Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas in London - Belated and Extended

So, on Wednesday, my roommates departed in the early morning for six days in Venice and Munich. I woke up at 11 and got ready; it was time for my postponed Christmas dinner. At quarter to two, Christa arrived with what seemed like a truckload of supplies and luggage. She settled in and we caught up on the news and gossip and exchanged gifts (she gave me a Minnie Mouse plushie!). In between watching movies and more chatting, we worked on putting a meal together - turkey (we overcooked it so it was a bit dry but it was TURKEY - rosemary turkey done with a recipe Christa found online), mashed sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes (Christa peeled, I chopped, boiled and mashed them), and brussel sprouts (I boiled them - they were then mixed with butter and garlic). There was also gravy which wasn't so bad but we're not going to talk about that. Ever.

On Thursday, by the time Christa and I decided we wanted to go to the Science Museum it was too late in the day (decision making - not our thing) so we went to Shepherd's Bush and, while I window shopped, Christa picked up some belated gifts for her roommates. We came back to the house to finish up the leftovers and more movies and chatting. Really, we could have made movie watching and  chatting Olympic events and won the gold, I swear.

Friday we went to the Science Museum. Science Museums, if you've never been, are exciting and interesting. Science Museums, if you have been before, are basically more of the same. Technology is tracked through the centuries; steam engines are begun with John Watt and move forward until cars and space shuttles come about. Space shuttles mean space travel and that's a whole kettle of fish including how the food is stored, how  non-gravity is dealt with and how...basic human needs are met. There are generic exhibits explaining how the atmosphere, evolution, genetics, and so on work. And, of course, there's a flash to the future - where toilets will be able to  analyze feces and urine for signs of illness and update your doctor and shopping lists accordingly.

Christa finally left this morning after having spent (count them) three nights crashing on the couch - but we'll be getting together again at her place in just two days for New Year's. :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I'll be Home for Christmas...

I'm dreamin' tonight of a place I love
Even more then I usually do
And although I know it's a long road back
I promise you

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
 Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
If only in my dreams

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family at home. Believe me when I say I am missing you terribly! Had several Skype calls today with family and I cried through two, cried after two and held it together for two. I was very impressed with myself. My roommates and I exchanged gifts in the morning and the rest of the day was rather uneventful - I worked on my writing and watched Doctor Who in between Skype calls home. It was a quiet day but, more than anything, it made me realize how much I really, really don't want to ever miss another Christmas at home!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Short Post for a Short Week

Last Sunday, I went out and got a new laptop from Argos. It had to be done; Grayson's battery was losing its ability to hold a charge, its power cable was having trouble connecting with the computer and its fan was in its death throes. So, I did some research, consulted my more in-the-know friends and retired Grayson-the-HP and bought Nightwing-the-Toshiba. Because, yes, I do indeed name my laptops...and my other technology too. I'm a namer. It's what I do.

So far, so good on the new laptop front. It's working wonderfully and, in a happy coincidence, my mom managed to work out how to use Skype so we've been doing that quite regularly ever since. Should be awesome for Christmas.

It was a GPS void week, and you all know how much I love that. I worked three days this week - Monday I was back at the awesomely well behaved Catholic school, Wednesday I was at last week's Islamic school in a much better class, and Thursday I went to Watford for an easy as pie half-day which, once again, included a fun filled journey where I of course hit a snag or ten before arriving at the school. Thank the gods that the secretary was willing to drive me back to the train station at the end of the day and I got to forgo getting lost...again.

Two weeks off starts now which, of course, gives me mixed feelings. I'm glad to have the time off to relax and recharge - plus, you know, holidays! - but at the same time that's a month of messed up pay (two weeks GPS void, two weeks holidays) and that makes me nervous. Still, it's still Christmas. I just wish I wasn't far from home and all. It's going to be rough, no question.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Week of H.E.L.L.

So, the movie and dinner plan with Christa fell through last weekend but it's all good - this week we went to see The Hobbit (which, in true Jackson fashion, lived up to its predecessors). The movie started at 10.45AM and we got out, I kid you not, at 2.00PM. We grabbed lunch at a peri-peri chicken place called Nandos where I had a wrap and Christa a burger. Good times that were beyond appreciated in the wake of a week that began okay but quickly descended into hell.

You know what? I'll back up. On Monday I had fairly good day going to a Year 1 class at a school I hadn't been to before. The teacher assistant was a big help and, while the plans for the day were a bit loose, I made do and had a pretty good day. Tuesday I had a job interview which flopped because I was told not to prepare a lesson plan by my consultant (although she denies this) and, lovely surprise, guess what the school wanted to see? Yup, my lesson plan. Happy camper I was not.

And this brings us to Wednesday - NOT a good day. At all. It was, in fact, my worst day to date. I was going to Clapham to an Islamic school and school started at 8.30AM giving me an hour to get there. No problem. The tube rides were a piece of cake, easy as pie, and then my consultant ordered up a taxi to collect me and bring me to the school. I waited half an hour, finally got a call from the driver who told me was there but didn't see me. Cue ten minutes of Marco-Polo and then a walk back to his taxi. I had to call my consultant and have her give the driver directions to the school at that point. Think about that for a minute - my consultant had to give the taxi driver directions. I got to the school, thank the gods, and then had to call my consultant again because, lucky girl that I am, I was being held hostage by the driver who didn't know how much to charge me. She had to yell at him to charge me SOMETHING so we could all move on with our days. He finally did (the taxi fare gets added back into my pay so, yay, no worries there) and I went into the school where I got to teach the wildest, most ill behaved class in creation. It was a year three class so the munchkins were like eight years old but with the monstrous attitude of twelve year olds. It was a HORRIBLE day.

