Sunday, September 30, 2007

Repairs on a Church - Repairs on a Life

Because we are doing some much needed renovating of the sanctuary, we have moved our church services to the fellowship hall. We will be there for 6 weeks. A lot of planning and work went into this move. Normally the fellowship hall is used for breakfast this time of year. We serve the best breakfast you can find for the requested offering in town. Now the food has gone continental and so have the dining arrangements. To make room for the chairs in the temporary sanctuary they moved the food outside to the walkway along with tables, chairs and the coffee and whatnot. It is really quite pleasant. The new breakfast area feels like a sidewalk cafe and everyone seems to be enjoying the setting. It doesn't hurt that our gorgeous prayer garden is right beside the walkway and all the lovely trees and water feature keep the place cool and calm. I'm hoping that they take photos of this new arrangement of things and post them on the website.

While at church this morning I got some reassurance from more experienced teachers and friends about my stressful situation at school. I asked and my priest gave me a blessing and a prayer. My friend Ella talked to me about gathering resources among the friends I have both at church and on campus. My Alter Guild head talked to me about how different reality can be from the classroom and she should know, she's a nurse. My friend Wilma, a retired teacher, looked over my basic plans for the first subject which I will pick up in a week and said they were okay and that I seemed to be on the right track. I have enough material that I'm ready to type up something for my CT and will ask her to try to help me gauge if I have enough to fill an hour of teaching time for the subject. I'm supposed to be over prepared for time filling. I've really tried on this. I even downloaded a cute power point presentation on finding the adjective in a sentence which is adding in technology, so I feel fairly well prepared. Friday's are the assessment day and I have a 10 question quiz in mind with an extra point question which will let each student take off one wrong answer if they attempt it and get it right. So going to church this morning was definitely the right thing to do. I feel much better. And that's enough sentences starting with the "I" word. Peace, Hope & Joy and may you have a Happy Sunday.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Latest in Car Repairs

At 9:00 today I went down to the dealership, cold and all, and turned over the keys to my car. About an hour later they come and tell me that it is a couple of codes dealing with the emission system. The bill would run $279 but they would give me a 10% discount. I was very grateful for the reduction in price. With tax that turned out to be the entire amount. So once again the check engine light is back off and we will wait and see if it comes on again.

I really hope it doesn't. This past month I've spent just over $1000 on this little warning light. I know that if I keep the car in good running condition it will save me money. I just wish all of this would happen when I'm working again and not student teaching for free.

I'm back home now and getting ready to head to bed. San, I took your advice and brought something fun to read with me. I never got around to that book though because I first worked a sudoku and then started putting together lesson plan ideas. At least I have something I can put down on paper later. Now the trick will be to make those single ideas into a weeks worth of lessons...with more than just one activity per lesson. Keep those prayers ascending please.


Friday, September 28, 2007

A Really Rough Week

This was the week every student teacher dreads. It's the one where you get your first formal observations. Mine didn't go well. I was already on shaky ground having a Cooperating Teacher who didn't want to share her classroom. I'm told that every teacher feels this way but I think that here it was worse than normal. After my observations there was a huge conference between myself and the administration of the school. I was there for part of it but after I left my supervisor asked that I be given a different classroom. They did. I'm now teaching in 3rd grade instead of 1st. This teacher also is very uncomfortable about giving up her classroom and she has never had a student teacher before. The biggest difference here is that she is teaching to the TEKS which means that as long as I teach to those she will be happy and I can write my own lesson plans or follow hers or modify them as I see fit. Yeah! I won't be stuck in a script that doesn't fit. I'm hopeful and eager to get started and show that I really can teach.

That is the upside of the situation. On the down side, I have to gather together my subjects in less than the normal amount of time. In one week I'll be picking up 2 subjects instead of the usual one. The week I pick up my 5th and final subject I'll be starting my Full Teach. So there is a lot of pressure on me to perform extremely well, better than my best. I'm going to put forth every effort to do this. I will gather what resources I have to help me think of creative ideas. I will make sure I know what my CT planned and write my lessons either around that or to the TEK they follow. She said she would be happy either way.

