Monday, September 4, 2017

Sure-um Williams

Benjamin and Claire are a month into kindergarten and 3s preschool at the foreign language Spanish school in our district. Benjamin is writing his name with an Ă±, which is hilarious and also incorrect, but of course it's so cute that I refuse to correct him. They come home singing Spanish greeting songs, counting in Spanish and pointing out their body parts in Spanish. When they play hide-and-seek, they count in Spanish before finding the other.

Back when Elliot worked for Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin used to call it "Sure-um Williams" and of course we didn't correct him. (Educator soapbox: correcting kids discourages them from taking risks. Restating is the best way, unless you think it's super cute, of course, and wait until they figure it out...and they will).

Benjamin has two teachers: one for English, reading and social studies and one for Spanish instruction in math and science. One of his teachers is Sra. Williams. Benjamin calls her Sure-um Williams and I basically can't handle the cuteness.

Claire is loving life with Sra. Cordova and even more than school, they look forward to Kid's Club after school where they do art projects and science experiments. They actually become disappointed when I pick them up too early because they are having so much fun.

School for me is going well. We're a month in and my fifth graders are mostly awesome. Parent involvement looks very different in a Title I school, but kids are still kids. It's a very different environment than my first years of teaching, but one I feel really excited to be a part.

Our weekend adventures are exciting, the weather is still at furnace temps and making lunches every night is kind of a drag, but overall we're enjoying our life here in the Valley of the Sun. Fall weather can't come soon enough.

Somehow I was able to post on my phone, but blogger has been blocking me from my laptop access, so while I'm busier than ever, that's not what has been holding me back. 😊

Monday, July 17, 2017

Desert Dwelling

We're officially established in our fourth state as a married couple. The kids have claimed three states as their own and Claire has decided she is all done moving. Girlfriend doesn't like change as much as the rest of us. Meanwhile, Benjamin has requested we take him to see "the whole world." They're different personalities, those two.

 Scottsdale Library + our favorite ice cream shop

I finally hung the last of the lingering pictures on the walls this morning (along with calling 748 people to manage bills and doctor appointments, etc.). That's the WORST part of moving anywhere. I almost want to stay here forever just so I don't have to pay another deposit, establishment fee, or search doctors covered under insurance and make appointments for a whole family for dental, dermatology and primary care. That adulting stuff is seriously the pits.
 ASU Art Museum, Diamondbacks Game with Aunt Mansa & Phoenix Children's Museum
As for us, Arizona hasn't brought all that many surprises, but it definitely has delivered the majority of our expectations. It's hot. We've killed as many cockroaches as we have lived here in weeks. (They also happen to me my least favorite creature on the planet.) The pool is our friend. The water bill is not (hello $480! We also know this isn't normal and we're taking action.). The electric bill is also not at $430.

 Swimming at Uncle Justin & Aunt Anna's House and post theatre production happiness with Tweedledee.                                  

Y'all, I'm not sure we've ever paid more than $100 for a water bill (which would've been extremely high because we're fairly water wise). And even in the heat of a Midwest summer, we never spent more than $250 on our electricity, with the average about $150 in the summer months. This house is about 1/3 smaller than our Illinois two-story home with basement, so it's both baffling and cringe-worthy. With that said, I'm told that winter brings bills that are mild and breezy.

Moving to the Sonoran Desert in the summer was a unique choice.
T-ball, cool parks, s'mores and slurpees. Basically, Hashtag Summer.

The kids haven't been on bikes or scooters since leaving Reno and won't likely be back to riding until the fall. Parks just sit vacant, because while the rest of the country is flocking to the local parks, it's impossible here. We'll catch up in January when it's a perfect 75 here, though. Not complaining.
Cabazon Dinosaurs & Dinner with Family

In the 1.5 months we've been here, we've visited the Phoenix Children's Museum, Arizona Science Center, ASU Art Museum, gone to a Diamondbacks game, hiked Camelback Mountain, eaten at countless incredible restaurants, visited libraries, and spent time at pools and rec centers for swim lessons and t-ball. Benjamin had theatre camp at a local theatre (and loved it, of course). The final presentation of Alice in Wonderland was awesome and we plan to sign him up again this fall. Both kids attended VBS one week and Art Camp another week.

We've had three sets of visitors stay with us and I took the kids on a road trip to LA to quickly see the family before sprinting back here. It sure was a boring drive, but the fake dinosaurs near Cabazon, CA were an interesting bunch to break up the monotony.

