* Looking down

Bad Things have been happening outside.  I am losing the battle.

First, the deer continue to use our yard as a feeding and parking station.  They leave raisins to mark their path up the driveway.

deer poop

You might wonder why the driveway looks so, um, marbled.  (Trust me, this is relevant.)  It’s because my dearest widower asked the pressure washer guys to remove the mulch stains.  Remember I tossed hundreds of pounds of mulch into our “natural area?”  Well, it might have improved the appearance of that natural area for a day or so, but it also triggered a vole invasion.  What’s not to love in soft, moist mulch?

mulch

So, the voles.  They have ruined one-third of our front yard, as of today.  Tomorrow- one half?  Everyday, there are new raised tunnels and piles of soil.  I bought these pellets that supposedly irritate their sinuses, but I feel too discouraged to use the stuff.  Plus, I have an aversion to watering (see below), which is necessary to activate the pellets.  Voles are quite admirable diggers, I have to admit.  You wouldn’t believe the amount of soil they’ve rumbled through.

As if voles weren’t bad enough, AT&T has been supposedly laying a new cable in the back yard.  All I can see is spray paint, wires, and more tunnels.  Perhaps AT&T hires voles.  I have a work crew ready and willing in the front yard, if need be.

The beautiful meadow sage, which is deer resistant, has not withstood the heat and relative drought.  Yes, I should have watered them, but the bloody mosquitoes attack me through my shirt and hair as soon as I step outside.

Vance, the Venus Flytrap, has given up the ghost.  I did accidentally spray him with insect repellent as I was venturing out, so that didn’t help.  The bug spray didn’t help me either, for that matter.

Overall, I’d say I’m a bit discouraged in my attempts to fashion a lawn.  No one else on our street has voles (I’ve looked).  Other folks sit outside in chairs without mosquito netting and clouds of repellent.  At least the deer are equal opportunity invaders.  Go deer!  Please.

* Sharing my world

I always look forward to Cee’s Share Your World blogging challenge.  Sadly, I’ve been an erratic blogger for a while….  OK, I will put that behind me and wordpress on!

I want to learn more about… so many things!  I love information of all sorts, which is why I am enjoying the Skelgill detective series so much.  It’s also why I love teaching; the field of research keeps expanding and instruction becomes integrally tied to what we know about neuroscience.

On a vacation, what you would require in any place that you sleep?  No roaches!  We spent a week at a beach resort years ago and as we were getting ready for bed, I saw this GIGANTIC roach on the wall above the bed.  My dearest widower mounted an energetic but futile attack.  (Did you know they can flip upside down and hang onto ledges like acrobats?)  My widower assured me it was gone for good but I whined, “What if it comes back and gets on my face?”  Once I had settled down, we fell asleep.  I awoke to a gentle touch of something crawling across my lips!  As it moved up my forehead, I shrieked and jumped up and down on the bed, trying to knock it off me.  My dearest widower quickly mounted a renewed assault and the bloody roach was smashed.  I can still feel it on my lips.  Such trauma!

What is your greatest extravagance?  Oh, that’s easy!  Yesterday I ate an entire giant Caramello bar in less than 5 minutes.  Yum!

What inspired you this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.   I teach a medically fragile student who endures more than any of us could possibly imagine.  (I do plan to share a LOT more about him pretty soon.)  This kiddo is courageous, determined, and gifted.  He can hardly speak, can’t use his limbs, and has multiple disorders.  I am inspired by his incredible effort, his empathy for others, and his wild sense of humor.  I am blessed to teach this youngster!

Hard hat day

His family enjoyed a Hard Hat Day as we worked on “construction” at Camp Wonderopolis!

* Thinking of You

What a precious heart Michelle has! How encouraging- and what great advice!

Good morning, friends! Welcome to the work week and another day that the Lord has made. Today I woke up thinking about all of you and what I would share. Typically, I schedule posts in advance, but last night I had a few people on my mind and in my heart, so I did what I vowed I would always do when that happens — pray. I promised myself that I would pray for anyone who crossed my mind in that moment. Most people probably call or text whenever they think of someone they love, but I stop to pray. One day I hope to do both; but for now, I’ll simply pray.