So, with all this stress going on in my life I woke up this morning to find that I had come down with a cold. My throat is killing me, my nose is running, I don't think I'm running a fever but I'm taking aspirin for the throat. I'm going to bed early. I have to sit in the car shop tomorrow to get my check engine light diagnosed for the 3rd time in a month. Please, please, puleeese! Keep me in your prayers. I could really use them. Peace!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Friend :-)

There's a new link in my "Friend's Blogs" area of my side bar. It's San's blog, Life With a View. She is a very interesting lady who happens to be close to my age, paints, owns an art gallery, and happily finds me interesting. Thanks San!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Something to Think About

Yesterday my PC gave me a paradigm about competence. It gave me food for thought so I'm sharing it. There are 4 levels of competence. From worst to best they go like this.

1) Unconscious Incompetence

2) Conscious Incompetence

3) Conscious Competence

4) Unconscious Competence

I seem to be spending time in the 2nd level right now but there are moments when I'm at the 3rd. I expect there will be more moments of level 3 as I get better at teaching. Someday, I hope I will experience some level 4 moments. Peace, Hope, and Joy!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Me? Busy? Hah!

When it is more important that you sit in fellowship hall and script out lessons than make it to Sunday School just might be busy. (g)

This upcoming week I'm giving 5 lessons in Math to my student teaching classroom. Not being familiar with the lesson and activities, I have to think of what to say and write this down to be clear to my students. Knowing me, I'm sure there will be some mistakes, but as all my friends, my supervisor, and I keep telling me, "This is a learning experience."

So, I've scripted out 2 lessons and have 3 to go before the day is over. If you are one of my friends who lovingly check on my blog regularly and miss me posting, please forgive me, keep me in your prayers, and call if you feel the urge.

And now, back to the scripting.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Path of Life

We dedicated the new labyrinth tonight at church. It happened after prayers, dinner and games. Night had come on and when we got to the garden where the labyrinth now resides we found the darkness lit by dozens of little candles set out at various points along the pathway that is its journey. We each were given a candle and all gathered around the edge and listened while our pastor, Robert, talked about how we had been envisioning this labyrinth since our beginning. We said the Renewal Prayer and the Labyrinth Blessing. Then everyone who needed to went home and the children started running all over the place pretending they were walking the labyrinth. They didn't know the rules yet but they had the general idea. A couple of them were chasing each other around the circles. It was kind of cute.

When most of the people had cleared out I started walking. I was joined by Patsy, Edwin, Marion and a woman I recognize but don't know. We all moved along the path at our own pace. I was slow at the turns and rather fast on the straight way. I kept thinking that it mimicked the journey I'd taken through life on the road to becoming a teacher and it was predicting how I would move as I progressed in my career. Sometimes I would go fast and smoothly and sometimes I'd slow down and do turns or pay attention to details. I walked to the center, turned and faced each of the 4 directions, then walked my way back out. On the way out I took off my shoes. That made me feel connected to the earth. I finished and sat on the risers watching the others walk. It looked like a choreographed dance of life. Sometimes you were right next to someone going in the same way and sometimes you passed each other coming from opposite directions. Every time you were near to someone you eventually parted from them.

When everyone had finished walking, Marion and Patsy explained to me why they would walk the outer rim. It has something to do with the lunar cycle which is feminine and there are 28 crescents cut into the edge in each quarter. It is this which is supposed to attract us to this method of prayer. This place will only get more beautiful. We all felt that to be true. It looks like a path which is going to take us forward and become a blending of our gifts to the community we are a part of.

