Monday, December 27, 2010

Relocating again...

Let's see. I moved from Aiken, SC to San Antonio, TX. To Austin. To Green Bay, WI. To Littleton, CO. And finally to Las Vegas, NV. If you had asked me oh, say, ANYTIME before I actually moved here if I would EVER live in Las Vegas, I would have bet you a bazillion dollars the answer would have been no. Too bad you didn't bet me that, cause you'd now have a bazillion dollars! But, here we are. And apparently, here we shall stay. I will not pretend this is my favorite place to live, but it certainly has its benefits. The weather is spectacular - with the obvious exceptions of July and August. Larry loves his job. Everybody makes it here eventually, so we have seen friends we probably never would have seen if we'd lived anywhere else. And we have no lack of great entertainment, that is for sure!

All signs point to the fact that we are probably going to be here awhile. SO, we bit the bullet and bought a house. It's a small house in the neighborhood where we have been renting for the past 18 months. We love our neighborhood because it has a lot of kids who love to play outside, the people are friendly and nice and all of the houses are one-story. Seems like an odd thing to love, but I'll tell you why we love one-story houses. They are rare and precious in Vegas. Land costs so much here that they put houses practically on top of each other in order to house the 2 million plus people who lived here during the boom. And since land was so expensive, houses couldn't be sprawling they became towering three-story stucco McMansions approximately 4 inches from the (mostly identical) stucco McMansion next door. In June, July and August (and really into September), that makes for $700+ monthly electric bills. Um. Nope. This past summer, we paid $220 as our highest bill in our one-story. Still expensive, but when it's 115+ outside every single day for two months, well...

We also love a one-story house because it is so very desirable here in Vegas. While every other neighborhood in Vegas (including the really chi-chi ones) has foreclosures on every street that linger for months and months, ours has absolutely none. When a for-sale sign appears in a yard, there are lines of folks interested in buying here. Of course, there are foreclosures (we are buying one...) but they go fast. Since we do NOT plan to live in Vegas forever and ever, amen...we are excited that this neighborhood offers such a great resale value.

So, that was a long story to tell you that we bought a house! We are very excited, and I will post photos soon. We closed last week and are having tile put in this week. We hope to be moving in the first week-ish of January. The house has a small pool (yay!) and is on a corner, so the lot is probably three times the size of any lot in the neighborhood. It's a well-built, nice house. It's nothing fancy nor is it really anything to write home about...yet. What we like about the house is its potential. Divine hubby and I have spent many enjoyable hours discussing what we can do, how we can do it and if we should do it. We have plans you can't even imagine at this point and are enjoying thinking about the possibilities.

So, pictures coming soon...but remember they will be "before" pics. We are looking forward to the journey of fixing up our non-fixer-upper and will share pics with you!

Anybody else get a house for Christmas? Thanks, divine hubby! Mwah.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I am sure there isn't anyone out there still checking my blog, but just on the off chance that my mom hasn't quite given up on's a new post!

What's been going on since September 3, you ask? Oh, not much. I've taught two full quarters of writing to special ed students, given tests, grades, discipline, praise, and hired the occasional sub. I got a couple of birthday presents, several Christmas presents and the occasional complaint that class was too hard, too easy, too boring, too stupid, too name it, and it's too much of it. I took (and passed with A's) four classes in my graduate program, which really should be against the law. On Monday and Tuesday nights, I went to work at 6:45am, only to return home by 10:30pm most days. Then, since I didn't have time to do any work after school, I was up at 4am to work and then back to actual work at 6:45am again. Can I tell you how happy I am to have all of that over with? Well, until January 18 when I have three more grad school classes to manage. Thankfully, one of them is online, so I will only have to go to UNLV from 4-10 on Monday nights.

As a teacher, one thing I have discovered is that most of the assignments I give are too boring. Unless they are too hard. :) I've discovered that most kids don't do homework. Even if it's assigned. Even if I make them write it down in their planners, even if it's only writing three sentences on a piece of paper and bringing it in the next day. Even if it is for a grade, for heaven's sake. So, I don't really assign homework much. I have gotten some grief for that from parents, but interestingly enough, those parents who complain are parenting the very kids I can count on NOT to bring the homework in. I think that's weird. I have attended more PTC's than I can count (teacher-speak for parent-teacher conference), but rarely for the ones who actually NEED a PTC.

I have written six IEP's and subsequently held six annual IEP meetings. With varying success, but none were disasters. I was very nervous for the first two or three, but have felt more in the swing of it with the last few. I have learned how to write present levels, accommodations and goals...and I've learned what happens if you don't plan ahead for a month in which you have three IEP's due back to back as well as three long weekends.

I have learned which students I love. And how to love the students I really don't love. I have learned that sometimes the student you love the least needs love the most. And I've learned that that is hard. I've learned to ask forgiveness instead of permission (most of the time), and I've learned to lean on my colleagues when I need to. I've learned that I married very well, and that my son can make it through the day (or several) without seeing me and still survive. I have also learned that a healthy dose of humor in a difficult situation can be life-saving.

I don't know if my students have learned a thing from me, frankly, but I have to be given credit for effort. It's a strange thing to be responsible for teaching students with special needs...but not given the information or tools to do it. It's a strange job where you have several AHA moments every day as you discover what you've been doing wrong. It's a strange job when you are given a class that no one has ever taught before in our school, where there is no curriculum, books or guidelines at all, and told to "have fun and be creative." Um, HUH? Can I tell you how much I hate my study skills class? HATE IT! Picture a class bulging at the seams with every single behavior-problem in the school and picture how hard it is to teach when there is no curriculum and I just have to make it up. Oh, yeah, and it's last period too. Give me English any day of the week!

So, that's what has been going on. I have been working myself to death, crying a fair amount, making wonderful bonds with an amazing group of friends, writing papers, doing projects, tutoring, taking tests, writing lesson plans, IEP's, modifying tests and homework, attending PTC's, grading, entering grades, creating tests and writing assignments, all while attempting to take 12 hours of graduate-level work and oh, yes, be a wife and mom.

I still have a 4.0, by the way... :)