Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Weight Watcher's Wagon Part II

I'm still on the Weight Watcher's wagon but I'm not where I want to all.  
Before the school year resumed, I vowed to stay on track and that has not gone so well.  When I look at my weight tracker for the past year, I realized that it is during the school year that I struggle to lose.  Not a surprise.  High stress and limited time result in poor eating habits and minimal exercise.
I've been using Christmas break to try to get back in the habit of working out--even though I've been eating an insane amount of junk.  Cookies, fudge, pie, Christmas candy...resulting in a five pound gain. I'd hate to think how much I would have gained had I not been hitting the gym regularly.
My gym is beginning its Get Movin' Challenge after the first of the year and a group of us at work have signed up for it.  Hopefully this will help me stay on track with my weight loss and stress management.
Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Open house...two weeks too late

I'm dreading tomorrow.  Tomorrow is our open house at work; it's supposed to be a "meet the teacher" kind of thing but because it's two weeks after school starts, the parents want to treat it as a parent teacher conference.  That's a problem.

We operate on an alternating block schedule, so I see their kids every other day.  I do not know my freshmen yet and they do not have enough grades in for anyone to start worrying.

To me, it would be more logical to do this before school starts.  We have a freshmen orientation but we're not all there for orientation and this year more than half the building was still a construction zone for orientation.  More than one parent expressed disappointment that they wouldn't meet all of their child's teachers.

Another problem with open house is that it means I will be working from 7:45 a.m. to 7 p.m. or later.   Some of the parents don't seem to realize how long we've been there and are in no hurry to let us leave.


With this in mind, I drag myself off to bed for tomorrow will be a long day in an already long week.  I'm going to need a lot of caffeine.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My horoscope...okay, who is stalking me for the horoscope folks?

Tell the world how you feel -- they need to see that you've got some serious emotional issues, even if they can't really help out just yet. Write a blog post, talk to a good friend or sit your family down.

Hmmm, so now I must figure out who is stalking me and reporting to the horoscope people.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Did someone seriously just ask that?

Today was Tuesday and Tuesday means faculty meeting or department meeting or meetings about meetings.  Sigh.  I hate Tuesday.

We always seem to have someone who asks a question that makes me think and sometimes mutter, "Did she/he just ask that?"  Today was no exception.

Our school district wants us to use more technology and social media in our classroom but...they're scared to death of the technology and the social media.  Welcome to my world. 

Today we were given a form letter permission slip to send home with our kids if we were planning on using blogs in our classrooms.  I've been kicking around some ideas of how to use blogging in my class but the biggest problem is a lack of working and available equipment.  If I can't get them to a computer with working internet access, then we can't do it.

But I digress.  That's not what I was going to rant about.

As the boss is talking about this letter, someone asks, "What's a blog?"  I know; you're thinking that they weren't serious.  I wish that was the case.

Now I recognize that some of the more senior staff members have no clue about anything more modern than a VCR but we spent hours after school completing technology PD last year and part of that professional development...setting up a blog!

If I have to sit through another professional development about something that I already know how to do, lead by someone who does not know as much about the subject matter as well as I do all because someone didn't pay attention last time....well, it is not going to be pretty.  

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shakespeare: The Power of Master Will--Lockup Edition

I was going to bed and then I started watching Lockup.  The show fascinates me and there are days I think it should be required view to deter some budding young criminals that I know.  On tonight's episode, at a prison in Indiana, they have a Shakespeare program for the inmates led by a college professor from an area university.

The participants read, study, analyze and discuss Shakespeare's work and even rewrite scenes in their own words.  The professor selected Macbeth for their course of study that was shown in this episode.  She said for several reasons and as someone who teaches Macbeth, I understand her choice. 

Watching these inmates--in segregation--intelligently discuss Shakespeare's Macbeth impressed me.  I love Shakespeare.  If I could teach a Shakespeare class, then I would be a happy woman.  

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Frustration is "a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs" (Merriam Webster).   Yep, that is an accurate assessment of the situation.

I am extremely frustrated...already.  Now I have to figure out how to deal with a healthy fashion. 

I prefer to just go off on the person causing the frustration but I can't do that.  This leads to more unhealthy behavior--emotional eating for one.  I can't give in to that impulse; I lost two pounds this week and if I stay on track, I could be at my goal weight by the end of the school year.  I can't let this derail me.

