that I’ve been blogging all along, shall we?! Sounds good to me!

The real title of this post should be: Don’t begrudge a teacher her summer break!

Oh, how I’m loving my summer!  I am finally figuring out how to sleep late [i.e., into the 7’s o’clock range] and it’s just delightful!  And I love not having to go anywhere right after I get up. I get to lounge around drinking coffee, perusing the internets, eating breakfast IN A BOWL [as opposed to a plastic wrapper…I’m a breakfast-on-the-go kinda gal during the school year.]

Of course I waste entirely TOO much time when I have all of this time on my hands! That’s part of the reason why I haven’t been blogging even though I completely have the time to nowadays. I just feel like there’s something else I’m SUPPOSED to be doing right now! Someone reminded me the other day in some very profound way [that of course I’ve forgotten how it was said by this point!] that this is my down time, and it’s true!

Lots of people think that teaching is a cushy job. That we only work from 7-2:30 then we float around on clouds eating bon-bons and such. It’s just not true! Being a teacher is sorta like being self-employed AND having multiple bosses at the same time. Somebody always wants NEEDS something!  I have all sorts of people clamoring for my attention and/or telling me how things should or should not be done. And yet I’m still responsible for coming up with content, making sure it matches the curriculum requirements, grading papers, disciplining (UGH!), making parent contacts…etc. I’m revising lesson plans while I shower (I actually have some pretty inspired ideas in the shower, come to think of it!) busy the entire time I’m at school (yes, even during my planning period…which is NOT my “off” period, fyi!), returning calls and organizing things after students leave, coming home to do stuff around the house, and then grading papers until I can’t see straight! [Confession: I don’t grade at home nearly as much as I should; but I do plan lessons and create activities and the like, so altogether, I do lots of school work in the evenings.] I cannot even imagine how much MORE complicated my life will become when we throw (our own) kids into the mix! [YIKES!]

And then I’m also the swim team sponsor–which really isn’t awful in itself–and that adds another layer to things to do on any given school day…or Saturday! Yes, we “only” work 182 days out of the year, but those are intense days and we often DO work nights/weekends as well. One of my favorite bits of self-derived wisdom is that:  the summers & holidays are not for the students; they are so that the teachers can have time to forget why they were about to quit before the break!

It is hard work! And yes, I chose this profession. But I wanted to be an educator, to teach young minds about literature and writing. I don’t really get to do that much of the time. There is a snarky little cliché phrase that says, ” those who can’t do, teach.” I have begun to think [and say anytime the subject comes up!] that I’m about to go “DO” something, because I’m about done with this teaching business! I wish I didn’t mean that, because I truly enjoy teaching. It’s just been an exhausting year, and the job I have now is not the career I chose when I had to settle on a college major. Much has changed–in our world, in our society, and in the classroom–and I question whether I have the know-how to navigate these strange waters in which we find ourselves.  We shall see! The next school year is a mere 40 days away!

So, in the meantime, I’m using my down time to recharge. I’m looking for ways to bolster myself and heal the wounds of a rough year. I’m renewing spiritually, indulging in my hobbies, doing some things around the house, reading for fun, and spending quality time with people i like and enjoy being around. I am also looking for ways to be a better teacher, decorating my new (and thankfully larger) classroom, and planning and revising lessons.  I really do want to be an effective teacher in this new and bizarre school environment in which we find ourselves these days…It’s just a hard thing to do in the midst of the school year. We need the breaks to remember why we became teachers in the first place and to look for new and stronger ways to hold onto those passions during a turbulent school year!

I have a rechargeable camera battery. It becomes drained after a while and not nearly as effective. If I use it long enough, my camera will quit functioning completely. I must remove the battery from the camera and let it sit in it’s charger for a while. Eventually, it’s at full strength again, but it had to have the down time to recharge.  I hope the metaphor translates…

So please do not begrudge us teachers our down time, and feel free to offer to substitute our classes any time you need a glimpse into our glamorous daily grind! Please?! I have a stock-pile of bon-bons I’ve been waiting to dive into!

