Monday, February 28, 2011

What Can I Say?

What can I say?

I love teaching.  I have played "school" since I was 7 or 8.  I always wanted to be the teacher.  I love school supplies.  I wait anxiously for July when Target starts making room over in the seasonal section for all the notebooks, pens, pencils, markers, etc.  Nothing better than that. 

Except maybe getting that new batch of students each fall.  As full of possibility as the new supplies I have purchased with my own money.

What can I say? 

I love getting up at 5:25 am to be at school by 6:30 am to start preparing for my day.  Grading papers, planning lessons, answering emails, managing Student Council projects, and this year--helping other teachers chase down students who have failed to attend tutorial sessions in a timely manner to make up assignments because all assignments must be completed and mastery must be 80 %. 

I teach from bell to bell each class period, and I have the privilege of teaching upper level students.  They present unique challenges, but my master's degree is gifted and talented education. I only have three preps this year.  Last year I had four.

What can I say? 

I stay for tutorials even when it's just me and the crickets because the kids decide they don't need to come to tutorials.  I grade more papers, search for the next great lesson or when I can't find one to suit me, I write it myself.  I have to always keep differentiation in mind, even in a gifted classroom.  Are everyone's needs being met? 

What can I say?

I go home exhausted every day. I have earned every penny that I will be paid.  I will never be rich.  I have student loans I am still repaying 15 years later a dribble at a time.  I originally got an English degree; I would be an editor, a writer, something grand.  It wasn't until a few years after graduation and languishing in retail that I gave in to the call of the siren...the classroom was calling.  I had to answer. 

 Lately the kids have asked me several times what I would be doing if I was not a teacher.  I have no answer.  I honestly don't know.  This is who I am.  This is what I do.  I cannot imagine not getting to go to school every day. 

What can I say? 

The kids teach me most days almost as much I teach them.  I wouldn't trade that.  I wish I could do more for them; many of them have so many needs beyond the classroom. 

I am a counselor, a nurse, a mom, a comedian, an entertainer, a writer, a coach, a disciplinarian, a cook, a confidante, and a cheerleader. 

What can I say?

I cannot understand why a job like mine is under attack.  It's been explained to me a thousand ways, so I do understand and yet, I cannot get my mind around it.  The best way  I understand it is, that frankly we are so busy being dedicated to what we do and the young people we are responsible for, it's been a sneak attack. 

Fair doesn't really come into it, I guess.

I still would like to extend this invitation.  Before you slash school district budgets and the lavish salaries you imagine we are paid, come visit me.  Come see any of us.  Talk to the kids.  Ask them what they think about having to do more with less in the coming years.  Tell them that you expect them to go to college and succeed, but you are going to do even less to help them get there and stay there.  

What can I say?

I've been given a new life lesson to share with my students.  However all this turns out it will not end well for the teachers.  I can feel that.  We will get the short end of the deal.  It's already happening to some teachers, I hear. So I will have real life examples to exhibit for my students of "Life isn't fair."

What can I say?

I plan to be there in the fall, no matter how many faces are looking back at me each class period...and we will make it marshmallow at a time.  I will not be squished!

Dear Claire

Dear Claire,

I'm so sorry about Bado, sweet girl.  Difficult enough to lose one grandmother in a year.  Flat out not fair to lose two.  I know you are a full grown adult now, but as I have discovered, being "all grown up" doesn't mean diddly when you are grieving a grandparent...especially in a close knit family like ours.

I still look at Nonnie's picture nearly every day and ask her, "Where did you go?"  Still hard not to bawl my head off. 

I know, I know...when do I try to start to make you feel better? 

I know you must know this but--be strong in the knowledge that Bado was so proud of you.  She loved being your grandmother.  Your achievements were special to her.  Talk to her often; I talk to Nonnie all the time.  It's a little bit funny, especially when I do it around Mom and it makes us both laugh. 

Revel in what makes you like her, things that will keep you close to her always...even things you may have thought of as flaws the Mott girl big legs I got.  I have a slightly different appreciation for them now because Nonnie had them, too.  I say slightly.  I wouldn't mind having legs more like, say, your mom instead though...she didn't get the Mott girl big legs.  Lucky. 

Collect stories about her.  That's one thing I regret about my Granny, Dad's mom.  I know that she was a very sweet lady who died of lung cancer.  So--love much, be nice to people and don't smoke.  That's what I know about my Dad's mother.  But she died almost 35 years ago.  No one talks about her much now.  I don't hear stories about her. 

Maybe that's something that you and I can do.  Collect stories about our grandmothers.  Someday, Mitchel and you will both have children who will want to know about both of your grandmothers.  Your Facebook page for the grandmothers is a great start.  We just need to add to it. 

We can keep them with us with a little work.  And they are definitely worth it.  They would have done (and did) anything for us.  Remember? 

For now, I hope you have peace knowing how loved you are.  Sending you a big hug. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blast From the Past

I haven't posted in awhile.  Lots roiling around in my head, not that I haven't been thinking about a lot to say...just not sure how best to share it and frankly, not sure if it was worth reading.  My cousin checked in on the blog recently though and was disappointed to see that nothing had been posted.  Well, here goes.

