Monday, September 28, 2009

too soon?

Last week I wrote all about my awesome year.

Perhaps I spoke too soon.

Today I had no patience.

Not enough sleep.

It was a true Monday.

They were all problem children.

Maybe I was just a problem teacher.

A kid almost cried - or maybe really did, behind his book (I have to confess that I'm a lot more strict this year, which is good).

President Obama thinks he has the solution to our test scores. That gave some coworkers more reason to hate on him. But I won't go there. Not today, anyway.

It was just one of those days - one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

But Monday's over now.

I'm just grateful no one came in to observe or evaluate me today. Yuck.

And tomorrow is library day. And I get to work at a middle school XC meet.

And I can go to bed whenever I want. Which will probably be as soon as I post this.

And my camera must still be at school, since I've turned the house upsidedown.

I have a fun nerdy teacher idea to write about, complete with pictures - some special "visitors" are hanging out in my classroom for the novel we're reading...  Tuck Everlasting.

It's much less creepy than it sounds. Really. It's cool. They're learning. You'll see.

I also had pictures from the good weekend. Of the progress in our backyard project: barren wasteland to outdoor oasis. Of a dinner and a walk for Jason and Daniel and mom and dad.

So, someday. Some day that's not a Monday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

escuela

I haven't really posted about school since the year started. Here you go. (I just realized that, for some reason, whenever I post about school I have unexplainable urges to title the post in Spanish. Huh.)

I have been blessed this year with a lot of "those days." If you're a teacher, you know what I mean - days when things just seem to go right, when the kids behave, when the lessons "work," when all 65 of them get it. I love those days. Obviously.

I've amazed myself a few times this year. I'm such a better teacher than I was a year ago. I'm not sure I ever understood what a difference a year makes until now.

These kids, I wish you could meet them all. (Disclaimer: okay, maybe I'm exaggerating just a tad. But for sixth graders, they are pretty darn great - so far.) Of course, there's always a few who amaze me in a different way. But even they are special and good and challenging and important to the class dynamics and me. There are moments, even days sometimes, when I'm stunned by this group. They answer questions thoughtfully, participate meaningfully, work diligently. Those days have been more abundant this year than last.  I've been reluctant to write about it, because I'm afraid of jinxing myself. Yet they continue to amaze me.

One day, a number of students were being called to the office to pick up fundraiser packets or something.  A student of mine listened attentively, then declared loudly, "That's a shocker! I didn't get called to the office!" The funny thing is, he hasn't been in trouble all year. This one also sings Michael Jackson at random moments, usually when everyone's quietly working. I love it.

Today my coworkers and I spent our team time venting and sharing frustrations about a few kids. But just a few minutes later, during the next passing period, we were trying not to laugh too hard at their antics in the hallways. One dear friend observed, "Why would you want to be anything other than a teacher?!"

Why, indeed. What a wonderful thing to be paid for.

"Synonyms"
mk

I teach,
  inform.
  correct.
  assign.
  motivate.
  question.
  sigh.
  comment.
  plead.
  highlight.
  grade.
  dream.
  educate.
  cajole. 
  comment.
  answer.
  lead.
  amaze.
  inspire.
  smile.
  instruct.
  hope.
  cry.
  pray.
  love.
  bargain.  
  wonder.
  laugh.
  teach.

More!

Guilty pleasures. More things I love.

My baking mat. I can make sugar cookies. Easily. They're more fun and more delicious when they are easy.

 

My jewelry organizer. It's just so handy. It looks pretty, too. I wear my beads more often this year, when they aren't hiding in boxes.



Flintstones vitamins. Yep. This is how I roll.



My salad spinner. I didn't think I wanted one. Maybe I just like seeing the greenish water that I pour out of it after the salad goes for a spin.

 


The days that my Better Homes and Gardens comes.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Monday can come now.

Rarely do I feel this ready for Monday on a Sunday evening. Usually, I spend the hours between now and bedtime with a mental checklist of what I did not get done over the weekend (or moaning about how sick I felt - last weekend).

I don't know if I just had lower expectations for the last two days, or if it's that tomorrow is inservice so I don't have to be prepared to teach, or if the weekend was just so wonderful in little ways. Whatever it is, I'll take it.

This was actually last Thursday, but we went to look at the new gym at the high school. It is going to be amazing. I love the orange duct work (I really am such an Oriole now) and the four-sided scoreboard. The ceiling used to be foamy material that would sometimes float down into the stands during games. Ick. There is a better picture and an article update on the bond issue online, at the Augusta Gazette. Can't wait for basketball season!


