Saturday, March 29, 2014

It's over!

I finally had my last observation and I think it went pretty well.  I told my students I would give them $10 each (fake school money) if they did everything I told them to do the first time and participated.  They all did really well.  Then the assistant principal observed me.  I think that went ok, too.  In any case,  I believe my observations may be over for the year.  I also passed my portfolio project, which I had been stressed about and received my provisional teaching license.  Yay!  If I can only hold onto it!!

The truck had some issues when we brought it home.  It was missing the entire exhaust system and one of the exhaust manifolds was broken in half.  We got two new front tires, and an alignment, so now the steering wheel is oriented almost correctly.  There are still some issues, like power steering leak and the directionals won't stay on when you click them on, but we're just hoping we pass inspection today.  Then we'll register the truck on Monday and it should be good to go.  I keep having this fear that when we go to the DMV it will have been reported stolen and the police will come arrest my husband and I'll have to bail him out and the guy we bought it from furnished the house he claimed he lived in and brought some people over to pretend they were watching TV and his kids and the whole thing was a scam.  Or maybe he broke into the house when those people were on vacation so it looked lived in.  Or maybe it really was a legit transaction.  This is what being from NYC does to a person.  Anywho, my seedlings are hardening off in the rain outside, and it's going to be 65 degrees today.   I really need to replant a few of them.  Pumpkins and cucumbers shouldn't be sown in February in Charlotte.  If they die, I'll just plant new ones.  Still trying to procure straw bales for my garden and one of the houses in the neighborhood had a tree cut down, so we think we're going to take the wood and chop it into firewood.  I suppose hubby can finally get the chainsaw and axe he wants! (Though to be fair, I really wanted to get a sawzall first to break down some pallets and make an outdoor sink and salad bed.)

Well, going to try to get some housework done so I can relax with hubby tomorrow.  We'll probably barbecue or have a cookout tomorrow, or at least have a nice evening with the firepit.  Off to carpe diem!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Counting Down...

It seems it the time of the school year for count downs.  Some teachers are counting down days till spring break.  Others are dutifully ticking off the days till the end of the school year.  Or End of Grade testing (EOGs). I, however am hyper-aware of my last teacher-prep program observation.  Tomorrow.  I found out I have passed my large project portfolio, so am elated about that.  Still, I worry.  It could be said I am a poster child for low self-esteem.  Everytime there's a test or evaluation, I fear failure.  Most times I do really well.  I sincerely hope that this impending feeling of doom about tomorrow is in my crazy head. I may have a break down when my certification becomes a reality.  This is a road I've been traveling for the better of ten years.  It's almost over!!

In other breaking news,we spent some cash last weekend.  We had been using the patio set from NY as our kitchen table, but because it's round, the chairs don't push all the way in and it blocks the back door and the refrigerator.  I had been looking for a rectangular table that has chairs that push in and found one at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. That place is awesome!  It was more than what I wanted to pay ($125) but is worth it, since it has fold down leaves that make the rectangle a circle, and two center leaves that make the circle an oval, it's pretty versatile.  Especially since we don't have a dining room and it's the only table we have.   Love it!!


Then, on Sunday, we bought a truck.  A serious, real truck.  Not like the Ranger.  It's a 1988 F-150 XLT Lariat.  It has an extended cab and a long bed.  Two gas tanks and 8 cylinders.  A little overkill? Perhaps, but in the spirit of my current life motto, "Farm in 5",  I think it's perfect :D  Currently, it's undergoing repairs to make it inspection worthy, but hopefully we'll have it tomorrow.  Seems it was lacking an exhaust system.  No wonder it sounded like a monster!  We call it the Tardis, since when my husband first drove it he exclaimed, "What the fuck is this, a time machine?  Why are there so many knobs and buttons everywhere?!"  He is such a character.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Time is flying!!

Happy Spring Reader (Sara, lol) !!

It's been a climatic ping-pong game of late, bouncing from balmy barbeque weather to stretches of familiar nippy, rainy days.  Today the high will be around 74° F, ending our 3 day streak of beautiful weather.  Tomorrow, the high will be in the 50s° F.  We will continue to see highs in the 50s for the remainder of the week until Thursday, when it will go up to the 60s for a while.  I think that's where we are supposed to be in Charlotte at this time of year.  We've been enjoying our back patio that we made with plastic patio pavers which don't require installation except for placing them on the ground and stomping on them.  Making our backyard space livable by our standards has been challenging, especially because we rent and we are on a budget.  Most of the modifications can only be made once we get a pick-up truck, and that's taking longer than I imagined.  The plan was to get one on Christmas vacation, but it seems more likely that it will happen on Easter vacation.  No matter, I know the right time will present itself soon.  Then I can bring in some straw bales for my straw bale garden, dirt and compost for my herb circle and wood shavings, and/or whatever else is deemed necessary.