 I also tend to hold on to the resentment (especially if I can't let the anger out) and I end up in a great deal of pain--my neck, my back, my shoulders...tension and tightness.  Headaches tend to follow close behind.

I've taken a walk but I still feel the tension in my body.  Hopefully a shower and some meditation will help.  If not, this may be a long year.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Weight Watchers Wagon

I fell off the Weight Watchers wagon.   I joined; I lost 30 lbs and then I fell off the wagon.


I gained most of the weight back.  20lbs and back up a size.  Now I have clothes that would be perfect for this time of year--if they weren't too tight.

I'm back on track now and have lost 13lbs which means 7 more lbs before I'm back where I was when I fell off the wagon.  Frustrating but  I know what I did to get off track but the trick is going to be to not fall off the wagon again.

I typically do better in the summer when it is hot (and I don't have much of an appetite); my stress level is also MUCH lower during the summer.

The school year definitely contributed to my slip-up.  The stress of work and my hectic, harried schedule resulted in poor food choices, limited physical activity and failure to track my points.  Hence the weight regain has opposed to continuing to lose.

Tackling the weight issue makes me reflect and analyze what got me here in the first place.  I was not an overweight child or teen. It started in college naturally--thanks to Papa Johns and their campus special--but I danced, so it wasn't too much of a weight gain. 

It was when I quit dancing and moved out on my own that the steady weight gain began but taking my current job seems to have led to the most weight gain.

I've never liked to cook and unfortunately, the foods that are fast, cheap and easy are bad for you.  I had a one hour commute to and from work that first year at this job.  I did a pretty good job not succumbing to the fast food drive-thru but by the time I made it home, I was tired and the processed-out-of-the-box meals were the order of the day.  Workouts were virtually non-existent even though I belong to a gym because I never had the time to get there and friends who pledged to go together for moral support--bailed--all of us.

The next year the commute was shorter but I picked up two extra-curricular activities and had even less time. Things got worse from there.

As the atmosphere grew  more and more toxic at my place of employment,  the more miserable and stressed-out I became and the more weight I gained.    I've noticed that many of my colleagues have similar problems.  We're stressed out, sick and overweight.

In one breath, our boss will tell us that she respects our time and in the next, she lists all the events, activities and games that she would like us to attend.  "It means so much to the kids."  And it does mean  a lot to them, I get that but we have multiple events going on nearly every night of the week.  It is impossible to do our early morning required duties, teach all day, attend meetings (during planning and after school), plan for our classes, grade our students' work, mentor individual students, coach extracurriculars, eat, wash dishes, do laundry, see family and friends AND attend all of our students events.  There's just not enough hours in a day. 

I love my students and I love teaching but the toxic and chaotic atmosphere of the place is stifling.  We're (hopefully) in the end stages of a massive construction project and I hope that the chaos is because of that.  The last minute meetings and administrative lack of planning causing emergencies on our parts has cut into my gym time and into my life.  By the end of the day, I'm exhausted and only want to collapse on the couch.

This year is going to be different.  I'm vowing to keep up my good habits from this summer as the school year begins.  This year, I no longer coach and I have no plans to pick up any extra curricular activities.  I plan to follow the example of a former colleague who retired last year.  LC did not miss her regular gym appointments; when meetings ran long, she would declare that she had to go and would leave.  Just like that.  She would leave and the world didn't end.

I have decided that she's my hero and I'm following her many things.  She didn't let the stress get to her and she always made time for herself.

I'm going to take care of my students.  I'm going to teach them what they need to know and do my damnedest to avoid all the departmental drama.  I'm going to have a life outside of that building.

That being is time to brave the heat, go to the gym and then go work on putting my classroom back together.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pray for you

The roommate has a new philosophy.  She has decided to stop letting people anger her and that she will pray for those who annoy her because they must be unhappy.  She believes that they are treating her poorly because of what is going on in their lives.  For example, our boss makes an arbitrary and asinine decision; the roomie will tell me that she's going to pray for our boss. She thinks it is working because our boss has been frighteningly chipper and pleasant as of late...which is freaking me out.

