Friday, December 7, 2007


WOW! It's hard to believe that I haven't posted in almost two months - but to my credit, things have been pretty hectic. Between volunteering for freaking EVERYTHING (yeah, I'm working on that) to working two part-time jobs, plus holidays and children and all that jazz, I'm a little behind on... well, everything.

SO, I promised you tales from the literacy lab and haven't written a thing since I started that job. I tell everyone I know as loudly and enthusiastically as possible that I LOVE MY JOB! There's an annoying little spring in my step and a genuine smile on my face from the minute I get to the parking lot to the minute I leave the building because my job is that freaking awesome. First of all, although I'd rather be working at school full-time, I am so blessed to have fantastic hours. I wish I had more face-to-face time with the kids, but I love getting PAID to do tasks that I'd volunteer to do! For the most part, there is an energy in the building that feeds my little extroverted heart and soothes my stressy spirit. The camaraderie in a school beats anything the corporate world has to offer. There are some amazing teachers and staff that I have the pleasure of surrounding myself with, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the kids. Even the annoying and challenging ones. Even the punky attention-seeking ones. Especially the little Hays ones. I mean it, people. I LOVE MY JOB.

One thing that grates all over me that I might have been guilty of once upon a time is the whole countdown mentality. Example: Walking down the hall, you pass some other school employee, greet with the cordial "How are you?" and the response is "Four days!" (as in four days until Thanksgiving or whatever break is impending...) Okay, so how is that an answer to the question? And how must you feel about your job if you are so ready to be out of there that you can't just reply "fine" or something like that? ARG!

So, when I work full-time next year and return to teaching the year after that (my plan at this point), I hope that I will not fall into the trap of dreading every day. I hope that I'll continue to be the one spreading the I-Love-My-Job cooties. I pray that I will love the children so much that their parents don't trouble me. I can't wait until Monday!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Back to School!

This has been a spectacular week. Monday morning I interviewed for a part-time instructional assistant position at the kids’ school. Got offered the job Tuesday. Did all the paperwork Thursday. Got called this morning to sub for one of the fifth grade teachers. Had a fantastic day, in all. I start my new job Monday, so I only ended up subbing one day. Crazy.

So – here’s the thing about my day in fifth grade: SO MUCH FUN! The “big kids” don’t scare me at all, since I spent so much time in seventh grade. They have a little mouth on them (some of them, at least) and they don’t push the limits nearly as much as their older peers, but they will stop when you put the hammer down and make it known you mean business. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to mix that business with pleasure, and I believe we achieved that balance today. I think most of the kids would think I was a thumbs-up, given the opportunity to rate the sub. We didn’t accomplish nearly as much as the teacher left for us to do, but I think there was some actual learning going on and that she’ll be satisfied.

And here’s the thing about teachers: I appreciate that the folks who are there every day think they have to help the sub and tell the kids how to behave, but in fact, that only serves to undermine the sub. I had one entirely-too-generous-with-her-expertise teacher come in during the morning rush (I literally had just enough notice to get to school before it started) and tell the kids to settle down – while I am standing right there thinking to myself that they were actually more settled than they are when their regular teacher is there! Anyway, I hope I’ll remember that when I am back on the other side.

I continue to think the ladies (and gentlemen) who are there day in and day out are amazing. When I get back into the full-time teaching world again one day, I want to find a way to enjoy the children for who they are, to allow them to be themselves, and to keep everyone learning at the appropriate pace while leaving rejuvenated rather than drained every day.

Topics I need to touch on some day:
The Parents-Are-in-Charge Phenomenon
How Many Girls Does it Take to Clean a Guinea Pig Cage?
Talking in Class: Tool for Learning, Evidence of Thinking, and Not Necessarily Rude
Squelching the Children: How and Why it Happens Daily
What’s With All the Transition Time? A Story of Shuffling and Sharing Students
Don’t Get Me Started on Notes With No Context

Stay tuned for tales from the Literacy Lab. I am so excited!!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Definitely NOT for the taste of it...

