Saturday, May 22, 2010
Hi there, my awesome friends!
I always know that worrying doesn't help me or anyone. If the worst comes to be, worrying doesn't help resolve the issue. If something better comes to be, worrying didn't make that happen. I wish I knew how to avoid it, but quite honestly, I don't. If I distract myself with other activities, I can keep from doing it while I am busy--but I end up back in the same place as soon as the activity s over. The reason I am whining about this really bad habit of mine is because there was no way I could have predicted how yesterday played out at work. If you read my previous blog, you know that this was on my mind--but there was no way to prepare myself for what actually went on.
It started with an 8 AM "standing" meeting about the Book Brigade. i have all of the details on how this is to work. She is expecting all of the staff at my morning building to ride on the school buses over to the new school. Then, she pointed out that, "Maybe I couldn't get on the bus." Maybe? She knows that I am not supposed to be climbing stairs and she knows that I spend most of my morning in a wheel chair. I was embarrassed enough when people started "arguing" about who would give me a ride. I tried to tell them that I would make sure I was where I was supposed to be multiple times--but it was such a game, like I was getting out of the awful bus ride on purpose. It reminds me of people who don't understand that a handicapped parking place is a necessity, not a perk.
I worked with my children in my morning building--the ones who came for their lesson and when I was through with them, I sorted out my professional books on the table for packing the ones I really need and use. The entire top[ of my table has stacks of books on it. As well, I packed a couple of other boxes and moved them (because I am feeling a crunch on getting my last 3 big jobs completed...packing, paperwork, and progress reports. I went over to shut down my laptop and saw that I had a new email. It was from my boss who told me that I could not close down the reading center for next week. Oh my goodness--her reason was that all of the other teachers had to pack too. All of the other teachers don't have 2 classrooms in 2 buildings. All of the other teachers don't depend on others to be able to do their job. (Yesterday, I only had 2 reading groups out of 10 that had all of the students. My attendance was 3/4, 4/4, 4/4, 2/4, 0/3, 1/5, 1/3, 1/3, 1/5, 0/3 which gave me 16/38 for the day--not even half of my students came for their lessons. To top it off, I need their test scores to do my paperwork and progress reports. These scores were due yesterday and I have 2 out of 21.) I cannot do my work without their students and their scores and both are out of reach--so I need to pack or I'm not going to get done. Also, with the kind of attendance I had yesterday, it is obvious that the teachers are caring whether or not I am seeing students...and I tried to talk to her about this. I was so upset about this. Part of my reality is that I ran out of sick leave in December and I am no longer on salary this year--they are paying me by the day or hal day that I work. That also makes me different than the rest of the teachers--because I am not getting paid for working after the last day of school. She knows this information, but nothing matters to her except her being in charge.
She mentioned that there wouldn't be instruction going on Monday and Thursday due to other activities, but that is only partially correct. On Monday, there wouldn't be instruction in the morning for the Book Brigade, but I have to attend this--so I won't be able to work on the packing and there will be instruction in the afternoon. On Thursday, there is field day, Lunch on the Lawn, followed by the 6th grade vs staff kickball game, and I am not expecting to do any instruction during all of this activity. I am so tired of fighting to get my work done and I am tired of being put in this position. I have asked for three things this year and have been denied all three things--this is one, getting ziplock bags for my students to carry their boos in was the second, and having the aide from my morning building to come to my afternoon building on one day to run errands upstairs for me because the aide in that building was gone for bereavement. I am "like" the other teachers when it is convenient for her and I am not "like" the other teachers when that is more convenient for her. She offered everyone $50.00 in supplies for second semester and I needed those bags, but apparently what I needed didn't count. The average class size is 24, but when I cut my load from 58 to 38, it was like I committed a crime. I don't think she can have it both ways.
