off with the old, on with the new!

Peace out to my old [not-so] trusty camera.
Say hello to...

my new Nikon!!
Basically my husband loves to spoil me.
I feel like I have so many things to write about from the various Christmas happenings, so here is a brief synopsis of the past week.

Thursday night, we went out to dinner with Kress & Debbie and stayed over at their house.

Friday night, we had a little get-together, which wound up being only 3 couples - me & Doug, Kress & Debbie, and Doug's friend Al & his girlfriend, Catherine. The girls demolished the boys in Taboo (naturally), and then Kress & Debbie stayed over at our place! We obviously LOVE sleepovers.

Saturday night, Doug & I did our stockings.

Sunday morning we drove back home to New York to surprise my family for Christmas. (Point of interest, at least to us: we made it in under 5 hours!! This is definitely a new record.) We are going back out next weekend, which seems a little superfluous, but after all, "For the holidays, you can't beat home sweet home." Proven so true while we were there! We made cheater gingerbread houses (i.e. graham crackers on half & half containers), we decorated cookies, we carried on our Christmas Eve tradition of lighting candles & singing "Silent Night," we gave more presents that I think we've ever given before - I think everyone went a little over the top this year! It was blissful. I can't wait to go back and see even more family & friends!!

We returned to Michigan the morning after Christmas, and Doug's dad and Beth got here at just about the same time we did! We had the Parton family Christmas dinner & gift exchange, which was fun. Griffin & Leslie were a riot opening all their gifts - I think they were shell-shocked by all the new toys! Let's be honest - when there are only two grandchildren/niece&nephew - easy to spoil! :)
Today, I've been trying to catch up. Cleaning, organizing, unpacking, laundry, more cleaning... I absolutely love the fact that I don't have to work again until January 7th!! Oh, I did promise a blog with in-depth reflections on my first semester. I'll get to that.
I'll end with a picture from my beautiful new camera. This is my African violet, which has not done well with the weather change. However, last week I put a towel under it and doused it in water, allowing it to overflow & suck up as much water as it needed. This seems to have worked, as I am finally seeing new growth in the middle of the plant.

"New Beginnings"


reading is power!

Whilst enjoying one of my favorite afternoon snacks (a hefty helping of Jeanette Parker), a great idea was hatched. It began, as many great ideas do, with a question: "If you could sit down and talk with any dead author, who would it be?" This question - simple, yet profound - was voiced by my sweet companion, as we were perusing the shelves of Borders. We threw out a few names, then decided such a topic was most definitely blog-worthy. Gentle Readers, after much deliberation, I give you my list of Top 10 Dead Authors I Want To Meet.

Runners-up: George Orwell, Truman Capote, Kurt Vonnegut, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack Kerouac, ee cummings, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sylvia Plath.

10. Jonathan Swift - What can I say? I love satire... and the idea of eating children (just kidding, CPS!)

9. Jane Austen - I would love to have tea & chat & gossip with Jane. I imagine it would be very similar to my conversations with Jeanette. Maybe the three of us could get together sometime.

8. Shakespeare - I know, so predictable. But seriously, the man was a genius. How could I not want to meet him?! He revolutionized writing, the English language, drama, poetry... what piece of work is that man!

7. John Milton - Speaking of poetry, sweet bliss. Paradise Lost has been known to bring tears to my eyes.

6. Um, this one is possibly cheating, but Anne Frank - she did, after all, write something that was published! But just consider that conversation, and understand why I made this selection.

5. Langston Hughes - I love work from the Harlem Renaissance. Plus, we would get to meet in a smoky jazz lounge and listen to Ella Fitzgerald while we chatted.

4. Mark Twain - Time talking to him would just be a riot. We'd probably take a ferry down his beloved Mississippi.

3. Robert Frost - Quite possibly my favorite poet of all time, possibly because my dad loves him and would quote his poetry while I was growing up. I just think he makes beautiful observations about nature, the countryside, and life in general.

2. C. S. Lewis - I definitely thought that he would be first, and I'm still not sure whether I'm completely comfortable putting him second. What can I say about Clive? Brilliant, poignant, eloquent, humorous... did I mention brilliant?

1. Roald Dahl - Perhaps an odd choice for the esteemed position as the number one dead author that I would like to meet, but I absolutely love this man and his writing. Even as an adult, I love his children's stories - they are just as delightful upon every re-reading! And in case anyone didn't know, September 13th (his birthday) is Roald Dahl Day - mark your calendars.

