Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Joy of a Good Stew

KC is cold and dreary. I'm tired and haven't been eating right because . . . well, I'm too tired when I get home from school to cook and so a dish of oatmeal or a cheese sandwich holds me until the middle of the night when I wake up starving and then eat cookies and milk. I'm going to bed at 7 p.m. and getting up at midnight because I can't hold my head up longer than after the 6 p.m. news and I'm used to only four or five hours of sleep.

Our weather is "fixin' to change" so the kids at school are unruly and unsettled. My classes this semester are a huge challenge for me -- the first time I've really run into a classroom majority of non-English speaking functional students. Combine the two and you get kids who can't read, write, or even speak much English. And they're boys. Boys who can't sit still for 60 minutes, much the 90 minute class periods we have. Every day I'm scrambling to make it through the class. I don't have any grand plan in mind either. I'm just winging it every day, trying to find something these kids can succeed in doing, will actually try to do, and need to learn to do. I have no end goal other than survive the immediate challenge facing me each period. I don't have any lesson plans more than a day ahead. This is really frustrating.

Add to that one of our SPED teachers quit January 4th and has not been replaced. All his caseload had to be distributed among the rest of our SPED staff. I picked up four new students. In looking at their schedules I found that I need to reschedule three of them because the guy who quit hadn't bothered (or cared enough) to make sure these kids had collaborative help in their algebra and science classrooms. I haven't completed the IEP I held last week and I haven't turned in a single IEP since November. We're supposed to submit then 10 days after we hold them. Not 10 working days -- 10 days. I'm now two full months out of compliance.

Then over the weekend I look in the freezer and unearth a huge package of stew meat from Sams, the big box discount store. We'd had it too long and it needed to be used up quickly. We've had it so long I won't even dare mention how long but I was pretty sure it would need to be cooked in the crockpot at least 14 hours to make it tender.

I just couldn't justify throwing out that much stew meat (over $10 of it -- that's a lot of beef chunks!) I finally asked Hubby if he would make us a pot of stew if I thawed the meat and he agreed. So last night I pulled the worn pack of beef from the freezer and by midnight it had mostly unthawed.

When I got today home, exhausted as always, our entire house was redolent of beef stew smells. Knowing I was on the edge of cracking, Hubby had spent the morning combining simple but tasty stew ingredients and seasonings and had elected to cook the whole thing on top of the stove. So the stew was ready for dishing. A small loaf of sour dough bread, buttered and heated in the oven, and huge mugs of cocoa completed the best meal I've had in ages.

Stomach comfortably filled and then a long soak in a hot tub relaxed me enough to not worry about the IEP's that the district head is coming in person to collect tomorrow (I've got a couple of them ready -- not all but a enough to hold off the angry hordes). It's amazing that a few tender carrots, potatoes, onions, and stew chunks can cause my lesson plan and weather worries to also abate. And tomorrow is Friday after all.


Donna said...

If it were in my power, I'd let all teachers have double pay, all the time. I don't know how you do it.

Margaret said...

It sounds utterly stressful--but that stew is definite comfort food! By the way, I'm sure you and hubby know that Parker has a new Jesse Stone coming out. Yay for that but I'm still grieving his loss!