I forwarded that email--which was in response to my Monday email--to my friend downtown who told me that he was going to tell her that I had to close the Reading Center. I am thinking he must not have been in the office yesterday, because I never got a response from him. I followed that up with a second email that voiced how upset I was. I deleted the two strong paragraphs of that before I sent it, but i did send it. He was the administrator who sat in on the meeting that we had when she wanted to discuss how "I don't talk to her." Hopefully, he is seeing why there are problems here and that I am not the source of the problems.
I have been packing and lifting as much as I can between students and during my lunch time. I worked last Saturday on some of this and I will go over there today as well. I have made a good deal of progress in both rooms, but as long as I am teaching, I cannot pack everything up. Each of my students (and the ones working with the aide) has a basket of books that have to be sorted and placed in their appropriate places, and I have to write individual notes to the families of children who have books that haven't been returned. I have already brought 30 boxes of books home with me and have at least 20 more to come home. My friend from downtown has recognized that given the fact that I teach 7 grade levels of children and have no "curriculum," that I am bound to have more materials that need to be moved. There are still a lot of materials that belong to the school to be packed as well--and at this point in time, that is certainly at the bottom of my list.
I also noticed that my body is not quite right after missing a couple of my workouts last week. The pool was cold last night, but it was quiet--for the first Friday ever. I don't know exactly how that worked out, but it did. I enjoyed it immensely, but my regular workout was a bit of a struggle. That seemed odd to me, but I guess it makes sense. I have got to order more pads for my tens unit, but my back seems to need a break from that as well--it is tender from wearing it and using it all day long. I had to use it at the band concert on Thursday because they held it in the gym and that means bleacher seating which is a bit much with my back.
I really try hard not to ask for anything special in relationship to my physical condition, but this packing to move is above and beyond what I can do. I am supposed to get my helper back on Monday, but how am I going to use her if I have to leave all of the things out so I can work with students? I sure wish I understood why my boss has requested me, when she doesn't want me around and chooses to treat me like this. I wish my body was in better shape too--and I wouldn't mind being one of her young teachers with cute bodies, but that is not who I am. I have a master's degree and over 50 grad hours beyond that, I am nationally board certified and I am a trained Reading Recovery teacher through the University of IL. I have been teaching for 24 years and have a thick file full of credentials and awesome evaluations, including one from her.
I need to get going--boxes and packing await--then I'm going to the pool. I am trying not to cry out of fatigue, frustration, and pain--but those tears may flow today. I sure appreciated all of the wonderful things that you all said to me yesterday--your timing was impeccable, given what was going on in my work life. thank you for caring and thank you for knowing what I needed to hear.
Gentle hugs on top of a big thanks!!
Friday, May 21, 2010
I'm worn out and it is getting pretty difficult for me right now. Packing boxes is really getting to me, my back and the rest of my body is aching and I am having trouble getting past it. I am struggling and I know it. I had my tens unit almost as high as it goes tonight and all it seemed to do was irritate me and annoy me. My pain meds aren't really helping me either, grr-rr. There are 8 days of school left and I have so much left to do that it is making me nervous.
On the very positive side, I went to Mason's show choir concert on Monday and it was so much fun. Tonight was the big band concert--they have the combined 6th grade bands play and then the high school, with a finale that includes everyone. Mason is a senior and I didn't realize what a good musician he is. He had a solo on the "tom toms' that really made me feel proud of him. Both he and my youngest son Micah are percussionists. Marissa is a freshman and she plays the oboe. It was a special time--and worth me missing the pool for the second time this week and the only time I haven't went. Marissa and Mason have a choir concert on Sunday--I hope to get to the pool for a workout after church and before their concert then. I love their choir concerts and a little birdie told me that Marissa has one solo and possibly two on Sunday. My children are so gifted, especially in music. I'm not sure where this talent comes from--I certainly have never been the type of musicians that they are.
