Friday, May 26, 2017

Where to Start? Back to the Birthday

I'm going to play catch up. I guess we'll head back to my 60th birthday. (60??!!! Wow!)

My birthday celebration was darn near a month long. It started with Spring Break and ended the first week of April.

You can go back and see the big family celebration on the weekend before my birthday here.

But the celebrating wasn't quite over. I ordered 90 pieces of cake to serve my classes on the big day. (I've been celebrating birthdays in a BIG way ever since I almost didn't have a 49th.) However, I wasn't expecting to walk into my room and see that K and the Bug had been busy. My party decorations made their way into the school, the sign and balloons in the hallway and  a "love you Nana" note on the board.

To top it off, I was receiving all kinds of cards and emails from staff. I kept wondering how they knew it was my birthday. Finally, I figured out that K had held a card shower for me.  Paybacks are heck--and I have photo evidence of quite a few things. K will be watching her back for awhile.

The weekend after my birthday I went to see "Beautiful," the Carole King Broadway Show, with two friends from high school days. What a great show and a wonderful almost end to quite a bit of celebrating!
My birthday wasn't quite over. I ended it by buying an airplane ticket to visit little sis in California in June. I requested a return trip to the Spa with the mud baths and massages and a visit to the Korbel Champagne Winery. We had such a good time at both of those places several years back. AND I can't wait to catch up with the Cali nieces and families.

Turning 60 was quite fun.  I highly recommend it.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

No Blog Zone

Ignoring this blog has become the norm. A couple of readers have contacted me to see if everything is OK. It is.

I was trying to figure out why blogging has been on the back burner for the past few years, and it finally dawned on me that the blogging is directly proportional to the change in job assignments.

1. For the past six years I have been directing at least one show a year. (That knocks out three months a year for each show.)

2. Two years ago, I changed rooms and teaching assignments so that meant new preps.
            Actually, my job seems to be constantly changing, so I am having a new class to prepare for almost every year.
            Five years ago, I was teaching five hours of Sophomore English and a class called Exploring Teaching As A Career.
            Three years ago, I was teaching five hours of Sophomore English and an intervention class called Reading Strategies.
                   This was the year, I made the switch to Standards Based Grading. (More on that later.)
            Two years ago, I started teaching three hours of Sophomore English, and one hour each of Speech, Drama, and Forensics. Three new preps and I was still directing.  For Forensics, I was also attending weekend tournaments from February through April, means life got quite a bit crazier.
             This past year, I taught three hours of Sophomore English, Speech/Reading Strategies, Drama, and Forensics. Speech is a semester class so I picked up a Reading Strategies class second semester.
              Next year, I am teaching three hours of Sophomore English, Stagecraft/Speech, Drama and Forensics. AND, Little Big Brother and I are directing the fall musical instead of the spring play. So the changes continue.

             Confused yet? I am!

3. Standards Based Grading took a considerable bite out of my time. I like it and believe in it, but WOW!
               Essentially, each standard is evaluated and re-taught if needed. There are two practice evaluations and then a final evaluation.
               If students are struggling, we put them into tutoring hub, where they can be re-taught and/or re-tested.
               If they just aren't doing the work, we put them into academic lunch. (A forced lunch with an administrator where they complete missing work.)
              There are 9 literature standards, 10 informational text standards, 10 writing standards, 6 speaking/listening standards, and 5 language standards. (Each of them to be evaluated at least 3 times.)

           Now, there is no way that I evaluate all of those standards in one year. Our State and our English department have designated some that need more emphasis than others, so those are the ones that receive the bulk of my class time. Since State Testing is sophomore year, I spend quite a bit of time on the State emphasized standards. (Looking back, I evaluated around 20 of them--and some of them were evaluated both first and second semesters.)

          For finals, students choose between 2-5 standards that they want to re-evaluate. (Kind of a cafeteria plan where they pick and choose.) We have written an evaluation for each standard covered in the semester. They complete the evaluation to see if they have mastered the standard yet, and their performance can change their grade for that standard, which in turn changes their grade for the semester.

         And then vacation comes and I collapse in a big heap...!

