Monday, April 30, 2012

i'm from the boondocks, and apparently okay with that

There are advantages and disadvantages of living in the boondocks.

 I love that my closest neighbor is almost a half mile up the road. I love that I don't have to have curtains on all of my windows. I love that even with those naked windows, I can get out of the shower in the morning and walk around the house in my underwear - I'm very hot natured and it takes me a minute to cool down after a shower. I don't even mind that occasionally a hunter might be driving by, and I have to run for cover. I love that my dogs can go out and romp without being fenced in. I love watching deer and geese and turkeys and cows and coyotes from my living room. And I love, love, love that those neighbors up the road are just a phone call away if I ever need anything

On the other hand, living in the boondocks makes it so hard to do things that people in the city never think about. Like go out to eat and have a drink with dinner. Or pick up a few new books. Or sewing items. Or craft supplies. No Target. Or Old Navy. Or American Eagle.

After school today I ran to Pine Bluff to get some things for a project. I thought I could easily get everything I needed at Lowes and Staples. I wanted engineer prints from Staples. I wanted to see just how they were done so I hung close by the printing desk to watch. When the first one printed, I asked to see it. It had several lines all the way across it. I asked why they were there. The girl told me that they just came like that - that's why the prints are so cheap. And if I wanted to get rid of the lines I would have to do a poster print for $47.99. Needless to say, I didn't get any prints there. I then went to Lowes to get some plywood and paint. The guy at the paint counter was very helpful. After I had already paid for three sheets of plywood that were to be cut to in half, the guy who was supposed to cut the wood told me that (after I went over to make sure that I didn't get the warped pieces on the top of the stack) they didn't cut the sheets that I needed. Needless to say, he DID most certainly cut those sheets and haul them and load them in my truck with absolutely zero help from me. Once in my truck and on the way home, I called the Little Rock Staples. The lady at the printing desk was very sweet. She told me that no, the engineer prints should not have lines going across the print. That their machine made very clear prints. And that obviously something was wrong with the machine at the PB store.

I will be driving to Little Rock in a few days to get the needed prints so that I can finish my project.

Sometimes the inconveniences are just so damned... inconvenient. Sunday afternoon my gas light was on. I had to go to youth. I drove by one store between my house and the church (maybe 12 miles from my house) and then another store maybe a couple of miles on the other side of the church; both were closed. I had to drive to the Country Store which is another three or four miles up the road.

But I'll take the inconveniences. I've never been able to run in store in Little Rock and say, "I don't have my wallet. Write it down and I'll pay you the next time I'm in."  Or tell someone else headed to the store, "Pick me up a tender box and tell them I'll come by after school and pay for it."

And I can't imagine that city neighbors would appreciate seeing me walking around in my underwear every morning.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

a great weekend

As it gets closer and closer to summer vacation, it's harder and harder for me to transition from weekend to work week. And with great weekends like I just had, it's really hard to get excited about going to work tomorrow.

we walked from grandma's to the deercamp. he sucked that upside down pacy all the way.

Friday night, Lovey and I went to eat in Pine Bluff. If you're from around here, then you know that there aren't many choices. We ended up at Chili's - one of the few places with a bar. It's always so crowded and so slow that we hate going there. But this time we found a few seats at the bar while we waited on a table, we had good service, and the food was pretty good. Believe me, compared to the last few times we've tried it, it was 5 star equivalent.

he and cousin katie had the best time playing together in the wagon.

On the way home, my niece texted me asking what I had planned for Saturday. Honestly, I hadn't decided at that point. It wasn't until the next morning that I knew for sure that I HAD to take the dogs for haircuts. Jake was getting mats, they were both hot, and it had gotten impossible to keep the floors clean from hairy little paws tracking through the dewy grass and then across the gravel road. And Saturday morning after I went for a run/walk, I decided to take them out for a walk without leashes. They both found a mud hole to plop down in when they got hot and then came in and plopped on the cool concrete floors. That's when I decided what I would be doing.

such a pretty horse.
After dropping the dogs off, I joined Brooke and Eli and we went to the "Cowboy Up for Cancer" fundraiser. Each year they do a trail ride then meet at the deer camp for lunch. There's a band and a silent auction. Several of the employees from PBNB work very hard to make this a success. I just go for lunch - no trail riding for me.

