Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shut Up

Shut up. Just shut up. 
We try to take it slow, 
But we're still losing control. 
And we try to make it work, 
But it still ends up the worst. 

Every profession has its own jargon. The terminology associated with a subject, the acronyms comprising a vocabulary of alphabet soup and of course, the buzzwords, create a language only those privy of the knowledge can comprehend.

Educationese is the language educators (a.k.a. teachers) speak, usually on a daily basis. In fact, in order to become a teacher an educator, certain requirements must be met, including taking an ordinary, everyday activity and turning it into a multi-syllable word or sentence, or better yet, an acronym. Why? Teachers are smart, you know. So everything they say has to sound impressive.

The Columbia Guide to Standard American English defines educationese (or teacherese) as the name sometimes given to the jargon too frequently employed by some of those who train our schoolteachers. It is characterized typically by its humorlessly abstract, Latinate, and polysyllabic diction and its convoluted, rambling, and frequently passive syntax. Fights are never “fights” and rarely even “quarrels.” Instead, fights are “conflict situations.” At its worst, instead of correcting imprecision and ignorance, Teacherese tries to conceal learning activities, frequently from teachers themselves.

A child interacting with manipulatives in order to increase fine motor skills and critical thinking is probably just playing with blocks. If he should engage in low-organized physical education or consumer awareness, he was most likely playing outside until his mother asked him to escort her to the grocery store.

Every year there seems to be an abundance of overused buzzwords. "Thinking outside the box creates a new paradigm that authenticates assessment to meet the objectives of lifelong learning and college readiness". Sometimes they are just ordinary words, twisted and combined to sound important. I’ve heard comprehensive support, expectation, and building capacity run together in sentences that don’t even make sense. “The expectation is that the expectations will be met with the objective being that the expectations of the expectation occur in a timely manner that is conducive to the expectation of the expectations in order to build capacity to ensure comprehensive support.” Uh…right.

A few years back when Palm was still popular I had a game called BS Bingo. You could enter all the buzzwords at that particular time then during a meeting you could mark them off as they were said. It was quite entertaining (to me) and helped me get through a boring meeting or two. I should check to see if there is an Android app that is comparable. Now, I just keep a tally to see how many times certain terms are repeated. It just takes one time for it to be said then every speaker from there on out repeats the word, adding their own bit of emphasis.

It’s not that I’ve built capacity. It’s more like I’m filled to capacity. And the expectation is that I remain attentive until time to go. I’d hate for my accountability to be damaged so I’ll hide my attention deficit disorder while I continue with my authentic learning so I can pretend to be engaged in a collaborative experience. Oh…that’s five for expectation.  

Let's forget the past 
And let's start this new plan. 
Why? 'cause it's the same old routine. 
And then next week I hear them scream.  
Shut up.
Just shut up.

Hard to believe but my firstborn grandson had a birthday this week. That’s not the hard to believe part. What's unbelievable is that he’s 8 years old. It seems like just yesterday we were anxiously awaiting his arrival.

He wanted a specific toy, but I wanted something special for him. I decided we’d give him some money and his mom and dad could take him to find that toy. And I made him a coupon book, good for different things.

Cover for the Bday coupon book

I cheated, because of time, and edited a printable I found on the Internet. I altered the text and changed pictures and made coupons with things we wanted him to have. And after seeing how easy it was I’m sure I can make my own from scratch next time. We brainstormed and he had coupons for spending the night with us, breakfast in bed, lunch with us, candy, a new shirt, a movie date, driving the bobcat (a little tractor thing that occupies a lot of my husband’s time), a trip to the ranch, a new toy and any other thing we could think of he might like. He ended up with about 15 coupons. My husband printed them in color; I cut them out and made a cover. It was kind of cute.
Printed coupons

We met at Mr. Gatti’s, a pizza place with games. I put the coupon book and a couple of other little things in a bag for him to open. He had a friend with him and his brother and sister and all were anxious to get to the games. He looked the book over, but was more excited with the other little prizes in the bag at the moment.

Lots of coupon fun!

I do know that once he settles down and looks at the book he’ll realize what he can do with it! He can’t have breakfast in bed unless he’s at our house. So, if he uses that coupon it’s a night or weekend with us. He can’t very well have lunch with us unless it’s at our house. So that’s another night/weekend over. He’ll figure it out pretty quickly! In the meantime, I’ll be glad for a visit from him, anytime.

