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Crazy Eights: 26

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Things I have learned from this very rainy summer include the following:

1. Our little barn may be on the lowest spot of our property.


2. When we’ve had vast amounts of rain (4 inches or so), it takes our low spots about four or five days to drain.  If it keeps raining, that number may increase.

3. Chickens do not mind being out in the rain.

4. I am less likely to pick raspberries in the rain, especially after the raspberries pass their peak.

5. Way more people complain about a week of rain than about a week of sunshine.

6. With the rain coming down and the windows open, I can smell the mold under the house.  Ew.

7. When chicken scratch gets wet, it sprouts.

8. My left rain boot is not entirely waterproof.


Crazy Eights: 25 (The Teacher Edition)

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1. See that bruise?  That happened about two weeks ago, so it looks far better now than it did.  I had my seventh graders write down a noun (something that is in the classroom), and adjective that described that noun, a verb, and an adverb to describe that verb.  Then they created an imperative sentence out of those parts of speech, and they could request that I or any of their classmates follow the request.  This bruise came from someone asking me to “Roll energetically toward the grey desk.”

2. My students were writing persuasive essays.  I told them they could use a quote as an attention-getter.  One of my students asked me if you put a quote in quotation marks.  You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

3. I recommended a book to one of my students several weeks ago because she was looking for something good to read.  When she wrote her persuasive essay on a book every middle schooler should read, she wrote about the book I recommended.  That was pretty awesome.

4. My eighth graders are currently reading my favorite book of all time: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Several of them have told me they love this book.  None of them had read it before.  That is also pretty awesome.

5. Somebody told me recently that there are middle school English positions open at two other area schools.  I thought about applying, just to have some options and see what other opportunities might be available.  But I decided I like where I am, and I don’t want to start over again so soon.  Besides, although there are some things I don’t like about the school I’m in, there are certain to be problems in other schools too.  Different problems, probably, but problems nonetheless.  So I’m staying put and not applying anywhere else.

6. It’s May.  That means that my middle school students are like giant squirrels.  Well, even more than usual.

7. There is going to be a talent show at the end of the school year.  One of my students asked if I would sing “One Day More” from Les Miserables with him for the talent show.  I declined.

SONY DSC8. I often stick pencils in my hair when I wear ponytails.  Usually it’s just one, but occasionally it’s two.  One day last year my students asked me, “Why do you have so many pencils in your hair?”  I replied, “It’s just two.”  They said, “No, there are three.”  Oops.

Crazy Eights: 24

1. I put the flannel sheets on the bed today.  We have so far refrained from turning on our furnace, and we’ve been heating with just the wood stove, but a few nights (after the fire went out), I woke up cold.  For a couple of nights, I just put an extra blanket on the bed (one that doesn’t really fit, but it did the trick for the time being), and Stephan suggested that we could turn on the furnace if I was too cold.  I declined and instead took off the regular sheets and put on the flannel ones.  I expect to be plenty cozy tonight.

2. You know that half marathon I was scheduled to run?  Well, I ended up running just the 10K.  My long runs proved to me that I was not ready to run thirteen miles.  It was freezing that day, and my toes were numb for the first three miles.  It was also very windy.  I don’t know if that’s why, but I ran really fast and finished in under an hour!  My official time was 57:49, which is definitely a personal record.  I also placed first in my age group and was the seventh woman finisher.  I’m pretty proud of that.

3. On the way to pick up my race packet the night before the race, this happened:

SONY DSCWe were pulling out of an alley and apparently were in the blind spot of a guy pulling out of his parking space on the side of the street, and CRUNCH went the cars.  We were told by our insurance company that the front door would have to be replaced, but the front fender and back door could be repaired.  But when the other insurance company looked at it (the accident was the other guy’s fault), the adjustor said the rear door would have to be replaced as well, and our 1999 VW Passat was not worth that much.  So, it’s totaled.  We got a check from the other guy’s insurance company, and we had already started saving up for a car, knowing that it is old, so we’re on the lookout for a replacement for old Suzie.  However, she is still drivable.  The only thing is that you have to slam the door to shut it, and even then it sounds like the window is open.  I can’t feel air coming in, though, so I’m not concerned about getting too cold this winter.  I could wait until spring for a new car… unless we find a really good deal on something in the meantime.

3. While Suzie was in the repair shop, I got to drive a rental:  a 2014 VW Jetta.  Man, that was nice.

4. I tried to create a “bird yard” on the north side of the house.  In the past, I’ve had all my bird feeders on the west side, which is the front of the house.  However, I can’t watch the birds from there in the winter.  There is a screened porch, but I don’t like to sit out there when it’s cold.  But the birds didn’t seem to like the north side of the house, so I moved all the feeders to the west again.  Little brown birds have been gluttonous and all the cracked corn is gone, but I can’t seem to attract any finches to my finch feeders.  I know there are finches around here; I’ve seen them at the park.  But they haven’t found my house yet.  When I had the feeders on the north side, my suet feeder went missing and I’m pretty sure a raccoon took off with it.  I spied it on the roof today, though, so I’ll have to climb up there soon to retrieve it.