It's only a high of 98 here today and I legitimately felt a breeze in the air when I was packing my car up with stuff to take to my classroom tomorrow. You know you've acclimated when 98 feels "breezy" to you.

Off to lather up with sunscreen and hop in the pool. #required

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It's Just... I'm Busy

...and I don't presume it will get any easier with two kids in school and both of us working full time.

The things looming through my head are all teacher-related and hypothetically planning lessons, buying way too many resources on Teachers Pay Teachers and buy things to make my classroom #thebestever.

It's probably boring for the masses... so I just keep those thoughts to myself. Except, I do want to talk about the cute furniture I bought for my conference/conversation corner of my classroom.

I have big visions, you guys. I want tables and no desks. I want some standing tables for kids to conference about projects. Shoot, I want a standing desk for myself! I want a lowered table for kids to work at floor-level. I realize I'm in a new school, so I'm not getting too crazy (okay, a little).

Here's a quick tour of the classroom *I think* I will have. They brought me through and it sounded like unless the team decides otherwise (doubtful), it's mine. It walks to the outside and much of the school is indoor. It's a hybrid campus, but I'm happy to have a classroom with fresh air access. The stuff in the center is from the former teacher who used this as a pullout resource room last year.

All the teachers say "OOOooo, storage!"

 Wifi is going to be fast-- it's in the corner there. ABC chart coming down! It's being replaced with this.
A sink! (Okay, I've never not had a sink...)
That area in the left corner is going to be my conference/conversation nook. And here's what I'm putting in it (currently sitting in my bedroom waiting for classroom access-- hopefully next week).

IKEA LACK side table (re-purposed from this post 3.5 years ago)

IKEA Hampen rug

This is not the exact pillow fabric, but it's close... I can't seem to find the right one?! (IKEA)

So, fun story on the chairs. I really want the dark blue or teal. I love teal. But, the only IKEA in all of Arizona (eye-roll emoji) only carries the white. I was willing to design around it. I tracked the stock prognosis for a week and all was well. They had a dozen in stock and sold maybe 5 the whole week prior. The following day, I checked and NONE! I was super bummed, especially because they're a seasonal item that doesn't typically get restocked. We decided to press forward and head there anyway, only to find a single one, in semi-scuffed state. They dropped the price for me, but I was still pretty bummed. Then, as we walked through the store, we spotted another in a display! They dropped the price again and gave us both for $40. Not perfect, but for 33% off, so obviously I'll take it. And did I mention that Claire is finally tall enough for the IKEA Smaland and we had a glorious hour sans kids to poke around IKEA? That alone made her day (and mine, if I'm being honest). It was like a mini date with my husband!

I have a ton more stuff for the space, but I'm mostly excited about the cubbies (since we won't have desks) and built-ins that I won't even come close to filling with the stuff I have. I feel like I'm at a stand still though, because while I'm buying great lesson ideas and resources from TPT like there's no tomorrow and have a million of my own plans in my head zooming around, I can't access my official school email or get started collaborating in our Google Classroom space because I'm not technically on the clock for another 2 weeks. My colleagues are in there planning and I'm in waiting. #soongrasshopper #iknow

I'm hoping to get in there next week and at least make the space semi-ready and organized so I can hit the ground running with the planning process. I'm so pumped about the school, planning with some great colleagues and creating a truly unique and purposeful learning environment for my students. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

$4 Grab Bag Reveal

It's not the first time I've done one of these posts on Michael's Grab Bags. I placed a teaser on my Instagram account and obviously now I have to deliver.

I knew the grab bags were out, as this happens about 3-4 times each year and some of the bloggers I follow had been posting about them. Around June, they stuff all the "Class of 20xx" junk into a bag and label it with a grab bag amount (though usually it's $2! Hello inflated prices!). I've definitely been stuck with jumbo graduation ballpoint pens and other junk, but this time I set out to avoid that. There were 4 bags to choose from and two double sets of graduation frames.

Two bags were loaded with the "Class of 2017" junk, so those were out. The other two were similar. I knew they had comparable items. I narrowed it down to this one, now wondering if I should've gone with the other!
The whole enchilada.

