Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Only one more day

Until we get a break! Thursday and Friday aren't school days. We have to be there for a staff meeting in the morning (which shouldn't be too bad), and then we're off! Tomorrow I'm giving a test 1st period, reading a play 2nd period, and showing a video 3rd period. Shouldn't be too bad of a day.

I'm also realizing that I'm teaching the bulk of my students this semester, and will have significantly smaller classes next semester. That means a LOT less grading next semester, and I'm happily looking forward this. I'll probably have only about 35 students - almost 20 fewer than now.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

After the rain

We did a little yard work. Philip was dragged out of bed on a Saturday morning to begin arranging the pavers on our new "patio" area.

Adam made about 80 pavers, plus we have some nice flat stone that was lying around in the yard.

Meanwhile, Adam was doing car work. He ruined those poor shorts. The Volvo still doesn't run - the fuel pump is being obstinate.

Anna did NOT want to have her picture taken. Philip decided to put the stone in the middle.

And this is what he got done today, before he ran out of pavers! Doesn't it look cool? He really has an eye. I was worried it was going to be ugly - I'm so glad we put him in charge! Except...Now Adam has to begin paver-production again. Amazingly, we need about 100 more. He was stunned. He thought he'd made more than enough for the area. It must be bigger than we realize.

Friday, October 26, 2007


That's all I have to say. Ugh. 2 parents came to speak to me, over the course of 5 1/2 hours.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Parent-teacher meetings tomorrow will be from 1-4, and then from 5:30 to 8 (or so). I bet middle school parents will come, but I think we will have few high school parents. These meetings are very different from last year: 1) We will all be in the gym together, seated at tables. That way, no parent can waylay a teacher and bash him up in private. It's hard to light into someone, in public. 2) Meetings are on a first come/first served basis. No appointments. Last year, I was required to call parents of each failing student, to ask for a conference. This year, the initiative is on them, as it should be.

It also helps that it will be raining. That may discourage some. It's not that I don't want to talk with parents, but I'd prefer that they email me first, if they have a question. With reasonable parents, I've found that almost all difficulties can be handled via email or telephone. Usually, only the high-strung, over-reactive parents whose children can push their buttons, need to come lose control in front of a near-stranger. Sorry to rant, but I had a situation like that (almost like that) today, between 1st and 2nd block. What kind of parent comes to talk to you between classes, when you have 5 students around your desk? Ah well. A parent who thinks his child's situation is more important than those of your other students.

The good news is that I plan to get lots of grading done in the gym tomorrow, as I sit next to my hubby. And that means I don't have to work frantically tonight. So, we will probably watch a movie, eat popcorn, and relax in the den.

Hope you all have a nice evening too!

(And, during the 3 hours of shortened school tomorrow, I only need to sit in my comfy chair and listen to students recite their poetry. Now, that's the part of being an English teacher that I love!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I'm happy to report that it is raining. Finally, a slow, steady, soaking rain. I'm just hoping it continues for a few days.

I think I've decided I'm going to get my grading done (sometime in the next decade...) and then I'm not going to assign more essays/writing for the rest of the semester. I'm just DEAD with grading of writing - I don't think I can stand it another semester! The research papers (with rough drafts and final copies both) and essays are hard enough, but then I add their tests, which are almost all essay, and it's just overwhelming. I just finished one grading period, and already I'm up to my chin in it again. Must find relief!!

This Friday is a mini-break for the students - a half-day. But for us poor slogs behind the desks, it's "parent-teacher conference day." 4 hours in the afternoon, and 4 hours in the evening. I am hoping no one wants to talk to me. Then I can sit there and get some grading done :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

A doctor visit

Today I took Julia in to the oral surgeon's office. Since she was a baby, we've noticed that she has a very pronounced frenum - the piece of tissue that connects the upper lip to the upper gum. It wraps all the way around, between her front teeth and under her gum. We'd been told before that: it should be cut, or it should be severed after her two front teeth come in, or it should be cut when she has braces someday. Okay. So her two front teeth have been in for some time, and I thought it was about time to get it checked out. Wrong. He told us not to intervene until her eye teeth have come in - when she's about 11 or 12 years old. And if the eye teeth don't push the front teeth together sufficiently, then probably braces, and surgery are in order. Like we can afford braces!