5. I did my Christmas shopping today.  I hate shopping in stores, so I am thankful for internet shopping.  I ordered all of Stephan’s gifts today, plus some yarn for myself, all from the comfort of my cozy blue recliner.

6. My school is doing a “Secret Buddy” thing this year.  I decided to join in.  We haven’t been matched up yet — that comes Monday, I think — but I’m kind of excited.  This could be fun.  We’re supposed to give one gift or card per month from now until April or May.  I have a list of ideas, but I’ll have to wait and see what my person likes and whether it’s a man or a woman.  There aren’t many men at my school, and I don’t know how many of them will sign up for Secret Buddies, but I know at least one did.  And if I got a guy, it would change the kinds of things I’d give.

7. Two and a half weeks remain until Thanksgiving Break.  That doesn’t seem very long, so that’s good.  I pretty much have my basic lessons planned out from now until then; unfortunately, I suspect I’ll have to spend part of my break planning for those weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’ll be doing poetry with the 8th graders during December, but I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with 7th grade.  We will have just finished reading The Outsiders, so maybe we’ll do some writing assignments and/or a project based on that novel.

8. It’s officially Stephan’s busy season.  I try to keep a good attitude during the winter, but it’s hard sometimes.  I get lonesome and overwhelmed, because he isn’t home much to help out with things.  I tend to live on Ramen noodles and egg sandwiches when he’s gone.  I’ll try at least to get more fruit and vegetables in my diet this winter.  Gotta avoid scurvy, you know.

Crazy Eights: 23


1. We haven’t gotten the official zero balance statement yet to prove it, but our last credit card is PAID OFF!  We are now FREE of consumer debt!  Wahoooooooo!  Now our only debt is our mortgage.

2. January through March is competition season for ice carvers, which means my darling husband travels a lot.  He has made a few trips to Michigan, and tonight he’s on his way back from Wyoming.  Next week it’s Alaska, and a couple of weeks after that he’ll be in Northwest Territory, Canada.  I get a little mopey when he’s gone.  I remind myself that if he were a trucker or in the military, I’d see him a lot less than I do now.  I guess it helps me get things into perspective, but it doesn’t seem to help keep me from being mopey.

3. We have just three young rabbits left.  We ate one and two are in the freezer.  We still can’t really tell whether they are males or females.  Meanwhile, we’ve mated Licorice and Bear again, and if she’s pregnant, Licorice should kindle the last week of this month.  (By the way, yes, rabbit does taste rather like chicken.  Sounds like a joke or a cop-out, but it’s true.)

4. Several people have asked me lately how school/work is going.  It’s okay.  It’s still tiring because I still have to plan everything from scratch.  I feel like things won’t improve until next year.  And will I still be at this school next year?  Dunno.  If there is an opening in my town’s corporation, I will likely apply for it.  There are benefits and drawbacks to both staying where I am and moving to my town’s district.  I’ve been praying about it and just asking God to make it clear.  I can be content where I am if that’s where God wants me.  There are things I like about this school, but there are things I like better about the schools in my town.  I don’t know what God has for me yet.  I will say that I am thankful to be teaching.  I like this job lots better than that Terrible Job I quit just over a year ago.

5. My friend Connie of The Daisyhead came over on Saturday to help me with some knitting techniques.  We’ve been planning this since December, but then I got sick, and then she got sick, and it just didn’t happen.  Anyway, it was good to hang out with her, get to know her better, and learn how to do some things more neatly than I had been doing  them.  I will now be able to weave in ends and attach a new ball of yarn much better and more neatly than I did before.

6. I ran this morning.  It was crazy cold outside.  My nose hairs were freezing, so I pulled a neckie around my mouth and nose, but breathing into it fogged up my glasses.  I pulled it down, and it was just too cold.  I ended up taking off my glasses.  I don’t see well at all without my glasses, but it was better than having them fogged up, for in that case I couldn’t see at all.  Anyway, I ran about two miles (though I had to take a walk break about half way through) and I’m a little discouraged that I was so tired at the end of it.  I want to run more often.  But it’s cold out and my responsibilities at work are crazy and I’ve just not made the time.  But I know that my brain will work better if I exercise more, so I need to get on that.  (Plus, one perk of my current job is that when I exercise 150 minutes per week for six weeks and turn in a log of that exercise, I can get a $75 Mastercard gift card.  That’s pretty nice.)