I'm attempting to do most of my lesson planning through Google Calendar this year, but I still need a paper planner for the quick list info and to have something to grab quickly for meetings, if technology goes down, etc. I bought a cheapie planner at Target for $11 but was hoping this grab bag would give me a planner I could use for the simple notes. And I thought the 18-month (that I could see through the bag) would've done the job. I was hoping it was from January 2017-June 2018. I could've only been so lucky.

I wasn't. #wuhwuh
These, in fact, are the 2016-2017 versions, ending in December. Total bummer. With that said, I'm still thinking about using the large one and just changing the dates as we head into January. It might not be pretty, but I already own the darn thing and I will be saving paper and recycling! {Seriously though, where do all the leftover, already printed calendars go? Straight back to paper pulp?}
I mean, look at the cute heart and gold binding! It really is adorable. And the smaller one is also cute but has the same problem. I think I'll put that in my student VIP supplies as a "log" to sign in when you are VIP for the day. And again, we'll go to January (wrong year, but whatevs) to end the school year. Of course I had to check out all the other Happy Planners on Amazon and was jelly.
The rest of the loot was:

  • One Heidi Swapp "Cinch Insta Album Kit" and I'm not entirely sure what that is, but it's going for $10 at Walmart (and more at a ton of other retailers, says my Google search).
  • Two packs of 30 mini clothespins that I'll definitely use to hang student projects
  • One Heidi Swapp Foil Rub Kit that I'm sure I can use to decorate something...

Anyone else pick up a grab bag? I love these things. It's my kind of gamble. :)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Back in the Saddle

I'm currently sitting poolside (as the kids swim) getting started on reading for my NEW TEACHING ASSIGNMENT!

I posted here about how I really hoped to get back into teaching this year. I transferred my credential to Arizona, cleared my fingerprints and just started applying. I've had a credential in 4 states at this point. I was pretty picky about being in the same district as my kids for proximity and school schedule reasons. We're also not in dire need of more income (though it's always really nice!) and if I couldn't land a job in the district, I would just find myself subbing until it happened.

My flexibility has changed considerably since having kids and the thought of going full time with two small kids is already overwhelming. I didn't have much to worry about, turns out, because I landed 3 interviews within a week and ended up interviewing from our empty guest room, sitting on a couple pillows with my tripod and iPhone propped on a moving box. Our furniture was out of the house and the first two interviews were done via FaceTime. I would later cancel the third interview for a school that was likely the worst fit for a tech-savvy teacher like myself. I don't believe in top down, teacher directed learning. I most definitely would've been a phony in that environment. Plus, it meant a real commute of over 10 miles. #nothanks

Place where dreams are made.
As luck would have it, my first and second interviews were 20 minutes apart and I felt like I couldn't have done better at them. It proved to be true because I received a call 1.5 hours later offering me my first choice position, first choice grade level and first choice school in the entire district. It's a STEAM focused school, 2.2 miles away from the school my kids will attend and only 4 miles from our house. I didn't get the second job, which also baffles me because I was so prepared and felt that was probably the best interview of my life, even having read their PTA meeting minutes and quoting their programs. It's all water under the bridge because they weren't my first choice either and at the time of finding out I didn't pass their interview, I had already received and returned my contract for my first choice school.

Pinch me. (Okay, pinch me again because Arizona salary is 48th worst in the nation). Teaching is semi-public servant role and all fueled by the love of learning and student relationships. Despite a MA+22 and years of teaching experience, I'm getting paid worse than my first teaching assignment at age 23, but regardless.

I'm officially on payroll starting July 25th and kids start August 7th. Other than feeling utterly overwhelmed by the juggling of kids and working and basically being a first year teacher again, I'm over the moon. I'm also back to being a student myself, as I just signed up for a course focused on STEAM teaching to bump me up to the next pay scale and to get me back into the teaching mindset.

Poolside, right now, I'm starting with STEAM Makers, followed by at least 5 more books on using Google Classroom. I feel like I started teaching too early. Like, now schools have finally arrived to teaching the way I have always wanted to be part in designing. I have a lot to learn, but here's to getting started.

Updates on life: It's a warm one here, folks. We are totally loving having a pool in our backyard. We spent 3 nights moving things from the moving truck after the kids were in bed and that proved to be the smartest move. No more boxes are around and we're feeling mostly normal with internet and a full fridge of food, creating ways to avoid turning on the stove for dinner. Which means, we also bought our first gas grill and even had our toaster oven outside to avoid heating the house. Living the Sonoran Desert dream.