However, 2 minutes of his time will cost us $89, unless insurance will pay, which is unlikely. This is why I don't go to the doctor very often. And as I'm trying to ask the man a few questions, he is literally backing out the door, like he doesn't have time to answer me. For $89!

Meanwhile, Julia is very eager to have something done, because she is embarrassed of the gap between her front teeth, and doesn't like to smile for pictures. She will need to wait a few more years.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Chess has become an increasingly popular pass-time at our house. Peter has been reading books on opening and closing moves, and Adam's been training him. He hopes to beat Philip soon.

Paver production continued yesterday. Adam is just about done.

My mums are finally beginning to bloom. Here's my front walk - why don't you come for a visit?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What a lovely day!

I can't speak for Adam, but I've had a great day. After the usual pancakes for breakfast, I puttered around the house. I did grade a paper, and edit a bit of literature for later. I also did lots of laundry, cleaned my iron, cleaned 3 horrible shelves in our laundry room that hadn't been wiped down in about 20 years. Really gross. Put shelf paper on them, and they're ready for our folded items. Watched (again) a winsome video my mother loaned me called "A Child's Christmas in Wales" - a retelling of Dylan Thomas's poem/story. It put me in the Christmas mood. Now I have lit 5 glowing candles in the house, taken a warm shower, started the pizza for supper, and am waiting for my hubby to come home from his last coaching event for the year.

He spent the morning buying concrete and making yet more pavers for our backyard patio area. I sure hope, after all this effort, that space looks decent. I'll let you know!

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Longest Week

On Wednesday, all the teachers I spoke with agreed that it felt like Friday. Then on Thursday, we came dragging into school as if we'd been asked to work on Saturday morning. You can only imagine how sluggish we were today! It seemed like the longest week!

However, today I had a nice mom tell me that she greatly appreciates what I've done for her teenage son in English; he's doing work this year he never dreamed he could do, last year. When she asked how the PSAT went for him this week, he told her the English part was easy, after my class. Those types of conversations make up for the ones in which parents berate you for all your hard work. Teaching is certainly a mixed bag.

Peter is at a classmate's birthday party this evening. Actually, I hear him coming is right now. He had a good time. It was just down the street, so he walked. Adam and I did our weekly grocery shopping too, but we agree we're about to give up on WalMart. Its cheaper prices don't quite compensate for the miserable experience. Higher percentages of ill-behaved children shop at WalMart. Self-checkouts generally malfunction at WalMart. My favorite brand of frozen peas is more likely to be sold out there. I am tempted to head to Food Lion.

Tomorrow Adam and Peter have the final cross-country meet of the season. Adam is eager to be done, so he can come home right after school each day. We're now half-way through the semester, and this year in the high school, that means half-way done with a full class. I'm a bit behind in my classes, because it's harder to shove that much material down their resistant throats, in a mere semester.

We finally got rain last night! It was lovely to awake to the pitter-patter of little drops this morning.

We have homecoming at our church on Sunday, with visiting missionaries and covered-dish supper. ARPs know how to eat!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What they did on Saturday

My man mixed concrete.

And made pavers. They will go in that big, round, sandy space. The blue plastic is temporary, of course.

He had a little help from Peter and a friend.

Meanwhile, Julia is still swinging!

And the good ole truck is for sale!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I finally got the camera back!

Adam worked on his bread oven while I was gone last weekend. He built frames so he could pour more concrete on the top. The flat slab you see there will be the BOTTOM of the oven. The large open space underneath is for storing wood.

Here's the table I bought. It is not a fine table, but it looks nice enough, and I LOVE the gate-leg, drop-leaf arrangement. Nice, tapered legs too. Notice the little castle affair assembled - that's Redwall Abbey, which I got as a used children's book at the flea market.

And I bought 3 Longaberger baskets at a yard sale - almost new!

Here's my front porch assortment. The mums aren't blooming yet.

And my rather thrown-together fall wreath. I'm no arranger :(

Sunday, October 7, 2007

There's nothing like an evening...

at Carolyn's house.

Those of you who know Carolyn, know how she can entertain. Those of you who know Kenneth, know how he can cook, and that the man is only REALLY happy when he's serving others. That added up to a truly therapeutic evening for their guests, when Kenneth decided to give Carolyn a 5-course meal, with a few friends, for her birthday. I am so happy I was one of the few!

