First Week Back: Changes

This week has been so many things: nerve wracking, scary, hopeful, challenging, somber, tiring, physically demanding…. and yet, here we are at the end like all things the first week back does not last forever.

I knew Monday 10 minutes into work that there were going to be such huge changes this week. I decided after a new staff member introduced themselves at the first meeting and then said, “and it was nice meeting you all but I just got word that I’ve been transferred again,” that I had to capture my feelings each day.

(I had some issues with my website, so this post was finally able to be uploaded a week late! It’s no one’s fault per say, just a very odd glitch!)

There were so many changes on Monday. We had a new Assistant Principal, 7 “new” teachers (transfers), “new” YDS teacher, “new” ESL teachers, we lost a Gym teacher to the Science teachers (he was a science teacher first, then was PE teacher for a year, and now a Science teacher again), “new” Librarian, (our old Librarian was a classroom teacher that was learning to be a librarian and is back in the classroom) and some teachers have changed grade levels and subjects to boot!

On a personal level, I was informed that I would be a Music teacher solely. This is… it was disappointing to hear because I transferred to my current school because the Bands here/there were so large. The teacher needed help because 70 kids at once can be a lot. We were just starting to understand how to co-teach Band and really seeing the fruits of our labors. So it was a little bittersweet to know it’s done for now.

Financially, teaching music is a pay cut. This is frightening because of that Disney downpayment we made back in June. It became more frightening when Ryan called to tell me he was not longer a Band Director as well, cutting his salary down by a nice chunk as well. Again I am thinking of this huge trip that I have already sunk $1000 into and now I’m like “…. what will we do?” It was A LOT all at once.

But. As I sat there, processing as a person does when they receive such news, many things went through my mind:

One, I am a kick butt teacher. Hands down I know music. I may not be a savant or anything, but I can teach music to kids. So changing to teaching Music full time and not Band full time will not be bad for my students. They won’t get a subpar, blah education. (Though I need an upgrade on my Music materials, technology has changed a little in 4 years!)

Two, WE HAVE JOBS. I have NO IDEA if I will be able to say that by day 20. I don’t. People made some comments to me today about “showing them we need you,” and “we have to give them no reason not to question,” and “I’m trying to leave no doubt.” Which made me feel a little doubtful about my lasting 20 days even though they REALLY need me to teach Music or the other resource classes will be at 30 to 35 kids each for each resource teacher. So they need me so far and thank the Lord that I have a job!

Three, we can be more economical. Ry and I should really practice portion control when eating anyway… so this makes that and little things like watching our pennies a real thing. We HAVE to. I’m not losing the Disney money we put as a downpayment, I’m not going to worry about what CDubs may need for school, because we can do this and be better with our money. Because thank the Lord we both are still employed.

So, instead of crying like I would have done in the past, I sat there and problem solved…. because y’all I am an emotional crier. Very Happy? I cry. Very Sad? I cry. Very excited? I cry. I. CRY. So I’m kind of impressed with my brain/face/tear ducts because I handled this sudden change for us both really well. I didn’t jump to outlandish conclusions or anything.

While I was having this period of growth my co-teacher, a veteran teacher of 20 years decided to go up front and explain what making me a Music teacher really means for my salary. They didn’t know up in the front office. They are just trying to make things work and keep as many of us as possible and I completely respect that. I also really respect and adore my co-teacher for fighting so I could teach one Band class this year, thus making me a BAND TEACHER again. That’s right, I am still a Band teachers as long as I teach one class. They picked the smallest grade level where me teaching Band as well would not effect the numbers in the other rooms (Art, computers, and PE). If just my co-teacher had 50 kids in Band everyone else, including me, would teach 10 people per class. So we are shooting for 35 to 40 kids for this Band class. Thank you co-teacher for going to bat for me!

I called my husband with the news, (if this works out which it sounds like it will) then we are only out a chunk of one salary not two! I also remembered we have after school clubs via the 21st Century Grant and I get paid for that, and we don’t have to pay for daycare anymore (duh).

Okay, so I can do this and I STILL HAVE A JOB. (Do you detect a theme in my gratefulness?)

That said, I still had a lot to get ready but at least I’m in the same room! I decided to totally redo the layout now that I have more time to set up as well.

