Sunday, January 25, 2015

Travel Plans 2015

Hi, my name is Carrie and I'm a planner. That's my middle name, my mantra, my own little compulsion. Sure, it's still 11 months 'til Christmas 2015, but I already know where we're headed. It will be a Smoky Mountain holiday for the family since I just put down a deposit on a really pretty lodge. 

In other travel news, we'll be heading to a pretty villa near Orvieto, Italy, for spring break in about six weeks. The Italian countryside should be a fun change of pace since we've done many of the major Italian cities. This is an aerial view of the place. In the distance you can just make out a small olive grove on the property. The 8th grader and kids of the couple traveling with us will no doubt have a blast exploring everything.

That just leaves summer. I've put a deposit on a Mekong River cruise through Cambodia and Vietnam for me and the husband, but we're not fully committed. The college coed is thinking about study abroad in Costa Rica and we've never been there. It seems Spain wasn't too appealing since she has already visited a few times. Plus Costa Rica would give her the opportunity to do some scuba diving, an item on her bucket list. What 20-year-old doesn't want to have pretty beach access in a country where she can buy her own wine for 10 weeks this summer? 

So who knows. Maybe we'll end up in Asia. Or maybe Costa Rica. The 8th grader has expressed interest in a Spanish immersion program in Puerto Rico since her best bud from her former school in England is also considering it. We've all been bitten by the travel bug, it seems. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015

Happy New Year! Where oh where did the last year go… and so danged quickly. At this rate, I'll be dead and buried in the blink of an eye if time doesn't slow down a bit.

We braved the cold, drizzly weather to meet up with the husband's family in Lampasas at the ranch. I spent most of the day parked in a chair near the fireplace in the cook house, alternately watching bowl games and reading my Kindle.

The girls had a chance to visit with their cousins and set off a truckload of fireworks well in advance of midnight that no doubt scared the bejesus out of all the various exotic critters at the ranch. Firecracker couple that we are, the husband and I slept through the end of 2014.

No doubt 2015 will be an interesting year for us. The college coed is headed to a large Texas university when the spring semester begins later this month, moving into the sorority house with what will be her first 40ish friends. The 8th grader will (gasp) register for high school next month. I will find out what my teaching fate will be for next year since campuses are in flux. Sixth grade history? Upper elementary special ed? Only the Lord knows at this point where the path will lead.

I wish all of my family and friends a year full of faith and grace, creating lots of wonderful memories with those you hold near and dear.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Junior Cotillion

The 8th grader grumbled and groused when I signed her up for junior cotillion.  I already know which fork to use. I don't wanna learn how to dance. This will be boring. 

Lo and behold, mom was right and she is really enjoying the experience. The refresher course on dining etiquette was helpful and now she knows the proper procedure for buttering a roll. She can waltz and foxtrot with the best of them. Sure, some of the boys are still shorter than her, but they'll eventually catch up.

The best part was the semi-formal a couple weeks ago. I curled her hair into big fat ringlets at her request, while sitting on the floor with her in front of the full length mirror. She's starting to look more like her sister, the college co-ed. Both girls are all about the pretty eye makeup. They obviously inherited this from their grandmothers since I don't give a hoot about that sorta stuff most of the time.

Here she is in all of her party dress glory with part of my Santa collection as her backdrop.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Veteran, veterinarian, whatever...

A tail tale from the teaching trenches! Every year, students make Veteran's Day cards for the ceremony held on campus. These are distributed to the parents and grandparents that attend the ceremony, men and women who served in the armed forces.

Mrs. G, the 5th gr language arts and social studies teacher that I co-teach with, was talking to the kids about making cards for the vets in honor of the upcoming celebration. She led the class in a discussion about the history of the holiday and gave them some guidance on what might be appropriate wording for the card, typical American symbols for the exterior, coloring it a patriotic red-white-blue, etc. 

A couple days later, Mrs. G pulled me aside in class to share a Veteran's Day card that one of my special ed students had created. It seems this student latched onto the VET part of the lesson, but didn't fully grasp the meaning of the holiday. She had decorated the front of her card with a flag and several dogs. I'm thinking to myself, that's good, flags are appropriate, dogs do serve in the military and it was nicely drawn/colored. Then Mrs. G opened up the card to show me the note inside. My sweet little confused special ed student kindly thanked the VET for taking care of her dogs. She even elaborated a bit, mentioning giving them shots and treats when they're good.

