Saturday, December 3, 2016

It's ok to be a loser-as long as you are the 1st place loser

The Teacher of the Year winner was announced yesterday during 6th period and I didn't win.  Both my husband and I were nominated this year and he didn't win either.  He came by my room to let me know that I lost to the winner by one vote.  He said the principal wanted me to know that and thought it might make me feel better.  Hey, I'm first place loser.  Oh, yeah, that makes me feel so much better.

I was in the middle of trying to corral my most challenging class and my husband is trying to have a conversation with me.  I wish the principal had just announced it over the loudspeaker like they do with the student body election results.  The students know nothing about the nomination process, the election or the winner.  It's actually a pretty ridiculous chain of events.

Teachers are asked to nominate fellow teachers.  We are never in each other's classrooms because we work at the same time so we have no idea how good of a teacher our neighbor is.  Who are we to judge each other.  Then, we have to fill out a resume for that other teacher, when we really have no idea what they do.  Then, teachers vote for each other, but nobody gets to see the form that was filled out, so it is really just a popularity contest.  If you have a lot of friends, or if only one teacher from your department was nominated, or if people in your department remember to vote, you get picked to represent your school.

Then, one teacher from each school goes on to a selection committee where they have to present a list of accomplishments and make a video that says why they are so great and this committee which may or may not know anything about teaching picks one 'winner' from the district to send on to the state level.

One year, the principal forgot to ask for nominations and had to turn in our school's Teacher of the Year the next day, so just picked a teacher.  She picked her friend and that lady was so embarrassed to be the 'chosen one' as we all called her.  She didn't 'win' teacher of the year.  Not that she wasn't a good teacher, but she didn't go through the process, however lame it is.

A couple of us losers were talking yesterday about how the real judges of good teachers aren't even asked.  The students who have to sit in our classrooms should be given a choice in the process.  Not the only choice, but at least some vote.  The administrators should also be given a voice.  Not that one administrator has come in my classroom to watch me teach, but maybe this would force them to come into classrooms more often.  It's pretty silly to have teachers judge each other based on no knowledge of what actually goes on in the classroom.

I have actually sat in most of the teachers classrooms on campus because I am a BTSA mentor.  (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment)  One year I took a day off and with my new teacher I was supporting we went around to every class on campus and sat for about 10 minutes and watched every teacher do their job.  So, I have 10 minutes of information on what goes on in classrooms.  That's 10 minutes more than anyone has of what goes on in my classroom.  We also had a thing called 'Showcase of Excellence' a few years ago where the vice principal had teachers invite people to come watch 'good teaching'.  I thought it was a stupid idea, but went anyways (yes, I can be a suck up and a really good one at that!).   I got a much longer view of some of the classes on campus.

If I have to win, I have to start working on my resume for next year's election and polish my popularity skills.  It isn't about good teaching as much as it is about who you know.  I guess I need to get out of my room more and shake some more hands.  I need to focus less on my students and more on my fellow teachers.  Oh, wait, that defeats the purpose of being a good teacher.  Nevermind.  It's not like you get a closer parking spot or anything for winning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

more hats

 I finally got a new cord for my camera so I'm back in the posting world.  I've been busy making crochet chemo hats and will send them off when I will a flat rate box.  They are only going to Modesto, Ca, which is about 100 miles away, but it is still cheaper to send a whole bunch.
 I hope they bring comfort to women who are going through a difficult time.  I enjoy using my talents to make something useful.  Crocheting is relaxing at the end of a long day and is something I can use to help me unwind from stressful situations.
 Today, the list of nominations for Teacher of the Year was made.  Both my husband and I were nominated.  I asked if we could campaign.  The principal said he wondered how things would be at the Lewis house during the voting period.  I told my daughter that I knew I would win because I have better hair.  She says her dad will win because he has rare, invisible hair.  We are a funny bunch.
 I finally heard some news about my quilting machine.  The repair guy is going to have to rebuild the machine and replace the computer part as well as the electrical part.  I will basically get a brand new quilting machine when he is done.  It is going to cost about $2500.  At least I will be back to quilting in the near future.  That gives me so much hope.  I have missed making quilts like nobody's business!

