Sunday, September 18, 2011

Feis Peek

My favorite photo from this weekend.  The feis was great, the Scottish Games were...meh for me, but, pretty well overall.  Suffice it to say, I'm completely wiped out, so detailed posts with plenty of pictures will have to wait.  Hope you all have had a fantastic weekend!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feis Bound

In just over three hours Jon, Leo (yes Leo!!) and I will be on the road to OKC for the feis tomorrow. Wish us luck! I'm so excited, and a bit nervous. I promise to take plenty of pictures of Leo around all us decked out Irish dancers!

Oh and just because it's so cute here's a pic of Leo with my dance teacher's baby boy Greer. (click to see it blogger mobile wont let me adjust the size) That's his baby and loves to watch over him.. And sniff...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Irish Dance Speed Bump

I've been hitting my practice floor a lot lately, in preparation for an upcoming feis.  I kid you not, every time I set down to get my shoes on, Leo comes in and lays on my dance floor.  
I'll admit it, sometimes it's really hard to tell him to get off.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Making a House a Home

Yesterday I woke up with some seriously, near manic-ish energy.  Like, I literally woke up, ready to do something.  I have recovered from my little bug from earlier in the week and I guess that meant s**t needed to get done!  So, after practicing dance, writing in my journal, I decided to break out the paint supplies that had been sitting around for...ummm.. let's go with awhile and begin working on finally getting the dining room painted.  I was tired of this house not feeling like home and it's time we put some of our plans in motion!

From blah to bright!

It was just me for the first hour or so, then Jon came back from his biology class and helped out.  As you can see, the walls were white.  I have often felt that I'm walking through an institution because the walls are so sterile white- everywhere in this house. I love white, but, too much of it is just... irritating. Gradually we came around to painting first with the living room and then we kinda just stopped.  However, we're picking up speed with that and other projects/decorating things around here.  It really is time to put some personality in this home!  For too long it has just functioned as a living space, but, now we want more of our own little stamp to make it a place where we really feel at home.

I like it when I don't have to use the ladder.  I have this thing about falling.... and heights make it worse!  Gravity, will you ever be cool?

 Leo should be happy he's yellow already.  I'm certain he got paint on him, there's no way he could've avoided it!
The painting took us no more than four hours.  That's right, under four hours!!  God bless primer and paint together.  It really speeds up the painting process.  Is it sad that I could go on and on about that?  
After we were finished painting I looked at our furniture in there and felt really... well, I felt worse about the room!  It wasn't because of the paint, I LOVE it, but, I realized that the huge dining room table that had been sitting in there, mostly unused, was just not right for the space and new color.  Jon was given that table three years ago, it used to be his sister's.  We decided that we'd keep an eye out (we're in the process of saving money atm) for a nice, smaller dining room table, and a piano to really make the dining room a place we would go into and use for its intended purposes.  The cats used that room more than we did, and that's kinda sad when you think about it.

This morning I decided to look through Craigslist and see if anything caught my eye.  I've gone through it before for dining room tables, bookcases, etc to see if I found something that was a bargain.  No luck, obviously, so I figured what was the harm in looking through furniture for sale ads?   
And what do you know, I found a bloody table!!  And was being sold for only $150 to boot!!  I emailed Jon the ad and texted him to call me back after looking at it (he was running errands, I was cleaning house- and surfing the internet).  When he did I nearly begged him to go take a look as I was sure it would be a great table for us.  It may not be something we'll keep forever, but, it would definitely be more functional, add space for a piano, and more us!  He went over and gave me a call saying he did indeed like it and if I was good he'd bring it home.  WOOT!
I must mention here that he fit that entire thing, plus a leaf, in his Prius.  That's right, I said Prius.  Makes you wonder how much Tetris Jon played as a kid.

Two minutes.  That's all it took for the cats to begin finding sweet spots on the table.

We have swaped the tables out and I couldn't be more thrilled will the look.  It's perfect!  Not to big, but, can be added to if necessary.  We will sell the other table on Craigslist for cheap, and hopefully selling that will pay for this table.  This purchase was not planned to be so soon, but, hey life is funny sometimes.  I'm glad a little initiative and the universe throwing us a bone yielded such great results.  I can't wait for a piano to be in there and to have some nice meals on that table.

If the cats don't mind sharing the dining room that is. ;-)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lord Have Mercy *Rant Ahead*

I missed nearly a week of posting, and for that I apologize. My first week of school went well, then the second week came- and boy howdy did it come like a fleet of Mack trucks to run everyone at my school (children included) over and send us into near chaos. I didn't sleep well for another week, so it's no surprise that I've caught a bug and am staying home from work today. Sleep deprivation and stress will do that to ya, you know?
Where do I begin? (rant coming on, so if you wanna look away now, please do!)
The school district I work for is large and underfunded. Oklahoma ranks near the top of poorly funded school systems and lowest paid teachers. Not something to be proud of to say the least. There are some districts nearby that are in better shape due to the area having property taxes and all that, but, my district as a whole isn't one of them. So, it came as no surprise when they implemented a new policy to change the way things were being done and ultimately to save the district money in hopes of providing better attention to students's needs and of course let us not forget passing those bleepin' state tests that are so ever important to show the public we are teaching children stuff.
If I sound a bit bitter, I am. Not going to lie. I get the need to redo things, I get the request for accountability with the state tests, but, as far as implementing all these new changes in the name of the bottom line you loose me. Last week thanks to said policy changes my school had to cut a teacher and shift four teachers around, dissolving their classes and putting the kids into new classrooms week two of school. As things stand now we have nearly thirty children in all of our third grade, fourth grade, and kindergarten classes. Now this isn't the worst out there, but, bear in mind we have nearly a quarter of our school population with learning disabilities, many more undiagnosed/untreated, and almost fifty percent of our school are learning English at school (ELL).
And the teachers are supposed to get everyone to pass those precious state tests (3rd-6th grade) with those odds. Oh lets not even go into home environments that perpetuation illiteracy and such. I could write a book at this rate.
Last week was obviously chaotic and the staff is on edge and the students sense it. Heck, even Leo was wiped out by last Friday! I know that there are no easy solutions here, and the school district lost state funding while implementing this new policy. One large part of the problem, on the district level, is they're implementing a new policy while enforcing it with old policy rules- it only makes sense, barely, when you realize that this was ruled on and implemented in less than a year. Yeah, it makes me want to scream too.
I think what frustrates me the most is the whole bottom line mentality when it comes to education. I know it's not as prominent in other areas, but, still money is the name of the game. There are sub-cultural attitudes that contribute to children who can't read, and of course, parents who don't give a crap about their kids education will inevitably result in many of those kids being unsuccessful in school. That said, however, education is an investment, both by parents and the state. It takes time, patience, and varied resources to help a child be successful. Results take time, learning is a life long process after all. The demand, however, for success now, to educate with virtually nothing coming into poorer schools, etc etc is one of the main culprits that continues the cycle of kids who can't read, kids who turn to crime as they grow, who become parents too early, and then raise children who don't care about education because what good did it do for them when they were kids. It's sad, and it's distressing and I know the school system isn't completely at fault. These parents should be responsible for what they do to their kids, absolutely. There's no easy answer, nor a perfect school system out there. But, surely, we can do better can't we?
I apologize if this rant comes across as political, I don't intend it that way. I'm just an educator who is witnessing first hand what these policies and mentalities are doing to those children who are growing up in poverty, by no fault of their own. It is them who are the victims and it is me who is on the front line, fighting, and quickly realizing that I cannot throw myself in front of every single bullet whizzing towards nearly all the kids.