Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm In The Loop!

Well, as you know, I totally played hooky today. And I had a BLAST! My friend and I went to watch In The Loop at the beautiful NBC Tower in downtown Chicago. Her friend is one of the producers of the show. Thanks to her, we were given the VIP treatment all morning! It was great. After the show, not only did I get to meet Kim Coles, I got a great big bear hug from her! She said she wanted to give us extra love because she loved M (my friend's friend!) She then gave me another squeeze when she heard we were CPS teachers.

We went to meet one of my cousins for lunch who works across the street from the studio (that was an added bonus for me!) and then went back for a second show. They were taping tomorrow's show today, and it was a Super Bowl show. This one was even better than the first one. They had a football player on (Danny Clark?) to do a cooking segment with Bill, and it was hilarious!! I wonder how much of it they're going to edit out for tomorrow. They set fire to the pot they were cooking in, for Pete's sake! Then Bill managed to dump a pot of spaghetti out onto a platter and all over the counter. Boys! That's why they should stay the hell out of the kitchen! Ooo, and Taylor Dayne was on the show promoting her new album. She performed twice, actually. It was so much fun.

The only "downside," although that's a strong word, is that when I got home and watched today's episode online, I noticed that our faces got waayyy to much airtime. It wouldn't be a big deal if we weren't blowing off work, but we were! The funny thing is, M made a point of introducing us to every single person who worked on the show, including the camera men, so one of them kept putting the camera in our faces. I'm sure he thought it was a nice thing to do, cuz he didn't know we were ditching work. Oh well! I can't wait to watch tomorrow's show when I get home. The show airs here live at 11:00,but at 3:00 you can access it on the web. I almost watched it at school, since I had to go back for my after school program, but I thought that might be pushing it a bit.

This was the best school day I've had all year!! We've already made arrangements with M to come back on Monday, February 11. She told us it's going to be a BIG giveaway day. Yay! Luckily that's our next teacher institute day, so the kids are off anyway. Today we got some Garrett's Popcorn (those of you from Chitown know what a huge deal that is!) a book by Kim Lyons from The Biggest Loser, and a bracelet from Not bad, huh?

Yikes! The season premier of LOST is starting! Gotta go!!!
I get by with a little help from my friends. ---John Lennon

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


The babies cracked me up all day today. It was just a silly day all the way around. At 11:30, smack in the middle of art, we were treated to a play put on by some local high school students. Naturally, things were running a bit behind, so when Dori and I came back from prep and met our classes in the auditorium, they hadn't started yet. Good for us! We didn't miss any of the show. I have to say, the high school kids did a wonderful job. They did their own versions of The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Ridinghood, and another play based on an African folktale. They were great. I hope they'll come back again.

I had planned to rant again about our reading interventionist, but I just don't have the strength. She infuriates me to the point of wanting to rip her hair out! Let me just tell you how the morning with her started. She showed up at 10:00, again 10 minutes AFTER she was supposed to already be in Dori's room, and says, "I figured I'd wait til you were done with your stuff before I came." Yeah, right!! It's more like you were busy doing jack shit like you always are!! OK, I'm stopping now cuz I could write volumes about this!

After all the DIBELS testing I've done these past couple of weeks, I needed to adjust my reading groups a bit. Today, I called each new group over so we could come up with group names. Before the switch, I had 6 small groups going. There were two groups each for benchmark, strategic and intensive students. The groups were all named after Chicago sports teams. We had the Cubs and Sox (benchmark) Bears and Bulls (strategic) and Blackhawks and Fire (intensive).

Now we only have 5 groups. I tried to steer the kids toward picking names that connected to the color of their level. (That's mostly because their senile old teacher has trouble remembering what groups they're in!) The first group to come over were the 6 highest in the benchmark (green) group. I tell them that we're going to pick new names for our groups and asked for suggestions. C.B. says, "The Good Kids!" so matter-of-factly, I couldn't help but giggle. I asked them to brainstorm about things that are green that they could be called. They came up with trees, frogs, turtles and grass at first. My buddy D.J. is in this group, and he immediately suggested money. We tried to vote, but they each kept voting for their own suggestion. They're so funny. D.J. kept insisting they should be called The Moneys, and he did his best to persuade the rest of the group. I gotta give the kid an A for effort, that's for sure! Then I think I may have suggested green M&Ms, and they went nuts. So, their new name is now the Green M&Ms. Yum! My favorite! The other 6 children in benchmark came over, and after going over the list the last group suggested, they voted on being the lizards. Great! Two down, three groups to go!

The first of the strategic (yellow) groups came over and did their brainstorming. After much deliberation, we still couldn't get a consensus. Each of them kept voting for their own suggestion. One of my boys, C.B., almost made me cry. He, like the others, kept voting for his own suggestion up til this point. It was The Sunflowers. I explained to the group that we couldn't pick a name until we had a majority vote. So, he gets this pensive little look on his face, then he sweetly concedes to I.W.'s suggestion, Lemonheads. I swear, I got teary eyed. I guess you had to actually see his face. I then launched into this whole thing about what compromising means, and how very proud I was of him for doing that, and so on. Well, then the third member of the group gave in, too. Yay, we had a name! I then said to I.W., "What do you say to your group?" She immediately said, "Thank you!" and then proceeded to hug them both at the same time. It was so damn adorable, I almost cried again. God, I love these babies!!!!

