Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Say What?! Wednesday

I've been trying to think of a clever weekly installment for my blog that I could actually commit to doing every single week, and I think I've found it. Inspired by some of my recent student stories, and the fact that my students are always doing or saying crazy things, I think I've decided on "Say What?! Wednesday." Each week I'll try to come up with at least one (sometimes there are lots) crazy story from my students. Sometimes my stories are funny "ha ha" other times they're kind of outrageous (like some of the ones I shared just a few posts ago). Just remember that they are ALL either honors or gifted & talented 9th graders. That will only add to the humor.

Well, here goes the inaugural attempt...

I actually kind of hate to start with this story because rather than being side-splitting hilarious it's more one of those that makes you cringe and wonder what is up with kids these days. But alas, it's what I've got and it will make me feel better to share because I was a little outraged by it myself.

My students are very aware that they are not allowed to eat or drink in my classroom except for water, otherwise I'd be cleaning up after their crumbs and wrappers and spills non-stop. So one of my students who really enjoys pushing buttons (and limits) brings food and drink back from the cafeteria with him after lunch as he has many many times before. This is a child that, when told to throw away his food, will stand at the trash can and finish devouring whatever it is before he throws the trash away and takes his seat - all the while claiming to have done exactly what he was told.

So today, again, I say "you need to throw away your food." His response is to hold up his index finger (as if to tell me to wait), finish sucking down his Capri Sun, and then dispose of his trash and sit down. I'm so tired of him doing this that while he's standing there ignoring my direction and telling me to wait, I say "ok, since you're still eating and drinking after I've told you not to, that gets you written up." He doesn't hear me because he doesn't pay attention to anything I say. He takes his seat and I place the form on his desk for him to sign. He looks at me and says, "Are you serious?!" I tell him that I am serious and explain that since he has done this many times, he is being written up for not following rules. He then tells me that this is "BS" and that he's not going to sign the form. I remind him that refusal to sign the form would get him an automatic office referral, so he should probably just sign it. As he signs the form and hands it back to me, he offers this warning... "If anyone is contacted about this, I'm going to have a story to tell at dinner time." In other words- if you tell my parents, I'm going to tattle on you about something else.

Ummm, say what?!

Was that a threat? I think it was. Do I care? Am I afraid of your mommy and daddy, or whatever "story" you're planning to tell? I do not, and I am not. So I informed him that any time a student is written up, parents are notified, so I guess he'll have a story to tell at dinner.

Can you believe this? Is it any wonder no one wants to be a teacher?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Minding My Own Business

First, I want to take a quick second to say thanks to those who commented on my last post! I'd love to hear more discussion (and maybe from some of those readers who don't usually comment...?).

Now on to the topic of today... minding my own business!

At least one of you picked up on my mention that I am considering starting a business in 2010. Tonight I actually took a first step! It's pretty exciting stuff. I'm not entirely positive how much I want to disclose at this point because there are so many unknowns. It would just be a lot to explain and describe for it not to work out in the long run. But let's just say for now that I have to obtain a license. Tonight I went to a meeting to begin filing paper work for my license. There are still some questions left to be answered, and a few friends in "the biz" that I need to speak with, but I'm really looking forward to it. I learned a lot of useful information tonight at the meeting, so I'm ready to take that and run with it. I think this is going to be a great step for our family if all works out.

Meanwhile, if you'd like, you could send up a few prayers that things will work out the way they're meant to. Because starting this business would involve me taking at the very least a leave of absence from the school system, possibly even quitting, it's a big deal for us financially. Over time it could become more dependable, but at first it's going to be an investment, and probably a pay cut for me. Things have been going really well for Josh at work, so I'm hoping his successes will offset the initial dip in the income I'm contributing.

Ok, ok, without getting too far into all my worries about this endeavor, I'll leave it there. Just say a prayer or two... or eleven for us :]

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cut. It. Out.

While Uncle Joey may have always used it as part of his comedy routine, sometimes it comes to mind for me (don't make fun) when I realize that there's something in my life that shouldn't be there.

Have you ever made the decision to cut something out? Or even someone? I'm sure we've all made those New Year's resolutions to stop biting your nails, stop eating so much ice cream, or get rid of that loser boyfriend/girlfriend already. I know I have, at several points in my life, decided that it was time for something unhealthy to go. Unfortunately, for me most of those times it's been a toxic person in my life. Have you ever just realized that someone is no good for you? Sometimes cutting those people out is easier than others, it all depends on the connection you have. Co-workers, a little harder to cut out. But most people, even close friends, can be cut out over time if need-be.