just hanging out at the trail ride
After picking up the dogs, Brooke and Eli joined us for supper. Grilled chicken and mushrooms, twice baked potatoes, salad, and bread. Brooke made a chocolate chip cookie cheesecake for dessert. It was delicious. We spent the night just as we had spent the day - laughing at Eli. He is such a mess. And every day he has a new trick.

i have no idea who this is. saw her heading to the pond and grabbed my camera.
Of course, Sunday means family lunch at Nannie's. And again, Eli was the center of attention.

i just love this

How was your weekend? What did you do? How do you plan to top it next weekend?

pretty typical where i live. do you ever see this?

even big kids enjoy a fun day

Teaching can be stressful, but being the student can be stressful too. Our students are just great kids. I've taught at other schools, and I'm telling you - the "bad" behaviors at our school are very manageable compared to others. The great behavior and small numbers sometimes allow us to do things that larger schools just can't do.

these two were my photographs for much of this post as I was in the pressbox most of the time

Last year we planned a career/fun day. That was during the month of almost weekly treks to Rogers for Lovey's throat surgery, so I missed it. I've heard that it was a success. But this year we wanted it to be even better. And I think it was.

The morning started with speeches and student council elections for next year. Then the student body was divided by classes, and we rotated through speakers for career day. The BETA club is in charge of this part of the day. They invite graduates of WHS from a variety of careers to give speak to the classes. Last year I know we had a high school principal, a pilot, and a dermatologist. This year we had a game and fish officer, a pharmacist, a cosmetologist, a railroad engineer, and a graphic designer (there were a few more, but i had to cut out to set up for fun day and missed them).

Just for the day, we had a combined lunch. Teachers had lunch in the workroom provided by one of the student groups on campus. I honestly don't know which one because so many of the sponsors work together on projects - but it was yummy.

The afternoon activities had a little something for everyone. A video room and board games inside to let students come in and cool off (last year it was brutally hot on fun day), a concession stand, dunking booth, several blowups, face painting, washers, baggo, and several other games. Along with time to just hang out with friends.

Two new activities that were big hits were the kick ball and chess blitz tournaments.

And this blowup boxing ring had a line all afternoon.

The kick ball tournament teams ended up being seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen. Lulu played for the sophomores.

Chan played for the freshmen.

And, of course, they played against each other. They are very competitive. Chan caught one of Lulu's kicks to put her out. I'm figuring there will be lots of discussion about that play in the coming days.

There was a sudden thunder boom and a lightning strike too close for comfort so the outside games were forced to quickly shut down, and we moved students inside. Until we went in, I had no idea that there was a mini cake walk. They were having fun.

I thought maybe we would interfere with the inside activities. But no.

There were two serious monopoly games, several card games, and dominoes going on.

I'm not sure some of the gamers even realized that we all came in. When the last bell rang, I had to force a shut down of one of the monopoly games because they were so involved they didn't want to stop.

It's great to watch them just being kids. And I am so grateful that we have a school community that allows us to give them that time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

oh heavenly sleep

In case you've missed it, for the last few days I have whined (and whined) about my lack of sleep. Well last night I decided to do something about it. About an hour before bed, I stirred up a big margarita. After drinking that I slept great. And guess what? As I'm typing this post, I'm having another. I love good sleep.

A few minutes ago my niece tweeted something about melatonins and good sleep. Really? Melatonins? How does she know this stuff? She's too smart.

I read that tweet in the middle of my hair coloring. If you follow me on twitter (@mer_ish) then you may know that I do my own coloring. I'm just too cheap to pay someone to do it. I do know that professional hair people could do a fantastic job - but I do an okay job and that's good enough for me. That said, tonight I was a little worried. I use John Freida - the foamy stuff. And tonight that foam was looking really, really orange. I thought maybe Ronald McDonald would have to give me his job. But after drying, I think it will be fine. I'm not positive because I noticed that I have three lightbulbs out in the bathroom. How did I not notice this before? Tomorrow I'll probably be out in the sun during the afternoon, so we'll know then.