I arrived early, departing home after a long week of teaching. As I drove west into the mountains, I noticed more color on the hills. Carolyn and Kenneth have a new home, and I enjoyed seeing it for the first time. The 2 little munchkins were already in their jammies, and in order for me to stay the night, the eldest munchkin slept happily in a teepee in his sister's room. The living room was lit by 9 scattered candles, and dreamy music welcomed me to sink into their sofa. Carolyn and I partook of Kenneth's delectable appetizers: home-made French bread with pesto and some difficult-to-pronounce garlic spread, cashews, olives, and little stuffed/toasted mushrooms. I restrained myself from making a meal of these, knowing I would regret it; still, I kept glancing at the table. Okay, just ONE MORE mushroom.

When Mary, Heidi and Laura arrived, we sat down at the table our hosts had brought back from France. Kenneth, looking dapper in his white shirt and black bow tie (we teased Carolyn about the cute waiter) served our salads and bread. We ate in a leisurely way, allowing plenty of time between courses, and our time at the table became an event - an eating practice most Americans have lost, and with which they even feel uncomfortable. Laura said her mother, who grew up in New Orleans among the ex-patriot French, ate that way growing up.

Kenneth's main course was pasta with shrimp, topped with real (and I mean the REAL) Italian parmesan. Not the sprinkle kind. Not the white wedge from the grocery even. They secured some crumbly, mellow-yellow parmesan from the local gourmet eatery. On the side we had very hot veggies bathed in a light, almost-invisible cream sauce. Parmesan there too!

I was feeling cautiously optimistic at this point that I might make it through the entire meal, crossing the finish line with the final bite... and then the cheese plate arrived. Bleu, boursin, the parmesan, a strong cheddar, and a soft brie. All administered with Kenneth's warm bread. Who wants dessert?

I did, when I saw it. A long, layered cake, shaped almost like a Christmas yule: dark, dense chocolate cake on the first floor, chocolate mouse on the second floor, white whipping cream on floor three, and a repeat of those three. All drizzled with chocolate ganache. And as if that were not enough, a deep, round cup of hot cocoa on the side to sip occasionally.

And if you think that's just too much chocolate for a woman to take, at the end of a meal, then you don't know any real women. However, our tummies belied our desires, and only one of us could finish the cake. It was tragic!

All this was accompanied by delicious beverages which our attentive waiter brought at our request. I enjoyed the Kir Framboise.

After dessert, I proceeded to lie on the floor so that the other ladies could stretch out on the furniture, until someone asked the time. It was 11:15. I was glad I only needed to crawl to a bed in the back bedroom.

The next morning, fully recovered, Carolyn and I ate Kenneth's French toast, and headed to one yard sale, and to their school's annual flea market. I bought a table, which you shall see in my next post.

That was an evening I will always remember, as are most I've had at Carolyn and Kenneth's home. Many thanks to them both, and a happy, happy birthday to my friend.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Up for air

Hello all. I'm taking a moment to blog again. Life has been hectic ever since I decided to ask my students to do research papers.... What kind of an idiot was I to do that? Life would be so much easier if I did not ask my students to write anything!

Okay, back to the real world. Our trip to Covenant College was great. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the improvements on campus. Chapel was magnificent - the singing was so robust. The student body is very lively and upbeat, and happy, I suppose is the word. Loved seeing some old professors. Now Philip - he had a great time. Beforehand, I didn't want to push the college on him, since it is my alma mater. But he really liked it. It is expensive, but with early application, a bright son, and lots of financial aid, there is a chance we might make it! He seems to be dangling between being a music major and a pre-engineering/chemistry major type. Perhaps he'll just do a music minor. I frankly don't think a full music major would be very challenging to him. I told him, in my experience the performing is wonderful, the lessons are so worthwhile, but the classes are boring. Apologies to any old profs out there!

All that to say, I wouldn't be surprised if he goes to Covenant. It's also reassuring to choose a college, and not be waffling in indecision until your high school graduation. He's a boy who likes his life ordered, and likes stability. I think he's the kind of student the college would love to have.

My grading load and class prep right now are a bit of a nightmare. I can't seem to stay ahead of it all. I don't think I can get everything in before the end of the grading period, at this point.

That's all for now, folks!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Back Home

Grading many papers.
Staying up too late.
Too much reading to do.
Too many responsibilities to meet.

More later.