Saturday, November 21, 2009


I came home from work about 4:30 and put in a Netflix. It was pretty short, but as I watched I became sleepy. I decided to take a nap and get up later to pack. I woke up at 1am! Ummmm? Not really what I had in mind. I was going to go to the grocery store and run a couple other errands.

So right now, I'm sleepy but not really tired. I haven't packed to leave town yet...and don't really want to get out of bed.

I may just set my alarm for really early...but I don't think I need that much sleep. I'm probably finished with good sleep for the night. Yeah, oh well.

Tomorrow still promises to be a fun day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dancing in My Seat!

Today is my last day of work for one whole week! I'm SO excited!

My post today is just going to be a list of things I'm thankful for, make me happy or I'm thinking of with a smile right now.

Tomorrow I get to go to College Station for the first time! I'll see an A&M/Baylor football game and tour the town so many of my friends love. I'm looking forward to it.

Cold weather just makes me happy! I love wearing longer sleeves and needing a jacket occasionally!

Melody and I went walking yesterday. It was great walking weather! (Have I mentioned I love Fall? Maybe not in this post...I LOVE FALL!)

Today is my unbirthday at work. We had kolaches for breakfast and my team gave me a gift card to Bed, Bath and Beyond. Yay!

After the A&M game, I will drive to Plano and be home with my family! Wheeee!

My sub plans are completed and the next week's lesson plans are already turned in. All my copies are ready to go!

Mom and I are going to make two sets of classroom curtains while I'm home. I'll have October and December curtains when I come back! (I already have January, February and general 'spring' curtains!) They're cute and fun. The kids love to see new curtains each month! I'm excited!

Only 6 hours and 10 minutes left of this work day!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful #10

Tomorrow is my last day of work for 9 whole days!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thankful #9

I don't have anything huge or revolutionary this afternoon.

Jill decided to give me a hard time about a grammar mistake I made on an evite she sent.

Today I'm thankful for (usually) being grammatically correct!


(Yes, I checked this post like 50 times to make sure it has no mistakes!)

Update: Of course, it did have a mistake. 'Yes, I checked this post like 50 times to make sure it had zero mistakes! or even better 'didn't have any mistakes' ugh)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thankful #8

I am thankful for teachers. This is not a shameful plug for me or my profession, I promise. I am thankful for those men and women that taught me.

The other day, through a random Facebook comment, I remembered my 7th grade Texas history teacher and decided to email her. She was the reason I fell in love with Social Studies, specifically Texas History, and I wanted her to know.

I sent this email:
Hello Mrs. ________________,

I am a former student of yours, though not officially. I don't remember my 7th grade history teacher's name, but three teachers taught Texas history together and you were one of them. I graduated high school in 19___, so would have been in 7th grade 19__-19__ (if I have done my math correctly!) I am a teacher in Houston now. I teach 4th graders Reading, Writing and Social Studies. 4th grade is also Texas history and is my favorite subject to teach. I wanted you to know that you're the reason for that! :) I remember your love for your subject. I vividly remember one lesson about Native American practices after a hunt when the young man, whose arrow brought the buffalo down, was able to cut out the heart and bite into it right there kneeling beside the slain animal. I don't go into those details with my 9 year olds, but I do try to instill a passion into them for learning. :)

I saw on Facebook that another H_______ Alumnus, __________________, came back to H_______ this week to talk about journalism. I asked if any teachers were there that we knew, and he mentioned you. I knew immediately I wanted to send you an email and say, "hello!"

Alyssa _____________

Today, I received an email in reply.

Hi Alyssa-
I was so glad to hear from you! I got out my yearbook and looked up your picture and I do remember you.
It is always gratifying to hear from a former student, especially one who went into teaching. I love teaching Texas history and am so glad you do also. I love it so much I would do it for free.
This is my 34th year at H________----can you believe it? I now teach some of the kids of students I used to have back in the 80's.
Getting your email made my day! I started crying as I read about your memories of an Indian lesson I taught. I still teach that lesson each year.
Thanks so much for taking the time to contact me. It means so much. I will keep that message forever!