The second strategic group came over and listened to the unused suggestions of the first yellow group. Since M&Ms and Lemonheads are both candy and edible, I suggested they might want to think of something edible for their name. The first suggestion was Bananas, which is actually one of the names I had been thinking of myself. Another one of them suggested cheese, and still another suggested macaroni and cheese. Cuz, afterall, it's yellow!! Then, one of them decided since the other yellow group was The Lemonheads, they should be The Cheeseheads. Awesome! The rest of the group immediately gave the name a thumbs up, and so they were named.

The last group to be named was my intensive (red) group. Out of the four of them, two were absent today, and the other two were at the back table with the RI. So, I took it upon myself to name them The Cherries. After realizing that four out of the five groups had edible names, I called the Lizards over and explained the situation to them. I asked them if maybe they wanted to change their name, so they started to brainstorm again. After a few minutes and several suggestions, they came up with....wait for it....The Salads!! I kid you not! Hey, it's green and you can eat it! Enough said!

One of the babies in the red group came up to me after I read off the names of the groups and who was in each group. He was visibly upset that I read his name off with the red group. He was in the red group last time, but when I tested him this time, he really did move up to yellow. However, he made it by the skin of his teeth, so I intended to keep working with him in the red group. Actually, he scored yellow in the one assessment that was weighed the heaviest, but red in the other four. I feel he should keep working with the other reds. But, as he gently reminded me, "When I took my test, I moved from the red to the yellow." He was so upset, that I think I may just have to move him to the Cheesehead group. We'll see how it goes next week.

I hope the day goes well for the sub tomorrow. Although, really, I could care less, cuz I won't be there!!! I'm so excited. I'm actually going to be stealing from CPS again. My friend and I plan to sign in and leave the meeting, as usual, but this time, we're actually going to be doing something fun. My friend's friend is the producer of the show "In the Loop," an IVillage show, that's live from downtown Chicago every morning. So, we're going to the show. Yay! The hosts of the show are Bill Rancic, Ereka Vetrini and Kim Coles. I'm really most excited about the possibility of meeting Kim Coles. She cracks me up! I suppose I shouldn't wear the warm-up suit I had planned to wear on my "day off." It wouldn't look so hot on TV, huh? My sister is worried that I'm actually going to be on TV, and I'm gonna get busted. I reminded her, however, that anyone from school that might see me on TV would obviously not be working like THEY'RE supposed to, so I'm not worried.

I suppose I'd better hit the sack so I'm fresh-faced and well-rested for tomorrow. I'll be filling you in on what, if anything, happens that's worth telling.

I very often hear, "You are a saint!" when people hear stories about my job. I loved this quote that I found tonight:
Most saints live to regret their career choice. ---Bob Stokes

You ain't kiddin' Bob!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Weather Update

Jerry Taft, our lovely weatherman, just told us that we had a 43 degree change in our weather in about 3 hours. Our high this afternoon was officially 48, and right now it's 5! The wind gusts have hit 50 MPH already, giving us windchill values of 25-30 below zero, and they don't seem to be easing up at all yet. My son is praying we'll have a snow day tomorrow. Ha! That NEVER happens here in Chicago! Keep dreaming, honey!

If you don't like the weather in Chicago, wait 5 minutes!

What a crazy weather day here in Chitown! When I went to work this morning, it was a balmy 50 degrees. Right now, as I type, there's a blizzard outside my window, and temperature is a frigid 17 degrees, with a windchill of -2! Yikes!

While we were walking back from a bathroom break this afternoon, I was walking backwards, facing the babies, like I usually do. Because there was another class in the hallway, we were walking on the "wrong" side of the hall. There is a desk that sits in the hall, where one of our crack security staff sits all day. Well, needless to say, as I was walking backward, I walked right smack into the corner of the desk. Ouch! The babies were so cute, as they all immediately starting asking, "Are you ok?" My buddy D.J. pipes in with, "Well, I know that had to hurt! That was right on the corner!" He killed me! He was genuinely concerned though, which was so touching and sweet. God, I love that kid!

This month for science we've been studying all about penguins. Some of you may recall I have a sick, almost twisted obsession with these tuxedoed little darlings. Our penguin unit usually extends a bit longer than it really should, but luckily the babies never seem to mind. We started making penguin puppets yesterday, and we got as far as coloring and cutting out the body parts. Today we glued to parts to a paper bag to create the puppet. Shoot! I just realized I forgot to download the pictures I took of them. Anyway, as I was circulating the room, helping the babies, one of them says to another, "Wow, that is a nice penguin!" I was cracking up! I love when they sincerely compliment each other. This class is especially complimentary of each other, and it's great. It's not unusual to hear, "That looks pretty!" or "You color nice!" on a daily basis. I hope they don't outgrow that trait.

Time for a little something not related to school. Just in case you missed it yesterday, the Hawaii Chair made it's debut on Ellen! My friend, Melissa, who has a morning show here in Chicago, is planning on getting one, then going around Chicago taping people using it at work. I've already volunteered to use it at school!