Here are my criteria to determine if it's time to cut someone out.
  1. Do I care? Sounds silly, but honestly, do I? Would I feel a loss without this person in my life? Even if the answer is yes, it might still be healthier to cut the person out. If the answer is no, then you're on your way to a clear decision.
  2. Is the relationship mutually caring and respectful? Do I care as much as they do? Do they care as much as I do? Do I respect this person? Do they respect me? In my opinion, if you don't respect someone -- or if they don't respect you -- it's not a friendship. Cool it down to acquaintance at best, and move on with your real friends.
  3. Is the relationship mutually beneficial? Are both parties enjoying being "friends"? I use quotes because it may not really be much of a friendship at all if you're considering cutting the person out. But there should be a mutual benefit to the friendship. If you get nothing out of it (and I'm not talking about presents, more so if your life is enhanced by this relationship), and especially if you feel as though you give/contribute with no return, call it what it is, not friendship.
Seeing as that I'm not a certified/licensed anything, do not take this as my telling you what to do. That was simply my own criteria that I use when evaluating a friendship. That said, when I've decided it's time to cut someone out actually doing it is the easier part. You gradually stop answering phone calls, stop returning messages, make fewer plans together, avoid the same hang-outs and groups of friends, and before you know it, it would be just plain weird to call that person because you haven't done so in months. Does that guarantee an effective cut of ties? Not necessarily. Depending on the person it can take more or less time. They may get after you for not calling or responding to messages. Sometimes you have to send a cursory email or text so that you're not flat-out ignoring the person, but keep at it and you will eventually see the distance between yourself and the person.

Where is all this coming from, you might ask? It might even make me seem like a mean person to some. But honestly, I've only ever done this for my own health and sanity. There truly are people who bring you down and are just not good for you. There's nothing wrong with creating a distance that makes your life better.

Today, it comes from my recent realization that I need some distance from a few people. But I also realized, that thanks to the world of Facebook, my usual process for reducing someone's presence in my life has been complicated in a multitude of ways. So I'm at a bit of an impasse as far as that goes. Here's an interesting example (yes, I have more than once instance): a while back I got a friend request from someone who seemed vaguely familiar to me. We went to the same high school and same college, but person is a year younger than me and I'm positive we were never "real-life" friends. Perhaps we had a class or two together? But our college majors would have made that unlikely. We had one single mutual friend on Facebook, but that wouldn't have constituted the friend request either. So, who knows why, but I decided to accept the request. The more I looked over the profile, the less I found as to why we would be friends. A few months later I was deleting some people that I never talk to and this person was one of them. I figured, if we've never said a word to each other, the person probably wouldn't even realize that we aren't friends anymore. Wrong. The next day I had a new friend request from that person. Herein lies my fear of deleting people I just don't want to be friends with anymore. Person had to be stalking my page to realize we weren't friends, and that's just scary. I ignored the second friend request.

I will have to get back to you when I discover a solution for the other people I need distance from. Ordinarily, like the example above, I would just delete them. But the truth here is, anything I do on Facebook is going to be obvious to the person I'd like to cut out. If it was someone I never saw in person I'd just do it. If I didn't think they'd go back to our mutual friend to complain, I'd just do it. But alas, it's not that easy.

Solutions, anyone? Similar stories? How did it turn out for you? Do share.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Is the Quarter Over Yet?

The grading quarter, that is. If yesterday's pleas for extra assignments, points for boxes of tissues, and a whole quarter's worth of instruction in one afternoon weren't enough, today I get this....

In my second period class a student comes over to me and asks if I received a whole bunch of late work she had done. It was in my mailbox, she tells me. She had given it to the main office secretary one day after school and asked her to put it in my mailbox, but this was a long time ago she explains.

I recall no such thing. Oh brother.

I decided to send her to the main office to see if the secretary still had it by chance. I get a phone call in my classroom minutes later from the main office secretary. SHE explains that she may have placed it in the wrong mailbox, and will check with some of the other teachers. But, she adds, sometimes if things get put in the wrong mailbox teachers will just place the item(s) on the counter in the mail room and she (the secretary) then comes by and puts those things in the recycling bins.

Oh. Swell.

So it's Friday, exams and the end of the quarter are next week, and this child has done a bunch of work that I now have no evidence of or any basis for giving her a grade. Panicked, she asks me what we're going to do?!?! So, I said, if the work does not turn up I will not make her do it all again because I genuinely believe she has done it. Instead I can excuse her from the assignments meaning they will not contribute points to her grade, but will not count against her grade either as they would if they were outright not handed in.

