Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Say What?! Wednesday

I'm going to include three stories today (lucky you!)...

1) Feather-brain
My second period class is my smallest, and incidentally, most immature group of students. They're very distractible, they call out in class all the time, they get out of their seats to visit each other, and somehow none of them really seem to think there is anything amiss about this behavior in a high school honors class. I also have a few students who are native spanish speakers, they are constantly in spanish conversation. It's kind of like a game of Whack-A-Mole. As soon as I get one kid quiet and settled, someone else makes a comment that gets everyone distracted. Anyway, just the other day I was struggling to keep them on task through an activity and I realized as I was giving some instructions that about half of the class was staring into space. Not just zoned out because history is boring, but staring intently at something. I had to stop and ask. "What on earth are we all looking at?" A teacher can get pretty self-conscious in front of a bunch of teenagers, so I wanted to make sure there wasn't something on my face or in my hair. No. There wasn't. When I asked, someone responded that they were literally all staring at a floating piece of lint in the air. Wow. Really?! I had a mind to administer some Ritalin to all of them on the spot. Talk about the attention span of a gnat!

2) The Bratz Doll
In that same class I have a student who looks exactly like a Bratz doll. She is light-skinned, mixed race, and very very pretty. She has bright blue color contacts, perfect almost professional-looking make up every day, manicured nails, hair that looks like it's been done at the salon every morning, and designer clothes. Seriously, this girl looks like she has a personal stylist. I can only guess that maybe her mom was so thrilled to have a little girl that she raised her like her own personal Barbie doll? Well, she looks much more like a Bratz doll, but whatever. Sadly, although this girl is smart she acts a lot like you'd expect a Bratz doll would act. Not necessarily like a "brat" but more like her plastic head is hollow. The other day in class everyone is working quietly on an assignment and she raised her hand. When I called on her, she asks, "Mrs. Beck, what would happen if I passed out right here in class?" What? Seriously?? I stared back at her, blinked a few times, and went back to what I was doing.

3) Parent Connection
This story is from a while back. I had a parent come in for a conference. She seemed nice. Her daughter is one of my best students too. Not too long into the conference the mom begins explaining to me how her daughter hates history and thinks its so boring and wants to know what I plan to do to keep her child interested. I explain. And then she asks, "So what will happen in the spring when you go on leave?" I thought maybe there was something I had missed. Surely she wasn't simply asking about what happens when a teacher is absent. But she was. So I gave the only answer I had, "Well, a substitute will come in and teach my classes for the rest of the quarter." She seemed satisfied. What did she think was going to happen??

Students and parents say the strangest things sometimes. Stay tuned for more stories straight from the public school classroom next week!

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's All Good

I would venture to say that I started today with the wrong attitude. After being off work for so long due to the two huge snow storms, and then going in only 3 days last week 2 hours late each day, I was definitely out of my routine. Knowing that I was going to have to get up at 5:30 again this morning put a huge damper on my weekend even. It's unfortunate that I feel that way about going to work, but Josh gave me a good perspective: every day you get up and go to work is another day closer to the baby. I told myself that this morning as I was trying to get myself ready, barely conscious. It was incredibly hard to get out of bed and then leave the house knowing that Josh would be home all day too.

My morning started off pretty quietly as it usually does. Unfortunately my classes tend to get a little more annoying as the day goes on. Today was also a B-day and my b-day class is my least favorite by a good stretch. I decided not to let them bother me today. Well they bothered me, but I refused to lose my cool. I may have stopped them and collected their work on the spot because they were talking instead of doing the assignment, though. Then a good number of them failed their quiz and I took joy in that. Sad, right? But the important thing is that I survived. Then I dealt with my sixth period who was missing a very key player today. That made them somewhat tolerable instead of totally obnoxious.

The redeeming moment of the day came about 3 minutes after the dismissal bell (and I thought nothing could make me happier than the dismissal bell). My department leader came in and said that he got my substitute all lined up for my maternity leave. We'd been talking about it earlier in the day and he suggested that before we solidify anything, we should see if Johns Hopkins U. would let our intern (working with the government teacher) cover my absence as part of her internship. This would be handy because she'd be familiar with the school and policies and it would be a great opportunity for her, plus she'd get paid for her internship time. As it turns out, they approved! If that's not good enough news, my department leader then tells me that he's going to give her a few days to wrap things up with the government classes and then transition her to being my intern for the next 8 weeks between now and when I go on leave. That's right people, someone else is going to take over teaching all of my classes for my last 8 weeks before I peace out for the rest of the school year! How amazing is that? And she will be so perfectly equipped by that time to just keep on doing what she'd been doing. She'll know the kids, they'll know her, she'll know the curriculum and actually be able to plan her own lessons and grade papers.