7. Most of the time I’m totally okay with the fact that we don’t have kids.  Every once in a while, though, I get sad.  This is a sad day.

8. I think some of my houseplants need to be re-potted, but I’ll probably wait until spring to do that.  I don’t want to bring all the dirt in the house, and it’s too cold to do it on the porch right now.  Hang on until then, Mr. Philodendron.

Crazy Eights: 22

1. Crazy Eights kinds of posts are about as good as it’s going to get right now.  There is just too much going on.

2. The mantra I keep repeating: “I will do what I can as well as I can and not worry about the rest.”  Because I still sometimes wake up at 4:30 in the morning, freaking out about how much I have to do.  This weekend, I had only a few hours to work on school stuff because Stephan needed help with a big delivery on Saturday.  In reality, though, a few hours should be all I’m working on the weekend — at most.  I’d rather not be working on the weekends at all.  Or bringing things home in the evenings.  So I still have SLOs to fix, lessons to refine, and papers to grade, but today is Sunday and I’m relaxing as much as I can.

3. There are still no baby bunnies.  If I counted correctly, Licorice was due yesterday, so if she doesn’t kindle in the next few days, we’ll try again.  If we don’t have success after that, we might be eating rabbit for Thanksgiving dinner.

4. The heat from our chimney, now that we’re putting a fire in the fireplace again, melted our TV antenna, which was making it very difficult to watch Peyton Manning play.  Stephan just got on the roof and fixed the antenna with super glue and packing tape.

5. Stephan also fixed my car.  It was making this terrible scraping sound.  Somebody told me it was my brakes and somebody else told me it was maybe a suspension issue (shocks or struts).  Turned out it was just some little bracket hanging down and scraping on the pavement.  All fixed now!

6. I feel like I keep saying our garden is done, but we keep getting little bits more.  Cabbage, collard greens, Swiss chard, and some beets are still there that we could harvest.

7. It’s supposed to be down to 32 degrees tonight.  Stephan is really happy.  I’m just sad that I don’t have the fall clothes completely out of storage yet.

8.  Last year I had the goal to learn to cross-country ski.  Then we had no snow.  Maybe this year?

Crazy Eights: 21

1. Life has been absolutely insane, hence the lack of blogging.  In fact, things are so crazy that I’m not even sure I punctuated that first sentence correctly and I’m not going to take the time to figure it out.  I started my new job on September 12, so I have officially been employed there for two and a half weeks.  I know almost all the kids’ names (those quiet ones are hard to learn), I have dealt with angry parents in person and via email, I’ve sent some nice friendly emails home to a couple of parents, and I’ve gotten my furniture and supplies somewhat organized.  But there were absolutely no resources for me — no files of reading guides or quizzes or tests, no list of things 7th graders or 8th graders should read, not even enough textbooks or novels for all my students.  And getting things purchased is harder at this school than any other I’ve taught at because everything has to go through the university’s accounting department (I guess) and it’s absolutely insane.  So while I’ve been learning kids’ names and dealing with their parents, I’ve also been creating everything from scratch and learning how to navigate procedures like getting a box of chalk and making photocopies and reserving a computer lab.

2. This school is not at all what I’d imagined.  I had the idea that since this is a university-run school, it would be like an educator’s utopia.  Instead, I find it is completely disorganized (communication is terrible and there is no set curriculum because the culture is that teachers have a lot of freedom to teach how they want… hence the lack of resources for a newbie.)  The student behavior problems, I admit, are mostly minor.  The teachers, however, are completely stressed out because they are now having to implement all the state requirements for teachers just like everyone else in public schools, but they have had so much freedom over the years that this is like putting a noose around their necks — not to mention that the previous administrators didn’t do anything to prepare them for what was coming.  The new administrators are doing their best, and no one seems to begrudge them personally, but the teachers are constantly stressed out and complaining and overall are pretty unhelpful to me because they are so overwhelmed themselves.

3. Stephan has been absolutely amazing during all of this.  He has cooked almost all the meals, he has done the shopping, he has held me and prayed for me when I cried out of complete frustration.  He lets me vent and bounce ideas off of him, and he seems okay with me asking for six dozen hugs a day.  I honestly don’t know how I would get through this if it weren’t for him.

4. I had issues about the last school where I worked.  I was discouraged that they didn’t hire me full time, and I was frustrated that I didn’t have a lot of guidance going into the position I did take.  But the teachers there were extremely helpful and friendly and seemed to have much better attitudes than where I am now.  In fact, when I emailed them begging for any resources on Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Giver that they would be willing to spare, one teacher emailed me thirty-nine attachments of stuff.  Another said to let her know when I could drop by the school and she’d have items for me.  I am so blessed by these women.  The school in general is more organized, and I like an organized environment.  What I wonder is whether God has me at my current, disorganized school so that I can make a difference there, or so that I can see that where I had been before really wasn’t so bad after all.  I think there will be another opening at my last school next year.  Will I apply for it?  I don’t know, and I’m not making any decisions about that until a position actually posts.  But it’s in the back of my head.  There is a little pros and cons list in my brain.