I haven't had much time to get to SP, which makes me sad. I need you all and I need the things that I have done faithfully for so long. I feel like I am slipping a bit, and I don't know what to do. Everytime I see the long list of notices I have in my email for my team threads and the blogs I generally read daily, I feel a bit blue. I know that all of this will pass--yet I am overwhelmed. I haven't had time for much reading or crocheting or anything. Not only is packing boxes on my mind, but sorting out my things and finding a place for many things that I am bringing home. There are so many things going on at work that they are eating me up.
Our assistant principal has 3 nice large bookcases in his office that he doesn't need, so he offered them to me. My friend and helper from downtown let me know about them and told me to take a look at them, and if I liked them that I could have them. They are large, wooden bookcases with a lot of adjustable shelves and would be an asset to me. About the time I was making arrangements to get them, my boss came in and said, "Oh we don't want anything like that in the new building. I'll be getting you something new and nice." I asked her if they were already ordered and her answer was that she didn't know "exactly what I'd be getting, something from a library probably." I'm afraid that the plan is that I'm not going to have much if anything, so that there won't really be a place for my books. My friend from downtown told me a couple of days ago that if I could keep things down to 80 boxes that would be fine--when previously, I had been told that I could bring 50 boxes of material. I asked the boss if I could close the reading center after Friday (on Monday!) and she still hasn't told me that it was okay. My friend downtown has gotten me my helper back for on Monday and he told me that I didn't have to ask her again about closing the reading center--he would take care of it. On Monday, she is having a "book brigade" and is busing all of the students from my morning school to my afternoon school and her plan is to line the streets with children from that school to the new building, and they are going to pass library books from one child to the next to get them to the new building. We got an email today that said she is expecting all staff to participate in this. I am worried about being able to stand and help with this and I am worried about having my helper to pack while I now cannot be there to guide her. I guess that I am going to have to get somebody to take me from my morning building to my afternoon building along with my wheel chair. I am trying so hard to avoid using it, but this is too much for me. There is at least one major road between these two buildings and I am worried about that as well--I hope that she has gotten a permit to close part of that road off. She keeps telling us that this will be a "touching ceremony."
I also have my end of the year paperwork that I cannot do with out test scores from every teacher in the two schools. As of today, I have those scores from one teacher out of 21. I cannot do my work without them and I cannot write my progress reports without them either. I am becoming a nervous wreck knowing that I have all of this on my plate right now. This weekend, my husband is going to come to school with me to collect about another 30 boxes of books that I have to find a place for. I also have about 30 baskets of books and activities to take to the church for the summer program. I have to sort out all of my professional materials and determine if I can take any of them to the new school. I am having a hard time imagining how to work without any of these materials, I don't know of any teachers who can do their job without resources.
Obviously, I am stressed. 8 days is not very long to manage this kind of work--make it 13 if you count the two weekends in between. We are supposed to go camping over Memorial Day weekend, and I am afraid that I am going to be the one to ruin this family time. I still have a 20 year old child who needs my attention and I have put that on hold while I am managing this other stuff. I am wondering if there is a way to make this all be simply something I have to do, and to take the stress out of it. I have had to move my classroom 6 times out of the last 7 years and I am pretty burned out by all of this--and when you add in the issues that I am having for the first time over the amount of materials that I have (so I can teach 7 grade levels,) it makes this an entirely different process.
Am I whining? I really do feel like I'm in over my head and it is hard to get past this. I know that I can do this and I have help who is supporting me, but I still feel like the other shoe is going to drop on me. I am afraid of this making me feel depressed--I haven't been in that dark hole in a while and I just don't want to go back there either. I sure don't deserve all of this on top of the things that I have been dealing with for the past few months. I am also aware that at some point, I have to unpack all of these same boxes, into a partial classroom in the new building--the "showboat" as she referred to it--that I have never seen. The rest of the staff has toured the building, but I was never included because those tours happened while I was off on medical leave or I was still under the assumption that I wasn't going there.
