pieces of me...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October Love List

In an attempt to restart an earlier monthy series from earlier in 2014, I'm po For October a very special one issue, that of a decision made in NC last week.

On Monday last week the Supreme Court reconvened for the 2014 docket.  Expected was the decision to make a wider decision by taking up a group of cases on appeal.  What was not expected was in the middle of class, one of my students said, "Mrs. Vinson, Mrs. Vinson... breaking news from the first day of the docket." Yes, we were using our phones in class for an activity, yes I know that they were also scrolling Twitter... and yes I am happy that they suscribe to news on their feeds.

We immediately stopped what we were doing in class, pulled up SCOTUSblog on my LCD projector and watched as a class as the news they were allowing lower court rulings to stand.

Not the decision expected at all and as the week unfolded we dissected what the ruling mean for states like NC that had an appeal tied up in Federal Court.  Throughout the week each day brought more news that states were extending the right to marry to same sex couples.  On Friday afternoon on the drive home in carpool came the call from the federal appeals courts that Amendment 1 passed two years ago in NC was unconstitutional.  YESSSS!!! I screamed out my open window at the news.  YESSSS!!! to my local friends Karen and Kelli and their triplets who can finally marry, YESSSS!!! to my students who openly feel comfortable being out and embracing their true selves in my classes, YESSSS!! to my boys whom I hope will find love and a forever relationship when the time is right.

As we has dissected this past week in class through the lens of how, why, what does the SCourt's decision mean for the 30 states where same sex marriage is legal and how is this a perfect example of Federalism.  We've had SO, SO many meaningful discussions from both sides of the argument this past week.  For a teacher, these are the weeks you come back to on the hardest of days.

I played my usual party line of moderator not on either side as I continue to want the number one thing you learn in my class is to pick a side and become politically active. I want my students to care as much about their community as much as their lives online.

I am so, so happy that after all the setbacks from our state government, that this time I am proud to say we are on the right side of an issue.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Over the summer we transitioned Ian into a big boy bed and room.  As sad as I was to see those custom framed favorite children's books be packed away oh-so-carefully to be given one day for grandchildren.  But,it was time.  Complete with Lego movie themed bedding and a puppy and soccer ball poster (yes, Ian asked for both and Bill worked his magic.)

Bill did a fab job checking out options and settled on a bed that can grow with Ian over the next 5 or so years.  Without hesitation the bed will not be used for a while as a bunk bed as to keep hospital co- pays at bay.  We opted for light wood and have a stone colored stick on panels we purchased to be custom fit to the bed and dresser.

We also replaced his baby furniture dresser with an IKEA storage unit.  This allows for book, minimal allowed toys, plus clothes.  Ian (and Ben) are responsible for sorting and putting up their own clothes each weekend.  Having marked drawers helps as I tape a picture with printed words on the correct drawer for Ian on his chore day.  To keep him from playing with them I take them down each weekend. So far he "loves" to be doing a big boy job like Ben.

The other night I went to check on Ian before I went to bed and found this set up with all the animals, pillows, books all laid out. Before you ask, "uh, Heather could that be some of your OCD tendencies being passed on?"  When I asked Ian the next day, he told me while he was sleeping they must have gone on a picnic.

How cute.

How perfectly four years old cute

How much did I want to capture him retelling what happened in his sweet voice.  Note *Ben is about to go to bed as well and come read to Ian and me as well as remind me that tomorrow was "taco Tuesday" and he wanted to eat school lunch.  What a average bedtime at Casa Vinson.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Yesterday I took a day off to chaperone Ben's 3rd grade field trip to the NC Art Museum.  I was assigned to a group of 11 kids including 7 boys. I asked Ben ahead of the trip if he wanted me to come and assured him I wouldn't embarass him. He later told me this was his favorite piece, a giant "fabric" wall hanging that was made completely of recycling. Go figure, my make-it and take-it boy.

We started out tour with an amazing docent who got the kids to sit on the floor with her looking at a work of art from different angles.  She passed out cards with things like "perspective, line, color, texture..." all the tools in the artist toolbox.  As expected, she was a retired teacher enjoying working with kids in a different classroom.

We looked at lots of great works in the museum including the sculpture walk outside.  It was gorgeous, warm outside and once released the kids ran en masse up a giant hill.

We had lunch outside enjoying the sun on our faces.  It was a great day and for the time being I hope Ben will keep telling me to join him, that he wants me around his class and school friends.  There has been such a shift to having a best friend this year, keeping parts of his friendship to himself, basically becoming a young man and no longer a child.

After the buses departed to take the kids back to school, I had a few hours before soccer practice, so I took myself to a favorite place for lunch, hit up Trader Joes minus kids, picked up hay bales for our outside pumpkin palooza display, arranged a giant arrangement of flowers for myself, and came home and took a long walk with the dog  What did I not do?  A speck of work!