Also, I just decided that the apostle Paul is definitely an author and would actually be number 1. So, I guess he's 1A, and Dahl is 1B.

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond compare. ~Kenko Yoshida


[8] mile marker

My first semester of teaching is OVER! I have one thought, and one thought only: "PAR-TAY."
I've heard it said that if you get to Christmas break, you've made it. Not so sure how I feel about that. I will write a post later with insightful comments about my first semester (after I think of some), but this current post has already been predestined, so to speak. In other words, I have already concocted two topics I want to share. 1. Observations on a Shack in D. (HA! I just made that up on the spot... it works, because natives call Detroit "the D"... get it? Variations on a Canon in D? Nevermind.) and 2. Ms. Parton's Battle.

First of all... I've been curious as to the type of neighborhood in which I am teaching. After all, what environment is responsible for producing my students?! I've heard various rumors (one involving a man robbing one of our students at gunpoint...), and I'm about to contribute to the rumors through my own observations. Each day, I sit at my desk and stare out the window (the windows are usually open because for some reason, our building heat is messed up [can you imagine!] and my room turns into an oven). Across from our school there is a rather sketchy establishment - a local car wash. It is open 7am-7pm, 6 days a week, and their business is ALWAYS flowing. I mean, this is a dumpy looking place! It looks like vintage 70s car wash - complete with a HUGE smiley face on the ... garage door (one that goes up and down manually). But the strangest thing about this seedy little joint is the type of business it gets. Landrovers, BMWs, Escalades - nice cars. And the occasional cop car. And while the washing is going on, the door stays down, but when they're drying and waxing, the door comes back up. Perhaps they just don't want to divulge their sudsy secret to the general public. If you ask me, there are some fishy deals going down. But then again, what do I know? Maybe it's the most esteemed car wash in Detroit. Maybe it's the only car wash done by hand. Maybe.

2. Okay, let me explain this next masterpiece. I found a neglected notebook (I can not get away from alliterations for the life of me) yesterday. The only name I could find anywhere was "G BOY." I feel like a terrible teacher, but I do not know which of my students goes by the pseudonym "G BOY." Maybe next semester. Anyway, only 2 pages had been used, each with a mediocre rap (I won't say anything about the atrocious grammar). The first rap was about the rags-to-riches dream, and the second was about being a gangsta, although it had the line, "Shudda stayed in school homie." Well, I felt inspired and decided to write another rap for this wanna-be. I give you "Ms. Parton's Battle" (for our older audience [mom], a Rap Battle is basically a rap-off between two rappers; it is supposed to be free style and in response to each rapper's taunts).

If you've got dreams, go on n' chase 'em
Don't let anyone take 'em n' erase 'em.
"Stay in school" - words from your mouth
Here I'm tryin' to show you what education's about!
Ya got rhymes? Ya got beats?
I got books. I got seats.
So grab one and sit tight -
I'll teach ya how to write right.
When you get out, diploma in hand
You show all these haters who's the man.
Money ain't life, but it don't hurt to have some,
But without a degree, boy, you'll never nab some.
Words are power - you know it 'cuz you're writing,
But words aren't written when your focus is fighting.
You're here in school - this is your chance!
Put your mind to it and make your brain dance!
You've got talent and you've got a dream;
You kow life is more than it might seem.
So get your head on straight and clean up your act.
Hustlin' takes you no where - that's a fact.
Leave the drugs behind - they'll do you no good.
If you get caught - it's the clink! Stuck in this hood.
I'm tryin' to tell you - use your brain and your heart.
Keep coming to class - that's a start!
I'm begging you - reach for a higher level!
All this other stuff is straight from the devil.
When the world gets you down, says you aren't worth it,
Brush that off your shoulder - you don't deserve it.
See, rhymin' is tight - I could do it for dough,
I got the knowledge behind me, and my words just flow.
I did my time at the university -
Worked real hard for that Bachelor's degree.
Now I'm tryin' to show you there's more to life-y
Than money, cars, drugs and a fine lookin' wifey.
How do I reach you and let you know I care?
All these students hate me, just 'cuz I'm there.
Well, I've said my piece - time to abort.
Heads up! Ball's in your court.

... Maybe I am in the wrong profession! Clearly, I have a gift.