I got a message on Tuesday that a friend of mine was taking in three of her husband's sister's kids.  Two are babies and one is a six year old.  The parents are unable to care for the kids and so she was called on to take in these three.  She already has three kids of her own so overnight her family doubled.  I loved that I was able to provide quilts for the kids.  I just miss being able to provide for every need that comes my way.  A call recently went out for those displaced by the fires in Tennessee and I don't have quilts on hand to send.
 Hopefully my quilting machine will be fixed soon and I will be back to quilting again so when the next need comes up, I will be ready again.  Plus, I was doing great this summer with cleaning things out around here and then donations started coming in faster then I could get things out and now I'm back to where I was before summer.  My garage is full of fabric again and I will soon be buried if I can't work again.
Another happening in my life is my daughter's car.  Oy, have I learned a hard lesson with that car.  It's a Kia and has a recall on the airbag.  At the end of last school year it started making a squealing noise and the air bag light came on.  Rather than deal with it, I just left it parked in the driveway.  I didn't need it so it has sat for more than 6 months.  Well, cars were built to be driven, not sit and so, when I got the notice that the registration was coming due.  I didn't have time to deal with the car because it wouldn't start.  I figured it needed a jump or new battery.  Well, I got the reminder that I really had to deal with the car and so over the Thanksgiving I got a new battery.
II took the car in to get the smog check and they told me they couldn't smog it because the check engine light was on.  I asked if they could just turn the car off and on because that should fix it.  The guy looked at me like I was crazy, laughed a little and said he would try it.  Of course, it didn't work!

So I took it in to get fixed and it needed a new alternator.  $500 later, I thought my problems were solved.  No such luck.  There was still something not right because two sensor weren't firing right.  I was told to drive the car for a while and start it in the morning when it was cold a few times.

I drove the car for 200 miles over the past week and it is still misfiring one of the sensors.  The repair shop called and said that I can get the car smogged with the one sensor not working because of the age of the car.  Hopefully tomorrow I will have the time to get it in and try it out myself!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

trying to find things

I have been working on cancer caps this week while on vacation and have a dozen or so finished.  I mailed out 4 to a lady in Modesto who runs the Crochet for Cancer group.

I took pictures of all of the caps, but now cannot find the cord for my camera to download them all to the computer.  It has to be here somewhere, but when I don't use something daily, it has a tendency to fall into the couch, or under the couch or get put in a safe place to be found sometime next year.

If you have yarn and some time, this is a great project that could use your help.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

dog pile

I'm not sure how this happens, but my dogs have figured out how to tell time.  Every morning around 5am, they start to bark to wake me up.  Not bark, bark, bark, like someone is at the door, but one little bark, then wait 2 minutes and then another little bark.  They are telling me that it is time to get up for work.  But what they can't figure out is that there are weekends and vacation days where I don't really need to get up at 5am.  Then, we all come downstairs and I sit on the couch and watch the news, check my email and eat breakfast and they all go back to sleep.  They just want to make sure the day starts right.  They could easily come sleep on the couch by themselves, but for whatever reason, it just isn't as comfortable unless they all pile on top of each other and one of them at least has to be touching me to make it all work.  I'm not sure who is protecting who here.

This is my older son.  He just got done with his interview with the FBI for a summer internship.  He is in the middle of his 2nd year of college, but because of all of the AP (advanced placement) classes he took in high school, he only has one more year left before graduation.  He should hear back from them in a couple of weeks.  I'm proud and scared at the same time.  He wants to go into cyber terrorism-hopefully not being a cyber terrorist, but catching the bad guys and as a mother, that makes me really proud that he wants to serve our country, but I have watched a lot of TV and know that sometimes these guys are the target of shooting.  He will probably have to learn to use a gun and may have to work over seas.  He was just a little kid last week, so all of this is really not ok with me. In my mind, time stands still.

It has been too long

It has been almost 4 months since I've posted and although I have good reasons for abandoning the blog, it's time I came back to the land of the living and documented my life again.

My quilting machine is broken still and I have nothing to show in that area, but I am still alive and kicking and have much to be thankful for!

It looks like the drought here in Northern California is about to be over.  At least at my house.  We are having lots of rain and I need to find someone to fix the gutter above my front door.  The gutter is clean, but the downspout has been clogged for years and when it rains really hard, the water pours over and right in front of the door.  I went into the garage looking for some stuffing for a doll I'm working on and the garage was flooding.  The water was coming in through the wall and into the garage.  Time to move some stuff and get things off the floor.  Luckily it only rained hard for about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

CPR training tonight

 Another step towards the adoption is CPR training.  My husband is a tennis coach at the high school we both teach at and every other year he has to renew his CPR and first aide certification.  Since there aren't enough coaches signed up, they are letting me come to the training for free!  One more step checked off the list of things to do.  I think the last time I took a class was about 30 years ago, before I started teaching.  I know things have changed because way back then, you did chest compressions and breathing and I've heard you don't do the breathing part anymore or something like that.  Luckily I haven't had to use any of my training to save a life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Any science teachers looking for a job?

