Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trials and smiles

(Coming up with post titles is really difficult, but Kelsi needs them.)

This week, my car battery died not once, but TWICE. The second time was the day after I had taken it to the shop to get it looked at. Yes, I realize a car battery switch isn't a big deal, but considering this was a new battery anyway, we thought there was something wrong with the car. Sure enough some connectors were loose and weren't properly charging the battery. They said they fixed it the first time, but it died again in the Harris Teeter parking lot at 10pm in the I got it for real fixed yesterday.

Joel lost his wedding ring. This stinks especially because I don't think it was insured. We've learned our lesson.

His knee is healing well but it's still really hard for him to get around. It's been difficult to get everything done around the house but it's been manageable, I think.

Some good things:
We didn't have to pay a lot for the car to be fixed. They even gave us a new free battery.

My brother and his friend came over for dinner last night to celebrate my brother's birthday. We made DELICIOUS panko-crusted cod, roasted veggies, and brown rice. I made a cake with homemade buttercream icing and fondant! It was really fun.
We also went to Bahama Breeze for lunch today. We're crashing now-this weekend has been NON-STOP for us and now I'm lying on our bed, being lazy for a while.

I can't wait to visit L-Cat and the Nugget next weekend!

I get to teach some fun things this week with Google Earth. (A trial, however, is that a couple of students make it INCREDIBLY difficult to get through whole-group instruction. It makes me extremely nervous for how the lesson will go, and sometimes I don't even get through them. It makes me sad for the other kids who are really into the lessons.)

Enjoy the beautiful weather today!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's been a while!

So much has happened this weekend... my goodness.

I wish I had time to post everything but I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say it was hectic and exhausting. Sunday, I went out to lunch for my mom's birthday. The third grade teachers came over to film a video for a fundraiser at school. I went straight from there to Broughton High School to watch some Joyner kids play basketball. I left early to finish working on a present for Laura before her going away party that night. I finally finished at 6:20, so I jumped in my car didn't start.

I was so upset because of how busy the whole weekend had been, how much I had to finish, and also how emotional I was about Laura moving. Joel said he'd been waiting for my "breakdown"! Well, I broke down into tears as I tried frantically to call friends to pick me up. Joel got on the phone with AAA (thank the Lord my parents got us that when we got married!) but my phone wasn't getting any reception. Finally, Joel got ahold of some friends that graciously turned around to pick me up. I wish I could have spent more quality time with Laura before she moved, but I'm glad I was able to get to the party.

This week, my classroom has still been...unpleasant. Rather than getting better, it's gotten worse. I've called a parent of one of the "ringleaders" and I hope this will help. I am sad that it's almost 4th quarter. I wish my classroom was different. But I've had encouragement from other teachers who've let me know that it's totally normal to have difficult classes and to be more hopeful for next year's class. I hate to admit that but it's the truth.

Today I went to a conference on the Middle East. It was really interesting, and I feel like I've learned so much in just one day. I'll be out tomorrow, too. I wonder what Friday will be like when I come back! Ah!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Missing my hubs (this is mushy...beware)

So one really not fun thing about Joel's surgery is that he has to sleep in the guest room. He can't roll over on to his knee, and he has to sleep flat on his back. We have a big bed, so we decided he'd have to sleep in the smaller bed that is up against the wall so he wasn't tempted to move. I've set him up with some pillows to keep his leg elevated and immobile, and put his meds, phone, water, and remote control all within reach.

I have friends who think this is really odd that we do this, but whenever one of us is sick, we move to the other room for a day or so. It's basically so we don't get each other sick and then get a "ping-pong" cold (as my dad calls it) and so we can each get a really good night's sleep. When I'm sick, I am always extremely worried about waking Joel up with my coughing or sneezing, so that is what keeps me up. I think we both survive colds well so far because of this strategy.

Trust me, we don't do this when we're angry :)

So it's not unusual for us to sleep in separate rooms, but we both hate it. Last night, I guess I was feeling emotional about this weekend. It's been extremely busy and we haven't spent a lot of time together. That and going to bed alone...well, I was being a very mushy girl about the whole thing. I pulled open my drawer and took out the many letters Joel wrote to me when we were broken up.

We both agree that we really needed that time...that the Lord grew us so much in that year. But it was definitely hard. Joel wrote me a letter everyday for about a month.

Rereading those words and remember all those raw emotions at that time... I needed a hug.

