Monday, January 28, 2013

Just Me and the Woodland Creatures

Despite teaching at MTHS for almost four years, I'm still not accustomed to seeing antlers when I pull into the driveway.  Here are the friends who greeted me when I got home from rehearsal today:

I woke up fairly early Sunday to finish preparing my lesson for Relief Society.  My assigned subject was a General Conference talk of which I am not a fan. After sulking about it for a few days, I pulled out the one concept in the talk that I found intriguing and focused my entire lesson around that.

The lesson went well. Good discussions, the class followed the trains of thought that I had designed my questioning to lead them through, and I managed to catch and steer away from the racist/sexist comments I suspected the topic would evoke from some of the more special spirits in the bunch.

The bishop, coming in afterwards search of his wife, caught me at the door on my way out. "Did you teach today?" he asked jovially. "I tell you what, we're going to have to start selling tickets to your lessons soon! Everybody in the ward raves about how good you are."

Which is a very nice thing for him to say.

I spent the rest of my Sunday doing all the tasks I needed to in order to move up to Mountain Town for the week. Despite the almost-end to the speech season (we've still got the banquet to put together), I've hit the point in the musical where I give up all hope for a life outside of school. So I hied me up the mountain last night and settled in for the week. Between the snow forecast (which is minimal but, oh Holy Ullr, would I and the environment love a snow day right about now) and my rapidly-developing chest cold, I'm pretty excited to get back an extra 90 minutes each day, even if it means some long stretches of just me, the Furry Beast, and the mountain critters.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

State Summation

200+ kids from 21 schools competed.

Thirteen of my kids/pairs of kids (three of the events are for teams of 2) placed.

Seven of my kids/pairs broke top 6.

We took Best of Event in Impromptu Speaking, Duet Acting - Humor, and Duet Acting - Drama.

That means we're state champions in three of the eight events we competed in.

My kids did very well.

Speech State Competitors 2013

I'm proud of the cheeky buggers.

I'm also so tired I can't see straight; and so, good night!

Speech Bingo

State Speech Meet (And Teenage Boy Stank)

This weekend's the State Speech Meet. I'm currently sitting in the Tab room waiting for ballots. We had four rounds yesterday and got to the hotel just before 11:00 pm.

When I went to untape the boys this morning for State Part II, I discovered a note they had pushed under the door for me (pictured below). I showed it to Broderick's parents when we got to the meet this morning. His father responded, "I've never been more proud of my boy."

The boys seem to have recovered though, as you can see by their entrance into the building.

It's an improvement from yesterday: they entered the hotel lobby walking in movie-astronaut slow motion with an accompanying soundtrack cranked up on on an iPhone.

Oh, you smart, creative, drama kids. It's a good thing I'm so darn fond of you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Shows Initiative, Enthusiastic

Scene:  Rehearsal, Thursday afternoon.  We're blocking Act 1 of the musical, two scenes and 30 minutes to go.

Me: ... and that brings us to the locker scene!

Jacob:  What are we going to do for lockers?

Me:  Good question.  Hey, would those of you who have me in class tomorrow remind me to email the janitors?  I heard there might be an extra set around in storage somewhere, but I keep forgetting to ask them.

Jonah:  I know where some are!

Chism:  Yeah, there's a bunch of lockers outside the football tent!

Me:  Really?

Formerly Football Boys:  Yeah!

Me:  Well, that's handy.  I'll ask the janitors about them-

All the Guys:  We're on it!

All of the guys leap off the stage and run out of the theater.

Me:  Um...

The Girls:  Er...

Me:  I guess we'll take five?

Ten minutes later.

Me:  Girls, I'm going to go look for the boys.

The Girls:  Wave at me from the circle they're laying in upstage.

I exit the building and cross to the football field. There in the distance is a white pickup truck, all of my boys, and a large set of battered blue lockers being hoisted in the air.  I can hear the boys arguing.

Me:  Guys?!  Hey, guys!  What's taking so long?

Jacob:  We couldn't carry them all the way across the field, so Ezra got his truck!

Robert:  Yeah, I got crushed!

Me:  We need to rehearse, guys.  Just put them back and we'll get them another day.

Guys:  Groan, argue, ignore me.

Me:  Come back inside, boys.

I head back in.  Five minutes later, the girls and I are still waiting.  I open up the back door to the house and discover the boys pulling up behind the theater.  One of them is driving the truck.  One edge of the lockers is propped up on the tailgate of the truck while the other six boys are supporting the rest of the lockers as they walk behind the slowly-moving truck.

Me:  Um, boys?  What are you doing?

The Guys: (straining under the weight but gleeful) We figured out how to get them here!

I notice a blue-metal pile behind them:

 It is literally a pile of discarded lockers right outside the doors of the theater.  I clear my throat.

Me:  Um, boys?  I point behind them.

The guys turn simultaneously while struggling a little to support the weight of the lockers they have "driven" a quarter a mile.

The Guys:  Groan in unison, then start to argue again.

I look at the size of the lockers they have selected, then at the small backdoor to the house where they've pulled up.