Urg. Those of you who’ve known me a while are pretty aware of my loath for artificial sweeteners. I hate them all. Nutrasweet, Sweet-n-Low, Splenda – all of ‘em. I almost envy people who say they can’t tell the difference between regular and diet drinks. I can not only tell the difference, but I can’t stand the icky chemical taste in my mouth that lingers for-freakin-ever. I avoid diet products like they are poison. Blaaaccchhhh!

But here I sit, drinking one of Jimmy’s diet cokes with lime, and I’m not dead yet. Can’t say I’m enjoying it, but it’s doing the trick. Ordinarily, if I want something calorie-free, I’ll just have some water, but my caffeine intake for the day is low and I have the headache that accompanies such an affliction (addiction?) – couple that with a trip to the doctor for a physical today, and regular coke is now out of the picture.

Yep – my EVERYTHING is off-kilter. Iron’s still low, weight’s still high, and now my cholesterol is officially elevated. Thyroid functions just outside the normal range. Vitamin D deficient. And don’t even get me started on my serotonin issues. (Wish they could measure THAT in a blood test. How about some of you geeks I adore get busy on that?) SO, I’ve gone from no meds to five pills a day in the span of two weeks. Fantastic. I’ve come of age and I’m experiencing finer living through pharmaceuticals.

AND, to make it all suck worse, I really need to make some lifestyle changes. Got to eat better and get some serious exercise so my arteries don’t get completely clogged and so my spirit will improve. Got to get outside for some good old fashioned sunshine to get the Vit. D up so that my scrawny frame doesn’t diminish any sooner than it has to. (I’ve seen how ugly osteoporosis can be, and I want nothing to do with it.) Mostly, got to accept that I need to be responsible if I don’t want my body to backfire on me. Bummer.

Meanwhile, me likey the food. Me likey it long time. I hate carrying around twenty-five extra pounds, but I also hate the thought of not eating a bag full of jerky when I want to. Alas. So here I go, on a quest to slowly change my eating habits to those of a fiber-loading, sugar-avoiding, carbo-fearing old fart. Right. I can’t imagine ever being there, but I’d rather make changes now than wait for the doctor to tell me I have an expiration date due to some tragic illness guaranteed to befall me.

So, wish me well and join me in the effort to be healthy and fit. I’m not ever going to be a total purist, and I am not one to deprive myself of anything, but I do intend to make better choices more often. Yay, me!

(By the way, I’m almost done with this here diet coke, and I’d still rather have water than this crap.)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pokey's One-Way Ticket to Hell

I’ve had my daddy here for 24 hours or so now, which has been a joy. He hasn’t been to my house since we lived in Winston-Salem because of work and dogs and aversion to air travel and then momma. He’s going to visit his surviving sisters in southwest Georgia for the week, and since I went to Southport for Hope Marie’s birthday party yesterday, I brought him back here for a quick visit with us before his trip.

Tonight at 1:05 AM he boards the bus in Columbia proper for a 12 hour journey to Albany, where Aunt Evie and Uncle Beal will pick him up and take him back to Dawson. He’s the youngest of the remaining four (at 74, that speaks to our family’s longevity) and feels compelled to go see Aunt Annie Mae in the nursing home and Aunt Marie at her home since they can no longer travel. They’ll take a quick trip to Pitts (seriously, that’s where he grew up – Pitts, GA) one day to reminisce, he’ll swap stories with some nephews and cousins and all, and then he’ll be anxious and ready to return home.

His knees give him a lot of trouble, his cigarette habit is as bad as ever, and as much as he enjoys dwelling on the past, he grows quickly weary of being away from home, so his return trip next weekend won’t come soon enough for him. Most of them are pretty narrow-minded, to the extent that daddy looks like a real liberal when among them, and he’ll get pretty sick of all that, too. But, he knows he wants to see them all, and he wants to visit the graveyards there, because he realizes he might never get back.

