Friday, November 30, 2012

Making a Name for Myself

One way celebrities know they've "made it" is when they're finally spoofed on Saturday Night Live. Teachers have a 'tell,' too - You know you've started to make a name for yourself when students you don't even teach bring you items that follow the same theme.

This is my classroom door.
I started this year printing off English-themed jokes and cartoons and taping them onto my department co-workers' doors every Friday. What started as a way to lighten the year grew as students added to my  collection, many times anonymously.

Over the years, students have begun to associate me with Edgar Allan Poe. Once students find something to attach to a teacher, it is amazing what will be given or gifted to her. The Yoda Poe is one I found; however, it was quickly joined by others.

A gift from an anonymous student. Everyone loves Pooh. 

A gift from a current student. Every time I read this, the song gets stuck in my head, but you cannot go wrong with Queen.

More gifts - Harry and Po, from two different students.

This was texted to me.

I have a feeling this is what started it all. A former student who is now in Afghanistan painted this. He didn't want it, so I eagerly snatched it up.  I put it up every year.

Shortly after obtaining the above portrait, I found this in the UVA Bookstore.

Another former student found the soft doll and gave it to me for Christmas several years ago. I found the Raven puppet last summer and purchased that primarily because Syd fell in love with it, but also to use when I teach the poem.

This is just plain funny. 
I am, after all, a self-confessed English nerd.

I have two more drawings from artistic students who have graced my room and subsequently graduated . I took one home to laminate it, so if I remember, I'll snap a picture of it tonight.

My point to this post is that, having spent nearly 8 years in these halls, and finally moving on to the younger siblings of students I've already taught, I am seeing some of the effect I've had on my students' lives. I love my job. I enjoy teaching a great deal, and I cannot express, enough, how much I enjoy their enthusiasm for darkening my room with Poe. The truth is, I enjoy Poe a lot, too, but I'm by no means an expert on his writings. However, it appears that what I say sticks with them, and that is all I could ever ask.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Few Pics - Update

 October is my favorite month. It is so colorful, and here in Virginia, the humidity is finally gone without too much loss of comfort. The air is crisp and clear, and I get to open up the house on a nearly daily basis. And there are pumpkins everywhere! I adore pumpkins. 
Because of my adoration for the month, as a whole, Steve and I decided that was when we wanted to get married. Here, we're celebrating our 11th anniversary at a park with Snickerdoodle. Steve is truly my best friend and my rock, and I'd be lost without him.
 Another thing that makes October so much fun? Halloween!
We were not big celebrators when I was growing up - for a handful of reasons. But I truly enjoy the innocent Halloween (not the "Do what you can to scare the pants off someone" version...). And that is made even more delightful by the fact that Syd is now old enough to understand certain components. He was terribly ill this year, though, so I contacted our next door neighbors to ensure they would be home (and offered to give them something to give him), but we went directly next door, camera clicking, and then came back home so he wouldn't get chilled. 
Here, Syd and Daddy are "Football Mans!"
 November came in like a personal Lion - October ended with Syd's illnesses, and November came in with me scrambling to catch up - see my previous post. And just as I thought I was catching myself, I got hit by a door at school. Here's the nurse's job at making sure I didn't get blood on anything.
 This is the next day. The stitches are in my eyebrow. The bruise is barely noticeable, especially when my eyes are open. But as with many injuries, the bruise, as it began to dissipate and get absorbed back in, sank. Literally. It began to slide down my eye until I caught some fantastic looks from people in the school and in stores.
It is obviously yellowing - finally starting to go away. This is when I went back in to have stitches removed. The doctor said it will still be noticeable for Thanksgiving, so I'm primarily doing this so Dawn doesn't get a fright when she comes in. :-) I don't feel it at all, though, until I forget it is there.
So, November came in like a lion. I'm hoping that the remainder of 2012 is much more sedate than the past few weeks have been. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and truly take a moment to help out others or reflect on all that you're thankful for. My family will be reuniting in town to visit, laugh, love, and check out my Mother's new home. 
My immediate family will also be "Moving our Feet so Others Can Eat" at the annual Drumstick Dash. There is no better way to be prepared for one or more dinners than to work off some calories before dinner while ensuring the less fortunate are able to get a hot meal, as well. 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's a Good Thing...

...I called off NaNo 2012. 

Syd got better. It took awhile, but my gloriously wild, active, inventive baby boy is back.

Then, I got sick.

And I had a conference to go to.

And we had Parent/Teacher conferences.

And I was finally on the mend and thinking I would catch up from Syd's illness when I got hit by life.


