Friday, March 25, 2011

A few years ago I picked up my first sudoku puzzle book and was instantly hooked.  I've always liked puzzles anyway, although I never was quite like my mother-in-law who would do crossword puzzles in ink pen.  Sudoku was more my speed.  It was something I could pick up and work on for a few minutes, then set it down, and return to it hours, or even days later.

So, my husband, being the dear that he is, bought me a sudoku puzzle book featuring 601 puzzles.  I really enjoy working on these in the morning, when the sun is coming into my living room, and I'm enjoying a cup of coffee.  It's a nice, quiet, brain-boosting way to start the day.

As of today, I have completed each and every one of the 601 puzzles.

Yeah me!

But not to worry...I have a few other books ready to go, although I'll miss this one.  The binding had long ago given up and pieces of the book have fallen out (held intact with rubber bands).  It was well-used, well-loved, and well-worn!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Break, or the Era of Yard Work

Spring Break has arrived!

Truth be told, I would have preferred to use a bit of spring break to make up our snow days, but here it is, intact, and as luck would have it, really darn nice in terms of weather. (Although I know better.  I remember one spring break where we went from 85 to 18 in one day.)

Actually the week before break was amazingly warm and spring-like, to the point that the kids were wild (ah, the sap rises and so do the hormones).  They were excited about break, excited about warm weather, and excited about just about anything aside from doing work.  They also were all wacked out about the time change and couldn't quite seem to get with the program this week.

A few highlights...and lowlights.

We had our reward party on Friday for the kids who didn't have a single discipline referral for the previous nine weeks.  Basically it was a dance with prizes and food and fun stuff during their 2nd related arts period.  One of my darlings got into a tussle with another kid at the REWARD party and managed to end up in ISS (and who knows what else).  The irony of kids getting in a fight at a party for being good just kills me.

Dennis the Menace has returned and he's like a new kid.  Granted, Mom has him on meds now and he's already learned that he'll be expelled if he screws up, but honestly, I think there's more to it than that.  He's matured.  He even looks a little different - the greasy hair and acne of a kid who's just been slapped upside the head by Puberty - and he's a lot more calm.  He doesn't get pulled into other kids' drama, does his work, follows directions, and is polite and well-mannered and just wonderful.  All the teachers on the Team have noticed it and have commented as much to The Principal and to Dennis' mom.

Anyhow, he's been here for about a month (and hasn't had a single write up for ANYTHING) and when the names of kids who couldn't go to the reward party were released, he wasn't on it - which meant he could go. The problem is, he thought he shouldn't be allowed to go because, after all, he had been in alternative school for part of the nine weeks and had had a write-up while there, so as far as he was concerned, he couldn't go.

He's in my homeroom, and sits right in front, so we'd talked a bit and I said I'd find out for sure if he could go or not.  Because, this kid, out of all of them deserved to go.  So basically, I went to The Principal and said I thought he deserved to go...and she agreed.

The best part of my day on Friday was telling Dennis that he could go to the party.  You would have thought I'd given him a winning lottery ticket.  His face lit up and he was so happy.  And this is the best part - he came back from the party and thanked me for seeing that he could go.  (You have got to be kidding...a kid thanking a teacher?  How rare is that!?)  He told me about the whole thing, what he bought with his reward dollars, the music, and just how much fun it was.

Made my day.

So, for Spring Break I am not doing anything remotely exciting.  I went and got Daddy Bird, spent a day at his place cleaning up, and now he's here at our place for a couple of weeks.  He can drive (doctor said he could) but I don't think any of us want him driving long distances yet.  However, the pacemaker seems to be ticking along just fine and he's doing a great job supervising my yard work.

I have tons of yard work to do, it being spring and all.  The list will blow your mind.  Today was pruning roses day and digging up a rose bush that hasn't bloomed for a few years (you give me nothing but thorns and I'm getting rid of you).  I have shrubs to trim back, yard to feed, winter debris to get rid of,  early spring veggies to plant, and on and on.  I don't know if I'll get it all done, but I'll try.

And then there's taxes to do.

But at least I can sleep in.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Just Ticking Away

Sorry folks, I've been away from the blog for a bit to deal with Daddy Bird and his ticker.  Regular readers may remember that he had a TIA (mini-stroke) last fall.  Well, to make a long story short, he was having blood pressure issues (too high) he blacked out while driving for just a second or two, ended up in a ditch, and instead of going to the doctor for a look at the blood pressure, ended back up in the regional stroke center (about 3 hours from me).  Turns out the heart was ticking along at 40 beats per minute when it should be at 70.  (Hence the blacking out while driving).  They put in a pacemaker and the difference has been amazing.  He's less winded, has more energy, and feels a lot better.

So, I missed three days of school.

Which meant my kids had a sub for three days (I managed to get one that knew the kids although they can't stand her).

The kids were rotten.  Completely rude and rotten.

While I was gone, the Team members were good at emailing and filling me in the nutty things that were going on while I was gone.

Like three of our girls were texting in class and ended up in in school suspension.

Three of our boys - all BIG boys - got in a scuffle in Mr. Math's room by calling each other "fat".  These are the fattest kids on the team and the fact that they're calling each other fat is, well, just beyond ridiculous.

