parently the natives get restless when I don't blog. Oops. Sorry about that whole "spending Christmas with you guys" thing. I must be better entertainment online than I am in person. I'll try to do better (or schedule more posts, at least) next year. ; ) Just kidding... maybe.
And now, without further ado, the past week of our lives, four Christmases (isn't that a movie?! maybe next year we'll go somewhere tropical...):
I haven't posted much about basketball this year. The record going into Christmas break is 1-3. It's been rough. The girls are young. Out of the first six varsity players, three are sophomores. Two of them never played a varsity minute until they started the first game of the year. They're learning - against some tough teams (Buhler, Andover Central, Rose Hill, Campus, if you're at all familiar with the AV-CTL), no less. I think they're getting better. I know they need the break, but I can't wait for some more games.
I want to celebrate with something special. But I don't know what. So I'm celebrating by scheduling a post in advance. Yep. It only took me 100 posts to figure it out. ;)
This is our tree. Only one year in my life have I had a fake Christmas tree. No, I will not be kind and call them artificial. They're fake - that's all there is to it. It was pathetic. Of course, that may be due in part to the fact that we spent 25 Black Friday dollars on it. I hated that tree. I tried to find a picture, but I don't even have that. When we moved, we left it on the curb with a "free" sign. It was gone withing 24 hours.
Again this year, we ventured out on Black Friday to search for a tree. A real one. We got this one at Lowe's, and it has held up really well so far. (We'll see what happens after we head to Lyndon for the next 5 or 6 days.) The ornaments are an assortment of things we have collected over the years, with a few extras that we bought to fill up the tree scattered in. The lights are colored. It is my perfect Christmas tree.
How is it that I'm so many posts behind in only a few days?! Better get started...
Our last day of school before Christmas Break is always chaotic. This year, it included a trip to the high school (about 20 yards away) for the band/choir concert, a Central Time party, staff vs. students volleyball, staff basketball game, locker clean out, and movie. All before 1 p.m.
Two of my girls had these in their hair. They said that the pom poms were their easy buttons. I smiled, knowing (hoping?) that they do not know the multiple meanings of that word. Is that mean?
My friend Michelle always wears the afro. Isn't it great?
Ahem. Please allow me to get on my soap box for a little while, to hopefully humor you a bit while preventing you from making a major faux pas.
The #1 thing to never say to a teacher... "It must be nice to have a two-weeks off at Christmas and/or three months in the summer."
Really, truly never say it. Especially not during Christmas break. Or in the week leading up to Christmas break. We all make choices. Your choice was to do something that is not teaching. My choice was to become a teacher. There are perks, I'm not gonna lie.
But I was thinking about some things that must be nice. And I can come up with a little list. Obviously not everything applies to every profession. Regardless, it must be nice...
-to never have to deal with helicopter or indifferent parents
-to, on those bad days, be able to just shut off the world from your little office/cubicle and growl at anyone who interrupts
-to have an extra minute at lunch to run that errand
-to be able to answer the phone and talk any time the doctor/dentist/mechanic/etc. calls
-to leave all your work at work
-to not care (or know) about the crazy rules of standardized testing
-to get up from your desk any time you have to use the restroom
-to not be interrupted in the middle of work (read: a lesson) to try to figure out if a kid called his mom during his last class
-to get paid overtime-to call in sick without planning ahead
-to not worry about keeping track of which boys write passes to use the restroom (to try to figure out who poops in the urinal or is carving graffiti on the stall walls)
It is nice to have two weeks at Christmas and a three-month summer. It's nice to receive sweet Christmas cards and thoughtful (albeit sometimes strange) gifts. It's nice to have hugs. It's nice to spend passing periods visiting with kind, understanding, hilarious coworkers (even though not everyone is as lucky as I am). Sometimes it's even nice to grow through those experiences with cheating students, difficult parents, and moments of failure. I have to tell you, it's nice to be a teacher.
This was my desk yesterday morning when I arrived at school. I at least stacked the papers neatly before I ran out the door right at 3:30 the afternoon before. I do mean ran, although it may have been a few seconds before 3:30. The last week before Christmas break is rough. But we're now down to one day, and I can handle that.
