Saturday, 28 February 2009

Day 151 of 365: I'm Not Ready for 5th Gear!

We had a late-night driving practice tonight since there was less traffic on the roads. It went well and I'm getting better at maneuvering traffic islands. At one point Matt pointed out to me, "hon, the car does have fifth gear, you know." My instant reply to this was, "well I'm not ready for fifth gear!" In my defense, my concentration was focused more on the unfamiliar roads and speed limit.

As much as I joke, a special mention to DH for his good deed today as well. We were leaving Lloyds at Merry Hill when we hear a thud behind us. At first it looked like a pram had tipped over because all we could see were wheels, but after a closer look, I saw gray curly hair belonging to an elderly woman. Her chair had fallen backward and she smacked her head off the floor pretty hard. Matt was behind her in seconds helping her back up and telling her not to panic. She assured him she was okay and thanked him for his help.

I think this world could use more people who don't give a second thought to helping someone else. I'm also glad my husband is one of those people.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Day 150 of 365: Locked Up, They Won't Let Me Out

First, I'd like to thank Akon for providing me with a title for my post.

I was assigned to Year 6 today and the pupils were much better behaved than I expected for the reputation older students typically have. There were some students acting sillier than they should have been, but nothing ultimately disruptive until the later afternoon as we were preparing to go home. One of the children decided it would be absolutely HILARIOUS to pull the fire alarm in the mobile unit where Year 6 is housed. Did the alarm go off in JUST the mobile unit? Oh noooooo. It went off in the ENTIRE SCHOOL! So, instead of students being allowed to go home with parents as usual at the end of the day, we had to line them up as we would during a fire drill. Needless to say, parents were not too pleased and neither were the other students who were being forced to stay for a head-count. Unfortunately, it took the little joker until we walked outside and they realized all eyes were on them to see the serious nature of the offense. When this revelation was made, the tears began to fall.

After this drama, I stayed behind with the other Year 6 teacher to get some much-needed marking done for Literacy, but sadly, 5:00 rolled around and they decided they would take the work home with them. I didn't have this option, so I had to leave a note for the classroom teacher to say how far I had gotten. When I proceeded to the gate to leave, I discovered it was locked. I returned to the main building only to find the blinds in the main office were closed, which meant the office staff had left as well. I was forced to go back to the mobile unit and get the other teacher to let me out with his key fob...10 minutes past when I had planned on leaving...and 70 minutes past the time Matt had arrived and been waiting in the car to take me home.

It was a bit of a long day, but the good news at the end of it all is that I have a full week's work from Monday sorted in Year 1 at a Catholic school in Erdington. I get to even take the train!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Day 149 of 365: Sign Me Up!

The life of a supply teacher can be inconsistent at times. This week has been very much just that -- no work, all . . . week . . . long . . . . . . NADA! Unfortunately, it's not the best timing for me to have extra time off after just completing a week off from half-term. Some might enjoy the extra bit, but for me, it means 'no pay' and that is bad.

So I took matters into my own hands and signed up with a second supply teaching agency. At least this will double my chances of getting called out on a day because I will use it for when I don't get a call from the regular place. Plus, the new one may be able to find me work a bit closer to home (I hope).

With luck, between this second agency and the tutoring, we may be able to saving to get out of this flat.

Boo, economy!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Day 148 of 365: Ashes, Ashes...

Today is Ash Wednesday and I decided it was time for me to attend mass once again since I haven't been in months. Today was also weigh-in day at fat camp, so this photo was taken along my 3.5 mile walk past the fields near Ridgehill Cottage. I had a super close up of the bigger one in the background, but he ran off. I guess he's shy of American amateur-paparazzi. Or perhaps it's just the ones with 5.0 megapixel Kodaks squeeling "HORSIES!!!"

I had planned on a photo of the ashes on my forehead after mass, however, they didn't end up on my forehead. Father gave a caution for people to not stick out their tongues as they received their ashes and now I know why. In America, they make a cross with ashes on your in England, they sprinkle ashes onto the crown of your bonce.

Great, and I JUST washed my hair.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Day 147 of 365: Cat Calling

He sits in the window and makes the funniest little meows to the birds outside in the tree. It's almost as if he thinks they can hear him.

Today was completely...meh. No call for work. No ventures outside. Just meh.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Day 146 of 365: All Smiles

Meg is smiling because she can finally bite evenly on both sides of her mouth without pain and chew food on the right side again (for the first time in 9 months) -- thanks to her new gold filling.

