Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yep, That Happened

So this one time last night I sat in bed with the TV on, a giant bag of school work sitting on the side of the bed, the computer on my lap, and the dog sprawled out next to me.  When out of the corner of my eye I noticed SOMETHING running along the bedroom wall.  At first I thought it was a spider or some kind of insect.  "Oh my god!" I shouted when I focused and realized there was a small lizard IN MY HOUSE.  It scurried underneath the armoire.  I jumped out of bed, my stomach in knots, wondering what I was going to do.  After waiting for a bit to see if it came out from the other side of the dresser, I secretly hoped it wouldn't because I had no idea how I was going to capture it.  The dresser stands on legs about 6 inches tall so I lay down on the floor and nervously peeked under the dresser.  That lizard was right smack in the middle of the back of it.  After a few seconds Rigby woke up and joined me down on the floor.  I thought about pointing it out to her but didn't really want a dead or partially dead lizard in my house either.
I scrunched my face up and whined knowing that I had to figure something out and not wanting to.  But I couldn't just leave it there.  So the sides of the dresser were barricade in case it tried to come out, it would have to use the front.  Armed with a trashcan, I made a lot of noise and smacked a flip flop on the ground trying to get it to move.  The lizard moved in between the base board and the carpet.  I think it might have been trying to crawl under the carpet.  So that wasn't working.  Rigby was left in charge of guarding the lizard as I ran downstairs and grabbed a broom and large, handled dustpan.  Things were getting serious!
Panic set in when, while running back up the stairs, Rigby met me halfway.  "You're supposed to be watching the lizard!" I told her, worried that now it was running loose in the house and I'd never find it until it was grown and tried to crawl into bed with me.  (shivers)  The lizard was still under the armoire. Thankfully?
After a few pokes with the broom and screams when it moved, it tried to run out the side (I had to unblock it because it was too dark to see).  I stopped and regrouped, trying to logically solve this problem.  There were a few whimpers about the situation, and then I pulled it together.  The dustpan JUST fit between the side of the dresser and the wall so I held it there while lying on the floor with the broom in the other hand.  I tapped the area right behind the lizard with the broom, gradually moving it towards the side where the dustpan was.  When it was finally was in plain sight, the broom brought it forward and into the dustpan.  There were a few dicey moments with the thing trying to crawl out of the pan, but with a lot of quick movements (and screaming), I kept the lizard inside.  I ran back down the stairs, shaking that thing to keep the lizard at the bottom and still whining.  But, in the end, I made it outside and dumped it over the fence.  My heart was beating so fast I thought I might have a heart heart attack.  It took me a minute to calm back down, tell myself that there weren't anymore (fingers crossed there isn't a family living under the bed) and resume the work that I was doing before the lizard sighting.  And that was just the beginning of the night.
A few minutes later, Rigby came to me like she does when she needs to go outside.  I got back out of bed, walked out of the bedroom with her, and on the landing that's where I saw it.  Rigby must have been channeling my nervous energy because in the time it took me to go back to work and her to come to me, she had diarrhea all over the 2nd floor landing.  All I wanted to do was get the school work done and go to bed, but instead I let her outside and then went spent the next 30+ minutes cleaning the landing.  Yuck!
I thought maybe I had just freaked her out with all my screaming and shaking the dustpan and broom around.  But no, she was sick.  I had to get up and let her out about five times during the night before around 2:00am when I just left her outside.
Poor baby.  I felt bad,  but she didn't have to get up and go to work in the morning.  Needless to say, today was a LONG day.  Now, I'm back in bed, with another bag full of work.  Rigby is by my side again (so far things seem to be ok intestinally) snoring loudly.  She didn't get much sleep last night either.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Movie and a Book

Earlier this year, the movie The Monuments Men came out in theaters.  It tells the story about a group of allied service men and women who were charged with protecting and finding art during and after World War II.  It boasted a well known cast - George Clooney (who also wrote the screenplay and directed), Matt Damon, Kate Blanchett, and Bill Murray to name a few.  The reviews for the film were meager.  Historians found it to be less than accurate (that's Hollywood for you) and critics found it too comical or light for a war-time film.  I saw it over winter break and liked it.  It was entertaining and opened my eyes to this part of history.  The film made me want to learn more about this hodgepodge group of art historians/professors, artists, architects, and museum curators who donned service gear to save some art.

