Tuesday, May 25, 2010

87 is a magical number

Today's marathon of box packing was productive. I took many trips to the dumpster, so for those of you that think I'm a hoarder, think again. I know 87 is a lot of boxes. All I can say is that many of the boxes were small. I'm packing boxes as if I'm going to be the one that is carrying them. And in all reality, I will be moving them with the help of my husband. There were things that surprised me today....I have about 20 boxes of construction paper, card stock, and copy paper. That's a lot.

There were some things that I threw out. Yes, I threw them out. Curious about some of those items? Here are some of them, in no particular order.

*green cherry tomato baskets
*colored art sand
*colored stones
*cotton balls
*vegetable oil
*calculator that looks like a bar of chocolate
*Christmas decorations
*faux fur
*paper cups
*broken plastic baskets
*plastic shoe boxes
*paper bags
*fold down sandwich bags
*aluminum foil
*wax paper
*plastic wrap
*soda bottles

Yes, that's quite a list. And that's just part of it. More work to do tomorrow. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I'm tired of packing boxes. It's starting to make me feel overwhelmed. The end of the year is always bittersweet. I'm so glad to not have the everyday pressure of teaching, grading, test scores, etc. but my social connection to my teacher friends is hard to maintain outside of school. One of my dearest friends is moving to Kentucky. She was the first person that I met at school and the first person I ran into at Walmart that knew me. That's how I knew I was becoming a part of the community. When she told me she was moving a couple of weeks ago, I felt like I had been sucker punched in the stomach. I still can't believe she's leaving. It's very hard to say good-bye to someone that is instrumental in my day to day saneness.Anyway, I'm feeling sorta blah.....I'm hoping that tomorrow's marathon box packing adventures snaps me out of it. I'm afraid to say that things couldn't get worse. As some of you know, things can always get worse. In the meantime, I'm going to keep packing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

If MacGyver Was a School Teacher, He'd Look A Lot Like Me

Does anyone remember the TV show, "MacGyver?" I think it was from the 80's. I don't remember it, but looking at this guy's mullet hairdo, I'm thinking I got the decade correct. Anyway, for those of you that may not know about this show, it was an action-type show and the star, MacGyver, could get out of any jam he was in with simple household items. Crazy stuff like he could build a bomb out of paperclips, glue, and a hairnet. Now that takes talent.
I mention this show because I am the self-proclaimed MacGyver of my school. See, I'm moving classrooms this summer and I've started packing up all my stuff. I've been teaching for 17 years at a total of two schools and a total of 3 classrooms. I've not had many opportunities to weed out my stuff. And I have a lot of it. I joke that I'm like MacGyver, because if you need something...no matter how odd it may be, I'm sure I have it. And I'm usually really good about loaning my stuff.
Please don't confuse the amount of stuff I have with the qualities of being a "hoarder." This is now a show on TV and I've watched it in horror. It's one of those shows you can't stop watching. I don't live in filth and I can throw things out. I'd say that I'm not a hoarder, but I keep more things than the average person and/or teacher. It's not a sickness worthy of an intervention...yet.
If you aren't a teacher, you may not know what kind of stuff can accumulate. Yes, I have the regular stuff like markers, glue, and scissors, but I also have some more rare and unusual items as well. What kind of things, you ask? Let me lay it out for you.....
Here are some things that I've found as I've started cleaning out my room: (Note that I have a hard time parting with any of this stuff so I guess that means I'll have lots of boxes to move.)
*glue: bottles of white glue, rubber cement, and glue sticks. Lots of glue sticks.
*scissors: kid scissors (at least a class set), fancy pinking shear-type scissors, large handled grown up scissors (at least 5 pair)
*string type things that bind: fishing line, twine, pink string, white string, clothes line, yarn in 18 different colors
*green cherry tomato baskets you get at the grocery department
*35mm film cannisters-many of these
*glitter: big bottles, little bottles, in pen form, in glue form
*measuring cups: at least 3 different types (including cups and individual plastic cups with the marks on them showing the different measurements
*vegetable oil
*wax paper
*aluminum foil
*plastic wrap
*rulers: clear and wooden (I have a class set of each) as well as a class set of Master Rulers, and laminated paper rulers that have the different measurements marked on the lines
*dice: white, red, green, as well as blank number cubes with the stickers you put on them. I also have overhead dice and large foam dice. I have a large container that holds all them.
*dried beans-about three different kinds stored in gallon size baggies
*baggies: snack size, quart size, sandwich size, gallon size, two gallon size, and the kind that don't have a zipper (which I hate)
*several large wooden dowels
*yard sticks and meter sticks-there are several of both in both wood and metal
*9 different sets of playing cards
*scales: balance, gram, spring
*folders: a multitue (and I'm talking MANY) in various colors: red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple, orange in both paper and plastic...also with and without clips and/or pockets
*pH paper
*food coloring
*funnels-about 8
*stopwatches-about 9
*rubber bands-many in various sizes and colors
*empty soda/water bottles: 2 liter, 1 liter, pint, quart, gallon
*fabric scraps
*blank Christmas greeting cards
*calculators-a class set
*overhead clock/calculator
*overhead manipulatives: money, place value pieces, fraction tiles, ruler, spinners, thermometer
*paper: construction, tissue, tracing, handwriting, lined notebook, copy, colored, drawing paper, card stock
*Tennis balls
*tape: masking, packing, painters, duct
*extension cords-about 9
*guinea pig stuff: empty cage, tubs of food, play castle, treats, play yard fence, food bowl, water bottles (2)--note that there is no guinea pig in my classroom or at my house
*cotton balls
*popsicle sticks
*pattern blocks (plastic and wood)
*clocks: wall, plastic Judy clock, class set of wooden mini-Judy clocks
*straws-about 800
*pens, markers, pencils (more than I can count of each)
*books, books, books
*file folders
*plastic sheet protectors
*paperclips in various sizes
And all of this emcompasses about 3 shelves in one of my cabinets.....get the picture? If you need it, I've probably got it. But....can I find it? That, my friends, is the question....I don't have the answer for you but I can tell you that MacGyver (me) will keep looking.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Box Hunting Adventures