Matt is smiling because he will finally get a good night's sleep without a wailing wife in pain.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Day 145 of 365: Back to School

Today is the final day in the half-term break. Schools in the UK resume bright and early tomorrow. Although, I don't count it as another day of my holiday break even though I won't be in school myself. Tomorrow I get my crown fitted for my gimpy molar -- yay!

So, in celebration of my final day, I did many, many "Kriss Kross" puzzles. I realize I am weird for enjoying how the pen feels on the paper when I fill in the little boxes.

Don't judge me.

I do what I want.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Day 144 of 365: Nothing to See Here

Such an uneventful day! I was hoping that since it was bright and sunny that we could so somewhere, not too far, to enjoy the outdoors...but that didn't happen. Matt thinks I'm old because I want to join a rambling society. What can I say, I just enjoy a good, scenic which might provide me interesting photos for my 365 -- and if that is God's will, so be it. HA!

We were at Em & Daz's for the evening and upon returning, this is the ritual (chase the stick/catch the stick) that MUST happen with Mr. Fuzzy Pants or he is a right jerk-face when we get upstairs. He has even gotten to the point that he will pull several of the sticks from their decorative bundle and strategically place them in the way of the front door or along the steps to remind us that it is time to play.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Day 143 of 365: Mood Lighting

No, we haven't forgotten to pay the electric...nor have we converted to being Amish. This has been a common sight on an evening over the past few weeks in the front room. Matt has these tea lights which were too big for the original holders he picked up at Ikea last year. We've all but used the four big candles up so we've now moved on to the tea lights.

It's funny now because it looks like some sort of sacrificial altar...but our intent is simply to dull the regular bright light in the room, yet not sit in total darkness.

I quite like the candles though.

*cue Moody Blues -- Tuesday Afternoon*

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Day 142 of 365: The Plan

Every now and again I get a surge of motivation and decide that TODAY will be the changing day for me. The most recent is due to a 2 lb. loss at my fat camp weigh-in last night and the subsequent healthy grocery-haul at Asda (even though I couldn't find the gnocchi). I hope this wave of motivation lasts longer than the rest as I have set a 12-week goal to lose at least 18 lbs, which IS possible (as seen in the decorative chart I made, above).

This is how my day went:


  • Quaker Oats (blueberry)
  • 1/4 pint skimmed milk
  • banana


  • Jacket potato
  • 1/2 can baked beans
  • steamed veggies

DINNER... (not from the chippy...but homemade!)

  • Baked potato wedges (chips)
  • cod (hand-breaded with flour & egg)

Believe it or not, all this tasty food was well-within my points allowance for the day (notice the absence of ready-meals) and I even have some points left over. So I'm off to search for a snack.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Day 141 of 365: Tagged

I've bookmarked a few new recipes I want to try out of my Weight Watchers magazine. Then I diligently made a list and Matthew and I went grocery shopping. We returned surprisingly without much in terms of sweets and bad-for-you items.


Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Day 140 of 365: Recovery

Strict diet of soft foods until I get my crown fitted next Monday.

Pasta, you say? FINE by me!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Day 139 of 365: Root of the Problem

This is where I spent 45 minutes of my life this afternoon receiving my first ever root canal - The Dental Surgery in Quinton. Turns out it was my bottom right molar (broken last June) that was the culprit of the pain, not the wisdom tooth, as previously thought.

Since late last Thursday, I have been slowly deteriorating and feeling like my brain was leaking out of my ears at one point. The pain was absolute torture...and from what some Google sources have told me, worse (in some cases) than actually being in labour. I began taking Nurofen Thursday night and through Friday. However, by Saturday night, the pain was no longer mild and it reduced me to absolute tears. Poor Matt felt so helpless with me curled up in the fetal position clutching my head in my hands. First it would start in my lower jaw and go into the roof of my mouth before shooting a sharp pain into my ears and then behind my eyes. Every now and again the pain would change course and shoot down through my neck and back up into my throat before finishing in my temple with a throbbing force leaving me feeling as though my head was in a vice.

*insert virtual feeling of migraine + ear infection + ice cream headache + fever + strep throat + being punched in the lower jaw* (THAT is how it felt)

The only way I could sleep was being doped up on Paramol and 400mg Ibuprofen whilst lying my head on top of a sock-covered, scalding hot, old malt vinegar jar filled with water (which hubby was lovingly re-heating through the kettle every couple of hours).