5. I think our rabbit, Licorice, is about to give birth.  Based on when we bred her to Bear, she should be due roughly next weekend, I think.  She is starting to pull out her fur to make a nest, and Stephan put a nest box in her cage.  Her urine smells really strong, too, and I wonder if that is a symptom of pregnancy.

6. Remember when I had bunion surgery a couple of years ago?  Well, I found I had a bump in my foot just under the incision, and my shoes would rub it and it was kind of uncomfortable.  I thought it was scar tissue and tried to break it up myself, but that didn’t work.  I went to a physical therapist, and she said it felt like bone or hardware, so I was afraid the screw was working its way out.  I went to the doctor and he said it is bone — I guess a little bump grew on the bone when it grew back together.  He said it won’t hurt anything, but if it bothers me, he can shave it off.  I’m not going to do that now; I’ll wait to see if it gets worse.

7. Our garden is overrun with weeds and we have very little time to tend to it now.  Stephan still goes out to get tomatoes now and then (we’ve got several gallons of stewed tomatoes frozen, and about a gallon and a half of tomato juice in the freezer as well) and he just picked two little pumpkins from our backyard garden.  Our freezer is packed full, and we need to rearrange things before it’s time to put deer and rabbit meat in there.

8. I make no promises that this is the beginning of regular blogging again.  Things are just too crazy right now.

Crazy Eights: 20

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1. There is a spider who likes to make a web that blocks the door to the deck.  Every couple of days, if we want to go out that door, we have to knock the web down.  Sorry, little spider.  I respect your need to eat, but you gotta respect my need to get out to my yard.  When you pay the mortgage on this place, you can build your web wherever you like, okay?

2. I’ve submitted three job applications in the past week.  I am thankful that I do have an aide position lined up for the fall, but I really, really want a teaching position.  I’ve been praying a whole lot.  I know that God will put me exactly where he wants me, and if he wants me aiding, I will find a way to be content with that.  But I really desire to be teaching.

3. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a drought on.  Stephan and I try to get out to the garden every couple of days or so to water.  I get very, very excited when rain comes, even though those times are few and far between and don’t last long when they are here.  In spite of the exceptionally dry weather, our garden is doing pretty well.  We have lots of tomatoes, quite a few cucumbers, several acorn squash, and a handful of banana peppers, along with some potatoes and onions, zucchini, and beets and turnips.  On Monday I served a meal with ingredients almost entirely from our garden: sliced tomatoes, grilled acorn squash, grilled potatoes & onions with rosemary, cucumber salad.  It was so yummy.  I can hardly even imagine how plentiful our garden will be when we get adequate rain.  Of course, I don’t know if there will be a community garden next year, and if there is, I don’t know if we’ll be able to have three plots.  We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

4. There are very few things that are good about a drought.  However, those things include the following: a.) My dogs have not been tracking mud into the house.  b.) I can hang laundry on the line pretty much any day of the week without worrying about watching the sky for rain.

5. I feel like I’m finally getting used to having so much free time this summer.  Stephan says I’m a lot more relaxed than I had been when I was working at my Terrible Job.  Of course, that’s not saying much because the Terrible Job tied me up in knots.  For the first couple of weeks after school was out (meaning that substitute teaching jobs dried up) I kind of wandered around the house, not sure what to do with myself.  Well, I’ve got things figured out now.  Each day I do some or all of the following: exercising, reading, house cleaning, gardening, baking, knitting, knocking down spider webs, laundry.  I have had a lot more time to spend with God, too.  Still, I am ready to get back to working again.

6. In spite of my not having a lot of work this summer (I temped for four whole days), we have not yet had to dip into our savings, and for that I am so thankful.  Just when money was getting really tight with Stephan’s business and he thought we were going to have to pull from savings, two jobs came through for him.  God really does take care of us so well.  I am really hoping that we can get through until my job (whatever job that might be) starts paying me regularly, and not have to take from our savings.

7.  We put off paying on the debt snowball when I left my Terrible Job.  We’ve been paying minimums, but not more.  I am chomping at the bit to get back to paying that debt down more aggressively.   That’s another reason I am praying for a full time teaching position; the income would really help us to pay off those debts more quickly.  And I’m really super sick of being in debt.  I can’t even tell you how much.

8.  Don’t let the name fool you.  Turkey bacon does not really taste like bacon.  It’s not bad for what it is, but it’s not bacon.