Monday, September 14, 2015

Livin' the Dream

It's not every day you land your dream job.  I did!

Yep, I packed all my belongings said goodbye to my 4 friends and drove home.  Nope, I still haven't unpacked everything.  I was here for a whole week and then got called in the ward to work with the 9yr old scouts.  (I don't think they even read my membership record in, is that legal?)

Anyways, people ask me every week how my job is going.  Even at church yesterday, I had a couple people ask me what I'm doing here.  Apparently they missed the over enthusiastic job memo.  I never know what to say to that.   To me every day is an interesting adventure but still middle school is middle school and will always be middle school, and kids are kids. 

I talked to one of my friends' moms who is a string teacher here, and she said that she hears good things about me and therstudents say that Ms. Helm is an enthusiastic slightly crazy, but fun teacher.  Hmmmm...  Hope that's a good thing.  It can be a little awkward at church because I get called Sister Helm, who in my opinion is my mother, Ms. Helm (that's definitely me) and Angela which is also me.  I only have one student that stumbles over my teacher name because she has older siblings my age. Poor kid!   

 Speaking of poor kids, the first week of school I had this specimen left alone, on a chair all by itself.  I was tempted to put a sign on it that said "will play for food" and hang it, but I didn't. 

The poor kid came back the next day and said, "Ms. Helm!  Someone has stolen my violin from its case!!"  I said, you left it out dear...  He turned purple and said, sorry and quickly sat down. 

Perk of living here, the super cute tree frogs.  This is Ferrars the frog.  He only sings in F major. 

Another perk!  Super cute people over here that take you places with green chile.  Home life, FTW!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Story of my Life!

I think I'm off the negativity for a bit.  Here's a happier post.  My Birthday!  25! Maybe it's 25... old age problems.  Anyways I think my body is popping more, but my kids were the best, and my two AZ buddies came to spend the weekend with me!! I love them!  Pre-birthday with the fam....

My beautiful college roommate and friend joined us. She was super helpful. We played my ukelele together but I forgot to record!
Daisy and Emily provided the entertainment
The cake does say 25 I promise.   the kids are my cousin Mandy's kids, not to be confused by my friend Mandy.  He so wanted to blow out my candles...
flashback to my 21st birthday... Notice how 2 candles are out.  Don't worry I blew them ALL this year!

Fast forward a week....

My kids are weird...
But my best friends from Arizona surprised me. I was out to dinner with my coworkers.  I have no idea why I don't have a picture but here is my complimentary ice cream!  We had so much fun we stayed out for 3 hours! Poor restaurant people.  I think they were just happy they stashed us in the back.
I dragged my friends birding early early and I personally had a grand time. I don't know if they thought it was as much fun as I did but oh well! It's my birthday!.Afterwards I made up for it by dragging them off to my favorite breakfast place!!  It is DELICIOUS. Seriously delicious!  We didn't take a picture of our food because we were busy stuffing our faces.  We had carrot cake pancakes, biscuits and gravy, lemon ricotta pancakes (my favorite EVER) and TLC pancakes...toffee lemon and absolute heaven.  Sometimes I take creep pictures of my friends.  

Dragged them to the Belaggio.  Alicia really liked the fountains.

 I SAW A ROADRUNNER. Basically, my birthday was made on that particular moment. Actually that picture is from a different roadrunner I chased in a parking lot but I did see a roadrunner. Really! I think the roadrunner is probably my spirit animal...just ask my mom. Here one minute then gone.

 After our naps, we went to our other friend Elise's house and ate with her and played games and had a grand time.  I was very sorry to see them go.

 I did get a candy bouquet from my beginning orchestra as well but I didn't take a was delicious!

Oh, and we did a session at the temple which was awesome.  These pictures should show exactly why they are my friends...    Lindsay enjoyed yelling out my sunroof....weird.  Actually, I think I've always wanted to but I'm usually the one driving and I think that would be considered unsafe to try. 