Lord God, thank you for all of the special people that you’ve placed in my life. I ask that you bless them, comfort them, and heal them of all their hurts. For my BFF, my sisters in…

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* Murder in School

It’s not what you think!  I’m innocent!

Murder in School is the second in a fantastic detective series by Bruce Beckham.  Murder in School

DI Daniel Skelgill is the unlikely name of the Cumbrian Detective who reminds me very much of Sherlock Holmes.  Skelgill is simply brilliant, and of course, totally eccentric  He doesn’t much care about social skills but inspires fierce loyalty in his two assistants, DS Jones and Leyton.  Skelgill has an insatiable appetite for bacon biscuits and tea, often at Leyton’s expense.  He is an avid fisherman, solid bowler (in cricket), and expert climber/rescuer of the Lake District.  Skelgill is often acerbic and swings wildly between humility and pride.  He’s one of those men who seems old before his time, perhaps because of his expert knowledge- or is it because he is rather set in his ways?

Murder in School showcases Skelgill’s oblique but intuitive approach to solving mysteries.  He is called upon to investigate the apparent suicide of a master at Oakthwaite School, which is followed by yet another suicide, with no shortage of possible suspects.  The situation worsens when the Chief’s son disappears and a hooded figure reveals a century-old cabal.  We watch Skelgill, such a humorous and sneaky bugger, reconnoiter crime scenes, scarf scones, and race the clock to rescue that poor student.

I greatly admire the writer, Bruce Beckham, who not only brings the Fells to life, but animates this page-turner with clever characters, wry humor, and an ending that defied my imagination.

I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

* Seesaw

Wow!  Seesaw is a user-friendly digital portfolio for classes, with many features that support special needs students.  I stumbled across this terrific app and have already started using it!  Here’s a short video that quickly explains some of its key features: 

What are some of Seesaw’s best features?  It’s teacher friendly, supports simple yet effective digital learning, enables teachers to individualize within a large group setting, and is FREE!  Seesaw allows teachers to connect with families effortlessly (and privately, if needed).  Best of all, from a special ed perspective, it supports struggling learners by providing a wide range of response choices without time pressure.  Teachers can create formative assessments, announcements, videos, and much more to share with individuals or the entire class.  Teachers also adjust settings to approve all entries before they are posted, message families privately, and moderate a class blog.

Seesaw is student friendly, working well whether each student has a device or shares one.  All students access a private “journal” where they can post photos, videos, links, files, and drawings.  All videos and photos can be edited to include recordings, text, and drawings.  This app allows special needs kids alternative responses to a range of typical school tasks.  The drawing feature, a miniature whiteboard, could improve student understanding in math by allowing teachers quick access to how a problem is interpreted and solved.  The recording feature allows shy or socially awkward kiddos a less stressful approach for class presentations.  For those students who need extra time to process information, Seesaw can be used flexibly to provide adequate thinking and prep time.

Before you start Seesaw, it’s wise to go through their online course which has been carefully designed to provide practice on each feature.  Plus, you get a certificate of credit- how sweet!  Seesaw works on laptops with Chrome or Firefox, Kindle Fire, Chromebooks, iPads, iPhones, and Android devices.  And there are actually two Seesaw apps, Class and Family.  Both are awesome!

Seesaw 2

I give Seesaw a 5-star rating for its broad scope of use, ease of access, and potential benefits to special needs kids. 

* Picture thankfulness

I decide to post my Ten Things of Thankful in photos this week.  Thanks, Josie, for hosting this blogging challenge!roof work

spider 2.JPG

“O, what tangled webs we mortals weave when first we practise to deceive!”  I’m grateful to be hand-in-hand with a dear family who faces a spinning web of lies.

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My dear sister-in-law Eva Marie Everson, is an author and more!  She took this photo and created WOW!