Me:  How are you planning on getting them inside?

The Guys: Um...

Me:  Why didn't you just pulled around to the loading dock on the other side?  Those doors are much bigger!

The Guys:  Are you kidding?  Do you know how long it took us to walk them over here?

Robert:  I got crushed!

I sigh and pull off my scarf, using it to measure the height and width of the lockers, then the dimensions of the door.  The guys continue to hold up the lockers.  They groan.  I take my time.

Me:  It should just barely fit through if you stand them on end.

The Guys:  We're on it!

The girls appear in the doorway at this point.  After laughing at the boys and the previously-unnoticed pile of lockers right outside the door, they help the guys reposition the lockers and slide them through the door, shoveling in a pile of snow and mud along with it.

The Guys:  We did it!  High fives and self-congratulations are handed out all around.

Me:  Um, guys?  How are you planning on getting them up on stage?

The Guys:  Um...  They eye the carpeted distance between the back of the house and the stage itself, as well as the three-foot height of the stage.    We're on it!  They start to strain against the lockers.

Me:  Wait, wait, no.  Another day, fellows.  It's 4:30.

The Cast:  Time to go!  They all leave.

I eye the melting snow-mud.

Jesse: Comes in from the band room.  Hey, I just wrapped up with the pit orchestra.  How'd your rehearsal go... He trails off, eying the battered lockers and the snow-mud covered carpet.

Me:  We found lockers.

Jesse:  I think there's a snow shovel backstage.

Me: (Sighing)  I'm on it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekend Projects

The speech season is gradually winding up.  We had a meet in Limon last weekend which, in addition to the snowstorm fun, also offered the joy of being on a Friday instead of Saturday.  As such, I got actually play on Saturday instead of working.  I went out to lunch and fabric shopping with Lisa and her daughter Malory before meeting up with Rachel for some fiber shopping at Recycled Lamb.

Thanks to their helpful staff, I came home with the following supplies:

And this project in mind:

I was using the book for the instructions on how to make it, but I decided to branch out on my own for the pattern since I wanted to create it with only two kinds of yarn instead of three.  I played around on Excel for about half an hour before landing on this:

And here's an in-progress shot:


This week was the usual amount of January craziness, so I didn't get a chance to do any more weaving until today.  We had a meet in Roaring Fork which is about 3.5 hours away.  Happily the weather cooperated both days, the group who came was on the smaller size, and I didn't have any issues despite being there sans assistant coach.  I got home a little after 11:00 PM Saturday night and promptly crashed into bed.

Sunday I woke up late for church with a splitting headache.  With a couple of aspirin I made it to Sunday School and Relief Society, made lunch, and did some household chores before I fell sound asleep on the couch until I awoke to the sound of my home teachers knocking on my door.  The saving grace of the whole weekend was having today off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  I slept in, finally ridding myself of that headache, watched a movie, read a book, did some baking, and wove.

This week will be more crazy - the State speech meet is Friday and Saturday, so we'll be cramming in extra practices for that in whatever free minutes I can scrounge up between classes and musical rehearsals.  I'm really looking forward to only having the one after-school part-time job again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And Yet So Far

Yeah, no extra sleep.  I dried my hair, stripped off my clothes, reset my alarm, climbed happily back under the covers, and laid there awake for 45 minutes.

It seems that the shower draws the line between sleeping in and taking a nap, and I am lousy at naps.  Unless I'm pretty sick, I spend nap time panicking about the quickly-depleting nap time ("If I fall asleep right now I can still get 20 minutes of sleep.  If I fall asleep right now, I can still get 19 minutes of sleep," and so on).

So, yeah, an earlier (pre-shower) call about the delayed start would have been nice. 

But driving to work after sunrise?  Absolutely glorious.

So Close

Rumor has it school will be cancelled if it gets below -14 degrees.

Here is a picture from the parking lot yesterday morning:

This morning I had just stepped out of the shower when I got a call: "Due to transportation issues, we will be running on a delayed start."

It would have been nice to have gotten that call pre-shower. I'm tired enough, though, that even with my morning routine almost complete, I think I can still seize upon the sudden gift of extra sleep.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why I Teach Humanities


 Esther seems about right.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Adventure! (Of the School Bus in a Snow Storm Variety)

The thing is, I actually enjoy speech meets themselves. I like the work I do there (most of the time), and I appreciate what they do for my students.

What I hate are the bus rides. The long rides in straight-backed seats made for kindergardeners so I have to sit sideways in to fit my grown-up legs. I (and my back) hate it.

This particular meet today is one of the better ones. At 2.5 hours, the drive is one of the shortest. It's to the east, so most of the drive is long, straight, prairie freeway. And, best of all, it's a half-meet, so we're always out by 3 (just 8 hours!).

