Monday, April 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Spring Break, the Beginning

Today was our first official day of spring break.  Matt has taken some much overdue time off and we're all home for a good full week.  The boys return to school on Monday, and Matt returns to work on Wednesday.  It won't be an uneventful week with Holy Week and all of its different rituals and traditions.  We also all have our own plans on what we'll be spending our time doing.

1- This weekend was full of baseball.  Friday kicked us off with back to back baseball practices immediately following trumpet lessons.  Dinner was late.  And a group effort.  The rest of the weekend was baseball in the yard, baseball in the basement, baseball downtown and more baseball practice.  The boys are signed up for the Kids Crew at the Seawolves again, which means they received free admission to all Sunday home games.  Matthew actually caught a ball that one of the players tossed into the stands.  He passed it on to another spectator though because we had a ball a lady caught earlier and gave to them. 

2- We worked a little in the yard.  Both Matt and I are sore all over between all the baseball and yard work and some extra house projects that are finally getting checked off the list!  The boys dug out most of the invasive grassy stuff that fills the back corner, in preparation for the tree to be taken out.  There's a large overgrown bush there too.  I want to take it out because I think it's messy looking and ugly.  Matt wants to wait until we have a plan and resources to put something there.  I'm hoping we come up with something as a family.  We are going to be discussing a Mary's Garden next month...perhaps someone will have an idea or two.

3- The boys were a little dismayed to hear that the regular religious ed was wrapping up this weekend and they have a couple more weeks left.  We spread it out a little more with some different weekends off and we didn't plan more than one chapter a week.  There isn't any sense rushing things.  They may have been dismayed but not disgruntled, given how excited Matthew was that his 5th grade text book just arrived in the mail today.  And how "pissed out"* Josh was that his hasn't been ordered yet. 

*"Pissed out" - When Josh was barely a preschooler he was having a bad day.  Something made him very angry and he looked at me and said, "Mommy, I'm pissed OUT!"  This would be one of many Joshy-isms we've acquired...and enjoy.  Although he does know now he's not supposed to say "pissed" .... and takes great care to remind anyone who slips and does.  ahem.

4- Today is probably our most chopped up and hectic day.  This morning, I left all three boys to their own devices to attend the last of my Monday morning Bible Study sessions.  They had already left for their haircuts when I returned home.  Now, Matt-Squared is off to trumpet lessons.  Baseball practice must be cancelled for tonight - it's pouring rain.  I have a block of lessons.  And we've managed to squeeze in some laundry and ripping out Matthew's carpet.  The rest of the week is mapped out with Wednesday being a special day where we're packing up for the day and setting off an adventure, just the four of us.  Long overdue family time.

5- Yep.  The pink carpet in Matthew's room is gone.  We knew since we moved in that the bedrooms all have hardwood.  We could tell the carpet pad didn't have adhesive on it.  We debated waiting until we could afford to have them refinished.  The desire for something that could be cleaned and was clean won out.  The boys ripped it all out today, revealing some pretty beat up dark stained hardwoods.  A few questions were answered - yes, the light wood through the rest of the house much have been a refinished job by some previous owner.  The doorway into the bedroom looks like a kid who can't color in the lines between the light hall and the dark bedroom.  The nasty matted filthy pink was probably put in by the previous owners, given their paint color of choice is spattered on the floor.  There are other colors and likely nail polish also on the floor.  And yes, people are idiots. 

How people can abuse their home in such a fashion doesn't cease to amaze and shock me.  The scratches and gouges are pretty bad in a few spots.  But we are fortunate, relieved and grateful that there are no weird stains or massive areas of damage.  There's nothing we can't live with until we've saved up to have all the floors redone.  They all need it - the family room floor is particularly embarrassing to me and the dining room has terrible sun damage.  All four of us worked together after lunch to wipe down the floors with a warm water and vinegar wash.  Matt and I washed, scrubbing off what we could.  The boys following closely, drying as we went.  Then we wiped them down twice with the Method Almond Oil I use.  They look much better.  They will do just fine for the time being and they are CLEAN.