Last Friday was Teacher Appreciation Day. Do you have a teacher you should contact? Someone that changed your life or your perspective perhaps? We all know how words affect us. Encouraging words can brighten someone's day. Maybe even help them to continue in a profession that has become overwhelming with testing, paperwork and ...well, the list is endless.

I'm thankful for my 7th grade history teacher today. Whom are you thankful for? Tell them!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

7b, if you please

This is basically a continuation of my last post. I just felt it was already long enough!

So my thoughts regarding moving to Plano:

My family is a big draw. My hesitation comes with peers and a church to call home.

The church my parents attend, the church I grew up in, doesn’t have a large singles’ group. I would be starting from scratch. Visiting different churches, different Bible study classes. Being the new person all over again. That’s hard. I don’t know if I have the energy for that right now.

I’d love to teach in PISD though. It’d be fun to teach in the district I grew up in…maybe even one of the schools I attended. Or perhaps with a teacher I had. To give back to the community that helped to shape me into the teacher I am. So that is a draw, too.

But can I leave Bush? I have it good and I know it. Can I really gamble that?

My family of Paradigm is hard to leave. Though, having just stepped down from the leadership role, makes the timing already one of transition.

I just don’t know.

So I’ll pray. And I’ll ask for guidance. Though sometimes the Lord is not as clear as I’d like Him to be. Sometimes He knows He can work His will in our life in different situations and settings. Sometimes we can make the decision without His specificity.

Honestly, that’s what partly scares me.

Thankful #7

Every so often I think about moving back home to Plano.

Short aside: Home is such an interesting part of our lexicon, don’t you think? I do think of Houston as home. Every time I leave Plano, I refer to heading home. But every time I leave Houston, I call it “going home” too. Home is definitely a place. A place we feel loved, wanted, accepted and desired, at peace, comfortable.

Back to our regularly scheduled blog post:

My family is still in Plano and will always be in Plano. I talk with them daily. Sometimes multiple calls a day, depending on who calls whom and what we’re talking about. Dad might be traveling for work and wants to pass the time while he drives. He might be at his computer in their home office and have a software or social media question. Mom may be out on a walk in the neighborhood and want to chat. I may be in the car, on my way somewhere, and call one of them. Or cooking something new and need a piece of advice. Or chopping down something and need to know the tool to look for. Ang may be home by herself and want to catch up. We are entwined in each other’s lives… and I love it.

Holidays are always a good bonding time for us. Because we travel to Oklahoma City for the actual holiday, I’m usually not in Plano for very long, so we make the most of our time. Some years, when teaching has been particularly difficult or my emotional world has been in upheaval, it’s hard to return here after being there.

I remember Mom driving me to the airport at the end of one wonderful Thanksgiving break. I broke down in tears in the drop off lane at Love Field. I didn’t want to come back. I wanted to stay. The little girl inside of me, the daughter I always will be, wanted my mom to work her maternal magic and make it all work out. I never actually said those words, but that’s what I wanted. Instead, I had to act like the grown-up I had become and return to an uncomfortable situation.

Right now, I’m not in an uncomfortable work environment. In fact, this has probably been my easiest year of teaching yet. My content area did not change this year. My teaching partner is one I have worked with before and enjoy working with. I didn’t change classrooms either. For the most part, I have supportive parents and my students are angelic (compared to last year!)

However, I still have thoughts of returning to Plano. I was talking with Mom today. She was out walking in the neighborhood, something we did together every morning through my teenage years before work and school. It was cool, the wind was blowing. A storm was obviously coming in. I could picture it. Perfect weather for walking. And talking. We were together, except not.

Anyway, in our conversation I mentioned that I still think about moving to Plano occasionally. We talked about it for awhile. She mentioned a few situations that she’s thought, “Oh, if Alyssa lived here, we’d ______________.” Go shopping together. Meet for dinner one night. Help each other write our Christmas letters. Be walking buddies. Help each other with decorating decisions. Keep each other accountable for eating. Exercising. Be a helping hand we could call for whatever. Whenever.