So today I introduced some of my friends to my most recent obsession. For those of you just joining us, the obsession I'm referring to is the acquisition of boxes. See....I'm moving classrooms. I'm also a pack rat. If you take the fact that I've been teaching for 17 years and I don't throw anything out, you can imagine how much stuff I have to pack. I'm trying to clean stuff out as I pack, but so far, I've mostly packed books. Throwing out a book is very hard for me. I think most teachers feel the same way. I haven't gotten to the other stuff like film canisters and fishing line. Those things will be easier to chunk. (I have plenty of those items that need chunking.)

Let's just put it this way....I've currently got 34 boxes packed and it doesn't look like I've even started packing. So you can imagine how many boxes I'm going to need. Which leads me to explain my extended drives to and from work.

If you've ever moved, you know that liquor boxes are great. They aren't too big, so that means that you won't pack them so full that you can't pick it up later, and the boxes are pretty thick since most of them hold multiple glass bottles. Our town, as best I can figure, has 5 liquor stores that I know of. Note that I said know of ....not, know. Three of them are on the main highway through town, and the other two are off the main drag. I've found myself driving the long way past as many of these stores as possible in the hopes that I'll come across some boxes. There was one time this week that I was going to swing through Krystal's for some breakfast, but I thought that instead I'd use some of that time looking for boxes, since I've never looked for them in the morning. I ended up being thrilled because I scored 13 boxes that morning!!!!

Just so you know, this new obsession means that I've got lots of boxes stacked up in my classroom. If you add to this that I've got a dear friend that owns two businesses and receives shipments daily and she's saving those boxes for me, then it's no surprise to know that I'm not "box poor." So my compulsion to look for liquor boxes hasn't been as keen over the last few days.

So imagine my thrill today when I'm going to lunch with some teacher friends and all three of them started complaining that they needed more boxes. I suggested that we swing by the liquor stores on the way back and maybe we'd get lucky. The only thing better than finding boxes for myself is finding boxes for others. So we swung by four of the stores and got 18 boxes. Score!!!! The only thing to dampen my spirits is that it was totally pouring rain and we all got soaked as we ran around getting the boxes in the car. We filled her trunk and each of us had two or three boxes in our laps. It ended up great though...each of my friends got 6 boxes and I got to indulge in my latest obsession once more. It was fun.

