’t. And with a puppy around who is still going through the house-breaking stage (unfortunately), I don’t know if I am willing to risk the presence of germs and bacteria for green. The same goes for my raw-meat cutting boards and the toilet. I mean, okay, I’m trying to cut out chemical cleaners that can potentially harm our health, but for what benefit? To get sick from e.coli and salmonella and all that other fun stuff? I don’t know about that.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. We’ll see how this journey plays out, I guess. Next up: less paper towels and eating seasonally.

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Responsible is what we are, and I know that we can take it

When you get married and live on your own, there are a certain number of changes that occur. Many of these are obvious and expected, i.e. you now are 100% financially responsible, you are now responsible for a house and all its upkeep, etc. However, there are some other responsibilities that are not so apparent until they come up. One of these responsibilities has come up recently in my life, due to the fact that J’s birthday is in 5 days. This is the responsibility of hosting parties.

Now, in college you “host parties,” but those are much more different in the fact that a) there’s probably a lot of booze and b) no parents are there. However, at the end of this week, I will be having a birthday party for 15 family members are our house for J. This is a bit of pressure for me because this is the first birthday that J is not spending at his old home; it is the first birthday that is celebrated post-wedding. While Jason’s parents would be happy to host his birthday celebration at their house (in fact, I think his dad did think they were for a little), I think it is important that we have it at our house. However, this brings on some more stress for me, such as making sure the house is clean, cooking, and ordering the cake, in addition to getting his present (which, by the way, is very awesome, but since he reads this blog I cannot write what it is here right now). Prior to this year, I would just show up at his birthday dinner with my presents for him and be the girlfriend/fiancee of the birthday boy. Now, however, I am the wife of the birthday boy, and with great power comes great responsibility (Star Wars, anyone?) . . .

. . . Okay, so maybe I’m overdramatizing this a little bit. In fact, I am excited to have everyone over and show off my cooking skills. But really, it is things like this that come up post-married life that one doesn’t really consider before (at least, I didn’t). Just wanted to keep you all aware, I guess.

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You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog.

So as many of you know, over the course of the last 6 months Jason and I have managed to rangle ourselves into not one, but TWO dogs. And these are not just any dogs, mind you, they are BASSET HOUNDS. Unfortunately, neither of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into when we adopted the first basset (Baxter), and we REALLY didn’t know what we were getting into when we adopted the second (Molly).

First of all, I just want to say, if you plan on adopting any type of animal, but especially a dog, please make sure you do some research on the breed beforehand. Because we definitely didn’t. Not that I would trade these dogs in or anything, or that I even regret getting them in any way (I definitely don’t – well, most of the time), but I think it’s best for both you and the animal if you choose the right breed of dog for you and your lifestyle. For instance, according to some research on did on the internet, you should not get a basset hound if you don’t want a dog that: 1) sheds 2) drools 3) howls 4) is stubborn (and doesn’t housetrain easily). Yeah . . . a shedding, drooling, howling, stubborn dog! Who DOESN’T want that?

Well, the damage has been done, and considering that neither of us are the type who are willing to give up dogs, we’re in it for the long haul. And to be perfectly honest, they do have their cute moments, like when Baxter opens his mouth all the way and looks like a crocodile, or snuggles with you on the couch; or when Molly plops down on her butt and looks up at you with her freckly face and very cute eyes. Of course, they have their other moments, too: racing around the house like a couple of banshees, peeing on the floor, barking incessantly, chewing on our slippers or chairs . . . I have come to the conclusion that basset hounds are more like basket cases, and they are definitely not the lazy “porch dog” that you would think.

But, eh, what can I say? We love ’em anyway.

 

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‘Cause now I feel so fine, and I feel so peachy

Yeah, yeah, I know, two posts in one day. However, I had to share my yummy dessert I made. I found this recipe on a forum (thenest.com, maybe?) and had to make it since I’ve been getting some delicious peaches lately from a local farmer. It was realllly easy to make, too.

Peachy Easy Cheesecakes (I actually made this name up; I don’t know what they’re called).

1 cup peach juice/peach pulp
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
Pre-made graham cracker crust (I used the mini cupcake size ones, but you could also do a large pie sized one).

Mix all ingredients together (except crust). Pour into crust and bake at 350 degrees until done (took about 25 minutes for me). Refridgerate until firm.

It was really delicious. The only mistake I made was that baked them for about 15 minutes and I THOUGHT they were done, but then when I went to take them out of the fridge a little bit later they were definitely still gooey, so I popped them back into the oven for about 10 more minutes. I’m not sure if this is a bacteria breeding ground waiting to happen or not, but both J and I ate one and so far, so good. We have been eating well.

On a related note, I foresee a slight problem: we have perhaps been eating TOO well. We went to see Jason’s parents last night for the first time in over two weeks, and one of the first things his dad says was, “J, it looks like you’ve gained some weight. Are you eating well?” Now, I don’t think he has gained weight (or, at the very least, LOOKS like he does), but now I’m thinking I should try to make some more meals with lower calories (yeah, my husband will love that). Salads and more vegetables (especially since so many are in season) and stuff like that. I made my delicious pasta and veggies on Wednesday night, which has almost has much zucchini, peppers, and onions as it does pasta, so that’s good, but I’m going to see if I can find some more low-cal recipes, especially for my slow cooker.

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