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I absolutely love LOVE home-grown tomatoes. They are THE BEST! I can eat ’em like apples, diving face-first into their tangy, juicy tomato-i-ness. I’ve wanted to grow my own tomatoes for a while, but gardening is hard work…that’s always been the deterrent. That and I didn’t have a yard in which to plant my beloved tomatoes! Well, we bought a house in November of 2009, but the summer of 2010 came and went with nary a tomato plant in sight. I decided that THIS year would be different! 2011 would be the summer of my own lovely home-grown tomatoes glistening on the vine, er…bush? I also didn’t want to have to do TOO much work in order to make this long-awaited goal come to fruition, hence the CONTAINER garden! I just had to get some containers (making sure they had some drainage at the bottom, of course), add some rocks and potting mix (NOT regular soil according to EVERY blog and website out there devoted to container gardens!) and let those lil’ suckers grow! No weeding, no back & knee-breaking labor (my containers are tall!) That’s it! So of course I have a few photos to show!

So here are my lil’ plants, all ready for their containers! As I like vegetables other than tomatoes, I also have a cucumber plant and a green bell pepper. Pay no attention to the little, white dog in the background!

And here they are! All planted and ready to go! I have lots of other photos, but I have to go to the dentist (ugh!) so this should suffice for now. Update: These things are growing like weeds, and my tomato plants have BLOSSOMS on them! Yay for the promise of tomatoes only days after I’ve planted the plants! Of course I’ll be posting some photos soon!

This trip to Ireland is giving me added motivation to get busy on this photography nonsense! As I’m a book learner, I’ve been scouring the racks of Amazon.com in search of books that will guide me in my quest to take adequate photos! We’re gonna come back with some keepers, folks!! I thought I’d take the opportunity to blog about some books I’ve recently acquired and some that I’m hoping to order when Jason’s not around! haha

Books I’ve recently acquired

Feel free to critique these if you must, but they’re already purchased and it’s not like I’m taking them back! I’m just letting you know what’s already on the shelf, puny as the collection might be!

I purchased this book soon after we bought the D5000. I have really enjoyed it. It’s a “blend of photography instruction and camera reference that will take [my] images to the next level!” Of course it’s done all of that! You should have SEEN the pictures I was taking before I got ahold of this book!! Ok, it hasn’t revolutionized much, but it’s more colorful and interesting than the manual and it gives tips and suggestions along the way. It also gives little assignments at the end of each chapter. Have I completed any of these assignments? No. Have I found them interesting and could possibly attempt them sometime in the as-yet-to-be-determined future? SURE!

This is a book that my dear, darling husband gave me for Christmas! I know what you’re thinking, but–believe it or not–I asked for a book like this! We have CS3 and, since we’re not spending $$$ to upgrade any time soon, I figure it’s a good enough starting point on my journey toward photo editing. Jason is familiar with the program, and is willing to answer questions when I ask him how to do this-or-that, but I don’t WANT to ask Jason! I want to know how to do it myself! So of course I needed a book! This is a lovely book. :) I’m only one lesson in [hey, it’s been a ROUGH spring!] but it’s exactly what I was looking for in a book about photoshop.

This is a book that I have just recently purchased. My stepsister gave us a $25 gift card to Borders for Christmas. We don’t have any Borders bookstores around here, so I decided to have a lil’ look-see on the website. BOY, are they expensive! I could have bought this book on Amazon for $10 cheaper, but hey, she was paying! ;) I wanted other books, but they were beyond the $25 amount and I was NOT paying THAT much knowing that I could get them on Amazon for much cheaper! It’s been a really entertaining book. That Scott Kelby is hilarious! It’s also got some good, practical advice. It’s been monsooning here for the past few days, so I haven’t had a chance to try this advice out for myself, but it sounds good! There are other volumes. . .I may get them simply to read more of ole’ Kelby’s writing! He cracks me up!

Books I wanna get

Ok, these books you can critique all you’d like. I may take your advice. I may not! They’ve all come from various trusted sources that I read. . .and obviously trust, right! They are kinda in the order that I would most like to acquire them, but if you want to GIVE me any, feel free to choose your favorite! ;) Lemme know what you think!