Don't think for a moment that I won't indulge my obsession again soon....after all, I still have about 1,006 more boxes to pack..... That means I still have many liquor store trips to make. You'll know it's me....I'll be driving around, slowly looking for the perfect box....which in this case means that it's cardboard. The rest is negotiable.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chum is to Sharks as Boxes are to Teachers That Are Moving

Boxes, boxes, boxes on the brain. I hate moving. I hate packing. I hate worrying about whether I'll find enough boxes. I've driven by some of the liquor stores in the hopes that they'd have boxes....so far I've only scored three. With the help of friends and family, I have acquired some boxes and I've been packing up my classroom for about a week now. Even though I have 15 or 16 boxes packed, I now realize I will need a ton of boxes. I've been doing well with my inventory. I pack each box carefully, then inventory the contents on a master list, label and number the box, then stack them by my teacher desk. I'm hoping this will help me know if anything is missing. And with the number of boxes I know I'll have, that's a distinct possibility.

In the meantime, I'll be cruising around town, looking everywhere for boxes I can use. And if I get bored, I think I'll use them like the people in the picture on this post. Now that sounds like fun!

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Rant About State Testing

It's Friday and I'm so glad. This has been a long week....state testing is done and my kids worked really hard. It's a shame that so much hinges on their performance on these tests. There's no way that a test can show the amount of confidence a child has obtained or the number of new friends they've acquired. Those are important things. The test also doesn't show how much children are hurting and the kind of situations they come from. Sometimes it feels like we're treating them all like cattle. And they're not. Each one is special...has special strengths, special weaknesses, and special home life circumstances. Those are not things that can be tested. But no one asked me what I thought when creating No Child Left Behind. Sorry if I sound so bitter.....but I have to say-This legislation has really taken the fun and creativity out of teaching. It has added stress to the students, the parents, and the teachers. But it doesn't appear to be going away any time soon. So I guess if I want to stay in the teaching field, I better find a way to live with it......

And I will.

Because each child is special to me......unlike cattle.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Everything Counts

"Mrs. Rosamond, does this count?" I can't tell you how many times a week I hear this question. My standard answer to this is, "Yes....(fill in the name of the asking student) Everything counts. Even lunch." Most teachers take this question as a code for "Do I really have to try on this assignment? Can't I just "phone" it in?" A wise man (this would be my husband) is the one who really introduced me to this concept. It sounds so simple, yet it's something we don't really consider.

This past summer, I was a participating fellow of the Mississippi State Writing for Thinking Institute. A whole summer dedicated to writing and the teaching of writing. And 6 graduate hours to boot. We wrote constantly, which makes sense since it was, after all, a writing class. Each day we had journaling time and then those that wanted to could share. The first week or so was difficult for me....I had a hard time finding my place.

For those of you that know me in person, you may find this hard to believe. Outside of situations in which I feel really comfortable, I have some social insecurities. Add to this that I tend to run a little on the paranoid side, well, it makes for some awkward situations. After a little bit, when I find my footing, I loosen up. So this past summer, I was looking ahead to an entire month of 8 hour days, five days a week with people that I didn't feel I fit in with. It was overwhelming. One of the gals there wrote and shared one day the story of how she and her husband adopted their son. She was skeptical at first, given that she and her husband were 50 at the time. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember this....the catalyst was a phone call from a friend asking if she and her husband would consider adoption. I think prior to that she hadn't really given it any serious thought. Of course, the story had a great ending and my friend is this incredibly wonderful mother to Sam, who started school this year. And it got me to thinking.....

What if she hadn't been home when the phone rang? What if she had never met that person that called her about the adoption? What if she had said something during the course of their friendship that had caused tension and they drifted apart? Would my friend Linda still have found her son? I believe in destiny and that the Lord's plan for our lives is perfect....if we would have enough sense to get out of His way....but still......did that friend of Linda's even have a clue of how that one call changed her life in such a major way? Did she have any inkling that she'd play such a vital role in this little boy's life? This got me to wondering...and as most people know, this can be dangerous for me.