It was so wrong, and yet so terribly sweet and heartfelt. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the family vet for keeping our own Ollie healthy. And sure, my husband, brother-in-law, father-in-law, father and grandfather for their service in the army and air force. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

North, north to Alaska

Today, when the high finally stayed below 80, I was reminiscing about our summer cruise to Alaska. With the start of school and insanity that ensued, I never got around to documenting it.

Here is a taste of the majesty that is our northernmost state.

The scenery was truly breathtaking. Witnessing the salmon swimming upriver was great. Seeing eagles soar and then perch to pose for a pic was magical. The freshly steamed crab pulled out of the crab pots earlier in the day was delicious. It was a memorable family trip and I've got the photos to prove it… just no time to post more than this little blurb.

School is going well for the 8th grader, with fabulous grades and fun things like pep squad as well as junior cotillion. The college coed recently made the decision to move back to an excellent in-state university from the one she attends 1200 miles from home. I honestly don't care where she gets her first college degree, so long as it's done in a timely manner rather than on the decade plan. 

Finally, random observations from the teaching trenches: 5th and 6th grade students these days just aren't familiar with the cool idioms we heard from our parents and grandparents when we were their age. Kick the bucket, an arm and a leg, blessing in disguise, piece of cake, once in a blue moon, sitting on the fence. It makes me a tad sad to realize they're missing out on all of this fun figurative language.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


I'm back in the world of reading and writing instruction and I'm loving it. Bring on the spelling and grammar and figurative language - can't get enough of it. However, it all takes a bit of a twist when you're dealing with students who read at least two grades below their current grade. Or sometimes three and four grades below their current placement. Throw in some attention deficits, dyslexics, a few in foster care, ED, OD and a partridge in a pear tree along with their learning disabilities. That's what I'm working with this year. Some days I feel just as challenged with modifications, accommodations and paperwork as the kids I teach. We're all struggling, for a variety of reasons, within a federally dictated framework that must also have us jump through state mandates which sometimes seem to NOT be in the best interests of our kids. Hopping off my soapbox now before I really get on a roll.

But there are definitely moments of levity. Instead of bashing my head against the wall in frustration, I often find myself amused on any given day. For example, one of my 5th grade girls asked to go to the restroom right before I returned to class from my lunch break, and stayed gone for quite a while. The regular ed teacher in the classroom asked me to go check on her since this student has been known to roam the halls instead of going directly from point A to B.

I trekked from the computer lab down to the bathroom, knocked on the door and inquired if she was OK. The child promptly responded in her best impression of a well educated person speaking to a dullard that she was pooping and would be in there a while. Bahahaha! I need to start writing this stuff down, publish my little memoir of life as a special ed teacher and retire early.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Killing trees right and left

Lord have mercy, I've gotta pick a teaching gig and stick with it! Last year I took a 6th gr science assignment just to get my foot back into the district when we moved home from living abroad. I enjoyed the grade, but not the content. Sooo, I moved over to a special ed co-teach position for 5th/6th grade reading and language arts this year. Those are my subjects!

Alas, the special ed paperwork is enough to make even the most seasoned federal bureaucrat weep in frustration. I enjoy my time in the classroom, teaching the ELAR content and working with the students. I do NOT enjoy filling out forms, sending out forms to teachers, calling up parents to let them know I'm sending home forms, quantifying educational goals and objectives on forms… you get the drift. I guess I should just be glad it's not in triplicate.

I have no doubt I'll finally make the jump to wearing readers over the course of the school year, necessitated by the fact that I'll spend a lot of time staring at a computer program with a zillion different screens in order to prepare for everyone's annual ARD meeting. The special ed lead teacher that is serving as my unofficial mentor has been great and doesn't seem to mind my daily questions and SOS calls for help with this, that and the other. No doubt I'll owe her a big bottle case of fine adult beverages by Christmas as payment for her expertise. 

On the home front, everything is fine. The 8th grader grumbled at the all PreAP class workload the first few weeks of classes, but has settled down into the rhythm of things and is making all As. The coed is up to her eyeballs in sorority happenings, including her new little sis reveal this weekend. She did have to make a trip to the university health center since she was running a fever, but got a good scrip and is about back to 100%. And, as far as we know, she's only put a couple scratches into the paint job of her car since she took it to college. It seems the parking garage at her high rise apartment and the business school are not her fave things to tackle with so little driving experience under her belt.

It's a mere 45 school days until Thanksgiving break. I'm gonna tie a knot in the end of my rope and hang on for dear life. And enjoy one of my favorite songs of all time about my absolute favorite season of all.