Making a connection with this imagery by being at the end of life's path, Madeleine L'Engle died yesterday at age 88. L'Engle was part of my growing up. I loved her Wrinkle in Time series. She was the first author I ever read who wrote faith into their story telling. I discovered her work when I was in college and later shared a book she wrote with my mother. It was "Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art". Mother has always been more reflective in her reading than I am. I prefer the fun of a good story. The story I read said she died of natural causes. I'm going to assume she had lived a full and happy life, it was her time, and she was ready to go.

Tonight after walking the labyrinth, L'Engle's passing reminds me even more of the view of people passing, meeting and then moving on. She too is part of the labyrinthine path of life. I hope her path through heaven is soft and joyous.

Dangerous Website Shopping Spree Update

The items from Land's End came in. The shoes are nice and comfy. The picture of the skirt in white is from the Land's End web page. The one I ordered is in light flax. It didn't match my jacket, but I have other things it will go with. The messenger bag is huge. It came with a light that requires recharging and makes the bag visible a long way in the dark. I doubt I'll use the light. This one came with a laptop sleeve and I don't have a laptop. I'll probably stick a legal pad or two in there to give me note taking paper. That dates me some. When I was young a large purse was a hiding place for paperbacks and all kinds of food. I'd still carry the food.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Car Repairs & Odds and Ends

Yesterday, just as I was heading to my seminar at UTSA's 1604 campus, my check engine light came on. Even though I've been told that it often isn't an emergency, I find that kind of situation scary. Still, believing what I'd been told, that it was safe to drive the car till I could get it into a shop, I determined to forge ahead and get to my class on time. Actually, I was way early. Once there I took out my cell phone and set a repair appointment.

Can you believe it? We now have to set appointments for cars as well as our selves, our families, and our pets. I guess that for all the damage that gas burning cars do to the environment, we still have a booming car business in here in the US. So much so that the car doctors are overbooked.

I went back to my campus, and then home when the day ended. After dutifully feeding Hyram and Hooboo, I headed over to drop the car at the dealership. I figured I'd need a rental. I had towing and rental reimbursement on my policy but when I tried to use it I found that it only happened when an accident had happened. Of course I found this out over at the car rental place. When my insurance didn't cover a rental I called Toyota back and they agreed to cover the cost of the rental for 1 day. This was very gracious of them. The car I was given to drive was a silver PT Cruiser. That is a pretty neat looking car but I'm not impressed with the ride. Still, it would get me to where I needed to be so I didn't complain...or at least not too much.

When the dealership called me at home a little later, after the diagnostics, they told me I needed my timing belt and the two drive belts replaced. That hadn't been what caused the light to come on. That problem was something to do with the internal funnel that you put the gas nozzle down into when you fill the car. It had come loose and was leaking gas even though I turned the gas cap past the clicking point every time. When they told me the bill I realized I might eventually need to change some of my planned expenditures. A three belt repair is pretty expensive.

Today after a full day at my campus I went to pick up my car. Wow! She feels peppy! When I step on the gas the acceleration is great! The a/c is wonderful. Everything seems to be in sync. She feels like a new car again. And the ride is wonderful. Even with the nasty bill I had to pay, I know that the car will now go another few years in pretty good shape. Now I guess I should probably go out and clean out the trash in the back seat to make the inside as nice as what's under the hood.

I've got a new movie in from Netflix. It's "The Last King of Scotland." I'm not sure if this is a good movie or a bad one but the trailer I watched caught my attention. I think I remember hearing a good recommendation from a friend too. So that's on the watch list for this weekend.

Most of my school work for tomorrow is done. I have the lesson material for the next set of lessons copied so I can conceivably get a head start on them. I talked to my CT and we decided to go with the lessons as I have them but expect to possibly split one of them up as the schedule she is usually on is about a day behind right now. Well, heck, I can be flexible. I think she is worried because at the speed we teach at there is almost no time to make up something if you skip a day.