It led me to write a pivotal piece that summer entitled "Everything Counts." I wrote it to the ladies of the summer institute but the essence was that everything we do counts, even the small stuff. The smile you share with me today may be what helps me overcome some sadness that I feel and thus enhances my teaching efforts that day. And a good day of teaching has no limits. If I can reach or teach just one student a day, I consider that successful. Once you touched a person's life, your influence continues through their life and influences those around them. It was a profound piece for me, and I believe is what helped me find my place among those ladies that summer....but what if I'd never written that piece?

You see.....it all counts.....it matters. All of it. The crummy day you've had and the following terse comment in passing with me may cause me to question myself, my motives, or dredge up some deep issues I've yet to deal with. My students, my family, all those around me benefit or hinder from my life. Am I speaking life or death to them? Am I going to consider the weight of my words and how they could be used to lift another or tear them down? Sadly, the answer to this is that we most often are wrapped up in our little lives and don't think how it will effect others. I'm really bad about this. I'm constantly trying to "get over" myself and see the bigger picture. All I can say in that regard is that I'm still a work in progress.

I am the sum total of all my experiences. Experiences that involve others. We are in constant contact with others, and we bounce little bits of ourselves off the other person to see what returns. If it's good, we continue in the same manner, always looking for increase. If our efforts return void, we look into ourselves and alter the parts that need changing. We are like hedge clippers for those around us. We spend our days, going through our lives, and we help prune those around us. Pruning is good, even necessary for proper growth. But as we all know, if you prune too vigorously, you can quickly injure or kill what you thought you were trying to help. I see this truth everyday in those around me. I often wonder if I'm speaking life or death to each person around me. Does getting road rage at someone that cut me off in traffic make me a better person? Does it help the other person become better? Sadly, the answer to both is no. And yet we fling out those pruning shears and not always think about where or how they will land. Death or life....which will it be?

So the other end of this is true too.....will a smile and a cheery hello from me be just what you needed at that moment? Were you looking for validation or for confirmation that you are here and that you matter? Did you walk away from our exchange better for the experience? I think this is one of the eternal walks we all traverse.....how to become a better person and encourage those around us.

Here I am world. Both parts of me exposed and open to love and hurt. Part of me is looking for my echo...how parts of me are taken by those around me....looking for connections with others...The other part is looking for you and how I can minister life to you. Me walking with you down your life's journey....Me helping you find life. Everything we do, everything we say....counts. The big stuff, the little stuff. Calls to your mother, helping a co-worker, saying thank you and please and excuse me, sharing yourself with others. All of these things are important and they all count. The job you take, the person you marry, the place you live in, the words you share with others, the amount of integrity you hold....all of this counts.

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a teacher. Who I am, in part, is due to our interactions. Life or death? That is the question my friends....but the answer is still the same.......

Everything counts.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Twinkle Toes

Aren't these shoes great? I know what you must be thinking....how tacky, right? I'd have to agree with you there. But--- I LOVE THEM! Raelynn has recently been allowed to watch a little television on Saturday mornings and saw a commercial for these shoes. They are made by Skechers and are called "Twinkle Toes." How appropriate.
On a side note, my school district will implement a uniform policy next year. It's not been a popular thing. Right now it includes khaki and black pants and polo shirts in white, black, or goldenrod. Don't get me started about how hard it is to find a plain goldenrod shirt that is also in the polo style. You know why you can't find any? Very few people actually look good in this color.
One of the things I think we will struggle with is that she won't be able to wear the soft, fuzzy pants she wears now. Basically, if it has a button and/or zipper, she won't wear it. Guess what she loves to wear? That's right....sweat pants. And she won't be allowed to wear them next year. So, dealing with one fight at a time, I thought that I'd indulge her by getting her some shoes that show a little bit of her personality. So, a round trip to Tupelo for naught, I ended up finding some here in town. She loves them. I love them.
And guess what? They come in adult sizes!!!!!! Guess which teacher is going to have the tackiest shoes next year? That's right....this teacher!
Have a great weekend!