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Presumptious Politicking

Politicking, as defined by Dictionary.com, is the “activity undertaken for political reasons or ends, as campaigning for votes before an election, making speeches, etc., or otherwise promoting oneself or one’s policies.”

Want to know what I think about it?

Now, you know that I stay away from blogging about politics and such.  I don’t feel that I can intelligently argue my side, and really, this blog is about sharing my life’s experiences…not which candidate I’m supporting or which party I’m affiliated with.

With that in mind, this post is a vent that involves politics.

Yesterday, Rooster, who is twenty years old, received a politically-themed letter in the mail.  It was from the National Education Association (NEA) and the Florida Education Association (FEA).

Rooster is an affable young man, so he actually read the letter.

Me?

I would have torn it in two and placed it in the recycle bin.

He showed me the closing paragraph of the letter, a sarcastic smile on his face…

My shocked response, when I read this, could have been heard three houses down.

We laughed about it…at first.

Then, I got mad.

In fact, the more I thought about it, the madder I got.

Here’s the deal.

Yes, I am a teacher.

I don’t know how my name got added to these two organization’s mailing lists.  It could have been when I became a teacher, or it could have been when I joined my local teacher’s union…something that’s almost a must-do these days.

Either way, I haven’t minded receiving the education-minded magazines that arrive periodically from both organizations.  The articles help me grow as a professional.

The letter that arrived in the mail today, though, is an entirely different matter.

Just because I am on an organization’s mailing list does not mean that the organization has the right to use my name to endorse a candidate.

How does the organization know where I stand ideologically?  How fair is it to assume that I support everything a candidate represents without at least ASKING FOR MY OPINION?

How do you know if a doctor is pro-life or not?  Would it be fair to assume that a doctor supports the use of marijuana for medicinal use just because the doctor is a medical professional?  Does the AMA send out letters with individual doctors’ names on them to promote whichever candidate the organization is supporting that election year?

Is it fair to assume that every person who lives in Alabama supports the NRA and whatever candidates that organization endorses…just because those people live in a southern state where hunting is akin to a national pastime?

I’m not going to tell you, the NEA, or the FEA who I am supporting because, quite honestly, it’s nobody’s business but my own and the voting booth where I cast my vote.

This letter is crap, and I’m going to do what I need to do to get off of their mailing lists.  There’s no telling what else they’ll use my name for.

As far as politics goes, while I am extremely grateful that I live in a country where I can freely choose my leaders, I am sickened by the liberties taken in an effort to get people into various political offices.  The amount of money and other resources wasted, including crap pieces like the letter Rooster received, is shameful and disgusting, and I am so over it.

I’ve already voted, just so you know.  I can’t wait for the rest of the country to be finished on Election Day as well so all of the presumptuous politicking through commercials and phone calls will finally stop.

A Hunting We Will Go…for the Hodgepodge!

I’m thinking Joyce has gotten up close and personal with nature lately, given the bird theme for this week’s Hodgepodge.  If you’ve seen some of her lovely photos of recent outings, you might agree!  Who wouldn’t be, though, with the slight dip in temperatures as the promise of a break from the heat looms ever nearer.  For now, though, let’s get on to the questions for this week!  Thanks, Joyce!

1.  My hubs spent last weekend pheasant hunting. Are there hunters in your family? If so, what do they hunt? Which of the following have you tasted-pheasant, rabbit, venison, duck, goose? Which of those would you most like to taste, or be most willing to taste?

Vegetarians keep calm and Hodgepodge on.

The Mr. grew up hunting doves and quail with his grandfather and cousins.  He hasn’t been in some time, though.  I think that I’ve tasted venison and duck…once, perhaps…way back in my meat-eating days.  Nowadays, I’m a vegan and would not be willing to try any of them.

2.  What high spot have you visited that gave you a wonderful ‘bird’s eye view’ of something below?

In 2009, the entire family took a Caribbean cruise that stopped in St. Thomas.  What a gorgeous island, let me tell you!  I’m so excited because we’ll be headed back there in the very near future.  The view from the top of the island is breathtaking!

3.  Do you have any birds in your home? These could be either real live pets or decorative, as in bird prints, knickknacks, fabric or pottery.

There aren’t any birds of any sort in this house.  That’s not to say that I’ve never been called flighty or anything.

;)

4.  Tell about a time you ‘killed two birds with one stone’?

Let’s see…yesterday, I pulled context clues questions from an online resource.  I wound up making two tests from the batch of questions!  Work smarter, not harder, I’ve always heard!  Woo hoo!

