Sunday, August 30, 2009

What's Gnu With You?

I'm a bit tired, but I felt I should give a "gnus" brief on what's been going on in my life (mostly because I can't remember who I have told and who I have not told...)

What's gnu with my job: Up until this summer, I have been teaching with an emergency teaching license, one that expires every year, but is renewable for up to three years if there is still an emergency need. Well, after some intense work the last few months (April and May were pretty insane, not to mention the Praxis II in June), I now have a permanent license. Unfortunately, the school I was at does not currently have an open position (nor the funds from the district yet to create the much needed Spanish teaching position I know they would like to have).

So. Here is what I am currently doing. I am part of a newly developed teaching cadre, made up mostly of displaced teachers (mostly RIFed teachers, newly graduated teachers, or ones in my type of situation). We have been getting trained in various areas during August- mostly involving IPS policies and what the district feels are the "best practices" for all teachers to utilize in the classroom.

What we will do come September 1st is fill in for teachers who will be called out to receive specialized training in Language Arts and Math. Yes, technically, we are substitutes, but not your average sub. What makes us different: 1. We won't be filling in just because a teacher called in sick or has a family emergency. All of our assignments are pre-planned on a monthly basis. 2. Unlike most subs, we are all licensed teachers, many of us with experience in the classroom. 3. We are primarily focused on the Language Arts and Math content areas (though we will also have to help elementary teachers get professional development, so on those days, we will obviously be covering all subjects that elementary teacher normally covers).

Now, since the district may still have positions that open up (either because of numbers that are larger than anticipated or because of surplus funding or whatever), we will generally be the first ones to be considered for those positions. So, this means I might be doing this for the whole year, or a matter of weeks or months. It's hard to say. Still, I am fine rolling with the punches for right now. For me, the biggest plus side is that I don't have to worry about grades or grading, and only minimal worry about lesson plans (teachers are supposed to provide those, but I know from experience that not all do, so I will need to be prepared in case that happens...).

So, that is what I will be doing for work this school year (oh, and I will still be putting in hours at the ol' Barrel on Saturdays, as usual...)

What's gnu with church: Okay, not much really in this category. Since I turned 30 this year, I have until my next birthday before they kick me out of the singles' branch (unless I miraculously find one with whom I would gladly spend eternity and we get married before that next birthday... but don't hold your breath, Mom). Rather than stay until I am kicked out, my plan is to slowly transition out. I will go to the Carmel Ward with Rachel about once a month until the end of December. Then, in January, I will make the switch official and complete and have my records transferred over.

What's gnu with other things: Well, I know I told at least some of you that I would be auditioning for the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir. I was really rather nervous- it's been awhile since I have done singing outside of a church choir. But the audition went relatively well, and I was notified a couple of days ago that I have been invited to join! I am really excited about this! I love singing, and I am looking forward to singing challenging music that will help me develop this talent! I will also be re-joining the handbell choir I joined in April, so that is another talent I look forward to improving.

I think that pretty much covers what I will be doing with my life this coming year... if you feel I have missed something, you are welcome to let me know and I will fill you in on whatever you want...

I'm done now.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm baaaaaaack...

So, it really has been a pretty crazy summer, going here and there and almost everywhere. Sadly, due to a temporarily (I hope) dysfunctional computer, I am typing this post at the library, meaning I will not be able to post photos of the following items at this time. (I may post photos later, if I think about it- and if I can find the time- school is coming up PDQ...)
After such a long absence from the digital and blogging world, I now present... (drumroll please...)

Elise's Top 10 Funsies of the Summer of '09!
(small disclaimer: due to the fantastic nature of most of these funsies, they do not appear in any particular order, since most of them tie for the top position)

5. High Praxis II Score!
Many of you know that I was really stressed about this test. After all, it would be one of the key determining factors in whether or not I would be eligible for a permanent teaching license. After some cramming, and a lot of prayers (and patience as I waited for the results to post), I found that I got 192 out of 200! I also received a commendation from the testing company, saying that this score was in the top 15% of test takers! (It is so nice to have that overwith... whew!)

4. New T.V. Show Obsessions
Thanks to the limping economy that has all full-time Cracker Barrel servers desperately needing hours, part-timers (such as myself) have been left with an excess of time. When I wasn't traveling to and fro this summer, I was spending all this valuable extra time in the oh-so-productive-efforts of getting addicted to new shows! Well, by new, I mean new to me- shows that have been around but that I hadn't yet really watched...until now. June was devoted to watching the entire 1-season series Firefly (a fantastic Joss Whedon creation that should have lasted much longer) and its follow-up movie, Serenity. I loved the down-to-earth vision of the future and the unique facets each character brought to the show. Very well done.
Free time in July was spent getting hooked on Psych- a hilarious show about a pseudo-psychic who solves crimes with his uber-observant skills. I watched the first season in under a week; the second season took a little longer only because travels interrupted the viewing. I am currently waiting to borrow season 3 from a friend (unless Hollywood has it for rent; Blockbuster disappointed me.) Both shows are definitely worth the time invested in watching them...

3. 48 Hours... of Reading.
When Genny D. first mentioned some national event trying to get readers to spend 48 hours of their time in recreational reading, it sounded like a fun idea. I was unable to participate on the official days, but I took a couple of days to do my own read-a-thon. It has been so long since I have just had time to sit and read without allowing myself to get distracted with other things that I thoroughly enjoyed those two days. Granted, I did have a few other things I had to do (eat, sleep, shower), so it wasn't 48 hours of straight reading, but I got several books read (and started a couple more that I am still working on). I think I will have to make time for something like this every year!

2. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince
Out of the series, this is one of my favorite books (it ties with Prisoner of Azkaban for the top spot). As such, I'll admit my expectations were pretty high. It was hard to register a fair opinion after the first viewing because of all the inevitable alterations (as Beckie always says, if you want the books, read the books...). That being said, I have now seen it four times (twice in IMAX 3-D). My "complaints" are relatively minor. I think the movie is fantastic and very well done, and I think it will lead nicely into the next two movies, despite what purists may say... (my only big complaint is Ginny, but that's for another post).

1. 4th of July
This year, Juli and I got to spend the 4th with friends in northern Indiana. Seeing as how I hadn't seen these friends in a few years, it was a thoroughly delightful trip. I had such a great time talking with them and catching up with all that is going on... while the fireworks were fun, the best part of the weekend was the entertaining conversations.

1. Birthday Book with Emily
Earlier in June, I got to spend a night with Emily helping her put together what is called an "altered" book (basically taking an existing book and, using paint and gesso and colorful papers and stamps and photos and other such things, turning it into a personal scrapbook/album). Acutally, about the only thing I did to help was pick out the paper. She did all the work. Still, it was fun to watch her (I really want to try this kind of project on my own someday), fun to talk with her, fun to get some time with her- which is far too rare a treat. Thank you, Emily, for a charming book and a delightful evening!

1. Beckie's Homecoming
After spending a year working in Iraq, Beckie finally came home for good. As she will point out, it's not like we never saw her during the year or so she was gone. Still, it was hard having her so far away for that long. Her return resulted in a family reunion, which was a lot of fun (it was nice to see the stress kept to a minimum). I'm so glad I got to be there for that, and even more glad that she won't be quite so far away. Seeing as how she is now closer to the KC side of MO, there will definitely be some road trip plans for the KC area!

1. Wicked
When Juli first played me the soundtrack to this musical, I thought it was amazing! I got even more excited when she found out it would be coming to Indy (I wasn't able to attend when she, Beckie and Kyle went in St. Louis about a year and a half ago). As I drove down to watch the show, I was a little apprehensive- due to experiences with The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon, I was afraid I might somehow end up a little disappointed as I had with those shows. Fortunately, such was not the case here. The whole show from beginning to end was fantastic! I was mesmerized the entire time! Granted, there were a few things I might have changed had I been the director, but I was anything but disappointed. It was wonderful! I would so see it again in a heartbeat!

1. Six Flags-Great America (Chicago)
I love roller coasters! As much as I enjoyed Disney World (more on that in a bit), it didn't quite satiate my desire for thrilling rides. So when the opportunity came to join Esther Morris and Annie and her husband Darren for a day-trip to the Six Flags in Chicago, I jumped at the chance. Despite a frustrating drive through Illinois that morning (and an even more frustrating one through the overly humongous city and suburbs of Chicago), I spent a good 8 hours riding some of the best roller coasters and rides I have ever experienced- The Raging Bull (no loops, but super high and super fast!), the classic Batman, the Superman (where you are actually situated belly-down so you can see all that crazy open air below you!), Vertical Velocity (similar to the Mr. Freeze in St. Louis, I believe)- even the older, classic wooden coaster, the Viper, had twists and turns enough to make my stomach drop several times! We also took time for some of the tamer rides- the Tilt-a-whirl, the Scrambler, the swinging chairs... It was a day well spent!

1. Walt Disney World
When I first heard of Disney's free birthday pass promotion, I didn't really think I would actually be able to take advantage of that. Thanks to some savings, and to some very generous sisters, this birthday wish came to pass! Sarah and I flew down to Florida for a few days so that I could spend my birthday at Disney World. We stayed at a nice resort a few miles away (cheaper than the Disney resorts, but still so nice!). While we didn't get to the park until about noon, we still got to spend a good 11 hours enjoying the many rides (they don't specialize in thrills- it is, after all, aimed primarily at kids- but they have some great scenery and effects!), some tasty (though pricey) food, and all the shops. I loved the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (they have added Jack Sparrow into several of the scenes) and the Jungle Tour and the Haunted Mansion (one of my favorites). It was fun walking through the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (I used to think it would be so much fun to live there!) I think my favorite ride was Splash Mountain (Unfortunately, Space Mountain was closed for repairs until later this year...grrrr.)
Besides the rides, two other things that made this one of the best birthdays I have ever had:
First, so many people wishing me happy birthday (thanks to the birthday button they gave me at the entrance)- it was nice to get such friendly smiles and warm wishes, even from total strangers!
Second, the fireworks. Truly, it was one of the most spectacular fireworks shows I have ever seen. Sarah and I just sat on the ground, gazing up in awe. I felt like a kid again (for a 30-year-old, that was something!)- I was just so enthralled and delighted with the incredible lights and colors of the fireworks. I had felt that I deserved an amazing 30th birthday, and I feel that that is exactly what I got. It was worth every penny spent and will not soon be forgotten!

Okay, so there you have it- 10 of the best, most fun moments/days of my summer.
It's good to be back!
Now, I just have to get ready for school... :S