Guess who's 25?!
In honor of Doug's 25th, I am posting some embarrassing pictures of him. (I'm sure this will not be without retaliation at some point.)

Doug & I made a delicious steak & potato dinner (sidenote: how much do I love Bacon Bits?! so convenient), and then his mom, Eric & Nic came over for cake & ice cream!

Happy birthday, hubby. I love you!


contented sigh

No school tomorrow!

winter wonderland

Last night, Doug & I were watching quite possibly the worst Christmas movie ever (Ben Affleck - need I say more?), and there was a Winter Storm Warning for our county and the surrounding counties. Dave & Sara (our friends who are the Youth Group directors) called to say that Youth Group is cancelled tonight, and since Griffin and Leslie spent the night last night, we decided church wasn't in the plans for today. I took some pictures of our deck and the road, not quite bold enough to venture into the blustery outdoors. Also, I've developed a nasty head cold, so I figured being outside in a snow storm probably wouldn't improve the situation.

Fingers crossed for a snow day tomorrow! :)


must be time for report cards...

Top 5 Signs That Grades Are Due:

1. Students who haven't come to class since September suddenly reappear, inexplicably excited about education. They have usually been miraculously healed from sundry ailments: flu, back problems, sore throat, colds, stomach aches, and the inability to find a ride to school.

2. Students who have turned in one, or maybe two journals come in with reams of paper, filled with insightful entries about their tumultuous upbringings.

3. Students bring me chips and Lemonheads.

4. I am suddenly "the best teacher in this school." As, I'm sure, is every other teacher.

5. Journal question: "What does beauty mean? What do you think is beautiful?" Journal response: "Beauty is things like stars, the moon, sunshine, and I guess you could even say the sky is beautiful. Ms. Parton is a very good example of beauty."


overheard in the ccmu

I forgot to mention the funny thing that happened while we were in the CCMU at U of M.

While Doug & I were having a quiet afternoon watching t.v. (and grading papers - grades are due on Monday!), we overheard a slightly alarming comment.

"Who gave you the right to take my clothes?!"
-disgruntled old man, on telephone... wearing a blue blazer with blue track pants.


peanut butter playground

WELL. Our plans to attend the Nutcracker Ballet were slightly interrupted...
On Thursday afternoon, our school went on the field trip, which was a disaster. However, it actually wasn't our fault this time - the place that invited us didn't have enough seats for us. The event was taking place on the floor of an open building, and they expected us to stand in a higher level and observe from a distance. Needless to say, the students were not thrilled. Additionally, they were hungry, and unfortunately, the platform was next to a campus Subway. So, we had students walking all over the place, begging to go to Subway, asking if we could leave... it was chaotic. Our school administrator was upset with the whole thing, so we ended up leaving 15 minutes early. We got back to the school and almost all the students decided to leave, since it was almost 3:00.
Right around 3:00, the school secretary brought me a tiny post-it note and said, "Your husband's work called. I don't think it's an emergency, but they want you to call them back." I figured, great, Doug probably had something with nuts and had to take medicine or something - probably just a routine procedure, they have to inform family members. So, I called the office and was told that they had gotten a cake for the CEO's birthday and apparently, it had peanut butter in it. Doug did not know this until after eating a piece, so he had to go to the emergency room. Now, this has happened before, so I didn't panic. His co-worker gave me the number to the ER, and I called them for more info. The doctor got on the phone and said, "Douglas came in, and he was doing very well, but then he got bad. Extremely bad, and he couldn't breathe, so he has been taken on the survival flight to U of M." WHAT?!
Long story short: we spent a long night at U of M. Doug had been intubated on the flight, and they didn't extubate him until the next morning. He was in really bad shape, but praise the Lord, he is fine now! As details unraveled, we found out that Doug's office had ordered a cake called "Midnight Delight," which was supposed to be chocolate & chocolate & chocolate cake - the CEO's favorite from a certain chain. Well, the store forgot about the order, and when Doug's office went to pick it up, they just gave them the pre-made cake they already had. As they were eating the cake, one of Doug's co-workers remarked, "This is great - you can really taste the peanut butter!" At which point, Doug replied, "... What? Are you sure it's not caramel?" After they realized Doug had a severe peanut allergy, they looked at the bottom of the container, only to discover that this cake was not "Midnight Delight," as expected, but instead, "PEANUT BUTTER PLAYGROUND." Awesome.

