please don't forget...

...the deadline to submit photos for the 2010 River To Well Photography Competition is September 1!! The funds from the submissions and sales of any photographs will help build a well in South Africa. You don't have to be a professional...student, amateur, and professional entries are accepted. See the website for more information and to submit your photos!

I finally narrowed it down to these three photos of my own:


hard things

so, now that school has begun, i'm afraid my blog will take a slightly different turn. during the summer i had a good little run of thrifting/gardening/renovating/green/idea blog posts. and, while i think those posts are most entertaining, the reality is that i'm a teacher first and foremost and, just like my occasional sports-rants, i must indulge my need to talk about the things that occupy most of the time and energy in my one-track brain. so, if you've noticed a change, and you are expecting the thrifting/gardening/renovating/green/idea mendy, i apologize, these posts will be less frequent, but i ask that you please chalk it up to "seeing a window into my friend mendy's day."

hard things:
*there have been several tragic events that our students are dealing with: a former student was killed last week and a student's brother was killed this week, both instances being investigated as murders; many students live in neighborhoods where drugs and drop-outs are the prominent influence and it shapes their thoughts and conversations; students are working to support their families and dealing with issues of relative poverty...i don't mean to be overly dramatic or speak in cliches (you're probably thinking "this sounds like a teacher-faces-indescribable-challenges-in-an-urban-school-with-a-leather-jacket-and-a-rap-soundtrack inspirational movie i've seen before"). however, this has all been a reality for the students, and not limited to the past 2 weeks since the beginning of the new school year. and i think it's important to tell you this because this is quite different from my own experiences of the "first days" of school, and i'm sure it's different from many of yours also. i worried about what to wear on the first day of school and what friends would have lunch at the same time as me and having to share a car with my dad (injustice!). well, my students think about those things too, but they are preoccupied with much more serious things as well.
*completely unrelated to the first bullet point (because, honestly, to teach there you have to get used to those things and you can't be shocked by everything all the time), yesterday a "dark cloud of doom" hovered over me at work. (gosh - i've restarted this paragraph 4 times now because i'm trying to be careful about what i say on a public forum about my job and my students...if it seems vague, i'm sorry. please know that i LOVE my job, my colleagues, and my students, so any expression of disappointment or discouragement is temporary and not at all my general attitude) anyway, nothing was any different from the day before, my students behaved the same, the attitudes and effort i observed in students in many classes had not changed from the day before, but my own feelings of hopefulness were dampened. does this make sense? although i know that it is ludicrous to expect my students not to have behavior issues, because that is a package deal with students with behavior disorders or emotional disturbance, i found myself discouraged at lack of progress. i felt disappointed with myself because i don't have answers, or at least not any new answers, so what happens if my suggestions or solutions that worked in the past fall short? that thought made me feel desperately inadequate. i promptly called my sis on the way home from work to tell her these things and she wisely reminded me that because the only difference from monday to tuesday was how i felt that i could be assured that these feelings would soon pass. and today, there were a few small victories which lifted the "cloud" ever so slightly (see the following).
*worked with some students that were very concerned about finishing assignments and remained focused without my having to plead with them (please remember that i work with a very unique population, for which this is definitely a victory).
*had a good discussion with students about what you do does not have to be who you are (this is really important for my students who struggle to control their behavior and often feel that they are always getting into trouble for who they are) and that you can work on changing what you do to better fit your goal of who you want to become, even if it is challenging work. they seemed really to respond to this whole discussion, and eagerly dove into creating individual and group definitions of habits, looking for good quotes to discuss and share with the whole class. they seemed encouraged to have a teacher recognize their personalities and good qualities separately from their behavior. or at least i hope that is how they felt. it's hard to tell.

anyway, thanks for reading. i'm not really sure what the purpose of this post is, but sometimes there's just a lot going on and mounting up and maybe you'll think about me and my students during the day and maybe i just needed to talk about life for a bit.

p.s. cecil came in from outside smelling of cilantro. strange cat.


celebrating friday

first things first: congrats are in order to Carrie and Michelle, who correctly guessed that my favorite thing about fall is ksu football (see previous post here)! the excitement actually begins to mount well before ksu kicks off their season because i really am a fan of all football and NFL training camp starts before college f-ball, thus satisfying my obsession a few weeks early. Tiff and Casey also mentioned other great things about fall: changing leaves, tea, sleeping in on a nice fall day (although that has to happen on saturdays and sundays for me in the fall...it's up at 5:00 am during the week, ick).

anyway, in celebration of it being friday, and continuing my theme of favorite things, here are some favorite things about my job/school (i'm going to be like one of those mom-bloggers right now, except instead of writing about my kids, it's my school and colleagues and students):
*my principal and colleagues are really pretty darn great. it's amazing to be in a building where everyone really values each other, even if there are differences of opinion as to how things should get done. if you work in schools, you know that just doesn't always happen and collegial dynamics can really make or break a job. also, my principal really loves my kids in particular and is so great with them which makes my job so much easier. my kids can be challenging and i just think that speaks a lot to her character.
*the great thing about working in an urban school is that our "pep band" is really just a big, awesome drum line. i love it. sometime i'll record them for you and post it on my blog so you can hear the awesomeness.
*my idea book. i like to keep a moleskine notebook around so that anytime ANY idea comes to mind i can write
it down. i don't always implement all of my ideas, but it sure does help to have a source of creative, fresh inspirations when my brain-well starts to run dry!
*i really love my students and their parents/grandparents. that does not mean that everything is always peachy...as i said, my kids can be challenging. but, you learn to recognize the hints of progress...like hearing that one of my students wrote an email to apologize to a teacher for cussing him out, or seeing one of my more reluctant students show up at my door to ask for help writing a paper, or getting a student to put his/her cell phone (otherwise known as teenage binkies) away the FIRST time i ask. i know these things seem "small" but they are huge steps for my students.
*my classroom and my great husband who helped me set it up yesterday morning! check out my reading/conference area, the beginnings of my inspiration wall (i don't actually call it that or my students would punch me in the face for being cheesy, but that's what it is), and my desk area.