Lunch coupon means overnight stay!

It’s a lot of fun when they come over, whether it’s all of them or just one or two. We play, watch movies, have picnics and just enjoy the time together. And sometimes, if we need to, we all just shut up and rest! It’s all good.  

Stop the talking baby, 
Or I start walking baby. 
Is that all there is? 
Shut it up, just shut up. 
Shut up, 
Just shut up.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow Day

Open my eyes start to get out of bed. 
Throw back the curtains to see a white spread! 
I feel like I’m ten, it has snowed once again! 
Let’s go have some fun! The day’s only begun!  

The severe weather warnings started two days before the actual weather began. For once, all of the TV weathermen were in agreement. There was a chance of snow; A lot of snow. Out here, even if there is a 50% chance of anything there is a 50% chance that nothing will happen. If it does happen though, it usually makes an impact. On this day, almost ten and a half inches of the cold white stuff fell!
What a forecast!

The climate here is mostly considered desert. In fact, right now Texas is in a severe drought. Where I live there have been burn bans and water restrictions for almost a year. So, any kind of moisture is welcome. But, because snow is so uncommon, even a sprinkling can shut the area down.
Snow snow snow!
When my alarm went off at 5:30 it was raining. But it quickly turned to sleet. My husband works for a school district so he was out early, checking roads to make sure it would be safe for buses to transport students. I had a headache that wouldn’t quit so I called in to work and said I’d make it in by noon. Then I went back to sleep.

Snow covered trees at the house
Around 9:00 I woke up again. My phone dinged with a text and my husband said it was getting bad and he didn’t want me to go in to work. It’s a 45 mile drive for me, usually clear and easy but when it’s bad…it’s bad. I had a presenter who was supposed to be flying in so I emailed work and asked my secretary to call her. I was told we were closing because it was so bad. Soon the news reports, with all the early closings, were pouring in. It was official. It was a snow day!

Views from the front of the house
Views from the back of the house
The snow fell most of the day. We ended up with about six inches. It was so pretty and peaceful! Everything was covered in a shiny white carpet. Funny thing, it was snowing but the sun was beginning to come out and it was melting, all at the same time. I didn’t go outside, much anyway, and I didn’t build a snowman. I just enjoyed the chill in the air and the beauty of the change. I love when it snows, especially if I don’t have to get out. And I can wear knitted things!
About 5 inches and still snowing!

This is the third snow in a very short time. There are reports that there’s been more out here than in Chicago! As they say in Texas, if you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes and it will change! Sure enough, by the next morning, the road to work was passable. One lane of the highway still had icy spots but all else was clear. There were several signs of the storm on the interstate, skid marks, stranded cars and missing guard rails, but other than that it was a normal travel day. By afternoon there were places where you would never have known there had been a snow storm! Only the standing puddles were evidence of the wild weather the days before. On the third day, it was almost completely gone, melted into the ground. Maybe it won’t be the last snow this winter. We need any moisture we can get. Hopefully it will be enough to make spring a little greener!

Snow covered pump jack-Picture by Brook Hudson
I’ll see this through, I will turn my hands blue. 
Mister snowman, my heart is beating for you! 

I’m to the point that I’ll take a snow day (or almost any other excuse!) so as not to have to go to the office. When the kids were little we’d go out and play. But I don’t really like getting cold and wet anymore, so I just puttered around and entertained myself. I knitted, put away some Chirstmas, got some things ready for the trip on the weekend and just took it easy. There was a lot I could have done. I just didn’t.
Christmas yarn...what to make?

I got some really pretty yarn for Christmas, from Bryce and more from a friend, so I’ve been contemplating what I’ll make with it. Ravelry is a fun pastime. Then there is Pinterest. Yes, there was a lot I could have done on this snow day!

It’s a school day, school is closed. 
Gonna go outside and make a snowman there. 
Wanna join me in the field?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

Oh, Christmas Tree 
How lovely are your branches... 

