Thursday, October 8, 2015

Back at Last!

Yes, I'm still here and haven't been eaten alive by my students! The last few months (yes, months) have been a blur of all sorts of craziness and excitement. Believe it or not, as of next Tuesday, I will have been teaching for 9 weeks. One quarter of a school year has already passed. WOW. I could hem and haw about how it has been going for me, but I'll sum it up to say that I'm surviving. Some days I feel like I'm thriving, but those days aren't so frequent, if we're being honest. I'm perpetually up to my ears in lesson planning and/or grading. I have a limited social life, if any, and my "free time" is usually spent on work or sleep. For now, this is the new normal for me. 

My classes aren't too bad. There's really only one that is a bit of a challenge. I found out quickly that I do, in fact, have a teacher voice! My students are forever commenting on how uncanny it is that I can go from being cordial to calling out a student's behavior in nothing flat. I have to be more mean than I care to be in order to be taken seriously/respected by my students. I don't like being mean. I think my meanness was at peak level last week when I realized that students stole a box of rubber bands from the top of my desk and were using them to shoot paper hornets at each other. I promptly put an end to that by clipping the rubber bands and shredding their paper hornets to pieces. It was a bit brash, but I have found MUCH less evidence of hornets on my floor. I still don't like being mean. 

It turns out that my resting mean face has its perks as a teacher. Students making inappropriate comments are often tricked into thinking that I heard what they said just by looking at my face. Most of the time, I never hear what they say, but they don't know any better. That makes my life a little bit easier! Students also cuss...a LOT. They somehow forget that you're in the room and drop f-bombs, etc. galore. I'm pretty quick to put the nix on that. Last week, I told a student that she was a student in a classroom, not a sailor in a bar, so she needed to speak like one. Everyone else got a kick out of it, and I didn't hear any more cussing from her for the rest of the class period! You have to be quick-witted to be a teacher. 

Honestly, I have days where I feel like a mixture of all kinds of teachers from TV. Some days, I feel like Ms. Frizzle, teaching students the cool stuff about math and where it came from. Some days, I feel like Mr. Kotter, trying my darnedest to keep the Sweat Hogs in line. Some days I feel like Mr. Feeny, giving life advice to teenagers. Then I have the days where I feel like the Economics teacher from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", rambling on and on while my students nod off. No teacher is perfect, right? I always feel like I could do more and do better things, but such is life...

My students are particularly interested in my personal life, like what I do on the weekends (very little), if I have kids or am married (no, I don't), if I have a boyfriend (yes), how I met my boyfriend (at church in Stillwater), what church (the Catholic one), what my boyfriend does (he's still a student), what he's studying (agribusiness), if he's going to come to our school and replace their ag teacher who they don't like (no), or when my birthday is (none of their business). Yes, this was a conversation I had with one of my classes towards the beginning of the year! They're forever asking about Thomas and our weekend adventures. Heaven only knows what they'll ask after they see us at the football game tomorrow night!! 

This is really where my story takes off, with Thomas. He, along with my family, has been a rockstar since the beginning of the year! He is forever keeping me sane and laughing. He always does his best to help me keep a clear perspective! I still hate the fact that I only get to see him on the weekends, but I know that it could be much, much worse. He is currently in the thick of job searching, now that he is a senior. He has already interviewed with three different companies! It seems crazy to think that in seven months, he'll be in the adult world like me! It is wild to imagine that he'll be settling somewhere soon. I cannot say with any degree of certainty what the future will hold for us, although Thomas and I both have a few ideas of what we'd like to have happen, although that's really looking a decent while into the future. He is the highlight of every day and one of my best friends I've ever had. I love him so much! 

About three weeks ago, my family lost a great man, my beloved Uncle Joe. He was out riding his bicycle in the early evening and was hit by a car. It was very unexpected and quite tragic, but that's the way life goes sometimes. His funeral was a beautiful, Christ-filled remembrance of Uncle Joe's great life. I thought I'd have to miss school for the first time this year, but by some miracle (if you want to call it that) the water main in town broke, and school was canceled on the day of the funeral. Uncle Joe always had a sense of humor like that...I suppose he wanted me to be able to be fully present while I was there. Uncle Joe was always one of my favorite people in the world, especially among my dad's family. You see, being the youngest as I am, I was often overlooked/ignored by the majority of the family. I have had very few genuine conversations with most of my cousins. I don't really know most of my aunts and uncles that well. I never even met Grandpa Hladik, my cousin Todd (Uncle Joe & Aunt Genevieve's son who died in the late 80's), or my own sister. I come from a separate generation and I just don't identify with any of them. (I'm not trying to play the victim here, but experiencing this gets old after a while.) Uncle Joe was the one person who consistently talked to me, included me, and made me feel loved by my family. He invested in my life and he cared. He and Aunt Genevieve were some of the few people who attended my OSU graduation ceremony. I loved him dearly, and I know that I'll feel an emptiness the next time the family is together. Life goes on, though, and here we are, coming close to a month since he died. Until next time, Uncle Joe!

This will forever be one of my favorite pictures, taken at Grandma Hladik's house, circa 1995-ish. 
All kinds of other things have been happening, but I'll let some pictures suffice...

Over Labor Day weekend, Thomas took me to visit his family in Dallas. During our trip, he encouraged me to buy my first article of camouflage clothing so that I can go hunting with him at some point soon! I promise I'm wearing pants in this picture, but the shirt is a men's XL (per Thomas's direction)! I would've never guessed that I'd own camo, much less have any logical reason to own any, but love makes a person do crazy things, right?! 

We also attended the annual Czech festival in West, TX, while we were there! We got a fun photo op while we were there! It was a blast and a half!!! 

During the first OSU home game, I happened to be given a ticket from a friend at church, so I decided to surprise Thomas! It was such a great time to spend with him! I have to admit, there is nothing like attending an OSU game and having a cute boy in tow to put his arm around you during the Alma Mater at the end! :) 

Next week is my first go at Parent-Teacher conferences, so that should be exciting! Shortly after that, Thomas and I will be headed to Texas to spend the weekend with his great family! They really are wonderful people! If you could, please keep his family in your prayers, as Thomas's paternal grandmother is entering her final days of life. She is almost 87 (I think) and has lived a beautiful, love-filled life. It'll be hard on them no matter when it happens, no doubt. I've been there not too long ago, and I still feel the sting of death every day. Such is life, loss happens each day, and we never really heal. We merely learn to move forward so that we can make the most of our own life while it remains.

Have a great week, everyone! Here's hoping it won't be so long between posts next time!