But he's all better now! Those of you who found out & have been praying - thank you SO much. We greatly appreciate your support & prayers!! Doug even got "his wings" - after being airlifted in the "Survival Flight," patients get a little pin with wings!
In other news: Mom & the girls came out this weekend & we've been having a wonderful time! Yesterday we all had pizza & played Rummikub & had hot chocolate. Today we had a blissful day of boutique browsing & afternoon tea... I am so glad they were able to come visit, especially after the exhausting experience at the hospital. It was nice to have Mom help us out!

We've had a lot of excitement over the past few days - hopefully tomorrow will truly be a day of rest!


it's beginning to look a lot like christmas!

So our tree is up and decorated!
I am going to make a few more "vintage ornaments" to add, which is why it may look a little empty to some.

Here we are, putting on our "First Christmas" ornament. Thanks to Grandma Jackie for this adorable ornament!

Yet another reason we love Doug's job & the people he works for...
Today, the CEO gave us tickets to go see the Nutcracker tomorrow at the Detroit Opera House. Awesome!
Tomorrow we are going on a field trip. Our whole school is going on a field trip... downtown to hear a speaker discuss "Bridging the Hip Hop Communication Gap." My thoughts?
Dear Lord,


Happy December!

What a delightful weekend! On Saturday morning, we went and got our very first Christmas tree!
Here we are, standing in front of our little tree.

It was much bigger when we got it in our living room! We had to rearrange everything, but we're very happy with the results! We are putting off decorating it for a few days longer, until we have hot chocolate and candy canes. Our very first Christmas tree decorating calls for a high degree of festivity!
Yesterday afternoon we went to a Christmas play at Kress & Debbie's church. Debbie was one of the singers, and she had a couple solos, so we went to show our support. She did a fantastic job, of course (& for those of you who don't remember, Debbie sang with Justin at our wedding). We spent the night at their house - such a fun time!! Watched some Ali G, played Battle of the Sexes, Kress made us homemade caramel macchiatos - yum! This morning we skipped church (oops!), had pancake breakfast (thinking of you, Steve & Heather!) and just relaxed.

The boys played Bond while Debbie helped me fill out my "Missing Assignments" sheets for my students. That takes a true friend.

We actually & finally finished reading A Raisin in the Sun on Thursday, so tomorrow we'll be starting the video. I'm a complete dork, and I bought a bunch of Raisinets for the kiddos to snack on while they watch the movie!

Time to enjoy the last few hours of the evening with my husband - popcorn & Sunday night football & crafting!


switching roles

Yesterday was a particularly rough day, and one of my students picked up on my bad mood and remarked, "Ms. Parton, you need to chill out." I sighed and said, "I know, but you should try being in my shoes for a day - then you might understand my frustration." He perked up and said, "I'll teach class tomorrow!"

I don't think he ever imagined that I'd agree to it.

When I told him I thought that was an excellent idea, he grew slightly wary. I told him I would even be a student, and he could be my teacher as well. I told him during his period, he could even call me "Rachel." The only things he would not be allowed to do were anything involving other students' grades and swearing at students. He was extremely excited about the chance to boss me around, until I said, "Yep! I'll be just like every other student tomorrow!" Apparently he reflected upon his classmates behavior, because toward the end of the day, he came running into my class to tell me he didn't want to do it anymore. I smiled and reassured him that he would do a great job, which seemed to pacify him.

This morning, I packed my Detroit Tigers baseball cap, in the event that he actually wanted to go through with it. We had an awards ceremony during 2nd period, and I caught him by the door before he slipped out. I asked him where he was going, and he answered, "Man, I was gonna go home, cuz next period is about to be hectic!" I smiled and reassured him that he would do a great job, which seemed again to pacify him.

As third period started, I wrote on the board, "Guest Teacher - Mr. ________" just as my man walked through the door. He laughed and rolled his eyes, but was quick to put his jacket on the back of my chair and take a seat at my desk. I ran out the door to the bathroom and put on my baseball cap, and returned with quite the swagger, pausing to stand in the door and talk to the teacher next door for awhile, telling her exactly what was going on in my classroom. There was some confusion when I entered the classroom, students asking me, "Ms. Parton, are we doing work today?" My response? "Ask your teacher?" He came over to me and said, "Rachel, there are no hats allowed in school." To which I replied, "Man, everyone wears their hat! I'm grown! " By this time, my students had picked up on what was happening, and most of them were in stitches. Meanwhile, my poor student was trying to pass out our Raisin in the Sun reading packets and get the reading started, to no avail. I noticed that two of my males in the back had taken out a pack of cards, so I joined them at the back table and told them to teach me the game they were playing. At this point, my already worn out man plopped into the seat beside me and announced, "I quit." I laughed and gave him a hard time, took off my hat and ordered the gentlemen to put the cards away. Class resumed rather smoothly after that point, I must say.
I'm only disappointed that he didn't last long enough for me to take out my cell phone and call Doug in the middle of class...


giving thanks.