I can't hear you

A much-needed sign for Google hangouts when tutoring!

car 2

What a miracle!  A friend walked away from this.  Her car was totalled….

wonky truck

Thankfully, no one on Pinterest will ever see this wonky Wonderopolis project!

 

Murder in School

Thankfully, this is fiction.  A review will follow!

Camp Wonderopolis 2017 2

A student has worked hard at Camp Wonderopolis and enjoyed every minute of it!

girl

Had fun with a friend and her daughter.

roof work

Just in case hurricane Irma takes aim at NC, our roof and underlying wood are now secure, thanks to some wonderful folks!

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Finally, how pleased I am to share this blurry photo of one of our “twins,” taken from my car, as this one and its partner rest in a neighbor’s yard- not ours!

roof work

* Ten Things of Thankful

Today I am grateful for endings and for new beginnings.  I am a bit subdued, feeling like an 18 wheeler got the best of me.  But thanks to Josie for her faithfulness in keeping this blogging challenge GOING!

One.   This migraine headache is finally relinquishing its hold.  I spent yesterday huddled in the darkness as my dearest widower brought me ibuprofen and Tylenol.  Yet another side effect from yet another statin drug.  Coming to an end, right?

 Two.  The necessary roofing repair, with its pounding and ladders and men of integrity, is also coming to an end.  I’ll miss the way they hung around….

roofer 2

Three.  We are finally tackling some overdue home repairs and cleaning.  The roof rot (above) was a serendipitous discovery after pressure washing the house.  See?  My pressure to get the pressure cleaning was a good thing!  I should remind my dearest widower.

Four.  The clutter in this house is coming to an end.  Baby steps.  No, tweener steps.

Five.   Our hot and humid summer is gradually coming to an end.  Temps dropped to the 80s this week (just for a day or two) and many trees are cutting their losses, with yellowing leaves gulping for water.

Six.  The new school year starts tomorrow!  My dearest teaching widower calls it the Great Everson Giveaway.  I wonder why he’s never as excited as I am.

Seven.  More awesome professional development classes start soon!  My dearest teaching widower asks me if this is what other “retirees” do.

Eight.  The fawns that have been parked on our hill are following mom to sample treats in other folks’ yards.  I know they will be back.  This evening.

Nine.  My dearest widower is shopping for clothes right now!  On his own!  Maybe this is the start of something new.  Maybe he’s an imposter.  He doesn’t think a shirt should cost more than $12.  Yes, it’s been that long since he ventured into a mall.  If I didn’t have such a headache,  I would have accompanied him to immortalize the expedition with photos.  Is this the end of online shopping?  Nope.

Ten.  I will copy The Wakefield Doctrine and leave this one for the special day when I don’t have a headache.  Whee!

 

 

* Keep Your Passion

I am shamelessly borrowing Kendrick Vinar’s message and applying it to a passion for teaching.  The big question is: What drains your teaching battery?    Around here, next Monday is the grand opening!   Best to explore these issues BEFORE the school year starts, right?battery

Kendrick gave six examples of Passion Drains:

  1.  Unaligned priorities.  Ask yourself, “How am I actually spending my time?”  (Not “How do I wish I were spending my time?”)  You might think that you are devoted to parent-teacher relationships, but how much time do you spend talking to parents?  Or perhaps lifelong learning is high on your written list, but do you really devote time for reading and collaborating professionally?
  2.  Unbalanced schedule.  I can provide the perfect example of this, being the only teacher with 40+ years experience who worked at school every weekend.  Uh-oh.
  3.  Unresolved conflict.  This is an emotional drain which may lead to darting into closets to avoid the principal or refusing to make eye contact with another teacher.  For my part, I was actually oblivious to the anger I had stirred up in a colleague.  Yikes.
  4.  Unforgiven sin.  OK, you don’t have to be a Christian to understand that those lies or mean-spirited words can’t truly be ignored or swept under the carpet.  They will come back to bite you unless you make things clean.
  5.  Undernourished soul.  Ever feel like you are running on empty deep inside?  Our spirits need nutrition, just as our bodies do.
  6.  Unclear purpose.  It’s natural to feel some discomfort when vacations end, but do you also feel a genuine excitement about getting to know your new students and families?  Are you excited about all the fun that is to come?  Is it a thrill to inspire others to learn?  Don’t stay in teaching if there’s no passion in your heart.