I was able to get in to see the dentist yesterday, who prescribed me some Amoxicillin, (see day 138) and from there an appointment was made again in Cradley Heath for a possible extraction this morning. When we got in, the dentist took a brief look and suggested we go to his other office in Quinton as they have NHS capacity and it would cost us less. Before we left, he suggested that I have my broken molar extracted and assured me the wisdom tooth would then move into its place. Upon being seen by the dentist in Quinton, he had an alternative plan. First, he said if the molar was extracted, a replacement tooth would be necessary. Then he suggested an X-Ray to see how poorly the molar actually was and then determined there was an 80% chance of saving the tooth with a root canal. My appointment was immediately booked for 2:20pm this afternoon.

Thankfully Matt was allowed to go into the room with me. The dentist was fantastic and honestly restored my faith in dentistry. I didn't feel ANY pain whatsoever and the worst part of it all was attempting to have a flip-top head and keep my mouth open for him to work. I go back in next Monday to have my gold crown fitted and that's that...all done...fin! I'm not sure how I feel about the crown itself being gold, but I was assured it is stronger than the enamel version. I keep telling Matt that if I'm going to have a gold tooth, I need to also accompany that with a diamond-encrusted grill as well. Sadly, he thinks I'm joking.

Photo: Dr. Teeth - Muppets

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Day 138 of 365: Ow ow ow!

I barely made it through the night last night and as a result, I had a visit to the dentist this morning to confirm an infection. I paid him £16.50 to poke my gums a couple times and give me a prescription for Amoxicillin. Then, lucky me...I have an appointment for 9:20am tomorrow morning to see if they get to extract the wisdom tooth that is causing the pain.

I was pretty disappointed to be missing one of Em's Sunday Roast dinners, until...

Matt brought me this own little version of Meals on Wheels!

Plenty of soft veggies and I enjoyed every last morsel (paying for the movement in my jaw later, of course...).

SO worth it! Thanks Emma (and thank you Daz for my little foil message)!!!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Day 137 of 365: Happy Valentine's Day!

This is what wonderful hubby woke up to...and I must say, I'm quite impressed with my presentation. Immediately following his breakfast he was subjected to a brief scavenger hunt through the flat to get to his Valentine's greeting card from me. It made him laugh to read my was even hidden in the coffee jar.

My gift from him were some lovely roses, which he gave me last night, actually. They're proudly displayed on the mantle...just in time to replace the birthday flowers.

This is also something exciting that happened today...

I had my first driving practice in one of the car parks at the Waterfront by Merry Hill. A HUGE thank you to MIL, Josie, for allowing me some practice time in her great little car (and no worries...the photo was safely taken by Matt before we even started the car).

Also, pay no attention to my chubby cheeks -- I've been experiencing some swelling from a troublesome, impacted wisdom tooth and I was actually smiling through some pain. This cut my practice time short for the night...but not before I had a go on the actual road to drive Matt and myself home.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Day 136 of 365: Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs

Sounds so...official, huh?

Well it is! My National Insurance Number card came in the mail today. I was issued my number about 8 weeks ago, but now I have the card with my name and everything!!

To top things off, schools broke up for half-term today so I have all of next week off! Woo!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Day 135 of 365: Jerk-face

He finally fell asleep after sulking from being told off earlier. We enjoy sleepy Myst.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Day 134 of 365: Behaviour Management

The following is a scenario this book does NOT give the answer to:

  • How to respond to an 8-year-old child who tells you "I'm not a slave!" when you announce to the class that it's time to tidy up.
I'm fielding any suggestions on this one...

Oh, and no, punting them across a football field is NOT an option.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Day 133 of 365: American Incognito

If there is one thing that makes me extremely uncomfortable, it's being anyone: church groups, kiosk people at the mall, girl scouts -- okay, okay...not girl scouts...

*makes mental note that cookie-season should be here soon*

Today as I was waiting for Matt to pick me up outside my school, I could see a small group of men from a distance armed with backpacks and fliers. I observed them as they would branch off and talk to pedestrians, handing them out fliers, and then re-group as they made their way down the pavement to me. I'm chanting in my head, "Get here, Matt...get heeerrre," as I see them inch closer and closer. Then, I try to be elusive and appear unavailable by fiddling with my mobile when one of the men approach me.