It must sound like my life is super up and down and up and down...or I am. I guess that's normal.  I could use a little more flatline in my opinion. However, my life is pretty darn awesome.  Did you see my uber cool family!?  And my uber cool friends!?  But that is not all....

 I see this when I go home from work. 

And these when I get there. Yes that kid sitting close to me is in trouble.  Story of my life. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Not A Happy Post

If you're looking for something funny or happy to read this post is not for you, so check back later.  Sorry family.

I'm feeling very frustrated and angry nearly to the point of lividity (I used the word wrong but oh well) and being awake at 3 AM isn't helping.  I guess all you can do for me is just say a little prayer.  Which now that I think about it is a little ironic considering what I'm going to write about.
Maybe it's just me but I feel like most bad things don't touch us for awhile as children.  Sometimes they do, but generally speaking, most of us live our happy lives and look around at bad things feel a moment of sad and move on.  I guess some people would say that I've seen my share because of my disability and all the junk that comes with that.  I've dealt with death, but even then it stings a little, It's not the end and you learn how to deal with it and move on.  People are always saying, but Angela, you've dealt with some really hard things and you do every day. HA!  My life is so easy!  I don't even have the right to complain!  I'm not a single mom struggling to make ends meet, I'm not starving, I have a job, a house and I could go on and on.

Right now, I'm not dealing very well.  One of my best friends in the whole wide world has cancer. There's no family history or anything so it came as quite a shock.  It sure shakes up your world when this person is just a year older than you.  It could be me next year.  I think what has me so bent out of shape is that I simply can't fix it.  I can't take it away no matter how hard I want to. I HATE feeling helpless and not knowing what to do. It's the worsestestest!  I feel like I could handle this trial and it is totally unfair that she has to.  She is young, brave, so kind, friendly, one of the best teachers around, uber talented, beautiful, dates a lot, has a great job and everything awesome. I know, I know I have most of those things, but I sure feel like like an ugly duckling in comparison, but I sure feel like a trial like this would be ok for someone like me because I'm not that. I know I know, but that's just my opinion right now when I'm mad!
 When she first told me, we laughed.  I guess you could say you can either laugh or cry and we picked one.  When I got off the phone I cried.  I don't know anything about cancer really and I don't know a lot about how to get rid of it.  I don't know anything about chemo  except for the fact that it's poison. I don't know how it affects the body and if it changes if you can have kids or any of that.  I just know that it's evil and that people don't live or do live that have it.  Anyway, I could rant and rave some more but it's not going to make any difference.  I just felt like needed to write in a fairly safe place.  Sorry family.  Once you write something down it becomes not just an idea but real because it was created.  I'm hoping that writing words will make it so I can sleep.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Personality Tests

Do you know why they didn't hire the cross-eyed teacher?

She couldn't control her pupils.

That, right there is a joke worthy of being called a dad joke.  I have more if you need them.

I haven't blogged in awhile because i have been super busy.  Like, crazy insane busy.

I've officially hit the bottom of the low point in my first year, and yes it is the pits.  I am grateful for the fact that I know this is normal and will go away eventually.  Working in charter school systems is hard.  Parents decide that their kid isn't doing well, or not learning what they want or blabbedy blah blah blah.  I just feel bad for the poor kids because I feel like they deserve some stability but that's just me.  I keep losing kids, even in orchestra and it makes me feel like a bad teacher even though it's not my fault.  I just always really like the kids that leave. Can't they just take the awful ones?

It doesn't help that other jobs are opening and I keep wondering if I would be happier here or over there, but then moving sounds way more daunting than just staying put for one more year so that's that.

I always wanted to be that cool teacher where students write me love notes....but this is all I get I guess.

It was pretty cool.  I whited out some names so that I would be legal.  If you see Jeffrey on there that is a student but not really.  He's the invisible class member who tries to turn in other people's stuff with his name on it. 