I did grade this stack of papers graded. More are done after today. And the rest will wait until Monday... or Tuesday... or any free time I have before grades are due on January 4. I thought about killing myself trying to grade 70 narrative essays before tomorrow at 1, but it's just not going to work out. Trust me: it's better this way.
Little things like this make it all worth it. When we are working on a writing assignment, I make the kids fill out exit slips before they can leave. They write the greatest things.
Oh, and yesterday evening, when Brad was at school working, I did this:
That's right. The stair railing that we took down in May when we painted is now back up. And I did it by myself. I hope nobody notices that the paint now needs to be touched up. Oops - I just confessed. I'm not going to guarantee that it's 100% sturdy (but only because a few of the screws were stripped out so the drill just spun once they were in most of the way - probably should replace those someday), but it's up.
Now... back to peppernuts and cleaning! Kohlman Christmas on Rushwood Dr. in T-2.5 days!
"I got my first Christmas present today."
"Oh? Is it from a nice kid?"
"I don't know."
"What do you mean? Don't you have her for a reading group? Don't you have all the fifth graders for science?"
"Yeah. She's not a fifth grader."
"Oh. So it's a kid in a classroom close to yours, like a fourth grader? One you see sometimes?"
"Nope. I don't even really know who she is."
My husband is so popular that he gets presents from students he doesn't even know...
Does anyone else think that's just a little bit ridiculous?!
This might be a sad, nerdy, materialistic post, but I just have to share. The good thing about my life is that my birthday is less than a month after Christmas. So, even though people have probably already made their Christmas purchases, there's another very special holiday coming soon (yes, I still love my birthday that much. Although, the other day I forgot how old I am. I don't think that's a good sign). I just found these:
Aren't they amazing?! Seriously... (picture from here, a blog I rarely visit anymore because even though it's all diy, it's a little too 'perfect' for me. no offense if you love it - it's just not my style. bookends from here.) There could not be a more perfect design for bookends.
Numbers one and two on my list are pretty solid wishes, just not actual objects (cash for the piano fund, Maurice's gift card). But these bookends are a close #3. Please don't bring up the fact that I already have two sets. One is on top of my fridge holding up my cookbooks. The other is on a wide windowsill holding up my "writing" notebooks and address book. They are occupied. I even have another spot for these.
After all, a girl can never have too many bookends, right?
First things first. I'm almost to 100 posts. To be precise, this is 92. So soon I will be at 100, which I have to admit is kind of cool. To me, anyway. Unfortunately, I always miss these things at the moment. And later they don't seem as special. So I'm celebrating now.
It is entirely too cold. Am I too young to have aches related to weather? Yesterday I limped around the house because my bad knee hurt. It does again today. I can only imagine what Wednesday, with its forecasted high of 18, will be like. Thus, I have decided that, when the high is below 20 degrees, we should all cancel work and stay home. How about? Wednesday needs to = pj day.
On Saturday I made peanut butter bars, sugar cookies, and peppernuts. We had a party (not just because of the food) with our small group from church. Holy Smokes, it was fun! :)
And now, the point, which I did now know was the point until I had typed the entire post.
I have long known that I come from two long lines of good cooks/bakers. I'm determined that such things are genetic. Now, I don't think that I'm a particularly good cook - recipes are pretty easy to follow, and I've still managed to have some major screw-ups. Someday, mom, I'll figure out that baked steak thing. Despite my mishaps in the kitchen, I did happen to inherit the half of that gene that determines baking prowess. (It did come from both sides of the family, after all.) I always forget, though, how good some things are. Like peppernuts.
Although both my parents are Mennonite (which is not a synonym for Amish, if you're unsure), and come from long lines of Mennonites, the food traditions definitely differ. For instance, Grandma Lu makes things like Swedish tea ring, bohne berrogi, and Karevei. Grandma Donna makes zwieback. My mom learned how to bake zwieback when she married dad. And if you were at our wedding, you know that she makes some of the best.
