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The Two Little Piggies

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I have a love-hate relationship with teaching. The hours are horrible. The pay is a pittance. The work never stops – nights, weekends, vacations. There are times where it is as if no one wants to hear a word I am saying, and all I am doing is putting out one behavior fire after another. Not to mention all the times I have had to tell  the Three Monkeys that I can’t do something with them or for them because I have had something to do for the class.

It is EXHAUSTING.

And then there are times when it all is so incredibly breathtakingly amazing.

This is the story of the two little piggies – guinea piggies that is – and how an act of kindness lifted my heart in so many ways.

Way back in August, my students and I decided we wanted to get guinea pigs for our classroom. We had everything we needed. Cage? Check. Food? Check. Hay? Check. Guinea pigs? Ummm…

It’s not that I didn’t want them. I did! But, guinea pigs cost money. And with the pay cut I took in order to work at this little piece of academic heaven, I never had the spare change to go get them.

That damned empty cage sitting in my classroom mocked me every single day.

And then this week something serendipitous happened. I came across a listing for two male guinea pigs (cage included) FREE to a good home. Needless to say, I jumped on it. FINALLY we were going to get our piggies! I went to school the next day and excitedly told my class the news. The squeals of delight filled the room. We couldn’t wait!

That evening I took Monkey #1 (now 15 1/2, if you can believe it) and The Middle Monkey (almost 14!) to go pick up our new furry friends, Sergeant and Lieutenant – AKA Sarge and Louie. Together, the boys and I loaded the cage into the car and headed home. Upon arriving, we unloaded the cage to the kitchen table where they would wait until the next day when I would move them to their new home – my classroom.

There was just one little hitch in the plan. Something unexpected happened. In the span of about 10 minutes, Monkey #1 fell head=over-heels-hopelessly-in-love with Sarge and Louie. The very guinea pigs that were destined to go to my class the very next day.

All Wednesday evening, Monkey 1, my sweet little Aspie Monkey, was crouched on a kitchen chair, arms wrapped around his knees, gazing through the open cage door at Sarge and Louie.  He was so calm. So peaceful. Nothing, not meds wearing off, not his brother being very 13, was ruffling him. Occasionally he would tentatively extend one finger and stroke one of the piggies.

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“But, I love them,”

And then came the words that broke my heart. “I wish I could keep them,” he quietly whispered.

“But, baby, I’ve already told my class about them, and they are very excited about the piggies coming. You know they are meant to go to school.”

“I know,” he sighed. “But, I love them. I know I just met them. I can’t explain it. I love them.”

Oy.

I tried to make light, but I could tell, this was no ordinary love. This was a deep piggy love, and I – the worst mother in the whole wide world – was ripping them away from him. Not that he told me that. But he might as well have, because that is exactly how I felt.

The next morning, I brought the piggies to school. More squeals of delight. I told my school kiddos the story of Monkey 1 and his love of the piggies and how he had wanted to keep them. I don’t know why I told them. Except that maybe I have a case of verbal diarrhea and just talk even when I shouldn’t. But I did.

Today I got a message from one of my parents. Her daughter had told her about Monkey 1 falling in love with the piggies. Then the sweet girl asks her mother if there was a way that we could get other pets for the class and return the piggies to my son. Because obviously God wanted my sweet son and the sweet piggies to be together. The piggies belonged to him. Not the class.

I didn’t know how to respond. I was literally speechless. All that came were tears.

In the hours that followed, that mother asked and searched, and has now located another pair of guinea pigs for my class to have. All so my sweet Aspie Monkey can keep Sarge and Louie.

His response when I told him was to bury his head in my shoulder and repeatedly say, “I get to keep my boys. I get to keep my piggies.”

Yes you do, my sweet boy. Yes you do.

So while it means there will be more living things in my house, every single time I see those little furballs, every time I see that little smile on Monkey #1’s face, I will think of the sweet girl who knew it was meant to be – even when I didn’t.

And I’ll remember the time my student and her family taught me a lesson in kindness and compassion I’ll never forget.

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Crossroads

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I am standing at a crossroads.

Unsure as to which path to choose.

One path leads to a familiar land.

A land once filled with joy.

But, in more recent times, it is a land consumed with anger and frustration.

The other path is completely unknown.

I have no idea where it leads.

One false step and I lose everything.

Or, by choosing that path –

That path to uncertainty –

I could find myself

On the road

To

Happiness.

AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!