The funniest part of the visit was when we were walking out through a Greek sculpture display. Ben's teacher looked over at me as I rounded up the back of the line and said, "I don't think they will notice anything if we move quickly, Me- "Uh... these are 3rd grade primarily boys in our group."

Famous last words


Insert your favorite 3rd grade humor here.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tales from the Missing Persons Files

Have you seen me since I last posted a MONTH ago?

Look closely and you may find me among those 73 public policy journals that I grade over most weekends to stay on top of grading during the weeknight. P is for PARTY (not really, it's for PUBLIC POLICY!)  It's also for the essays AP Gov't writes during the week to be graded, the brand new US History II (Gilded Age to Obama) class I'm lead teacher to collaborate with 7 other US History teachers over this year to plan, tweak where needed, and test. It is also college rec season and with seniors in the fall, many of whom I've taught Civics, US History or even Freshman World History before coming back for AP Gov't, I've been hit up for recommendation letters frequently.  I wish I could tell my 18 year old self to be so much more grateful to those teachers I asked to write for me a gazillion years ago. My guess is if they ever thought I would be teaching students one day, they would have laughed and said, nope I'm not helping you get to that profession. Needless to say I really spell check and edit what I write on behalf for student's.

This year I've also a mentor to two new, 1st year teachers both of which I wouldn't trade places for a a million dollars.  I've been supplying them in candy on Fridays and discount school supplies to round out their cabinets.

In addition I've taken on a a new position as AP Dept Chair. If I had the time to convey my excitement I would.  I hope it will be a great legacy to leave behind when I finally get to retire.  Really, I wanted to add on some responsibility as for the last few years under "school leadership" I've gotten marked way down on not being involved enough at my school.  As part of our annual review, and pay is tied to our performance evaluations, I needed to fit myself in where I'm already doing stuff like mentoring and teaching AP classes to hopefully count more fully.

Our school is one of 150 selected for a new program run by College Board that is a special honors diploma called AP Capstone.  Over the next year I am helping develop and bring a Senior research methods and a Sophomore seminar class to our existing AP course load.  In the spring I will be visiting all our our feeder middle schools to sell why students and their families should buy into this program as a Freshman!

Added responsibility is all good stuff and I'm honored that after interviewing to be the AP Dept Chair, they picked me among the other candidates.   Add to it that I'm also in my national board certification year and I'm basically living work right now minus the couple of afternoons I'm trying to steal to work out.

Never since I started this little space other than a 30 day, self- imposed media fast back in 2009 have I ever gone this long without a post. Between the usual amount of hours in a given work week, Ben's amount of homework per night, 2 soccer weeknight practices, and 2 Saturday games I'm doing good to keep us in clean underwear.

I've also had some horrible, horrible issues with sleep related to working up to going to bed and then having insomnia.  So when I can, I'm trying to get to bed as early as possible.  Just know that I'm still here and doing fine and basically choosing sleep other than updating the mundane.

I hope to return again during my favorite month of the year.  In the meantime, eat some candy corn and peanuts in my honor as I have banned both from my house.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Let's call the Cary Fire Deptment, shall we?

I've fallen off the blog wagon in August due to trips, teacher workdays, and then school starting.  I feel like we started the year as a sprint and not the marathon that it is to make it to June.

Alas, what went down this weekend other than almost 10 hours logged between Friday night and last night at close to midnight grading a copy paper box filled to the brim with papers?

How about this around 11 pm on Saturday night?

Did you guess "is that a fire truck?"

Why yes, you would be right.  Our carbon monoxide detector went off just before 11 pm waking Bill and causing me to drop a stack of papers I was working on and race upstairs in a panic.  We hesitated calling when we could not find evidence of a problem other than at some point of the day our monitor recorded a level of 12 and not the expected 0.

I mentioned calling the non-emergency number for our town.  Does YOUR town have a 24/7 "let's not call 911, but this is important in the moment number?" If unsure, check it out and put it in your phone.

The town offered to sent a truck and fire crew to our house and they appeared quickly (and smelled like a fire that one fire department member said they had fought earlier in the evening.)  For the next hour, the crew spread out among our house including the attic and under the house in the crawlspace taking carbon monoxide readings.  I checked on the boys, who were fine and sleeping peacefully.

They could find no reason why our detector had measured a 12 (over 70 is dangerous) and assured us that no detectable amounts were found.  Ben and Ian slept through the whole event so I took a picture to prove that a real, live fire truck had not only been on our street, but firemen had been in our house.  I lamented to one of the men, that it is a 4 and 8 year old boy's dream come true to see a real fireman in action and sadly they missed all the action.

One of the firemen returned to the truck and produced a couple of the plastic hats they give out at community events.  Can we say once again I was not only impressed with their service, overall attitude to answer questions, but that they genuinely cared about our family.

