Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another week gone (almost)

Well, another week is almost over. It's back to "real" life and teaching. The students are driving me nuts. In what universe do parents NOT take away a cell phone because their daughter got a "C" average! AND, that's because she got an "A" in one subject and an "F" in another. Another of my students was thrilled when he opened HIS report card. He was down to only TWO "Fs" and said his mom would be so happy. Now, these are the "low" kids. But really, give me a break! Their work is so dumbed down it's amazing. Only one of these 21 students has an IEP, and it's in math - NOT in reading/language arts. The rest just stymie the 8th grade team. They are sweet kids. No behavior problems. But they are just apathetic. I have three students who really try. the other 18 are there for socializing and nothing else. Oh well, 1/2 the year down... I think I can, I think I can.......

Friday, January 4, 2008

A new kind of exercise?

So, for those who don't know, I am proudly owned by a 6 year old ginormous yellow lab, a fat 8 year old orange and white cat, and our newest addition, a 10 week old wild-child kitten. All is well most of the time. Boomer, the ginormous lab, takes Crack Kitty's shenanigans in stride with a long-suffering, resigned attitude. Suzie is not so forgiving, but appreciates Crack Kitty's leftovers. Suzie's been on a diet for 2 years, and just like me, struggles with her roundness. But the real exercise for me comes twice a day. However, I am becoming somewhat more expert at it. You see, mealtimes are a real scramble, as kitten wants everybody else's food. SO, first I feed Suzie. Since she only gets 1/4 cup of food twice a day of incredibly expensive diet food, she is fed up in the office with the door closed. Sounds easy, right? Well, you see, I first have to make it up the stairs without stepping on/tripping over the two felines. Suzy, who still has one partially paralyzed leg and who is obese, can't make it up the stairs as fast as Bella the Evil. Bella, on the other hand, makes it her aim in life to trip me in hopes of getting Suzie's food as it rains down on her. As I make it to the office and pour the few nuggets of food that Suzie is allowed, I simultaneously scoop up Crack Kitty just as she reaches the food dish. Suzie waddles in, and I close the door as I leave while carrying a sqirming, struggling kitten. Whew. One down, two to go. So, I look down the stairs and there's Boomer, peering upstairs hopefully with the most wistful, pathetic expression on his face. Let me remind you that Boomer is the BIG man on this campus and he's always been fed first. So, I go into the kitchen and pick up his empty food dish. I turn to the bag of "healthy and lean" food (yep, he's on a diet too), fill his two cup bowl, and, after stepping on either a paw or tail of Bella the Evil One causing her to poof up into one furry ball of indignation. This happens twice a day. You'd think she'd know to stay away from the very tall person's feet! So, after swearing (not necessarily under my breath) at the stupid kitten, I place Boomer's food dish on the floor. At the same time, I scoop up the speedy Miss Bella, who then scratches and protests indignantly. FINALLY it's time to get her food. So, with Bella squirming in one hand, I pick up her bowl and (this is the fun part) hold it in the same hand with which I'm restraining her. With my right hand, I reach into HER bag of food and grab a handful. As she squirms and mews in protest, I deftly (okay, clumsily) dump most of my handful of kibble into her little bowl. Now I have one empty hand. The other holds Bella the Beautiful Evil One AND her little blue bowl of food. She WANTS the food. SO, I drop her, trip on her, and place the bowl on the floor with whatever food has not fallen out as she struggled to get free or get to her bowl in my hand. Then I put her down. She is THRILLED!! Mommy put her down. Goody, goody!!! Her stomach will soon be full! She races to the bowl. Mommy chases after her. Bad Bella - that's Boomer's food. So, I put her in front of her food dish. She obediently puts her head into the bowl. Boomer is gulping his kibble. All is quiet, so I go up to let Suzie out, as she's done. She moves like lightning DOWN the stairs. I didn't know a partially paralyzed cat could move so swiftly. I follow. She tears into the kitchn. Boomer's ginormous body is blocking me. Oh no!! So I select the alternate route through the living room. I'm moving as quickly as possible, dodging kitty toys, doggy bed, and whatever objects the males in the family have left on the floor. I race into the kitchen. There's Suzie. She sees me and I hear the crunching increase threefold and then stop. She's now inhaling the kibble, desperately trying to finish it before Mommy reaches her. Crack Kitty, who raced upstairs in search of the expensive diet food, has now come back down, disappointed. She wants her food. Not to eat. To gloat. I put the dish up. And wait for the next time I have to perform this demented ballet.

Unlike Christmas, I'm GLAD this only comes once a year!