I'm not quite that enlightened yet.  Every single time that she says it, I get the lyrics to that country song going through my head--Pray for You by Jaron and the Long Road to Love--where the preacher advises him to lift it up and pray for the person who wronged him but he prays for bad things to happen to this person.  As a result, I nearly giggle when the roomie's being completely earnest and then I feel bad. 


Snarky and sarcastic are two of my best events; closely followed by resentment and rage--unhealthy to be sure.  There's a reason I habitually need a massage.  Her new philosophy has seemed to mellow her out and I could use that.

I'm going to have to work on this.  Too bad that song is so dang catchy but hey, laughing is positive.  Right? 
I may be in some trouble here...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Adventures of the Little Black Dog: A Princess & A Bully

The little black dog is used to being an only child but he typically thinks everyone is a friend--human or canine.  Then the princess came along and upset his apple cart.

My sister travels a lot for her job and at the last minute, she had to go to Iowa for two weeks, which meant her dog--the princess--had to go somewhere.  Usually she's stuck at my parents outside on a forty foot cable but this time, she's here with the roommate, the little black dog and me. 

Initially he was sooooooo excited to have a visitor...but then she wasn't following the rules.  He knows that if he wants one of us to share french fries with him, then he better not whine.  He sits at the feet of whomever has the food looking as handsome as he can and waits.  He typically gets a bite...or two.  The princess is a whiner.

At first, he would just give her this look when she whined.  You know the look, it's the one that one kid gives another when the actions of one kiddo is about to get them both in trouble.  But she didn't understand the look and so he had to tell her about it!  Lots of barking.  His basset side makes him quite the talker.

She caught on quickly and all has been well.  Then enter the bully.

We rent a house and the house next door is also maintained by the same agency.  Early this morning, the maintenance  guys arrived to tackle the long to-do list that I sent them a few weeks ago. One item on the list--repairing the fence between our two yards but the neighbor's dog was in his backyard.  Something had to be done with her for the repairs to take place.

My roommate is a regular dog whisperer and she offered to watch her until the fence was back in place.  Things went downhill from there because she's a bully.

The little black dog had already had some issues with her.  She used to share her yard with a female rottie who was his Juliet.  They would stick their noses under the fence in mutual adoration.  The bully would push Juliet out of the way to get his attention.  He did not like that.

And now she was in his house...with his mama and the princess and his toys!  My roommate equated the experience with watching three toddlers.  The bully would push between the little black dog and his mama; that would prompt a disagreement.  The roommate would have to pull the two of them apart while the princess watched from the safety of the couch.

Finally the bully returned to her own yard and LBD and the Princess were ready for a nap.  I don't see any play dates in their future.

The Little Black Dog
The Princess

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Power of Harry Potter

I did not immediately jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon when the books first came out but it did not take me long to fall in love with the series.  After all, who doesn't love a coming of age story about good versus evil?

In recent years, my colleagues have advocated including it in the curriculum and since it is technically Brit Lit, it is taught at the senior year.  One of my colleagues created a fun and interactive unit complete with "owls", "sorting hat" and "potions".  I have borrowed a page from her book and sorted my students for our Harry Potter unit.  Since it falls at the end of the year when the senioritis is in full swing, group work seems the best way to hold them all accountable.  Their grades are tied together and they do not want to suffer the wrath of their peers.

All of my seniors took an online Sorting Hat quiz to select their houses for our unit.  They read on their own, discuss with in their groups and complete challenge activities.  Everything is for House Points--just like at Hogwarts. 

It is working marvelously.  I have students who have not been engaged all year excited about coming to English class.  One young man in particular comes to mind.  He's struggled academically all year--not due to a lack of ability but due to a lack of "want-to"; he hasn't wanted to do his work thus far.  And when I first introduced the assignment, he flipped out at the prospect of having to read a novel on his own. 

Then the light came on...which is my favorite of teaching moments.

He was the first one finished with the reading. 

He told me yesterday that he was so excited to come to English class that he tried to come to class...on a day when we don't have class.  He forgot which day it was.

Yesterday during a challenge activity, he jumped a desk to turn his House's challenge activity first. 

He is not alone in his excitement.  The majority of the class is engaged--now there is always a  few holdouts but the element of competition is pushing those to try at least some.