Another boy apparently, at lunch, stuck his hands down his pants, played a bit with the family jewels, and then proceeded to rub his hands on two other (much smaller) students. Mrs. Social Studies was grossed out by this when it was reported to her that she wasn't even sure she know how to write up the referral.  Fortunately The Principal was nearby and informed her that it fell under "lewd and lascivious" behavior and that "unfortunately it's been happening quite a lot lately."


My Seventh Period Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself had an issue when our Drama Girl (this one is something else - she invents drama like nobody's business) apparently reacted when one of the boys made a comment (who knows what) and had a complete and total meltdown in class.  Crying, screaming, sobbing, so forth and so on.  My poor sub managed to get her to the hallway where Mrs. Social Studies saw her, called guidance and they took her away.

So, in short, life is normal.

Seventh graders, however, are not.

Monday, March 07, 2011

I Won't Make the Majors with this Batting Average

Three parent meetings.

Three cancellations.

But hey, at least they called/emailed...about 5 minutes before the meeting.

With this batting average, I won't ever make the Majors.

Update 3/15/11 - Had a parent meeting today (scheduled by the parent).  Can you guess what happened?  Yup, another no-show.  I am now 0 for 4.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


During class the other day Silly Boy, one of my homeroom kiddos who is one of the silliest kids I know, got all worked up because he'd lost a button off of his shirt.

Go figure.

The kids were busy working on a group activity about Newton's Laws when Silly Boy came up and asked me what to do with the button that had popped off his flannel shirt.

"Well, take it home and sew it on," I suggested.  "Or have your mom do it."

"I don't know how to sew, and I'll probably lose it before I get home," he admitted.  At least he's honest.  This is a kid who loses his locker several times a week because he can't remember to bring his books to class.

"You don't know how to sew on a button?" I asked, figuring that was one of those life skills that everyone pretty  much knew how to do, sort of like boiling water.  Granted, Silly Boy is, after all, a boy so maybe he missed the "how to use a needle and thread" lesson somewhere in life.

Which got me to thinking.  Maybe he's not alone.

So, while I went to my desk and whipped out my "housewife" (you Civil War buffs will know what I'm talking about but it's a reproduction sewing kit that soldiers would use to do their own mending - me, I use it to fix things at school) I stopped the kids for a minute and asked them if any of them knew how to sew on a button.

My jaw about dropped.  Out of 23 kids, two raised their hands.

"Seriously?" I said.  "You don't know how to sew on a button?  What do you do when you lose one?"

The answers varied from "I dunno", to "Give it to mom/grandma/older sister" to "Don't wear it anymore".

Oh dear.  Even the girls, many of them in Girl Scouts at some point in their lives, didn't know how to sew on a button.  They were, I might add, just fascinated as they watched me sew the button back on Silly Boy's shirt (with him still in it, squirmy little twerp that he was).   Most of my kids don't come from money and the fact that they can't do basic clothing repairs just blows my mind.

So I'm thinking...the last week of school, when we're wrapping up the year, I just may get a bunch of buttons, fabric scraps, and needles and thread and teach these kids one of those basic life skills - sewing on a button.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

When Kids Are In Charge

I really like my kids, for the most part, this year.  (Okay, I hate my Seventh Period Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself but there are kids in there I like - it's just the combination of kids which make me crazy).

Their parents, on the other hand, are making me insane.

Case in point.  We have a kid I'll call Absent Boy, because, you guessed it, he's absent all the time.  He misses every test.  He misses every benchmark.  He's usually gone on Fridays and often times he's gone on Mondays.  When he comes back he's healthy as a horse, nary a sniffle or a sore throat in sight.  In short, he basically tells his mom when he wants to come to school and she lets him get away with it.   He was absent yesterday, the day we had our two hour delay, and when one of the teachers asked him why, he said, "Well, there was a two hour delay and we didn't know if they'd cancel, and mom didn't know how she'd get me to school, so I didn't come". (Did this lady never hear of a bus?)

Absent Kid has a whopping 37% in my class and he's pretty much doing the same in all his other classes.  He's a bright kid, when you can get something out of him, which isn't often.  He is on an IEP as a special education student, but seriously, he does well on the things he does.  He is capable.  As a sped kid he can turn in late work (never does) and in my class he gets a homework helper which basically is an answer key to help him do his homework.  All he has to do is copy it and turn it in.  But he doesn't.  He has, in fact, informed his sped case manager and the enrichment teacher that he's not bothering to do much in seventh grade since he'll get passed anyway because he's on an IEP.   He won't even turn in things we do in class.

We have tried to get his mother to come in for a meeting.  She'll agree to a meeting, then five minutes before she is to show up, she'll call and cancel.  Today, yet again, she pulled this stunt. So we have yet to get her in here (she also apparently doesn't show up at IEP meetings either.)

This kid is running the house.  If we wanted any more evidence of this, Mr. Math ran into Absent Mom (how appropriate) and Absent Boy at a local fast food join yesterday.  Absent Boy didn't see Mr. Math at first and was running around being a brat and talking back to his mom.  She told him he couldn't have something and he went off and slapped her in the face!  And. She. Did. Nothing.

Apparently this is her coping do nothing.  The kid talks back...she does nothing.  He fails his classes...she does nothing.  He whines and complains and wants to stay home from school...she does nothing.

But I'm the one being held accountable.