Monday, July 19, 2010
Today's scripture included the story of Martha and Mary and it also included the story of Abram and Sarah when they showed hospitality to the 3 strangers who showed up unexpectedly at their home. Their kindness gave them a big reward in return when they finally got past being childless. Our pastor talked at length about the value of hospitality and how the kindnesses that Abram showed not only gave them the thing that they wanted most, but how in turn, it gave to all of us. I am glad that he spoke of it--and his prayer talked about how the world needs women of all types and the importance of having Marthas and Marys in our worlds. I was expecting him to link the stories and he didn't--I think he knew we could do that. I also expected him to mention the summer program and the hospitality that we gave to those 60 children who ate and played and learned in our church. He didn't mention that either. I didn't get around to asking him about that, but if I were to guess, we are hospitable to others to show caring and that is what motivated all of the Biblical players. If we happen to get something back in return, that's extra.
OK, SP is one of the places of the greatest hospitality ever. I have many Spark Friends who haven't heard much from me lately, yet they stop by and leave me comments and notes and help me get over the rough spots. I am thinking back to my beginning here, when I didn't quite get goodies and blogs and our other forms of communication, but I learned to talk with people and share my thoughts. I learned to give them support because I liked seeing these great people succeed at such a complex activity. I have made more friends and I do a bit more with a few teams that I am a "leader" of--I am not sure that means anything special, except that I would try to be a bit more consistent in what I do on my teams. So why be hospitable?
Well, it's an easy answer. I like being helpful and a little (on my busy days) is better than none. I like emoticons and goodies that help me to say what is on my mind. I like thinking through my own situation and sharing what has worked or finding ideas for what hasn't. I like having friends who I can count on whether I am present or not. Mostly, I like having this place to hang my hat when I have a few moments to spare so I can check in with the kind and hospitable people who are helping me to stick to it and who give me a chance to help them--really help myself.
I get more from SP than I give it, but it is fun to be hospitable here and it is fun to keep up with everyone. It is fun to know that I'll hear from others today. (It is not as fun to know that I have some 30 SP emails reminding me of all of the blogs I need to visit, but they help me to get there...) there is a lot to that hospitality stuff--look at all of the places where we can find it.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
We have really been doing a bit of everything recently and it dawned on me that my family works way too hard at so much and that is why I am always feeling as if my house is a mess and my yard needs work, and that I miss my family and we need time together. My husband works 7 days a week and 9 hours a day. I have been working at the church from 8:30 until at least 12:30 and some days until 2:30 followed by time in my classroom that often goes until well after 4 or 5. We get home for a bit of regrouping and dinner--and I go to the fitness center for about 3 hours each night. In the meantime, 4 of my kids have been joining me with my daily schedule, one has been at school, and three have been working at two/three jobs each day. We are all working too hard at too much. I go back to work on Monday, August 2 and I want to have some family fun and some R&R before then. I know, I know--I have so much to do to get my classroom ready and unpacked. I wanted to have some major cleaning done in my house and the guys still have to put in my new floor and sink in the bathroom. They are going to rebuild the kitchen floor and cabinets as well. I have 3 cans of paint for a bedroom, my dining room, kitchen and family room, and we have a new carpet to put down in the family room. Our garden has started giving us a lot of great big zucchini and the vines are loaded with nice green tomatoes. I have a bag of green beans already and the cucumbers and melons are all in bloom as well. Our basement and garage need a good cleaning and we have a couple of new projects waiting in the back yard too.
We haven't had time to do any of that--or the yard sale I wanted either. We all work too hard and there is always something else to do. I read something here at SP today that mentioned we won't be able to read all of the books we want to read or see all of the movies we want to see, etc...co we must choose carefully. Well, we won't be able to do all of the work we think we should do either and I want to spend some fun time with my family. I want to spend a lot of it actually--and I intend to. that brings me to today...