I'm also thinking that I may have found the best way of handling my exhaustion for this school work. Or at least until I get through this semester. The past couple of nights I've gone to sleep early. I don't usually sleep till the news is on. Lately, however, I've been so exhausted I fell right asleep the minute I put my head down. Last night that was 7:40. No, I didn't get any homework done last night. This morning however, I woke up at about 3:00 and an hour and a half later I was awake enough to do some decent and efficient homework. I got both lesson plans written and started catching up on one of the surveys. This is what I used to do during the summers when I was going to school and not working. I even have a nice productive play list set up to help me get in the rhythm. So maybe the secret to surviving this semester is to sleep early which takes care of my mental and physical challenges and then get up early refreshed with a couple of hours of time to kill before I need to be anywhere. I think I'll give it a try.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Simple and Fun Test for Your Amusement

My good friend JS always has fun ideas. She took the crayon color test and is yellow. I took it and....Wow! I'm yellow too! (G) Thanks JS!

You Are a Yellow Crayon

Your world is colored with happy, warm, fun colors.
You have a thoughtful and wise way about you. Some people might even consider you a genius.
Charming and eloquent, you are able to get people to do things your way.
While you seem spontaneous and free wheeling, you are calculating to the extreme.

Your color wheel opposite is purple. You both are charismatic leaders, but purple people act like you have no depth.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Dangerous Website

The other day a friend and I went shopping. We were being unsuccessful so she suggested I look at Land's End. They are holding their seasonal sale and we both had their sale catalogs at home. I checked on their webpage and found a lovely pair of camel colored ballet flats which will do for work with lots of things in my closet. Being unsure which size to get, I called and ordered by phone. While on the phone I was told that if the shoes didn't fit I could take them to my local Sears store for return. Wow! No standing in line at the Post Office to mail out packages! Then she asked if I had anything else I wanted. I didn't but she told me that I had till 10:00 PM to call and add things to the order if I changed my mind. This is where it got dangerous.

While the shoes were a mere $20, I needed a purse that would hold more then the one I currently use. So, I shopped until I found a messenger bag and selected black as the most neutral color. This also went for a mere $20. I called and added it to the order which moved out of the bargain range into the merely reasonable. Then, because I've put on weight and am shuffling through different pairs of pants to look nice at work, I shopped for pants. There was nothing in pants I wanted but I did stumble across a long, washable, linen skirt that was going for $40 instead of the original $70. It seemed to come in the color to match a jacket I'd bought earlier so I called again. We looked but I'd bought the jacket too far back to be in their records. We checked color descriptions and decided that my jacket matched the flax description. So this too was added to the order. Now the bill is way out of the bargain range.

I'm stopping!!! I laughingly told the sales clerk that I was getting off their website before I blew my budget and she laughed with me. My purchases will be here within the week. If everything fits I'll be happy. If they don't I can return things to the Sears along Loop 410.

I'm sure there are a few caveats I should consider. Flax isn't the preferred color for interviewing, that's supposed to be gray, black or navy. Tough! I'm not wearing a hot color in hot weather. Messenger bags probably don't look professional enough, unless made of leather, when going to I won't carry it there...I'll change to a leather purse. For now it'll work for all the stuff I need to haul around while student teaching. Yep, Land's End is a dangerous website.

Firefox & Blogger Headaches

For the past 24 hours, I've not been able to easily access my blob. I can download the page but when it comes to logging on and doing any control work Firefox says there is a problem with verifying the certificate in OCSP (hope I got those letters in the right order). I tried rebooting and that didn't work. I had to change to IE Tab view in order to get access to my dashboard, moderate comments, and join blogger help discussions. Right now I'm posting in IE Tab. Sigh!

I don't want to have to always use IE. It doesn't load as quickly and to my mind isn't as secure as Firefox. I couldn't find anything on the discussion boards about this issue. The only thing I've done recently whch might be contributing to this is that I just upgraded my security software. I installed McAfee's Total Protection package. It's a really nice package which includes just about everything you'd want in computer security. I hope it isn't causing this problem. I vaguely remember a quick blurb on the blogger help page saying don't worry about our certificate. Well, I'm worrying now. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions about how to fix this so that I don't have to constantly use the IE workaround I'd really appreciate it if they'd post them in my comments. Thanks!