One more moment.  I give my new students an orchestra personality test and this semester I worked super hard to make it seem legitimate.  Then I interview all my students and make sure I have a balanced orchestra. When you tell someone that they test shows that they should be a cello because of this and this and this they will sometimes pick cello.  It's manipulative I know, but it works for me!  I got this idea from an awesome teacher friend of mine.  Anyways,  in class I'm tuning (story of my life) and I hear a cello player ask, so do you all wrote on your test that you like chocolate ice cream?  I panicked for a moment because some of them put like rocky road or something of that nature, but I guess they just heard do you like chocolate? They all looked at him and said well...yeah duh!  He said, awesome then we are meant to be cellists!!!  He looked at me and said, Ms. Helm personality tests do work!!   I was so relieved, all I said was yep. Phew! Crisis averted!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

In The Mood

Originally, I was going to use this post and just post it on my sister's wall so she would feel the love, but then I decided it needs to be shared with more people and I would spread all the love!

Every time Christmas comes around, I just REALLY feel the need to listen to the Messiah all the way through.  The hard part, is that I have been ruined for life and the MoTab's version just doesn't cut it.  Sorry Motab fans!  (Thanks a lot college.)

Someday, I am going to own a baroque violin, and play in England, or California or something.  Seriously, these versions are pretty darn awesome.  I dare you to listen to the whole thing!  I personally, believe this makes for excellent Saturday cleaning.  The Messiah is such a pivotal piece of literature, that it should be listened to in it's best form.  Obviously.  It really does sound so much better!

If you hate the soloists in this one, here's another one.

Take a listen, mop the floor, wrap a present or something.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Much Needed

A friend of mine sent this letter to me.  It was much needed.

Everything in the letter is scarily accurate.  I have hit the point in the year where I want desperately to just leave, go home to where I know there is food in the fridge, and maybe someone to ask me how my day was.  Really, it isn't that bad I know! but some days I very much feel like it is.  I get up to go to school every day for these kids, and once I get there I remember.

Recently, they've all been saying, "Ms. Helm listen! Look what happens when I go like this!!" Proceed to make inhuman/gross noises out of their instrument.  Isn't that sooo cool?|!?  I cringe, and they laugh.  They haven't done this until recently, so I'm guessing it's the weather.  

I play a funny on my advanced kids every week, and finally last week my one brilliant student caught on to what was happening.

A little background; my students think I only like them on Tuesday's, because I told them so.  After a few weeks on a Wednesday I told them, "Students that was so yesterday and maybe today I will like you! Eventually, they've start arguing about whether the day I like them is Tuesday or Wednesday, and if they say it IS Tuesday that you like us, and I say well, I am pretty sure it is only Wednesdays.  On Wednesday's I tell them the same only that the day is Tuesday.  They go bananas arguing about it as though it is the most important thing, and I laugh.  The lone cello player, this week while they were arguing told me very seriously he was sure I said Tuesday's. I said I know, he said then why..... trailed off...and then I looked at him raised eyebrows and we both started laughing.  He said, "Ms. Helm, you are good!"       I am good.

Speaking of cellos, I bought cello rosin just to have some on hand.  It is the nice stuff, and I used it all my cello bows today.  I wish I could capture their faces when this big noise comes out al of a sudden.  It scares them, and then they start giggling (cellos are always giggling).  Then the viola players all want some of the magic stuff. "Don't you want louder too?" they say.  I just laugh (no way jose).  My beginners don't understand why they can't have some.  Silly violas!

As you can see, nothing too exciting.  I am surviving, barely.  Glad to get a break!  Oh, and here is the letter.  I copy and pasted it.   It's from a blog post I found from somewhere.