If I could go back to weather for just a second, it's a good thing it was so "warm" earlier, because one of our little darlings in the first grade decided it would be fun to pull the fire alarm today. We had to rush out, obviously, and we didn't stop for our coats. Thankfully, it wasn't -2 like it is now, or my babies would have been in trouble! As for M.S., the little darling who pulled the alarm, I hope he survives the next couple of days at home while being suspended. I had him in my class last year, and know his parents well. The don't believe in sparing the rod, that's for sure! I just hope he doesn't have any visible bruises or black eyes on Friday when he comes back. The nurse already threatened to call DCFS last year on the parents when he came to school with nasty bruises on his arm. I could go on about this, but I'm choosing to let it go.

Suddenly, there are wind gusts blowing so hard against the window, I'm no longer comfortable sitting here. They've been warning us about this storm for days and it's here full force. I think I'd better get off this computer and away from these windows.

Don't knock the weather. If it didn't change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn't start a conversation. ---Kin Hubbard

This is one of my favorite penguin pictures. It hangs on my fridge. And, yes, I DO know I'm a dork, thanks!! Wait til I post the pictures of my all-penguin bathroom!

Monday, January 28, 2008

I've got mail!

Only in Chicago can we go from windchills of 30 below one day, then 50 degrees the next. All the snow melted this afternoon in the "heat." However, the temperature is supposed to take a drastic turn for the worst, and it'll be in the single digits again tomorrow. Ah, this is why I LOVE Chitown!!

I want to share a couple of things that were in my inbox today. This video goes into the same category as these two favorites:

If you'll indulge me for a moment, I haven't really complained about the Hell-Hole lately. OK, I've complained, but I haven't bitched. Here goes...

The woman who is our 'reading interventionist' is really just such a waste of skin sometimes! I realize that's a bit harsh, but it's the truth! I may have mentioned before that, despite the fact that she's supposed to have been working with our kids since September, she didn't start actually doing anything until after the Christmas break. She's supposed to take a small group of kids every morning during our reading block. Her time to be in my room is supposed to be 9:10-9:40, then she's supposed to go next door to Dori's room from 9:40-10:30. Well, she has NEVER once come to my room before 9:45. (Naturally, that usually means she doesn't even go to Dori's room!) Even then, she's NEVER prepared to do anything!!! Most days, she just sits at the back table and plays with whatever crap she's brought with her that day. Generally, she shuffles papers. Since she's started showing up, she's taken a group of children exactly 4 times. 4 times!!!! Today, she showed up at 9:50. When she walked in, I said, "I'll send your group over." She yells, "NO! Don't send a group! I don't know who they are, or what I'm going to do with them!" What the hell!? Why are you here then, for God's sake!!? Then, after I told her who I was sending her, she then leaves the room to "get materials." Why the hell didn't you bring them with you, idiot!!? WHY would you show up without the things you need to do your damn job?! Ugh!!! SOOOO aggravating!! Then, like she does at least twice a week, she stopped in later to say she wouldn't be able to take her group in the afternoon (like she's supposed to every day!!) because she has a "meeting." How many freakin' meeting do you need to have every week? She uses that excuse at least twice a week! She certainly isn't going to professional development meetings to learn what the hell she's supposed to be doing! I want to slap the crap out of her sometimes! She really makes my blood boil! Time to change the subject...

I lost another baby today. I don't think I mentioned last week that one of the babies transferred out of my class. Another transferred today. And she was absolutely one of my favorites! I'm so sad that A.B. has left me. Of course, she's one of the brightest kids in the class. That's always the way it goes. The top kids always leave, which contributes to the Hell-Hole being such a low-performing school. I really don't want to go off on that tangent so...

Here's another email I received today that made me smile. Enjoy!

Natural Highs

1. Falling in love.

2. Laughing so hard your face hurts.

3. A hot shower.

4. No lines at the supermarket.

5. A special glance.

6. Getting mail.

7. Taking a drive on a pretty road.

8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.

9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.

10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.

11. Chocolate milkshake (or vanilla or strawberry).

12. A bubble bath.

13. Giggling.

14. A good conversation.

15. The beach

16. Finding a 20 dollar bill in your coat from last winter.

17. Laughing at yourself.

18. Looking into their eyes and knowing they love you

19. Midnight phone calls that last for hours.

20. Running through sprinklers.

21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.

22. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful.

23. Laughing at an inside joke with FRIENDS

24. The smell of a baby's head.

25. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.

26. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.

27. Your first kiss (either the very first or with a new partner).

28. Making new friends or spending time with old ones.

29. Playing with a new puppy or kitten.

30. Having someone play with your hair.

31. Sweet dreams.

32. Hot chocolate.

33. Road trips with friends.

34. Swinging on swings.

35. Making eye contact with a cute stranger.

36. Making chocolate chip cookies.

37. Having your friends send you homemade cookies.

38 Holding hands with someone you care about.

39 Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change.

40. Watching the expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you.

41. Watching the sunrise.

42. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day.

43. Knowing that somebody misses you.

44. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.

45. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think.

Our children are the cement of life, its up to us to make the foundation of the future! ---Stephanie Cook

Friday, January 25, 2008

One of my favorite things....

I was inspired by Laura to mention one of my favorite things to soothe my cracked, dry lips. And, believe me, since we've been having a cold snap, with windchill temperatures of up to 30 below lately, my lips need soothing more than ever!