I guess that is the reason that I don't have time to write/blog much any more. Boy, do I miss it. Maybe I can catch up this summer. (There are a lot of photos that I need to remove from my phone!)

PS. We finished the school year yesterday; hence, the blog post today. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Pre-Birthday Partying

The birthday is still several days away, but spring break has felt like one long birthday celebration. A fun one.

Over the weekend, the girls and the Mr. invited the family in for dinner. I was expecting just the normal family gathering when K appeared with decorations, special signs, and amazing cupcakes; the Mr. with catered food from a favorite restaurant; and L with the wine. My brothers and spouses, niece LuLu, and Dad and B joined us for a wonderful dinner. Little Big Brother gave a prayer that made me cry before the meal, and K gave a toast that made me cry after the meal. Dad's card is a keeper for the rest of my life. (Yes, tears there, too.)

All generations got involved in some silly selfie stick moments and group photos. The little kids were hugging on Great Grandpa who seemed to be enjoying the attention. They don't get to see him often enough. A lot of good sports in this group helped make the night special.

This was one of those simple celebrations that was absolutely perfect. K, L, and Mr. know how to throw a great party. Turning 60? So far, it is pretty wonderful!

I'm pretty sure I will be remembering last night for the rest of my life. Perfect.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


As if I haven't had it good enough already this week, today I cashed in on Valentines Day.

We don't do much for Valentines Day. This year between the cold-that-won't-quit, going to Forensics meets, and directing the show, the Mr. gave me a spa package for Valentines Day. Today, I finally had the chance to use it.

I can now say that I had a professional massage before I turned 60. Thirty minutes of massage, an hour pedicure, and an hour manicure. I had no idea that I could feel so spoiled. I have a hunch that heaven will be like this.

And then I came home to a clean house. The Mr. hired a part-time housekeeper to clean the house this afternoon.

I know some people enjoy things like this on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. I would not be one of them. And there is no way that they can appreciate this even half as much as I have.

Not trading the Mr. in any time soon. He can be King of the Remote, at least for a week or so....!

Paradise. Easy Street's version of paradise.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cabin View

The Mr. and I just returned from a short vacation. This was a return to a cabin we've been to before. It's on a lake. There isn't much to do. There is a hot tub, a television (NCAA Basketball Tournament), a kitchenette, a king sized bed, and a great deck table. I slept a lot. I read a book. I spent a lot of time in the hot tub, looking up at squirrels and birds in the trees. It was just what the doctor ordered.
We laughed a lot. My favorite story this trip was when the Mr. ordered a pizza from a nearby town. We were in Oklahoma. The town he ordered from was in Indiana. (Not exactly nearby.) Riding around looking for the place was quite interesting. We ended up eating deli sandwiches instead. And laughed...a lot!

Leaving the cabin at the lake, we headed to Oklahoma.City. We caught a matinee of Beauty and the Beast, where being "seniors" meant two tickets for a whopping $8.10. Several nursing homes were in attendance at the show, too. The Mr. and I were the youngest people in the audience for quite awhile.

The movie was beautiful, but our luck with restaurants continued. 

This was our lunch. And that was after driving around for 30 minutes. 
Movie theater food.

Eventually, our losing streak ended with a steak dinner. It almost made up for some rather sketchy meals.

We took in two museums, too. (You know, you have to learn something while you're on a trip. Family rules.)
The Will Rogers Museum in Claremore was interesting. So many of the things Rogers was talking about back then are still true today.

"There is no credit to being a comedian when you have the whole government working for you. All you have to do is report the facts. I don't even have to exaggerate." Will Rogers

I'm pretty sure Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon, and Steven Colbert would agree.

The second museum was the Oklahoma City Memorial for the bombing victims. It is a beautiful museum, telling the story minute by minute and day by day. I had forgotten so many of the details of that situation.

Anyway, we are home now, semi-unpacked, and reunited with Baxter who had spent time at Little Big Brother camp for a vacation of his own.

Break so far: rested, restored, and almost ready to return to school. And yet, I don't have to for four whole days!