Less than two weeks away and they still haven't hired a science teacher to fill the empty position at my school.  That could mean a few things.  #1 They hire someone at the last minute who is amazing who was out all summer exploring the world and just now realized that school is starting and they probably should look for a job.  #2 They hire someone who has interviewed at lots of schools and nobody wanted to hire them and we are desperate so we take our chances and they turn out to be a great teacher. #3 We can't find anyone and there are 5 of us who end up teaching an extra class and we all go insane by the end of the year.

My money is on option #3.  It's not like they (the people in charge-who have worked all summer) haven't had all summer to find someone to fill this position they knew was open since March.

Anybody want to come and work at my school?  We are really nice sometimes and will help you with curriculum.  The kids are good some of the times-at least as good as any teenager can be these days when they would much rather do anything besides what you ask them to do.  I mean it's not like they bring guns to school EVERY day or anything. :)  I really do love my job most of the time.

Any takers?

Monday, August 1, 2016

What do you fight about?

 I think it's time for a new camera.  For some reason I cannot get mine to focus properly.  I've tried everything I can think of and it just is getting tired of taking pictures of quilts maybe.  It's at least as old as my baby who is 12 now, so that's pretty long for a digital camera.  I started looking online today and there are too many choices!  I get stuck just thinking about buying a new one and go back to taking blurry pictures.
I've been thinking a lot about a question on the adoption paperwork that I couldn't answer when I first filled out the form 6 weeks ago.  It asked what do you and your spouse fight about?  I couldn't think of anything.  But, now I have something to write down.  Almost every day this summer we have fought over the temperature to set the thermostat!  He wants it set to 72 and I'd prefer 76.  I bet that is a common argument in many households.  We have two thermostats in the house, one upstairs where he spends most of his time and one downstairs where I can be found.  So, most of the time it isn't a problem, but when he comes downstairs, he changes MY thermostat!  Then, I start to freeze and complain that he's trying to kill me!  I go upstairs and change HIS thermostat and he claims I'm trying to kill him!

I guess there could be worse things to fight about.  But at least I have something to write on the form.

In the winter, I crank up the heater and he turns it down.  Maybe I should just add a layer of fat.  I do love ice cream and chocolate! :)

can you hear it?

 Today is August 1.  That means school begins in 2 weeks.  In 2 weeks I will be sitting in a meeting, excited about the beginning of a new school year, but sad that the summer is over.  I will be thinking about changes I can make in my teaching that will hopefully make the year run smoother.
All of my teacher friends are posting pictures of their fabulous vacations and adventures on Facebooks and I'm trying to finish cleaning up the last of the junk piles.  I know that once school starts, time will be limited and the piles will grow again.  I'm trying to practice routines that will keep the clutter at bay and optimistic that I will be able to balance school and home and find time to get some quilts done as well.

Tick, tock, time is fleeting.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

trying to get some bigger quilts done

 With the robotics not working, I decided to load some bigger quilts on the machine and crank them out today.  These two took me about 45 minutes each to quilt with some meanders across the quilt.  It's a good thing I was manually quilting them because each quilt had some seams that weren't sewn all the way and if I wasn't watching, the foot would have gotten stuck and could have made a hole in the quilt.  Because I was right there, I could fix the holes in the quilt as I was quilting.
I do love these 'everything' types of quilts because it doesn't really matter what fabrics you use, when you have so many different fabrics, they all go together.  Hopefully I will get one more quilt done today.  Once school starts up again, I won't have time for much quilting so it's important to get a lot done on days like this when I don't have any place I have to be.  I even found time this morning to piece two quilt tops.  They were partly finished and I had to sew a few blocks together and then put the rows together, but hey, I found time to sew for about an hour.  I haven't done that for a long time.  It was a reward for cleaning.  I have so many unfinished quilt projects that only need a few minutes to finish and I'm not sure why each one has stalled out.  It will be nice to attack each one and get them finished and added to the 'to be quilted' pile.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

manually quilting is getting my steps up

 I got these two quilts done in an hour today and in making them, I added about 1,000 steps to my count for the day and put me over my 5,000 goal.  I went for a walk this morning, so that helped.  When I get in a funk, like I was this morning, walking helps lift my mood.  Who knew quilting was good exercise?

a request for quilts

I got a phone call today from a friend who was wondering if my group could help out with quilts for those affected by the flooding in West Virginia.  I had heard about flooding, but didn't know too much about it.  She said a lady had come into the quilt shop where she works and will be in town for a couple weeks and asked if they could help her collect a few quilts to take back with her.  She is from Rainelle, West Virginia which is one of the hardest hit areas and many in the town of 1500 have lost everything.