On the bright side, Thursday and Friday I was at a Catholic school my roommates frequent and, thank all the gods, the classes on both days were great, the students so awesome and well behaved I almost cried for the reprieve.

And then came the weekend. The weekend with The Hobbit and Nandos peri-peri chicken and shopping with Christa. It was a beyond needed break after a week of almost pure hell. Thank the gods.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

*sigh* Sometimes it's a Circus Out There...

Monday I did PPA coverage at Derwentwater - Year 3 in the morning, then Year 2, and Year 4 in the afternoon. It's pretty neat having that sort of variety in my day, although it was just a bit too easy, sometimes feeling more like babysitting, really, than teaching. The Year 3 class, however, were hands down my absolute favourite class ever - the little darlings had NAME TAGS! I could have danced from the joy of it - all the usual awkwardness POOF! gone. The Year 2 class I had had before but basically all I had to do was supervise while they worked on their math assignment, then let them loose for lunch. The afternoon class, Year 4, was Guided Reading where the kids were split up into their groups and tended to themselves while I read with one group of five kids. After that, the pipsqueaks went off to practice their Christmas play and I supervised those kids whose parents didn't want them participating. They worked on a project about habitats, a bum deal in my opinion given what their classmates were doing. One half-hour, however, near the end of the day was taken for an assembly during which a priest told the kiddies about Advent. Fun times.

Tuesday I was back at Wembley in a reception class and Wednesday I had the day off. Turned out to be good thing, actually, since it meant I was home when the mailman came by with a package for me from home. My parents had gotten my name wrong on the package - again - but it contained Christmas gifts - pajamas and bracelets from my sister, an ornament, stuffed mini moose, and mysterious "Do Not Open Until X-Mas" envelope from my parents - so I'm willing to forgive them.

Thursday I got to go to a new (in the sense that I hadn't been there before) school. I got figure out the navigation on my own which worked out pretty simple enough - took  the tube for two stops and a bus for twenty minutes. I was doing PPA - so it was a Year 2 class in the morning (a little chatty but overall pretty good - they worked on acrostic poems in the AM  followed by a math lesson that was mostly just discussion and visual aid. In the afternoon I was with a Year 6 class. All they had to do was write a diary entry for their second day aboard the Titanic, work on some Titanic art and then it was PE. Simple. Easy. Piece of cake. Or it would have been if not for their attitude. Forget what else you might have heard - preteens in the UK are complete nightmares. Think spoiled rich kids without the riches. Absolutely, positively everything I asked them to do was an argument - "You're not the boss of me!" "Who died and made you Ms. Know-it-all?" "The Titanic sunk. Big deal - it was a hundred years ago! Can we get over it now?" "If diaries are supposed to be private, doesn't this whole thing defeat the point?" and on and on it went. I'm fairly certain they would have argued with me had I told them to bring water to the desert.

Which, of course, brings us to Friday when I was back at Wembley. I was in a Year 3 class and got a class renowned for their bad behaviour. Oh, they did their work, sure - but they did it with so much noise, so much chatter that by the end of the day half the class was crying from headaches and the other half were crying with frustration from having been punished for their inability to be quiet and listen. It was...not a good day. It was, truth be told, a lot like being a passenger aboard the Titanic - fun times. Thankfully, the TA and other teachers all assure me this delightfully hellish day wasn't unique to me - they're that noisy and disrespectful to EVERYONE - which made me feel loads better.

Nothing on the agenda for today but, yay, plan to go over to Christa's tomorrow for a movie day and supper.

I also have NEWS!! but I'm holding off on the sharing until things are more set in stone.

Until next time, my freaky darlings!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rough Week with a Fun Ending

This week was definitely on the more uneventful side of things right up until the end. Tuesday I was at Wembley - the school with the outdoor courtyard - in a Year 1 class that went very well. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent in Year 2 classes at Derwentwater - the school essentially around the corner from the house. Monday was in one class, Wednesday and Thursday were in another - and those afternoons spend in Nursery. I had high hopes of returning on Friday but by the consultant called I'd already been booked to go to another school by another consultant, conincidentally the same school one of my roommates was headed to. I really, really, really wish I'd gotten to go back to Derwentwater water instead. Friday was...well, it wasn't easy. The kids were very chatty and difficult to coral, but the only thing I actually had to teach was a mental math test - PE followed and the afternoon was pretty much free time and easy as pie.

Still, not an easy class.

Yesterday (and, I'd like to pause here to say: WOOT! It's December! T-minus, 23 days until Christmas!) I met up with Christa at Shepherd's Bush. We explored around some then caught Breaking Dawn Part 2 at Vue Cinemas. It was a great finale - it incorporated most of the book's major points, threw in the battle scene the book lacked, and I totally adored how they used graphics of a flipping book to tie the movie to its origins at the end scene. Afterward we went to supper (after wandering around trying to find some place that struck both our fancies) at an oriental buffet called Aroma right there in the mall. It was very yummy and I wish I'd had room to eat more than I did. It was a great day overall - I had oodles of fun and really enjoyed myself.

Tomorrow it'll be back into the fray - hopefully my track record of five day work-weeks will continue!