We had a really awesome Friday celebration of the "Summer Camp" program at our church, of which my reading program was part. It had been a busy day at a beautiful city park and the park board had gotten three bouncy toys for the kids--one had two basketball hoops, one had a slide and the other was a traditional jumping room. They also had put together a lot of nice games--potato bag race and relays and rope tug and so on. After lunch, they had a pair of magicians for the kids. I got to walk around a lot and visit with a lot of people which was fun. Our church supplied food for well over 300 children from a variety of places and programs. We got back to the church in time to give the kids each a literacy bag with lots of books, crayons, pencils, things they had made, and a few toys--and to say good bye to them. i felt as close to this group as I did any of my students this past year, maybe because I got to teach them and get to know them without any stress. I did some assessments at the end of the program and was happy to see some nice growth in reading levels for most of them. They left around 2 and we tidied up a bit and left after 2:30 and we came home and did routine stuff--dishes, laundry, some weeding etc... Mason went to work at his other job. My husband came home and took my daughter to voice and the guys made taco salads for dinner. Then we went to the pool. I got home around ten and I fell asleep trying to do my SP activities. That has happened a lot lately and I wish that I had more time for answering team posts and blogs and stopping by to leave supportive messages and simply say "Hi."
I woke up at 2 and at 4 and at 6 and I finally got up around 7:30 and did some things that needed attention around here. Most of the kids were sleeping which is rare around here and I thought they deserved to sleep in. I had a rather nasty headache and would have slept longer if I could. when the kids got up, Mitchell and Marissa worked on laundry. I took Micah and ran some errands. When I got home, we started some weekend chores--vacuuming, dusting, washing floors , lawn mowing, weeding, and on and on. I decided again to While waiting for my husband to get home, I went to the stores and bought some groceries and prepared a picnic for dinner. I blew off going to the pool because we needed to do all of the things we were doing, but I realized that my family needed some down time. I met a bit of resistance from my husband and Marshall--but I insisted and we took everyone to the lake. I did get to go swimming there--it was certainly different than the pool at the fitness center, but I found a way to do most of my exercises in a revised format. The water was warm and the beach was busy, but it was nice. My husband finally admitted that maybe he should come to the pool and actually get in the water with us--maybe even come to the fitness center and do some walking or use the hot tub. Then it dawned on me...
We ALL need a real vacation. Every single one of us need a vacation and a change of scenery. I have 2 weeks to get that classroom ready and I have 2 weeks and limited money to pull this off--but we need some time off of this hectic crazy schedule we are trapped on. I am thinking of some possibilities and had been tossing around some ideas for day trips or weekend trips or something. I will make this happen because we need this. My family works too hard and we need time to rest and play, and to enjoy each other. I have great kids who help me with things like moving classrooms and who volunteer at the church. I know them as well as they know themselves and I know their naughty stuff too--but, quite honestly, I know beyond everything else that I am really blessed and I realized today that we simply need some time out. I don't have the details yet--I am hoping to catch up with one of my spark friends on a day trip later this week, if our schedules can work it out (I need to reread her note to me and see what might work.) Mitchell is going to Chicago to meet up with his girlfriend who will be done with her third tour of working on cruise ships and they are heading to alaska to his best friend's wedding. I think he leaves a week from Tuesday, so I need to fit some things in before he goes. Maybe we play until then and I do the classroom after then. I don't know, but I keep remembering that I need to have fun. Well WE need to have fun, together.
This might be a bit tricky to pull off, but if anyone can do it, it will be me. I am convinced and I believe we need this. Stay tuned in for new developments on this!!
Gentle hugs to all of you--I am blessed to have you and my family.
And these are only the available emoticons to show some of my blessings. Thank you for being part of this special summer group.
Monday, July 12, 2010
I have been having such a good time this past month, but I have known and avoided the fact that unpacking boxes would be coming. I have been teaching young children reading strategies at church and I've been having so much fun with them, but I know this big job is facing me. I have been walking around the heap of boxes on my porch and in both of our vans because I was given a limit on what I could take--then I found out that most of the teachers had well over 100 boxes--more like 180, 160, 140--and I was told that I could only have 50??? However, I have been having a pleasant summer and I have been avoiding these things. I have been having fun at the pool, with my family, at my church, and visiting with all of you.
We have taken a few things from my porch to the school during the summer--but it was only to drop them off and get out of there, because we weren't allowed to unpack yet. Now we can unpack, and I have had almost everyone of my kids in to help with some of this. I have a lot to do, but the unpacking is easier than packing. I labeled and organized things pretty well and that made this part of the job a lot easier. My porch looks ridiculous though and I spent about 6 hours today opening and moving boxes and organizing things so that they could be taken (back) to school where they belong. Marshall helped me and when Floyd got home from work, he helped me too. The guys will have no problem in knowing what they need to load into their trucks and bring to me now, yay. The downside is that my back is hurting like all get out tongiht.