What? Just a little late you’re thinking, right? Well, probably. But I didn’t get any pictures of the tree posted prior to Christmas. Our custom is to leave it up til after New Year’s Day and this year I had to go back to work on January 2. I was thinking I might never get it down when I remembered reading about the Twelfth Night.
Wasn't it pretty?

I’ve always thought, as probably a lot of people do, that the Twelve Days of Christmas meant the days before Christmas. Well, come to find out, it’s actually the twelve days after Christmas! In the olden days, the Twelfth Night to Epiphany morning was the traditional time to take down the Christmas tree and decorations. I’m not so behind after all!

Three cross stitched candy cane holders. Made by the mother of one of my former students, now a friend. Intricate.
Admittedly, I’m not always the most prompt in taking down the Christmas decorations. First off, it’s like the little red hen around here. I don’t get a lot of help, either putting things out or gathering them up after the holidays. Working 11 hours a day then doing it in my ‘spare’ time doesn’t always warrant a fast pickup. There have been some years the tree and decorations were up way past Christmas. In fact, I think it was around June last year when I spied a snowman (the tree was down at least!) I’d forgotten to put away. It doesn’t really matter because nobody comes out here so my secret is safe! Nevertheless, I was pleased to find out about Epiphany, even though I might stretch it out another twelve days!
My grandmother crocheted the ball ornaments. She said she didn't have a pattern and each one is just a bit different. The others are just an assortment of things I like.
I made this little angel years ago. She probably qualifies as an antique!
Can't see well but one of my favorites. One year I was supposed to get a rocking chair and it didn't come so my mom and dad gave me this ornament to let me know. Inside is a rocking chair, presents, doll, and toys.
Some family ornaments. There are many. And no, I didn't forget you Bryce and Callye! Camera acted up.
As I’m taking the ornaments off, putting them in their packages, in a box, for next year, I remember where each one came from. They are good memories but the whole ordeal has an air of sadness. This Christmas is over. We had a white Christmas this year and everyone came here. Those memories will go in the box with the special ornaments. I look at the individual baubles, those marking ‘first’ Christmas, those marking life events and those handmade with love. Some I made, some were gifts and some were put together by little hands in school. Our tree is decorated in patchwork. Each ornament is connected to the others in a crazy way creating a blanket of memories. I’ll pack the ornaments away and rediscover the delight next year when it all comes back out.  
It was a white Christmas!
Oh Christmas Tree, 
Oh, Christmas Tree 
Your gentle spirit teaches us. 
That peace and love shall ever be 
As faithful as a Christmas Tree... 

I’m almost finished with the shawl. She may have to do the blocking, but at least the knitting will be done. I really want to start something new. Or maybe several somethings! But I’m being good. So far!
On the downhill side! It'd go faster if I'd quit messing up!
The lace edge

I posted a status on Facebook and promised to make something for the first five people who commented. I got a lot, really fast, which surprised me. Anyway, I took all seven. I’ll be making something for Debi, Rachel, Marivel, Carla, Charli, Katie and Amy sometime during 2012. It’s kind of exciting! And it snowed today. That would make it all right to leave the snowmen out for a while. It sometimes even snows in February, right?  

In summer sun or winter snow, 
A coat of green you always show. 
Oh Christmas Tree, 
Oh, Christmas Tree 
How lovely are your branches.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Run That Body Down

How long you think that you can 
Run that body down? 
How many nights you think that you can 
Do what you been doin'? 
Who you foolin? 

I’d rather stay up late than go to bed early. I’d rather stay in bed than get up at the butt crack of dawn too. I’ve always been that way. I try to get to bed early but most nights I have too much to do to get there. Do I finish it all? No! After I get home from work, fix supper, load/unload the dishwasher (or not), wash clothes (or not) I just want to sit in my chair. Before I know it, it’s close to midnight!

On a good night I’ll get 6 hours sleep, maybe. At the 5:30 a.m. alarm in the morning, I’ll hit snooze and stay in bed as late as I can without being late for work. Breakfast is a travel mug of coffee, sometimes  accompanied by a Rice Krispie Treat or a PopTart on the 45 minute drive to work. I usually stay in for lunch but occasionally I’ll go with someone and get out of the office. By afternoon I’m dragging and think maybe a cup of coffee or a Coke might help. After an almost always stressful workday, another 45 minute drive home and supper, it all starts to catch up with me. Multiply it by 5 and by the weekend all I want to do is sleep in and sit around all day.