6- I always feel so conflicted when people comment that I should be teaching - even those loving, kind friends who don't mean immediately but later, when the time is right and the kids are grown and I'm ready for the next phase.  I feel conflicted because I do like teaching.  But I don't like being a teacher.  My brief stint in a classroom had far more bad things going for it, than good.  I have even less patience now than I did then for excuses and argumentative behavior, laziness and willful stupidity.  I also can't see ever doing what I used to do again - I know what it is to LIVE now.  Why would I ever willingly or joyfully go back to a life where I'm buried and constantly behind on paperwork, lesson plans, grades and grading? 

My certifications are on voluntary inactive statue, but seeing as my previous place of employment didn't file whatever hours I did complete during in-services, it appears I have 0 hours towards the required 180 before I lose the certifications.  That countdown starts up again as soon as they are active and might only be a couple of years - that would be additional work on top of starting over teaching some place.  If I could find a job in this area that is already over-saturated with teachers.

But I do have them.  In case Matt ever needs me to go back. 

Even if I did land an interview, my ideas of what I'd do and tolerate are a little different, or maybe better defined, or maybe I'm just not willing to be forced into compromising anymore.  Extra credit - nope.  Retakes - nope.  Late work - sick or death only excuse there.  I teach History.  If the kids don't read and come prepared for discussions or "activities", then I'm going to lecture.  I'll lecture whenever I want for however long I want if I'm teaching in a college preparatory program.  Full length research papers - not in my class.  I teach History not English.  It was bad enough grading poorly written essays.  The 8-10 pages of crap was torture.  And having to find all of the students' resources to make sure they weren't or prove they were plagiarizing took longer than grading the papers.  And why oh why should a History teacher have to spend hours evaluating grammar and then explaining it to the pissed off students....and their parents.

Another teacher told me after my first year, that someday it'd be easier, after I had kids of my own.  They were speaking of the whole issues of classroom management and discipline.  I can see her point. I know how to tell a kid to shut up and sit down 15 different ways without saying shut up and sit down, specifically.  But I don't think that will necessarily make my life easier because my idea of classroom management then or now doesn't gel with having to fill out forms about why I'm sending some little jerk out of my room.  I'm just going to want to tell him to get out even more than I ever did, because it's my classroom, I'm in charge and I don't care who your parents are. Plus, being a mom of boys, I still don't know how to accidentally avoid offending pms-ing teenage girls.

And right there is the biggest of all caveats....when I was young and single and that was my job and I had to rely on myself for everything and I was my only source of income and had bills to pay all by myself, I had to have self control.  I had to play the politics to keep my job.  Throw me in some of those same exact settings and situations now, nearly 10 years later, I'd be much less couth.  I should have been a teacher decades ago, when being the teacher meant something to the students, the parents and the administrators. 

7- On a much lighter note - I'm nearly finished with Faith's Princess Elsa dress.  Matt's sweater is coming along.  I'm on the body ....armpits to waist.  Some of my friends at Bible Study asked if was STILL working on it....I responded, "My husband is a big guy!  6'2"!  This is going to take awhile."  I knit Moses a hat, that was too small.  And I'm plugging away at mindless-ish seed stitch for a living room pillow.  OH!  And the baseball blanket is back out and will grow with every practice and game I knit through.  (See what I did there....knit through, instead of sit through?)

Monday, April 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes: I Owe 14, but You'll Have to Settle for Whatever I Crank Out

 Matthew wanted to help in the kitchen.  
Matt started to tell him he couldn't because of his cold, then turned around to see him in his mask.

 Elsa dress fabric.

 New kitchen light!

 "After" shots.  I never think to take "before" shots, making these rather anti-climatic.

1- That we've been busy might be an understatement.  Spring is trying to ease into the area which allows for more outside time and produces more outside work.  It also inspires hitherto unseen inspiration to knock out small projects around the house.  You know, the stuff we were planning to do through the winter when we were stuck indoors?

The boys bathroom was done a couple weekends ago, but is waiting for the sinks to be finished and one small strip of white wainscoting that needs to be painted.  Matt needed a smaller brush.  We picked that up finally on Saturday.