Today I helped my sister load a middle school newsletter to her TeacherspayTeachers site. She did it for a middle school graduate class that she is taking. And it is really good. I posted it on my educational blog, finishtheessay, too. I haven't written much there. I think I'll try to add a few things before school gets out. Anyway, the newsletter is really good. If you have middle schoolers, or teach middle schoolers, or will have middle schoolers, you should read it. And you can find the link here.

Last night's good sleep helped with today's projects. Better get to bed so that I can think straight tomorrow.

Do you color you hair or do you pay to have it done? Or are you luckiy enough to have your original color?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

chasing the zzzzz's

Insomnia. I hate it. It is my nemesis. My kryptonite. And it's turning my brain to mush. So don't hold me responsible for grammar, spelling, mechanics, or coherence (i originally put coherency, but decided that wasn't a word - is it?)

In the last few weeks, I've caught myself saying some strange things in conversations. It comes out of my mouth, and I know it's not correct, but I just can't stop myself from saying it. I usually manage a correction about 30 seconds later, but it's already out there. Any one who hears me will never remember that I corrected myself, but will ALWAYS remember what I, an English teacher, said incorrectly - no matter how bad their own grammar might be. At the moment, I can't remember exactly what I've said this week (you know, because of the mushy brain and all). I do know that a few years ago in another insomnia-can't-sleep-jello-brain phase, I caught myself saying tooken. Really, tooken? I constantly remind students not to say it, yet I did. More than once. For about a week, it was like I couldn't stop my mouth from spitting out that word.

I. Just. Want. To. Sleep.

Yesterday, I came home from work and hit the couch hoping to sleep for an hour or so. I would almost get to sleep and then jerk awake. I haven't gotten to sleep before 1:30 in over a week. And several mornings my eyes have popped open between 3:15 and 4:00.

Several friends have suggested Tylenol or Advil PM. I do take it sometimes. But honestly, when my insomnia is really kicking my butt, it doesn't phase me. It my help me to go to sleep, but I don't stay asleep. My brain just isn't shutting off at night. When I wake up, I'm in mid-thought. And I've been so jerky and jumpy at night that I keep waking Lovey up too.

Tonight, I have a new plan. It may or may not include tequila.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Lulu. Sally. Laymie Cakes. Laynie Kaiten. Laynie Kate. She's a little sister to her siblings and also to my two boys. She's a cousin, best friend, sister-in-law, and the second best aunt in the world (I'm the best, if your wondering). She's a softball player, a deer hunter, a duck caller, and a skeet shooter. And unless she's shooting a bow, pink has always been her last favorite color.

yep, that's me with a towel on my head. i was getting ready for prom too.

Everyone was a bit surprised that she chose black and pink for her first prom dress.

 Her next big decision was what to do with her hair. She decided that she wanted to wear it the same way her sister-in-law Leah had worn hers during her wedding this past summer. Pretty simple since they both have very curly hair. The difficult part was finding a hair decoration. After several shopping trips, we took apart a headband, used those feathers behind another flower, and added some crystals. 

We had the whole crew there for the get ready party -Nannie, Mrs. Gaye, her momma, sister, sister-in-law, cousin, me, and Eli. He thought we were all there to see him, and he was entertaining everyone.

Lulu only got a little tired of the constant camera clicking. Leah kept reminding her that she did like it no matter what she was saying. Because this is what we know about Lu - she may not be a girly-girl, she may not wear makeup and nail polish, but the girl loves some glitter and sparkle.

 She is not  much on makeup - but neither am I. Her momma made her wear eyeshadow and blush for Dusty and Leah's wedding this summer. She had never had mascara on at all. And she doesn't have pierced ears - those clip on earrings might have pinched a bit when I first put them on, but I think her ear went numb after that and she couldn't feel them for the rest of the night.

Unfortunately, the rain started just before get ready time so there was no going outside and taking pictures. But almost everyone got in a picture with her before the date arrived.

Cousin Emily.

Mom and Dad.

Big sister and nephew.

Lots and lots with the nephew.

Eli just couldn't get over this new look his Lu had going on.

And he wanted to love her up. His lovings can get rough - when he kisses, those baby teeth hurt!