Saturday we went to watch Brad's cousin, Andrea, play volleyball in Maize. It was great to chat with Jim and Sheila (we love you!) and see adorable Ang. We also got to watch a friend from Bethel coach, but her team apparently played a lot better after we left.


At Maize High School, there is a bank. Seriously. In the school. Not just this ATM, but also a teller window. Why?!


We also bought some bulbs on Saturday, to plant in our backyard. I'm hoping that sometime in the next few weekends, my mom can dig up some of the extras in her garden and bring them down in the truck so Brad can go pick up a tree (hint, hint, mama?). I have a whole corner of the backyard designated for my perennials.


Also... my kitchen is cleaner than it's been since we moved in; I even mopped the floor this evening and put away all the junk that collects on the counter. The groceries for the week have been purchased (remind me that I hate Dillon's on Sunday afternoon!) and put away. I love all of that. I'm going to enjoy it for the 24-ish hours of cleanliness it has left.


Tonight for supper Brad made pulled pork. Yum. Yum. Yum. We have leftovers for lunch tomorrow and plenty in the freezer.


Monday can come now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Confession?

I don't actually have anything to write about today. I just feel like writing something. (I know I hinted at cookie pictures, but I'm feeling too lazy to take and upload any tonight. If you really need a baked goods fix, revisit this post or this post.)

I've always wished, sometimes in the far reaches of my imagination, but still, always, that I could be a writer. Like, a real writer. Who publishes books or short stories or, at crazier times, at least poetry.

But that's so hard. I mean, you have to write things that people want to read (people besides family and close friends). Not just read, though - pay money to read, because that is what buying books is all about. You have to weave together schemes and some sort of plot that doesn't fall apart or drift off course after the first two pages. The characters you create have to leap out of the book and into the lives of the readers. And the setting absolutely has to feel like a place anyone could visit. You have to write a lot, and revise and edit and revise some more. And you have to write really, really well.

I don't do any of those things.

I had every intention of working on that, this summer. Just writing, to practice. To see if I actually do have any stories to tell. I even came up with a couple of rough ideas. But, like studying for the GRE and working on my application to grad school (I promise, I'm starting those things as soon as I'm done with all that Sunday School stuff), my best laid plans gave way to easier activities, like painting every room in the house and going to pilates.

So instead, I have this little blog. And people who love me humor me by reading it and occasionally commenting.

Thank you for indulging me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And now, a post about...

grass.

And there you were, all excited that I updated. But you'll forgive me; I've been horridly sick (yes, sick enough to admit I am sick, stay home from work, and go to the doctor. Wow). And this could quite possibly be the most exciting thing in my life right now.


(Except the phone call from my sister this afternoon - I'll admit, it is kind of nice when they want my help. Except how darling my kiddos are so far this year. And except for the yummy cookies I baked today - would have posted about those, but they are not frosted yet.)

But back to the point.

If you recall, about a week or so ago, our backyard, freshly plowed and graded and seeded, looked like this:

Once things dried out (and we calmed down about the lake in the corner), hope started to sprout:

And as time went on, that hope grew...

...and continues to grow:
"I'm gonna live where the green grass grows, watch my corn pop up in rows, every night be tucked in close to you..."

Maybe tomorrow... a post about cookies? With frosting? Just to keep you checking in...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New hobby...




Check out Brad's new hobby here... podcasting.

From Donna, with love...

III. Santa mugs

These were the items in my box of gifts from Grandma that met with the most skepticism from my husband:


They're so jolly. Brad must just be a grinch. But really, like I wrote in an earlier post, it's the memories, not the objects.

Grandma and Grandpa have always (and always = to my memory, of course) had tons of mugs, collected from different celebrations and events and gifts. The Santa mugs were always ours. Ironically, I actually only remember drinking orange juice from it, never hot chocolate, even though I'm sure we did. The two Santa mugs are special because they're from Grandma's house, and there just doesn't need to be another reason.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Love

This one is kind of boring, if you don't care about what our house looks like.

The latest project...

When my friend Kendra sent me the link to this vinyl wall art, I was so excited. (In case you haven't noticed, it's the quotation from the top of our blog. It also happened to be on our wedding invitations, programs, and thank yous. Don't feel bad if you don't remember; I may or may not have had to remind Brad.)