My co-teacher’s husband came by and helped us move all the large cumbersome stuff and my co-teacher got her room almost completely together! (I guess I’ll have to think of another name for her since we won’t truly be co-teaching all day like we used to)

I’ve still got a lot to do… but it will be worth it. The theme this year is bright colors and rainbow like.

So I felt like it was a very emotional day… then my husband called and it’s been decided that he WILL be a Band teacher after all too! At least they hope the schedule is set in such a way that he can. They got him some help so there will still be Music at his school and Band. Now I know for a fact many people pulled that together and I will be praying for them and are truly in a state of thankfulness for that miracle!

Whew! That’s just day one! I’m hoping the other days feel smaller… and less emotional!

Thank the Lord I am still employed! Thank you! God is so Good!

Tuesday was nothing compared to Monday. Monday felt like a whole week and Tuesday was like a long morning!

We had a meeting about our individual teacher websites and mine is pretty awesome. I’m proud of it and I only had to adjust the welcome image, the schedule changed (oh shoot I need to edit the footer on the page I forgot!), and hide the Spring Band Trip page (since it is not even Fall yet!). Then we could go to our rooms.

I moved a lot of large plastic containers full of books and decorations. I set out new things and old. I vetoed some fun items in lieu of some more practical things and locked up some instruments for Music. (They are just to fun and tempting to leave out!)

My teacher friend helped me hang a dry erase board in the back of the room. I am rubbish at anything using your depth perception. Stairs? Bah! Driving! Nope! Hanging or drawing anything straight? Yeah right. Also she is like the strongest woman I know, so she strong armed my cheap IKEA drill into that temporary wall (it’s solid and we have permission to do these things but it’s not original to the building and can be removed easier that a true wall) and made those screws do right! I am excited it’s now up!!

My teacher friend is all done with her room, and it looks great. My room looks like the plate of food a kid doesn’t really want to eat. You know how they move stuff around and it just looks like they are eating, but they aren’t? Well my room looks like it’s coming together but it’s not. There is still stuff everywhere. It’s crazy.

At least I have applied pink grapefruit wipes to all dusty surfaces, hung a impossibly large calendar, and found the highlighters!

I also found out at tonight’s board meeting that since July 30th forty five more people noped out of the county or retired. So that means 145 people left. So now just 45 more jobs are left to be cut. I am still praying just in case… extra prayer never hurt anybody as far as I know.

I have to ask myself, why do I move all my stuff? It’s so much work. Never mind the layout might actually be better this year, it’s a lot of moving things. My co-teacher K is done with her room. I’m still wondering if I should add more color.

I learned about some policies today that we need to implement and had a large brainstorming session with multiple teachers and so veteran teachers online. I appreciate their insights so much. It really takes a team to solve a puzzle sometimes.

Thursday was a lot like Wednesday in that I moved a lot of things around, melted some skin off my hands (high temp glue guns are no joke), swept, hung more decorations, covered up an obsolete heater with music paper making it look like a weirdly placed shelf, and just tried to make a beige classroom look like a colorful, energetic, fabulous classroom! I may have actually sought out other teachers on purpose and spoke with them. *shock*

Friday we had an Arts Department meeting at one of the large high schools. It was again, a lot of changes. Our department overall was tasked with cutting, individuals/positions. You could hear a pin drop when this was announced. However, 15 jobs were eliminated because a great deal of folks did not come back, another classroom, or retired. Five of those positions were open and simply closed for the time being. While it’s sad to know that people left, and worse there are schools missing an important element of the Arts or maybe a reduction in the Arts, people’s hands were tied here. It’s not like we had a choice and we are lucky we are valued as apart of the educational team. Thankfully PSRC is looking to educate the whole child, and sees the wonderful things we do.

We had an item exchange (I was so excited about this) and we were able to share things we may not use as often and get things we needed! I was blessed to get some new art supplies! I like to use visual art, in my limited way, to enhance what I teach in music/band. You can draw what the music sounds like to you, you can sketch what emotions the piece causes you to have, you can share your feelings and thoughts in artful ways! Writing is so important but sometimes our kids need another way to express themselves. (Especially 5th graders bridging that gap between elementary and middle school. Drawing and writing prepares them for writing more detailed works later!) so I was happy to walk away with 500 sheets of recycled newsprint paper!!