What a wonderful Thanksgiving! Doug & I went home to NY and spent a blissfully relaxing time with my favorite people on earth. Sadly, we did not take any family pictures. I did take some pictures of the snow that we got.

Some things I am thankful for:
-Jesus Christ, for more than I could ever begin to list.
-My incredible, loving husband
-My precious family
-My amazing friends
-A job, which keeps me entertained & challenged simlutaneously
-My students, who are teaching me probably more than I'm teaching them
-My health, my body & my mind
-My upbringing
-My education
-The prayers of family & friends
-Our apartment, a bed, blankets & pillows
-Clothing, especially jeans and shoes
-Cameras, to preserve memories
-Many, many other things... which I can't list in a little blog, mostly because right now, something else I'm very, very thankful for is...
-Sleep. :)


i love knowing there's no school tomorrow

I'm making progress with my room! Here is the picture I first took of my classroom in September:

And here it is now!
(I have no clue what to put on the white paper over the bulletin board - any ideas??)

Knowledge IS power.

Front board & my desk.
Some recent journal responses:
Question: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Response: "Famous, dead, or in jail. Or just maybe still in the streets working."
Question: Finish this thought and explain: "I wish I didn't have to..."
Response: "I wish I did not have to do some things to make money. I wish I could do some good things like find a job."
Question: Tell me something about yourself.
Response A: "Mrs. Parton I'm going to tell you that at the age of 16 yrs old I moved out and started living on my own. I now have to pay rent and pay bills. I know I'm not grown but I'm close enough."
Response B: "Well I like to talk on the phone and I got shot before in my back when I was nine. I like to shop for clothes and shoes"
Response C: "I'm recently pregnant but I don't know if I should keep the baby or not."
During my 6th period prep today, a student I didn't know knocked on my door, so I went to see what he needed. I opened the door and said, "How can I help you?" He said, "I need to tell you my problems. I'm gonna tell you my life story."
And he did. Beginning with his father being a crack dealer, to when he started stealing cars at age 12, to when he went to juvie for the first time at age 13, to this past Wednesday, when his older brother was shot and killed... right up to last night when his other older brother was shot and killed. "Two brothers in one week... I cried so much I got no tears left. I just had to talk to somebody or I thought I was gonna explode. I'm gonna come talk to you whenever I get thinkin' about it too much."
A security guard came in, wondering why there was a student sitting in front of my desk with his feet propped up on my desk, and when he asked, "I just needed to talk to someone! I can't talk to anyone else - she's the only one I can trust."
Maybe there is a reason I'm at this school...
Home tomorrow!!


typical monday...

A few new experiences today...

1. I got asked on a date by one of my students! There is one student who always comes into my class during my prep period to get his work - he never comes to class, he just does his work, then goes home. Anyway, so today he does his work, like usual, then as he's leaving, he says to me, "So, what are you doing tonight around 6?" To which I replied, "Probably eating dinner with my husband by that time." He answered, "Dang, I was going to see if you wanted to eat with me."

2. A student brought a dead & stuffed mink thing and was flailing it around the hallway, then decided to come and brandish it in my face. That was fun.

3. A student who hasn't been to my class since the very first week finally came back... and tried to light one of my desks on fire! Thankfully I saw him as soon as he first flicked the lighter and gave him quite the teacher voice & glare reprimand, and ... he actually listened.


reflections on a 3-day weekend

I love my 3-day weekends!
Yesterday I got up early & saw my hubby off to work, then went to the gym & gave my muscles some much needed exercise.
Yesterday I discovered that Starbucks will make Peppermint Mocha Frappucinos (ala a self-proclaimed "Frappucino King")- sweet bliss.
Yesterday I went to lunch with my friend Sara and enjoyed piping hot chicken noodle soup & laughter.
Yesterday I made more vintage ornaments.

