Sunday, September 29, 2013

Great Moments in Teacher Life

So, on Fridays, our schedule is a little different. Our lunch is about 20 minutes later than the other days of the week and so we change our classes a little differently, too. My second period class leaves and the third period comes into the room. They simply put down their backpacks and then stand behind their chairs, because we then leave to go up to the playground for recess. Recess is twenty minutes, then they line up and come downstairs to the cafeteria for lunch, also twenty minutes. All together, including walking time, there is 45 minutes for the students for recess and lunch.

We teachers get 35 of that for our lunch, and the final ten minutes is spent in the cafeteria, supervising the last half of the students' lunch period. We walk around and dole out napkins or taco sauce packets or sometimes (I like to do this) use the little broom and long-handled dustbin to sweep up stuff that is on the floor. It helps the custodian, and also keeps our cafeteria from becoming trashy. Wrappers, napkins and crumbs are my usual targets, but any day that corn is served, then I'm really busy sweeping up kernels. I don't know why corn is so hard to get all the way to their mouths. I'm on top of spills, too.

So, you can see that my lunch time is pretty precious, and none of us are too willing to have to enforce our universal threat of making students stay in the classroom for part of their recess to either finish work, or just as a consequence for wasting our work time by talking or other misdeeds. I know that each of us has said to students, who have had to stay in from recess for even a few minutes, that this is "messing up my lunch time, you know."

Well, on Friday, the students for third period came barreling through the door like a landslide of rolling boulders. They put down their backpacks and about five of them were roaming the room and provoking others as though recess were being held in my classroom. The volume level was out of control. I used all my signals, I put up on the screen my procedures list for preparing for recess. That got about half of them to remember what they were supposed to be doing. I looked around the room. I directed the teacher stink-eye toward a couple of the continued talkers. Finally, I said, "Do you want to just stand here all recess or do you think you could get quiet so we can go out into the hall." 

One of the Out-of-Control-Nearly-Every-Minute fellows called out, "Won't that mess up your lunch if we stay in from recess?"

BINGO!! I looked at him, and I said, "Well, as a matter of fact, it won't."  I marched over to my desk, pulled my lunchbox from a shelf, and plopped down in my chair. I opened my lunch box and extracted my sandwich and a baggie of grapes. I pulled out a napkin and reached for my drink. I took a bite of the sandwich and looked straight at him.

"Actually, it won't be any problem at all. I have my lunch right here. I'm going to eat it. If you'd like to spend recess watching me eat lunch, then fine---keep talking. If you'd prefer to play for recess, then you will be quiet so we can go out in the hall." And I took another bite of my sandwich.

The look on his face was AWESOME!! He didn't even speak! His jaw dropped. The other students turned on him with hissing, "[Horrible-talking-pest] you better shut-up right now!! We want to go to recess!" The room became deathly silent.

I ate a grape.

Then I stood up and noted that it was quiet enough to walk into the hall. So, we did, and they went up to recess. And once again, Age outwits Youth.

Now, I didn't entitle this "Great Moments in Teaching" but "Great Moments in Teacher Life"---there's a distinction and I hope you see it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I Had A Fabulous Day!!

Well, it didn't start at 8:40 when I almost forgot I had morning recess duty, and so I had to hurry upstairs, instead of getting my copying done.

And it didn't start at 10:00 when I went in to cover a first grade classroom for the teacher whose sub didn't show up. Although I got paid to do this, I really missed getting my own planning time instead. And, now I know for certain that my decision to never teach first grade is a really, really good one!! Herding cats, I'm telling ya....

It also didn't start during my own classes when all of my students apparently decided that every time Mrs. [EarthSignMama] says, "Please put away...." or "Please take out..." what she really is saying is "Okay!! Free-for-all time!! Everyone talk loudly to your classmates!!" Sigh.

It also didn't start when I went outside to direct traffic after school and tripped over the curb and tried to whack a student with my big red stop sign. Ooops....

It wasn't when I sat down with a sigh in my desk chair at 4:00 P.M., checked my calendar and realized that instead of puttering around in my room and then heading home, instead I needed to quickly clean up and dash over to the teacher's union meeting that I'd forgotten about. Blah...but it was important because there was an election being held, and I wanted to ask about the negotiations for our health insurance that aren't going too well.

It finally started though when I shuffled my tired self into the house at 7:15P.M. (eleven hours after I left it this morning) and saw that CoolGuy, GREATEST HUSBAND EVER, had cleaned up the whole kitchen, washing the dishes, and wiping off all the counters and cleaning the sink!!!!