5.  Your favorite song with a bird in it’s title?

I think that Rockin’ Robin is one of my favorites.  Sure, it’s an oldie, but I cannot help but want to dance every time I hear i.  I play it sometimes for my classes when I want students to mingle and then pair up to discuss things.  They inevitably start be-bopping too, much to my amusement.

6.  What most recently gave you goose bumps?

Brief flashes of chilly weather has recently given me goose bumps.  I’m very cold-natured, so shivering is what I do from November until March.

7.  Halloween is this Friday…any plans? Did you trick or treat as a child? Carve pumpkins? Share your most memorable costume.

I will be cheering on my high school as the football team takes on its biggest cross-town rival.  I’ve got a young man who I’m a football mama to, and I just love cheering him on!  He’s a fabulous player and an all-around fantastic young man.  I’ve taught quite a few of the players, so it’s fun to hear their names called out when they make plays.

As a child, I did trick-or-treat, and as a mom, I took my children as well.  I don’t remember carving pumpkins when I was a child, but we carved a couple when my children were little.  I honestly cannot remember any of my costumes.  Back in the 70’s, we wore the plastic kind with those horrid masks.

8.  My Random Thought

Every time I get paid, I just can’t stop myself…

From buying books for my students.

The latest round included several for my male students who, I fear, often get overlooked, accidentally, by the girlie books.

Paul Volponi’s books resonate with my guys.  His stories weave in sports and other drama relevant to issues that males deal with.  I can’t wait to do book previews of the ones you see pictured above!  I can guarantee that the books will not stay on my shelves.

Candlepower Socks

My strategy for getting lesson plans finished before the weekend is beginning to reap dividends.

Yesterday, I finished another project!

I present my Candlepower Socks…the second pair of three proposed socks for this term’s OWL.

It took me thirteen days to complete this pair.  I could have done it in a week had it been summer (aka no responsibilities).

The yarn is Gypsy Girl Creations, Transitions, and the colorway is Evening Solitude.  I used 316 yards (almost two skeins) and size 0 needles.

This pattern was less tedious than the pair I finished a couple of weeks ago.  The pattern was easy to understand and just made sense, if you know what I mean.

The only thing I wish is that I’d gotten to the yellow part of the yarn.  I had envisioned starting with this color but didn’t wind my yarn that way.  Oh well.

I have one more pair of socks to complete before the end of November and hope to cast on sometime this week.  It may be the weekend, though, because I know how zombied out I get during the week…especially with me working so hard early on to make my lesson plans…staying up into the wee hours of the night to meet my goal.

Stay on the lookout though.  You know I’ll share!

A Smelly Bonding Experience

The Mr. and I drove separate cars to church this morning.  He was ushering, and I was not.  We went to lunch with friends afterward and then arrived home…with him beating me there.

When I walked in, a terrible smell assaulted my nose.

It smelled like poop.

Very stinky poop.

I walked around the house looking for a pile but didn’t see anything.

The Mr. came out of one of the bedrooms, and I told him the house smelled bad.

He said that he’d noticed something too (how he was not using stronger words at this point was beyond me).

Together, we investigated further.

He saw it first.

A long, wide pile of diarrhea.

Light brown diarrhea.

Liquid diarrhea.

The reason I had not seen it the first time was because our floors are brown, so the poop matched the floor.

Boy am I glad I did an eye-scan and didn’t walk all over the place.  I would have walked right through it…in my fluffy slippers.

Ewww.

By this time, the smell had grown even worse, and we were both gagging, about to puke.

The Mr. has always claimed that he can’t do poop and did not change many poopie diapers when the kids were babies.

I MADE him come out of his hiding place, threatening him mightily.  I told him I’d do the actually wiping up if he would hold the trash bag.

As I gathered supplies, he told me that although he had smelled something when he’d walked in, he thought it was from the very gaseous day I had on Saturday.

Ahem.

Something had not sat right with my tender belly.  I’m so glad it wasn’t a weekday.

Teachers with gas…that’s a post for another day.

Ahem.

Anyhoo, I started laughing because I had thought the SAME THING…surely I hadn’t smelled that badly.

Ahem.

Anyhoo, the job required gloves.  There was no way I was going to let the cheapo paper towels I’d splurged on a few months ago leak through.  The Mr. told me the gloves were going in the garbage with the rest of the mess.

