Friday, September 30, 2011

Looking Up

This week I got in three runs. Three runs during the school week. That along would be a good week. Then today the children worked independently. Not for long, but I saw it again. It's there.

The best news of all was when Rogue got his cone of shame off. He is a free to play with sheep and pigs again.

Yep, this was a very good week for the Ross family!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Today I went for a trail run. In the rain. My shoes got wet, my hair got stringy and fell into my eyes. A muddy pawed dog jumped up on my clean capris.

It was perfect.

Welcome Back Fall. Oh how I've missed you.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

36 and counting

I'm awake at 4:30 on a Saturday morning. I've been awake off and on most of the night so at 5:23 I finally gave up and got up. No reason to torture Sean with my issues so I got up. Insomnia is something I've had since childhood and it rears its ugly head often in my life. Usually it is related to something on my mind. I certainly have something on my mind lately, 25 somethings actually. I'm struggling. But that is a topic for another post.

So what does one do before sunrise on a Saturday morning you ask? Did I sieze the day and go for a run? Savor coffee and read a good book? While those are good ideas, I got to thinking about the past week and what really stuck in my mind was the death penalty, which was brought to the forefront via the temporary stay of a Georgia execution mid week. I hadn't heard about an execution in a very long time, and honestly had forgotten that we do them. Wow, that is hard to type. But in fact, we do them here don't we? I live in the US and I vote and I guess that makes me part of the "we". So the whole thing got me to thinking. How often does this even happen anymore?

Turns out it happens a lot. Did you know there is a website dedicated to the death penalty? Actually there are a number of them depending upon which side of the issue you fall on. I learned 36 executions have taken place so far this year. That averages to 4 a month which for some reason is shocking to me. I don't know why, but I just wasn't prepared to see that.

Don't get me wrong. The crimes comitted to receive a death sentence are horrific. I get that and I understand there needs to be consequences for the actions. What is of bigger concern to me is the potential for mistakes. We are human and we make mistakes. I wonder how many people who really didn't do it are in the 36? I'm sure they would all tell you they didn't do it, but how many really didn't? I also know that for those 36 who were executed so far, there were more than that who lost their lives in the crimes comitted in the first place. An eye for an eye right? Turns out crunching the numbers is pretty messy.

More than anything these are sleep deprived mind wanderings of one who is charged with educating the minds of eight year old, while teaching them to get along, to respect each other and to prepare them to live in a civilized society. Maybe I should use some of these statistics in our story problems. Not a topic for children? Damn straight it isn't, but in this day and age is it really a topic for adults?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A funny thing happend on the way to the looney bin

Disregard the previous post. This class is not bound for greatness. The only thing that will go down in the history books for them is they will be known as the class that sent me to the padded room.

I kid you not. I have to talk myself into getting out of bed in the morning. From there, I talk myself into the car, the drive, taking the right exit instead of continue the drive to anywhere up I5 and finally, talk myself back out of the car in the parking lot. I used to love this job, but this group is taking the love right out of it.

Luckily, the insane nature of this year has driven me back into the arms of an old love. Running. I can't imagine not ending my most crazy making days without a run to clear and reframe my head.

Thank goodness. Running may not only save my life, but the lives of my students as well.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Baby Steps

It happens every September. Its one of the things I like about my chosen career. A fresh start. Every year on the first Tuesday after Labor Day I get a new start. Somewhere between 20 and 30 bright eyed 8 year olds show up in my classroom ready for me to expose them to all that is third grade.

Each year is different, but often they are much the same as well. In teaching there are common threads that run through each year regardless of the batch of kids you have. Life experience, birth order, prior knowledge, these are things you can't control. These are the things the kids bring with them. It may not show up early, but it is there.

Sometimes you get a batch like I had last year that sink deep into your heart, and that you don't want to see go. Those kids came in with the right stuff. I could have sat in my chair all year and they still would have been fantastic. I can't take credit for the end result with that group.