I swear, today was one of those days when I just want to walk out and not look back.

One of those days when I feel like it doesn’t really matter what I do, I will end up being screwed in the end.

One of those days when I wanted to step outside and scream at the top of my lungs.

One of those days when I wanted to come home, crawl in my bed, pull my comforter over my head, and never come out.

One of those days when it is all too easy to forget why I keep going every day, why I keep giving it my best, why I keep caring.

I am so tired of the politics of it all.

I am so tired of that helpless feeling of being completely out of control.

I am so tired of jumping through hoops that just keep getting higher and higher.

I need to find my joy.

I just have no idea where it is hiding.

Come out, come out, where ever you are.

Summertime and the Living Is Easy… Says Who?

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Kickin’ up my heels at the beach. LAST summer.

With all due respect for the geniuses that are the Gershwin Brothers and their masterpiece “Porgy and Bess,” but – that line is wrong.  On so many levels.

Oh, I know most folks believe that us teachers just spend all summer long laying out in the sun, workin’ on our tans.  Kickin’ up our heels enjoying our two month vacation.

I hate to burst that bubble, but that just ain’t true.

I use my summers to attempt to get caught up on all the things I can’t manage to get done the other ten months out of the year.

You know, when my days start when I get up at 5:30, and don’t end until I put aside my work and turn out the lights at 11:30.  And where my weekends are spent preparing lesson plans, and running errands – oh, and trying to spend time with The Three Little Monkeys.

During my summer “break,” I use the time to:

Attack my yard.  Landscaping.  Pulling up the ever-present ivy.  Cutting down wayward bushes.  Preparing the yard to TRY to get grass to grow.  Dirty sweaty work.

Clean my house.  And by cleaning – I mean THOROUGH cleaning.  Top to bottom.  Pulling everything out of cabinets.  Wiping the walls.  Reducing the layer of life that builds up during the school year.

Organize.  The storage room.  Closets.  Everything.

Paint.  The house I mean.  Not like PAINTING painting.  This summer, the Middle Monkey and I are going to finish turning his room into a solar system wonderland.

Make things for the upcoming school year.  Posters.  Charts.  Games.

Oh, and try to spend time with The Three Little Monkeys.

And before I know it, my summer break is over, and it is back to school I go.  And the cycle continues.

Well, back I go to continue my summer “vacation.”

I gotta say though, I’m getting one bitchin’ tan from all the yard work.

Love is Lovelier the Second Time Around (or even the twentieth…)

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Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

via Daily Prompt: Second Time Around.

Love is lovelier the second time around
Just as wonderful with both feet on the ground (Second Time Around   – as sung by Frank Sinatra)

As I have mentioned many many times, I am wrapping up my 15th year of teaching.  I am a big proponent of the teacher-read-aloud – even in the upper grades.  I read to my class every day and use it as a jumping off point for so many lessons and discussions.  It is the most special time of our day.  I have students who are now in their mid-twenties who tell me they can still remember certain books I read to them and how much they loved it.  For some of my students, it has been what has made them fall in love with books.

I put a lot of thought in what I chose to read to them.  And I try not to just read the same book year after year.  After all, while THEY may not have read it, I would get bored reading the same things all the time.  With one exception…

I have read Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls to nearly every single class in the past 15 years.  It has become a link to each class.  Siblings from a previous class will ask the brother or sister in my current class if I have read it yet.  It sticks with them.

For those of you who are not aware of the book (and if you haven’t ever read it – read it…it is great), Where the Red Fern Grows, is the story of Billy Coleman, a young boy growing up in the backwoods of the Ozarks somewhere around the Depression.  Billy’s family isn’t just poor, they are dirt poor, living off the land.  However, Billy decides he wants some dogs.  And not just any ol’ dogs.  He wants hunting dogs.  Specifically Redbone Coonhounds.  His parents want to help him, but they can’t.  So, Billy works for over two years to gather enough money to buy his beloved dogs.  And that’s where the story really begins.

“It’s strange indeed how memories can lie dormant in a man’s mind for so many years. Yet those memories can be awakened and brought forth fresh and new, just by something you’ve seen, or something you’ve heard, or the sight of an old familiar face.”  
―     Wilson Rawls,     Where the Red Fern Grows

It is a story of perseverance and determination.  It is about setting a goal and not letting anything get in your way.  But mostly it is a story about undying love and devotion.