They say that if you start exercising you’ll have more energy. I have stairs in my house. Does that count? I go up and down the stairs, coming in and out of the house and also take laundry down and bring it up. And I knit. Surely that’s credit for some sort of exercise?
I know I’ve got to do better. It’s not fun being so tired. I don’t want to be the little old grandma in the chair who can’t do anything when the littles come over. I want to be able to do everything with them and for them. With that said…I’d better go to bed!  

I came back home and I went to bed 
I was resting my head... 

I didn’t really make any resolutions this New Year. I have some things I want and need to improve on, but I haven’t written anything down. Yet. But I still might. One thing I have decided, along with several of my knitting pals, is to complete some UFOs. UFO means an unfinished object. I’m an expert at UFOs. I finish the knitting part and I’m done. I don’t bother to weave in the ends or sew on the buttons or block something unless I’m forced to. Forced by myself that is. I just start knitting something else!

January in particular is the month to finish some things. So I’m giving it a try. Right now I’m working on the shawl I started (and stopped) for my sister. I know of three or four more needing the ends worked in. I haven’t taken the time to get all of them out, but I know there are plenty.
Assorted ends to work in and a couple of buttons to sew on
Trouble is, I also want to start things. We knitters call it ‘startitis’. And I have it bad! I haven’t cast on anything yet, but I did have a request for a scarf, much like the one I did as a gift for Christmas.
So now I have an excuse! But I’ll wait and do that as soon as the shawl is finished. I need a carry along project anyway, right?
Working on Judi's shawl

It’s supposed to snow tonight. If it was enough I might not have to go to work tomorrow! Then I could sit around and knit or something. It sounds good because I’m already tired.  

Kid, you better look around. 
How long you think that you can 
Run that body down? 
How many nights you think that you can 
Do what you been doin'? 
Who you foolin?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Long December

...and there's reason to believe 
Maybe this year will be better than the last. 
I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were leaving. 
Oh the days go by so fast… 

Goodbye 2011! 
Hello 2012! 

The New Year seems to me to be much like a book, waiting to be opened and read. We don’t know the ending (and in this case can’t cheat and look ahead!) Each chapter and often each page is a new beginning. Some chapters flow smoothly while some jump from point to point. Some pass quickly, too quickly, while others drag on eternally. Some answer all questions while others leave voids that may never be filled.

There are many characters, old friends, new friends, enemies and nemesis, those who wish you success and those who would do anything to help you fail. We embrace the characters in our year and grow with them, either closer or apart. Some characters are written out while new characters are introduced. We care, either growing to love or despise each individual. Regardless, all help form the book that is our year, our life.

As we go through we anxiously await the ending of each chapter. We sometimes forget that we should savor each day as a page in our lives because unlike a book, we can’t go back to re-read and reinterpret. Most times we hurry through to reach the end then remorse that the time passed so quickly.

When things go smoothly we want to continue in the series and see what the next volume brings. When things aren’t flowing as anticipated we contemplate another author, someone with a guaranteed happy ending, only to find there is no such thing. So we continue in our sequence, be it the one we chose or not.

When a chapter leaves an impression we remember for days, weeks and even years. There is no discrimination in memory and we internalize all, the good, the bad and yes, even the ugly. And although we can’t change the way it’s written we relive those chapters until it reads the way we wish it had been.

The end of the year, as the end of a book, can leave you with a sense of satisfaction or regret. What we read has left an imprint. It has changed our world, either dramatically or subtly. The New Year, as in a new book, can hook you right away or turn you off completely. It’s your choice because you’re the author. While you decide, keep in mind that every day is a brand new day, an opportunity for a new start.

As a teacher advising a student, I know you can read the book you want to read. Be open to recommendations from peers, parents and friends to get you started and on the right track. But remember, in the end YOU are the one reading the book. Don’t think you have to read or like a chapter just because everyone else does. If you like the pages of the book you’re reading, it can serve as a guide to others in their book choice. Make it good and enjoy it to the fullest!

And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe 
Maybe this year will be better than the last.
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself 
To hold on to these moments as they pass...

Happy New Year!