Since we are in the middle of making and collecting 100 quilts for the foster youth locally, I told her that if she gave us some time, we would be happy to help, but not until after August 27.  She said she would be back in December, so that will be our next big goal.

I also have a former student who just got a job working with kids who have autism and I let her know I would be getting quilts for her to give to the kids.

If you like to make quilts, there is always a need, always.

If you are on Facebook, you have probably seen the picture of a woman's funeral with quilts draped over the backs of the pews and everyone makes comments about what a wonderful tribute to this woman and how great she was for making so many beautiful quilts.  There must be 50 or more quilts in the picture.  I just think how sad it is that these quilts were stored in her house and not being used by people.  Nobody can use 50 quilts at one time.  Of course, people will say this about me with my 500 t shirt collection!

If you have a God given talent and you hide it away, it isn't a great thing.  If you have a beautiful singing voice and you only sing in the shower, it's a shame.  If you can draw amazing pictures and your walls are covered with fantastic drawings that nobody else can see, what good have you done?

People may talk about you at your funeral and say what a wonderful artist or singer you were, but why not let people enjoy your talents when you are still alive?  That's why you were given the talents in the first place!  To share with others.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Fried the Motherboard, but this could be a good thing

 So I have two weeks left before school starts up again and really only one week of actually nothing going on.  The week before school I have three days of workshops.  That means with 64 quilts left to reach my goal, I had better work really hard and get 4-5 quilts done a day for the next 10 days if I have any hope of reaching my goal.
 Today I did the blue quilt and then one of the cords got stuck on a bucket under the quilting machine. I moved the bucket and it pulled out the cord, which was the power cord to the black box which is the power supply to the robotic part of the quilting machine.  No big deal, just plug it back in and we should be good to go.  No such luck.  I kept getting an error code.  Well, what do you do when your computer gives you an error code?  You turn it off and let it rest, right?  Or you hit it.  At least that's what I do.  Those are the extent of my computer skills anyways.  My computer son isn't home right now, so I couldn't ask him.  Neither tactic worked so I called Carla and she told me hers had done the same thing and she found out it was a fried motherboard and had to send in the black box for repair.  Not too expensive, but would take a couple of weeks.
 Well, since the sewing machine part of the quilting machine is still working, I can still do quilting as long as I'm standing there running the machine.  It's just the robotic part that isn't working.  So, in one hour this afternoon, I quilted all three of these pink quilts.  Nothing fancy, but some swirls and meanders and they are done quilted and ready to be bound.  I think I will be able to still reach my goal after all.  Of course, I can't get anything else done while the quilting is going on.
Normally I can cut fabric or sew backings together, but normally a large quilt will take 3-5 hours to quilt and a small one will take a minimum of an hour.  These little ones took about 10 minutes and the big one took about 30 minutes.  Maybe my freemotion quilting will get some good practice in over the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

It's not my job, feeling relief

 So the whole adoption has been weighing very heavily on me lately.  I've been cleaning the house like crazy all summer and feeling pretty rotten that it's taken so long to get it somewhat presentable.  The summer is winding down and there is still so much to do.  I've given away and thrown away so much stuff and yet, there is enough here to fill several houses and still have stuff left over.
 I made a new friend last week and her neighbor has 4 great grandkids who are in foster care.  Somehow I decided that it was my responsibility to save these kids (I've never met them) and every other kid out there in the foster system.  I got myself all worked up because there are four kids (3 girls and a boy) ages 2-11 and I've spent hours trying to figure out how I was going to be able to fit all of these kids into my house.  I wrote to my social worker (who is out on vacation until August 22) and another worker wrote back and said there was no way we could handle all of these kids because of the age of our boys living at home and the age and gender of these kids.
 I have to admit I was pretty devastated.  I felt like it was my responsibility to take care of these kids I've never met and I'm not exactly sure why I felt this way.  I look at homeless pets the same way.  I need to save every one and give them a good home.  But the truth is, that's not my job.  I can't save every dog or cat that doesn't have a home and I can't take in every child whose parents can't take care of them.  The truth is my husband isn't quite ready to go ahead and bring a child or two (probably not 4 at once) into our home yet and probably won't be ready for some time.  He says next summer.  We will see about that.
I need to give myself a little break from the cleaning and the madness and stop feeling like I need to make everything happen.  It will happen in God's timing and I need to do my part, but not make myself and everyone else around me crazy in the process.  I still have a ways to go with the house and getting stuff out to make room for another child.  Just like having a baby, these things can't be rushed.  I need to get used to having my older son back at home again (he thinks he is an adult and can make his own life choices now! Ugh) and let things happen instead of making them happen.