I didn't sleep well last night.  I guess I should have realized something strange was on my horizon.  I forgot to plug in my phone last night and as it is a "smart" phone, it likes to be charged regularly.  I chastised myself as I struggled to wake; still not working out.  Stupid pinched nerve in my back...just when I think it's all healed up I exacerbate it again.  Brian wants me to go have it checked out, but I digress. 

When I checked my phone, I saw not only that it needed to be charged but that I had a Facebook friend request.  Oh goodie. Which former or current student this time? I smiled to myself.  No.  Not a student.  A blast from my past that nearly knocked me down.

An old love. 

When I was 18, we hosted exchange students for the summer.  One beautiful boy from France.  One beautfiul boy from Greece.  And Heather was in Heaven.  They both treated me like I was a princess.  The boy from Greece called me princess in fact.  Siiigggghhh.  The boy from France enjoyed his time in Texas, but remained a little more objective.  He knew that we would stay in touch and we have.  He has a lovely family in France, and he sends me a New Year's email every year.  He is still beautiful.

The boy from Greece wanted me to run away to Greece with him.  He came to grad school in America to be closer to me.  He sent me love letters.  He sent me flowers.  He came to visit me.  His intensity scared the living snot out of me.  We parted badly, naturally.  I have not spoken to him in...almost 15 years.

I have often pictured him on those beautiful white sand beaches in Greece or riding his motorcycle that he loved so much past the Parthenon.

Turns out he's still in Detroit where he went to grad school.  That shattering sound you hear is my illusion crashing to the ground.  Ahhh....youth. 

I'll be interested to see what he's been up to all this time.  I found a knight in shining armor.  He doesn't ride a horse or a motorcycle, but he does slay dragons.  So, I got my fairytale.  It's just not what I thought it would be when I was 18....

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandpa

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Wow!  87!  That's terrific!  You looked great today, though I know how much you wished you were at home instead of the hospital.  I know it won't be long now.  Every time I see you, you look better and better.  You are a tough Marine, it's true. 

I'm sorry Brian couldn't come with me again.  He had to work the over time detail...the big football game in town and all.  But as soon as that's over, I promise to get him out to see you.  You both are fighters when it comes to illness, wouldn't you agree? 

He thinks you are quite strong, too, you know.  It means a lot to him that he can share such a wonderful grandfather with me. Have you ever told him any of your WWII stories?  You should.  He really enjoys that time period.  He knows quite a bit about it...a sort of an amateur expert. 

If I've never thanked you for the way you raised all of us, I should.  It may have seemed like common sense to you and Nonnie, the way you raised your children and then the way they in turn raised all of us, but I think it took a lot more than luck and common sense to such a terrific family.  Not a screw up in the lot of us.  That took a lot of hard work with the common sense parenting.  And it seems to be inherited or passed down or something because as I watch my cousins with their children, it seems that they are raising their children just as well. 

What a gift you gave us all...the love that it took to create a big family that behaves itself and loves one another is without measure.  That kind of love is pretty amazing and I'm grateful every day to be witness to it. 

Thank you, Grandpa.  I love you.

The Big Game?

You know, the biggest NFL game of the season is tomorrow and it's taking place just down the road from my house.  The metroplex has been preparing for it almost since Cowboys Stadium was built.  Brian has been working every day since last Thursday.  And though the extra money will be quite nice, I just can't get myself to give a rip.

The weather might have something to do with my ambivalence.  Everyone trapped in their homes since Monday night.  Very funny, Mother Nature.  I saw in one Facebook post that it's Tom Landry's little gift to Jerry Jones.  Amusing thought, though no matter how much he might deserve to serve the jab, I don't think Mr. Landry would.  Too classy.

I don't fancy either football team playing though I dig the Pittsburgh coach.  Tomlin is very cool.  Young, professional, and setting a good example for other young guys would have the leadership skills to handle such a high pressure position.  The minute I knew that A) Peyton and the Colts would not be in Ft. Worth for the week for me to try to kidnap and B) Brady and the Patriots would not be in town for me to work on with my voodoo doll (kidding!! kidding!! I don't really have a Brady voodoo doll, but I do really have a serious dislike for him), I lost all interest. 

And while on the one hand I have had enough of the solo pre-Spring Break, I'm kind of craving just one more me-day.  Brian has to work tomorrow.  I could spend the day shopping a bit and then just vegging out  before I return to work and real life. 

So, since I can catch up on the commercials on youtube later and I don't care about the Black Eyed Peas half time show (Fergie always wears the weirdest clothes---but she does have fabulous legs...), I may just skip the game this year.  Funny how it feels like I am deciding to skip Christmas this year or something...haha. 

Besides, the football that I really love has already triumphed this year.  Perhaps while I'm out I'll buy some roses to remind myself of that glorious day...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stir Crazy

I'm standing on the bathtub trying to get her!

