The Hodgepodge – A Labor Of Love…

Some weeks it’s a “labor of love” to figure out my answers to some of the Hodgepodge questions, but not this week! I was ready, willing, and able!  After last week’s hiatus, it’s good to have the Hodgepodge back. As always, I’m grateful to Joyce for hosting.  (Remember, if you’d like to join in the fun, just click on the button at the top of this post to find the link)

Here are today’s questions:

1. As August draws to a close, share what’s been your favorite weekend of the entire summer?

My favorite summer weekend would have to be one of the weekends (and there were several) that I spent time on St. Simon’s Island, with my honey 🙂  –and it would definitely have to be one of the beach weekends that didn’t involve any car trouble or rain!

2. Labor Day is marked in the US of A on Monday, September 1st. What paying job have you held that you’ve loved the most? Liked the least?

The job I loved most was, without a doubt, working as a first grade paraprofessional.  The pay was lousy, as well as a few of the tasks required, but I really loved and enjoyed my job!  After 14 1/2 wonderful years of employment with the same teacher, I threw in the towel after I was paired with a young teacher who had very little classroom control, and even less work ethic.  Sigh.  I really tried, but I only lasted the first nine weeks of the new school year.  I only regret that my career ended on such a sour note.

As for the job I liked the least, that would definitely be working in the restaurant section of my uncle’s souvenir shop.  I only lasted a couple of days!

3. Does the new school year start before or after Labor Day where you live? When do you think it should begin? There is much discussion now about older students having later start times to their school day…your thoughts?

Our students will have attended school for an entire month by the time Labor Day gets here!  For some reason, our system is always one of the first to start back to school each year! Only the local preschool waits until after Labor Day to begin, which is the way I think it should be for all schools!

As for later start times for older students, I think it might be a good idea for teens.  Years ago, our teen-aged sons never liked getting up early, and they were habitually tardy for school, much to my dismay!  A later start time may have been beneficial for them, but I guess we’ll never know!

4. What’s something you’ve worked at recently that could be deemed a ‘labor of love’?

The first thing that comes to mind is tending to my flock of hens!  With ‘my girls’, it seems like it’s always something.  Just last night, Ed and I were in the coop, after dark, with our flashlights…  It was time for a follow up worm treatment, as well as an inspection of their feet.  The girls didn’t appreciate either activity!

5.Which of the following work idioms can you most relate to right now…’A woman’s work is never done.’, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ ‘Many hands make light work.’

I can actually relate to all three, but at this point in my life, I’ll say ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ For years, I was a working wife and mother, always busy, doing something for others.  These days, I’m retired and can finally do whatever I want, whenever I want to 🙂 I can only stand so much vacuuming, mopping and dusting, without taking some time to do something enjoyable!  Hooray for play time!

6. Crab or lobster or thanks, but no thanks? Favorite way to have your choice prepared?

Believe it or not, I’ve never tried lobster!  I only like crab if it’s deviled, and, even then, I’ll only eat a small amount of it.  Shrimp is basically the only seafood that I really care for.

7. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, ‘Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.’ Which of the three do you consider to be the most important? Share one of your own ‘rules of work’.

Well, it’s hard for me to find simplicity (or anything else) from clutter, and I don’t handle discord very well, so I guess that leaves ‘in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity’.  Using a computer came to mind when I read this quote!  Every time I encounter a computer problem, I tell myself to consider it an opportunity to learn something new! (I’m still trying to convince myself!)  Thank goodness for two sons who can usually help me with any computer-related difficulty that may arise!

As for my own rule of work:  Be on time, and always do your best!

Random:  Life never ceases to amaze me.

Twelve years ago I was working as a first grade paraprofessional, and loving it. We had several adorable students in our class, but one little girl was exceptionally smart and very sweet.  This student was one of my all-time favorites, and would often drop by the room to see me, even after she’d moved on to higher grades.  Years later, she even invited me to become her friend on Facebook!

Flash forward eleven years, and this student was now a high school junior, who had continued to excel in school.  You know, sometimes things happen, and in the middle of her junior year, she found herself pregnant.  When I first heard this news, my heart sank.  I feared that her life was going to be ruined.