Unfortunately, avoiding eye contact and not moving only works on velociraptors and he starts into his script. Initially I try to act as though I don't hear him, but he walks around me as I turn my back and I can no longer avoid it. Plan B was to pretend I don't speak English...but the foreshadowing I saw was him being able to speak whatever language it was I claimed to be native of, so nay on that option.

He asked if I knew where a certain street was near the bullring and as soon as I said, "No, sorry, I'm not from here," he exclaims, "You're American!" This is where the questions begin with where I'm from, if I've been to A, B or C, etc. -- but I'll spare you. You're welcome. Let's just say that I was able to get off the hook by fibbing that I was just a visitor and I wasn't here after this week -- which is partly true because half-term is next week and I honestly have yet to find out if I will be returning to the same school after the break.

So, successful (for me) end to the conversation and the man was on his merry way. Now I'm forever left with a souvenir from that moment -- until I threw it in the bin after I took the photo. Oops.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Day 132 of 365: Just One of Those Days

A day like mine warrants a bottle of Aleve and a STRONG drink. Fortunately, I have the required naproxen sodium and I expect to be semi-recovered...just in time to return to school tomorrow.

I was in a Year 3 class today that was just...well...lively, to put it mildly -- after all, I do wish to keep this blog polite. Let's just say that as a supply teacher, I have to put up with different children than a regular classroom teacher. C'mon, we've all been there...only WE were the children at the time, right? Substitute walks in the room and you know one thing and one thing can do WHATEVER you please today without the same consequences.

I do try to keep things as consistent with the daily routine as possible and I make it clear from the get-go that I am there to facilitate learning and will not tolerate any non-sensible behaviour. But enough whiny voices bleeting "Miiiiiiiissssss" and "Can I go to toy-luuuuhht?" whilst I'm trying to help a small group of lower performing students on their maths (who also don't have any interest in helping themselves) and it's enough to put me at my wit's end and my tolerance goes out the window. At the end of the day, I'm a stranger to them and I have not earned their trust enough for them to respect why I expect them to still behave. Alas, they really don't care...and it shows when I make simple requests like, "choose a different seat as clearly sitting in that one is causing you distraction," and I get a combination heavy sigh and eye-roll, accompanied with a sarcastic mimic of my own request given until the pupils within that child's immediate vicinity are giggling at their class-clown crony.

Forget the "you have to be firm with this group," how about some simple respect for adults?! What happened to this from when we were all kids?! I even said to one of the boys today, "No you may not go to the toilet because you really don't need to use it, you're just bored and looking for an excuse to leave the classroom." He just looked back at me and grinned, which was confirmation enough that I was right all along.

Please, don't misunderstand, I really do enjoy what I do...but today has just been one of those days, and I'm very glad it will soon be a 'yesterday.'
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Sunday, 8 February 2009

Day 131 of 365: Attack of the Snowflakes!

This is Matt as we were leaving his parents' house tonight. The snowflakes were seriously ginormous!! Matt tells me this is the first time in years that it has snowed back-to-back like this over the course of a couple of weeks.

Typically on a Sunday we have tea at Em & Daz's, but tonight Matt and myself, along with Em & Daz, joined Josie and David for Sunday Roast at theirs. Like many of the Sunday dinner's I have experienced since my time began in the UK, it was very tasty and sufficiently filled my tummy. Although my in-laws don't live terribly far from us, it is very nice to be able to sit with everyone and just have a visit and a nice chat.

The snow has stopped for now and some moderate fog has settled in. I don't think this will do too much to the morning commute, but we shall see.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Day 130 of 365: All The Way From...


Yep, my SECOND pair of socks from the sock exchange arrived this morning! This is a really fun activity because you get excited when you see the envelope...but it's always a surprise of what is inside! Plus, socks are fairly inexpensive to purchase and send as I've noticed the UK postage has only been less than £1...just two first class stamps and a second class one as well. I'm really looking forward to what comes next. Thirty-four pair to come!!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Day 129 of 365: Federal Witness Protection Program

I'm feeling very hermit-ish today.

That is all.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Day 128 of 365: What's for Tea?

Tonight's menu: Gammon (boiled), potato waffles, egg, and baked beans. Joint effort by hubby and myself. I must say I'm quite pleased with our work.