Can this quarter please end before any other crisis occurs? Thank God next week is only four days, three of which are half days involving nothing but test-giving!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

All in a Day's Work

Some quotes from my workday today. Yes, one day before exams.

  • From a parent, via email this morning:
"I just wanted to make sure you received the tissues [child] brought in for extra credit. He's so close to that C."

  • From students:
Child: "Can I stay after school today for help, because I don't get this."
Me: "What are you having trouble with?"
Child: "Everything. This whole quarter."

Child: "What should I do if I don't learn by reading and writing things down?"

One child raised his hand no less than a dozen times to explain to me why I should be assigning extra credit to help their grades between now and, well, their exam on Tuesday.

After explaining that extra credit was not what they needed if they were displeased with their grades at this point (and that I would not be giving any extra credit), another child boldly asked if I would be giving extra credit for third quarter.

GT students, people. It's frightening.

Friday, January 8, 2010

All the "Small" Things

Have you ever, just in your every day life, looked around and realized, "Hey, that was a small blessing." And then, "Wow, that was a small miracle." Or, "That could have only been a gift from God himself!" I love how God loves to remind us that He's there and loves to show us just how much He loves us. Sometimes I slip and wonder, "What did I ever do to deserve that?" The answer, of course, is nothing. There is nothing I could do to deserve God's love, especially not as much as He loves me. But I marvel nonetheless at the miracles I watch Him perform around me. Here are a few recent examples.

1. The Case of the Annoying Neighbor
These neighbors are just plain weird. They come and go -- and I'm not talking about during the day. I mean for weeks and months at a time. Right now, the dad/husband/man of the house has been gone for probably a year after a really really shady afternoon involving a Pepperidge Farm truck and a shipping crate. I couldn't make this up. Their two little kids disappeared at the same time. In addition to that strange behavior, we would always hear all this banging -- like they were throwing shoes at the wall -- early in the morning, as in before my alarm goes off at 5:30. Every day we would hear it and it lasted probably half an hour or so. I couldn't figure out for the life of me what could be part of someone's daily routine that involved making such noise, and slamming something against a wall that you share with neighbors at that hour of the morning. More recently we realized that their car hasn't moved for a long time, weeks. During the big snow storm 3 weeks ago, the car never moved and was never cleaned off or dug out. There has been another car that comes and goes from their house but it's not them. I suspect it's someone house-sitting or taking care of some other business in the house. Well, just the other day we noticed that the little car was packed full of household stuff and things. Could it be that these people are finally gone for good?? That could be a blessing.

2. The Case of Josh's Knee
For anyone who doesn't know, Josh has had trouble with his joints for a long time, particularly his right knee which has no ACL (not intact anyway). It was destroyed a few years ago and his doctors advised him to hold off on having it operated on. So just 2 weeks ago he injured the same knee, as I told you about in a previous post. This injury (torn meniscus) required surgery and the specialist who was going to do the surgery also suggested that it was a good time to take care of the ACL, but both operations could not be done at the same time. We scheduled the surgery on the torn meniscus (went perfectly yesterday afternoon) and had some serious discussion about the ACL surgery. The biggest issues were of course that he needs the operation to keep his knee from dislocating as much as it does (especially when he's carrying around a tiny baby in a few weeks), but we can't really afford 4 weeks of leave for his recovery. He gets short-term disability but that's only 60% of his pay and that's considerable for us. We didn't know what to do, but God did. Just to make sure we knew how much He loves us, He made a way. So, once Josh is fully recovered from this operation we'll be scheduling his ACL surgery to he can be fully recovered from that by the time our baby is here :] Honestly, that's a miracle.