Monday, March 20, 2017


Loves of this season...

sweet jonquils and crocus
budding trees
dragging out the outdoor furniture
coffee on the patio or deck
hanging wash on the line and smelling fresh laundry when I bring it in
flip flops return
bird feeders

Flip side-

mosquitoes, flies, and Asian ladybug invasions
quite a bit of yard work to do

But the best...

this is the last big push of the school year
summer can't be too far off.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

First Two Days of Break

Boy, did I need this break! And so far, so good.

I have to begin with the Mr.'s Thursday Birthday Breakfast. The T's joined us at a local cafe for breakfast before school and work.

                                             Long John with lit candle courtesy of the Tiny Town Mayor--also former student.  Pretty sweet!

Yesterday, I made a trip to Big City to see L, CB, and little man E. I dropped off a birthday gift for the oldest of the CC's. Then L and I went to have our hair cut. I decided to chop off a bit more than usual. It feels like spring now.

Little Big Brother, Sweet SIL, the Mr. and I went out for St. Patrick's Day dinner of Lamb Stew and Corn Beef Brisket and Cabbage. It was delicious. And the bagpiper was just icing on the cake.

The weather today was beautiful. I dug out the spring clothes: shorts, t-shirts, capri pants, and sandals. I stored quite a few winter clothes away. (There's a good pile for Goodwill, too.)

I just pulled in the laundry from the line for the first time this year. Nothing beats the fresh smell of line-dried laundry.

After a trip back to the doctor on Thursday, I now have 2 inhalers, several new medications, and hopefully am about to lose this miserable cough for good. The flip side is I don't shake it, I will be having more tests. I feel better today, so hopefully, this is the last of it. Uninterrupted sleep would be the best part of the recovery.

And this is me, doing my hair today.  Not quite the same. Think the hairdresser will move in with me??

Still on the agenda for break: a little sewing, a cabin trip to a lake for a couple days, and heading to the theater to see Beauty and the Beast. I am looking forward to rest and recharging my batteries a little. I'm pretty sure the Mr. will be thrilled to have the coughing/gagging done. Fingers crossed.

Did I mention there will be a hot tub at the cabin? I feel better already.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Almost Spring Break

One. More. Week.

And I only have to survive Parent/Teacher conferences with enrollment/career plan individual conferences with advisory students and their parents, a Forensics Tournament on Tuesday night, and two lunchtime theater performances on Monday and Thursday. Whew! Throw in the Mr.'s birthday on Thursday and this is one heck of a week!

In the last few weeks, they asked Little Big Brother and me to direct the musical next fall. I haven't done that for three years, and I have never done it when I had three hours for speech and drama classes. (Six hours of English and directing a musical were not a great combination.) With a lack of singing boys, we have been racking our brains for some possible shows. My brain is on overload.

We also had 8th grade career/class pathway fair last week. In a short amount of time, I threw together a quick Speech/Drama/Forensics booth, complete with the news booth from the recent play. I'm so grateful for students who are great at celebrating these classes.

Yesterday, I spent some time at the farm. I haven't been out there in quite awhile. I think I am on the downhill side of this stupid cold/cough. Two months of it has been quite enough. Anyway, it was good to see Dad and Grandma B. When I left it was snowing.

And that is my week in a nutshell, well except the push to finish nine weeks grades, grading makeup work, and writing letters of reference for students completing scholarship applications. That was all fun...

Have I mentioned that I am really ready for Spring Break?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

End of 3rd Nine Weeks

We ended the nine weeks on Friday. Instead of feeling all rested and caught up after the play, I am struggling to finish the grading and grades.

It. is. always. something!

Spring has arrived on Easy Street, even if the calendar doesn't say so. What happened to our snow? That's what I'd like to know.

So here's a photo dump of the last few weeks: play pics, a bug visiting for lunch at school, grandkids, and the first jonquil of spring.

Now back to my regularly scheduled grading.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Opening Night

Tonight is the night! Apocalypse opens at Tiny Town High. It has been a busy couple of months, but the show is ready to go.

Eventually, I will post more, but for now I will just say: craziest show we have ever done, and the parents loved it last night at Parent Pic night.

Who'd a thunk?!

The curtain is going up in two hours. (Praying for a decent sized audience.)