Four Things About the Last Seven Days

One: I wrote up two students in two days for unacceptable behavior during class.  One was in Kindergarten (punching a classmate) and one was in Third grade (numerous problems but the last straw was spitting in a classmate's face!).  That was my first time dealing with any of that kind of stuff.  Stupid eclipse, Stupid day off for the kids tomorrow but not for us faculty.

Two: I didn't get a chance to participate in this week's Not Alone Series but if you like reading about prayer and/or the single life you might like to see what others had to say.  Very heartening.

Three: I arranged for a beautiful house blessing to be made by this artist for YS and YSF's new house.  It arrived yesterday and I can't wait to give it to them (which probably won't be before Thanksgiving, sigh).  They are hauling tail trying to get all the work on the house done so YS and her housemate (plus tiny cat) can move in at the end of the month.  At least somebody has tomorrow off to do something productive.

Four: I had dinner last night with Mr. Lehigh Valley.  He really does exist and looks like his photos.  Three-plus hours of talking.  Two hugs.  He is cute, smelled nice, and paid for dinner.  We had a good time.



A Sweet Reward to a Brutal Week

Every single one of my co-faculty said it: Last week was tough.  Even the seasoned ones looked worn out by Friday.  We don't know why but the kids were really pushing the envelope left and right.

All the more reason to look forward to hitting the road Saturday morning, headed to Baltimore with my parents, to celebrate my great-aunt's 60th jubilee as a religious sister.

What, doesn't everybody have a relative in a religious order?  I have two. The other one is another great-aunt, the older sister of my Balto-based great-aunt, who passed away when I was in 8th grade, shortly after she'd celebrated 50 years as a nun.  We always ask her to put in a good word for us with the Lord to give us good weather for family get-togethers.  

While we did have rain in the morning, as we went south we could see the blue skies peeking through and later we took pictures outside in the sunshine-y patio in the middle of Aunt K's retirement place.  

As an aside, encountering so many nuns in one place is kind of nice--they were so friendly to us and they were all giving Aunt K congratulatory words and hugs.  There was another sister who was celebrating 70 years; she was born in Ireland and had transferred to Maryland to teach in the '70s.  (Such a lovely brogue!)  And the sister who made all the arrangements for Mass and lunch told me I had nice skin.

About a dozen and a half of us relatives showed up for Mass--and we like to sing, so that made the woman who led the singing really, really happy.  Then we got a yummy lunch--crabcakes! The lady who cooks for them is amazing and she remembered when my parents last visited and my dad was raving about the cornbread!  I got to sit with Younger Sister and catch up on the new house she just bought and all the work her fiance's doing to it.  (Yeah, posting in the near future about all that on SOSOB.)  Mom took an awesome photo of "her girls."  It just felt nice to get away for a day and celebrate a happy occasion, even if it wasn't for very long because it's easy to wear out a 90-something nun who usually has a quiet daily schedule.  But I know she was happy to see us.

Oh, sure, there were the usual weird things my relatives always do.  I should make a BINGO card.  Lecture from my aunt about how I'm so wrong about something? Check! This time around it was about how I am so closed-minded for saying I'm not into praise music when she's so sure I haven't listened to it.  Really? I can name three online friends who really like it so no, I'm not making a blind statement.  I think she just likes to pick a fight with me because she knows how to push my buttons.  And I still fall for the trap from time to time 

Weird statement by my uncle about his current relationship? Check!  At least he didn't ask me about my love life.  This time.

But overall, it was just a nice visit with some family, and really heartening celebration.

I think we all needed that.  

Renewal of vows in the chapel during Mass.
Her order no longer wears a habit, but she always wears blue!

(I had to edit the post to include the delicious lunch menu!)


Now I'm a Honker

Not to be confused with being a "honky" but I guess I might qualify for that, too.

Tuesday I started to lose my voice.  Yesterday, I woke up unable to make a sound at all, so I called in sick to work.  Well, I don't know what you call it when you use the online system to register an absence and arrange for a substitute, but that's what I did.  Good thing I did not have to make a phone call, because nobody would have been able to hear me.

Went to the doctor and determined it was not strep throat but a cold virus.  Probably the same one I've been fighting for the past week and a half.  So annoying.  But at least I got to read nearly all of one of my library books (this one; it was interesting but confusing and mostly sad) and I don't have to take antibiotics.  Just more decongestant, fluids, and rest.  I got two naps in yesterday and slept in this morning because school is closed for Rosh Hashanah.