goodbye to summer/favorite things

i don't think school should start until it is at MOST 99 degrees, as a general rule. mainly that is because i don't think anyone should be required to do ANYTHING when it is 106 degrees outside. however, no one asked for my opinion and school has resumed regardless. i've decided that you probably want to know about my favorite things of summer, so here you go:

*world cup 2010 - the usa team created many exciting moments (there was much screaming, near-pants-peeing, and elevation of heart rates!) and the event was hosted in south africa (who provided a great opening celebration, awesome music, noisy bubuzelas, and a dancing desmond tutu). what more could a person ask for?? favorite player, you might ask? dempsey. he was always bleeding or falling or crashing into something or someone. scrappy.

*daily lap swimming at the outdoor aquatic center in lawrence...ahhhh. first of all, humans feel weightless in water...all together enjoyable feeling. secondly, it's cool in the water and it's not so cool in the not-water. thirdly, i discovered i can still actually get a tan! i thought i had lost my childhood talent for getting really brown and freckly, but not so. fourthly, i just miss swimming. i lived at the pool as a kid. we lived a block away from the city park pool in manhattan. we spent the mornings there for swim lessons, came home for lunch, and rushed back after lunch for the afternoon. it was like an extension of our backyard.

*planting a garden and watching it not die. by far my greatest accomplishment so far in life. i have not tackled anything of consequence yet, like vegetables, but i've managed to keep marigolds, roses, russian sage, lambs ear, hibiscus, and thyme alive for the summer, even despite the drought. i also have a peppermint and avocado plant that are not-quite-dead, but aren't looking great so i'm not holding my breath there.

*reading. my great summer pastime. I managed to read 4 novels, a memoir, a gardening book, 3 or four textbooks, and start a few others. i especially enjoyed finishing the girl with the dragon tattoo series (although i'm hesitant to recommend it because i never know what other people will like, or dislike, and how sensitive people may be to things that i'm not as affected by, so it's awkward...so that's my disclaimer for recommending books, and movies for that matter) and reading brideshead revisited by evelyn waugh. as always, i bought and stockpiled more books than i was able to read in one summer, but i'm holding out great hope that i will accomplish more reading during this school year now that i'm a seasoned veteran and not enduring the stress of a first year teacher. haha.

*colorado/buchheister reunion: family, hiking, mountains, biking, swimming, settlers of catan, visiting Carrie, my oldest (as in longest time known) dear friend, and no humidity. enough said.

*grilling. i just like it. i like grilling peaches and eating them with vanilla ice cream. i like grilling corn on the cob. plus, instead of me getting sweaty over a hot stove or boiling water in the kitchen, kirk gets the pleasure of roasting out in the great outdoors while he "mans" the grill.

well, there are a few of my favorite things of summer. i bet you can't guess what my absolute favorite thing of fall is! props to whomever leaves a comment with the correct answer!


eventual bathroom reno

a note before i begin: on monday, i lose my summer freedom and return to school. i think i've done quite a good little job this summer of frequently updating my blog, but my life is about to get stressful and busy, so let me know if you've been reading and i will try my best to keep up with the blogging. also, photographers and f.o.p (friends of photogs), please don't forget about river to well photocompetition! i believe the deadline for entry is coming up in september! ok, onto the renovating...

so eventually, hopefully next summer (fingers crossed!!!), we're going to totally gut the bathroom, rip up floors, tear out yucky plastic shower and awful countertop, demo gross paneled walls and ceiling, and totally renovate the little tiny 6 x 8 ft room. i would like to do this as cheaply as possible and use as many non-new things as possible! i'm going to try looking on craigslist for everything first, but if we can't find what we need, we may need to buy new. we're going to reuse our toilet, we have that light blue cabinet pictured in my previous post for storage, and that's about it! here are some of our finds so far:
1) free bathtub hook-up from kirk's mom! we're going to refinish the inside and strip and paint the outside obviously (unless pink and brown icky paint becomes the trend in the next year!). have any of you ever refinished a clawfoot tub?? we're trying to do this economically, yet professionally, if that's possible. we'll also have to buy the shower curtain ring and shower converter at some point. the tub is only 4.5 ft long which is just about perfect for our tiny bathroom and just long enough to sit in comfortably for the 2 times a year i actually take baths.
2) pedestal sink with faucet from craigslist for $125 total! from what we can tell, if we bought this new we probably would have spent about $60-100 or more for the basin, $60-100 for the pedestal, and no less than $100 for the faucet, so i think that's a good deal!

other things we're looking for: lighting, tile, flooring (unless we find hardwood floors under the yucky laminate), medicine cabinet, fixtures (like towel bars, toilet paper holder, etc). if any of you guys see cool vintage/salvaged/antique options for medicine cabinets, let me know. that could end up being a big expense!

also here's another picture of my cute globe and back issues of magazines purchased from my antique shopping day with tiff. just 'cause i like it.