My assistant principal hit me with a metal door. I had to get 3 stitches and have worn a purple shiner for the past week.

So, I'm definitely writing off the novel (bah-dum shhh) this year.

I'll post pictures of Syd, family, and said shiner when I get them transferred from my phone.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why I'm Bowing Out

Two years ago, I was introduced to NaNoWriMo by a friend of mine. I incorporated the idea into my classes at school, set a goal of 17,000 for my students (and myself, though anyone over the age of 18 is supposed to achieve 50,000 or more), and tried, valiantly, to write while taking care of a 14 month old, teaching and grading, and helping my husband run the house. I failed miserably - I wrote a grand total of 11,000+ words.

Last year, I tried again. I felt good. I left everything pertaining to school at school. My first steps in understanding, fully, that it was ok to do so (after 7 years struggling with that balance). Steve took on most of the household chores and was persistent in pushing me to write. It was a liberating experience, and breath-taking in its allowance of selfishness and loss of inhibition. And I "won." I made my word count goal with a November 30th count of 50,505 words, which allowed me to obtain 5 free bound copies of my manuscript. After the school year ended, I worked diligently for 3 additional days when I still had a full-time babysitter in Steve's grandmother, and finished my book. I published it myself; It still terrifies me to tell people I've done this. Ironic since I blog about it for the world to see, I know. But the fact is, I'm entirely self-conscious about my writing. Regardless, I feel there is some validity to doing things my way.

Still running on the adrenalin of creative juices, I started to plot out this year's NaNo novel, and awaited, anxiously, for November so I could begin.

Then, Life hit. Isn't that why we HAVE NaNo? Because Life hits all the time and we put things off? I recently taught a lesson in school on Langston Hughes' "Dream Deferred," and I use myself and writing as an example. But the truth is, Life can be quite selfish and vindictive at times.

My sister is doing a fantastic job of forcing Life to take a back seat to her dreams. I could not be more proud of her and all she's accomplished. I feel as though, in a way, we're taking these steps together, just on separate, but parallel, paths.

NaNo was my way for forcing Life to pause for a moment so I could do something selfish and for me. I prepared for November by keeping up with assignments at school, updating the grade book more quickly than I think I have my entire teaching career; I made sure to do small things at home to sanitize or straighten to eliminate the need to CLEAN; I multi-tasked - doing laundry and folding while watching tv or pausing in the middle of cooking to sweep, etc., all so I would be more prepared for the month of literary abandon and writing nonstop, and so my guilt at not being absolute Mommy or Teacher or Wife or (fill in the blank) would allow me to write my sequel to my first book.

Enter Hurricane Sandy and Random Nasty Virus. Syd came down with something horrendous right as the entire East Coast tried to prepare for the disaster. We were very lucky. We had the nearly hurricane strength wind (I think we topped off at 68 mph wind gusts - hurricane strength is 74) - we had rain, we had tree limbs down, we flickered with power. We were exceedingly lucky. My preparations were more necessary for the health of my son than for the hurricane, as I would not make it to school the entire week.

I had to leave early Monday to get Syd, who had a fever and just wasn't himself. He would fight that fever, and refrain from eating or drinking, for the next 3 days. Tuesday we were out of school due to the hurricane. Wednesday, Halloween, I called in to stay home with him. Thursday, I had not even made it through one full class before the school called for me to get him. Friday, he managed to make it an entire day. By that point, I was 2 days into NaNo, and hadn't written a word, and was unbelievably behind at school, and was desperate about getting to school to get supplies for a conference I have to go to tomorrow, and was just feeling... deflated.

I wrote Friday night. I am happy I did. But my heart wasn't in it, and I can't know for sure that my heart will return. We're still battling Syd's illness - he's no longer contagious, but the healing process is long. I've done more laundry the past 3 days than I have in one sitting since the entire family came for Thanksgiving and brought the stomach flu with them.

So, as much as I despair to give in, I am bowing out of NaNo 2012. I fully intend to do this again. I loved letting myself go and writing. I will sketch out my ideas for the sequel, and then let the guilt go. I have, instead, a new goal for the month of November - training.

I was doing well training over the summer. At some point in my life, I would love to run some 10Ks, and hopefully, a half marathon. But then I was interrupted by my own illness. By the time I finally determined what path to take for recovery, it was 3 months later, and we were enmeshed in the new school year. So, it is time to refocus. I have a new pair of running shoes that are crying out for a breaking in. And the Drumstick Dash is quickly coming up. If nothing else, I need to be in better shape if I'm going to pull Syd in his new wagon for 3+ miles!