Ben woke up to go to the bathroom just as the truck was leaving.  I said to him in his very sleepy state, "go look out the window to see something really cool."  My idea backfired as he was then scared to go back to sleep thinking that his house was going to burn down.  I let him sleep with me and he did finally go back to sleep only to have Ian join us with growing pains a few hours later.  Needless to say Ian thought Ben (and I) were pulling his leg when we showed him the hat in the morning.

Thankfully this was only a false alarm and I cannot say enough positive things about our local department that keep us safe.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Really, Ben can't be old enough to be using a daily agenda, tabs, and keeping a notebook.
Yay to more responsibility.
Boo to kids getting older!

1st Day of School

Checking in after what has been a busy few final weeks of the summer.  Both boys are now back in full time school and daycare and I am back to the grind of new students and a new school year.  At some point I hope to recap summer.  If is had a theme, it would be "oh, the places you will go."  Of the 8 weeks between end of school on the 14th and return on August 15th we (or I) was gone 4 weeks of the summer.

A good summer, wait a GREAT summer given for the first time ever I didn't teach online or write test items on contract.  Frankly, I don't see how I would have had time!

Monday night after a long 15 hour day with 11 hours at school and the other 4 existing on multiple cups of coffee we finished dinner and opted for 1st day photos. Ben and Ian had of course been watching American Ninja Warrior, and were recreating the "devil steps" which they insisted they had to do shirtless.

Hence, this is our official back to school picture for 2014.

As well as this action shot of them jumping off the porch.  This is how I remember summer 2014, as a series of stunts and one-upping each other in dares.

I convinced them to put on a shirt to take one picture with mom (who I barely recognize due to the bags under my eyes and the 10 years older I look than any picture taken during the summer.)

They told me we should pose shirtless, myself included.  Nope.

I will settle for a sandwich kiss.

Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 Florida Roadtrip Recap

Back from our annual Florida roadtrip, this time with some new places to visit.

We left last Thursday after Ben finished up his last session at BMX camp, getting to Uncle Brian's after dinner.  We were all tired, but we couldn't hit up bed without Brian read his favorite children's book to the boys.  My mom gave Ben a huge collection of Little Golden Books for his first birthday with inscriptions in each. Brian always loved Grover, so naturally she included, "The Monster at the End of the Book."

Thursday our plans to hit up the Greenville Zoo and Cleveland Park, but due to the rain we went to the children's museum and to Mellow Mushroom for lunch.  That evening, after all the rain had passed, we took a long walk through my old neighborhood and stopped by 202 Camille Street, where my grandparents lived for nearly twenty-five years.  While it has changed drastically inside, I can picture every room the way it was in the 1980s and 90s.

My high school friend Mark and his sweet family now live in the house.  I mentioned to him that my grandparents, Mary-Hall and Ben Jobe, would be pleased to know that love lives on in their home.   Thanks Massey family for letting us stop by on a Friday night and crash the party.

Saturday we made the long day drive of about ten hours with as few stops as possible. We did stop in Atlanta where my sorority sister Amy K. and her husband now live.  Due to her husband's career in the US Air Force, this is the first time since we graduated from college that she has lived on the East coast. Naturally, we had to catch up over lunch while our four boys played nearby.

Saturday night through Wednesday we spent in Destin, Florida at Bill's uncle's beach condo. We normally stay with Bill's aunt Mary, but as she had a stroke in March (and is now recovering), we opted not to stay with her.  I don't know who wouldn't want a four and eight year old jumping repeatedly in the pool screaming all day in their house.  We several relaxing sun drenched days spent on the beach having brother vs brother float battles in the surf.

We also spent too many hours lounging around watching movies, playing games, building Legos inside.

Ben and Ian loved spending time with their Grandmommy Pam, Uncle Jamie and Aunt Katie.  We spent our final night at Baytown Wharf playing games, eating ice cream and being a family.

While we were there we had a torrential late afternoon storm.  We were having dinner with Bill's aunt Mary and Uncle Don at bay side restaurant on the water.  We watched the storm come over the horizon and then after, we saw an amazing rainbow once it passed  The boys and I walked down to the water to take a closer look. I snapped a few pictures before the rainbow dissipated.

It was not without mentioning that the third anniversary of my mom's death found us while visiting Brian. While we were out walking I couldn't help but feel she was with us on the night of August 8th

When Ben asked why the rainbow disappeared I briefly thought about giving him the scientific rationale. Instead since he had been asking lots of questions about God and death lately, I said that Mema must of reached down and taken the rainbow back to Heaven with her and that she would return it after another rainy storm to let us know she was ok and still with us. A child's answer was all I could give.

It was a good, much needed trip to get away for us all before our school year begins next week.