Then we spoke with our new teacher leader for middle and the leader for high school. We solidified dates, gave opinions for what clinicians should be hired for student learning events, opportunities for field trips came up and! My co-teacher and I will be the clinicians for the Middle School Honors Band group! How cool! We will pick out the songs they will be playing, teaching them for 8 hours and we will be conducting at the big concert at the RCC Auditorium. It may not seem like the most amazing thing to other people but this is stepping out into the spotlight for me. I love working with kids, but the stage still give me pre-concert jitters… not to mention my peers shall be all over the place watching me conduct, observing my teaching style, judging my every move… possibly… *shudders* It will be good for me, it will. It helps instead of one person, we will trade off and have two!

Co-teachers once again!

I would be lying if I said my thoughts were calm and assured. I hope that the county continues to see the value of my position and of course me as a teacher. I think I do very good things, dare I say, wonderful things with my students. My classroom is starting to really come together and I am really feeling more settled this year. I hope that feeling is an indication of how the school year will go for me! Any thoughts, prayers, well wishes, and good vibes are appreciated! Now I have to look forward to open house!!!

Look at This Stuff… Isn’t it Neat-ish?

Woah, my last post was in January. I promise that wasn’t on purpose. I’ve just been extremely “blah.”

Why? Lots of reasons. Sometimes teaching can be very hard. Sometimes I don’t see the point of continuing on with it, but at the same time I am good at it. I used to love teaching but I believe there was a lot of naïveté involved. I also had a lot of people around me that encouraged this. So when the veil came off, as it were… well. I just finished my 8th year. I finished an I’ve made decisions.

I really need to bring my lunch to school every day

3.

That’s it really. I can’t afford to not do these three things this next year. The rest of the things I worried about this past year can bite me. I ain’t doing/thinking about/giving power to next year.

The next thing I kind of strong armed us into is…

WE’RE GOING TO DISNEY!

If you were told, and I’m not sure if you were, we promised CDubs we would be going to Disney during the year that he turned 5. Well we butted it right up to the end there but sometime during the holiday season we will be driving down to FL and taking two days at the park! I’ve never been. CDubs is still at that magical age, and I know he will have such a good time.

I’ve heard why going at that time is bad, and why it’s good. I’ve been told a lot of things and gotten such good advice. I’ve also gotten rude, disrespectful comments, assumptions about our finances and all that.

I think I told everyone that I have 3 jobs? I had two school jobs this past year and then of course TUPPERWARE! So while I’m not rich, the money for the trip is being drawn from the “extra income.” But even if it were not, the nerve of some folks, you know?

I mean my mom has even said, “he should be 10 when you go,” yet they never took any of us to any Disney park… so I am not sure where her information/experience is coming from.

Now. This is our first trip. This trip is 100% about CDubs. We will be going on all the little rides. We will be meeting all the characters. We will be getting autographs and pictures. We will not be doing anything us adults want to do. It’s all about him.

We love everyone but this first trip is for him, only him and we three. I know when my family discovers that we are doing this trip, there will be some that scoff at what we’ve planned, or well meaning folks that want us to change what we are up to, and may even want to tag along but for this one an only time will it definitely just be us. Besides that being all we can afford, when we add more folks there are more expectations, more need to allow for others wants and wishes and that’s normal. That’s wonderful. The second time we go I am GOING TO HARRY POTTER WORLD. We will do meet ups and shows and rides on Space Mountain and all that jazz. But not this time. This time is for him.

Now being to articulate that, and hoping our families don’t think we are assholes, that might not go over well. I will do my best to get them to understand our point of view.

But I’m excited. We have the meals, the photo plan (again this one and only time I want perfect beautiful professional photographs. I’m partially blind in both eyes. My pictures come out 1 in 3 shots. On the 2nd trip I can jack up all the photos), the Disney park bands…. I’m getting us family shirts for the two days at the park. Maybe not red and green but something cute. We are getting ears and we are just doing all we can and it’s just exciting.

We already made our first big payment and there… there flew the extra money I earned… and the bonuses from teaching Band… bye mulah….❤️🖤 ah well it is worth it!