I am beginning to notice a difference already: yesterday, I was barely audible and only able to squeak out a few words.  Today I sound like a honking goose.  Or one of these guys:

The plan is not to overdo it today, but I need to get a couple of things done like take out the trash (maybe when it's done raining, ugh, but we need it) and wash dishes and a load of laundry.  Just to make myself feel like I'm not just lying around and I'm so horribly far behind in my to-do list.  Oh, and a quick trip out to get cat food because Miss Picky is complaining about being served from the emergency Fancy Feast stash.  And we know it's all about her, don't we?  Grumpy old lady.

Well, Rosh Hashanah started at sundown last night, so in a way it's a new year.  Gonna make something sweet to invite more sweetness into the coming year, as my ancestors in faith would.  I had night 1 of a two-night cooking course (one of those adult evening school at the high school deals) earlier this week; maybe I'll try a recipe we learned.  The sample I had was pretty good.

But truth be told anything sweet will be fine.  I just get really angst-y this time of year with the change of seasons and the approach of my birthday.  Getting sick is just an added frustration.  Sweetness would be welcome, anytime.



Worst. Trivia. Ever.

A teammate saw there was a fundraiser for the local Irish Center--in need of some extensive renovations, and we met up Friday night to play.

It was impossible!

Seriously, this was one of the questions: "Name four Philadelphia Irish radio hosts who are deceased."


The only thing that would've made it harder was if they'd asked the questions in Gaelic.

On top of that, our married-couple teammates had put their kitty to sleep the day before and were rather bereft.  That said, by the end of the night we were so far behind and punchy that the wife of the pair decided we should just forget the questions and make up naughty pseudonyms a la Bart Simpson's crank phone calls to Moe's.  It was fun being 12 years old for a while without all the other drama.  Plus we had beer.

Also, I really felt that the Guinness tasted better there as compared with the taste of it at the place we usually play. I don't know why, but it did.  Plus I had a nice chat with the older gentleman tending bar who told me I should come to their ball in November.  We shall see.

Anyway, the money went to a good cause and I haven't been surrounded by that many people with brogues since college when my cousin married a woman who grew up in Dublin and her many relatives were in attendance.

And maybe next week they'll call me to tell me I won the raffle for the big Celtic cross painting.

You never know.



Woke up at 5 A.M. and All I Got Was This Lousy CO2 Detector

If I see one more memo shoved under my door when I get home, I'll scream.  Yesterday, arriving home close to 5:30 (and having to get back out the door for a 7:00 pilates class), I received notice that maintenance was coming either Thursday or Friday--technically not 24 hours' notice--to install "smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and/or carbon monoxide detectors" in all apartments.  It appears the boro inspectors who came about a month or so ago didn't think we were up to code.

All I could do after pilates was eat dinner, pick up a few things, and go to sleep.  So I just set my alarm earlier (JOY) and got up to finish straightening up and make a huge sign saying, "PLEASE DON'T LET OUT THE DEAF CAT" or something to that effect.

When I got home today, I found the front closet door still open (didn't find any changes) and a new carbon monoxide detector.  Right across from the original smoke detector above my bedroom door.  I wonder if they'll both go off if there's sm-  Never mind, I don't want to find out.

In about five minutes, I'm headed back to school for--you guessed it--Back to School Night.  Fortunately, because I dared to ask, I found out I and the other special area teachers have to be present for only the two middle sessions, which because they are back-to-back will cover all of the grade levels.  (The principal decided to divide-and-stagger because So Many Students.) My fellow specials are very glad I asked.  Friendship points!

At least The Cat doesn't seem stressed out, so maybe she slept through the whole Maintenance Visit.  Me?  I'm so tired but so glad tomorrow's Friday.



An Update on My So-Called Work (and maybe somewhat of a Dating) Life

Ah yes, I have made it to Saturday.  I had no idea how much sleep I'd been missing, between the adjustment to a new routine and just plain anxious restlessness at night, that it surprised me how quickly I'd fallen asleep last night and--aside from the 5 a.m. kitty breakfast--stayed in bed until 9 a.m. today.

The other adjustment is the huge imbalance I now have between library management and teaching classes.  I went from 12 library/tech classes and 12 book exchanges per week to 28 library classes (in fact another librarian comes from one of the other schools to cover a 29th) and what amount to basically 4 book exchanges for kindergarten.  There are just that many students!

And I'm finding that there are some who can barely communicate as they are just learning to speak English.  I'm sure they will come along way during the year, and I hope that getting to borrow books to read will help.

So far, 5th grade are my darlings--they seem to be the smallest group in the building--and 1st grade are kinda nuts.  But I realize it's an adjustment for them to have a longer library class now than they did last year.