We breathed through our mouths and got through the sordid affair.

Blech.

We spent the afternoon with the windows open and Scentsy candles putting out a Maple Brown Sugar aroma.

I think this will go down as one of the second yuckiest bonding experiences we’ve ever had…the first being the time we cleaned up Chicky after she did her messy business on the way back from an Auburn game.

That’s a story for another time, though.

No pictures of our adventure today.  I figured I’d spare you.

:P

Making Connections

Like all reading teachers across the state, I am being challenged to prepare for a test that has new components.  One thing that will be new for students will be an audio portion of text that they will have to listen to. They will not have text to follow along with but will be required to answer questions related to what is being read aloud.

To help my students, I have built listening activities into my weekly lessons.  A great resource that another teacher initially found was NPR.  She and I have begun printing scripts from interviews that involve topics our students are interested in and having students write short-response answers as they listen.

I stumbled across another section of NPR’s website that I had to share with you!

If you are a teacher, I strongly encourage you to visit the link for Teenage Diaries Revisited.

In 1996, NPR gave out audio recorders to various teenagers who then turned around and documented part of their lives.  The stories they tell are heartbreaking and so easy for today’s teens to relate to.

As I listened to Frankie’s Diary, I began crafting questions for my students to answer as they listened.  We have been working on citing evidence, so this was a great assignment to reinforce newly-acquired skills.

Frankie was a young man, seventeen at the time he recorded his story, who was living in Alabama.  He told about how he didn’t fit in until he joined the football team…about he he wore Levis to school but Wranglers at home…just so he wouldn’t be made fun of.  He talked about the car his father bought him.

Then, he told the story of how his father was nabbed by the FBI for a sixteen-year-old crime he was falsely convicted of.

Folks, Part 1 was sixteen minutes long.

You would have thought it was fewer than five, the way my students sat in rapt attention.

They laughed at parts, and they swayed to the music that played.

Then, things turned serious.

You should have seen my kids writing afterward.  You could have heard a pin drop in what is usually a loud classroom.

*Ahem*

;)

I brought their responses home to grade and Oh.  My.  Gosh.

Here is what the assignment looked like on my Smartboard…just so you’ll see the questions I asked…

The stories my students told in response to question number one absolutely broke my heart.

I pride myself on knowing my students well.

Um, yeah.

I learned more about them with this one question than nine weeks of instructional time.

I wish I could give you details, but I don’t want to get in trouble for sharing things I’m not supposed to.

Just trust me.  The stories you hear on TV about what kids are going through…they are not exaggerations.

Students who NEVER participate willingly in classroom discussions shared very personal things.

Question number two allowed me glimpses into the empathy my young charges have for others.

You know that I’ve had a difficult time this year with my attitude and stress level.

Reading my students’ responses brought a joy to my heart and reminded me how privileged I am to impact young minds.

Another Turn at the Hodgepodge

This week’s Hodgepodge, courtesy of our fantastic hostess, Joyce, has a decidedly autumn feel now that we’re knee deep into October.  Fun times are just around the corner with the first holiday quickly approaching!  Let’s get on with the questions!

1.  Elizabeth Lawrence is quoted as saying, ‘Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.” So have you done just that? And what did you leave undone in order to do so?

I am starting to do just that!  I think I’ve found a new system that works for me as far as lesson planning goes.  As you guys are aware, I spend upwards of ten to fifteen hours each week on my lesson plans.  This is not time I spend at school because of all of the things that manage to encroach into what the district has termed my “planning period.”  Ahem.

In the last two weeks, I’ve discovered that if I stay up until midnight a couple of weeknights, I can get my plans finished and have everything copied before the weekend.  Then, the only thing I do is grade reading logs when I get home on Friday, enter the grades, and send out progress reports and classroom updates.

Although I have many more things I could be doing, I’m choosing not to.

I actually sat on my porch on Sunday and took in a few rays while the dogs enjoyed the fresh air with me.

I care not that other things on my never-ending to-do list aren’t getting done in my typical overachiever way.

Those things are getting taken care of…eventually.

This girl needs time to rest.

2.  Since we’re talking turning…what’s one thing you feel you’re doing ‘every time you turn around‘?

I feel as though I’m constantly picking off dog hair from everything!!!  My dogs shed big time, and the hair is everywhere!  Ugh!!!!