It couldn't be more perfect. I am so excited. Seriously, the miracles never cease.

Speaking of miracles, please take a minute to visit Planted and Blooming and click the button on the left. There is a family in need of a miracle. And if God can bring Stellan into this world alive and well (and keep him that way for over a year now), then He can work miracles for baby T.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

31 Weeks

As promised... here are pictures of me and the belly at 31 weeks! Let the countdown begin :]
(as if I haven't been counting down for months now, haha)

Just 9 more weeks...

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Her name is Carsen"

This post is going to be all about our baby girl. Why? Well because her arrival is a mere 9 weeks away and I'll be honest - she's on my mind a lot!

If you didn't know already, her name is going to be Emily Carsen and we're going to call her Carsen. She will be the 4th generation of Emilys on my mom's side of the family (skipping only my grandfather, my mom's dad, who was obviously not an Emily but gave his mother's name to my mom). The name Carsen is one that I just loved. I took care of a little girl named Carson when I worked at KinderCare and always liked the name after that. I thought it was unique for a girl but not weird.

I didn't really intend to keep her name a secret at all, and we shared it with our families right away. However, I also haven't really made any formal announcements just thinking that I didn't necessarily want to invite everyone's opinion. I've heard that when it comes to babies, people don't always observe the lines of propriety and may let me know how they feel about her name with little consideration for my feelings. I feel strongly enough about the name that no one would be able to sway me from using it, but at the same time that pretty much means you don't need to tell me if you don't like it because it won't matter. Anyway, I've gotten the question a lot - "Do you have a name picked out?" And again, not trying to keep it a secret really, I always tell people - "Her name is Carsen." While no one has given any negative feedback (thankfully), I can still tell by their reactions when they disapprove. The nurse taking care of Josh after his surgery just the other day responded with, "Oh. Pretty." in that deadpan kind of way that I knew she didn't mean it sincerely. It made me laugh on the inside because of how transparent her response was despite trying to conceal the disapproval. Don't ask if you don't want to hear the answer, right?

One thing I've noticed over the past few months since my belly has become more and more obvious is that people now greet IT instead of ME. Passing someone in the hallway at work they still say hello, maybe ask how I'm feeling or remark in some way about how I'm looking these days. But the funniest thing to me is that they always look at and speak to the belly. And I don't mean as if they're talking to the baby inside, they're still addressing me it's just that instead of eye contact they look at my belly. Fortunately this doesn't bother me one bit, just makes me giggle, and it makes me wonder if they realize they're doing it.

I have to admit, this baby girl is not shy about making her presence known. Not only does my belly show her off and make her presence plain as day, but she likes me to be reminded regularly that she's in there and that she's strong. I've really enjoyed feeling what seem like very purposeful movements even if they really are just random. I think I've identified the difference between regular kicking and hiccups. Somehow though, she still knows when her daddy is nearby. If I ever draw his attention to her movement either by placing his hand on my belly or by telling him to watch it jump (even if I whisper!) she almost always gets still. I'm hoping this indicates that she will be very well behaved for her dad :]

Tonight she did kick for him a bunch of times which he was very very excited about. She even pushed on his hand! He thought that was totally amazing. I was just glad she wasn't pushing on my ribs again. That seems to be her favorite place to stretch. It feels like something is being shoved up under the right side of my rib cage. I'm thinking it might be feet when she tries to stretch them out. We have also recently (like this week) been able to feel her even when she's not kicking. I think we found her back and an elbow or knee at one point.

I've also decided that since I have not done so thus far in my pregnancy, I will begin doing a weekly photo. Today marks 31 weeks of pregnancy with 9 weeks left to go. I figure this will be the period of time in which she grows the fastest anyway so the changes week-to-week should be the most apparent. I've gotten several requests from different friends to do this and I can't really explain my reason for not doing pictures so far. I don't know why I haven't. Maybe it's my busy schedule, maybe I've been waiting to "look pregnant" (uh, that happened a long time ago), maybe I've been waiting for a day I feel presentable enough for a photo (which is never). But tomorrow seems like as good a day as any so I'm going for it. I am also planning to do my official pregnancy photo shoot next weekend. And when I say official I mean, myself and my tripod as the photographers with my new friend Aperture 2 (thank you, Apple, for releasing Aperture 3 a month after I bought 2. Much appreciated.) as the editor. This will remain the plan as long as Josh is able to wear a pair of pants by the weekend. If not, we might just have to be careful to avoid catching his bandaged/braced leg in the photos :] So stay tuned for that post!