I am a worrier and that makes me unsure if this stuff deserves a second thought, although I also don't know how to let go of it. I have had so much grief from my current position and it seems as if there is no end in sight to the problems. I have been teaching for 24 years and at this point of my career, I should be in a position that I love with a permanent classroom rather than in a high stress job that keeps me moving from one year tot he next at someone else's whim. I cannot help but to wonder why my boss requested me in the first place, when she obviously doesn't care to have me around. I guess that has to be one of life's mysteries.
All I can say is that I expect this to pass in time--June 2 is the last day of school and it will have to be resolved by then. That isn't too far away, and I will just have to jump through a lot of hoops until then. With a little help from above, I will make this work.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I goofed and wore a dress to school today. I cannot use my tens unit when I am wearing a dress. Sometimes it shuts itself off and I cannot hike up the skirt and fix it. I went this entire day without any type of pain medication, arghhhh. I also had to forfeit the pool for the first time since I started going on my own (without physical therapy) because it was Mason's Show Choir concert. It was awesome and I enjoyed it completely. They performed with the jazz band and they did selections from Grease and Big River. I think it is a mother's true pleasure to watch her 18 year old dance and to hear him sing a solo while in costume and in the midst of dancing with a variety of talented girls. I missed their last concert because it was right after my surgery and I was in no shape to go anywhere.
Anyway, I did a lot of lifting at my morning school and got several boxes put together and taped for Tuesday. The little kids will all be gone on a field trip all morning, so I can use it to pack and to work on my report cards. I also requested that I close my services down on Friday because I have so much work haunting me with so little time left to go. The principal hasn't responded to me yet, and I know that the others in our district always close things down early without asking. Anyway, then I got to my afternoon school and I taught two complete lessons and a part of a third--then there was a program, so I spent the rest of the afternoon packing boxes, moving boxes and I assembled about 8 more boxes before I left. I was in a lot of pain when I left. I also emailed my friend downtown to ask a few questions about stickers for boxes and if I was going to have anymore help with this. He said that he'd be by to see me tomorrow and we will discuss a few things then. It looks as if I will probably have 70 boxes to be moved when I am done after I take my materials for older kids home with me and a big variety to our church for the summer program.
I wanted to share some new snack ideas with you--many aren't really new, but it is nice to have them in a list. I got them in an email and a link from "EVeryday Health" and I will include the link to the entire article at the end of the summary here. I hope this offers you something to consider.
10 Easy Snack Ideas (that draw from different food groups to provide a good nutritional balance)
"You should think of a quick snack as a mini-meal,” advises Debra J. Johnston, RDt. Mix your food groups and avoid unhealthy fats to snack smart."
1. Mix a 6-ounce container of plain, non-fat, Greek-style yogurt with 1/2 cup of berries and 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed.
2. Make your own trail mix with raw almonds, chopped walnuts, and pistachios(without added salt or oil), raisins or dried blueberries and cranberries(without added sugar.)
3. Mix 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese with 1/2 cup of no-sugar-added applesauce and sprinkle with cinnamon.
4. Dip sliced cucumbers, radishes, carrots, and grape tomatoes in hummus.
5. Popcorn. For variety, try spraying popcorn with low-fat, olive oil-based cooking spray instead of adding butter.
6.“Bugs on a log.” (Spread peanut butter on a celery stick and then sprinkle with raisins or dried cranberries.)
7. A half sandwich with whole-wheat bread and layer on some lean meat such as turkey for protein, a slice of cheese for dairy, and lettuce and tomato for vegetables.
8. A bag of toasted almonds.
9. . Frozen cubes of mango, frozen grapes and/or banana chunks.
10. Salsa is a great vegetable snack. One-half cup of salsa equals one vegetable serving. Try dipping whole-grain crackers.
