Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Finished All of It!

I finished ALL my grading.  Well, except the admissions essays, but all the stuff for my class.  I am done.  I have zero idea how I did this in three days - 75 essays, 75 four page reading work sets, and 75 tests.  Plus the extra credit I let them do if they finished the tests early (tests were graded by the computer, hallelujah).  It's all kind of a blur. 

In fact, yesterday, I said, "Have a Merry Christmas!" to all my coworkers and they just kind of looked at me and said, "So, you aren't coming to work tomorrow?"  Oh, yeah, we had a big deal ceremony at school today - and once again, the kids amazed me with their singing, their hula, their poise.  They looked like rascals at practice yesterday, but they pulled if off today, as usual.  I wish I could just bottle up their singing and put it here - and my own kids are up there singing away.  It never fails to amaze me.  I can't sing for beans. 

I am not, sadly, finished with my shopping - never did bake the cookies, either.  I went for this long walk on Sunday, intending to come back and bake - bought the molasses, the powdered sugar, cherries, walnuts, pounds of butter... And at the halfway point, I suddenly realized that those cookies weren't going to get done.  It was a small moment of rebellion - against nothing, really - or maybe against myself.  I'll get them done tomorrow for the unofficial work party.


Allie is bagging up, finally, and it is thunder shower-y, so it's gotta be soon, right?  Don't they always come when the barometer changes - when you don't want to slog out in the lightning and rain? 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Little More into the Spirit

I decided to write each kid a personalized note to hand out with a tiny little candy cane. Yeah, I am cheap - and lazy, since I would normally bake several different kinds of cookies to give out on finals week. 

I think I will do it again, though, because I heard things like: 

"Aww!  That made my day!" 

"You wrote one for everyone - wow! Thanks!" 

"A personalized note - that's so cool!" 

And just to keep me humble - I heard (a LOT):

"Wait - can you read this? Her handwriting is so ... difficult." 

Then there was the funny kid who announced loudly, "Hey, mine says I'm her favorite student!"  I agreed, of course, because it was funny - and because secretly, I have a soft spot for him since his mom was my teaching assistant and she passed away a few years ago.  I often wish to tell her what a good boy he is, and how proud I am of him ... 

Getting into my classroom is the surest way to clear up a bad mood. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Not feeling Christmas-y

I guess I am doing Advent with more gusto this year....which is good, I guess.  Usually, I am the one ramming the Christmas down the family throat: we decorate the tree while eating special snacks, I play Christmas music while cooking most of December, I make cookies.  Last year, they were appreciative for the first time in quite some time.  I even heard, "Thank you for sticking with this every year."  I just don't understand why I am not feeling it at all this year.  No one's complaining, but I feel a little sad, to be honest, that I am not enjoying it more. 

It might have to do with the 278 papers I have to grade - my grades aren't due until June 6, but I really don't want to spend Christmas grading.  It might have to do with National Boards looming.  It might have to do with the poor old dog, the limping horse, and the suspense of having, apparently, no good idea when the ewes will lamb.  I am so off on my count.  

Someone else told me they aren't doing anything until after Finals week - maybe that's just it.  Maybe I have to push hard this week, grade the papers, the finals, the admissions essays, and the reading projects, revise Entry Four, and then put it all away for two weeks.  At least the few papers I kind of looked through didn't look as painful as the last set.  We really worked hard these last couple of weeks on writing.

On a good note, I got the Summer School job!  I was worried about how to pay for the various off-island, out-of-state trips for band and Cross Country scheduled for next year - but it should work out now.  Yay!  Plus, I get to teach my favorite course ever.  The only bummer is that once again it will be hard to keep up with the garden.  I need to get the family more involved. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Poor Old Dog

My old dog, Balto (the kids were little when we got him), has a bad case of arthritis.  I heard him crying last night on the lawn.  My husband (who is home a lot more than I am!) says he cries when he wants to do something, like chase cats or sheep (he's a cynic, too) and it's hard.  So, I tried to get him up on the deck, but he's a big dog and I was hurting him.  I moved him over level ground under the pine tree where it stays dry on all but the rainiest days.  I guess it's time for him to go, but boy, it's sad. 

I told my older son that we were thinking of putting him down this month, and he asked if I could wait for his girlfriend to come home for Christmas because she loves this dog.  It's just a hard thing. 

What's funny is watching the dynamics.  Balto was the supreme leader of our pack of three dogs for so long, but now that he's relegated to the sidelines, you'd expect Cinnamon, who is about 65 lbs, to rule over Mellie, who is maybe 20 soaking wet - but nope.  Mellie is the champion in the boss department.  She growls and snaps her little jaws and big old jolly Cinnamon just grins and gives way.  She's afraid of sheep (some part Border Collie dog!) but she is not above urging Cinnamon on to some fun.  We caught them chasing the ewes when we moved them to the new paddock near the house - and scolding seems to have worked.  We also caught them attacking our cat - they've coexisted for 8 years peacefully! Scolded them on that account, too, but the cat is having none of it - she won't go outside anymore, poor cat. 

One more week until Christmas Break - lots to do before then, though.  I haven't even written my final exam, yet.  Sigh.  No lambs, yet - I really was off on my count - I was sure it was November!  Oh well, if Allie waits until Break, at least I can keep an eye on the lambs. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wow! Buddy is not Dinner!

I sold Buddy last year, about a year ago exactly.  I was shocked at our K-12 meeting today to find out that he is still out there somewhere in Hilo mowing lawns.  Kind of happy, but I seriously thought he was Christmas Dinner 2012.  I think maybe he should be Christmas Dinner 2013, because the man told me Buddy was getting "playful" with his small son.  If Buddy takes after his Daddy (Elvis), playful can be painful. 

I asked the buyer if he wanted more - I need to get rid of some boys and my freezer is full of cow and supermarket turkey (free with the little coupons you earn with purchase points).  I told him I would even trade, if he had or his neighbor wanted to trade out some of their boys, or even some of their girls.  I hope that pans out; I really do. 

Today, I had to present a unit I did which infused Hawaiian Culture.  As I faced one of my three sessions and realized all the teachers in the back corner were the ʻOlelo Hawaiʻi teachers -well, it was intimidating.  I really like this unit,  but still....  One comment tickled me:  the teacher said, "I don't have any questions, but I just want to say that hearing that you took on this project when you were new to the school - well, that's amazing."  This place can be intimidating - there is so much at stake on so many levels in everything that you do, but this project on sense of place and community is one of my favorite units that I developed at my charter school.  The kids enjoy it and we ALL learn a lot, so it wasn't as intimidating as all that, but I just said, "Thank you." 

I am just so glad it is over, because I haven't slept for three days - well, not straight through a whole night anyway.  I keep waking up at 2 or 3 am and worry for a few hours.  It was kind of nonspecific worry - like darn that laundry needs to be folded and darn it was a dumb idea to try to finish this book set in 3 1/2 weeks, and darn, I need to do more of....... but it was really, "Darn, why did I say I would share my unit with all these teachers K-12?!"  And in the back of my mind it was "Darn, why am I doing National Boards?"