Now the title of our post, though I suppose Ariel does indeed fit into Disney and the trip quite well. No you see, I have taken the time to gut my child’s bedroom. I didn’t ask him this time what to keep. I am the one that plays with him the most. I know what he ignores. Four, 13 gallon trash bags of toys, stuffed animals, and happy freaking meal toys are gone to the thrift store. I moved the layout a bit, moved Ryan’s old kid table upstairs and his Pirates sports locker (thanks to Ryan’s parents who save a lot we have what we need for CDubs), took out the chalkboard and the only thing in the toy box are the tiny Calico Critters and their minuscule pointy objects and homes. I took half his blocks, my son had 5 containers of various building blocks and paired it down to 3. I took all of the baby books I had no idea were in there, three 27 gallon bins full of books to go to the attic…

I have dreams of giving CDubs’ children a library: “Congratulations on the birth. Here are literally hundreds of books. Read to your child. Now.”

And then I took his old tiny art box and upgraded it to this huge one. I bought him new colors, the white paper he has been asking me for, new construction paper, pencils, a drop cloth for the floor, I mean… this kid has an art studio now. He said he wanted to be an artist so, here you are baby boy! His stuff is neat. I love his hand drawn stuff but here is a digital piece:

It’s a house… or a rocket… or you know something freudian.

I mean all parents think they have a little Picasso. I get that, but there is no reason he can’t learn as much about art and pursue that as a career if he wishes when he is older. Right now it’s easy. Later there will be lessons if he’s serious.

Anyway, I digress. Then I attacked all of the bathrooms with a foaming peroxide spray that made me gag and scrubbed the blasted baseboards (no baseboards in the next house. Ceiling molding, sure. Baseboards and cat hair together just super sucks.).

I’ve washed the shower curtains new again, (if your washer has an agitator load up some towels a bit of bleach for germ killing and wash on warm, the inside plastic curtain and the other one will be quite clean. I figured that out when I was a kid! Works pretty well and we don’t buy new curtains… ever. Unless like I guess they got stained with mildew?) and lifted vent covers and you know, just done a bang up job of erasing the last 10 months of general neglect from those areas of the house. I mean it’s been okay but this is like blinding white, smells like chemically goodness, clean.

Confession time. Because of the hoarding nature of my parents home, the more crammed and cluttered my house is, the more anxiety I have. Bleach, cleaning sprays, and soap like smells they calm me.

I hate to clean cause I’ve got things to do but man I will happily stand outside after I am done and bask in the smell… which probably isn’t healthy… but I’m getting older so it’s the little things in life, right?

I cleaned out a closet which… isn’t clean but it’s lost about 1 bag of stuff we just didn’t need.

Next is the linen closet/tool closet (apartment living so no garage? Store it with the linens. It’s not like we have a lot of rooms anyhow!), the master bedroom (fancy, lol), going through my closet, hallway, stairs and then…

DOWNSTAIRS.

Is anyone helping me? Well, Ry is going laundry and the romance novels as rewards are helping. So there is that.

By August I plan to be 100% done and doing my best to maintain. CDubs is going strong on day 3 or 4 of keeping his room clean. He earned his rock badge for cleaning up after himself this week:

Like his haircut? He got lice at daycare and I got the clippers out!! Looks like a right little gent!!

and he is excited to do another badge the next.

Which brings me to my next big thing:

I just bought two clear backpacks on Amazon today, big old writing pencils, (the fat ones. My son is a lefty and he needs all the purchase he can get! -Did I use that right, I’m trying to expand my vocabulary.) a pencil box, and I already got him a shark/pirate themed lunch set for school.

All I need is that class list and I am ready! I hope he is. He told me he doesn’t want to learn to read. I told him that I will always read to him even if he learns, so don’t worry. We will see how it goes.

I think that’s about all my updates! Thanks for reading this long but fun for me to write post! I hope to get back into blogging again! Here’s hoping for some stability in that as well!

Thankful and Grateful: Traditions

Hello! Today’s topic is “What a tradition you are thankful for?”

I can’t say, growing up that there were many traditions. I don’t think my parents operated that way. We could expect things like at Christmas we would decorate a tree together, if we had a tree that year. Or we would get a stocking with mixed nuts and oranges… if there were stockings that year. There were a lot of “ifs” in my childhood because we grew up poor. It happens.

Now that I am older, and married to a man that HAS traditions (I mean **HAS** them), I’ve enjoyed having them too.