My attitude issue is here and it is with myself. I am frustrated to have this body that won't let me work the way I'd like to. After church today, I played around here for a while and procrastinated, but I finally went out to my porch to organize the things that are piled all over. (It looks purely disgraceful out there, but I didn't have anywhere else to put those things. Our basement gets water and nobody should have to lift these heavy boxes of books and put them in our rafter attic.) Anyway, I have worked at moving, lifting, and unpacking boxes since Tuesday and I have found that it doesn't take much to get my back throbbing again. It is as if I have done nothing to try to become stronger and to manage this pain. I get the same reaction simply by bending over and trying to pick up items off of the floor. It hurts and that hurting is ALWAYS there. It doesn't go away and hangs out just waiting for me to do any little thing to make it scream at me. I don't like it and I don't want it. It interferes with what I need to do. It interferes with what I want to do. It won't let me walk very long (if I'm not in the pool.) It won't let me go to the mall and shop with my girls. It won't let me go to yard sales and thrift shops and look for bargains. It won't let me work in my garden. It won't let me go hiking. It won't let me play frisbee. It won't let me walk Lady. I know that it is wrong to dwell on this type of thing, but sometimes it just makes me darn irritated. As a matter of fact, I am going to write my back a note here:
Hi there. I'd ask "How are you?" but I already know that. I know that when I moved boxes around and climbed on and off of the porch today that it really made you angry. I am a little bit sorry for that, but you need to understand a few things. I have a life and I have important things to do in my life and YOU interfere constantly. This past weekend has been all about you and that isn't right, it is time for you to understand that you aren't in charge of what I need or want. If I could, I would evict you from the premises for all of the disturbances you cause.
I know that a lot of this is my fault. If I hadn't lived most of my life as being very obese and if I hadn't did so many yoyo diets, maybe you wouldn't have gotten into the shape you are in now. Yet other people who are obese do not have a back meddling with their life constantly. You demand far too much attention from me and I cannot give you whatever it is you want or need to behave. If you were a child, you would be in time out constantly. However, whatever I did in the past is over and cannot be changed, so that brings us back to now.
Listen, I have to get my things moved into that beautiful new classroom. I do have a helper thanks to my friend Ken. My kids have been very good about helping as you well know. Yet, I cannot sit there like some kind of queen while everyone else is doing my work. That would be rude on my part--and besides that, they need my help to know what I want to have done. I would like to get this finished soon so that I can enjoy the last few weeks of my summer break with my family. I need that and I want that. I got the porch organized today with the help of my son and my husband and I took several sit down breaks because they made me. It isn't fair that you are making me pay for that with all of this pain--this work is my RESPONSIBILITY.
The reality is that you and I have to get along with each other. Neither of us can live or function without the other one. I want to make a deal with you and try to prevent this from being a constant problem this week. Here is how I am going to help you: I am going to make sure that I use my meds in a timely way and not wait until you are angry to remember them. I will stop and sit down every 5-7 minutes to keep you calm. I won't lift anything that weighs more than ten pounds again. I will ask for help and I will be patient and wait for the help to come, rather than doing things by myself. I will get to the pool everyday when it is open like I have been doing. I will also do a pain patch check each evening to make sure that I haven't lost it, so you get screaming upset. I am still losing weight and I will keep at this until I am at the healthy weight my doctor wants me at. I will eat healthy and take my vitamins as required.
All I ask of you is to be reasonable. I don't deserve it when you scream at me for hours and I don't deserve to be stuck in a chair all of the time. If I treat you with the respect you deserve, you need to let me do things that other people do. It is only fair if I give you everything that I am capable of that you give me a break and stop the spasms and the constant aching and burning pain. I am going to expect it and I will keep my part of the bargain in return.
So cheers to you, my back, as you and I work hard to live together in peace, while I continue living my life within reason. Thanks for hearing me out.
Gentle hugs, Sylvia
OK--it is going to take a lot of effort for me to hold up my end of this bargain, but I need to do exactly what I promised my back. I may need your continued reminders to take care of business. Please feel free, my SparkFriends. We started moving things at school on Tuesday and my back started acting up Tuesday evening. It was as if no time had passed and that pain was simply back. I must have a better quality of life--there will always be something for this mother, teacher, student, wife, Christian to do and I have to stay in the boundaries that my back has given me.