So I went into the guest room and surprised my hubbie with a big kiss and a hug. I interrupted a basketball game but I don't think he minded :)

Today I am taking off the dressing from the surgery. It might be pretty gross. I'm not excited.

But I AM excited about having my hubs here to snuggle with again!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday surfing

The many wonders of the Stumble! feature on Mozilla...

I laughed about these links:

Abe Lincoln's facebook page

How to write a college paper

Vending machine pizza

Funny Bunny

Good news:
-Joel feels great!
-I slept in this morning.
-1-800-Got -Junk came by and hauled away all the crap that's been on our back porch forever.
-It's sunny and pretty. I'm going grocery shopping at Whole Foods and the Farmer's Market.
-I'm going to see a play by ArtsTogether that a sweet little girl in my class is in. She's been a nervous wreck for 2 days because of it. But I'm so proud that she did this!
-I'm wearing my favorite outfit.

The end!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Joel's surgery went really well! It only took about an hour and we were out of there by 9:45.

The doctor said he was lucky because the rest of his cartilage looked really good. They basically took cartilage from one part of his knee and "filled in" the gap where he was missing some. He isn't in pain, but he's also on lots of meds. He is passed out in the guest room.

I am about to sleep too. We woke up at 5:15 so I'm exhausted!

Surgery Day

Today is Joel's knee surgery day. We arrived at the center around 6:15am (so early...) and Joel was just admitted. He had some pre-op (including donning a hilarious hospital gown) and they just kicked me out back to the lobby to wait. The surgery should be around an hour and half, and the post-op waiting should be around that same amount of time. I've brought plenty of papers to grade, but there's WiFi here, so who knows how much work I'll get done! He is not at all nervous, but I almost burst into tears when the doctor described the procedure! I'm not sure why, because I know it's a really routine surgery. I guess I hate the thought of him being cut open and then not being able to walk for a while. But hopefully he'll be back to normal in 3-6 months! We are really excited to go running again this summer. 

When I got my wisdom teeth out, the "sleeping gas" made me burst into tears when I woke up. I was super emotional for a while after. I'm really curious to see how he'll react to all the meds. We've made many jokes about it-I'll update on his reaction in about 3 hours!

Please pray for a smooth and speedy recovery! The doctor said the procedure should be really simple, but there's an itty bitty chance he would have to come back for a 2nd surgery. I just pray that it can be fixed today. I also pray that the finances work out and that he can rest and be ok while I go back to work tomorrow. He's really excited about an excuse to lay on the couch and watch the NCAA tournament all weekend! We might even borrow a friend's minifridge to stick beside the couch so he doesn't have to get up at all. 

One thing I do not understand about my husband: His only concern for the doctor was how soon he'd be able to go work out. When the doctor said he could be doing upper body exercise by next week, he was ecstatic. I told the doctor that if someone told me I couldn't work out for 6 weeks, it'd be just fine with me ;) 

Thanks for your prayers!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday sweets

I love this idea! I'm posting a sweet thing my husband did for me. This week, Joel dropped me off at Laura's for a sleepover and picked me up in the morning. He took me to brunch at Whole Foods and we got to splurge a little on groceries. When we got home, he had already started laundry. He let me nap for a long time and helped me cook and clean for some friends that were coming over. PLUS, he drove me to Michael's (one of his very least favorite stores) and picked out a beautiful frame for our favorite wedding picture.

I love my husband :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Update on school

I am trying some new strategies (it seems like a new one each week!) to motivate students and manage things better. I realize that I'm really inexperienced and I basically try anything. What works with one doesn't work with the other and what works on Monday bombs on Tuesday, but it does keep things interesting.

My reward system in class is a lottery system. Students who do a good job put their names on pink tickets. At the end of the week, I draw 7 tickets. My rewards are free things: shoes off for a day, draw and display something, read to the class, read in the bathtub (yes, I have a bathtub in my room), computer time in the morning. So my newest reward is to have lunch with me on Friday in the classroom. One encouraging thing is that a lot of kids have been choosing that. I realize that this is probably so they can escape the smelly cafeteria, but I'll take what I can get. I haven't completely bombed on the forming good relationships idea, I hope.

Today was definitely a Friday. I almost lost it. I am glad to be home and to have a husband who tells me 1) it's ok and 2) I'm not allowed to quit. Some days I want to.