1. This one seems to be on everybody’s list, so darn it, it’s on mine as well! I also find the front cover to be very pretty, and as I would love to know how to take a photo in which I achieve an image like that, I should surely have the book, right?!

2. Again, this one is on lots of lists. Not only that, but as I’ll be attempting to take lots of nature and outdoor photos [of Ireland, though. . .not the desert as is depicted on the front cover], I could only hope that this book would teach me a thing or two!

3. This one is about composition, and it’s on all sorts of lists as well. I will be taking photos of misty green hills and ancient castles, not colorful people of India, but I would like to learn a thing or two about composition.

4. This is the same guy who wrote my #1 [Understanding Exposure], so I thought this book might be handy as well. I’ve not seen it on quite so many lists, though. Anyway, the photo on the front reminded me a little of Ireland being all green and rural and such.

5. This book has more to do with learning everyday skills with regard to photographing people. I figure that, if you can photograph a kid, you can photograph pretty much anybody, so many of the techniques could transfer to general portrait photography work. That and I could not find any portrait photography books that didn’t look like they were published in 1995 with all the cheesy 90’s hair and poses and such! Yuck!

So those are currently in my cart! I love that Amazon.com tells you everytime a book has decreased in price by $.07, so it’s been kinda fun to just watch them in my cart! I do want to buy them sometime soon, but I wanted to post this first, just in case anyone has any tips or suggestions! I’m all ears. . .er, eyes! haha

It has been a while. The absence has been unintentional. Let’s see, first I was sick, then Jason was sick, then work decided to become hellaciously horrible for a while [welcome, Spring! I hate you in the classroom!] We had a pseudo-winter storm and then, two weeks later, SPRING! So, yeah. . .I will say that i’ve been busy.

And I also have a bad habit of doing that whole ostrich thing where, if i know there’s something that i need to go ahead and do or if something has been lingering–untended–for too long, I’ll just metaphorically stick my head in the sand and hope it goes away. This never works, but it’s my go-to move, all the same! I know my blog has been sitting here–pitiful and neglected–for weeks, while i’ve been doing everything else [even complaining of being bored!] . . .now I have a stack of Julius Caesar compositions to grade, so of course blogging seems like that thing that I absolutely MUST do at this very moment! haha

We’ve also been planning our second trip to Ireland, so that’s been taking precedence over all sorts of other things that it really shouldn’t! But it’s WAY more fun to think about!! We’ll be going to Ireland this time with Jason’s parents. We’re flying into Shannon and spending the entire holiday [how European of me, right] in the Southern parts this time. That’s gonna need an entire post of its own (as does the first trip. . .which i have yet to post about! geez! get with it, Beth!)

I think I’m gonna leave my “return to blogging” post at that. I have been mulling over a few blog posts, but i can’t start one here at the end of my whiny, excuse-riddled post-hiatus post. I’ll start all fresh and new, simultaneously burying this one AND jumping back on that posting horse with gusto!

I heart Shakespeare

January 30, 2011

So we’ve been reading Julius Caesar for our Drama unit in my Sophomore English classes. I’m gonna have to let my nerd show a little and say that I absolutely love reading Julius Caesar! I was never a fan of Romeo & Juliet–Romeo was such a dud and their whirlwind romance was just not realistic, but I find Julius Caesar to be immensely enthralling. I’ve read other Shakespearean plays (Macbeth, Hamlet, A Midsummernight’s Dream, etc.) but I will still say that JC is tops for me! (Weird, I know! It’s ok. I embrace it!)

 

I even had the chance to see it performed live on Broadway a few (ok, several) years ago. Denzel Washington was Brutus! So very neat to see on stage! It was a stark contrast to Wicked and Phantom of the Opera, and I don’t know that my companions absolutely loved it, but I felt that, since WE were in NYC and IT was in NYC, it needed to be seen by us!