The movie's screenplay was based on the book of the same name by Robert M. Edsel.  I reserved the eBook from the library about 6 months ago and it finally came available over my summer break.  It was SOOOOO interesting.  I didn't find it a fast read because it jumped back and forth across the WWII timeline.  The jumping was purposeful as the handful of Monuments Men (MFAA) worked with different allied units throughout Western Europe.  A lot of the work and "good stories" happened simultaneously and therefore the back and forth was necessary, just not quickly followed.

Most of the critic reviews complained of the screenplay being a bit too silly and showed the Monuments Men as bumbling comic relief.  But I think that was on purpose to a point.  Many of the MFAA were out-of-shape middle aged men.  They were not soldiers, but professionals who joined the army and were thrown into combat.  They were also a very small group (approx. 10 at any given time) tasked with trying to save the art located in all of Wester Europe.  It wasn't easy to say the least, and they got themselves into a lot of predicaments.  This was a very serious time and the military commanders were usually more concerned with surviving the next battle or surge than saving the art.  The stories told by the members of the MFAA were actually quite comical.

In addition to preserving art and architecture during the fighting of WWII, they also literally went on a treasure hunt to recover the art that had been stolen by the Nazis.  Hitler had stolen art and artifacts from the Jews and the museums in those cities that Germany had occupied.  He hoarded that plundered art for his planned Fuhrer Museum in Linz, Austria.  He also intended to destroy the "degenerate" art created by Jews and modern artists.  

Although a lot of people might say that they don't care about the art during a war or that our armies shouldn't be concerned about it while engaged in combat.  But without these men and women an entire culture would have been destroyed.  By the end of the war, the hoarded art was set to be blown up in various underground mines in Germany and Austria.  Some of the world's most famous art (DaVinci's "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper", van Eyck's "Ghent Altarpiece",  Michelangelo's "Madonna of Bruges", Vermeer's "The Astronomer", and Manets and Rembrandts, and the list goes on and on) was saved before that happened.  Can you imagine an art history class without the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper?  I can't.

While reading this book I was also listening to Daniel Silva's "The English Assassin".  Silva writes spy novels, and this one is the second book of the Gabriel Allon series.  Allon is an art restorer/Mossad intelligence agent.  This particular book was about a former Swiss banker who had been in cahoots with the Nazis during WWII and had several stolen works of art in his collection.  Growing old, the banker had many regrets about his involvement and decided to return the works of art, but he was killed before he could do so.  It was fun and relevant to read the two book at the same time.  The history made for a more meaningful read of a personal (albeit fictional) account of the Jewish families whose art had been stolen and then recovered.

If you have the time, I highly recommend the book.  The movie is also entertaining and gives the gist of the operation.  That period of time fascinates me, and this particular "story" has increased that fascination.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

15 Years

Today was the first day of my 15th year of teaching.  I can hardly believe it, and yet, I can.  The past few days I've been suffering from borderline sadness about returning to work for another school year. As much as I LOVE my new school the last two years have been hard, kid-wise.  I worried that I just didn't have the energy to take on another group of students with severe apathy and behavior problems.  Alas, the mortgage bill arrived last week so I couldn't didn't quit.  Even though the administrators and first grade teachers at my school promised a change this year, I started this morning skeptical; kind of bracing for the 2nd grade tornado that has hit the last two years.  And boy, I was pleasantly surprised at what a nice first day of school it was.  Sure, there are some stinkers, but nothing in comparison.  And the best part...they are excited about learning.  There was a concern that apathy was the new normal these days, but I have been proven wrong...thank goodness.  Of course, we always describe the first day of school as the honeymoon period, and the true colors come out soon after.  But I can say that this year's honeymoon was far better than last year so I am hopeful.