I needn’t have worried, she’s done fine.  She had a beautiful baby boy, last August, at the beginning of her senior year.  She recovered, took care of her baby and attended school, and still managed to graduate third in her class!  I am so proud of all that she’s been able to accomplish, so far.  Thankfully, she’s blessed with a loving, and very supportive Christian family.  They’ve been beside her every step of the way, unlike the boyfriend who eventually went away.

Recently, this student won a scholarship to a university, located two hours away from our town.  She had to make the difficult decision to leave her adorable baby in the care of her family, in order to use the scholarship.  Her family is rising to the challenge of caring for her son while she attends college, in order to help her have the best chance at success.  I wish them all well, I’m sure the challenge isn’t easy for anyone, but here’s the final ‘kicker’ to my story.

My former student’s college classes began last week.  Believe it or not, one of the requirements of a class was to begin and maintain a blog!  She posted about this assignment on Facebook, along with the link to her new blog.  I was the first one to leave a comment on her first blog post!  I must say, she’s come a long way since writing those ‘young author’ stories in first grade, and I have no doubts that she will be successful in whatever she decides to do in life.  By the way, I thoroughly enjoy reading her blog posts, too 🙂

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Memorable Back-To-School Moments…

The back-to-school departments of our local stores have been ransacked.  It’s quiet and peaceful to shop around town once again.  These things signal only one thing–school is back in session! 

In honor of this time of year, this post will contain some memories forever engrained in my brain…from my fourteen years of being a school employee during back-to-school time.

Pre-planningThose first crazy days of coming back to work after having a leisurely summer!  We used to have five days of pre-planning–and spent at least three of them sitting in meetings!  Due to budget cuts, teachers now get only two or three days of pre-planning.  Which leaves very little time to plan!  The classrooms are in disarray from their summer cleaning, supplies have to be put away, bulletin boards and walls need to decorated, classroom lists made, etc…and the teachers sit in endless meetings!  Which means…we all end up working after hours–for no pay.

Fist day of schoolOh my word!  So many crying children.  Children dropped off,  who don’t have a clue how they are getting home at the end of the day.  The relentless heat of August in the south.  Keeping twenty-plus small children interested, and participating in class.  And explaining rules, rules, and more rules.

School suppliesWhat to do with all of those supplies that parents have packed in their children’s book bags???  Where do you store 20-plus boxes of kleenex?  How about 20-plus boxes of zip lock bags?  Why does little Johnny have 54 pencils and a box of 64 crayons in his book bag?  Liquid glue?  Oh no, liquid glue is a disaster waiting to happen!

The lunchroom…Oh my!  The smell of that lunchroom food…It’s not always a good thing!  The noise level!  You can’t even imagine…  Waiting in line forever while each child punches in their “lunch number” into the computer–when some children haven’t even learned what a number is yet!  It takes so long to go through the line, there’s no time left to eat!  Put those trays up, finished or not!  Wait, little Susie just dropped her entire tray in the floor…No!  Tell me little Johnny isn’t throwing up in his tray!!!  Yes, he did.  Once little Johnny even threw up in the substitute teacher’s lap!  Sometimes little Johnny makes it just outside the lunchroom door before he loses his lunch in the school lobby–on the carpet.

The playgroundIt’s 110 degrees outside in the shade.  Which means every little boy and girl coming back in from the playground will smell exactly like Fido’s butt!  Really, is there anything more smelly than a hot, sweaty child?  I think not!  Try spending the rest of the day closed up in a classroom with twenty-plus smelly children!

Then of course,  somebody eventually ends up getting hurt, despite everyone’s best efforts to keep it from happening.  Little Suzie  quietly sitting on the Eagles Nest, when little Johnny falls on her from above, and breaks her leg!… then Johnny trips while walking in line–on his untied shoelace–and falls, suffering a concussion from the fall.  Yes, it happens.

Sick children…How do you determine who is sick and who is just sick of school?  So many headaches or tummy aches, especially the first few weeks of school.  A fever or throwing up is a certain ticket home–if the nurse can find a parent willing to come and pick the child up.  It’s amazing how many people do not have transportation to pick up their sick children!  Really?

Irate parentsNever mind that little Susie wasn’t paying attention to the lesson because she was playing with her headband.  How dare I take your child’s headband away from her?  Never mind that your child’s report card looked like the dog ate it when she returned it–I didn’t give her a sticker for bringing it back!  How dare I “diss” your child!  Yes, sadly, these are the types of issues which seem important to some parents.