When I found out that you can stick it onto painted canvas (although I discovered this pm that it's not nearly as easy as they say), I custom ordered. We needed something big to hang over the fireplace; I wanted an antique/stained glass window, but those are a bit pricey and tough to find - at least what I wanted. This works for me, as nerdy as it may be to have words as a focal point. I must be an English teacher or something. The canvas matches our other walls. I love the final product, so the words are there to stay, but I'm not sure about the rest of the "stuff" on the mantle. The photo is our favorite from the wedding. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rain, Rain...

Just thinking of all the ways I could finish this little rhyme today.

...go away, come again another day! (And preferably in moderation at that point in time.)

Just last week... The yard was cleared out, graded (I guess, though right now it doesn't appear it was properly done!), and seeded.


And then today... If you look closely, you can see the pond that has formed in the southwest corner of our backyard, the spot where we plan to plant my beloved cottonless cottonwood and maybe someday put a dog house. This whole water feature thing just isn't working for me. And there's something fishy about this coupled with the facts presented above - I'm pretty sure that much dirt didn't wash out in the last 36 hours.


...makes a grumpy Mrs. K. Maybe it's more the way kids act when it's rainy all day that makes me just a touch cranky. Or maybe it's when the computers don't work during formative assessments, or when there aren't enough chairs in the computer lab.

But I don't write this for sympathy.

In any case, school's over, the backyard will be fixed soon (at least, before we cough up the second half of our payment), and I am blessed...

  • In some spots, the grass seed is surviving the torrential downpour and starting to sprout.
  • Tomorrow I get a day "off," to go to district professional development. (Well, I don't have to teach or fight the computers for the rest of our formatives.) It's part of our "three-year new teacher induction program." I'm going to learn to differentiate my instruction. I actually am excited.
  • There are very few papers in my life that require grading.
  • I am starting to feel a little bit less sick-ish than I have since Saturday.
  • Tonight there is a lasagna for supper, thanks to our newly discovered love of weekly meal planning. (This weekend I also began to stock my freezer - mainly for crazy basketball season - and am already seven meals ahead of the game.)
  • My weekend of crazy cooking included pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I don't even like pumpkin things, but these are amazing.
  • My husband bought me chocolate yesterday. There's still lots left. But by bedtime tonight...
  • I have a job that I love, even on the bad days, and coworkers who are just plain awesome, especially on the bad days.
  • I have another little project in the works... I'm very, very excited about it. Hmm... what could it be for?!


Editor's note: I did not choose the cheesy flower bullet points. Blogger doesn't let me choose, unless there's something I don't know about?! Anyone know of a way?

Monday, September 7, 2009

All Right.......

After being in Augusta for 2+ years I have found that people here take care of Megan and I. The Booster Club wants me to use them more for the girls basketball team. Business owners (usually parents of former/current students/players) give Megan and I a discount for just being us. I am not sure how I feel about this yet. I am very thankful for the community helping out a young couple, but I don't feel like I deserve any special treatment for being a teacher or coach. But, it is nice to be taken care of by so many generous people in a community that I wasn't sure about when I first moved here. The generosity of a few community members has changed my view of what Augusta is, and can be. Plus, my kids in my classroom just broke out into song on Friday ( we listen to a Beatles CD every Friday) and sang Yellow Submarine. It was one of my happiest moments in the classroom, I think it shows that my class will be a fun, and they get along.

On Friday I got ticket offers for two different sporting events, one was the KU football game on Saturday, the other was for the Royals game on Sunday. Both tickets were for amazing seats, the KU game seats were in the corner of Memorial Stadium were the student section and the alumni section meet and 9 rows up. The Royals tickets were located 3 rows behind the Royals dugout. I would have loved to do both, but decided that I should attend just one of the two amazing games. After some thought I decided that sitting a few feet from Billy Butler and Bryan Pena at Kauffman stadium would be more fun. Plus, I got to take my brother and brother in law to the game.

For my brother it was his first game in the renovated stadium, and for Daniel it was his first Major League game ever. The seats were easily the best seats that I have had in my close to 20 games at Kauffman. We sat less than 100 feet from home plate and less than 40 feet from first base. When players would come off of the field they could actually hear what I said and some even acknowledged my praises for hustle and effort. The Royals played like the Royals usually do, 12 hits and 2 runs. Lets just say that their roster only has 3 or 4 major league batters and 5 or 6 major league pitchers. The lack of offensive production was not the low point of the game though, it was the Angels fans behind us.