After all the winning house gets an A and bragging rights.  Never underestimate the power of Harry Potter.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Confessions of a TV Junkie: Roadhouse Edition

I know that Roadhouse is a movie but I've only ever watched it on TV or on VHS.  My college roommate, Andi and I were major Patrick Swayze fans.  As dancers, we were naturally obsessed with Dirty Dancing but Andi's favorite--hands down--was and still is Roadhouse.  She frequently quoted Dalton's "pain don't hurt" line.  Which as a nursing student and now a nurse...I'm not sure her patients would appreciate the sentiment.  As her very accident prone roommate and dance co-captain, I tended to argue that point.

Now anytime that I come across Roadhouse on Spike or AMC or any other network, I have to stop and at least watch part of it. And let's face it...they re-air it...a lot. It always makes me think of Andi, our tiny cluttered dorm room and pizza.  We would dip into the pizza money that my daddy always gave us, bang on the wall to get our friends & neighbors K & D to come over and pile on the beds to watch it.

I think I'm going to log off and watch it again and remember good times with good friends.
Until next time, here's a little Dalton wisdom--"Nobody ever wins a fight.".

RIP Patrick Swayze.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Time Wastin' Part 2

Spring break is winding down and overall I have been very productive.  The garage has been cleaned out but now we need to have a yard sale.  The recycling has been hauled away.  All the laundry has been washed.  The patio area has been cleaned up and new yard lights installed.

Yet, there is one task that I have avoided--grading papers.

I have a stack of papers to be graded (and there's actually bag of papers to be graded floating around here as well).  I just do not want to think about next week--Monday morning marks the end of spring break and I'm just not ready for it to end.  Grading those papers forces me to think about that...and I don't wanna.

As of Monday, there will only be 32 school days until summer break.  Of those 32 days, six days are testing.  That leaves 26 days of instruction and way too much content to try to squeeze into their brains.  It gives me a headache just to think about it.

I also need to finalize lesson plans for my seniors.  I have the freshmen plans outlined--they are ambitious to say the least but the seniors lesson plans are still up in the air.

But instead of doing these things, I am blogging and watching Chelsea Lately...with the papers stacked up beside me.

I could start grading them but...I think I'll just go put way the laundry.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Confessions of a TV Junkie: General Hospital Edition

When I was a little girl, my mom watched the ABC soaps--Ryan's Hope, All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital.  I was usually playing but I remember bits and pieces.  I can clearly remember lying in bed listening for the GH theme song to play in the closing credits because when it was over, I could get up from my nap and watch Sesame Street.  Yet, I must have watched it with her some because I wanted to name my baby sister, Heather after a particularly crazy character on General Hospital.  My parents vetoed that idea.

Once I started school, I lost track of my soaps since I only saw them on snow days and sick days.  College, however, changed that.  One of my roommates loved GH as much as I did and we would tape it on days that we had class at 2 p.m. CST.   We would even talk about characters as though they were real people that we knew.

I know the plots are predictable and far-fetched but sometimes they do examine real issues.  Back in the early 90's, they tackled the topic HIV and AIDS with the Robin and Stone storyline. Currently they're highlighting the problem of domestic violence in teenage relationships--granted I do a lot of yelling at the screen with this one because I think they could have done a better job of if they had been a bit more realistic.  However, it is a soap and suspension of belief is needed. 

After all in a soap, no one is ever dead for keeps...even if you see them die on screen--they can still come back.  Paternity tests are rigged willy-nilly and DNA results are returned instantly.  Helena kept her son frozen in a sub-basement under a hospital.  Children are shot and comatose at age 12 and wake up a year later six years older.  The voice of wisdom and honesty is the resident hit man.  Such is the wonderful world of soaps.

Nowadays, I watch General Hospital  online; it pops up in my Hulu queue every evening allowing me to get my soapy fix of Jason, Sam, Carly, Sonny and Luke.  And maybe they'll get crazy Heather back on there again--you just never know what will happen on a soap.  Anything can happen and I'll be there to see it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Spring break around here means spring cleaning.   On Saturday, I did yard work--with the little black dog supervising the operation.  I still have a lot to do out there;  the flower beds need mulch and flowers but that may have to wait until next pay day...especially since I tend to get carried way with the flowers. The little black dog loved it!  We were outside for a long time and that is one of his favorite places to be.

On Monday, I hauled off part of the recycling, did the laundry, did the dishes and started scrubbing the bathroom.  We have an entire winter's worth of recycling but I'll have to deal with the rest tomorrow.  Our recycling center is in a rough part of town and I will only go down there in the daily light.  Besides on tomorrow, we're going to deal with the garage.

Today, I had to go get my allergy shots and as I'm highly allergic to dust mites, the cleaning had to stop for the day.  Otherwise the injection sites react and it's not pretty.  I did get some grocery shopping done.

As I mentioned a bit ago, tomorrow we're cleaning the garage---we, my little bro, the little black dog and me.  Granted the little black dog will simply be looking for any of his exiled toys while the boy and I clean.  My brother is on spring break as well and my mother is determined that he is going to leave the blasted video games alone and do something.   He's fifteen now; he can make himself useful.

The roommate had surgery last week, so she may be able to supervise the operation but I doubt it.  She's still hurting and that garage looks like something you would see on TLC or Discovery.  You know those shows about Hoarders?  That's what it looks like.

I tried do some cleaning in there earlier in the year but  it was not something that I could do by myself.  Just not strong enough--and the whole dust mite problem.  I'd made a little bit of a dent and then the roommate's sister left her husband and we ended up with a bunch of her furniture in there.  She's supposed to be coming to get it soon but she's had to work a lot of mandatory overtime and can't make it down here.

It supposed to be pretty tomorrow and so either the boy or I can fight through to the door to open it and start hauling things out to the driveway.  Unfortunately, I suspect that there is a lot of stuff out there that's destined for the trash can and our trash can is full.  I didn't expect trash pick up on Good Friday.  

I also need to mop the floors, vaccum, haul things to Goodwill, store things for a yard sale, store the winter things and get out the spring/summer...

Wonder if I can con the boy into dusting for me?  Probably not--he is a teenager. know, as much as all this stuff needs to get done, I wish I could just go to Tybee Island instead.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Birthday Advice

A colleague of mine has a cool idea for her sixteen year old daughter's birthday present.  She emailed all the women in her daughter's life and asked them to give advice for her girl.  She creating a book with the advice in it.  I've been wracking my brain trying to decide what advice to give this delightful child; I'm hoping that blogging about it will help me flesh out some ideas.

When I met her, G was seven years old; I can't believe that she's going to be sixteen.  Her mother always tells me to treat her children (G, her sister B and brother T) like they are mine and I've watched them run tame in the high school where we teach for nine years.  G's matured from a sweet little girl to beautiful, talented, socially aware young woman.

I wish all sixteen year old girls were as blessed as G and the advice that I want to share with her is the same advice that I wish I could share with all teenage girls.

Shakespeare had it right--To thine own self be true.  Too many times teens, especially teen girls, allow the wants and needs of others to dictate their choices.  The desire to fit in and be popular leads many teens to make choices that just are not who they are.  I hope that G and all teens remain true to themselves.

Over the year's I've also watched countless girls compromise who they are to keep a boy--many times a boy not worthy of them.    I wish they all knew that they do  not have to have a boyfriend to be complete.  And that boy who makes them feel like they are too skinny, too fat, too plain, too stupid, etc, needs to be kicked to the curb.  They're like buses--another one will be a long.  You just have to be patient enough to wait.

Do what gives you joy.  Life is too short to be miserable in your life.

But unfortunately, sometimes you have to do things that you do not like. 
Go to funerals. 
Keep your doctor's appointments. 
Wear sunscreen. 
Do your homework.

Always behave in a manner that makes your mother never know where her friends are;)

Hmmm, this helped.  I had hoped that blogging about it would give me ideas---and it did.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March Madness, Crazy Fans and the University of Kentucky.

I love basketball...especially UK basketball.  It is the one sport that Daddy always watched and so we watched as well.  Then I was a middle school cheerleader and hence basketball is one of the few sports that I actually understand.

In the past few years, I've experienced basketball burnout.  Coaching a dance team means attending a lot of basketball games but I'm always monitoring the girls and can't really enjoy the game much.  Then I went to an ABA game here in town.  I forgot how much I love just watching a basketball game without being "coach".   Couple that with UK's breathtaking resurgence--thank you, Coach Cal---and I am highly enjoying March Madness.

However, when it comes to the University of Kentucky, folks must remember something--UK fans are crazy.  We accept this about ourselves.

We believe that we should win every game and if we don't, we want the situation addressed immediately and a help wanted sign posted on the side of  Rupp Arena.

If a rival team beats us, we hate them.

If they beat us in a title game, in controversial fashion or in a way that will make us relive it every single year during the tournament--UAB 2004; Duke 1992.--then we really hate them for-ev-er.

Like elephants, Wildcats do not forget.

Granted, it is not like we could anyway.  The sports guys like to remind us...often.  This year when fellow number 1 Kansas was defeated, the commentators repeatedly brought up that UK/UAB debacle from 04.  We do not speak of it and would like it if they would stop speaking of it as well.

Every year, every blessed year, in the video montages during the Final Four, we are forced to relive UK/Duke 92---that blasted last second shot by the player that shall not be named.

Grrr, stop showing that.  Surely someone else has a highlight reel moment to overshadow that and erase that moment from the annuals of basketball history.

There is a reason for our fanatical devotion to our team; they've earned.  UK is the winningest team in NCAA history.   We were the first team to hit 2000 wins.

The team has had ups and downs since the first title but the loyal (albeit crazy) fans remain.   From the glory days of Adolf Rupp to Joe B Hall--Eddie Sutton (we don't talk about that either)--Rick Pitnio (have not completely forgiven him for leaving yet)--Tubby Smith (Grrr)--Gillispie--(nope, don't want to talk about that either) and now to Coach Cal and even to the coaches that will follow; Big Blue Nation will always be there--expecting the best and demanding excellence.  

Crazy UK Fans--March Madness accurately describes us.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't let the bedbugs bite.

I'm off to bed early tonight.  I'm actually a girl who needs eight hours a night  but that hasn't happened since high school. Way back in high school, I went to bed at 9 o'clock.  Not because my parents made me but because if I did not, then I could not get up in the morning for school.  In college, that stopped.  My classes started later and often dance team practice lasted until 10 pm.  Therefore I wasn't in bed until at least midnight or later--I would have to take a shower, finish homework and generally wind down.
A similar pattern has continued into my teaching career, with one exception, I have to be at work before 8 a.m.  Slightly problematic but I usually am not in bed this early.  Usually It's closer to midnight before I'm in bed. 
However, in the morning, I get to start hall duty; actually,it's stairwell duty but just as annoying.  I will get to stand by a set of stairs from 7:45-8:19 and say, "Where are you going?  No.  Go to the cafeteria or gym."    Sounds fun, huh? 
Did I mention that I am not a morning person?  I don't like to talk to people in the morning; the gals on my hall typically just wave at me in the morning.  This may actually be hazardous to the  health local teenagers. 
In the interest of my sanity, my health and the children's safety, I'm going to try to go the bed at a more responsible hour.  Here's hoping it works.
Could be worse. The roommate has had parking lot duty for the past two months.  At least I'll get to be inside the building.
Night all.

This Healthcare fight? I just don't get it.

I just have trouble understanding this epic battle over health care and I really don't understand the people who declare they're moving to Canada because it passes.  For one thing--really?  You are really going to pick up your family, your entire life and relocate because the health care reform bill passed the House?  And you're going to Canada?  A country that has had universal health care since 1960 something?  What?  You can't wait for ours?

My sarcasm aside, I do recognize that some people have legitimate concerns but yelling racial slurs at a congressman is not going to address those concerns.  It just makes you--the person who did this--look like an ignorant bigot.  And why would anyone want to listen the concerns of someone like that?  The same goes for the individuals who made derogatory comments about the sexual orientation of another congressman--under no circumstances is that acceptable.  Did they think that this behavior would make them change their votes?  I don't get it.

For some reason, I just do not think that this is what the founding fathers had in mind when they envisioned their successors exercising their right to assemble and their right to free speech.  Evidently no one told these folks that you catch more flies with honey and that when you must resort to insults to make your point, the point must not be very strong.  And seriously, people, yelling it louder does not make you right.  It just makes me change the channel or tune you out.

I also fail to see how disseminating hate benefits anyone.  That's all that some politicians and media personalities seem to be doing--fueling dangerous fires.   Ironically, many do this while professing to be good Christians.  A line from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird sums this up beautifully.  "Hypocrites, born hypocrites."  I hate to see these individuals set our society back decades for personal gain. 

Now, I do have some concerns about how the end product will turnout but I really have trouble seeing how it is going to be worse than what we have and one group I trust even less than the politicians is the insurance companies.  Some of the nonsense that they have been allowed to do as standard business practices...inexcusable.  Based on what I have read, there's a reason they've been screaming so loud.  They're not going to be able to continue those inhumane practices.

That being said, if my students will have the medication they need, even though their parents cannot afford to buy it out of pocket, then I'll be happy.  I have one student who has been climbing the walls for weeks because his mother--a hairdresser--has been unable to afford his ADD medication.  I have another whose parents have to choose which medicine to buy each pay period--her ADD meds or her asthma controller.  Both her parents work but do not have health insurance, can't afford to purchase their own but make too much money for a medical card--instead they try to juggle the meds and hope that the prescriptions last as long as possible.These are not decisions that parents should have to make. 

I just don't see how it is going to be worse than the hodge-podge abyss of private coverage and medicare/medicaid that we already have.

I just don't get it.

I just don't think that this is going to end the world as we know it.  After all, the majority of the industrialized countries of the world have had it for many years without descending into total anarchy. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Our district has just decided to fund this big technology initiative--there is definitely some irony in this. Starting with the fact that our principal is one of the most technophobic people that I have ever met. Add to that the fact that there are people in our building who cannot master email and couple it with the slowest server known to man; I think we may be in some trouble.

In theory, it sounds really good because we need to prepare the students to be able to function in a tech savvy world but I have been in education long enough to be suspicious. Many times the educational bureaucrats come up with grandiose plans that do not work. Plus I've watched what has happened with our renovation. Some of the stuff that has been added to the building during the construction--that we're supposed to be thrilled about---are not that wonderful...or functional.

One thing that they are all excited about is providing all the teachers with laptops. They seem think that I should be jumping for joy because they're going to get me a laptop. I have a laptop; I'm typing on it now. Actually in this house, between the roommate and me, we have five computers: a laptop and desktop each and an additional decrepit old laptop. I don't need a school provided one.

A desktop at school is just fine. After all at school, I need the computer hooked to the projector, vcr/dvd, document camera and airliner. It is not necessary that it be portable. I'd be happy if the desktop would just not sound like a jet engine and if the speakers didn't buzz and it would be really nice if the tech guy would come figure out what is going on with my printer.

I'd be happy if the technology we have now would just work properly and I'd much prefer they provide the students with additional access to computers than to give me one. I have one class that I cannot get into a computer lab to do anything because they have scheduled classes in the computer labs, even though we have classroom computer labs that could have been used for that purpose.

This summer we're supposed to start professional development that is related to this new plan. Hopefully it will go better than I think.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Simple Post...

A friend of mine posted the following in her Facebook status: HOW DID WE MEET? Everyone play this game! Copy and paste this phrase on your profile, you will find it amusing to remember how you met and how you know each of your friends!! Before you do that, answer for me!

I thought it sounded fun and so I responded to her post and copied it into my status. I smiled at the comments of family members and friends. It was fun to read and reminisce about going to haunted houses and how the mother of one friend used to load us all up in the minivan to take us to ballgames, concerts and movies.

However, the most meaningful comments came from my former students and dance team members--ones thanking me for helping them, teaching them and being there for them--as a teacher and a friend. Some of them were not a surprise. After all I speak to some of them on a regular basis and remain good friends with them but some of them...I haven't seen since their graduations and only converse with online. Those were the comments that grabbed me and reminded me of my purpose.

As a teacher today, it is easy to become frustrated and bogged down in all the ... stuff. There's not enough money, and there's too much testing. Some students are out of control and the administration is out of touch. It feels endless.

When we return to school on Monday, my darling freshmen will continue to take part of a reading and English assessment as part of NCLB; while this testing does provide us with some data about their learning, they lose at least two days per testing window. They'll be assessed three times this year. They're as frustrated as I am. I've sold them on Romeo & Juliet and they're eager to start...but they have to wait.

In two weeks, the entire school will lose an instructional day for practice testing. The state requires juniors to take the ACT in March and so we practice...a lot. On that assessment practice day, the freshmen will take a practice form of a test that they will take as sophomores...again. They've already practiced once in October when the juniors & seniors took another portion of the state mandated assessment. The sophomores & juniors will practice taking the ACT and the seniors will take the state's technology assessment.

Unfortunately this is not the end of our assessment nightmare. The entire school's schedule will be disrupted in March when the juniors take the previously mentioned ACT and at the end of April, everyone but the seniors will take some form of state assessment.

Before Mother Nature so graciously gave us a four-day weekend, I was lamenting the fact that I'm now testing these children more than I'm teaching them. I was worrying that I'm not adequately preparing them for the next step in their academic lives; that I'm not helping them develop the skills needed to be good citizens and their own advocates.

Then one simple post puts it all in perspective. They reminded me of why I put up with the nonsense--it is for the kids like them. The ones in need of another caring adult in their lives; the ones who need some to teach them to read, write, interpret, think; to express who they are and who they want to be.

Overworked and underpaid? Yeah. Worth it? Oh yeah. I just needed "my kids" to remind me.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year's Miracle... least that's what the dog thinks.

Let me backtrack:
The roommate's dog had a little gray sheep. Last year, Bath & Body Works sold little sheep and after Christmas, they were practically giving them away. I bought a bunch and the roommate bought one for the little black dog. He loved it literally to pieces but it lasted for a year. I had one more little gray sheep in my room in the present box that I had planned to give him once the new had worn off his Christmas toys (or after he had destroyed them. Lab & Basset mix--he has strong jaws and most toys are no match for him. The good news is that he will continue to play with the remnants for-ev-er).

As I was doing some heavy duty cleaning in my bedroom, the little black dog wandered in and imagine his delight when he spotted it--the sheep. His sheep. Restored to its former glory. Its tail still attached. Its hair still soft and not all bushy. Its stuffing still inside. He was overjoyed. He looked at the sheep and then up at me and then back at the sheep. He snatched it out of the box and bounded out of the room triumphantly to show his mama that his sheep was back.

A New Year's Miracle.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I don't usually make New Year's least not ones that I actually write down. I may think "Oh, I'm going to exercise more" or "I'm going eat healthier" but I've never made a resolution list that I can have as a reminder to make sure that I follow through. Therefore, this year we're going to try a different take. I'm going to write them down and maybe, just maybe I'll stick with them.

Resolution one:
Stay on the Weight Watchers Wagon and actually reach my goal weight (which means those Rice Krispies treats in the kitchen may have to go down the garbage disposal). I've never been skinny but back in the days when I was the dancer (instead of the coach), I was at a much healthier body weight. It is time for me to fix that.

Resolution two:
Actually use the gym membership for which I have been paying 30 bucks or so for months. This will help with resolution one and when I exercise, I feel better. It just often seems like I never have time. I am going to have to make time.

Resolution three
: Restore order to my personal space---namely my bedroom. The living room and kitchen and such gets cleaned up regularly but I just tend to shut my bedroom door---thus sparing guests (and my roommate and the dog) from witnessing the chaos of my room. (The dog, however, loves to come in and investigate my mess.) But as noted in previous blogs, I'm highly allergic to dust mites--more cleanliness in my bedroom would help me be healthier in body as well as mind.

Resolution four:
Stay caught up on my grading...or at least not fall more than a week behind. This will require better time management on my part--and even when the papers are depressingly bad, I will have to go ahead and plow through them...all of them.

Resolution five
: Take time for myself. It seems like all I do anymore is work related. I'm either making lesson plans, grading papers, cutting music, choreographing dance routines, running dance practice, attending games or competitions.
I'm tired just looking at that list; no wonder I've had trouble with resolutions two & three. In addition to taking time for my health, resolutions 1-3 as well as those doctor's appointments that I'm having trouble scheduling, I need to read stuff other than what I'm teaching; I need to write--this blog, a journal, something. I need outlets for me.

So here we go...something different this year, an actual resolution list. At this point, I am hopeful and positive. I can do these things and this list will hopefully keep me on track.