School pictures…Nothing like 50 plus kids, waiting in line to get a photo made.  Trying to comb each head of hair–with a new comb–then throwing all of those combs away in an effort to prevent the spread head lice!  Fixing this one’s belt or that one’s sash, straighten those shirt collars…No recess or snack until after pictures!  Sorry kids, the photographer is running behind.  So much effort goes into those crazy school pictures, even if the end result doesn’t always show it!

Wow, I’m getting tired just remembering!  That’s not all, only the beginning, but I’m going to stop.  All of these things actually happen–year after year–and more!  Things never change.  Only the faces do.  Some years may be better than others, while some years may be worse, but for the most part, they are the same.

Best wishes to anyone who’s experiencing a new school year–as a student,  parent, or a school employee…and kudos to all of the dedicated people who put their hearts and souls into educating and taking care of our children.  There must be a special place in heaven for people like you!

Published in: on August 18, 2011 at 8:31 am  Comments (7)  
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Back To School Memories…

Store shelves are full of school supplies and back packs.  The school supply lists are in the local newspaper.  These things signal only one thing–it’s time to start back to school.  In our house,  this time of the year was approached with a mixture of dread and excitement.

The thing that my own children hated most about starting school was having to get up early– and the bus ride.  They were practically the first ones on, and the last ones off.  Their bus ride began around 7 in the morning, and ended just before 4 in the afternoon.  That’s a long day for anyone! 

Our neighbor, who was also a deputy sheriff, was the bus driver when our daughter, Brandy,  first started to school.  He wore his uniform, including his gun, to drive the bus. Brandy was scared to death of the bus driver–I mean absolutely terrified!  She eventually made friends with him, but she still wasn’t sure…

 Brandy,  didn’t like going back to school at all either.  She didn’t like change, and she didn’t like being away from home(or me).  Some years were better than others, but every year was tough for her in the beginning.  Most years got better with time, but some of them didn’t. 

I was always an early shopper, and began “back to school shopping”  in mid-July.  In retrospect, I probably put a little damper on the kid’s vacation, especially Brandy’s.  Who wants to think about going back to school while on vacation?  I did my shopping on vacation because we always stayed where there were tons of stores.  We didn’t have many stores back home in our little town. 

In talking with my children, I have discovered that in those days,  the most important purchase to the children was their “trapper keeper”.  I don’t know what kids use now, but back then students used a trapper keeper–or a special kind of notebook with a velcro closure.  Everyone wanted a cool-looking trapper keeper! 

The next major decision was “what kind of lunch box to buy?”  I must have purchased a hundred of those plastic lunch boxes with various characters on the front of them–and the thermos always leaked!   My husband would always use the old ones for tool boxes at the end of each school year.  As Brandy grew older, the “mini cooler” lunch boxes became popular, and she got one of those.  

After clothes, trapper keepers, and lunch boxes, came the supplies.  Buying crayons, markers, and cute pencils was always fun.  My boys always preferred  mechanical pencils for some reason, while  Brandy liked regular pencils.  Brandy’s thing was cute erasers. My daughter was also a huge fan of the Lisa Frank collection,  in those days.  What little girl wasn’t? 

Speaking of crayons…I never bought the box of 64 crayons.  A box of 48 was the largest box that I ever bought for our kids.   When my husband and I were in school, only the rich kids had 64 crayons–and neither of us ever owned a box!   I guess I figured if I lived without 64 crayons, my kids could, too.  Actually, I always considered 64 crayons to be somewhat excessive.  Once I began working at school, I discovered that 64 crayons were excessive…too many to fit in the pencil box!

While my children were in school, I was always a bit of a “hoarder” when it came to  supplies like pencils, paper, crayons, and composition books.  I bought extra stuff every year, and kept a small cabinet well stocked with various supplies.  I always had a fear of needing something, and not being able to find it in our tiny town.  In those days, our stores didn’t carry school supplies year round.  When our youngest son finished college, I still had a cabinet of supplies.  I eventually cleaned out and sent them to a local consignment store in town.

School days have been a thing of the past in our household for nearly five years.  That’s how long it’s been since I worked at school.  I am still “an educator” at heart–I can’t help but stop and admire those school supplies each year…   I just can’t help myself.  I even bought a new pack of crayons the other day– but only a pack of 24…  Oh, and I bought four glue sticks!  I’m hopeless…

Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 9:57 am  Comments (4)  
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