Then again, he might. But it’s strange to imagine that time in our lives when we are doing everything for the last time. I’m sure this is the first of many lasts for him, and I hope he has years to complete them all, because I’ve grown accustomed to having him around! I hope he’ll grow weary of doing his consulting work sometime soon and come see us more frequently or for longer periods. Meanwhile, we all are entertained by the fact that he’s bought a one-way bus ticket to the back door of Hell and how much that would have amused my momma!

I sure do love my Pokey and I know he loves his Squirt-diddy-bo. Safe travel for him! Godspeed!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Online "Friends"

Now that I have completely reverted to adolescence and have both myspace and facebook accounts, I am faced with the concept of friendship.

My philosophy is best summed up like this: No one has 896 friends. No one. Even if your account says you do. See, I subscribe to the school of thought that "friends" are people you actually KNOW.

But my new challenge is this: I certainly have known 896 people over the course of my days. More, even. But can I call them all "friend" and do I want to add them all to my friends list? Just because someone requests your "friendship," do you have to give it? Mrs. Manners probably doesn't have a facebook account, so I can't consult with her snooty butt. God wants us all to get along and be friendly, but I think the "-ly" on that is an out on maintaining relationships with people you hardly know.

So here's how I'm dealing with this: The people on my "friends" lists are people I actually know or have known and that I am willing to develop or renew friendships with. Just like in real life, I'll put more time and effort into maintaining some than others. It's maybe more like a "friends and acquaintances" list, now isn't it? I'll continue to reject the friendships of total strangers, and I'm sure I'll be faced with a friend request that I'll reject wholeheartedly at some point, but for now, I'm going to save the world, one facebook poke at a time.

For my paranoid friends who read this, don't worry. You really are my friend. I'm talking about other people, not you.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Free writing ain't as easy as you think...

Austin has to free-write for 10 minutes every weekend, so I promised him I'd write alongside him during those times. He just read me part of what he's written thus far - mostly a thorough mocking of his beloved mom. Nice. Trouble for both of us: can't think of what to write.

Actually, I can think of a bunch of things I could write about and would love to, but most of them are about Austin, and he doesn't want me "broadcasting his personal and sometimes embarrassing life all over the internet." (almost verbatim...) For instance, I wanted to write a piece entitled "What I want? I want Somefing!" but that would have required the story behind that ever-so-present part of our family's vernacular. (Hint to outsiders: Austin started it - but I didn't tell you that, now did I?)

Alas. I have Austin-imposed writer's block, but I've free-written with him, so I guess that's what matters.

Time's up already. I cheated and didn't spend the whole ten minutes writing, but neither did he. He spent most of the time asking me how much time he has left. Just like my students used to do before they got the hang of what I expected and knew what to do. How dear. He'll soon have so much to write and such a willingness to do it that he won't even think of the time.

Thanks for reading. Now you go write for 10 minutes and see what you come up with under pressure!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Do I talk in questions? Yes, I do.

There's an episode of Scrubs (one of my all-time favorite shows, especially now that it's in syndication) where this surgeon is a question-talker. Does he ask questions and then answer them? Yes he does. Is the episode funny as hell? Of course it is. Does it beat Seinfeld's uptalker episode with a stick? You betcha.

Anyway, I recently realized that I do that - talk in questions, that is - a bunch. Now I'm almost paranoid about it. I caught myself asking a question today when a statement would have been just as effective and I almost laughed aloud at myself. Would I have looked stupid? I believe I would have. (See, it's sooooo hard to stop.)

So I hereby resolve to only use the question-followed-by-answer when it is the best way to create my desired effect with whatever I'm saying. I think it's a residual teacher-me habit. If you ask a question, people are more likely to listen than if you just make a statement, because a question mark actually implies you want THEIR answer - but in this case, of course, it's all about me. I'd like to limit myself to asking questions when I really want to hear someone else's thoughts rather than when I want to rope them into hearing mine.

Does that sound like a plan? (Oh, how I want to answer...)