Unless a snowstorm hits. Then we crawl at 10 miles per hour down those long, straight prairie roads while semis pass us, their back ends fish tailing as they go by. Then we stop at a gas station in the middle of nowhere because our poor driver has a leg cramp from keeping us from sliding and discover the gas station, despite the signage on their door, not only treated the 19 teenagers descending suddenly upon them with nothing but friendliness, but offers us a giant trash bag because they figure we'd need it. Then we get to Denver just in time for rush hour on Friday night. Then I remember how much I hate riding a school bus, but how glad I am that I am not the driver.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Victories Big and Small

Nearly 7 months to the day after the flood, I (finally) convinced my mortgage company to sign the check from my insurance company and deposited it in my bank account! Thus it was with great ceremony that I finally, officially, totally filed away all of the documentation relating to that soggy chapter in my life.

I also received this email today (very much abbreviated by me with emphasis added):

Subject: Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange Program: Application Status Update 

Dear Amanda, 

Thank you for your interest in the Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange Program....

The Peer Review panels have completed their review of U.S. teacher applicants and have submitted their recommendations to IIE. I am pleased to inform you that you have been nominated to continue with the next stage of the process

So yay for that as well! The matching process is next, which is still the trickiest part of the whole process, and it sounds like it will indeed be early April when I'll hear one way or the other. But it is an honor just to be nominated!

An Open Letter to Writers of Educational Theater Standards

Dear Colorado Department of Education,

I just wanted to say that this is my personal favorite of your standards for the theater content area:

Students can bring a vision to fruition

and I look forward to seeing how you're going to assess that one with a standardized test.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

An Entish Weekend

This was a weekend of moderate accomplishment.  I waded through the CDE's outstandingly bad online application process to renew my teaching license and took care of some other business-y agenda items, but the letter I required to accomplish my biggest tasks has yet to arrive.  Dang it.  Foiled by the mail, I decided to treat myself to an in-home movie or two, something I haven't done in at least a year.

I reread The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings over the break, so my choice of movies was not too difficult.  Despite owning the extended edition DVDs, I actually haven't watched any of the Lord of the Rings films since the third one premiered in theaters, oh so long ago (Hold on, was it so long ago?  It was... Good grief.  10 years ago.  That's ridiculous).

And what better way to enjoy a Jackson-Tolkein viewing than with an accompanying fiber project?  I rummaged through my supplies and found a mostly-complete skein of very soft textured yarn.  A scarf it is!  Time to learn how to leno.

The completed scarf
"Leno" is a way to create lace-like patterns by twisting the warp as you weave.  I only did a basic 1:1 leno so I could get the hang of things first, but I am eager to try the "Mexican Lace" and the "Jane" variations, once I can translate the instructions.

Detail of the leno... stiches?  sections?  There are still so many weaving terms to learn!
Detail of the lattice ending

It took me two of the movies to make the scarf, albeit with several breaks in the weaving to do other forms of multi-tasking.  I hope to watch The Return of the King tomorrow night while weaving a couple of placemats.  I should be able to do that and get to bed at a reasonable hour so long as I start the movie by... 6:00?  5:30?

Hmm.  Maybe next Saturday would be a better time to turn Entish again.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Most Terrifying Thing I've Ever Typed

Vacation Wrap-Up

The Powers That Be decided to give us a week off after the holidays, so I got to hang out in Junction for a few more days after my siblings left.

It was a nice chance to get things done with a bit of companionship.  For example, it was far more pleasant to get my car fixed up when my parents could pick me up and take me to lunch than to sit alone in the shop for a couple of hours.  (Although an oil change, realignment, new battery, and four new tires cost more than an opera weekend in New York, the recent snows which make me slide while going 5 mph around a corner into a parking lot and nearly run into street signs while Jason suggests gently that I "try slowing down" have suggested that driving in Colorado in winter on bald tires may not be the best trade-off for a weekend trip, at least not one that doesn't include a guaranteed encore from my man Juan).

My mom also used her expertise and her mat cutter to help me frame the two prints I received for Christmas.  One, a gift from Ben, has already claimed the spot above my fireplace:

I haven't found a home yet for the other, a scratch-off travel map from my parents.  I am also weighed down by the question of how much to scratch off.  The other countries are small enough that scratching off the four locations of my Thailand trip, for example, essentially reveals the entire country.  But Russia!  Do I leave it as is, or check off the entire country?

O, the huge monarchy!
Or former monarchy, I should say. My travels look so meager as they are.  I don't feel right scratching off all of Canada for the sake of a weekend jaunt to Vancouver - Eastern Canada is, after all, on my To Do list.  But while I may return to Russia, I do not plan on visiting the whole of Siberia.  Should it remain forever gilded?  Should I add Vladivostok to my high-priority list and then "connect the dots"?  Should I base all future travel plans on what would make the best aesthetic decision for this map?  Decisions, decisions.

In the evenings my parents introduced me to some odd characters while I helped my dad prep for his work week:

and I finished my first weaving project:

The final border

The unfurled length
Two of the finished (cut and hemmed) products
I have a few more tasks to accomplish back here in Denver before the end of the break (Renew my teaching license! Shake my fist at Wells Fargo! Buy groceries! Finish rereading Lord of the Rings!), but it's been a lovely winter break that makes me feel almost ready to dive into the craziness that is Juanario.