Anyhow, after 34 hours of vacation time unpacking and preparing my classroom (link to the before pictures) coinciding with the construction and painting because, no, it still isn't all done, the room was presentable to begin this morning.

After my bright lime, light blue, and brown color scheme from the previous two years, this turquoise and black decor seems kind of boring (the ugly new paint color doesn't help either), but it's very calm...maybe that was my problem the last two years!?!?!  I'm still without an electronic whiteboard which I have forgotten how to teach without.  However, it's supposed to be installed tomorrow morning.  Fingers crossed!

One day down, 179 more to go!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Just a Dent

My work husband Jason and I went into school today to begin delving into our classroom mess.  Even though we are warned not to go in on the weekends, we decided to brave it together because we could protect each other if anyone tried to steal us, or at least call 911.

The classroom update is FAR from being finished.  I don't even have whiteboards up yet (Yikes)!  But the cupboard painting is finished, so I could start unpacking.

After 6 hours, most of the boxes have been unpacked and most of the books have been returned to the classroom library.
The floor has been spotted!  So at least a dent has been made.  In fact I stayed a little longer after this photo was taken and unpacked and broke-down those six boxes in the middle of the picture before I left.

Getting started on this room is really all I've thought about this past week, so I'm glad to have gotten a few hours in today.  It's taken the edge off a bit.

Friday, August 1, 2014

I'm Getting Worried

Can we all just take a moment to digest that kids will be starting school in my classroom in 11 days, and this is what that classroom looks like right now...
At the end of last school year (which seems like yesterday btw) the rooms in my wing of the school had to be packed up and stripped down to the bare walls.  Excitingly, some refurbishing of the old rooms was going to take place over the summer.  I've got a lot of stuff so the packing was kind of a pain, but I kept telling myself that it was worth it for a much needed update.
Even though school has been out since June 14, the rooms STILL aren't done.  Typical construction speed.  Typical school project speed.  The two don't combine well at all!  My principal has been standing on her head to get the workers to finish, but time is running out.
With only 6 weekdays (we can't go in on the weekends anymore) left before school starts, panic is setting in.  I need a week to set up the room/prepare for the new year after summer break when I don't have to unpack and reorganize.
Yesterday, my friend Tami asked me, "Are you freaking out?"  Yep!  I'm totally freaking out!!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Exercise at Home

I saw this online today...
I've got one like that!  My only defense at this point is to push her off...while laughing.  She thinks it's a game, and the paws go flailing - stepping on my stomach, chest, neck, and head.  
And this morning, I did eight push-ups with a stuffed, squeaky dinosaur toy sitting on my back.  Rigby brought it to me and set it on the flat of my back.  A gift! 
About half the time, she waits patiently on her bed or by the back door looking out the window when I work out.  The other times she thinks me being down on the floor means it's time for some fun.  It's very endearing, but a pain nonetheless.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Some Sharing

I've been something of a hermit this month, not really motivated to do anything outside of my home.  Every couple of days or so I come out of hiding and do something social before holing back up again with my around-the-house projects and my art supplies.  To be honest, the art supplies have outranked the around-the-house projects on most days.  The last I shared, I had finished up a journal and was working on making a new one.  About half of it has been filled this month.  A few to share...
For some reason sketching had been put on the back burner this year.  I've been working on it a bit more...  
I bought a larger palette box so I could add some new colors which has also been fun.
I think I struggled with WHAT to sketch, trying to make it meaningful or something, so I just didn't.  But recently I've been sketching anything around the room I'm in for practice and have been enjoying that.
Summer break is quickly coming to end.  Just two more weeks of break, one of which I'll be getting the room read again, before the kids come back school - hence the hermit-like living.