Today I slept in until 9:30!!
Today I went to Salvation Army with Doug & bought fun things.
Today I met up with my dear friend Jeanette & shared teacher talk & more laughter.
Today I took the scenic route home in the rain listening to soft music and contemplating the late, lingering stages of autumn.
Today I did laundry with my husband and laughed some more.
Today I watched Stranger Than Fiction and was pleasantly surprised & moved.
Today I had an ice cream sundae.
Today I officially became a licensed teacher in the state of Michigan.

Tomorrow is undiscovered...


mary, don't let my mom read this post...

Well, LCA made local news last night! (Unfortunately, I missed it.)
Yesterday afternoon, I was getting ready to go downstairs during my prep period to meet with our school administrator to have my gradebook reviewed. I decided to use the bathroom first, but our upstairs staff bathroom had no toilet paper, so I ran downstairs. While I was in the downstairs bathroom, I started hearing a lot of scuffling upstairs, then a lot of yelling, then running feet... and before I knew it, the whole school was erupting.
Apparently, one of our students was robbed at gunpoint by a man from the neighborhood, and other students found out quickly, parents started calling, etc. Then, at the same time, in one of the classroom upstairs, a girl and boy got in a fight, and the boy threw a chair at the girl, her friends jumped him, his friends joined in... thus, the eruption.
Our security guards were doing their best to contain the masses, but it was chaos. I was in the office making copies when someone said that the cops had arrived... I looked out the window shortly after and there were at least 30 police cars surrounding the school - the whole street was shut down.
The police sent all the students home around 1:30, and the teachers convened afterwards for about 2 hours.
Today was very quiet. Attendance was lower than normal, even for Thursdays. There was minimal conversation about what happened yesterday, which was pleasing. I think most of the instigators were either apprehended or didn't bother returning today. I'm just glad that next week we only have 2 days of school!! Well, 3, but I took Wednesday off. :)

A couple days ago, my journal question was, "What qualities make a good friend?" I had at least a dozen students tell me they couldn't answer the question because they don't have "friends," just "associates." Rather depressing. The number one answer was "TRUST," followed closely by "HONESTY," and coming in third, "someone who sticks with you through THICK AND THIN." One, however, said this: "When you first meet a person they want to fight with you to see if you can fight before you become cool or best friends." The first time I read it, I laughed out loud. Then I re-read it a few times and was brought to tears.

Marci Stanley and John Williams stopped by the school on Tuesday with BOOKS!! I now have 2 classroom sets of real, brand new novels. Very exciting!

I received a call earlier this week to interview at a high school in Clawson, MI, but I am turning it down tomorrow. I just feel like God has really altered my attitude toward the school and the students, especially in the past week and a half. Every day is still a struggle, and I still get frustrated, but I've noticed a difference in my attitude overall. I know that there are a lot of people praying for me and my students and our school, and I know I have been called to this school and these students. Plus, I do experiencing tiny moments of success. Like in 8th period today, when for about 2 minutes, while I was explaining some questions about our reading, not one single student was talking and they were ALL looking at me, paying attention. Baby steps... baby steps.


Please RSVP... with medical records.

Today I overheard two female students discussing an upcoming party/concert. One of these girls was a little hesitant to attend, and provided the following explanation:
"I'm not going to that party! There are boys going with AIDS!"


girl weekend

I just spent an estrogen-laden weekend in a huge house in Traverse City with 14 teenage girls.
It was actually a lot of fun. Our senior high youth group had their Girls/Boys retreat this morning, so Doug & I spent our first weekend apart. While we girls were crafting & eating & giggling in Traverse City, the boys were belching & eating & watching/playing tackle football in a cabin in Cadillac. Oh, and breaking collarbones. Fortunately, the broken collarbone did not belong to my husband.

It was a wonderful weekend. The farmland around Traverse City is beautiful, and the town itself is adorable. Too bad it's almost 5 hours away. So, the house we stayed at was IN-credible. It had 18 beds in 14 bedrooms. A retired couple built this house so their 5 children and their families could all come stay there over the summer. During the winter, they "rent" the house to different church groups for a mere $75 a night. I was thinking the whole Bannister clan should plan a week there! It's right on the lake... absolutely beautiful up there.

I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week!! So excited to come home again & have family time. And possibly some Tea Time with Barbara & Paula...


lifelong learner?