Dear First-Year Teacher,
I love you. I know that it’s soon, and I know that this might freak you out, but I can’t keep it inside anymore. I LOVE YOU! There. I said it.
I love that you have willingly entered a profession knowing that it is difficult. You’ve heard horror stories of the long hours, the nonexistent weekends, the classroom management, the parent management, the education policies that continue to get more and more ludicrous, the tiny paychecks, and you showed up anyway. You’re here because teaching and kids and the future mean a lot to you.
I love the fresh ideas that you bring. Whether you’re coming in with a degree in education or six weeks of training from an alternative certification program, you are bursting with cool ideas and new ways of doing things. Online funding for field trips, crazy new apps that look like they’re from the future, foldables for note-taking so elaborate they make paper cranes look like child’s play: I LOVE YOUR BRAIN! Some of your ideas will work and be absolutely genius, some might be on their way to genius and just need some tweaking, and some might crumble apart in your hands as you stand there weeping, but don’t you dare stop cranking them out. I need them! Your students need them! The world needs them!
I love your energy and enthusiasm. Where does it come from, and how can I arrange to have it injected intravenously? There are times where you feel like your joy and spirit have been stomped on and intentionally set on fire by your students or other people around you, but just stop, drop, and roll onward, my friend. Your optimism and upbeat attitude are just some of the things I love best about you.
I know that it's hard sometimes. I've been there. The paralyzing, hopeless feeling that settles in on Sunday afternoons. The head-on-your-desk cries at the end of a school day (and sometimes, right in the middle of it). The words that feel like the only ones you use while speaking to family and friends anymore: "Sorry, I' can't make it to [special event or fun outing] because I have to [insert teaching commitment here]." But just know that it won't always be this way. It's not that it gets easier, necessarily, or that those things disappear, but right now you are getting stronger, faster, and more equipped to manage the parts that are difficult. So don't give up. Keep fighting the good fight. There are too many people that love you and need you. (Like me.)
I’m sorry to tell you this in a letter instead of in person, but I’ve been by your house every night this week and you haven’t been home. Are you working or something?
 Your Very Public Admirer
Love, Teach teaches English at a Title I middle school and writes about it at In addition to teaching, she enjoys most large bodies of water, tetherball, and this YouTube video of baby fennec foxes taking a bubble bath.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fall, Pictures and Popcorn

There are perks to being a teacher.  I see them occasionally.  I'm learning that a first year teaching job is all about how you handle the ups and the downs.  It really is up and down ALL the time and so you just muddle your way through it the best you can and hope it works out. And you pray a lot.  And cry.  And laugh hysterically. And call your mom. It really is the best job, most of the time.

I love Fall.  It is my favorite season, hands down.  I mean, I like the other ones too but something about Fall...  It's probably the spiced cider I feel validated to drink more frequently with the time of year.  It literally tastes like liquid fall in a cup. After that description you know you want to go try it!

Anyways,  it has been a crazy week.  I just finished my very first concert!  Woohoo!  Sometimes, I look at it the wrong way and say "Man, I really shouldn't be stressed because I only have one group of students to really worry about and not four like my other friends." I should stop.  But here I was, stressing anyway.

My kids did very well!  I know this for three reasons.  A. I had a parent ask me how to get her kid into orchestra.  B.  I got flowers (Automatic A's! but not really.)

C. My kids played their little hearts out!  I did a concert reflection and it was pretty hilarious.  I'll put those on the next post. I was so proud! An orchestra mother told me that she was so happy that this year I had picked out a piece that they could pretty well play and a piece that they could play super well, and that was awesome.  I guess that is a pretty high compliment.  I had to start the downbeat quickly because if I paused at all I'm pretty sure that the kids would see my hands were shaking. I didn't have to say anything either, which is also good because I would have rambled and rambled...ok moving on.

I just like being a teacher because kids give me stuff, duh! Happy Halloween bring on the caramel popcorn! I was given a bag from a student who assured me it would be the best caramel popcorn ever!! It was pretty tasty!  I didn't take a picture and I don't think anyone would feel better if I showed you the empty bag. Caramel popcorn to me is like crack.  Good stuff!
 My other gifts tend to be drawings.  I took off their names so if the picture looks a little weird that's why.
Apparently, I have a think for popcorn which is what that big one in the middle right below is.

Wise words. 
I don't really know what this one is, but I like it. 

Made from a students palms and fingers

On here somewhere it says I am a music rocker. I prefer the term roller...hee hee!

And I have no idea. 

I appreciate them.  The sad part is that only one of these pictures is from one of my actual students....Hmmm...