I was so good today, trudging through the harsh, wintry conditions to make it to school (well, Matt did most of the "trudging," to be fair, since he drove me). But earlier in the week -- Tuesday to be specific, the council did a blanket closure for all of Birmingham City Schools. This made life simple as I checked the BRMB radio website and saw this announcement, so I went back to bed. Schools were open sporadically through the area Wednesday, but apparently many had received a lot of flack for closing and "not giving parents enough notice." They claimed that teachers and staff were just lazy, even though it was the council's decision. Whinge, whinge, whinge!

Wednesday night rolls around and the snow started coming down in small flakes, but at a steady pace. I was expecting another closure when I looked at BRMB around 11pm and noticed a large number of schools in the Birmingham areas had already called in their school cancellations -- the school for my post was NOT one of them, however. Surely the council will see the potential road dangers and step in? Then my alarm wakes me Thursday morning at 6:40am...I check BRMB again and now roughly 300 schools are on the list. Again, my assigned school is NOT one of I quickly get ready and Matt and I head out the door.

Traffic through Kingswinford and Dudley were backed up pretty bad and it was a snail's crawl. At one point I believe it took us 40 minutes to go just 6 miles! All the while we're listening to the radio and hear that now Solihull (outskirts of Birmingham city centre) has issued a blanket closure and the count for Birmingham city schools is up to 400 closed. Knowing I won't get paid if I don't go in, we proceed to the school with caution on slippy roads.

I arrive to school surprisingly on time, and leave my bag in the car with Matt to quickly run in and get the "run down." The Headteacher tells me that they have not made the decision to close and they were going to see how many students arrived -- possibly sending them home around dinnertime if the roads appeared to still be poor. I return to Matt in the car park and explain this to him. We evaluate for a bit on whether or not I should stay and ultimately decide it's better to get paid for the day, so he leaves me there.

About an hour later, when another supply teacher and myself are still sitting in the staff lounge awaiting our classroom assignments, the Deputy Head walks in to inform us that the school is remaining open, however, because of the low attendance, they won't be needing supply staff for the day. By now, I'm praying that Matt hasn't gotten very far in traffic so I call his mobile only to have him answer and announce that he had only JUST made it back home and made himself a coffee.

It took him an additional hour and a half to get back to me through morning traffic. The only good thing is that I still get paid for the day since I made the effort to get out to the school, but I will agree with the radio DJ's...Birmingham City Council needs to get their thumb out in the future.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Day 127 of 365: Extra! Extra!

Wow...not a very reassuring headline. Forecast is snow, snow, snow for the rest of the week and into next with no visible signs of blue sky at all. Matt and I stocked up on groceries to last a bit -- at least until I get paid next. People in the queue at the checkout had their shopping trolleys RAMMED with food.

Looks like nothing but snowy pics for a while. Ugh.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Day 126 of 365: Sock Exchange

My first pair have arrived!! I saw the parcel through the letterbox at half past ten this morning. At first I thought it was a book I have been waiting for off Amazon, but the envelope was too squishy to be a book. I opened it to reveal one pair of ladies over-the-knee, stripy fashion socks! They're SO fun and they'll be perfect with a nice pair of boots. As far as the over-the-knee feature...I prefer to roll them down a bit below the knee as over-the-knee just doesn't look right on my Hobbit-legs.

But seriously, how FANTASTIC are these?!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Day 125 of 365: Snow Cat!

We had quite the snowfall in Kingswinford last night -- so much that schools here and in Dudley were closed for the day. The commute to school this morning was spent listening for the closings on the radio to see if the school I'm assigned to was in the list. No such luck. They did, however, point out in the briefing this morning that there may be a blanket closure for all of Birmingham tomorrow. Then about half-eight tonight I get a phone call from the agency that schools are closed. We just checked BRMB 96.4 as well, and they have announced blanket closures for Birmingham, Dudley, and Solihull already. The funny thing is...the snow has now stopped and they're calling for rain. Figures!

As you can see from the photo...Myst's nosy kitty self got to explore a bit this afternoon as well.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Day 124 of 365: Counting the Days...

I'm counting the days until we won't have to worry about this for a while. Just a regular Sunday at Em & Daz's and THIS is what we are graced with when we come outside -- a fresh blanket of snow! I tried to get a pic before Matt started scraping, but he thought some artwork would be cute.

Dear Siberia,

You can keep your snow and cold air, kthanks!

Love, Meg

I just hope this doesn't add too much time to our commute in the morning. Originally the plan was to leave by 7:15am -- now that has changed to 6:45am. Wish us luck!!