I'm off to a hot shower and cozy bed for the night. Schools are closed again tomorrow so I am just tickled to have another day at home with Josh! I have been working on some projects with my pictures so I'm excited to continue with that and otherwise just relax and snuggle :]

Hope everyone else is staying warm and cozy!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mission: Accomplished!

With Maryland's biggest snow ever, I was bound and determined to finish the baby's bedroom! There were a few roadblocks (literally) along the way, but we made it happen! Here's our week in pictures:

For starters, it was a while before we could get out of our court. The snow started Friday night into Saturday. On Monday morning a plow finally came to our court... and quickly turned around and left.

They came. They saw. They said, "Forget that!"

They didn't even make it far enough to clear behind any parking spaces. The one car you can see cleared off in the picture above is our next door neighbor. Our car is just to the left of his, still buried and completely snowed in. I mean the Subaru is tough and all, but even Su can't make it over 3 feet of snow!

Below you can see how that kind plow truck shoved what little bit of snow he did plow right in front of our mail box. Guess who hasn't gotten any mail for about a week now??

Just below the stop sign you can see the a silver box that is our mailbox. This time, the mail did not go through.

It snowed again Tuesday night into Wednesday, but not before a plow came back and cleared one lane around our court on Tuesday morning. That was good enough for us! Josh had a doctor's appointment at 10:15 in Westminster so we took care of that first. After that it was a quick stop in Babies 'R Us to pick up a little pillow that goes with Carsen's bedding collection so we could match up paint. Then we headed over to Home Depot for paint and a myriad of other supplies we needed to complete the bedroom!

We started Tuesday night by painting the ceiling. It was dingy and off-white to start with and I wanted nothing less than clean and fresh! Wednesday morning we got up and did the purple paint on the top half of the walls. It looked so perfect :]

The next step was to cut and hang chair rail. None of us had done that before, so it was a little bit of a learning process, as well as a group effort. Between cutting, leveling, and attaching it to the walls we spent a lot of time getting it right. In the end it looked great though!

Once the chair rail was up, Jennie and I started measuring out the interior squares. This proved to be a little more of a challenge than we were prepared for. After many markings on the walls and three measurements with two different tools, we finally had it perfect.

Jennie and I used the miter box and cut each piece ourselves. Those babies were not easy to get up on the walls. We managed to hit just about every stud there was. After several hours and some trial and error, we had them all up. Josh came in to spackle our nail holes so they were ready to be primed before we called it a night.

While Jennie and I primed, we told Josh that we were in the mood for something chocolate. Sadly, we had already made our box of brownies earlier in the week, and since it had snowed again it was pretty impossible to go back out for anything. All I had was a bag of Dove chocolates, and yet somehow Josh took on the challenge and was able to have these delectable little desserts waiting for us when we came downstairs!

All I could say was, WOW!

When the snow clouds finally cleared out it was a beautiful sunny day. We had these unusually huge icicles hanging off of our neighbor's roof outside our bedroom window.

It was time for the final coat of paint to finish off Carsen's bedroom! We spent most of the day going over the bottom half of the walls, the baseboards, windowsill, door frames, and the closet and main doors. We did two coats for nice even coverage since the primer underneath was kind of patchy in terms of covering the dark gray. By late afternoon we had a perfectly painted baby room!

What else do you do in a perfectly painted baby room?? Put furniture in it! Josh and Michael (and Sheppie) put the crib and changing table together in a snap.

And not a minute too soon...

Yesterday we had to get up to take Josh to get his ACL surgery at 8 am. I was so glad to have the baby's room all finished before he was, well, more or less incapacitated. His surgery went very well (he had his ACL replaced) and we were on our way home shortly after. At home he has two exciting contraptions working on his leg just about all the time. One is an ice pack but instead of putting it in the freezer, you fill a cooler with ice and water and it cycles the cold water constantly through the pack that is on his knee. It's not quite as cold as ice so it can stay on all the time and you don't have to wait for it to get cold in the freezer, you just keep enough ice in the cooler. The other machine kind of cradles his leg and gently bends and straightens it all day long. So far, no complications and relatively little discomfort. He did ask for some Aleve this morning but that's been his only complaint.