I might even give myself a day off!

Monday, July 25, 2016

3 weeks left

 It's official!  In 3 weeks, I will be sitting in meetings listening to how this is going to be the best year yet.  I will be wishing I could be setting up my classroom and planning how to get everything done and how to stay organized and vowing not to get behind in grading work, but knowing that by the end of the year, I will be piling papers into the recycling bin one more time.
 21 days before lessons must be planned and class lists of students will be poured over, wondering how the new year will compare to years past.
 3 more Saturdays and 3 more Sundays before I have to squeeze into my jeans again (I really shouldn't be eating that chocolate cake, but it is oh, so good) and putting on a fake smile and pretending that I'm happy to be out of the house and sitting in uncomfortable chairs.
 I better use these three weeks wisely.  I still have 70 quilts to get done for the Birthday Bash for the foster youth and rooms to clean.  It is like fighting the never ending battle of too much stuff.  I get one room done and turn around and the next room is full again.  I'm hoping the botox will help with the frequent migraines that slow the work down.  I go in on Wednesday to get the shots again and should be feeling better by next week, just in time for back to school :)
So far I've been able to resist buying new school supplies.  From all of my cleaning, I've found lots of supplies around the house and hopefully I'm set for the year.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

It's hot here

 So when the weather heats up, I think I will just stay inside and do some quilting.
 I'm also done organizing the kitchen and am now moving on to the quilting room.  That's almost done too and the next room is the sewing room.  It is a huge disaster that will take a week or so to get sorted out.  I still have to go through all of my tshirts and my youngest son's room and then I'm done!
The struggle will be to keep up with things once school starts again.  Daily attention to the clutter will be a must!  I have to make sure not to let things pile up and get out of control again.

Friday, July 22, 2016

trying to make plans isn't working

 Every day I keep telling myself I'm going to finish cleaning the kitchen and then I get a really bad migraine.
Every day I wake up with a new determination to really get things done because summer is almost over and every day my plans go off track.  Oh, well, at least I don't have to go to work yet and can rest on the couch when I'm not feeling well.
These 9 bags of fabric were donated yesterday.  Think of all the great quilts that will be made from all of these great prints.  This summer has been really great for donations.  Too bad summer has to end and time will be much shorter in the quilting department.  I better recruit more teens to help sew.


My kids are always embarrassed by my excitement when they get in the newspaper.  I always go out and buy a dozen papers and tell everyone I know.  Yesterday the newspaper came out and did a story on the robot camp my son is attending and took lots of pictures and my son got his picture and name in the paper.  I think it's pretty cool, he just wanted to hide behind me and not talk to the reporter.  We couldn't be more different!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

more robotics camp

 This morning I spent a couple of hours working in the garage while waiting for the lady who called yesterday to bring the fabric.  I finished sorting the last batch of fabric that was donated and sorted through fabric that has been sitting in the car for a couple of months.  I think if I can sort and put away fabric as it comes in instead of just piling it up, I can keep on top of the donations.  It is so much nicer to be able to grab a bucket of fabric and cut it up when I know what is in each one.  I have a new Accuquilt die coming that will cut 10 1/2 inch squares which will go perfectly with the 5 1/2 inch squares and make for some quick quilts.  Those quilts will be great for beginners to sew and will make quick work of lots of the bigger pieces of fabric.  It should be here soon and hopefully before school starts I can get a few kits made up and some tops finished for quilting for the Birthday Bash for the Heart 2 Heart group that is throwing a party for the kids who have aged out of foster care. I'm trying to get 100 quilts done and this one above is quilt #20.  The party is August 27, so I better hurry up!
 Today was day 3 of robotics camp and the kids got the robots to drive around.  There are three teens as teachers with 4 boys in the camp.  Pretty good ratio of teacher to student.
 Here's a video of the robots in action.  The robot is supposed to go forward across to the finish line, but my son's had a little trouble following directions.  The newspaper was there today taking pictures to write up a story for tomorrow's paper.  How exciting!
My son was a little grumpy because his partner didn't put in his fair share of the work and then wanted to hold the remote for the picture.  I was the mean mom who made him share.  There are other things to learn besides how a robot works.  Social skills are just as important.