I have read the book somewhere around 20 times – independently as a child, to my classes and to my own children.  It still makes me laugh and it still makes me cry.  Real tears, not just brimming in my eyes.  Every single time.

I will probably be looping with my class next year.  Meaning, I’ll be going with them from 4th to 5th, with most of the class intact.  And since I read it to my students this year, I won’t be reading it to them again.  And I am a little sad about that.  I look forward to reading it every year.  So, looks like I’ll have to read it to my own children.  I read it to Monkey #1 when he was 8.  The Middle Monkey heard it from his 4th grade teacher (a fellow teacher who also reads it to her class every year).  The Girl Child has yet to hear it.  Perhaps it is time.

“It’s a shame that people all over the world can’t have that kind of love in their hearts,” he said.  “There would be no wars, slaughter, or murder; no greed or selfishness.  It would be the kind of world that God wants us to have – a wonderful world.”  
―     Wilson Rawls,     Where the Red Fern Grows

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad-lib world.

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Me think’s I need to be gettin’ this book… heh heh…

Daily Prompt: Mad Libs.

The Post-a-day challenge in Mad Lib form prompted me to play around with a Mad Lib site.

As a teacher, I use Mad Libs to review parts of speech.  I will give them the list first (because, let’s face it, if given the paragraph, kids will try to put in a word that make SENSE – and where’s the fun in that?).  Once they have filled it out  – and I have checked to make sure they have used the correct part of speech, I will give them the paragraph to fill in.  Then we share – and enjoy the laugh.

I love these things.  I particularly like it when they are absolutely bizarre and make little to no sense!

Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid) Mad:)Take.

Look at this Potato, isn`t it neat?
Wouldn`t you think my collection`s complete?
Wouldn`t you think I`m the spud
The spud who has everything?

Look at this elephant, treasures untold
How many wonders can one baby hold?
skipping around here, you`d think
Sure, she`s got everything

I`ve got bells and queens a-plenty
I`ve got who`s-its and what`s-its galore
You eat thing-a-mabobs?
I`ve got 492
But who cares? No pink deal. I rain more

I wanna be where the balloons are
I wanna see, wanna see `em drowning
walkin` around on those
 Whaddya call `em? Oh, feet

Washing your fins, you don`t get too far
Legs are required for typing, dancin`
Strollin` along down the
What`s that word again? Show.
Up where shoes watch
Up where shoes run
Up where shoes stay all day in the sun
Wanderin` free, wish I could be
Part of that watch.

What would I give if I could live
Outta these conditioners?
What would I pay to spend a day
Warm on the sand?

Betcha on space they understand
Bet they don`t reprimand their papers
Bright young women, sick of grading
Ready to stand

And ready to know what the shirt know
Ask `em ginormous questions and get some answers
What`s a towel, and why does it
What`s the word? Carve?

When`s it my turn?
Wouldn`t I open?
Open to explore that stool up above
Out of messy turkey, wish door could be
Ask of that question!

And in honor of Star Wars Day (May the Fourth Be With You), here is another one…

Darth Punkin-Doodle looked at his master while his drippy breathing filled the room. He was told to go to drive everything on the planet of Ooga Booga. He got in his hair bow and jumped to hyperspace. Soon before he reached the planet, he dropped out of hyperspace and was attacked by Rebel washers. He demanded them off and continued to the planet`s surface. He landed and confronted more opposition, slicing it down with his platter. He used the hanger to choke another Rebel, then poked him aside. He finished off all life on the planet with an icy laugh.

So, take a little time today – and get a little mad…

Mad-libs courtesy of: http://www.madglibs.com/

Stick a fork in me…

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I am not only done – but so OVER done it is no longer palatable.

Don’t get me wrong.  I do enjoy teaching.  Ok, I hear some of you laughing.  But, it is true.  On most days, it is still an enjoyment.  Notice I said MOST days.  But I cannot WAIT for this school year to be finished.  We are at 14 days (not that I am counting) and it can’t come soon enough.

This has been one of the most difficult, soul-stomping, exasperating of all my 15 years in the classroom.  I’ve had some real doozies – but there is a new champion.  Things had gotten better for a bit.  But, we finished up our high stakes state testing last week, so in the mind of a couple of my students, the year is already over.  So, this week in particular has been  – um – challenging.

On the upside, it is now Friday afternoon.  And I have at least a day and a half before I need to give serious thought to the goings on in my classroom.

Now, if you will excuse me, I hear a nap calling…