There are some trials in my room lately. I have hope each day that it'll be different, but mostly, I know there are patterns of behavior that I can't fix overnight. The Lord is teaching me to start each day with Him, not "debrief" at the end of the day only. I'm starting to really value this time with my vanilla coffee and

I desperately do not want to be a negative teacher. I have seen what this can do day in and day out to a person, and I don't want to end up like that. I don't want to spend the next 20 years dwelling on the amount of conflict that has arisen in my classroom. I want to remain positive about my experiences and have joy even in the midst of trials. But how do you forget about those problems? Joel's advice is this: you always go home. At the end of the day, you leave it at work. And at this point, that's fabulous advice. I have had trouble sleeping with the things going on in my room, and I know that I'm not giving it to the Lord enough and I'm bring too much home.

Currently, I'm 2 days behind in my reading, word work, and science schedule. This is mainly due to behavior issues that are getting in the way. This is embarrassing to admit.

Lots of hilarious things happened today. So I'll end on a POSITIVE note :)

1) We were supposed to give out these Time for Kids booklets to our kids. They were to take them home and fill out the addresses of at least 7 friends and relatives so that the company could try get them to buy magazine subscriptions for the class. If they returned it, they got this freaking awesome bouncing putty. The kids were really motivated to sucker their parents into giving out the addresses of every aunt and uncle in the continental United States. As I flipped through Veronica's, I noticed my name. She had written in: Mrs. Orr. thanks for helping our school. And she put the school's address. Although I sometimes feel like I live in school, I had to explain to her that I definitely do not live here.

2) At the end of the day today, our assistant principal came over the intercom and had us spell out the word "FRIDAY"-yelling. One poor girl didn't hear this announcement. So all she heard was my entire class started SCREAMING the letters "F-R-I-D-A-Y.' She looked terrified. When she realized what was going on, she started yelling too, but I really could not stop laughing. I had to give her a (side) hug, I thought it was so cute.

3) I am reading The Hoboken Chicken Emergency with my kids. It's a fantastic book because there's lots of subtle humor in it. I'm reading it with my middle reading group to push them-there's lots of good vocab and they have to really read between the lines to get the joke. Basically, there's this giant girl chicken that is running amok in the town of Hoboken. So they hire this greasy used car salesman type to catch the chicken. He creates this "chickenoid" that is made to look just like him. Trying to explain to 8 year olds the words "irresistible chickenoid to attract Dirty Louise the chicken" might have been the funniest thing I've done in a while. Especially when Aiyahnna, frustrated that Caleb didn't get it, said "it means the chicken is hot!"

Happy weekend everyone!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I had to.

1. YOUR REAL NAME: Dominique Montagne Orr

2. YOUR GANSTER NAME (first three letters of real name plus izzle): Domizzle (but really, it should be Dominizzle

3. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME (favorite color and favorite animal): Green frog

4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME (your middle name and street you live on) Montagne Cornwall (lame.)

5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first two letters of first name): Orrdo

6. YOUR SUPERHERO/CRIMINAL NAME: (your second favorite color, and favorite drink): Blue Coke zero

7. YOUR WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (parents middle names): Janet Francisco

8. YOUR GOTH NAME (black and the name of one of your pets): Black ??? I don't have any pets!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Best week ever!

Well, it may not have been the best, but it was pretty good.

After I had my freak-out on Tuesday, I went it Wednesday and felt really different. I am praising God because I know He is working in me. I know teaching isn't about "feeling like it," and my kids were just as nutso this week as any other week, but I tried to be more patient and forgiving this week.

I also really enjoyed having lunch with some students and didn't mind the fact that I had lunch duty today. I learned more about my students because of the new sheets I started. Remember how I started the "I need help" slip? Well, a couple of students who have been struggling asked for extra help. This was nice because they initiated (I wasn't throwing extra work at them) and they seemed more motivated to do outside work.

The reflection sheet ("I feel...") was created for one student in particular, but he hasn't really enjoyed it. I opened them up to the whole class and I found out TONS of new stuff. One student has a baby sister on the way. One student has lots of family issues. One student wanted a different seat buddy. It's been really great for starting conversations.

The tattle tub is driving me insane because kids are still tattling and then writing it down. I have to reinforce that one a little more.

Anyway, I'm starting to teach about the sun, moon, and stars. It's definitely not my favorite subject but it is a high interest topic for my kids, and I have lots of resources. This should be fun.

Tonight has been a really relaxing evening with the hubs. We went for a walk in this beautiful weather, had dinner at Lilly's, and watching one of my favorite movies, Driving Miss Daisy. It gets me every time.