Healthy snacks can curb hunger during the day and can also be an opportunity to stick to your overall nutrition plan. All foods can fit into your healthy meal plan when you incorporate balance, variety, and moderation. You can find this entire article at:
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Hello and Good Evening,
I guess the song is right about "working for the weekend." After a hard week last week of packing, teaching children who are counting down the days until the end of the school year, and simply struggling with my own pain issues along came Friday night. I went to the pool and got there late enough to miss a lot of the crowd and early enough to get my exercise in and relax a bit too. Mitchell noted how going to the pool and exercising has become a part of who I am and what I do--it is a habit. I am doing my physical therapy exercises, but I increase the intensity and resistance regularly. It takes me about an hour and a half to do the entire routine which works on my shoulders, my hands and arms, my legs and feet, and my upper and lower back. When I have time, I also swim some laps--I'm not good enough to use the lap lanes, but I am persistent. I have to admit that I NEVER, EVER thought that I would be able to exercise with this arthritis inflicted body. I also NEVER, EVER thought that I would exercise every day and be so happy about it. I NEVER, EVER thought that I'd get up to 1,000 minutes of exercise a week or up to 10,000 steps a day on a regular basis, but I did and I am. to Spark People for getting me to these places that I NEVER, EVER thought I'd be at.
I took my youngest son with me yesterday for an entire morning of errands--=all by myself!I managed to get my own walker in and out of the car and I walked without using a motorized chair in any store we went in. I grocery shopped, went to the bank and the post office, went shopping for birthday presents, took him with me to the pool and then we went to the schools to do some of my moving and packing work. (I have decided that I am going to bring home my books for teaching upper elementary students and most of my professional materials, so that I won't get into "trouble" for having too many boxes. My husband and my birthday boy moved about 25 boxes at one school and they added 4 at the other one to take home and store. They also helped to move several crates and boxes of books from the stage at one of the schools into my classroom for me to pack up. Next week, they will help move about 20 more boxes of sets of reading books home for me. I wish it made sense to not take these things to school and use them for children. Most of them are like new and they are great quality children's literature from top-notch publishers. I don't even want to talk about my professional books on teaching reading...I had to make a decision, so I did. After that, we went to the store to pick up the birthday cake and the flowers to honor my son at church with. (I always put flowers on the alter to honor my children on their birthdays.) I got him pink and white miniature roses and they looked gorgeous!
We had a totally beautiful church service today. There is a small church across the street from ours and they joined us in the service today. It was so wonderful to have these wonderful and talented people join us. A great majority of our church members are older caucasians and having so many younger and middle aged black Americans with us was excellent. I know many of these children from my teaching and I loved seeing them at church. It was a shared service of worship with our handbell choir and our praise band, and their choir providing some of the best music ever. I wish that you all could have joined us. Before church, I had a meeting with our outreach director about the summer program and how it will look. A lot is depending on if the state funds our church to do summer meals for children the way that they have--we will either work 3 days a week or 5 days a week, but we will provide opportunities for inner city kids.
After church today, we went to the music department's picnic. Although I don't sing or play bells, my children participate in these groups and they always invite the entire family. It was a wonderful picnic--I ate more than was good for me and I am still fighting it off. It was at a beautiful home--and their yard is gorgeous. We stayed outside even though it sprinkled a bit--and then Micah and I left early to go to the pool. The pool was awesome today--the water was warmer than it has been for days. All of the children in the pool (except one) were there with their parents. It was fun to be there and easy to do my exercises--and I got in a few laps as well, before I went and showered and climbed in the sauna. When we got home, Mitchell asked me and the kids if we wanted to go play miniature golf. It was a bit chilly and wet, but it was fun--and of all shocking things, I won. Mitchell said that is just how golf works, lol.
Right now, I had some fruit for dinner. We will be having a belated birthday cake and ice cream when Mason gets home. He wanted to wait until today so that his sister could be home to share as well. I have a skinny cow truffle bar to enjoy with them. I rarely eat sweets, but a birthday party is a celebration. Mason is now 18 years old and when I look at his beautiful baby photos on the wall, it seems impossible to believe that there is a high school graduation in his near future. He has decided to hold off enlisting in the army for a while. He did some job shadowing at the zoo which he loved. He is now considering the Air Force as a possibility as well as the idea of training to be a pilot. He is planning a wonderful summer working for our church and being with his girl friend and working at his other job. I think he has finally realized that he has some choices to consider and that he needs to think things through. Personally, it is the war in Afghanistan that has terrified me as a choice for my young son. I'm glad that he is waiting and I am glad that I prayed and prayed and put it in the Lord's hands.