I LOVE this stuff from C.O. Bigelow, available at Bath and Body Works. I prefer this version, with mint, but they also have plain, as well as other flavors. Right now, BBW has a sale on this stuff for $5. It's regularly $7.50, so that's quite a deal. I'd probably pay $10, though, cuz I love it!

Another waste of a day in the Hell-Hole!

I don't even have to post anything today, cuz Miss R said it all on her post!!! Thank you!!

I decided not to burn a sick day, and went in today. Actually, I was going to use a personal day. Good thing I didn't because when I looked at my check stub today, I saw that we STILL haven't received our personal business days yet for this year. What the hell?! And, I know it isn't just mine, cuz I asked around. I was able to meet some friends who work at another school for lunch this afternoon, and they haven't received theirs yet, either. God, I love CPS!

My "baby" went on a shadow day at the high school he will be attending in a few short months. Talk about feeling melancholy this morning. I was such a psycho this morning when I dropped him off at the school. I swear, as I watched him walk away, all I saw was the baby that I took to preschool 10 years ago walking away. It was like a sappy Hallmark commercial. I know, I'm pathetic! He looked so handsome, wearing the school uniform for this Catholic boys' school: dress shirt, tie, dress pants, dress shoes, even a belt!! That, combined with the fact that he's recently lost over 30 pounds, made him look like a man! I couldn't take it! My little man/boy!! One bonus for me, though, is that I left school an hour early so I could pick him up. He was barely in the car before the tie AND dress shirt came off! He'd better get used it! Just like I'd better get used to getting a THIRD job so I can pay his tuition!

If you didn't click on the link above to Dori's blog, be sure and do it so you can see how staff meetings go in the Hell-Hole! Have a great weekend!
We've had bad luck with our kids - they've all grown up. ---Christopher Morley

Sadly, they all do....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hula Chair

Hey, I found a competitor for the Hawaii Chair. Equally as stupid, with the added bonus of a creepy guy in the infomercial. What do you think is going through his head as he watches this chick gyrating on this thing?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I dot a code in my node

I feel worse today than I did yesterday. Boo hoo! When I walked into my classroom this morning, my trusty little thermometer said 99-God-blessed-degrees!!!! Oh, did I mention the windchill was below zero here in Chicago this morning? Opening the window didn't work so well today. The only window I can open is directly behind my desk, which is usually perfect, but when the wind blowing in has a windchill temperature in the negative, it's not helpful! Sitting in a room that's almost 100 degrees with a stuffed up nose, scratchy throat, and a headache should be the newest form of torture used by our armed forces!! AND, don't forget the 27 five-year-olds that you need to supervise and shape into the future of our country!

***Breaking News***
Be sure to check out my friend Laura's blog. This Hawaii Chair thing is out of control!

Keeping it short tonight because I need to go to bed. Thank God tomorrow is our last day with the kids. They get Friday off for a teachers institute day. I just may be taking my first sick day this year if I'm not feeling better by then.
If your mom's asleep, don't wake her up. ---Amber, age 10

Smart thinkin', Amber. Now go tell my son!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I don't feel good....

At some point last night, I started feeling "icky." Scratchy throat, runny/stuffy nose, sinus pain and pressure, the works. It was even worse when I woke up this morning. I seriously considered turning the alarm off, calling in sick, and going back to sleep. Especially after I realized it was Tuesday, not Monday, and that meant I'd have to work until 5. If I didn't have to take my son to school, it might have just happened. That, and the fact that I didn't want to throw away the after school money. It's more like, I couldn't afford to throw it away.

Not much happened today, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. When the babies came in this morning, I told them right away that I didn't feel good. Actually, a couple of them commented on my stuffy nose. I told them that my head was killing me ( a combination of a sinus headache, and the onset of a monthly migraine, although I didn't share that with them!) so they needed to be really quiet today so my head didn't hurt so much. I told them that if my head started hurting too bad, then I'd have to go home and go to bed. They are so sweet. They all tried to be very quiet and work on their assignments without making a lot of noise. They even kept reminding each other to "be quiet. Mrs. L has a headache!" Gotta love them! A couple of them suggested that I put my head down during rest time and try to sleep so my head would feel better. Awwww.

I had one baby left to DIBEL today. He scored all zeros last time, which is why he was on the list to be tested last. Well, whatta ya know? He moved himself up to benchmark (green)! All my kids have been tested now, and only 1 is still in the red/intensive group. I'm amazed! The rest are almost all in benchmark. I'm so proud of them!

I'd love to keep blabbing, but my head is killing me still, so I'm going to get into my warm, fuzzy jammies, and curl up in bed with some tea. Oh, and just in case you didn't check out the previous post, please be sure to watch that video!! It had me peeing on myself. I've probably watched it 237 times now, and it's funnier every time I see it!!
You always feel better when your drink peppermint tea and take a hot bath. ---Tammi, age 15

I'm taking Tammi's advice. Good night!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Is it just me...

or is there a perverted quality to this infomercial? I realize my mind is usually in the gutter, but come on!! I think the old guy meant to say, "It feels great on my ASS!" The hostess looks like she's holding on for dear life. The first girl, in the pink sweater, is either fighting not to laugh, or she's getting a little "extra" from this thing!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Frigid Friday!