In closing, I hope this video makes you laugh as much as I did!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


I have this dread about a certain student in my class. None of the interventions I am trying seem to be working. He knows I can impose no consequence on him. There's no use in sending him to the office. He disrupts my class constantly. Most days, I feel like I've just survived the lessons of the day.

I also have dread about things I haven't planned for well. It seems like there just aren't enough hours in the day, and I always feel like I'm behind or forgetting something. Just this afternoon, I realized, while I had planned for the whole day, I completely forgot to copy the homework for the grade level. My technology completely messed up and that was my whole lesson. One student in my class said to me, "Mrs. Orr, I think you've lost everybody." How frustrating.

I know that dread is a result of fear...and it is sinful for me to not trust God with even the seemingly minor details in my classroom. But I'm finding it increasingly difficult to go in with a fresh start when what I want to do is completely overhaul my teaching style. And I'm not sure that's possible in March. And even if it were possible, I don't know where I'd start!

I am starting some new things tomorrow. I will make a "tattle tub" to hopefully reduce some tattling problems I have. I am going to have a reflection sheet for the student to fill out before the day even begins. This will hopefully difuse anger that he has from home before he even starts the day, and give him the choice to start his work or cool down in a quiet spot. I also have a "I need help" sheet. While I seem to have an incredibly chatty class, I also have 3 students in particular who are just as quiet. They rarely ask for help, even one-on-one. So I am hoping that, given the opportunity to quietly write out their needs, they'll be able to let me know more that they need assistance.

I am also going to try a token economy. Have any other teachers tried this? I was wary to start this, but it seems like my lottery system isn't working with this one student in particular, and a point sheet/behavior contract just makes things worse. As much as I hate to do this, I may even start using plain old food as reinforcement.

One more thing. I used to love getting to know my campers at the YMCA. I really enjoyed forming good relationships with them, and I never thought that'd be an area of weakness for me now. But it seems like I've let all the "to do" things get in the way of actually getting to know my students. So once a week I'm going to have lunch in the classroom with a small group. It's hard to give up my break/planning time but I hope this will prove a valuable investment.

I just want to be the teacher that God has called me to be. I want to glorify Him in my classroom, and even if I can't change every student I want to know that the Lord worked through me. I want to let Him work through me. I want to walk by the Spirit and not by my flesh. I want to have joy, not dread, in this calling.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Neverending to do list

Happy snow day! I went to sleep last night thinking we'd have a 2-hour delay, but woke up to discover that school was cancelled. While I am very sad about a shorter spring break, it was nice to have a day off. I went in around 12:30 and spent the entire afternoon filing papers. I feel more organized (something I resolved to be last night at small group) but I still feel like I have a million things to do this week.

-catch up on reading for my 5 reading groups
-fill out retension paperwork for 8 students
-track down parents who have to come in for retension conferences THIS WEEK
-prepare for a Student Support Team meeting tomorrow and somewhat look like I know what I'm doing
-make math groups for the week
-prepare for tutoring tomorrow

And that's just tonight!

I am so glad I got to clean up today. It will make life so much easier next year now that all my papers are filed. But I wish there were about 10 more hours in the day and I was 10x as focused to get everything finished!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Really, it's the simple things.

I've been discouraged lately as a teacher. I see my classroom community becoming very unpleasant as some behavior issues are getting worse and I'm not the teacher I want to be. It seems like I can never get it all done. If I'm ahead in grading, I'm behind in planning. If I have a great conversation with this child, this other child feels ignored. I had hoped to be in a different place by this point in my first year, but it seems some days like I'm back at square one. It seems like taking one day at a time was great advice in August, but it's now March, and I need to plan ahead more. It's really easy to get down about teaching in general, but I know all is not lost.

So this afternoon, I'm dedicating this post to the simple things I appreciate in life.

First, my new favorite Girl Scout cookies given to me by my dear mum. I will be sure to purchase more from the Girl Scout in my class. Yum :)

Joel got this for his birthday from his mom:

Of course, I've been eyeing this at Ten Thousand Village for months. So I think it was a gift for the both of us ;)

I love this little girl, and I hope Laura doesn't mind that I put this picture up. It just makes me laugh every single time I see it, mostly because I feel the same way about squash.

Joel makes me laugh. He's a reason why. This is "wolfie" under the Philip Rivers football helmet I gave him for a wedding present while Philip Rivers is on TV.

Southern food. I love it. So it gets to go on the blog. Friday's dinner: chicken, collards, and sweet potato casserole. Joel's famous sweet tea is not pictured.

Hm. I feel much better now that we've had this talk.