One Semester Down, One Holiday Coming Up

I survived my first semester of work, and I am extremely thankful for this holiday.  In 12 hours, Kate arrives, and I couldn’t be happier.

The past few weeks were a blur of wrapping up some units, grading assessments, preparing for semester exams, administering exams, grading exams, and submitting grades. This is the work of teaching and the end of every quarter and semester has always been a bit stressful. My new school is no exception, but it was very different to give semester exams. For 6 days we didn’t teach; we tested. In some ways it was nice for me to have whole work days to complete grading and commenting and planning, but I hate the culture of testing that education has become, and I was of course thinking about other ways I could have used the time with students. But, I survived it, and so did the kids. On Friday, we had a half day before break which we spent doing field day activities and computer programming with the students before a farewell assembly and some ice cream to celebrate a successful first half of the school year. I think the kids were as ready as me for a break, and hopefully we all come back in high spirits ready to learn and grow. I am in need of all the teacher inspiration I can find (luckily I packed Dead Poets Society), and I am excited to do a bit of preparation over break so that I really feel good about next semester.  Being a first year teacher is halfway over!


The sky above my pool last weekend as I was grading. It was so beautiful!


The stacks of grading that I completed over the weekend. My classroom is stripped bare of all the work we did over the first semester and looking pretty bare.

It is strange that Christmas is so close. In some ways, it feels like the holidays, and the city is fairly well decorated for the occasion. But it is still in the high 80s every day, and there isn’t the same holiday focus in the whole community. However, I have had the chance to ring in the season with some new friends. One of my favorite events was the Christmas party at Rita’s apartment complete with Secret Santas and a White Elephant exchange. I for sure missed the Baltimore book club white elephant, but this one was great too. I was Mark’s secret Santa, and I tried in vain to find a place that would print t-shirts for me.  Since I couldn’t make it happen, I did stumble upon some wife beaters at the local convenience store, so I turned them into the math t-shirts that I could concievably make with some markers.


shirt #1


The finished products.

Like any event involving Rita, this one featured lots of dancing and lots of laughter. We are all so lucky to have her in our lives.


Alison’s mom, Alison and Rita.


some dancing


Rita’s apartment features a little stage, and it was used well.

whole party crazy

The whole party crew.

whole party oldie crew

They look so adorable in their ugly sweaters.

whole party pyramid

pyramid time!

whole party

The whole crew again – serious smiles this time

I did manage to put up a tree – small and artificial, but a tree!


I even found a stocking to hang with care. I promise to take a picture without the kitchen light on and with the lights lit up. When Kate arrives, I will show off my holiday set-up that includes the free poinsettia that my flower stall gave me when I went back to get replacement plants for everything that I had killed.

I also got a little holiday mail before leaving work.  Michele’s package arrived, Mom’s holiday calendar made its way across the ocean, and I got cards from Nicole, Rachel, Grandma, and Diane. I love getting mail even if it does take forever to arrive! Hopefully my Christmas cards will reach the States before the big day comes and goes.

I hope that you are all having a good time preparing for the holidays!


I love my turkey trot t-shirt and the family photos. Of course the adorable stocking and M&Ms are also divine!


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