Being the Boss

My boss (Jeff) is in the Bahamas swilling down Bahamian booze and going to ball games with a bunch of other Indiana Hoosier Loosiers, but mostly he is celebrating ten years of marriage - which, as we've all come to realize in our old age, is quite a feat. Meanwhile, I'm here Being Jeff.

THAT MAN WORKS WAY TOO HARD. Or maybe just too much; hard to tell. My phone rang off the hook on Friday and quite a bit yesterday. My only "scheduled" tasks when he left were two closings on Friday afternoon and get a new listing up and running. No problem! Before noon on Friday, I had the rest of my day booked and ended up working about 8 hours yesterday, as well.

Needless to say, this is one reason I am not a full-time real estate agent, nor do I desire to be. While I can juggle a few cases for a few days and keep all the balls in the air, every task seems to grow in the amount of time it requires to complete between the time you schedule it and the time it is done. I am counselor, photographer, graphic artist, technology technician, race car driver (Lord, I'm in the car a lot), teacher, magician, and palm reader all in one. (And the counselor part is the part that makes the difference in decent agent and stellar one.) Multiply that times 15 active listings and several buyers, and the guy in charge is swamped.

Difference between Jeff and me? It feeds him. He thrives on the surprise of it all and the sense of accomplishment and the tremendous challenge of making everything happen while making everyone happy.

I have just grown to think that most people are a bunch of whiners.

Anyway, I'm glad it's Sunday and a holiday weekend. Most people are wanting to party and play on the lake this weekend, so I don't think the phone will be too active today or tomorrow. At this point, I only need to create, print, and deliver flyers to one listing today, but I'm knocking hard on wood that my day doesn't fill up. It can't, as I have bunches to do around here and want to spend time with MY family. Hats off to Jeff for thriving in all of this - and he BETTER be having a good time and relaxing, because he won't be getting any more breaks any time soon! I quit! (But that's a whole other story...)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

FOUND IT: Missing Marie, Missing Me

(If you read the previous post, this is the one that got away. I know your interest was piqued and that you were dying to see what wonderfully tasty ways I arranged my words and thoughts... So, imagine it's last Sunday, and read on.)

My rotten momma is haunting me. Today in church we sang a song that punched me in the gut with missing her - First Song of Isaiah (Surely it is God who saves me, I will trust in Him and not be afraid...) -and I haven't recovered just yet. For years now I've "heard" her singing in church and gone all emotional, even before she was most ill, and now that she is dead and conveniently unavailable to take my calls, it hurts more. Of course, the poignant thing is not just that I could hear her voice and feel her presence and miss her terribly, but that the message of that song is what I most needed (and perhaps, least wanted) to hear these days. And honestly, I'm not crazy about the song itself - and I don't really recall if she was or not, either, but she was surely singing it directly to me today. And I like to think maybe she was crying, too.

Anyway, I sneak out and get some kleenex (mental note - bring my own) and sneak back in and make it through the rest of the service just fine with my smiley face on. But my priest pulled me aside after the service (before he shook any hands) and told me he felt like I was feeling empty and alone lately. (Welcome back, waterworks.) He's right, of course, and I am, and I don't want to be. But he noticed, and that felt good. I think. I really do reserve my most blitheringly idiotic moments for church, it seems, so I think the people there think I am more miserable than I really am. Maybe they're right. But church is an important part of who I am and I am not feeling fed right now, but I don't really have what it takes to be part of the solution there. I am also too "home" there to go a-wandering looking for another place. So, I plod onward.

Whew. I miss my momma and I miss me. I am trying and trying to reconnect to whoever I am or was or will be, but I am so busy going through the motions that I keep missing something. So, this control freak is going to do what she is able to do, and leave the rest to God and happenstance. But that is soooooooo hard.

For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, and He will be my savior...

Blog errors and internet woes

Sunday I spent about thirty minutes pouring my guts into this silly blogspot about aloneness and emptiness and loss and change and all of my other thirty-something angst, and darned if the stinkin' modem didn't choose the exact moment I clicked POST to disconnect. Anyway, by the time I got it back online, I had managed to lose the woe-is-me post-from-hell in cyberspace.