Darn it Badger woke me up before 7 again this morning.  The snow was too good for him to resist.  And once his feet were wet, he couldn't resist putting them all over my side over the bed before I could get back in there; he's too quick.  And while I was annoyed at being awakened so early, the snow was awfully beautiful.  I took the boys out to play a little while later.  As you can see, they fully enjoyed it.  They stuck their noses in it and rooted around.  They found their buried frisbees and wanted me to throw them.  They wrestled each other over and over down into the snowy piles they created.  Not usually my cup of idea of fun is throwing their frisbee in my parents' pool while I drink a cold one in the shade and/or on a floatie in said pool. 

Once Brian was finally awake, we ventured out into the icy streets; Bear-dog needed food.  Yes!  Sprung from house arrest after four days..even if only for an hour.  I haven't washed my hair in several days, but a hat and pig tails would hide that.  I was really glad Brian was driving.  The driving was slow and slippery. 

When we got home, Brian had to get ready for work.  He walked back into the den, only half ready.  "You need to see your cat," he said.  Uh, okay.  I got up and followed him back to our bathroom.  He pointed up. 

Azalea has always loved to climb.  She climbed the curtains in the little house and would stand on the top of the curtain rod, meowing at the top of her lungs.  Now Brian described how she climbed from the shower to the top of the closet and was now walking around the top of the closet and bathroom.  (See the shot at the top of this entry.)

It took awhile to coax her down. I think she enjoys the attention.  Everyone is sleeping peacefully now.  Brian has gone out to serve and protect, having receieved a phone call on the way out the door that someone was downtown trying to sell tickets to the big game on Sunday.  Gee, you think they are real?  At least someone will be busy tonight.  As for the rest of the Raynsfords...we'll pick up the house and do mommy's pedicure.  Maybe even wash her hair...Look out---it's Friday night again!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Destination....Anywhere But Here!!

I don't mean to whine, truly I don't...but I'm not good with down time.  I would much rather be at school with my kids.  I know.  Weird, right?  What's wrong with me? 

And are the bathrooms clean yet?  Uh negative Ghost Rider, but they really will be before the day is out.  Even I am not that lazy.  Well, they really would already be done but you see, when Darnit Badger woke me up this morning I found the Destination Truth marathon on the SciFi channel.  And I have a little crush on Josh Gates.  And after my confession on Facebook this morning, evidently, I am not alone.  Hee hee. 

I loved it earlier this year when Brian came to school and the kids tried to rat me out.  "Mrs. Raynsford has a crush on that guy from Destination Truth! Did you know?  Did you?  Did you?"  Brian just laughed and laughed.  "Uh, yeah.  She's already confessed," he told them.  They seemed a little disappointed that their tattling had no sting. 

I've always loved seeing the exotic places they go to "find the truth" on this show, but after 3 days being trapped in this house, today it's even more intriguing--even though I've seen all the shows. And sometimes they find some pretty weird, unexplained stuff.  

And now I see that they are inviting a fan to join them on St. Patty's Day in Ireland to look for banshees!  Too bad my passport won't be ready by then.  I would totally do that!!  Of course, Brian would have to reschedule his dr appt and it is my nephew's birthday, but hey---it could be all about me, right?  Just for a day or two?  So I could look for banshees in Ireland with Josh Gates? 

Yeah, I know.  I'm laughing with you.  But it took me away from all the ice and boredom for a minute or two...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside!


Been trapped in the house now since Monday night.  Not looking good for tomorrow.  School districts around us are beginning to make decisions about the morning.  The temperature hasn't been above 24 degrees (!!!!!!) since Monday, and the ice that fell and settled in so comfortably on everything in sight, hasn't melted properly.  (By the way, did you enjoy the thunder-sleet?  I did!  I found the combo fascinating and a little bit scary!)

I have this feeling we won't be going anywhere tomorrow.  But...honestly, it wouldn't hurt my feelings if we went back to school.  Please excuse me as I give you my best middle schooler impersonation....I'M BOORRRREEEDDDD!!!!!
The big game is in town this know that final professional football game of the season that you can't actually put in writing because it's trademarked?  Brian is working long hours in the cold with the fire marshal looking for overcrowded places, gypsy cabs and fake merchandise.  I suppose it's still possible--especially as the game draws nearer.  But as I sit here under a blanket, not having bothered to shower since Monday (What?  Most of you haven't either if you haven't been to work.  Don't judge.  I took a bubble bath last night.)  I find it hard to believe that any place would be overcrowded.  Who would want to be out in this?  Especially since I don't care for either team in the "big game." 

I should be cleaning the bathrooms.  I really need to scrub the tubs especially.  I have been putting it off and finding reasons not to clean for awhile now.  The rest of the house is acceptable.  Could it be dusted?  Um, probably, but would I freak out if you came over right now?  No.  That's the beauty of a big house with too little furniture.  Some day, when we finally fill it up, I'll have to work harder, but for now it's pretty great.  There are only so many rooms we can mess up.  But two days off in the middle of the week and no way to leave the house seems like a sign to get my rear in gear. 

So, here I am talking to you...instead of cleaning those tubs.  Heehee.  And it's possible that I'll be sitting here one more day.  And it's possible that I might finally get around to make those tubs sparkle.  The dogs sure aren't going to do it.  The cat will be there to supervise though, I'm sure.