We've moved on to a few other things....

2.  We finally figured out what to do with the light over the island.  We've had a nice fixture sitting in a box for over a year.  Matt tried to install it a few weeks ago, only to discover that under the existing fixture there was a huge hole in the ceiling.

Enter ceiling medallion.



Looks good.  Gives us more concentrated and brighter light at the island and improved light at the stove.

And Matt will no longer bump his head on pendant lights hung too low.

But Faith won't have the lights to play with next time she visits.  Neither will my Dad.  Between the two of them, those old lights were batted, swung and tied in a knot. 

3.  We also started stripping an old barrister's cabinet that we've been using as a game cabinet.  The original plan was to sand it and restain it.  Matt started it on Saturday, while I restuffed one of Josh's giant dragons.  (Josh was writing it on my to-do list with angry smiley face pictures for about a month now.)  But the sanding wasn't going well.  There was damage on the topmost surface that wasn't going to sand out and would show through a stain.

Trip to Lowes.

The cabinet is now partially painted a mocha java brown.  We'll get to finish it later this week and hopefully have it finished in time for Easter, which we're hosting.

4.  The outdoor work started in earnest after a clean out across the front.  I moved to the side to clean out leaves and began chopping down the overgrown lilac bushes.  Lilacs are beautiful but these bushes were badly cared for and pruned over the years, long before I hacked at them last spring.  They consisted of long, tall limbs all reaching out from the outer most part of the bushs' trunks, with most of the center portions long gone and rotting.  They were also badly placed and the yard is a mess over there from years of storing a boat or trailer or something.  I have two long limbs left that are too tall for me to handle on my own, then we'll dig up the trunks before dealing with the grass or lack there of in that side yard.

The pile of branches has grown and Matt is tackling the old chipper that was buried in Mimi's shed with new vigor.  After 20+ years of sitting in that shed, Matt hopes he can get it started.

In the meantime, I continued on to the backyard, cleaning out under the neighbors' pine trees that overreach our border.  Last summer, I dug out a huge amount of their ivy that had grown into our yard, a patch maybe 10 ft x 4 ft.  It seems to be clear of ivy still, but was full of leaves and debris from the willow.  7 bags later, it is cleaned out and the remaining wood has been restacked.  That was an hour worth of work after this morning's Bible Study, and enough for today.  Last spring, thinking the pine trees were ours, I gave them a haircut as I worked in that area.  This year I know better, but as branches slapped me in the face and scratched my neck and my lower back every time I bent over, I wished I didn't know better. 

I'm reminded of the annual pruning Coblentz did across campus in preparation for Holiday Tea and decorating contest.  Every evergreen on campus had a middle of the night haircut, and the next day, the entire stairwell of the res hall was beautiful adorned with evergreen branches, all the way up to the 4th floor.

5.  Matthew is well over his cold, but took a tumble outside yesterday.  Now he's nursing some roadrash and a few scrapes.  I'm sure it stings, but he certainly is milking it.  He survived PSSAs last week and is back to the regular schedule of classes and homework this week.  He won't like that.  He got accustomed to coming home and going straight outside every night last week.

Josh is suffering a bruised ego as he and his BFF keep having disagreements that he doesn't know about.  This is what happens when your BFF is a girl.  I think most of it stems from jealousy as he seems to get the silent treatment most frequently if he has been playing with any of the other girls in class.  I'd like to tell him it'll get worst before it gets better.  But I don't want to cause him any further despair.  He is looking forward to his first baseball practice on Friday, if the weather cooperates.  He is also planning to plant and care for his own flower garden this summer.  This weekend he started his sunflowers indoors.  They are put well out of Banshee's reach, because last time he did this she buried a biscuit in his tray of seedlings.

6.  I don't have time to proofread this today.  So, if it's crap, I apologize.  At least it's done.

7.  I promised to make Faith an Elsa dress.  I have a plan.  I have the material.  I have anxiety over cutting into the materials and executing the plan.  She won't let me forget though and is making a list of the dresses I'm to make after this one.  Next rainy day, I plan to take a deep breath, hold it and cut.