YEA!!! What a fabulous day!!!

Friday, September 20, 2013


As you drive south on I-15 there is one rest stop that has a couple of gas stations, a couple of fast food stores, and that's about it. But in the parking lot of this tiny refreshment village there is also a couple of metal statues. One is a rampant elk, front feet in the air, antlers aloft. The other is a bear, and he is on all fours. They are both about life-sized.

The question is: WHY would you put such an inviting statue of a bear out in your parking lot and then label it with a kill-joy sign like this??? 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Birthday, Birthday, Birthday!

We celebrated her birthday this weekend. Actually, she started it by doing an awesome thing: she ran a half marathon and did it in a record time. Yea!! I told her that those 13 miles she'd just run were more than my dopey feet had run altogether, throughout my entire life. I didn't do running. But she does!  She sets a goal and she gets there. That quality has so far resulted in her graduation from high school, nursing school, her bachelor's degree program in nursing, her master's degree program in nursing practice. And next June, we'll be attending her "hooding ceremony" when she finishes her doctoral degree in nursing practice. all started like this:

Then she grew a little taller and a little older....

And then she grew even taller, and grew into a woman...
celebrating sister's graduation....

joined the Peace Corps...
celebrated with brother...
This is the Master's Degree...

This is the Crazy Aunt pose...
Enjoying the view with Dad as we celebrate the birthday!!! 

Sisters and their daddy....

Monday, September 09, 2013

Eye Check

Tonight I went to the opthamologist to have my retinas checked. A couple of years ago, I experienced a small tear and he repaired with a laser. So periodically, he checks the insides of my eyeballs to make sure that the patch is holding and that there aren't any other weak or failing spots. This is just one of those fantastic parts of aging--having the gel in your eyeballs begin to liquefy and start to splash down into big blobs that float around making shadows in your vision. Also, it can pull at the retina, causing tearing. One more thing to look forward to, young'ens!

As we drove over to the eye doctor (CoolGuy took me because of the need to dilate my pupils in order to look -- actually-- into my eyes.) As we traveled over to the office, we could see the dark clouds that were rapidly moving our direction, and then the radio program was interrupted by the weather service announcing the high winds, thunderstorms and lightning that was part of a fast moving storm rushing across the valley. We watched as three jets from the Air Force base landed at the city airport, because the storm was so severe at the base that, apparently, they had to be diverted. The palm trees along Flamingo Road were whipping back and forth from the powerful wind, and raindrops were starting to beat on our windshield as we pulled into the parking lot of the medical center. 

When we came out about 60 minutes later, the streets had become streams. Every gutter ran full, with choppy waves. It was easy to find the lowest places on the roads as we drove home, because that was where a huge lake stretched across the pavement. We could see that the storm had moved on to the extreme southern end of the valley. But right over us, the sunlight streamed across the cars from the edge of the mountains where Old Sol was about to set. This resulted in a massive and shimmering rainbow with one end ironically ending on top of a Boulder Highway casino.

However, in the very center of this rainbow, lightning still slashed jaggedly over the mountain near our house. We drove through the sunlit streets, dodging huge puddles, admiring the rainbow, bemused by the lightning, and astonished at the drifts of sand, gravel and palm branches that were piled up along the streets, here and there. The temperature had dropped by twenty degrees in one hour. When it rains in Vegas, Baby, it's quite a show!

As we drove home, I told CoolGuy the good news from the eye doctor--everything looked good and, unless there were any new alarming symptoms, I didn't need to return for a year. I related to CoolGuy an amusing conversation I'd had with some students today. We were thinking of something we'd done, about which we could write a personal narrative. One technique is to think of a place, then write a list of things you've done there. Then from this list choose one event and write a story. One of my places was "barn" and several students asked if I had a barn at my house. I said that it was the barn from when I was a child. Then, I said that I had one advantage over them----they were only 10 years old, and I was 60 years old, so I had fifty more years of stories to tell than they had.

The girls at one table expressed their amazement at my age. "REALLY?? You're 60? You look like you're twenty!" I thought "Ha! Ha! Ha!" But I said, "Thanks" and then as I walked away, I thought, "Hmm...maybe I should load all of you up and take you to my eye doctor tonight after school!"  I know I don't feel as old as my birth certificate certifies that I am, but I'm pretty sure that I also don't look twenty. I appreciate their votes of enthusiasm! Does my excitement over a beautiful rainbow count as young at heart?

