Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Twas the night before birthday...

Spring break started for me today but not for The Girl or Boy. Tomorrow is their first day and it is coincidentally their birthday. So we all agreed this would be a great year for a big blow-out party. They each got to invite 15 friends, which I'm trying not to freak out about. The possibility of 32 teenagers in my house tomorrow night is freak out worthy I realize, but I'm banking on that not all of them will be able to attend. (I know. I'm delusional.)

Today I got to sleep in which was heavenly. It's amazing what three extra hours of sleep can do for your state of mind. I shopped and shopped and shopped for birthday party things and then I met The Man for lunch.

Tomorrow we will super clean the place and since it will be warm and sunny, the yard will get a once over as well.

The party starts at 6 PM. I'll try to post a few pictures as it goes along.

PS: I got invited to try out new templates for Blogger Beta. I think it's lovely!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Detective I Am Not

The names in the following story have been changed to protect the confused. This is a true tale. There's no way I could make this up.

Me: Biff, I need to talk to you. Yesterday after you left, (He had fallen into the only puddle of water on the whole playground soaking himself completely.) Igor was waving around a $20 bill telling everyone you gave it to him.

Biff: I didn't give him anything.

Me: Really? Because he said you did. Hey Igor! Come here! Where did you get that $20 yesterday?

Igor: He gave it to me. (He points at Biff who starts to shake his head wildly.)

Me: Okay Igor, thanks. Go back to recess.

Biff: I didn't give him any money.

Me: I'm talking about this money right here. (I open my desk drawer and take out a battered $20 bill. Biff looks totally alarmed.)

Biff: You see what happened is that I didn't have any pockets so I dropped it at lunch and Igor picked it up.

Me: Did you know Igor had your money?

Biff: Yeah.

Me: Did you ask for it back?

Biff: No. He can keep it. (Biff is shuffling around now, staring at the floor.)

Me: No, I don't think so. $20 is a lot of money. Where did you get it?

Biff: Acme gave it to me.

Me: Acme? Acme who?

Biff: (exasperated) Acme Bullwinkle!

Me: And whose class is he in?

Biff: I don't know.

Me: What grade is he in?

Biff: I don't know.

Me: Is he older than you or younger than you?

Biff: We're the same age!

Me: Okay good, so he's in the second grade!

Biff: No, he goes to a different school.

Me: Do you know what school?

Biff: Northwood.

Me: Then Acme is older than you. Big kids go to Northwood.

Biff: I said he was 12!

Me: No, you said you were the same age. Are you 12?

Biff: No, I'm 8!

(A long pause while I try to digest all of this.)

Me: When did Acme give you this money?

Biff: Yesterday morning so I could go buy stuff.

Me: Where did you see him?

Biff: On the street.

Me: Were you waiting for the bus?

Biff: He doesn't ride my bus.

Me: But you were waiting for your bus?

Biff: I don't know.

Me: Is Acme usually outside when you are waiting for the bus.

Biff: Sometimes.

Me: So he's your neighbor?

Biff: (clearly fed up with my questions) No!

(I have a take a deep breath here.)

Me: He's your friend, right?

Biff: I guess.

Me: Did you tell him you lost the money?

Biff: Yeah.

Me: Was he mad?

Biff: No, he doesn't care.

Me: No?

Biff: No!

Me: Okay. What were you supposed to buy with the money?

Biff: Chips and pop and stuff.

Me: What store were you going to buy it from?

Biff: I don't know. I'm not allowed to go to the store.

(Right around this time a found myself blinking uncontrollably. What does that mean?)

Me: Biff, I've got to tell you that this story isn't making any sense at all. I mean none of it. Not a word. I'm getting the feeling that you're not telling something.

Biff: I didn't give Igor $20!

Me: Yeah, I got that. I think I'm going to have to give mom a call on this one. Okay?

Biff: She doesn't know anything either.

Me: I have no doubt on that one.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Supply and Demand

I've survived the first week with my second grade zombies. I'm think I'm all done making changes to their room set-up, procedures and set-up. (That is unless I find a carpet or rug to put in their room. They have to sit on the floor itself for story time. It's barbaric!)

One of the last changes I did was to institute a ticket giving reward. I keep a pocket-full of tickets and give them out when the mood strikes me. Mostly at times when I announce to everyone to get out a some book or another and only a handful of zombies do it. They get a ticket and everyone else starts to scramble like mad to figure out why. They write their names on the back of the ticket and on Fridays I do a drawing. The winners get to pick from the treasure box. It was a giant hit as you can imagine. These zombies will do just about anything to get a ticket.