 

Now, reading it FIVE times in ten days is a bit much, but I love talking about it, analyzing it, really digging into it. Unfortunately, my Sophomores don’t always feel the same way, and usually prefer to complain about having to read it at all, but TOO BAD FOR THEM! I love it and they are my captive audience! I analyze it for them as their eyes glaze over, I dissect characters and their choices while they look for ways they can sleep without me noticing (tip: I can ALWAYS tell! And you’re losing points every time, sucker!!) I get wrapped up in the beauty of the language as they ask whether we’ll be watching the movie. [Of course we are! Shakespeare’s plays are meant to be acted out! . . .they just don’t realize that it’s the 1953 black-and-white version! mwhahaha…]

 

I’ll leave you with a few one of my favorite quotes [because I know you’re all so sad that you can’t be in class reading it along with us, right?!] If I started searching for a few, this would get WAY too long!

Caesar: Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come. (2.2.34)

 

Ok, please know that this whole post started a bit tongue-in-cheek. I realize that I’ve never run a small business, so I could not possibly comprehend all of the little details that make for a productive work environment. That said, I have and do often shop at businesses, both big and small, and I am often quite amazed at some of the things these places do. . .and DON’T do that they should!

This all started Monday . It was MLK, Jr. day, and I was off on a lovely, one-day holiday. I generously volunteered to go shopping with my mother. We were searching for a rather challenging and elusive ensemble–a champagne colored, floor length dress–for her to wear to my stepsister’s wedding in April. My long-suffering sister had already taken the first round, going to the mall (on a SATURDAY), but their search was to no avail. I thought I would give it a shot!

I was up bright and early at 8:30 am on Monday! As I sat in my pj’s, coffee in hand, knowing that mom will not be ready for HOURS, I thought I would check to see what time a particular local fancy dress establishment would be open for business. I google the shop name…and their website came up THIRD on the list. It was after some random prom dress search engine and merchantcircle.com (whatever that is!) [My brother-in-law worked for a web-based store and I know that there are ways to get your site first on the list of googled items. I’m not making this up!]

I look on the site (one designed circa 2003, if I had to guess) to find NO business hours! Not much of anything on the site, actually. I did manage to locate the phone number (by this point it was 9am) and decided to call, hoping to get at least a recording that stated their store hours. Guess what: NO recorded message! Seriously?! Grrr! Of course I went directly to Facebook to express my displeasure!

I managed to occupy myself for a while longer (ok, I stalked people on Facebook and read random posts on one of my most favorite blogs ever!) I called back closer to 1oam, and you will be relieved to know that this time some perky girl was there to answer the phone and let me know they were open until 7pm! Several hours later, when mom was ready, we visited said establishment. It had lots of fancy frocks, but nothing that fit the bill for us, so our search will continue!

I’m not sure if you’ll be able to glean from my rambling, incoherent mess said tips as mentioned in the title of this post so, here’s the short list:

1. Have a current website with important information like, say, YOUR STORE HOURS!

2. Once you have a website, get that site on top of the search engine results! I am sure that, in some more competitive fields, this could be a challenge, but when one googles your shop by name and city, it should NOT come up after lame general information sites!

3. If you are too busy to be bothered with maintaining something as high-maintenance as a website, at least have a pre-recorded message with your store hours! Don’t make me have to keep calling and letting the phone ring somewhere in the vicinity of 12-15 times each time. (I did that. . .what can I say?! I’m passive aggressive! I know someone was there. I wanted them to think, “Geez! I wish we had voicemail so that the phone wouldn’t keep ringing like that!”)

Well, that’s all for this evening! I’m a goldmine of information folks! You may be seeing more of this unsolicited advice in the future! I’m full of it! haha

A friend asked this morning about my old blog. After sending him the link, i started to look through some of my old posts. Ah, the memories! I haven’t thought about some of those events in SO long! Some of the posts I remember, and some have just become a part of my hazy past. I’m realizing that blogging is not simply a fun, creative writing outlet. It allows me to chronicle my life. That may not be very important to you, the average reader, but they are all my memories, and so to me they are priceless!  I’ve never been good at keeping a journal, but I never throw any of my reflections (written or posted) away. Seeing where I’ve come is always a beautiful reminder of God’s hand on my little world, through good times and bad.

If I’ve peaked your curiosity, here’s the link to my old blog: (insert clever title here) Have a ball!