For the next few days we'll pretty much be at home. I'm thinking we'll get some sort of take-out for Valentine's dinner tomorrow. We don't usually go all-out for heart day so I'm sure this year will be the same considering Josh's condition. I like it that way though, quiet and simple can still be plenty romantic :]

I'm supposed to return to work on Tuesday but they are calling for more snow Monday night into Tuesday. Right now the storm is just a "clipper" which doesn't usually give us much accumulation, but I've heard two different sources mention that it has the potential to shift and leave us with a little more (though nothing like the 12+ inches we've seen in the past two storms... I don't think). But I guess only time will tell!

Hope everyone else has a great weekend and those who have had snow days got to make the most of them! I think I'll spend the rest of today cleaning around the house while Josh works on his Guitar Hero achievements! Love that kid...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

SNOW Place Like Home

Here we are totally snowed in again! This time we were a little more prepared, and didn't have a 2-year old snowed in with us like 2 weeks ago :] We also planned ahead and decided to get started on the baby's bedroom today since we weren't going to be able to go anywhere or have any other plans. Here's what it's looking like outside (around noon) and the snow is supposed to fall through 9/10:00 tonight!

The baby room had been painted charcoal gray since it was being used as Josh's music room. But now that its going to be a baby girl's room, it needed to be painted. Her bedding that we've chosen is pink-based but has a lot of purple in the details, so we thought a very light purple would be cute for the walls. This way we don't have to try to perfectly match shades of pink or purple but everything should pretty much compliment everything else. I still need to buy something from the bedding collection to match the paint color with.

Today we focused on getting all the music equipment and furniture out of the room, taping, and priming the walls. Here's how it went...

Going from charcoal gray even to the white primer has been a huge difference. It looks so strange in there. Josh and I both really liked the charcoal gray so I'll admit to being a little sad that we had to paint over it so soon but of course it's worth it to be making a bedroom for our baby girl :] Josh has already asked if he can paint the part of the basement that will become the new music room. I said yes. I will never deny that kid a music room.

If you don't already know, I've gotten my baby room design inspiration from my friend Jenn! Jenn is amazing at making expensive projects affordable. She did a fabulous faux-wainscoting in her little girl's bedroom and I loved it so much that I'm copying the idea. Don't worry, Jenn approves and even teaches me her brilliant home project tricks. I know, what a great friend, right? I do love her. Below is a picture of her baby's bedroom. Ours will look similar but with light purple walls up top and dark wood baby furniture.

What do you think? How beautiful is that wainscoting? It's pretty easy to create so as we get started I'll keep you posted on how it goes. We still need to do our measuring and buy the supplies, but due to the snow there's little chance of that happening this weekend. I'm just happy we have the project under way!

We still have lots of cleaning and rearranging to do in the basement since that's where all the music room stuff went. I'd also like to get some other general cleaning and organizing done while we're trapped inside. Might as well, right? My other option is baking/eating... :]

How did you spend the snowy weekend?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Say What?! Wednesday

Well I didn't necessarily intend for the next post after my first Say What?! Wednesday to be the next one, but here we are a week later none the less. That's ok. I'm a busy girl. Today's Say What?! is a classic. It didn't happen this week, but it's one of my all-time favorites. I hope you laugh as much as I do every time I think of this....

This year I am teaching all honors and gifted classes. So I have a student in one of my gifted classes who has (undiagnosed I think) Aspergers Syndrome. If you've never heard of Aspergers, it's a form of Autism in which the individual is very high functioning. An ordinary encounter may give no other indication that something is amiss except that the person seems odd. Often (in my experience) these kids are quite smart intellectually but lack social skills. They often do not have an awareness of personal space and tend to stand way too close while talking to you. They may also want to share information with you about things most people really wouldn't care about and usually don't have a lot of friends. So you get the idea - smart but socially lacking.

This particular student that I have this year seems rather normal until she starts talking. She often tells me things about the city of Boston or Judaism. She raises her hand in the middle of discussions about war or the Populist movement to spout off a fact about the Red Sox. She is also a hockey fan and likes to raise her hand during class to show me a picture of a hockey player she has on her binder. She wears a jersey of a player whose unfortunate name is Semin, which most teenagers wouldn't be caught dead in. But, alas she just doesn't get it (or may not care). She's not a constant disruption by any means, but in those moments I struggle to let her know that it's not the right time without coming across as intolerant or mean.

Well, one day I am standing outside of my classroom door as her class is leaving for lunch (they leave and come back during my class). She stops on her way out the door and looks at me with a slight smile, as if she knows something I don't. The exchange goes something like this,

Child: "Mrs. Beck, do you think I'm an alien?"

Me: (Blink. Blink. Blink.) "Um, well, I hadn't thought about it. But I guess I do now."

And off to lunch she went. The end.