Do you think I'll be able to keep the promises I made to my back? I MUST or it will ruin me and my life. It is that simple to say and understand. However, why I don't make those choices without all of this self-direction is far beyond me. I wish it wasn't like this and I wish my back didn't hurt and act up all of the time. But it is what it is and it does what it does, so compromise is the way I have to function.
As always, I for your support. Have a wonderful new week and together, we will reach for the stars without upsetting our backs. Take care everyone!!
Gentle hugs to you too,
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I am still in my nightie and it is 11:39, lol. I needed some rest and when I finish this blog, I will put on my swim suit and head to the pool. I have gotten into the same state I was in with the big "Box packing of 2010" episode from May and I am not going to stay in that place. We were given the "go ahead" to start unpacking this week and my friend Ken got my helper lined up for me to start this week. On Tuesday, Mitchell, Marshall, and I went and we moved things around in my classroom to get the big furniture in place. The guys did the big work, but I muddled around and did some. On Wednesday, Miles and I went and opened most of the boxes and sorted them to go in locations that would make unpacking easiest. (That was a big job with the 87 boxes I ended up with there and a few that have already returned.) On Thursday, my helper started--and along with Marissa, Mitchell, and Marshall--we emptied well over half of those boxes. Many of my books are either on CLEAN shelves or are sorted into baskets waiting to go on shelves that needed to be made. That was another big work day. I made a schedule with Linda, my helper to work again on Friday, Monday and Tuesday, after the church reading program. Ken stopped by to see me and caught me working and asked me, "Why aren't you sitting down?" Duh, good question--but I am not sure how I can sit while all of these other s are doing MY work.
By the time we got home Thursday, I was asking myself the same question. My body was in trouble and I knew it. I took meds and got myself to the pool--it is amazing how soothing that is for me as I walk in the water, do all of my exercises, and then swim a few laps. (I also took time for both the hot tub and the sauna )
When I woke up on Friday, I couldn't stand up straight. I knew that I was responsible for my condition, but I am someone who has always worked and worked relentlessly until I complete a task. I can no longer do that, but I am too much an "old dog" to learn new tricks without a good lesson to teach them. The kids at church had a field trip, so I knew I'd have some down time. I also had an "urgent--lol" sewing project to do and complete for Mitchell so that time out was going to happen regardless of my own stubborn nature.
I have to explain the project, it is so funny. He is at a weekend Ultimate Frisbee shindig up Chicago way. Each participating team has to have a theme and my son's college buddies are "The Big Lebowski." Now, that is a movie I have never seen, but I can explain--Mitchell is the John Goodman character and needed to have a vest like you'd wear on an African safari. Nothing like that was available around here, either expensive or cheap in thrift stores, costume rentals, sporting good stores...So he bought a (actually nice) khaki shirt at a thrift store for $1.49. He gently removed the sleeves and the collar. My job was to create four more pockets---two to fit below the pockets on each side and convert this into a safari vest. Now, I haven't done much sewing since before I had splints on both arms and surgery on my hands--some 5 years. My sewing machine needs a tune-up and isn't useful right now. I thought the quilters at church had one, but they take things home to sew. So I cut the pockets out of those sleeves, pinned them on and sewed them on by hand. It would have been a five to ten minute project with a machine, I spent a total of 3 and a half hours on it. It wasn't the best stitching and sewing, but he could actually use this shirt for real--it turned out pretty nice. I was able to incorporate some of the stitching and hems from the sleeves into these pockets and it made it look fairly nice. I didn't have time to use actual hem-stitching and the like. Anyway, he got these silly yellow lensed shooting glasses, a green polo shirt and khaki shorts to complete the deal and I guess it is a perfect replica of the character. I was told if you had seen the movie, you would know who he was. OK, I'll believe. Now he is there, with his best friends in the world having a good time. These guys won't "win" anything because they are all working and haven't practiced as a team since they graduated from college 3-4 years ago. They have a lot of fun and I'm glad that he goes. They do a few of these a year, but this one is a special time.