Because I was having to get ready myself, I missed some of the picture taking. And my phone was ringing constantly with one catastrophe or another, and I completely missed the flower exchange and the leaving.

I also missed her big brother coming in and questioning the date, the dates mom having a "moment" over her baby boy going to his senior prom, and the date holding her dress to keep it from getting wet as they ran for the truck in the driveway.

But because I was a prom sponsor, I got to see them at the prom.

I got to snap a few pictures with friends and teammates.

As I was coming in to write this post this morning, I noticed a picture that sits on my bookshelves. It was taken while we were building our house, and Laynie spent many, many days here while we worked.

I looked at the picture and thought, "Can this have been so many years ago?" And then I opened the computer and saw that she and the date were Facebook official. Whaaat?  I think I'll go back to bed now.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

behind the scenes look at making the prom

I know that what I've been busy doing this week may seem trivial to some of you. But to about 90 teenagers, it was anything but trivial. Prom is an important part of of most teenagers' school careers, and I am happy to have been a part of helping to build great memories for the students of WHS.

I dubbed it my marathon week, and last night was the finish line. But I want to show you some of the decorations that we pulled together.

First a look at what we started with.

A huge cave. A black hole with basketball goals. And bleachers.

Earlier in the year the junior class chose a disco style and later chose the theme I Love the Nightlife. I knew that it could be a fun prom, but it took me a while to form a plan. One of the things I had to do was come up with some choices for t-shirt designs so that the students could vote for their favorite. The winning design turned out great - it's one of my favorites of all time.

Another big decision was what to use as a photo area. Of course, it needed to fit the theme. I also wanted it to be interesting and fun. After a few weeks of thinking, it magically came to me one afternoon. Then we had to build it.

Painting the photo background was one of the first things we did.

The day we needed to paint outside was very windy. This may have been an omen for our weather luck all week.

A little rainbow paint.

A few old records picked up at a junk store for a few bucks.

I thought it would be easy to let the boys put the hinges on. I was wrong. But they finally got it together. We added an old turntable, a lava lamp, and a disco ball to finish the picture area.

And every good disco had a VIP Lounge. I had to find a way to include one in our disco. One day I was in the library discussing the decorations with my friend Robin (the librarian), and I was moaning and groaning that I wanted a lounge area. I just wasn't sure where I could find the seating area we would need. And then it dawned on me, the library had three couches. They weren't attractive, but we could temporarily alter that .

Thursday morning we moved three not-so-attractive and definitely not-vip-material couches from the library to the  gym and started the plan.

A large amount of disco fabric and a few staples later.

What an amazing difference.

But the VIP lounge would also need a backdrop. The Beta sponsor was great and offered the backdrop from this year's convention skit.

Again, just a little paint to transform the backdrop, a water feature, a few disco balls, and we had a fantastic lounge area.

And here's a few VIP's enjoy their lounge. These beautiful girls are members of the Lady Bears softball team.

We used those same rotating disco balls as the centerpieces for the tables.

Another important part of a successful party is the food. The stand for the disco ball cake pops didn't workout, and at the last minute I had to make something else work. It's not pretty, but it held the cake pops.

We had cheese dip, chips, and salsa; cheeese and crackers; summer sausage; chicken... there was more. And raspberry lemonade and sweet tea. It was all good.

These rainbow fruit skewers were really pretty.

The juniors choose prom servers from the sophomore class. These kids worked hard to help make the prom a success. And their costumes were perfect.

The boys even added some surprise hair to their costumes - it was too funny.

After just a few dances, I was walking around snapping a few pictures and saw this. It's one of my favorite pictures of the night.

We had some great lighting. In fact, it was so great that when the DJ got all of his equipment plugged in, we flipped the breakers. It was something we battled all night.

Some of the staff got together for a group picture.

And here's some of my creative writing girls - love them.

The night ended with the crowning of the prom king and queen. Well, actually it ended with cleaning, but you know what I mean.

Today a few of us worked for about 5 hours to transform our disco back into a PE building - it wasn't nearly as much fun.

I'm linking up with:

bonnie and trish and uncommonly yours
six sisters' strut your stuff saturday