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Human Logarithms

My understanding of a logarithm is that it describes an increase that grows exponentially. (I'm sure that people with actual math skills will correct me.) But, I used that title to lead into a reflection on my parents' wedding anniversary.

Today, September 5th, is the sixty-seventh commemoration of their marriage. They pledged their vows to love for eternity in 1946 in the Salt Lake Temple. Then, they went on an epic honeymoon, with two of my dad's cousins...sharing the car. Hey, my mom pointed out that they did have their very own motel room at each stop. Then, they ended up returning to the tiny valley where two other generations of their respective families had lived, and started their family, too. This is where the math starts.

My parents had eight children. This was a large family, yes, you're right. We lived all in one house for just a short time, because the oldest child graduated from high school just two months before the  youngest child turned one year old. But, it was only a three bedroom house. And, until I was a junior in high school, it had only one bathroom. We were a "close" family...elbow-to-elbow at our kitchen table.

When we older sisters started marrying and then reproducing, it wasn't long before the math kicked it up a notch. One year, there were four grandchildren born and then two years later, we did it again! Four more...and CoolGuy and I added a third child to our group the next year, too. Within just a few years of gaining sons-in-law, my parents became the grandparents of ten grandchildren. It had taken them nearly twenty years to get their eight. See how this human math works?

Eventually, between all eight of their children, they ended up with thirty four grandchildren. Now, many of those people are married, having children of their own. I believe the latest count of those we refer to as the "Third Crop" has reached forty-one. So, those two people, who fell in love decades ago, then started their family with high hopes, have ended up creating a progeny of 83 people. And there will be more, I'm sure.

Sadly, they only celebrated 38 years together before my dad died from leukemia. We continue to commemorate and cheer their decision to join their lives and start this generational equation moving along the slide rule of eternity. (Okay, okay, I couldn't help myself...I'm sure I'll be ticketed by the Metaphor Police.)

 This is a family portrait from that one year we all lived in the same house. 1965?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

How Do I Believe?

In response to some recent questioning of how I believe...not wish to write a few things.
  • I have attended church all of my life. I go because it feels good there. But it isn't the people, especially, it is something within that makes me feel good.

  • I have never attended church because of the people there. In fact, several times in my life, I have attended church in spite of some of the people there. Even when I was a child. Please know, however, that I love and admire many of my fellow congregants.

  • But, I can feel that feeling almost anywhere if I look for it. I continue to attend church because I believe that there are ordinances there that I need.

  • I know God lives. I don't know where "heaven" is. I don't know how the concept of eternity can be understood. I have a couple of questions for when I get to heaven, though. One of them is: What was that hormones thing for women all about??? ...golly.

  • I cannot reconcile everything I have been taught with everything else I know.

  • There have been five separate occasions in my life when I received a "message" from a person I knew, who was no longer living. I won't go into detail here, but I was awake, I wasn't soliciting their comments or reactions; I was completely taken by surprise. The messages that I received from them were very important and gave me comfort and understanding.

  • These events were so compelling, and etched so completely into my consciousness, that I cannot deny the existence of the human soul as an eternal entity.

  • There was nothing creepy nor spooky about these events. On the contrary, I was overwhelmed with a sense of total peace, love and serenity.

Therefore, when I am faced with confusion or contradiction in my religion, or when I read or hear something that I don't understand or I cannot accept, I just set it aside for a while. Then, I compare these "problems" with my personal experience as a believer, and I relax. If I have to choose between my sure knowledge of God's existence, of our eternal souls, of aspects of the Plan of Salvation, and a perceived contradiction or an apparent failing of a sustained leader, then I stick to my sure knowledge.

I can't speak for anyone else. I cannot pass on to another person the experiences and feelings I have had. I'm sorry I cannot do a "Vulcan Mind-Meld" and let them know and feel what I know and have felt, because it could save others some anguish, probably.

This seems to contradict the faith principle, I know. I realize we are taught that we must have faith and then we will get confirmation by the Holy Ghost. Maybe I did have faith. Sometimes when I received these messages, I was in prayer. So maybe there is no contradiction here. I hope I don't sound like I lack humility when I say that there are some things I no longer have faith in, because my faith has been replaced by certainty and sure knowledge.

And that certainty and knowledge allow me to just trust the rest of it. It was trusting the principles I'd been taught that resulted in being in a position to receive the messages, I think. God uses a still, small voice. I know that sometimes He uses a still, small, familiar voice so we'll know, without doubt, that the source of the message is Him.