3. The Case of Taryn Sophie
Again, for those who may not know, Josh has a cousin named Taryn. She comes from a very tough family situation. Her mother is a young girl (maybe 20) who is just not ready to be a parent. They have lived in and out of various shelters and other dilapidated housing in Baltimore city, and now she has all but abandoned Taryn leaving her mom to care for her.
Unfortunately, her mom is not much better off. She is unable to work, is still raising a teenaged son, and lives entirely on public assistance. Last year, her mom, Taryn's grandmother, became seriously ill and required hospitalization and more than one operation. While she was recovering she asked Josh's parents to care for Taryn. They agreed to help out because they knew there was no one else, but beyond that they really felt for Taryn. So Taryn (just barely 2 years old) came to stay with them at their house, enrolled in pre-school and blossomed.
She has been living with the Beck's since last spring and just recently her grandmother felt well enough to begin keeping her back at her apartment for part of the week. As you can imagine, over the months she's spent with them, everyone became incredibly attached to Taryn and the thought of sending her back to live in a place where she faces risks I can not begin to describe on this blog, was nothing short of heartbreaking.
Josh's parents have come to feel very strongly that they would be willing to adopt Taryn and raise her completely if something would happen to her grandmother, but at this point they are wishing they could adopt her anyway. They've seen amazing changes in her since she's been with them, and as I mentioned can't bear the thought of returning her to such an unstable home to live. As God's miracles never cease, Josh's mom was speaking to Taryn's grandmother just the other day when her grandmother says that she would like Josh's parents to eventually adopt Taryn. She talked about how they would be able to give her a life that she never could. Talk about miracles!! The road-block here would be that Taryn's mother is still the legal parent and would also have to agree to an adoption before it could happen. So this story is both a miracle and a request for prayer. Please keep Taryn in your prayers and ask God to help her mom do the right thing for her.

Oh ok, I'll toss some pictures in here for you too :]

SO excited waiting for Santa!

Dressed as the cutest Dorothy EVER for Halloween this year

Next to her perfect little pumpkin

Cheering on the Ravens like a good girl :]

My favorite "Taryn face"

Loving HER boy, Sheppie

You can't caption this one. Sorry.

It's amazing how sometimes the "small" things really aren't the small things at all.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Goodbye '09, Hello '10

So, here we are - 2010. I can hardly believe it. Where did 2009 go? It was a pretty big year for us, and I wish I had the time or memory to be able to recap all the important events, but fortunately I have a computer that files my pictures by dates, so I was able to go back and pull a few things that I thought were noteworthy in summarizing the Becks' 2009.

  • Sadly no exciting pictures from January existed on my computer. There were a few shots of some snow, and Josh's cousin's first birthday party.

  • Smeebo's fourth birthday party -- another year closer to not being a baby, and thus to breaking Mimi's heart
Leo turns 4 and celebrates with a pretty impressive dinosaur cake

  • Preparation is in full-swing for my brother's wedding, and we throw a fun shower for his bride-to-be :]
My sisters and I at the Mexican-themed bridal shower for Jenna

  • Again, sadly, I couldn't dig up much excitement for April. My spring break was in there, but we didn't go anywhere. I spent it at home mostly just relaxing.

  • The biggest event of May was my brother's wedding. It was SO much fun and really turned out perfect :]
My brother married his sweetheart of 9 years in May!

  • Um, I turned 27. Hooray!
  • School wasn't out until the 19th, and I was taking a grad class that ended right before our vacation in mid-July

  • Fourth of July was fun, we went to Fells point in Baltimore for pizza with Jennie, Michael, Michael's sister, her fiancee, his friend, Connor and Kelly
  • We took our 9-day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean!
Fourth of July festivities in Fells Point with 3/4 of the Beck kids

See my archive for all the pics from our cruise

  • I took two more grad classes
  • We spent a long weekend in Ocean City with the Becks
  • We found out that we we'd be having a little baby Beck!
  • I began my fifth year of teaching
  • I started my internship and final year of grad school
  • Jennie came to live with us!

One last getaway to Ocean City with the Becks in August before summer ended :]

September - November
  • Not too much happening
  • Josh turned 28
  • Evan turned 2
  • We kicked off the holiday season with a few Thanksgiving feasts and lots of shopping :]
  • Ravens beat the Steelers

  • We got to see baby Beck and find out that she is a girl :]
  • Spent lots of time shopping and preparing for the holidays
  • Had a great big gigantic snow storm, in which our niece Caraline decided to join the world
  • Had a lovely relaxing Christmas with each of our parents/siblings
  • Rang in the new year quietly at home

Wow. That sounded like a busy year. However, I have a feeling 2010 is going to be even busier! Here are just a few of the things we're actually planning for (nevermind all the things that will pop up unexpectedly to keep life exciting for us):
  • We need to prepare a nursery for our little girl who will be here in 15 weeks
  • Um, our little girl will be here in 15 weeks!!
  • I am working non-stop to complete my internship hours by baby girl's due date so I can graduate in May
  • We're hoping to spend the summer quietly relaxing at home and getting to know our baby
  • I may potentially be starting a business in the fall... potentially
  • As a result of said business, I may no longer be teaching (or counseling), which is huge
  • We're trying very hard to make a trip to Utah happen next fall... with a possible stop in TX :]
So with that, I bid a fond farewell to 2009. It was good to us and for that we are most certainly grateful. At the same time, we welcome 2010 with excitement and anticipation!