Here's it in a nutshell: I miss my momma. I miss ME. I cried like an idiot about a song in church (First Song of Isaiah - "Surely it is God who saves me, I will trust in Him and not be afraid, for the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defence, and he will be my Savior.") and struggled to recover from Poor Meesh Syndrome (not to be confused with the other PMS) all day.

See, you didn't need to read it all anyway - I guess I just needed to write it.

I'm sure there's a way to recover it, since I just noticed that my drafts are autosaved, but I haven't figured it out yet, and at this point, why bother?

My next post will be pleasant and delightful - maybe - since I have done a pretty good job of keeping myself busy and happy this week. It's bedtime (I'm REALLY trying to get to sleep earlier) and I have an exceptionally full day tomorrow since my boss will be on his way to the Bahamas and I'm in charge.

In case I don't get back to this and in case anyone is actually reading, have a great long weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Back to School and such

When we started this blog, I thought for sure I would be on it posting uncontrollably, or at least daily... I suppose it would be a pitiful state of existence if I lived to blog, so I'm forgiving myself!

BACK TO SCHOOL! Woohoo! I am almost excited about the normalcy and structure that the school year brings. Summer is delightfully random, but trying to work from home with both kids in tow is a tremendous pain. Some of you know I've recently realized that I am both ready and wanting to be back in a school setting. I am always happiest when I am volunteering or visiting the kids' classrooms or just hanging out in the waiting area at pick-up time... My last experience in front of the classroom reminded me how very hard it can be to juggle teaching full-time and parenting full-time, so I thought I'd apply for a position as an assistant. Well, I reckon my years of experience and qualifications are not enough to get a return call from the district office in these parts, as I have not been interviewed (nor, needless to say, hired) at this point. I suppose it would have helped for me to apply earlier in the summer when there were more openings and fewer applicants, but I didn't have my AHA! moment until it was almost too late to do anything about it. Turns out other totally qualified folks I know have had the same problem - the district office won't call back. Disturbing, but I am not giving up.

The hard part about all of it, other than the blow to the old ego, is the trusting God part. I am always pretty certain about what I WANT to do or what I am WILLING to do, but I am not always in tune with what the Almighty would have me do. It seemed like a no-brainer -I apply, they call me, they hire me, I'm happy, the end. But, it isn't working out that way. I wonder what is up God's sleeve?

Now, I have a perfectly lovely job - my boss is completely wonderful and supportive, he lets me define the way I want to work, my hours are completely flexible, and the pay is certainly decent. BUT, the flexibility means I am always doing a little here and a little there and by day's end, I feel like I've been working all day, even if I've only put in four or five hours total. There's very little about real estate in general that makes me feel like I'm making a positive difference in the world - sure, I suppose I make a difference to the clients I work with, and I know I've made a difference in my boss's world, but as much as I enjoy his company, I really grow weary of doing something I don't love.

What a whiner, eh? Good job, good boss, good money, but not satisfied. Wah wah wah, Meesh, right? But I know it is possible to be both employed AND happy with what you do... I am just waiting for those things to coincide.

Maybe this is why I don't blog a lot - I get started and can't seem to finish. It isn't like I don't have a TON to do - for work, for the kids, around the house, for my volunteer positions... but it is a pleasure to just sit and write and vent a bit. Even if nobody will ever read it!

Anyway, if you happen to read this, say a little prayer for me and mine for the new school year. I am going to throw my name in the hat to substitute (even though I can't make a living of it) and see what the ten-day count brings... Then I'm going to get my certification current so I can pursue more positions... Then I'll probably be back on here complaining. Crazy.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Oh my, we have a blog.

Jim's parents are coming tomorrow and our house is in the you-gotta-freakin-be-kiddin-me mode, so instead of cleaning, like we should be, we've created a blog. Cause what I need is one more thing to do to waste time, right?

Hope you all enjoy the occasional musings, rants, and tales of our little family in our little house in the big woods (wait, I think that was already taken...).