I think the favorite traditions revolve around Christmas though. We love to over tip at Christmas, we try to eat as a family at home, but when we do go out, Waffle House (not fancy) or McDuff’s (fancy) we round, if the 20% tip is $5 we round to $10. If they were exceptionally sweet we may do a little more.

We decorate the tree together and we purchase Hallmark (they HAVE to be Hallmark) ornaments every year. Then we wrap those ornaments to open on Christmas. This one is fun, I am collecting the 12 days of Christmas series, they are birds!

Then we make cookies:

And frost them!

We also participate in holiday events as musicians and a few are annual without fail events and CDubs enjoys those too:

We decorate all over together as well, and wax melts with balsam is a favorite.

We send cards with photos, and sometimes we are able to get specific sizes and sometimes… we fail real hard and mess them up or forget to put them in the card all together (Sorry Aunt B). We try though, to send cards and do things right!

We do Elf in the Shelf and the reindeer thing too.

Overall, Christmas and Halloween are my favorite holidays but Christmas has way more traditions. I rather enjoy the holiday season!

This month I am trying, TRYING to answer these prompts, join me:

Thankful and Grateful: Clothing or Furniture

The prompt for today is “What piece of furniture or clothing are you thankful for?”

While I am thankful we finally upgraded from a full bed to a Queen sized bed, I love my Tieks, and the couch was certainly an upgrade.

However, I have already talked about all of these things on here… so I’ll be thankful about something else, lol!

I am thankful for… our newish Christmas tree!

We just finished decorating it for this season (super busy during the holidays-musicians and teachers both of us!) and it makes me think of our first tree.

Gosh, that tree came into our lives at the Christmas Clearance sale at Walmart. It was $15 and I thought it a most awesome deal!

And it was!

But our cat Fiona decided one Christmas that the lower branches tasted good, and we were worried for her digestive tract. What does synthetic Christmas tree do to a cat?

So we researched online a way to deter a cat from eating trees and discovered an orange cat deterrent that kept cats away and seemed to smell nice to us humans too.

Oh the foolishness we brought upon ourselves.

It was like a delicate orange flavoring to Fiona. Maybe it deterred her for a day or too, but once she got a taste for it, she couldn’t stop.

Luckily, Christmas came and went and she didn’t die.

We thought, “ah well you live and learn,” and though that was the end of it.

But no.

Did you know that cat deterrent lasts a long time? And it can flake off after many years? Yes, yes it can. Every time we took out the old tree we would get cat deterrent in the air as we shaped the branches. The we would breathe it in, and we would taste deterrent in our mouths for hours. It was nasty. It was vomit inducing. I just couldn’t.

Finally, after YEARS of deterrent and a new cat that ALSO thought the tree was now delicious… it was time to get a new tree! This is year 2 with this tree and thank goodness we have it. I just don’t think I could handle another year or orange sour vomit.

Thankful and Grateful: Books

Today’s prompt is “what book(s) are you grateful for?

There are so many books that I am grateful for. As I mentioned previously I am grateful for anything written by Mercedes Lackey.

I am grateful for ALL of the Harry Potter books. Not only did these books bring me hours of enjoyment, I met many cool people because of them!

I am grateful for all of the radical books we read in High School and College Lit. That stuff was… wow.

And for stories that expanded my world…

I am thankful for books that bring whimsy…

And books that lead me to personal religious truths…

Mostly though, I’m just thankful for books!

Thankful and Grateful: Public Service Organization

Today’s prompt is “What public Service Organization are you grateful for?” (Libraries, fire department, etc.)

While I am certainly thankful for very many public service organizations, I admire police officers a lot.

No, the real police!

I couldn’t do it. I thought about doing it in college, I admit. The idea of protecting the community and making a difference at home, so inspiring.

I know lately it’s been a lot of stores about racism, corruption, and violence but I believe there are good police officers all over my country. One even buys Tupperware from me! (and I’m grateful but that’s not why I’m writing about police officers)

I have hopes that, the good ones continue to shine and the bad ones are exposed and removed from duty. I truly believe though we are blessed to have such hardworking, skilled folks to protect us at schools, home, and around the community.

So thank you officers for all that you do!

This month I am attempting to answer gratitude prompts! please join me: