Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Day #100 - The one with Centennial Tribute List

“A journey is like marriage.  The certain way to be wrong, is to think you control it.” 
– John Steinbeck
And here we are, on our third wedding anniversary, writing the Centennial tribute of our first 100 days in London.  Ironic, don't you think?  A little too ironic....we don't think so!  In the words of John Steinbeck, control is something we have very little of.  Whether in our marriage, the London train schedule, or the weather, we are learning to let go, let God, and enjoy the ride.  

We thought it fitting to take a look back at our journey so far and create a list of our 100 favorite things, or moments, or experiences.  So without further ado, in no particular order, the Centennial tribute list of our journey across the date!

1.  Free wine on the plane ride over the ocean.  If only we had known that they had Gin and Tonics in the back!
2. Our first meal in London.  We were so lost and confused...where are we?  How do we pay?  Do we tip?  HELP!
3.  Open mic night in Southwark - classic!
4. Realizing that our corporate housing would probably be our nicest accommodations throughout our entire stay in London city.
5. Stonehenge:  Man, those are some nice rocks!
6. Our first load of laundry.  What a heat bomb! Check this out - so funny  :)
7. Eating cheese and jam every morning for a month.
8. Instant coffee.  Those who are visiting, get excited.
9.  Figuring out what 'coffee white' is. FINALLY...cream!!!!!
10. The Culture Grub - our local Chinese joint when we first arrived.  Those potstickers were seriously yum!
11.  The miracle on Almeida - our flat!
12. Our Christopher Wren tribute double-decker bus tour.
13. IKEA
14. Keston Lodge 
15.  Our stuff arriving...two months late.
16. The Ye Ol' Cheshire Cheese.
17.  The London Roller girls - GRRRRRR!!!!!!  WOMAN POWER!!!!!
18.  Hacking our DVD player so it plays U.S. and U.K. DVD's.
19.  Opening our washing machine to find a floating tortilla chip. 
20. Our Arab plumbers arriving in time for tea.  Thank you so much for restoring our water pressure.  If it weren't for you, Jake would still be bitter and we might have needed to move.
21.  Sunday Hyde Park football.
22. The Kernal brewery - our secret warehouse beer distributor.
23.  The Angelic Pub.
24. Ben and Margaret.
25. Sophie and George.
26. Carly and Mike.
27. Jake and Pramit  :)
28. Lou and Erin.
29. Kerchak - our giant silver backed TV - for 20 quid on
30. Jake's specialty, old school candy shop on Upper St.
31.  Finally figuring out the buses.
32. Tesco Extra - amazing.
33. Friend's DVD's...they were great live, they were great in college, they are great in the UK, there is no improper time for a little Rachel and Chandler.  They are a taste of home.
34. Brick Lane Indian food...and realizing that, when eating it, Ben hiccups and Marge sweats...a lot. 
35.  Gordon's Wine Bar.
36.  Seeing Van Gogh's Sunflowers!
37.  Cass art supply store and realizing the biggest one is just down the street.  Yet another miracle on Almeida.
38.  The Diner - our American style eatery within two blocks of our house.  It ain't quite Johnny Rockets, but it sure fills the void.
39. Care packages.  Highlights so far: Taco Bell sauce, Mexican fiesta fixin's, Easter candy, Sporting News magazine, Shayne's cute Euro shoes.
40.  The Church of England Easter Service.  Run Forest Run.
41. Thunderstorms.
42.  Compact umbrellas.
43. Comfortable work shoes.
44. Learning that Shayne could get to work without switching tubes.
45. Reading on the tube.
45.  Book club.
46. Poker night.
47. Salisbury and the world record hike to the steeple. 
48. Bath (the city... not the act of).
49. Rye.  Surprise, steeple hike. 
50. Seeing Paul.
51. Prestbury and Becky's 33 birthday.
52. Jake driving on the left...LEFT!
53. The all night kebab stand.
54. Skype!
55. Butterkist popcorn.
56. Beers: Staropramen, Brew Dog, Honey Dew, Kronenbourg, Samuel Smith's, The Kernal, anything Lou recommends.
57. Ciders: Aspall's...after that, it's all secondary.
58. Meat pies - good ones. 
59. Master's Super Fish and the Master's special.
60. Free museums.
61. Seeing Genna.
62. Milk and Honey - members only speak easy.  
63. EY leaving drinks for Stuart and Jason.
64. Ladies of Leisure (short lived, but great while it lasted).
65. Pub lunches.
66. Shayne and Sophie's day of fun.
67. The Royal Wedding and our thirteen hour pub crawl (ok...we didn't crawl, we stayed at one place...but, crawl home we did).
68. Stuart and Kate's free furniture.
69. Bank holidays.
70. Once a quarter Saturday edition of the HPAFL (Hyde Park American Football League) and post-game pub crawl.
71. George's movie collection.
71. Screen on the Green.
72.  Project Free TV.
73. Cask beer bar.
74. The London Eye.
75. The Saatchi Gallery and the swarm of miniature soldiers on bugs.
76. Shayne painting again.
77.  Hilarious British kid stories.
78.  Jake's new and exciting work challenges.
79.  Skyping with the Keith's and meeting baby Liam for the first time.
80. UK pub quarters.  Tournament coming soon to a pub near you.
81.  Nature/bird watching walk in Salisbury.  Shout out to the Mute Swans of the UK.
82. Shayne acting like a sheep with the preschoolers.
83. The Bourough Market and the broiled cheesey potato heaven.
84. The Bath and Body Works socks that Laura gave to's the simple pleasures.
85.  Running - to a Glee mix of course.
86. Harry Potter tour - HP7...July 15!
87. The Lion Man.  Our favorite U.K. TV show.
88. So You Think You Can Dance: Season 8.
89. The Libertine.
90.  UofA's run in the 2011 NCAA tournament - Elite 8 baby!!! BEAR DOWN!
91. Hummus.
92. Looking forward to travel (2011 remaining slate: Scotland, Ireland, Oktoberfest, Croatia, Cophenhagen, Paris)
93. (it's like Vons, Target, and Wal-mart all in one - except they won't ship you kitchen knives).
94. (journey planner).
95. UK cheese selection (you just can't find this stuff in the states).
96. Coming to terms with the 7:1 ratio.
95. Starting to feel a little more at home (i.e. not super out of place).
96. One word: Jizdenky.
97. Counting down the days til our next set of visitors arrive (Kristyn and Mike - 2 days!!! Mama Kim - 20!!!)
98. Hearing American accents, and making fast friends.
99. Walking out the door, and not knowing where the day will take us.
100. Spending each and every day of it with our best friend.

Well folks, thanks for taking a walk down memory lane and sticking with us so far!  We will keep the blogs coming and hope that all is well at home  :)

Lessons learned: 1) Time absolutely flies here, there's just no way to describe it (you blink your eyes and 100 days are gone, yet you've done so many things); 2) There's so much more ahead of us!; 3) You have to laugh when things get tough, because pretty soon those moments will end up on your top 100 list; 4) Three years of marriage, and still going strong!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Day #99: The one with the Heat Wave

So far, our London summer has been incredible! Jake's job is going really well and he has enjoyed the challenge of taking part in his first IPO. Don't ask me the details! All I know is, it's big, it's challenging, it's great experience, and he is loving it....That's what she said! I have been getting to work a ton at Southbank and definitely feel at home at my new job. The staff has been fantastic and the best advice I have received so far was, "Don't try to turn this into an American school. It's different here and you will not win the battle of structure!"

I am getting used to the different method of education and trying to let go a little. I like walking in straight lines, I love a controlled classroom where all the kids are working together, and I adore listening to the kids use respectful language with each other. I am learning here that it's ok for the students to stampede screaming in the stairwells, it's fine for the kids to crawl under tables during maths (not sure why it's plural here!), and to solve problems, it's perfectly normal for them to yell and say rude things to each other! It's not the way I would typically do things, but that doesn't mean it's bad. Everyday I leave work and try to reflect on some things I learned that I will be able to put to use when we are back home. I definitely feel like I will have two years of my own education while teaching here and I am really grateful for the experience.

We have had two visitors grace our tiny flat! Paul Ketchum was here for work and got to spend two weekends with us. It was absolutely incredible to get to see him and we had a blast. We took a train down to Rye and spent the day discovering the beautiful town. Highlights included climbing through the roof of a church from the 1100's (we seem to keep finding ourselves in church roofs!), taking some great photos with a cannon and armor, checkers in a tiny pub, and a fabulous modern (and furry) art exhibit. He and I also got to have a fun play date one day when I wasn't called in to teach. We had a delicious lunch and hit up the Winston Churchill War Rooms! Jake came to meet us and the day ended with a torrential rain storm, running into a pub to escape, dinner at a convenience store, crazy drinks at a prohibition themed bar, and a gay pub in southern Islington. Classic! Genna, a teacher friend from Sage, also came to stay and it was amazing to see her too! She and her friend were traveling through Europe and crashed at our house while we were away this past weekend. We got to see her on Sunday night and had a wonderful time catching up. Familiar faces and friends are something Jake and I have both come to appreciate SO very much!

Jake and I got to celebrate our anniversary in Prestbury this past weekend. I can't believe it has been three years - I remember our wedding day like it was yesterday. Highlights of this trip included:
1. Jake driving on the left for the first time. We almost died ONLY ONCE when he accidentally ended up in the right lane. To his defense, we were VERY lost in the back woods of Cheshire County and I think he scared the driver of the other car more than he scared us. He did a great job and I would drive with him again anytime!
2. Staying at the most wonderful little B&B in the Earl Gray room. We had coffee in the sun room, breakfast in bed, and got to truly relax!
3. Strolling through the town and finding that once we saw the 4 restaurants, 2 pubs, 1 church, 1 post office, and 6 houses we had seen the whole thing! It was adorable.
4. Having two DELICIOUS meals and closing down the Italian restaurant on Saturday night. In fact, the chef actually came out and we chatted with him for an hour before he locked up!
5. Crashing Becky's birthday party at one of the pubs on Saturday after dinner. We walked in and found 20 people total (including the bar tender, her kids, and her dog), strobe lights, karaoke, and the karaoke guy's extremely drunk wife. We made great friends, celebrated Becky's big day (no we didn't know Becky before this evening), and watched as she attempted the 'Dirty Dancing' lift with the Karaoke guy. She ended the night by convincing the bar tender to stay open an additional 2 hours past closing. Amazing.

We got back into town on Sunday and realized London was in the middle of a BLAZING heat wave. When we left town on Friday it was 44 degrees. On Sunday it was 87. We are talking the kind of muggy heat that takes your breath away, leaves your shirt clinging to your back, and makes the city stink from the rotting trash. The heat finally broke today and THANK GOD...literally! I think God himself duked it out with devil and put out the blazing flames of hell that have been burning in London for 2 days. Yesterday, when I got home from an extreme bus adventure, I took off my tank top and was able to wring sweat out of the fabric. I am tough when it comes to heat too! I was born in raised in Arizona. On our wedding day it was 112 degrees and I did not complain. Let me tell you, London just won the gold medal in this 'heat' - pun totally intended. Take a step down Phoenix, you are now the silver medal winner...this London heat just kicked your ass. You can have peace of mind however, because today it poured rain and the oven has been turned down to a comfortable 62 degrees.

Lesson's Learned: 1) Familiar faces are like a little piece of home, 2) Extreme London weather is the real deal, 3) I love my husband and am honored to be celebrating 3 years as his wife :)
Celebrating Paul's arrival at 'Cask' - one of our favorite beer bars in London.

On our way to the 'Old Cheshire Cheese,' a historic pub in on Fleet Street.

The lighting was just too perfect! Check out St. Paul's in the distance. London is so beautiful!

On the cathedral rooftop in Rye. How great are those red tile rooftops in this tiny village?

Paul, Jake, and I on Main Street in Rye.

Fun with canons. Enough said.

Leader of the Goose Clan, Jake Singleton. Beware better hope it doesn't rain or death will surely follow.


Anniversary fun!!! Jake and I outside the Village Pub after Becky's birthday.

Here's to three excellent years!!!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Shayne's Day #83: The one with the strike

I was not scheduled to work today and I laid in bed till 8:30 just hoping and praying that I wasn't called in last minute. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love supply teaching and am enjoying it immensely (I also really love the travel money!). However, I have not adjusted to the early morning calls yet. So far, most of my jobs have been pre-scheduled a few days in advance. Therefore, I have had time to plan and prep when I need to get up, which train I need to take, and what I will be doing with the kids. I know if I need to have on my strict/5th grade/Mrs. Singleton outfit or my comfy/crawling on the floor/preschool/Ms. Shayne clothes. The last minute calls are a tiny bit tough. And when I say "calls" I really mean "call." I have technically only had to do this once, so I don't have much of a reason to complain. But let me tell you, that one morning was not fun! With no alarm set I needed to fly out of bed all groggy, jump in the shower, and run to the train station. The whole day just felt a bit jumbled and I was hoping today would not need to be round 2.

When the clock ticked 8:31, I breathed a sigh of relief, got out of bed with a smile, and felt like a child who just learned they were having a snow day. While I brushed my teeth, I brainstormed all of the wonderful things to do with my day...go have coffee and read (I knew my new book from was waiting in our mailbox!!!), hit up the art store, clean the house, get some laundry done...all of the time today would really open up our weekend. So, I mosied out to the living room to put on my shoes. That is when I heard the commotion.

I couldn't imagine what was going on! There was yelling and shouting at first. Then there was laughing. It sounded like a block party. A few thoughts went through my mind: There was a street market on Almeida St.! The Almeida Theater was having an outdoor show. The lovely guy next door who plays BLARING classical music all day was having a performance. Perhaps, ALL OF LONDON came to our street to hang out! Am I trapped on my street? Did we barricaded in? Can I not go have coffee? Was there a fire? Was there an accident? Is my phone on? Oh my gosh, is Jake ok! Don't you love how my mind started to wonder!

I put on my brave face and a pair of shoes and went to check things out. Of course, I grabbed a bag of trash on my way up - wouldn't want to waste a trip or look like I was snooping. I arose from our basement flat to find about 150 postal workers standing outside of our house. Some people were sitting on the steps to 24 Almeida and one guy was leaning on the gate down our stairwell. Turns out, the Royal Mail Postal Service that is right next door had some sort of uprising.

While I pretended to get our mail (realizing only after the fact how silly this was!), I got dirty looks from the employees dressed in blue in red and carrying mail bags. The crowd seemed seemed civil and there was no hostility present. In fact, the people actually looked as happy as I was to have a day off! The neighborhood lurker (me) decided to check around and see what was going down.
As I stepped over four people to get inside our gate I asked, "What is going on?"
One lady said, "Oh yeah, sorry for the commotion outside your house!"
The guy next to her said, "The postal service is on strike."
All I could think was, "I am NEVER going to get my book!"
However, I responded with, "Wow, what happened?"
And here it is...the response to end all responses...the glimpse into british culture...the peek at the work ethic in the UK...the reason I need to make tea and biscuits every time our maintenance man comes over...the reason for the computer nemesis at the doctors...the basis for the bloody 7:1 ratio!....
"Well, this morning, our boss yelled at an employee for being late again! He was "bullying" him for "no reason!" We took a stand!!!"
I stood there for a minute processing in disbelief : late AGAIN, no reason, bullying??? What the hell!
All I could think was, "GIVE ME MY BOOK!!!!"
Instead, I rolled my eyes and walked downstairs. The peeping tom in me grabbed our camera and photographed the scene through the rod iron bars while standing on our couch. So, now I sit, 15 minutes later, finishing this blog while the crowd chants, "He was just late, raise our rate" and "Don't be a bully, pay us fully!"

Lesson Learned: My book will not be waiting for me in the mail today.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Shayne's Day #96: The one with the American kids-Part 2

As promised, the stories continue! Enjoy :)

The One With The Search Parties

The Mouse

Claude Monet, a Russian tortoise, became part of the art room family in 2008. He was loved by all and could often be seen crawling on the tables or lounging with kids in the garden. There was just something lovable about that old man face of his!
Some of the sixth graders came in one day after school and had him out crawling around. They were dipping his little feet in paint and having him slowly saunter over their papers. Abstract art they called it. I needed to run up to the office so I told the students they needed to go back to child care. I left Claude out on the table because it created a natural barricade for him. He would walk to the edge, stretch out his neck to look down, realize he was so high up, reverse a little bit, and three-point-turn himself in another direction. It was really quite cute.

You can imagine my surprise when I came back from the office five minutes later and found Claude missing. At first I thought the sixth graders came back and took him to the garden, but they weren't there. Then I figured maybe they were playing a trick on me, but they were nowhere to to be found. I knew that if Claude had fallen off the table...well, you can only imagine what I was thinking - YIKES! Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the side door was open. After scouring the room for an hour, I finally concluded that Claude must have fallen of the table and walked out the door. Being that he was a tortoise, I knew he couldn't have gone far. I went outside and searched EVERYWHERE! By the end of the night I had leaves in my hair, dirt in my nails, but no Claude. He was gone.

All of the kids were devastated by the news. They made signs saying, "Wanted: Claude 'The Tortoise' Monet," and, "Lost Tortoise!" The first graders arrived the following morning and spent an hour helping me look in the bushes and under tables and chairs. One class wrote creative stories about where Claude might had travelled to....the playground, Bermuda, back to Russia. Everyone got involved in the missing tortoise effort.

Miraculously, a week later, Claude was found! A sixth grader spotted him on the other side of campus in the middle of a four-square court. I couldn't believe it! I spent that night with a smile on my face thinking that A) The kids would be so happy and B) Claude must have had SUCH a great adventure.

Three or four days after the tortoise had been rescued, I found a student absolutely POUNDING on my door before school. I opened the door to find one of the first graders standing there. He had been a member of the rescue team. He looked me square in the face and starting waving his hands frantically. "Mrs. Singleton," he yelled, "Last night at home I FOUND YOUR MOUSE!!!"

The Trash Can

By the end of my time in the art room, I had come to know and love the personalities, quarks, and needs of all the students at school. However, during my first few months in the room, a couple of those kiddos truly stumped me. This is the story of one man's journey to Mrs. Singleton's Stumpville.

I had third graders in the room one week and I noticed that one of the boys had left the room. He hadn't put a pass on his desk so I reminded myself to talk to him about it when he got back. After about 5 minutes he hadn't returned, so I sent a boy to the bathroom to check on him. The boy came back and said he wasn't there.

I called the office and our secretary sent out a search party. No one could find him; however, he turned up in his homeroom unscathed. The next time I saw him I asked him not to leave the room without telling me first and he responded with, "I didn't leave the room!"

Flash forward one week: It was like the movie Groundhog's Day. The same scene happened almost verbatim. We had the talk again and he said, "But, I NEVER left the room!"
Now, I started to question my own sanity.

Week we go again! I called the office, the search party went out, and I lose my mind. However, this week there is a twist. As I stood at the door to line the kids up, I happened to look down. There, sitting criss-cross-applesauce in the bottom of the trash can, is my missing student. I blinked hard thinking, this can't be true! Sure enough, there he was.

I pulled him out and said, "What are you doing!?! There is trash and sharp objects in there! You could have been hurt!!!"

He responded, "My super-strong outer shield would have protected me!"

I guess he was right though...he never did leave the classroom.

Lesson's Learned: 1) Whether searching for a tortoise or a child, keep your options open! 2) When you ask a 6 year old to help you find something, never assume they know EXACTLY what they are looking for.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Shayne's Day #76: The one with the sheep

* This post is supposed to be before the one with the American kids: Part 1, but I couldn't get it to post in the proper order.  So, if you are reading our blog chronologically, read the American kids one first and this one second.  My lack of tech-savyness strikes again!

Yesterday, I taught EC (early childhood). When I got my assignment and learned that EC was the 3 and 4 year olds, I just had to laugh. Never, in my wildest dreams would I have imagined teaching babies. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE kindergarteners, but I wasn't sure how kinder minus two years was gonna go! First off, these little kiddos turned out to be the cutest darn things you have ever seen. Between their little runny noses, their tiny boxes of snack pack raisins, and their mini british accents, my heart was theirs 6 seconds after walking through the door. It took all I had not to scoop them up, put them in my pocket, squeeze them, and say, "You idddle, widddle babies!" But, being the teaching professional that I am, I did not switch my "R's" to "W's" and I attempted to teach these little munchkins rather than wiggle their toes and coo at them.

Obviously, I knew it would be a great Thursday. How could it not be with baby brits! However, when I learned that the theme of the day was sheep, it just got better. The whole day was dedicated to sheep. We colored sheep (when I told Jake this he started laughing and asked, "What did you have to color?"), we played as make-believe sheep, we pretended to eat our snack with only bottom teeth like sheep, and we even sang the sheep song. At lunch I almost ran out and bought a sheep suit. I totally jumped on board the sheep train! This whole year I taught 5th grade and our daily themes were long division, bullying, and weather systems. Those were all great, but it's been a long time since I crawled around the floor and baaaaa'd my little heart out. It was a baaaaa-rific kind of day!

After 3 hours of all things sheep, we met on the carpet to talk it out. I asked the students questions about what they learned that day and ended up with two comments that I think will ALWAYS be on my top ten "kids say the darndest things" list of all time. When you read these, you MUST picture the comments being said in a teeny tiny voice and, most importantly, with a british me, my heart turned to mush (or maybe soft, fluffy wool).

Ms. Shayne: "So boys and girls, how do sheep sleep?"
Petra: "Well, they count themselves!"

Ms. Shayne: "Why do you think that none of us are wearing wool today?"
Keller: "Because we aren't sheep."

Lessons Learned: 1) Sheep don't have top teeth, 2) Sheep count themselves to get sleepy, 3) For all of you going through the terrible two's with your own kids, give it a year...they are about to become the cutest little buggers you have ever seen!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Shayne's Day #77: The one with the American kids - Part 1

The inspiration for this blog came from my dear friend and fellow teacher, Michelle Turnbull. I realize that this 'Singleton's Across the Pond' blog was created to chart our progress as we take on London, but let's be honest, as Michelle reminded me, my teaching experience in America came with a few award winning zingers as well. As I wrote the post titled, the one with the british kids, I felt like I was leaving out Uncle Sam's naughty and comical editions to the child population around the world. It's delightful to poke fun at the here and now, but as most of you know, I have had some jaw dropping/movie worthy circumstances happen back in the land of red, white, and blue. So, as requested, sit back and enjoy a walk down memory lane with my favorite stories from the front line of teaching in America. In an effort to keep you sane, I am going to do this post in a multi-part series - I wouldn't want to leave out any details! 'The one with the American kids' will no doubt, make you smile, laugh, possibly cry, and certainly wish that you too spent your days with the wide-eyed, runny nosed delights that are the future of our wonderful county.

Readers from SC, the most INCREDIBLE school in the ENTIRE world, this one's for you!!!

The Penis
Ceramics in the art room always brought comedy. Something about that gray and gushy goop always seemed to bring out the 'that's what she said' in everyone. Every time those little hands got hold of the pliable clay, phallic symbols seemed to arise (that's what she said). The kids always found a way to turn every project into something inappropriate. I had to be very careful when giving directions. I caught myself time and time again saying things like: pound your ball, roll your hands over the tube, or stick your thumb in the hole. Most comments went over their heads, but the 5th and 6th graders couldn't contain themselves.

Over the years I had many comical displays of 'that's what she said' in the form of art. For example, one year during the ceramic cupcake project, I had a fifth grader strategically place a 'candle' right between two 'cherries' on top of the cupcake. There was even a bump on the tip (that's what she said) of the candle to represent a 'flame.' I will let you visualize the geometry. Like this example, most of the phallic uprising were written between the lines.

However, one year a third grader just came right out with it (that's what she said). We were making storyteller dolls and I was very clear about the students needing to make responsible choices as we sculpted the native american statues :) For the most part, all the kids respected my directions. However, one student just decided to screw it (that's what she said). He threw all caution to the wind and, when my back was turned, used his entire block of clay to sculpt a giant penis. When I say giant, I mean larger than life (well, in most cases). This thing was like the size of a forearm. And not only did he sculpt it, he added details...lot's of details. When I turned around the student was holding it to his 'region' as he casually swaggered his hips from side to side. He looked down at the third grade girl sitting next to him and said, "Look...I'm whizzing on the table."

Horrified, I grabbed the penis (that's what she said) and compacted it into a ball. This child's teacher and I had countless laughs about this incident, especially after finding out his father did something similar to this when he was in third grade too. You are probably wondering, "Did he get to finish his storyteller doll?" The answer was no. He was banned from clay until fourth grade.

The Room of Darkness
While we were on the topic of clay, I figured this one should come next. I had been an art teacher for all of four weeks when this scene went down and I was forever bonded to the third grade girls who were in the locked in the bowels of the school with me. It all started when my lunch bunch came to help me load the kiln. Looking back, I have absolutely no idea why I thought this was a good idea. Call it a lapse of judgement or perhaps I was just a beer short of a six pack in my early teaching days. After our task was complete they asked if they could come in and look inside the oven. I had a strict "no student in the kiln closet" rule, but I figured they had earned the right. What harm could it cause? The kiln wasn't on and I was right there. Those were the reasonings I kept playing in my head when the door slammed shut and we were standing in an airtight black hole the size of a porta-potty. The first thoughts to cross my mind were:
* "Stay calm!"
* "I am going to be fired (no pun intended)!"
* "Just open the door!"
When I felt around and located the handle I felt a tremendous surge of relief. I shoved the handle down and...nothing. The handle would not move an inch. Instantly, all the problems that could occur starting flashing through my mind - the kiln could click on, the girls could step on a rusty clay support nail, there could be a big know how your mind would start to wander.

I took a deep breath and, prior to going all MacGyver, told the girls not not to move an inch.
One of their tiny voices came out of the blackness and asked, "Ms. G, I don't think we could move even if we wanted to."
She was right of course. We were crammed in a space that was tight for one.
The next voice asked, "How long do you think it will take for someone to find us?"
I thought, "Minutes, HOurs, YEARS???"
But I responded, "Not long!"
The third voice asked, "Ms. G, do you think we will be excused from class if we miss the recess bell?"
"OH MY GOD," I thought, "Please let an unexcused tardy be the biggest thing you need to worry about today!"
But of course I responded, "Of course you'll be excused!" in the most chipper voice possible.

I told the girls to give me a minute to think. I brainstormed ideas about how to get out. We could send the smallest girl through the vent, we could pick the lock with a clay nail, we could widdle our way through the cinder block wall like in Shawshank! In the end, we did the only logical thing - bang! We banged our little hearts out (if this line were in the story above, I would have said 'that's what she said'). After about 15 minutes, my hand was swollen and my voice was scratchy from yelling for help. I was beginning to think we would be forgotten and abandoned. We were going to die slow painful deaths and be found years later all glazed over (no pun intended here either).

Just when I was losing hope, we heard a teeny-tiny voice, "Is someone in there?"
We were saved!
Knowing it was a voice coming from an extremely small person I said, "Sweetheart, we need you to go for help. Do you know where the office is?"
Of course the tiny person said, "No."
I said, "Ok, I want you to go tell the first person you see that we are stuck in here."
The small person left and I feared they would get sidetracked and forget about us.

However, my fears were put to rest when I heard the voice of an angel - our school's secretary. She opened the door and we took our first breath of fresh air in over 30 minutes. It was like breathing life! Our tiny kindergarten friend didn't drop the ball! We were saved.

These third graders are now sixth graders and they have not forgotten our afternoon in the kiln closet. We will forever be bonded by our memory of staring death in the face and conquering it.

Sidenote: The kiln room door was immediately fixed.

Lesson's Learned: 1) While kids have the most honorable of intentions, sometimes temptation takes hold which results in ....well, you know, 2) Children should not be allowed in a kiln closet, 3) Make sure the door works before you shut it.