Some new experiences today!

1. I saw a gun-shot wound! Pretty awesome. It was in a student's arm, yet there was no exit wound. He obviously didn't want to get into the story, and I didn't really want to hear it (well, actually, the nosy half of my brain was going nuts). It basically looked like someone had tried to chop his arm off with a machete. Apparently, counting both internal and external, there are over 60 stitches. He also has to wear a cast to keep his wrist bent forward to avoid tearing the stitches. Ouch.

2. During 7th period, a student in the room next to mine set a table on fire! Smelled pretty awful, and the cops came to investigate. Exciting!


falling back...

Apparently Doug & I have a little to learn about "falling back."

Last night, before going to bed, we changed our clocks, very proud that we had remembered. We knew at that moment that we were truly entering responsible adulthood.

This morning, my alarm went off, and I knew that I needed to get up to get ready for church, but I was ridiculously tired, so I simply hit snooze. After repeating this cycle a few times, I looked at the clock and saw that it was already 9:30!! I couldn't believe how tired I was, since I usually wake up around 8:00, even without an alarm. I said to my darling husband, "Looks like we're not going to church today, huh?" We both agreed that we would just have a relaxed morning and listen to a Rob Bell sermon/podcast, rather than rush around trying to get to church within 30 minutes.

So, I enjoyed a long, leisurely shower, and then while Doug was showering, I decided to make waffles. By this time, it was about 10:45. Suddenly, in the middle of my whisking, I heard the alarm on our cell going off. It was then that I remembered we had additionally set our cell phone alarm the night before. It was then that I also remembered that we had set that alarm for 8:45am. Which could only mean one thing. Yes, dear readers, we had set our clocks in the wrong direction, thereby robbing ourselves of not just one, but two precious hours of sleep...

But at least we had ample time to get ready for church!

A typical Sunday afternoon for us:

Doug, faithfully watching the Lions, while I work on various crafts.
Aren't we adorable?!


miracle of miracles!!!!!!

Just got an email from John Williams (the SAU professor, not the composer):

"Hey Rachel,
We have 26 No Fear Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet and 26 To Kill a Mockingbird. Marci & I would like to visit your school and bring them to you. "



tricks, no treats.

First of all, I want to share with the world just how talented my dad is:

Carving & photo courtesy of ole Poppa bear.

Second, I am dismayed to report that last night we had ZERO trick-or-treaters! How disappointing! I did everything right - I left the lights on, I decorated our front stairway and left that light on, I put up a cute sign welcoming trickers & treaters... all to no avail. What is this world coming to!?

Third, this week of teaching was - I almost don't dare voice this miniscule glimmer of hope -almost encouraging. I'm nervous even writing that because it seems any time I admit to any optimism, we suffer an alarming regression. But it remains - the tiny seed of hope deep within my heart!

Some pet peeves:
1. When people neglect to use their turn signals, especially when merging during the morning rush hour.
2. When people leave my classroom and don't shut the door.
3. Smacking and slurping noises while people are eating.

That's all for now.


i love it when they listen.

Every day when my students enter the room, they know that they are to begin working on the daily journal. This does not always happen immediately, as one might imagine. I am simultaneously trying to elevate my students' vocabularies, which is also not happening immediately. Today's journal question was, "What is your most indispensible possession and why?" They struggled with the term "indispensible" and had questions as to what I wanted them to write, so I very clearly explained, "Okay, in other words - what is something that you have that you couldn't do without? Don't say anything about a person, because I know that there are people in your life you would never want to be without."
Here is one response I received:
"I want to indispen my mama sometimes because the only thing she do most of the time is nag nag nag all day long about everything."

Clear as mud.

Tonight I decorate Halloween cookies!

Please be so kind as to click on the picture to enlarge & admire.


it's official!

Well, they're letting me stay!

Two months later, I'm officially a teacher.

One more thing. My mother mentioned that I had neglected to write about a rather humorous event from my parent conferences and made a request that I add it to the illustrious blog. Mom, this Bud's for you.
So, rewind to the student who had never attended my class. While the school administrator and I were trying to figure out how to address the situation, the mother called her son in front of us an asked her son where he had been 8th period. We could hear his answer pretty clearly: "English!" Mother was extremely curious and asked what his teacher looked like. His answer? "That short black lady with the bangs and funny hair." I looked at the administrator and said, "That doesn't really sound like me." She laughed and said, "No, no it doesn't."