The good news is that we found the yet-to-be-placed book order and will put it through this week.  I'm not happy that I have to wait for the books to come in and I'm stuck with what was approved, but I do have more in the budget to spend.  I'll have to sit down and puzzle out what we still need, along with what I plan to do for the year.  At least I'm inspired by this book (Penguin has lesson plans) so maybe that will help with planning for this month.  I know it will take some time to get things together, but I do feel motivated.  And the paycheck I got yesterday (Bills are paid! Hooray!!!) feels a little validating, too.

My principal--who seems to be in perpetual motion--stopped for a moment Thursday to talk to me and meet my mentor, who had stopped by at the end of the day to help answer some more questions I had.  My mentor acknowledged the reason for her visit but added, "But she knows what she's doing and she's doing great."

"I'm sure of that," replied my boss, "because I knew that when I interviewed her, that she really knew her stuff."

Man, that felt good.  Nothing like a little confidence boosting.

And in other news, Mr. Lehigh Valley and I are finally talking about figuring out a time to meet up. I'm afraid he's going to be put off by how much I have going on in a most out-of-the-ordinary parade of events running through September and October--but hey, my sudden popularity is impressing the heck out of myself.  I'm even waiting on one more confirmation on a cantoring change.  Somehow, the lady who schedules the cantors completely misread my email and put me down for dates I said I could not do.  One frustration I could do without in the middle of trying to navigate a new job and foster a possible relationship.

Now, I don't know what the catalyst was that made him bring up meeting at last--because frankly my faith was starting to reach its limit and I'm still reading the "We've got new matches for you" emails from the website--but maybe it was just getting over the new-school-year hump, or there was some sort of unknown-to-me timetable going from when we first started corresponding at the beginning of August. . . or maybe it was that hysterical conversation we had the other night (I was laughing so hard I was crying), and he told me I had a really great sense of humor.

Oh, and he has given me an inside-joke nickname in our e-correspondence.

It's weird to feel both the newness and the familiarity of starting a new job, and starting to be interested in someone.  I know I've done these things before, but it's been a few years in both cases.  And you may recall that I got off to a lousy start at my previous job.  Also pretty much was the last time I dealt with any kind of actual dating situation was this.

Is it the timing that's different, or is it possible that I'm different now?

Or both?



The First Day of the Rest of the School Year

I had all Labor Day weekend to feel anxious about the first day.  My car's "Check Engine" light came on as I was running errands on Sunday afternoon--yikes.  New neighbors moved in upstairs and there's a kid who runs around a lot.  Ugh.  Plus I learned that the previous librarian retired quietly at the end of last year--and by quietly I mean she didn't tell the kids, she threw out practically everything in the workroom, and did not place a book order!  

I decided my main goal for the first couple of weeks is to get a feel for things, reintroduce students to library procedures (and introduce them to me!), and possibly buy myself a little time to figure out where the heck I'm going according to the curriculum I was handed last Thursday.

And it helped a little that a phone conversation with Mr. Lehigh Valley gave me some encouragement.  He said, matter-of-factly, "You have plenty of experience and you know what you're doing."*

Yeah, I'm just gonna go with that.  Put it in the Confidence file.

So today, I just went along with the schedule, apparently running about five minutes behind because even the morning announcements and Pledge of Allegiance were late as we herded kids down the halls to the right classrooms.  Not having a homeroom, I was asked by the principal (out there and hustling during both arrival and dismissal, wow) along with the other specials to help direct kids on the way in.  I even used a little Spanish helping a mom find where her kid was placed.

Started out with sixth grade (not too bad), followed by a fifth grade section who might be my Darlings of the Year if they stay as sweet as they were today, and then second and fourth grade before lunch--a quick one owing to the wacky schedule and my figuring out where the faculty lunchroom was.  (Almost didn't find my way back!)  Then third and first graders, and finally a free period that was all too short to do much before having to go out to help with dismissal.  I know at some point that will ease up and I might just be on a sometimes duty for that  But I did get a message my car was all fixed for a mere $300 and only the slightest chance we'll have to talk about shopping for a new car come inspection time in May (la la la, pretending I didn't heeeear that).

Mercifully, I was spared Kindergarten. . . and I have all four sections tomorrow!  When I hear "kindergarten" my mind comes up with an image not unlike the South Park savages in Treasure Cove who attacked the unsuspecting adults mistakenly venturing across the border. . .

Nahhhhhhhhh, that was just at my previous school.

*We also had a moment where we were laughing so hard we were crying, and I got a huge compliment on my sense of humor.  Jeez I wish we'd get our schedules in order and friggin' meet up already.