Back to this wonderful weekend...There are so many things that I have mentioned that are directly connected to SP that I don't know how to thank Chris Downey and his staff for these opportunities. I do know how to say thank you though, and I wish that he and the others might see this...
Thank you, SP for:
--Helping me to realize that I could be active
--Convincing me that I need to do cardio and strengthening exercises regularly
--Letting me realize that I really like to exercise
--Getting my body more mobile and out of that wheel chair
--Showing me the way to adding steps and movement in all that I do
--Providing a forum for me to meet other people with health issues who have shown me that I can be active
--Teaching me that activity actually helps me in fighting the pain and problems I live with
--Emphasizing goals that have given exercise a place of priority in my life
--Assisted me in making daily exercise a habit
--Given me the nutritional knowledge I need to make good choices on an everyday basis
--Created the trackers here so that I can monitor my nutrition and exercise and reflect on my choices
--Introduced me to some of the best, most supportive friends who have or who are dealing with so many of the same things I am dealing with
If you reread my blog, you will see all of these things in it somewhere. I entitled this blog "A Totally Beautiful and Awesome Weekend!!" I am indebted to SP for this great time and expect my tomorrow to be totally beautiful and awesome as well. What a great deal for someone who used to weigh some 85 pounds more than I do now and who was using a wheel chair for mobility. What a deal for someone who couldn't walk across the room some 4 or 5 steps to take care of my own needs. What a deal for someone who wouldn't go out of the house for anything except a doctor's appointment during the holiday season.
I am happy and I love anything that is totally beautiful and awesome. My Spark Friends fit that description. I am so glad that i have you all.
Friday, May 14, 2010
I'm leaving for the pool in about 15 minutes. I fell asleep when I got home from work today after a decidedly odd day... Tomorrow is our son's 18th birthday and the good news is that he has promised me that he is NOT going to go over and enlist in the army right away. He is thinking about some other possibilities and he has decided to enjoy his girlfriend's prom at her school, his birthday, his graduation, and his summer as well as looking into some other ideas for his future. Whew, this has been on my mind and in my prayers for so long--I have a reprieve for now.
My friend Emily shared this on her blog and I am passing it on for you to enjoy and learn some odd things about me. (You also get to see ways we are alike and ways we are different!!)
It's silly survey time!! Don't forget to pass it on......copy and paste into your own blog and fill in the blanks!
A - Age: 54
B - Bed size: my recliner since I can no longer lie flat on my back
C - Chore you hate: decluttering anyplace
D - Dog's name: Lady, Chloe, Scooter and Frankie
E - Essential start your day item: Fruit
F - Favorite color: Blue
G - Gold or Silver: Silver
H - Height: 5"8--down from my "used to be height" of 5'9 1/2
I - Instruments you play: Violin
J - Job title: Reading Specialist in an elementary school
K - Kid(s): 2 daughters and 6 sons
L - Living arrangements: House in the country with hubby and 7 of our kids
N - Nickname(s): Mom
O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: lots and lots
P - Pet Peeve: Injustice
Q - Quote from a movie: "I can't think about that today..."
R - Right or left handed: Right
S - Siblings: 4 brothers and 2 sisters
T - Time you wake up: 6:00 AM
U- First word that comes to your mind for U: umbrella
V - Vegetable you dislike: beets
W - Ways you run late: trying to squeeze too much into too little time
X - X-rays you've had: Back, knees, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, hips, tummy
Y - Yummy food you make: Cakes, brownies, and cookies of many varieties
Z - Zoo favorite: giraffes--and their sweet babies
Time to scoot--enjoy and take time to share your ABC's too!!
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