I just checked, and it's currently 15 degrees outside, with a windchill of -1. Whoo hoo! Talk about brisk! Unfortunately, I just had to stop for gas on the way home. Naturally, I was wearing a hooded, zip-up sweatshirt, so needless to say, it was a bit nippy! Did I mention the 26 mph wind gusts? It probably wouldn't have been so bad if I wasn't wearing a short-sleeved summer shirt under my sweatshirt. But, despite the temperature being in the low teens this morning, my classroom was 96 steamy degrees when I got to school. And it stayed that way all damn day!!!! That kind of heat all day makes me physically sick to my stomach most days. I had the window behind my desk open all day, but it didn't do much to alleviate the oppressive heat.

I'm really irritated with myself for not remembering to bring home the pile of scribbles on my desk. All week, I've been writing down the funny things the babies have been saying during testing. It's funny how almost all of them misunderstood the same words used in the section where they're supposed to come up with sentences. Most of them, when given the word meant, said, "I like to eat meants." (mints!) For felt, the ones that came up with a sentence almost all said, "I felt, " ("I fell.") Several of them used woman by saying, "My mom is a woman."

Today was a rough morning with my darling little boy. Without boring you with all the details, I was hoarse by the time we got to his school. Anyway, when I pulled into the parking lot at work, I realized that in all the madness, I left my bag on the kitchen table with my crock pot, apple peeler/corer/slicer, sugar and cinnamon. Ooo, I was SOOOO pissed! My poor babies! Well, as soon as they walked in, I let them know, and they actually were really good about it. I told them I would cut the apples I had saved, and they could eat them later. Well, one of my moms came in to see if I still needed anything for the 'apple party,' and I told her what happened. She said, "Oh, I have a crock pot! I'll go get it, and I'll be right back." How sweet! Of course the babies got all excited. C.B.'s mom came back about 20 minutes later. Unfortunately, the crock pot she had was one of those little ones you might use to keep a dip warm. There was no way we could use it for our purposes. C.B.'s mom also brought us a bag of sugar, and a jar of cinnamon. I think she went and bought them, as they were both new, unopened containers. Again, so sweet! What we ended up doing was not cooking the apples, but I used another apple cutter I had at school (the kind you push down over the apple and it cuts out the core, and wedges the apple into 8 pieces) and then sprinkled cinnamon sugar over the pieces. The babies went nuts! They actually said they liked it better than the cooked apples. Thank goodness everything worked out for the best. I hate disappointing the babies.

Well, this is a perfect night to take a long soak in a hot tub, so I bid you adieu! What a great start to a nice, loonnggg weekend. Happy Birthday, Dr. King!

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. ---Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What a very productive day!

I managed to finally get all the progress reports entered into the system today for the after school program. Yay! I also managed to get my report cards entered into the system, as well. Double YAY! That takes a lot of pressure off me for next week. Hmmm, maybe I'll even take next Friday off....

Monday and Tuesday of this week, I went to school with "straight" hair. I just blew it dry, no big deal. But, of course, the babies all had something to say. Then, yesterday, it was back to normal, crazy and curly. Today, I clipped the top back, and it was extra curly because there was wet snow falling this morning. My darling little B.G. said to me "Your hair looks like roses!" Out of the mouth of babes! I took it as a compliment! Especially because she had just come back from Art, where she drew pictures of roses.

We'll be having another "apple party" tomorrow, and the babies can't wait. I'm bringing my extra large crock pot this time so the babies can get their fill.

Getting back to the snow for a minute (Laura, this is for you!), it snowed all afternoon. We're supposed to have a major cold front moving through in the next few days. They're talking about record breaking cold. It's supposed to hit 2 degrees Saturday. Yikes! I actually had to wear my hooded sweatshirt tonight when I left school. As much as I love snow, I'm hoping it's just more cold than snowy, because I need new tires in a bad way. I'm trying to not buy them, though, since my car is almost 11 years old, and I'm thinking of getting a new one this spring. It's already almost February, so I'm hoping my luck holds out!
(Ok, it's about 10:30 now, and I just watched the weather report. It's currently 6 degrees outside, with a windchill of -4! I know my ChiTown defectors remember the days of windchills, don't ya? The windchills are predicted to hit -30 this weekend. I suppose now I'll have to look for my damn coat in the morning!)

Snowflakes are kisses from heaven. ---Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

So far, so good...

Well, as far as I know, there hasn't been any bounced checks yet today. I don't want to jinx myself, so I'm going to change the subject.

Today was a LONNGGG day, so I'll save my stories for tomorrow. Nothing much to say about school today, anyway. I had a Parents' Club meeting tonight, and didn't get home until after 9:30. I'm tired, and I still have laundry to do, and lunches to make. On that note, I bid you good night!
The phrase "working mother" is redundant. ~Jane Sellman

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What a great way to end the day!

Before I get to my day, let me tell you how it ended. I had an interview with a woman who used to work with our school through a research project she's doing at UIC. We've been trying to set up this interview for months, and we were finally able to set up things for today. All I kept thinking about all day was "Elisa is coming! Yay!" We really hit it off from the minute we met last year, and although she isn't working in our school anymore, we've stayed in touch. She's the sweetest woman you'll ever meet. The interview today was for research she's doing for a grant she's trying to get to study the effects of stress on teachers. (I think that's accurate, sorry Elisa!) I basically got to sit and blow off steam for over an hour, telling her all the things that piss me off and stress me out about my job. It was a bit therapeutic, actually!