In typical L.A. fashion(guessing here) the young family (parents around 30 and daughter was about 6) showed up after the first inning was over. Then the Angels got a run and the mother screamed "Alllll Riiiiiiiiiight!" Her shrill voice would have been loud enough to be used as a tornado siren. She was a bi polar fan as well (again this is a typical L.A. sports fan in my world). Gary Matthews Jr. strode to the plate with his .245 batting average and 3 home runs (he would be a Royals starter with those stats) and she screamed, in front of her 6 year old daughter, "I hate when Matthews plays, he is worthless." (Overpaid might be correct term since he is making $10 million this year) Matthews gets a hit and then the "tornado siren" belts out an "Allllllll Riiiiiiiiiiiight!" and her husband pipes in with "Game over, oh man, this game is in the bag."

Yes, the Royals probably wouldn't be able to score enough to over come a 0-0 game, but I consider myself an educated sports fan. Someone who doesnt think that every good play for my team is a winning play and that any good play for the other team is the final nail in the coffin.

Thank goodness that the typical L.A. fans left in typical L.A. fashion, after the 4th inning. Their daughter wanted to play in the "Outfield Experience", which is very cool. My kids will need to do this before the game, I hope they will be able to take in sporting events for more than just entertainment, and use them as a learning experience for any sport. No matter how bad a team is, you will always hear cheers for players who hustle and play with passion, and thats all a fan or coach can ask for.

I hope these pictures do our trip justice.


















Saturday, September 5, 2009

A New Mission

Waste not, want not. We're on a mission: City Composting 101. Growing up, we composted just about everything that was biodegradable, but I never knew it would be so easy to do in town, without making the neighbors mad and all. This summer I started becoming frustrated with the amount of avoidable/food trash the two of us have (yes, we definitely do recycle), so I started looking at compost bins online. Mostly, they're super expensive. But not ours...

I found directions here, and I've been wanting to try for a while. However, with the (now former!) state of our posterior exterior there was no place to put it. Since our backyard was dredged out, filled in, graded, and seeded this past week, it was finally time.

So this afternoon, in about five minutes flat, we created our own little composting spot.


Get a big plastic storage tub. Check. We bypassed the lime green and electric blue versions in favor of something a little more subtle. To my chagrin, there was no beige (according to Brad - and my walls - shades of brown are my favorite home improvement colors).


Drill holes in the bottom. Check.


Fill the bottom with shredded newspaper or leaves. Check - sort of. We do not subscribe to any newspapers (just pick up the Sunday Eagle on our way to church), or much print journalism at all for that matter (just Time and BHG), so we came up with our own alternative. It was good timing, because the shredder was getting a little full.


Cover with dirt. Check. I think the tub is supposed to be about half full at this point, but it's not quite. We may need to add more dirt as we go.


Add your compost. Check. I'm sparing you the photos of this part, because brown pear parts are not pleasant, even when stored in airtight containers. One tip for storing composting items is to buy one of these Oxo pop top containers. I love my Oxo. (I also use these to store dry goods like flour and sugar.)

Stir, then water just a bit. Check.

Put on the lid and drill some holes. Check.

We will continue to add our scraps (mostly fruit and vegetable scraps, no meat, but lint apparently works well) as we collect them, stirring each time. And next summer, when we plant our garden in those newly filled raised beds, we will have plenty of rich, organic fertilizer to add.

Obviously, it's not as easy as the big barrels that you just turn with the handle, but it's considerably cheaper, to the tune of several hundred dollars. We'll let you know how it works...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Umm...

Today I told my kids to have a great weekend - it was their "homework." After all, they don't have to come to school until Tuesday. One of them asked what happens if they don't. I told them that, if all else fails, at least they don't have to see or listen to me for three whole days.

And a student (who has a very bipolar love-hate relationship with me; one minute he will be rolling his eyes because I quietly asked him to be on-task, the next minute he will come show me the picture of Sponge Bob he drew while he was supposed to be working... and I had just chewed him out about telling his study hall teacher he had no work when he in fact has four zeros in my class) blurted out, "I can't stand to not see you for two minutes."

Umm....

Another student immediately exclaimed, "Mrs. Kohlman, I think he likes you."

I responded by ignoring it all.

But it's still weird. So weird.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

Just a few things I love. Things, not people.

Flowers


Basketball

Pretending I'm an amazing baker/cookie decorator

My super comfy couches

Working on sewing projects (and, again, pretending I'm really good at it)

Black and white photographs... I just feel like, when they're black and white, they should be called photographs, not pictures. (I also like to pretend I'm a very artistic photographer.)
Shopping with Becca

My "job"


It sounds like I mostly just like to play pretend. Yes, I'm 23, but some things just don't change...