Both Grandmas make peppernuts. The same kind, actually. Oh, don't be naive; there are many kinds of peppernuts. But this is, hands-down, the best. Seriously. It's a fact, not an opinion. (Yep, I teach those. So I would know ;). I also know that Grandma Donna did not always make this variety. My aunt Ellen's roommate taught her about these, then Grandma started making them.)
Schrag Peppernuts (Pfeffernuesse)
2 sticks margarine
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 T. karo syrup
3 3/4 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cloves
1 t. ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. anise
Cream margarine, sugar, and egg. Add spices and mix. Stir in flour. Roll into ropes and freeze. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
-I never bake them for that long. Maybe it's my cookie sheets. But it's more like 5-6 minutes for me, and they are done.
-I never put in that much flour. It's hard to roll them into ropes if they're too flaky. I'm not very patient.
It took me a while to decide whether or not to post the recipe. Some people may have no use for me after this post... Part of me knows that these peppernuts are the reason I'm allowed in the Kohlman family. They may deny it, but in any case, I have about three batches worth of dough in my freezer ready for the oven and Kohlman Christmas in a couple weeks. I think I need to go eat some more now - to empty the bowl for future batches, of course.
One done. 28-59. These girls are young. And there are not very many of them. But they work hard and have fun. They are fun to watch, as hard as that may be to believe. (I told Brad - on the plus side, it's really exciting when we score!) They are learning, even through the first Friday night, as tough as it was. It will be better - hopefully sooner rather than later.
Q. (The day after they took it...) Can we see our tests today?
A. Um, yes. You can see the test that you handed in about 23 hours ago. Would you like to? It won't be graded, of course, because I did in fact sleep last night. Crazy. After all, it took you only 45 minutes to complete it, so divide that by five and multiply it by 67.....
Q. My dad wants to know when you are going to update our grades again.
A. As soon as I have time to grade the 12-inch high stack of papers on my desk (including those tests your buddy was asking about). Because it has been a whole week (half of which was Thanksgiving break) since I last updated grades, after all....
Q. I noticed M is behind in language arts. Why is this?
A. M is so far behind because, hmmm... Oh yeah. She missed the last six days of school to go on a cruise with you!
Me: Our next assignment is going to be writing a 5-paragraph narrative essay. We will go through each step of the writing process in class for the next week and a half.
Kids: So is it due tomorrow?!
Kid: I didn't hit her with the folder!
Me: You pretended to. And that's not something we do. Ever. I need your card.
Kid: I didn't hit her!!!
Kid: I'm the bad kid in keyboarding, so I have my own island.
Me: Well, I'm glad you're not the bad kid in language arts.
Kid: Nope. I'm the funny one.
Me: Some of you are very close to becoming your own little islands.
Right, it's funny now. Let's just say I can tell it's the holiday season. I don't want to be counting down already, but. 11 school days.
p.s. "Kid" is not the same one over and over.
Edit: I just realized that this post sounds bitter. I'm not bitter. I love my job. It's just that...
Sometimes it's frustrating to feel like parents don't understand what I do every single day. Sometimes it's difficult to deal with the unrealistic expectations my students seem to have of me. Sometimes i feel underappreciated. But I love my job, my kids, my coworkers. I would not trade it. Well, maybe some parts. But I don't think dealing with parents is negotiable. These are the 'good old days;' these are the funny moments I look back on and laugh at later, the moments I learn from, the moments I sometimes just survive. (Sometimes much later.)
'Tis the season for my neighbors to put this up...It lights up in the evening! (I'm only laughing a little. I love these neighbors dearly. They're the only ones we know.)
And for us to put this up... Did you know that Christmas tree skirts (excluding the bright red crushed velvet kind) are like $40?! Seriously?! Look closely. Notice the moose blanket. I improvise.
And (for a much longer time) for us both to devote many long evenings to various high school gyms...
Have I mentioned lately that I love this fantastic camera?! I still haven't figured out very many of the settings, but after half a scrimmage of trial and error, I think I have a good idea of what gets me the best pictures in a bright orange gym. Now for that zoom lens...