It's time to grade the dreaded research reports. I've had them for about 3 weeks. They've survived nicely in the trunk of my car. Today, hubby (trying to be helpful) brought them in. So, I waded in. I contemplated toting them back to their cozy home in my trunk, but alas and woe is me, I retrieved my laptop (need to check sources and to check for plagiarism), tracked down a red pen, and strapped my butt into the dining room chair. Okay, so maybe the laptop wasn't such a great idea - at least not having it right here. So, I reached into the file folder and pulled out the first one. Hmmm, the cover page looked great!! Of course, I DID have all students create theirs as soon as we got into the computer lab. He had an outline - not a good one, but an outline! Flipping through the paper (if you can count turning the two pages as flipping), I reached the Works Cited page. Ummm, NO, one website does NOT count as multiple sources. Sigh...It was time to correct the actual paper. Good golly it was BAD. He changed words from the website using a thesaurus (my guess). So, many of his sentences are total gibberish. No, I didn't give him a "0" for plagiarism. This is my low class, and the fact that he actually changed some of the words impressed me! Not so much that he'd get a good grade, but I had to give him credit for ingenuity. The next paper was nearly three pages long! I'd told the low class they needed 2-5 pages. My estimation of this student's ingenuity was way too low. I mean, she got her 3 pages by using a 16 font. It was all I could do to not scream and write "Do you think I'm stupid?" Anyway the rest of her paper was okay, so she actually got a passing grade. Paper #4, well, we won't talk about that one. Paper #5. The student didn't turn in everything. Then it was on to the next one and the next and the next - all variations of the same problems as paper #1. But wait!!! I nearly wept for JOY!! A B+ paper! I eagerly reached for the next. Disappointment. And the get my drift. I stopped grading after #11. Oh well, I'm 25% done with them - almost. So, in another 37 papers I'll be done for another year. Life is good. Karen

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

My Very Insulted Cat

I am dealing with a very upset cat. Suzie, our 8-year old cat, is NOT a happy camper. Her peaceful, sedate life has been turned upside-down. You see, Bella the Sweet has transmogrified into Bella the Evil One, or as Russ calls her - "Crack Kitty". Poor Suzie does NOT know how to handle this. She will slink into a room, casting her eyes about, looking for Crack Kitty. Crack Kitty has many, many toys. However, nothing is so fascinating as an orange, twitching tail. Suzie will be lying perfectly still until she spots Bella. Then, her ears flatten and the tail begins to twitch convulsively. Bella crouches, wiggles her little bottom, and dances with arched back and poofed out tail. Then she goes in for the kill. She traps Suzie' tail and chews like crazy until the older cat slaps her silly. Then, the game is on. Suzie, being queen of the house, will not leave the room to avoid Bella. She just gets angry, twitches her tail, and the battle plays itself out again. Sigh...I wish Suzie would just understand that Crack Kitty would leave her alone if she'd just keep her tail still!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

January 1, 2008 - Time Flies!!

Well, here we are in another new year! What a way to begin the year. We've got snow and blowing. The roads are horrible. Joe just got home from spending several days down in Champaign visiting his brother, and he said the roads are the worst up here, but that from Bloomington to DeKalb was terrible. Then, Glidden was the worst. It figures!! The plows aren't coming through very often either. So, no company today. I made soup and have cheese, crackers, fruit, and vegies. So, I guess it's just us. We're going to watch the Rose Bowl and have our goodies then. Go Illini!!

Monday, December 31, 2007

My Life in Pictures

Out with the old; in with the new

A little musing on the past year. All four "boys" are doing great. They're all growing into great adults. Brian continues to work as a Certified Crop Advisor. Luke is nearly done with vet school and has been offered a job in NEBRASKA of all places. Joe's halfway through his plumbing apprenticeship and is with a great company that is working on the new Sherman Hospital in Elgin. That job could last two years! Mike is nearly done with four years at UIUC. He's got one more year left. He just accepted a summer internship at Goldman Sachs in New York City! He has one more year left, and then all of the guys will be out of school. That will end many, many years of paying tuition! Russ's mom fell last summer, and her recovery has been very slow. It's sad seeing such a vibrant person grow so feeble. I guess, at age 87, she's not doing too bad. The farm is still chugging along. It seems as if Russ is always feeding pigs, shoveling out after pigs, hauling that "stuff" that he's shoveled, grinding feed for the pigs, loading hogs, hauling hogs.... Still, we managed to get away for two long weekends at the Dells. We managed to get all the guys and girlfriends up there at least once. My mom went too, which was great fun. She's amazing. Here's hoping I can be that way when I'M 75! So, we're looking forward to a healthy and prosperous 2008. Karen