Just being able to visit with her was enough for me. However, when it was time for her to get going, she handed me an envelope. Apparently, funding allowed for the teachers being interviewed to receive a $50 stipend. Sweet! What an unexpected bonus!

The funny thing is, I've been walking around without a cent in my purse for two days. Yesterday morning, I pulled into the Dunkin Donuts down the street from my son's school, like I do every morning, to order my coffee. As I was waiting to order, I realized I didn't have any cash. But, I didn't worry because I always have Dunkin Donut gift cards with me. (Everyone in my family gives them to me for every occassion!) Well, lo and behold, when I reached the window, I found out this DD doesn't take them! They don't have the machine to run them through! The man waiting on me is the same man that waits on my every morning (I think he may be the owner) and he was so sweet. He just said, "Don't worry about it, get it next time." What a doll! It would have been very difficult to get through the day at the Hell-Hole without my coffee!

I had intended to stop at the bank yesterday after work, but my son and I had appointments at the dentist. By the time we got out of there, the bank was closed. I ended up borrowing $5 from my son this morning just so I could be sure to stop at DD and pay for yesterday's coffee. Anyway, the point of this saga was, I was going to try and go to the bank today, but thanks to Elisa, I didn't have to. And, I was able to give my son his money back right away, which believe me, was a big deal. Now that he's older, he's very selfish about his money. He never minded when I had to "borrow" money from him before, but now, I almost had to leave him some collateral, for Pete's sake!!

Now besides the money I received for the interview, today, being Tuesday, was an afterschool day, so I was already getting paid to be there. It was a banner day for my pocketbook. Ooo, one more thing. Last week, the board screwed up my check, and only paid me 3/4 of my salary. The rest of what they owed me arrived today! Sheesh, I should have money coming at me like this everyday! Wouldn't that be nice....

On that note, I'm off to eat the onion, swiss and asparagus frittata that I made for dinner. Yum!
Pay me for my work but I don't do it for the money. ---Vanna Bonta

What a perfect quote!

Ooo, I forgot one!! This morning, my ex-husband called to tell me that his job has been screwing up my child support payments (which I told him about months ago!!) and that they were sending me a check for what they owed me. It'll be around $400!! Ok, now I'm getting a little nervous. That's money from too many places all on one day. Does that mean I'm gonna bounce a check soon?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Yikes! It was 18 degrees today!

The temperature dropped severely today. It's supposed to be cold all week. It's been snowing on and off all afternoon. I love it!!! I might even have to break out my coat....

The babies all asked me, the second they walked in the door, when we were going to make more cinnamon apples. They're too cute. I actually put a request in my newsletter this week for some supplies for having another 'apple party.' I asked for sugar, cinnamon and Dixie cups to serve them in. One of my moms already told me at dismissal that she would send in cups. Yay!

We've been reading about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. everyday since we came back from vacation. Today, we colored pictures of him, and started writing our 'dreams' to hang up in the hallway. I hope I get them all finished tomorrow. Next Monday we're off in honor of his birthday, so I'd like to have them up before then!

Next week is going to be a nice one, that's for sure. Like I said, we're all off Monday for MLK, then the kids are off Friday, too, for a teacher institute day. Then, the following week, we have another in-school field trip on Wednesday, and I'll be out on Thursday for a workshop. That takes us right to February! So, no complaints out of me, I promise. This is when my non-teacher friends start their bitching about "teachers get so much time off!!" Well, let me rub it in a bit...we also have Monday, Feb. 11-no school for the kids, Tuesday, Feb. 12-no school, Lincoln's Birthday, and Monday, Feb. 18-no school, Presidents' Day. Yay for us! My stock answer for those ignorant enough to say we get too many days off is, "Come spend ONE day with me at school, then tell me if you feel the same." It worked for my brother! He's never said another word about it.
You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance. ---Franklin P. Jones

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mmmm....what is that wonderful smell?

You'll be glad to read that, although I wrote down a bunch of funny answers from today's DIBELS testing, I left the paper on my desk. Believe me, I realize not one of you enjoys these little stories the same way I do!

This week we started a new unit in reading. The theme is food. As I mentioned Tuesday, we read a book called Apple Farmer Annie. In the back of the book are some recipes for applesauce, apple bread and apple muffins. When we read the book on Monday, I told the babies I would bring my "cooking pot," (aka, my crock pot) and we would make the applesauce recipe. Actually, I figured we would just make cinnamon apples, since I didn't think the crock pot would cook them enough for applesauce. I asked our lunch lady to save us some apples, which are abundant in the lunchroom, which she did yesterday. Today, as promised, I brought the cooking pot, sugar and cinnamon, and my apple/peeler/corer/slicer. (The greatest invention ever!! It's from the Pampered Chef, and I LOVE it!!)

We skipped our usual morning routine, and went right to work. I had intended to let each one of the babies do an apple on the machine, but then I realized I couldn't possibly use 27 apples. Luckily, they were perfectly content to just watch me do it. Admittedly, the machine is totally cool to watch, so I wasn't that surprised. I chopped the apples, put them in the pot, added the sugar and cinnamon, and a little water, and turned the dial. By lunchtime, the room had the most delightful aroma wafting through it. I wanted to let them cook as long as possible, so went to our usual snack time, then came back and enjoyed the apples during the last half hour of the day.

