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As Summer Sets July 22, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Life, Personal.
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Idaho – This is where God lives.

There’s no denying it. The end of summer is in sight, especially since this year the first day of school has been moved up to August 20th. How can this be? I just emerged from my school-induced coma! My husband said I could become a professional sleeper, but I like to think of my inert state as similar to a medically induced coma. I’m allowing the swelling to go down, so my brain cells can regenerate.

It’s no secret that most visitors to my blog are seeking information on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). I don’t often write as much about school or my personal life. But there are times when I, too, need a respite. So please hear me out.

I feel the need to take stock in what I HAVE accomplished so far this summer. Mind you, it doesn’t help that I set the bar so low that I literally trip over it when I get out of bed. My summer mantra is “Things to do – get dressed by 2.”

1) I’ve watched the entire first season of Downton Abbey so I can hold up my end of the conversation in the Teacher’s Lounge. I did make the mistake of calling my husband “Carson.” I won’t make that mistake again.

2) I flew back to the Midwest to help my mother write a zillion thank you notes to friends and family who helped when my father died in early March. My sidekick was my niece, whose job it was to provide me with comic relief. Well done, Ali! While rummaging through drawers, I stumbled upon my report card from Second Grade. I was happy to see that I “read with comprehension.”

We ate at the wonderful Bluebird Cafe in Kansas City then wandered around the neighborhood. Cathy said that a lot of scenes from “The United States of Tara” were shot in this locale. What a find!

3) While back in the Midwest, I drove down to Kansas City to visit my college roommate, Cathy aka Catherine Sherman on my blogroll. She took me off to explore parts of Kansas City I never could have imagined. Way cool. Old friends are gold friends indeed.

4) At 1/2 Price Books in Omaha, I picked up two books, Olive Kitteridge and Year of WondersI read both. Olive Kitteridge is a collection of overlapping stories that revolve around a retired teacher living in a small town in Maine. Most of the characters would qualify for the senior discount, so when the going gets rough they cheer themselves up with the thought that if things get any worse, they can always commit suicide. Did I mention that this book won the Pulitzer Prize? Year of Wonders is set in the plague years in England. I highly recommend it.

5) We drove (with the younger kiddo) to Idaho to visit my husband’s family and celebrate his father’s 88th birthday. I haven’t done long haul driving in years, and our younger son was barred from driving my husband’s car, so it was just the two of us and all those Starbucks gift cards I received from students at the end of the year. The photo of the sunset was taken as we drove by McCammon, Idaho. All three of us had our iPhones out and then I remember asking, “Hey, who’s driving the car?!!!)

One of the musical chairs from the Extreme Makeover house made from the piano that was salvaged from the fire.

We stayed with my husband’s sister Jane in her Extreme Makeover house. She’s since opened a Montessori school, The Morningside House,  in her basement. My husband said when I saw it, he thought I was going to cry. There were actually TWO sinks and some newfangled things called electrical outlets.

6) While in Idaho we saw my oldest son and his girlfriend. We laughed so hard at the new Japanese restaurant, Sumisu, that the waitress declared that we were her Number One table for the night. It also helps that we Californians are accustomed to tipping 20 percent, whereas the local Mormons tend to only tip 10 percent. Is this what it feels like to be a “whale” in Las Vegas?

7) Having returned home, I’ve already (with a lot of help from my husband) repainted out bedroom in the same color that I loved in the Extreme Makeover house. It’s Sherwin Williams “Seascape.” When the guy told me how much the paint cost  (it was already mixed at that point) my jaw dropped. It must have flecks of gold in it!

Now that the end of Summer Vacation is in sight, I’m trying to make the most of every day. In no time at all, I’ll be sitting in the Teacher’s Lounge eating a partially defrosted Lean Cuisine. Up next is working on a picture book that I’ve had in mind for quite some time. I might have to start sleeping in my clothes so as to get a head start on each day.

Here’s to sitting out on the front porch and watching the world go by.

Photo Credits: Jan Marshall

Summer – 1/2 Gone July 29, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching.
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It’s official.  Summer Vacation is half over.  My friend Christine told me yesterday and didn’t even bother to try to paint the glass as half-full.  That leaves only five weeks to cram in all the wild activities I’d planned for this summer.  Oh, make that four weeks, as I’m doing a week-long math training in August.  I might as well start ironing the clothes I’m going to wear the first day back.  And where did I put those student name tags?

I can’t really complain as many of my colleagues fought the good fight and taught Summer School, which is now referred to as Intervention, as when they’re done, they WILL require some sort of professional intervention.

It used to be that when teachers were asked what the best part of teaching was, they gave three reasons; June, July, and August.  Seeing as how my school lets out the third week of June, that no longer flies.  Also, In my district, we’re not paid over the summer, so between July 1 and Oct. 1, I’m performing without a net. Time to dip into all those canned goods that were stockpiled in anticipation of Y2K.  

I spent the first half of the summer preparing for and entertaining my friends from England.  But now the lawn is long gone, as are the houseguests, and sadly, the summer is half gone as well.  From this point on, every minute counts.  I remind myself of this when I’m lying in bed at 10 a.m. or contemplating taking a shower and getting dressed before “Oprah” airs.

Last summer I packed up my car the last day of school, then drove around all summer without ever getting around to unpacking it.  In September, I carried all the same stuff back up to my classroom.  At least this summer I’ve unpacked the inside of the car, but the trunk is still fully loaded.  I’ve forgotten, however, what was so valuable that I had to bring it home in the first place.

We were inundated with new curriculum last year, so I did bring home all of the Teacher’s Editions to get a head’s up over the summer.  Now if only I could find them.

So. tomorrow I’m going to get up early as I’ve got a lot to cram into every day from now until Sept. 2nd.  Just don’t call me before 10 a.m., okay?

Wrangling Dust Bunnies June 20, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Home Front.
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Summer Vacation is here, which means I have nine months of deferred housework to catch up on.  During the school year, I can make excuses for these lapses in basic sanitation, but come June I’m out of school AND excuses.  

The vacuum cleaner has been artfully positioned just inside the front door since the Christmas tree came down.  Think staging.  If anyone just stops by, this gives the illusion that they just interrupted my frenzied cleaning.  To sustain this ruse though, you have to remember to dust the vacuum cleaner itself and drag it around by its leash from time to time.  I have a friend who leaves her vacuum cleaner out so after a family member trips on the trip wire, I mean cord, they’ll become so fed up that THEY do the vacuuming.  I call that a plan.

You have to understand that we have two dogs.  Petey, the one we think is half coyote, sheds fur like a snow blower in Detroit.  Vacuuming, therefore, is our bedrock of home maintenance.  I do get around to vacuuming eventually, and isn’t it really the thought that counts?  

Years back,  I asked my then 13-year-old son, Ian, if he could tidy up the house and vacuum.  We came home and couldn’t believe what a fantastic job he’d done.   When his OCD kicks in, he’s a hard one to beat.  But the next day I started noticing there were cumulous clouds of dust on top of all the lampshades in the living room.  There were also dust drifts on the window sills.  Later, Ian confessed he’d gone out to the garage, gotten the electric-powered leaf blower, and taken it for a quick spin through the house.  The wooden floors looked fabulous, but for the next few months, I felt like I was living inside a snow globe as gravity took its toll. 

So, what am I doing right now?  I’m sitting on the computer with my back to the vacuum.  I’m snubbing it.  It’s not like it’s going anywhere without me, and with Edison urging people to cut back on the consumption of electricity during peak hours, I’m exercising restraint.  I will get to the vacuuming later, as soon as I finish cutting those crop circles in the overgrown lawn out front.