So this brings me back to my post title. Today I’m thankful for honesty and openness in relationships. No decisions were made. No plans were put into motion. But Mom and I were open and honest about our thoughts and feelings. It was good to remember that everything we do, each decision we make, affects other people.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thankful #6

I'm not feeling incredibly verbose.

Today, I'm just thankful it's Friday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful #5

We wrote about something we were thankful for today. Didn't these turn out cute?

This is mine.

Just a little closer, so you can actually read it!

Love you!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thankful #4

Today I am thankful for my AP. She's phenomenal. She's OCD and Type A like nobody's business. I seriously don't think I know anyone as OCD as she is. She always has her act together. Yep, I said ALWAYS.

I just had a 30 minute conversation with her about various topics. I went in frustrated about several things, not with her...just in general. She heard me out, was able to explain some things that alleviated my frustration and affirmed my feelings in the other situation. That is exactly what shows a good leader.

Thanks, Carol! I appreciate you!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Thankful #3

I have a cough and a very sore throat. Boo!

Today, I'm thankful for medicine.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A Lesson Learned

A few months ago Mom told me I needed to be more independent. It really hurt my feelings and I was sharing that with a girlfriend...and she said she agreed with my mom. was a great day.

Since then though, I've been able to see times where they are right. Sometimes I too quickly ask for help. I'm not trying to be all feminist, "I can do EVERYTHING!" at all, but at the same time I don't need to constantly ask someone else how to do something. Sometimes, I really can figure it out on my own.

I put my kitchen faucet back together. It has been in pieces on my kitchen counter for two weeks.

I figured out a pretty intricate (to me) aspect of Excel that will help me immensely in doing my budget each month.

These are just today!

And the feeling of accomplishment is pretty fantastic!

Thankful #2

I'm thankful for family traditions. I enjoy the time at home that the holidays provide. I love spending quality time with Mom, Dad and Angela. We chat and laugh while we cook. We share heartaches while we sit comfortably in the living room. We share life while we shop. We simply have time with each other and I love it!

I love our traditions of shopping the day after the holiday. The day after Thanksgiving, all the ladies head out to the stores. We pile into Vicki's van with my cousins and aunt as we go shopping. Since we're all together, and we are primarily Christmas shopping, we have to be pretty secretive. It's hilarious how one person keeps another person occupied in conversation or trying on items or looking in a certain area, while another person quickly moves to the register to check out and get that item in a bag! :) For the most part, no one figures out they're being manipulated!

We go to Mardels and several of us will buy the Christmas shirt of the season. Then we'll change in the car so we're appropriately decked out for the upcoming holiday. We laugh and hum carols as they're played over the loudspeaker of whatever store we're in at the time. Vicki and I will want a Sonic drink, but Aunt Barbara will think we can go to 'just one more store.' Typically we win though, because Vicki's the driver... :) It's a high energy day and so fun!

We end the day out with Del Rancho. It's a restaurant that we don't have in Texas and they have phenomenal chicken fried steak sandwiches. One sandwich feeds two people easily! The out of towners always want it when we're in OkCity. And the locals usually do make your own pizza.

After dinner, some cousins will head home or to their in-laws so the kids can see both families. Numbers in a small space will decrease and the games get pulled out. Some will play Wii, others will play DDR, while others will be deep in a Spades game. I vacillate between Spades and Scrabble. We're hard core, but only Rhonda likes Scrabble so I never get to play except when we're together. Spades has been a family game for years. I first learned when I had the flu on a family ski trip and it's been a favorite ever since.

I love family traditions!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Something I've noticed...

Each year, I can tell I'm becoming a better teacher. The first few years are all a learning curve. I felt like I had it under control my 2nd and 3rd year, even my 4th year, but looking back...(shakes my head.) I can see how many mistakes I made. And sometimes, it wasn't mistakes necessarily. It was just lack of experience. Each year, I can tell I am able to go deeper with content, ask more probing questions, think outside the box more often, etc. I have taught pretty much the same thing for 6 years in a row now. Because I don't have to think about the topic, I can really focus on how to get the objective across. I love it!