The babies LOVED it! By the time I started serving the last table, the first table was already asking for seconds. The whole "project" was so easy, I told the babies we could do it every week. Like I said, we have more apples than we can use in the lunchroom. Most get thrown out at the end of the week. Next week, though, I'm going to bring at least two crockpots because there really wasn't enough to make them happy. Even though the pot was literally filled to the top in the beginning, once they cooked down, there wasn't as much as I thought there would be. And, every single one of them eat their serving, which certainly doesn't happen when they just get the apple for snack.

I had intended to post some photos for you of our 'apple party,' but of course, I didn't remember to bring my digital camera today. I guess you'll just have to take my word for it : )

One of the girls I had dinner with tonight suggested I use a potato masher next week on the apples once they're cooked, to actually turn it into applesauce. She's so smart!

Well, it's time to get my own "baby" into bed. He's taking the entrance exam for the high school he wants to attend tomorrow morning, bright and early! He needs his rest, so I'm off to be Mean Mommy! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's DIBELS time again!

Well, the DIBELS window opened this week. Time for the middle of the year (MOY) assessments. Today was the first day I even had a chance to do any testing, and I didn't get very many kids tested. We were told to start with our highest kids, so that the lowest get another week or two of instruction before being tested. Quite frankly, my very lowest are so low, I could test them NEXT January, and they wouldn't do any better.

MOY assessments are much more involved than the beginning of the year (BOY) assessments. This time, there are five components to the test. It's the same three from the BOY, plus nonsense word fluency (nwf) and phonemic segmentation (ps). For the nwf part, the kids have to look at non-words and either read them, or at least say the sounds the letters in the word make. Some examples would be the word jit or mib. They can either read the word ("jit") or say the sounds individually (/j/, /i/, /t/) They get credit either way, although it's prefered that they actually read the word. The ps component requires the kids to do pretty much the opposite. I say a word, and they tell me all the sounds they hear. For cat, they would say /c/, /a/, /t/.

Needless to say, the babies definitely provided me with some laughs today! It was actually nice to start with the highest kids, since the tests go a little faster. I kept a piece of paper on my desk as I tested to write down the funny things they said. Most of the funny answers came during the word usage fluency (wuf) component. To refresh your memory, I give the kids a word, and they have to use it in a sentence. The words they give are a bit ridiculous, though, for kindergartners. Let's see, aren't meant and path words they use regularly?

I tested C.B. first. He did amazingly well on the first 4 components. I told him he was doing so well, and that he was so smart. He says, "Sometimes, when I stretch, it makes my brain work better!" He's so cute! The last component is the wuf component, so I gave him the first word - fence. He just looked at me with this half-smile/half-confused look that just made me giggle. THEN, he proceeds to bend over and wiggle a bit. You know, to get his brain working! Too funny! Next word - which. Naturally, all but one of the children heard "witch." He said, "A witch is scary." Yay, 4 points! Next word - nobody. "Nobody even cares!"

Next up, A.B. She is one of my top two readers. She scored 100% on the first four components of the test. When she was given the word which, she said, "A witch is for Christmas." Huh?

Number three was my buddy D.J. He also achieved a near-perfect score on the first four components. So smart, that one!! His sentence for which was, "A witch flies in the sky." For nobody, he said, "Nobody plays with me." Aaww, that made me sad! The last word I gave him was woman. He says, "Woman like coffee." Hmm, could that have anything to do with the ever-present Dunkin Donuts cup on my desk or in my hand? He made me giggle, too!

Our next contestant was P.M. He is definitely the brightest of my stars. You may recall, he came to me already reading in September. He was the only child who used which the 'right' way. "Which one should I choose?"

The last one I tested today was D.D. It seems there may be some security issues at his house. "The fence goes all around the yard." "The gate was open." He actually scored the highest of all the babies so far on this component. He has wonderful oral language skills. "The witch is flying on her broom." "The coach is teaching us basketball." "I meant to say 'I love you.'" (that's probably my favorite!) "The woman came through the gate." D.D. transferred in last month, so I didn't give him the BOY assessment. I had no idea that he would score so high on the DIBELS assessment.

So far, so good. All five babies that I tested scored in the Benchmark (green) category. I really hope some of the ones in Intensive (red) move up, at least to Strategic (yellow). Well, I've got two weeks to drill them. Let's hope it does some good!

Maybe I should focus on this:
If life were measured by accomplishments, most of us would die in infancy. ---A.P. Gouthey

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It was a whale of a day!

We had an unexpected surprise today. (Well, ok, we were told about it, but then I forgot!) We had an in-school field trip! Some people from the Shedd Aquarium came and did a presentation about beluga whales. Specifically, they talked about Qannik, a baby beluga that was born at the Shedd. The kids really enjoyed it. As an added bonus, each child received a coupon for five free admissions to the aquarium. I'm thinking that Dori and should plan a trip to the aquarium for this spring.
Here's a girl after my own heart:
If kids are brats when you babysit, don't lie and and tell their parents that they were angels because the next time you babysit, they'll be brats again. ---Cassie, age 15

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

When's our next day off?