Then some times you are lucky enough to get a learning year. I have dubbed this year's theme "the island of misfit toys." I'm supposed to get them to pass the state standards and I can't get them to sit in a chair. This year is going to be a challenge. It's going to take work, it's going to take a boat load of patience. There will be laughs and there will be tears, and I'm pretty sure that will be me.

But this year, this is one that I will own. Every single success will be hard fought and won and I will own them all. They will be well earned. There were fleeting seconds this week where I saw a glimmer of what could be. Not often, and not all at once, but it's down there. Under the blurting and the backwards numbers and the inability to read. It's hidden behind the selfishness that does not allow them to realize others are in the room too. Behind the tattles, just next to the pencil tossing, there is a small glimmer of hope. Of greatness. Of what could be.

It's going to be a long haul, but like any journey it begins with the first step. Baby steps, but first steps none the less.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

This year's 3rd graders are by far the most challenging thing I have ever experienced in my life. First I have 24 kids. Ideal right? Small class size in this day and age! I'm one lucky cowgirl. Guess again. Those 24 are made up of 8 girls and 16 boys. I shit you not. There are few things in life that could prepare one for spending 7 1/2 hours a day with 16 8 year old boys.

Want to know what 8 girls and 16 boys is like?

The closest thing I can think of is herding cats through the monkey cages at the zoo. The only thing missing is the flinging poop.

That could be coming, it's only the second week.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Skinny McSkinnerson

This is him one day after surgery. Isn't he a trooper? Thank goodness because it was touch and go for a while there. The narrowing in his small intestine unfortunately quickly turned to a blockage. Over the span of about four days we went from a conservative, change to wet food and wait and see to an aggressive surgery.

Life is funny because prior to this happening, Sean and I had agreed that there would be no more surgeries for Rogue. That last one took so much out of him and honestly, us too that we wouldn't do it again. Until we got the horrible call, with the worse diagnosis and the requirement to make the unspeakable decision. Yes, in theory "no more surgery" sounded perfectly fine. But in application, we love our boy and couldn't bear to let him go. Not without trying. And so we did.

What followed was 9 days of pure hell. Multiple times a day we received phone calls with updates. Updates telling us that he was still not out of the woods, that he had a fever, that it was too soon to tell.

At home the house was eerily quiet. I cleaned the house from top to bottom. The floors haven't been scrubbed like that in years. You see, Rogue hates all things designed for floor cleaning. And so I sat waiting, in a clean house. Silent except for the sounds of my broken heart.

We finally got the call we had been hoping for! It was time to bring him home again. He isn't out of the woods yet, but we are so happy to have him back and cherish every minute with him.

He is one lucky dog too. His Dad has made arrangements to work from home for the next week or two. I scoot right out after the kiddos to relieve him and voila' it's almost like having stay at home parents!

Welcome home sweet boy. You are one hell of a fighter!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Day Weekend! Wait..what?

Yikes, it's Labor Day Weekend already. How did this happen? Where did summer go to? All these thoughts are running through my head and then the big one hits.

The children are coming. Like the early victims in a horror movie I want to run up the staircase screaming, but Tuesday will only stalk me up the stairs and then, there is no way to survive.

I guess I better carve some time out of my party filled weekend of house cleaning and dog worrying to actually plan what I'm going to do with 26 cute little faces after the morning of unpacking and labeling all of their supplies (really parents, can't you write their frickin name on things?) comes to a close.

My principal made it crystal clear in his "un-welcome" back letter this year that there are to be no wasted minutes in school this year with anything fun. We are all about the instructional minutes available to prepare the students for the end of the year tests. Good times, good times.

Did I mention we had to read the FISH book which is about the Seattle Fish Market where the people choose their attitude and make work fun? Do these two readings seem contradictory to you (the unwelcome letter and the book?) Yeah, me too.

Maybe I'll teach the kids compare and contrast first this year.