Sunday, July 24, 2011

Will the real Laura Ingalls Wilder please stand up?

Whenever I drive down 94 East I always see the exit sign for Laura Ingalls Wilder's log cabin, but I have never had the opportunity to diverge and visit it. I had 4 days off from the pool this week and I wanted to make it an epic vacation. I asked Jessica, my social studies kindred spirit and fellow blogger, if she wanted to accompany me on my journey. I was very dramatic about this invitation. I said, "Do you want to come with me to Laura Ingalls Wilder's log cabin? I am going whether or not you say yes."

Luckily, she did say yes. And so began our journey.

I must admit that it is very silly for me to blog about this mini-adventure because she has already done so, and so eloquently, on her own blog. Read her post here:

She touches on the fact that our childhood dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder were shattered when we stumbled upon a letter she had written at age 78, stating that she did not like teaching and would not be able to write any more letters, as she didn't like it very much and was getting old. Also, the pictures of her as an old woman made her appear crotchety and stiff. I was a bit disenchanted.

Jessica was appalled when I explained to her that the log cabin was only a rendition. Keep in mind that the last time Jessica and I were together, we were touring George Washington's estate. It's hard to beat the authenticity of that experience. I remember walking through George Washington's living room, looking at the original mirror and thinking, "I'm looking at my own reflection in the same mirror that George Washington looked at his own reflection." It doesn't get much more powerful than that.

Standing in the replica Laura Ingalls Wilder log cabin, I said Jessica, "I just don't feel it. I don't feel her here."

Jessica agreed.

So to curb our disappointment, we did a photo shoot, blew bubbles, and Jessica dared me to ridiculous things, which I did without hesitation...such as...

"Maddie, wear this bonnet"...and...

"Maddie, try to climb up her cabin"

Maybe it was disrespectful to act so ridiculously at Laura Ingalls Wilder's supposed place of birth. Something tells me Laur didn't have quite the same sense of humor as Jessica and me, but overall, it was a wonderful experience. I got to go on the road trip I wanted. I got to see remnants from a childhood historical icon. And I got to spend time with one of my favorite people.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Secret Summer Life of a Teacher

Being a teacher is sort of like living a double life. Now that it is the middle of the summer, I have realized that I have completely shed my teacher persona in exchange for my alter ego. What that means is that I have not thought about students, lesson plans, writing, grammar, literature, classroom management, test scores . . . anything school related . . . for at least 5 weeks.

So what, or should I say who, is my summer persona?




Persona #1: The Chaperone

I spent the first four days of my summer vacation on the Washington D.C. trip with the 8th grade class. Here I am standing next to Eleanor Roosevelt at the beautiful FDR memorial. You can see the look of sheer exhaustion in my face...the dark circles, the pale cheeks, the tired eyes, the forced smile. That is how I felt the entire trip. Chaperoning 44 8th graders in a foreign city is like hoarding confused, helpless cattle. I mean that in the most loving way. I've never felt more like a mother in my life, and the stress and pressure of taking care of these students left me reduced to an anxiety ridden mess. I barely enjoyed the sights (luckily, I have been to D.C. three times!) I was so bombarded with sensory overload. Watching and interacting with the students outside of the classroom was amazing though and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Above, this particular student and I talked about Eminem's new album for about 35 minutes while on our Mount Vernon tour.

These are the other chaperones, equally exhausted, on our last day outside of Mount Vernon, enjoying the beauty and counting down the hours to the flight home.

Jessica and I abandoned our mature adult teacher selves to become incredibly ridiculous 13 year old versions of ourselves. We commemorated our friendship by buying button rings at the American History museum. By the end of the trip, Jess and I were acting so goofy and giggly, students began giving us weird looks. One student said to us, "Um, I think you guys need to get some sleep."

Persona #2: The Supervisor

2011 Supervisors Anne, Maddie, Kaitlyn

It's my 9th year at the pool. NINE YEARS! That is almost a decade. This year at the pool feels very different. Suddenly, I am old. I know, I know, some of you are rolling your eyes, but the average age of a pool employee is 18. Life for an 18 year old revolves around how you can get alcohol and when and where you can drink said alcohol. I feel increasingly irritated by people and things that I wouldn't have given a second thought to in years past, and even more increasingly nonchalant about things that would have driven me bonkers. Take for example, a pool patron yelling at me for some reason or another. That type of stuff used to make my heart race and my hands shake. It just doesn't phase me. Does this mean I'm all scarred and numb now? Will I be like this after I've taught for 9 years? :-/

Persona #3: Blonde

This truly is a different persona. What's different about being a blonde? Everyone notices. Everyone comments. Everyone has an opinion. Most people have a positive one.

I feel indifferent. Some days I love being so blonde, some days I feel cheap and teenagerish. Either way, it was a needed change, and it's great for summer.

Persona #4: Birthday Princess

Kelsey and me on my birthday. The beads were a birthday present from an ornery drunk man.

Just kidding about the princess thing. Hopefully, anyone who knows me knows how much I hate when girls go out to the bars in princess crowns.

But, I did celebrate my 24th birthday. Jackie, Kelsey and Jenna came out to River Falls with me to celebrate in ultimate affordable and quaint style, ending the night at my favorite tacky college dance bar. I felt loved and special, just like someone should on their birthday. I do not feel any anxiety about being 24, but we will see how things go next year when I am officially in my mid-twenties.

Persona #5: Normal Twenty-Something-Year-Old

I feel like I can actually do things my other friends are, gasp!...go out on a Saturday night without feeling tired by 10:oo PM? Jackie and I have actually gotten to hang out, rather than just simply cohabit our townhouse together. We celebrated RF days together, and just recently got use of our cute patio and grill. Monday night we grilled burgers and potatoes. As we sipped our frozen margaritas in the hot 90 degree sunset, we talked about how, in February, we had hoped we would be here, doing this.

Persona #6: Sewing Machine Queen

See that sewing machine in the far left corner of the last picture? That would be my Project Runway Limited Edition Brother sewing machine my mother so graciously gifted me for my birthday. This was the first project I sewed, only mine was in black, with glass buttons for the center:

My next goal? A vintage patterned A-line skirt... for teaching, of course!




So those are my personas. While I feel like I really haven't done a whole lot yet and the summer is halfway over, after writing this, I realize I have and I am really happy about what I have accomplished. I like living this "double life" in the summer, and turning my brain off from the stress and madness of the school year. Soon, not yet, but soon, I'm sure, I'll be completely refreshed and renewed and ready for my second year of teaching at a brand new school.

But I'm not quite there yet.

Signing off,

Persona #7: The Lazy Morning Blogger