OK, how sad is it that we've only been back to school for two days, and I'm already counting down to our next day off. That would be 8 days, by the way, thank you Martin Luther King! Actually, that's going to be a nice week. We are all off Monday, Jan. 21 for MLK, then the kids are off on Friday, Jan 25 for a teacher institute day. Sweet!

Today for reading we read Apple Farmer Annie. We were discussing the pictures on each page, and discussing the vocabulary from the story. Basically, the book is about Annie who grows apples (duh!), then harvests them, and makes applesauce, apple pies, apple cakes, apple muffins and apple cider. Then, she takes all that, and some apples to the market and sells them all. On the page with the market scene, I was asking the babies what they saw in the picture. They tell me some of the things, but then I point to the produce scale in the picture and ask if anyone knows what it is. A couple kids say some goofy things, then one baby says, "A clock!" which wasn't too bad a guess, since it was round, with numbers going around, and a big red "hand." Then another says it's for weighing fruit. Now we're getting somewhere! I keep trying to get the word scale out of one of them, dropping hints, but still having weird answers flying out at me from all over the room. Finally, one yells out, "It's a weigh-clock!" I almost lost it! They are so damn cute!

I realize no one else really gives a hoot, but the babies actually had another wonderful rest time today. I was actually able to get a whole week's worth of lesson plans finished! Once again, they all got an extra treat today. Yay Room 104!

I am going to sign off before I have a chance to write anything negative today. I'm trying to stay positive in the new year! Oo, wait, one more good thing. I signed up today for a workshop I'm supposed to attend for mentors. (Dori's my mentee, of course!) I found out on the way home that two of my friends (women I just graduated with, actually) also received the notice about going, and they're going to sign up for the same day I registered for. It would be nice enough if we were going to get the chance to spend the day together in the same place. But, in a matter of minutes, I was able to convince them to ditch the workshop and just hang out all day together! We'll do lunch, maybe go shopping, who knows. All I know is it'll be fun to see them. Actually, we also made plans to meet Friday night for dinner. What a great way to end our first week back to school.

A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature. ---Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, January 7, 2008

Alright, that wasn't so bad...

Well, today wasn't as awful as I had anticipated. Thank you, Jesus! I really did miss my babies. I didn't realize how much until they started walking in the door. It was one giant hug-fest! Most of them were so tired from two weeks of being off their school schedule, I think they were calmer than usual. Even D.J. was fairly well-behaved today. They had the best rest time EVER today, as well. Out of the 25 that came today, about 15 of them went to sleep. I hated to wake them up, but I figured I'd better, so that maybe they'll go to sleep at a decent time tonight.

It's funny how much some of the babies seemed to have changed in two short weeks. A couple of them lost some teeth over break, which always makes me smile. I'm a sucker for a toothless grin!!

I only spoke very briefly to El Queso Grande, and it was to ask for a favor. He did it, so I can't even complain about him today. It was great to see my friends, too. All in all, a pretty good day!

My only complaint (come on, you knew there HAD to be one!) was that, despite the fact that it was 64 glorious degrees here in Chicago today, the heat was going full blast in my room. As usual!! It was about 90 degrees (literally!) in my room all day, even though I had the window open. Good Lord, you'd think I'd be able to sweat off a pound or two working in a sauna every day!
Yeah, I WISH I looked like this!! Talk about incentive to stick to my New Year resolution!
A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer. ~Author Unknown

Sunday, January 6, 2008

T minus 13 hours, then it's back to the Hell-Hole....

OK, I'm back a day earlier than I had planned. I was checking out the website for my favorite radio station, and this was posted on one of the DJ's blog sites. Sadly, I can say yes to most of 25 things on this checklist....

Quit Your Job in 2008?
Saturday 12-29-2007 6:32am CT
Better go through the checklist first....
If you have a New Year's resolution to quit your job in 2008, you are not alone. A recent survey found 77% of visitors to the career website are dissatisfied with their jobs and are planning to look for new career opportunities in 2008. If you are still undecided, here are 25 signs you should quit your job in 2008, courtesy of the career website
1. I find it hard to get out of bed in the morning.
2. I often arrive late for work.
3. Once I arrive at work, it takes me a while to actually get started working.
4. I sit at my desk and daydream.
5. I have less patience with customers or co-workers than I used to.
6. I spend time at work doing personal tasks.
7. I look at job websites on the Internet when I'm at work.
8. I get impatient with rules and red tape at work.
9. I take longer breaks than I should.
10. When I have to phone people as part of my job I spend more time chatting than I need to.
11. I feel tired during the workday.
12. I don't bother mentioning concerns to the boss because it's usually a waste of time.
13. If I leave the office during the day, I take my time getting back to work.
14. I do the minimum amount of work required.
15. I check the time throughout the day to see how close to quitting time it is.
16. I feel bored at work.
17. I "kill time" during the day by chatting with co-workers or doing other non-essential tasks.
18. I schedule medical and other personal appointments during working hours.
19. I start getting ready to leave work before quitting time.
20. I am out the door as soon as it is quitting time.
21. On the weekends I look at the job classifieds or surf job sites on the Internet.
22. I have called in sick when I could actually have worked.
23. I complain to my friends about my job.
24. I have trouble sleeping on Sunday nights because I'm thinking about having to go back to work.
25. When I'm on holidays I dread going back to work.