Now that is totally not to say that I'm fantastic...because I know there are definitely ways I can still improve, but it's nice to be able to do a self-assessment and see pluses!

On a different note, but still in reference to my job, I've started becoming more organized in my classroom. I've always been super organized in my computer. I have lots of computer files and can find any document I need. I clean out, update and edit regularly. I'm the same way with my inbox. I never have more than a handful of emails in my inbox at one time. I have appropriate folders and go through those consistently to keep them up-to-date as well. However, my filing cabinets, bookshelves and storage cabinets are a different story. Over the past two weeks, I've begun and completed small projects that help to tailor my classroom into a more manageable work area. It has been wonderful!

I still have major growth areas. Some I'm aware of and some I'm sure that I'm not, but it's nice to see some progress!


The first of November has come and gone and I haven't started my "Thankful" posts yet!

I'm thankful for many things this year. I'm going to start with my wonderful girlfriends. I was taking life kinda hard for awhile and they swooped in and did everything they possibly could to make life better. I received cards in the mail, flowers on my doorstep, brownies hand delivered, listening ears at all hours, firm shoves and tender words assuring me it was okay to take a step back from life and relax. You know who you are and I love each and every one of you!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Can I just start over?

Ugh! Today has been sooo frustrating, the type of day where I just want to start over. Blink my eyes and be back in bed, ready to rise for the day.

Today's wrongs

We're giving a practice TAKS Writing. After we've passed it out, we realize the students have already taken this test. We have to find, create, and copy a new test. Oh, yeah, except the copier is out of staples. Then it breaks down all together. Great.

One of my co-workers doesn't deal well at all with stress or change. I have to put out her emotional fires, and frankly, I'm sick of it. (I know that's not the Christian reaction. I'm sorry.)

My partner teacher is out today. Her sub is great, but still has questions. Questions that take time to answer. Time I don't have because I'm putting out emotional fires and dealing with making new copies (and finding a copier that does work.)

My students have all day to take this test. I take a few minutes to go over test-taking strategies, remind them of certain lingo the test directions will have, and answer any last minute questions. My students started asking questions like "Do I have to write in cursive?" "What does 'prewriting' mean?" "What is a graphic organizer?"

This may seem innocuous to my dear readers, but it is most frustrating to have questions which I've spent the last 10 weeks of school teaching the answers. The question that drives me absolutely batty is, "What do I do when I'm done?" They haven't even seen the test yet. They have no idea how long it's going to take them. But they are REALLY worried with what they're going to do afterwards. Not to mention that we have the EXACT SAME routine EVERY DAY for what to do when we finish an assignment!!!!!!!!!! Do you hear me yelling!? I'm still...ugh!

I want to pick up creamy jalapeno and a margarita and take it home tonight for dinner. I want to watch Criminal Minds and veg on the couch. I can't really pick up a margarita to take home. I also don't have any Criminal Minds to watch. :(


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Breathe in, exhale out

I was told that our new superintendent has recently said, "It is not a child's fault when he fails. It is the teacher's."

Monday, November 02, 2009

This is bad....very bad

Uh, oh!

Looks like I'm going to be making a drastic change...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Family Fun

Jon and Bryanna came to visit this weekend. They live in OkCity, but were in town for a friend's wedding. They arrived about 5:45 Friday morning. I left for work about half an hour later and they went to bed. We didn't see each other much on Friday as they were leaving for the rehearsal dinner when I got home from work, but Saturday we were able to chat while running errands, etc. We were able to have some great conversations and I loved every minute of it. We don't get to hang out very often, and never have over the years. This was the first time we'd ever hung out by ourselves, and I really enjoyed it. It was great to get to know them better!

I know I posted earlier about having zero motivation. That ended up changing and I was able to accomplish SO much! It was a great feeling to leave work on Friday knowing I had completed so many cleaning-out-type of tasks. The kids will notice a difference tomorrow morning and that is always fun. Even better is that I felt a sense of renewal in my profession. It is so easy to get burned out at work. To do things the same way they've always been done. To ignore other things that crop up because they're new or uncomfortable. I have planned for several new or different things over the next few weeks and am excited to try them out!