In the meantime, my seedlings are going crazy, with the pumpkin and cucumber getting quite large and ornery.  I keep thinking to transplant them to a pot soon, but get sidetracked easily.  It will get done today. Part of me thinks it's ok for me to let them die, since they're up quite early, but instead, I'll keep them going as long as I can with minimal hassle.  Maybe I can rustle up some 5 gallon buckets from a hotel or restaurant nearby.  Something started digging in my mini radish patch and lettuce garden the other day.  There was only a few seedlings, so there was minimal damage, but still, I think it was squirrels, since we seem to have an army of them nearby.  I know it could have been rabbits, but I've never seen rabbit damage, so I'm not quite sure.

The reality that the end of the year is fast-approaching is bringing much stress.  My lateral-entry teaching program has ended bi-weekly seminars, and I'm just waiting for my final observation and results.  This year has been especially challenging, with the long distance move and financial difficulties we have endured.  I admit I have not been on my A-game with all the distractions, but am hopeful I will find success and complete the program this year.  Also, it is time to start looking for a summer job.  Because we have not had a steady stream of income since we moved, I will not have the option of a free summer. That's ok though. My whole life I've worked summers, so I don't have much of an opinion about it.  One day, we will be able to swing it, but for now, I have to start planning.  Summer camp is an option I am considering.  A co-worker recommended me for a position as a camp counselor.  The pay isn't great, but my hope is to supplement it with some ABA cases on nights/weekends.

In other news, I've been spinning lots.  And drum carding and not a moment too soon!!! Fiber Fallout is open for business.  Not sure how I will pay for it, but I know I have to go. Somehow it seems like I'm going to have a lot less yarn than I initially thought.  My plan now is to spin all that I have of Guilia and then assess the situation from there.  I'm coming up with a 3-ply worsted with occasional slubs, which I like.  My plan was to have some of that homespun irregularity in my yarn, so it's pretty successful to date.  There's a total of approximately 140 yards, with two 8 oz bobbins full of singles and a few ounces leftover on 4 oz bobbins.  And 8 more oz to card and spin.  I guess I thought that 3 bobbins of singles=3 bobbins of plied, but it doesn't really work that way.  All guesstimates are out the window.  It's a learning experience to say the least.  I might have to add some more wool from a different sheep.  The plan was to make a Guilia sweater coat, but for some reason, the numbers aren't adding up.  I can't help thinking that I misplaced a few pounds.  There was a ton of wool. (Or maybe 7-8 pounds)  I know there wasn't a ton of lanolin, so my yield was at least 4 pounds, so what happened to the rest of it.  There's not much carding waste.  WTF?!  I'll figure it out.  There's still a bunch of spinning and plying to do.  I like how everything is coming together, though.

Rant Alert!!!  Read only if you care about teacher salary issues in NC

The problem is that North Carolina has the 46th lowest average teacher salary in the United States.  Beginning teachers do not get a raise in the first 5 years of service.  Yearly salary increases after that average $400 years 6 and 7, then go up to over $1000 in subsequent years. Masters degrees no longer warrant an increase in pay, either.  This is the whole reason I am here; the lateral entry program I am in supplies teachers to this county because they are not able to keep enough teachers in the system mostly due to the poor salary scale and urban school environment.  We are located within 15 minutes of South Carolina, which has a notable school district and has average yearly salary increases of about $800 starting from the first year.  There are at least three more states within a few hours of here, all of which pay better than here.  Why would anyone want to stay here when it is clear that teachers are undervalued and overworked?  This issue has been headline news on a daily basis.  There is talk everyday of overhauling the teacher pay scale, granting increases to new teachers, changing things in my favor.  On the forefront of these talks, though, is a motion to grant only 25% of teachers a 4-year contract with a $5000 salary increase spread over the course of the contract.  This is intended replace teacher tenure and move towards performance-based evaluation.  This 25% will be selected allegedly based on principal observations and years of teaching, but remains unclear.  If you are selected as part of the 25%, you will have to choose if you want to remain tenured, or if you want a 4-year contract.  If you opt out of the contract, you are back in the same position of not getting a raise for x amount of years, so in essence, it's the offer you can't refuse.  Now I am an EC teacher.  I expect my students to grow, however, due to their disabilities, I don't expect that they will score high on their EOGs or standardized tests.  That is the reality of what I do.  I will maximize my instructional time, differentiate my instruction, and collect and analyze data, but my students have an IEP which is a legal document which stands for Individualized Educational Program.  Why are my students taking a grade level standardized test with no modifications and this score is being factored into my performance grade?  How much growth should we expect from a student with LD?  How about Mild Intellectual Disability? Developmental Delay?  Please enlighten me so I can make the grade!  It is frustrating to say the least.  I'd love to see the percentage of EC teachers who are invited to the 25% club.  I'm sure it won't be surprising.  Sorry for the rant.  It helped me understand the issue by researching it to write about it.  I am slightly optimistic that some of these issues will be resolved in the near future.  I feel that this topic can't remain in the hot seat for much longer without something favorable happening soon. Performance-based pay is here to stay, though.  While I do feel that we shouldn't keep ineffective teachers in the classroom, I don't think that scores are the only measure of a teacher's effectiveness.   That's all on that.  I'll stay here for a while, as salary has never been a driving force for most of my career decisions in life, but I know I have options should I ever tire of this state's stance on educational issues.  I know I'm never going back to NY, but there are still 48 other states to choose from, lol.

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