You owe it to yourself and your students to blaze with the joy of teaching.  

* The Bitter Parent Back-to-School Guide

You never thought the summer could be soooo long; by all rights, it shouldn’t be!  Why do teachers complain about long hours and little pay when they have three months of summer vacation?  And it won’t be long before they are taking off for workdays and so-called professional development.  Plus your kids will have forgotten all the little they learned last year and they’ll probably get that crabby teacher who never retires.  Here are some back-to-school tips just for you.

  1.  Let your kids stay up as late as they like, especially for that first week back at school.  It’s about time that teachers get to see what you have to put up with.
  2.  Send high-sugar-and-carb snacks that will fill your kids’ bellies and don’t fret about wonky blood sugar levels.  These snacks are much more appealing and will boost your child’s social credit.
  3.  Arrive late to school at least a couple of times in the first week.  Nothing much happens before 9 or 10, so at least your child won’t be as bored as usual.
  4.  Send your child in flip flops on PE days.  PE teachers have enough time in their schedules to sort that out.  After all, they play games all day!
  5.  Remind your kiddos that if someone hits them, they are to hit back three times as hard.  Better yet, encourage them to be proactive, not reactive.  That will take care of all those bullies at school.
  6.  Give your child a break from that ADHD medication.  See #1 for the rationale.
  7.  If your child is attending a new school and has an IEP, keep it a secret as long as possible.  Why prejudice the teacher’s opinion of your child?
  8.  Don’t bother with that heavy packet of forms from the school.  If it’s important, they’ll send it again.
  9.  Put the first PTA meeting on your calendar.  You will want to suggest that schools skip summer vacations all together.  How are kids supposed to learn anything in just 180 days?annoyed woman.png

* The Bitter Teacher Back-to-School Guide

You never thought the summer could be soooo short; between a second job and staff development, you had one week off!  Why do parents complain about taking care of their children for a few weeks?  And it won’t be long before they are griping about workdays.  Plus the kids will have forgotten all they learned last year and you’ll probably get that crabby administrator who is shuffled from school to school.  Here are some back-to-school tips just for you.

  1.  Enjoy your last night before school starts, staying up as late as you can.  You shouldn’t smile at kids before January anyway.
  2.  Resurrect those old boxes of crackers for the classroom snack.  They don’t have peanut butter and you can’t even read the expiration date.
  3.  Lock your classroom door and keep the lights off so any late kids and their parents are forced to return to the main office.  After all, what is the intercom for?
  4.  Double-check with the principal to ensure that subs are available when the specials teachers are absent.  That’s your planning time and the PE teacher doesn’t need any time just to organize a game.
  5.  Take tranquilizers before the Back to School event.  Watching the way kids run around like crazy while their parents ignore all misbehavior is a sure indicator of a long year ahead.  Identify bullying parents and see if their child can be reassigned to a beginning teacher.
  6.  Contact the school nurse well before the first day of school to see who takes meds for ADHD.  Have the school social worker on call to summon parents if ANY kids seem unmedicated.
  7.  Assume that all new kids are behavior problems and figure out how to have them placed elsewhere or medicated.
  8. Print up your stacks of reminders to parents about clothing for specials, rules for the playground, field trip chaperones, lunch money, snacks for the classroom, requests for supplies, room parents, PTA meetings, book fairs, and Teacher Appreciation Week.  Have your assistant use a different color of paper for each set of reminders.  Make sure the request for classroom supplies is stapled on top.
  9.   Figure out how to skip the boring PTA meeting, especially the first one where all the troublemakers start agitating the group.bitter teacher.png