My headache is fixed, temporarily. I went into Firefox and looked very carefully at the certificate options page. It has one where I didn't have to use OCSP. So I selected it. Now I can log on without changing to IE. But I'd still like to know why it changed. So I suppose I need to go and look up certificates to determine how OCSP works. In the mean time, I can once again not have to struggle to log in to post or post blog comments.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

God's Light

I was lay minister for early service today. My mind wasn't quite on task. It had been a busy week full of ups and downs. Even though I got to church early, I spent time prior to the service reading the lesson, helping the altar guild person, talking to our new seminarian. So things didn't go quite perfect during the service.

I didn't mind stumbling in the reading. I covered the one slip pretty well. Prayer went really well with suitable pauses for silence when appropriate. When I got to the altar service part it went a little off. I let the railing pillow slip and it landed with a rather loud thud which seemed to echo to my embarrassed ears. The wine service went okay but I seemed to be hurrying a bit. Maybe the past week had put me in be quick and productive mode. Then we were getting ready to leave the altar. The priest was putting the cover back on the chalice. I thought about when I needed to go and get the candle snuffer and realized, "Oh my gosh! I forgot to light the candles!" So as we were leaving I whispered to Robert, "Should I fake putting out the candles? Or just go?" He said we'd just go. And so we did.

Afterwards we all laughed about it. Robert teased me that Jesus wasn't there. I declared that God's Light had been shining from our eyes. No one disagreed with me. But I felt pretty silly. It just seemed to cap an entire week of stumbling. But you know, none of the parish members said a thing. Maybe they didn't notice but more likely they wanted me to feel good in spite of my mistakes. So if you've ever served as Lay Minister for a church service and felt klutzy and foolish, I pray that you will remember my mishaps and know that, "If the service is perfect then it isn't for Jesus. He died for the imperfect, and that is most certainly me." Later the priest told me he hadn't even noticed the candles till I told him. Whew!

Peace, Hope & Joy!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Rain, Meetings, and Chocolate!

We have rain here! Yesterday afternoon, as I was leaving WalMart, I had to run to the car in it. Yay! I hadn't gotten wet with rain in a long time and felt totally like a kid again. Rain is cool! And we are going to have it all this weekend.

On Thursday as the school day was ending, My CT and I had a meeting with the Principal. She talked to me about the high expectations that they held for me. The feedback I gave her helped me clarify some things. Then my CT and I went back to our classroom and relocated the desks of several students whose behavior we hoped to improve by seating them next to other children.

Thursday night I called a good friend and talked about the challenges of student teaching. She was a great ear and had some good advice. Then yesterday I counseled with my supervisor who had more good advice. She reminded me that I'm still supposed to be merely observing and figuring out how this teacher does things. That's all I'm supposed to be doing...not helping...not interacting with the students...just watching. I can do that. I also need to remain aware that this CT is not going to be my friend and maintain a professional relationship with her. I can do that too. It isn't what I'd hoped to do. I learned tons from my last two CTs who have both become friends. I'm sure I'll learn a lot from this CT too. We just may never get to where we really like each other much. I do hope I can gain her respect. That's vital.

When I was at WalMart I found some of the things I need to help me organize the semester. I got a clear plastic filing box that wasn't too expensive. I really wanted a filing drawer but they were expensive. So I elected for something stackable and affordable. I also discovered the wonderful selection of chocolates that WalMart now carries. I was amazed and delighted. So much so that I bought 3 bags of dark chocolate and one bar. None of this was cheap but the choices were good. There was Ghirardelli, Green & Black, Hershey's Cacao Reserve, Cot d'Or, Lindt and a few others I can't remember. I aimed for chocolate that had at least 70% cacao in it. I've read somewhere that this high level of cacao is necessary for effective serotonin results. I'm not sure about that but it certainly tastes better. The Cot d'Or had 86%. Wow!