3.  How hard is it for you to ‘turn the other cheek?’

It depends on who’s doing the insulting.  I can, at times, have a quick temper and will lash out in self defense; however, there are a lot of times when I don’t speak up for myself and allow people to walk all over me.

I’m starting to develop a backbone though.

Ahem.

4.  When did you last turn a drawer, your car, a room, or your entire house upside down looking for something? Did you find it?

I recently began hunting for my Shiver series, a wonderful trilogy that I know I had in my classroom.  The entire box is missing, and I cannot, for the life of me, remember where it is!  I have a feeling I loaned it to someone.  Why else would the ENTIRE box be missing?  Still, I turned over everything and looked in every corner for this set.  I still have not found it.  Ugh.

5.  ‘One good turn deserves another‘…were you most recently on the giving or receiving end of that sentiment?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend picked me up and gave me a ride to school.  My car was in the shop, and she works with me.  She lives across the street from me, so it’s very convenient.  To pay her back after two days of bumming rides, I treated her to Starbucks on the way to school.  When we pulled up to the window, we were informed that the car in front of us had paid for our order!!!  We were shocked, to say the least.  The guy told us that the car in front of that car had paid for the one in front of ours.  Naturally, I paid for the car behind us.  I never got a receipt, and to this day, I have no idea if I spent $50 or $5.  What a fun thing to be a part of and a special feeling to know that someone cared enough about me to pay for me!!

6.  Red, yellow, and orange are the colors of fall. Also the colors of fruit. If you were permitted only one color of fruit in your diet, which would you choose? This question isn’t as easy as it sounds, at least not for me.

I’m going with orange because I love oranges and cantaloupes.

7.  The Hunt for Red October, October Sky, Halloween…which ‘October‘ film is your favorite?

I’ll go with The Hunt for Red October.  I read the book when I was a teenager, and the movie is a bit of a classic for me.  I love a good spy film!

8.  My Random Thought

I’m still thinking about Question #1.  Working on lessons during the week is leading to productive weekends.

Puppy pedicures…

Black bean soup…homemade…

Knitting…

And naps (well, I always indulge in these!)…

Creating Margins

I recently finished a devotion series about creating margins in your life.

What does this mean?

Well, it means that you put boundaries around yourself so you can have time to relax and recharge.

This is something I have not done well…or at all…since I began working on my college degree in 2006.  I’ve pretty much worked non-stop.

All work and not as much play have taken their toll on me, and I am finally recognizing the need to plan better and slow down.

It’s challenging because teaching does not allow for much free time.  I get paid for 7.5 hours of work each day.

This is laughable.

I work between ten and twelve hours a day and still cannot get everything done.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m beginning to prioritize.

Lesson plans always come first followed by things with deadlines (my IPDP is due on the 24th…I’m done already).  The rest of the things on my to-do list come last.

Lesson planning is hard for me.  I’m very meticulous and try to envision how the lessons will come across to my students.  Planning for ninety-minute class periods, five days a week, is a lot of work.  I cannot imagine how elementary teachers plan for entire days with multiple subjects to cover each day!

I’ve begun working on my lesson plans on weeknights and try to finish before the weekend.  This is allowing me to create a buffer of two days during which I do not allow myself to do ANYTHING work-related.

It’s been refreshing to come home and just be

I’ve managed to do some knitting in the middle of the week…after my lesson plans have been finished…

I even made a healthy dinner, although I’ll admit that it was my second choice, eaten only AFTER my local Mexican restaurant totally screwed up my phone-in order and added cheese to my bean burritos.  This happens frequently…and they had the nerve to charge me even when I went back to get a refund.  I’ll be the unpleasant person raising a ruckus later today…

Friday afternoon, I got my nails done after school (before I headed home to grade my last set of reading logs and head to the football game)…

Go ahead and be jealous of my bejeweled nails…

Relaxing, though, is tough.  It’s hard to catch up on rest when you constantly deny yourself the pleasure of sleeping.  Evidence of this manifested itself at the game when I heard an announcement over the PA system that someone had lost their keys and a sheriff’s deputy could be seen about it.

I decided to do a look-see to make sure I had mine.

Of course I didn’t.

The keys were mine, and I’d had no clue…less than eight minutes before the end of the game.

God is good, is He not?

I’m slowly learning the importance of saying no to things.

I don’t feel badly for not taking on additional responsibilities such as club sponsorships at school.

I know myself well and don’t think I can manage anything else.

Being self-aware is a good thing, I think.

I may change my mind when I get to work and take another look at my to-do list…

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