But it wasn't all roses this week. I had one of my boys shove around a first grader in the bathroom and make him cry. I had a couple of girls get into a little food fight at lunch. Then I had a completely different girl get accused of screaming, "Everyone get the eff out of here!" in the restroom. (I'm sorry to report she didn't say "eff", but the real word instead.) I told the kids that our goal for next week is to not beat anyone up, throw food or swear in school. We'll see how it goes.

I've had two classroom supply problems with my room as well. First the room doesn't have a Smartboard, but that's not the problem. I'm totally cool with a chalkboard and an overhead projector. But if you have an overhead you need transparencies to show on it. Well, you don't have to, but it sure makes things a hell of a lot easier. On the shelf of the projector cart was five boxes of transparencies, brand new. But I can't use any of them because the jam up the copier; they're the wrong kind. The principal gave me the news the right kind are way too expensive and that the school doesn't have any and they aren't getting any ever.

Fine. Cool. I'll deal with it. (A little more snooping around and I found a half a box of the RIGHT kind the next day in the copy room. Whoo-hoo!)

The other problem I have is that the kids don't have Quick Word books in their desks or in the room or anywhere.
This book is my go to answer when I teach second and third graders. Every second and third grader, in every classroom, in every building in the city has this little book in their desk. Except this one.

It is the best thing for kids who are expected to write but can't spell. That's like all of them. It's just commonly used words in alphabetical order. So when a zombie asks, "How do you spell building?" my answer was always, "Check your Quick Words!". Much, much easier than dragging through a whole dictionary, they find what they are looking for and get on with writing.

I ran to Zombie Teacher #1.

Me: The kids in my room don't have Quick Words!

ZT1: No? That's weird.

Me: Where can I get a bunch of them?

ZT1: You can't. We order them at the beginning of the year. She must not do that.

I fly to Zombie Teacher #2.

Me: There's no Quick Words in the kid's desks!

ZT2: Whoa.

Me: Do you have any extras?

ZT2: I'll look around, but I don't think so. You could ask Zombie Teacher 3.

I ended up talking to Zombie Teachers one through seven by the end of the week. Dead ends all of them. So now my go to answer for "How do you spell vacation?" is "Sound it out and do the best you can."

The best they can is not that great.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How to Make Happiness

Today was my first day with my long term zombies. I had two ways I could go with them: I could do every little thing their teacher did in just the same way and keep the status quo or I could announce my presence with authority by shaking the place up with all new procedures and a room layout.

I went with the second option.

I rearranged their desks, moved the teacher's desk, completely removed an unstable easel, took away the pencil sharpener option, got rid of raising hands to answer questions, used the unused in-room microphone system (I found in in the storage closet), increased the number of room jobs from four to fourteen, made an official place to put finished work and instituted a mid-morning snack.

They took it all really, really well. I might even go so far to say that they loved the changes. Wait until they see what I have in store for them tomorrow!

But this post is actually about my own children. This week they don't have to be to school until 10:15 instead of the usual 8 AM. (This is because of graduation testing and freshman don't have to be there for that.) When I left for work they were both still in bed. Also today, for a first time all year, The Girl has no homework at all. The Boy had some but not the crippling amount like usual.

And what does extra sleep and no homework get you?

Happiness. Lots and lots of happiness. Right now I'm listening to my kids laughing away in the basement while they change loads of laundry. They've been silly like this all afternoon. They watched an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 just because they could. And when they are in a good mood, I'm in a great mood. I even made brownies tonight to celebrate all this happiness.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Yes, Brewer. Cookies mean no more frequent posts. Obviously.

I guess having the cookies show up shook up my world to the point where I stopped writing. I didn't feel that diverted but the evidence is right here.

It has been a little crazy with the cookies. We've had one cookie booth so far which was a flop. Luckily we have girls selling at an outrageous clip all on their own. My inbox is filled with daily requests for more cookies. We had to go to the warehouse to restock and on Saturday we are restocking again. We have two more booth sales this weekend and two next weekend. Then it is over. Will the troop be stuck with cases and cases of unsold cookies like last year? It's hard to gauge when the mania for cookies has passed and folks are suddenly sick of them.

In bigger news, Monday starts a long term zombie gig for me. It's going to be five weeks of teaching in a second grade class at Walking Distance School. I pretty darn happy about the whole thing. I shadowed the teacher today and she frantically tried to cover everything I could possibly want to know while trying to teach today's lessons at the same time. Finally I asked, "What do I absolutely NEED to get done before you get back?". She jotted it down on a post-it. I'm going to be just fine in this assignment.

You'll be hearing a whole bunch about this little group of zombies since I'm stuck with them for so long. Let's hope they provide good story material...but in a good way. Not a nightmare way.

Monday, March 01, 2010

It's Time

You knew it when you woke up this morning. Today was an important day. Something big was going to happen. You couldn't quite put your finger on it. What could it be?

Why it's cookie day of course!

Marco stares in disbelief. Where oh where will he sit now?