I am so white...


thoughts & tinkerings

Eyes of hatred -
Because I'm right?
Because I'm wrong?
Because I'm white?
Anger, distrust -
Because I care?
Because I teach?
Or because I'm there?


We had parent/teacher conferences today, which, thankfully, I only had to attend from 8:00 - 12:00. I met with a few parents/guardians. The first was the mother of one of my delinquent females, who was rather displeased when she discovered that her daughter has not been in attendance since Oct. 11. The second was the mother of one of my [very few] quiet, hardworking students. I was pleased to tell her that her son is doing wonderful work and always turns assignments in on time and to the best of his effort. She was very happy and proud of her son, who happens to work 40 hours a week, in addition to attending school regularly. The next conversation was with the aunt and uncle of another of my favorites. The last mother I talked to was introduced by our school director as "the mother of [student's name]." I looked at her blankly and replied, as professionally as possible, "I'm sorry, who?" The dilemma? This student has never been in my class. Apparently he had been going to the English class across the hallway. Better than nothing!


I enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of shopping for craft materials, feeling very inspired by all the approaching holidays. This evening I made (well, painted) a delightful ornament for the bathroom door.

I guess you can't really tell from these pictures, but it's maroon with a yellow star. Hand-painted. Yes, I am really that awesome. And humble.

Now, to all, a good night!


a day at a time.

Things are rough at school.
Two of the teachers with whom I was close left for other jobs, and the third is done after this week. The teacher who is leaving after this week will be greatly missed, as he often provided godly encouragement and prayers for me, giving me a little extra push for the week.
Yesterday our cell phone was stolen.
Thankfully the insurance on it covered a new one.
Today I had to sub for all the other English classes as well, meaning no lunch break.
I've also had to sub for a period of a Gov/Econ class two days in a row, which I am clearly not certified to do, as I've so lately discovered.
There are two students terrorizing the schools. However, one of them will more than likely be gone after Tuesday, as he is apparently going to be locked up for 10 years. I've overheard car robbery - he was bragging about it to his friends, but one of the teachers said he claimed to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Image is everything, and apparently it's relative.
Also, today we got a memo saying that we are to attend a Parent Orientation this Friday. From 8:30am to 6:30pm. We will be "compensated."


In other, happier news, we enjoyed a lovely weekend at home. The Cider n' Donut party was pretty fun, despite a severe shortage in ... well, cider and donuts.
The boys watch a Chelsea match, with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Victoria & I working hard on our new fall/winter line of vintage ornaments.

Bannister Babes always.

Cute little cousins!

Being the father of a newborn and a Charlie is obviously hard work!

My little Licks

Now I'm just taking each day as it comes and praying for Friday to arrive speedily...


the love of Christ

I just received the following email, from Marci Stanley (my former supervisor) at the School of Education at SAU:

"Hey Rachel - I'm amazed that such a teeny tiny girl like you is working in the Last Chance Academy in Detroit. [...] I want you to know that in honor of my 50th birthday yesterday - I collected $118 so far for your classroom books. I milked it for all its worth. [...] When John came down here regarding your request - I e-mailed people and said I'm collecting money for Rachel's class [...] People from Adult Studies came over to donate money... Anyway - we love you and are very proud of our Rachel Rae - hopefully we can send you something soon."

I'm speechless.


"I tell you the truth,
whatever you did
for one of the least of these brothers of mine,
you did for me."


autumn hodge podge

School's been cancelled for students tomorrow & Thursday. Apparently we have teacher meetings... I'm not sure what we're going to cover. Every time we talk about changes that need to be made, nothing happens. Anway, I'm taking the opportunity to update my blog.

Last Friday I made an apple pie. I'm not sure whether to be impressed or disgusted by the fact that Doug & I demolished it in... 2 and a half days.

Thanks to Panek's Pumpkin Pile for the beautiful centerpiece!

The stairs going up to our doorway.

The door to our little home!

And finally, the charming little violet that I was able to save after it was sadly neglected for a week straight. No fingerpointing (MOM!).

Not much else to update about. Well, other than the fact that a teacher's car was stolen yesterday. By students. My students. For whom she was subbing while I was downtown for the interview with the Detroit Public Schools that have all had to go through.
But other than that, not a lot happening here in Detroit!
Can't wait for the Cider n' Donut party this weekend - hope to see everyone there!