Anyway, back to my story. The field trip got changed because the bowling alley they were going to attend didn't work out. I ended up teaching for an hour before the trip and then they needed me to be there when they returned. (The bowling alley they ended up at wasn't near a park for lunch, so the remainder of the summer camp day was at church.) I told them that I'd be glad to work with my kids after lunch, and totally forgot that I was supposed to meet Linda at my classroom at 1:30. I had to be with the kids until 2. We zoomed straight over to the school, but she wasn't there. I put the finishing touches on Mitchell's shirt-vest and Mitchell, Marshall, and Marissa helped to unload a few big things that Mason brought to school in his truck. Since Linda wasn't there, I made an executive decision that I wasn't going to do any heavy work on Friday and we came home--and I watched my son pack up and leave for his weekend trip.
I also realized that something was going totally wrong with me. My body's major joints were all on fire and I couldn't focus on the computer, a TV program, a magazine--nothing. It hurt so bad all over and my legs were particularly nasty--then I realized two things. The first being that I hadn't eaten my lunch yet and that I had only had 4 oz of apple juice for breakfast--and that I had felt that awful feeling once before. I got Marissa to help me out, and yes, my pain patch was not in place on my back. Grr--rr I checked my clothing, the nightie I had worn the night before and my previous day's clothing. It wasn't in any of those places, so I suspect I'd lost it at the pool in the prior day or two. Arghh. She helped me replace it and I went outdoors in the heat and sunshine and struggled for the next hour until it kicked in and helped undo the damage I had done to myself over the past few days. I am supposed to place these patches on my back, but I sure wish I had a way of knowing when they weren't there. When I find out the hard way, it is really a hard way. They get changed every 3 days and well, I have these because I need them. It is surely not a perfect system.
I did go to the pool last evening, a bit later than usual, but it shouldn't have mattered. I was almost through all of my exercises when the life guard along with one of the other workers insisted that everyone leave the pool 5 minutes early last night. I know my pain issues made me grumpy, but it aggravated me. I know the reason is that this particular lifeguard doesn't work so hard and that the other staff member was irritated because she tried to manage the wayward family I discussed in my previous blog and they complained about her being "rude." She was right in what she had done and everyone knew it, but she caused the early closing as some petty way to get even with them. I expressed my unhappiness and she told me that I could get back in. It isn't that easy for me there are stairs involved and once I get out, I'm out. I don't expect it to happen again. It was all too reactive to me--if the lifeguard would do her job and if the fitness center would use backbone with this family, there wouldn't be an issue. Oh well, I took care of me and finished my time in the sauna.
Now, the only time a problem is worthwhile is if we learn something from it. I have learned that I am going to take it easy on this body as we continue to unpack. The boxes are pretty organized, so things are coming out fairly easy. I am just going to tone down my activity. I have all of these lovely cupboards and things to use and I can do sitting down work. There is a possibility that the big grant helping to fund our church program might extend the program for the last two weeks of summer break--if so, I',, teach those two weeks as well. If not, I think that we may take a couple of short say trips or something and find a way to get some playtime in. Everyone has worked hard this summer and some playtime is due all of us. I'll see how things unfold. My kids' schools are not on the modified year-round schedule that the district I teach in is on, so they have another month--so we have some weekends to fit play into as well. As for now, I still have 3 more weeks off work and I'm going to take care of me as my priority. I have to do that.
Gentle hugs to you all!
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Sometimes making the right choice is not easy for me or for others around me. I have found myself in that position a few times today and it is a bit unnerving. (I'm betting there was something in my horoscope about this because it came up so often, haha) It started this morning when my 18 year old son Mason was not feeling well, so I took him to our pediatric groups Walk-in morning clinic for working parents. He had been coughing awfully and was running a fever. They did a rapid strep test and prescribed him some Allegra and had me get him some Delsyn to go along with the ibuprofen. I asked the doctor about his two jobs--that he loves, and the doctor gave him a note to take 2 days off work. He wasn't totally happy with me, but he gets up at 6 AM to go to his job at the church with the feeding program and he works there until 1:30-2in the afternoon. Then he goes and spends a couple of hours with his girlfriend before he has to be at his job at McDonald's at 5. He has been working until around 2 AM there. Now you can do the math, but I know that he is run down from not getting enough sleep and he needs it. I called the church to tell them I would be late and I took him to get his prescription, a case of water, a couple of bottles of juice and his Delsyn. Then I told him he had to stay home, take the meds, drink some water and/or juice and go to sleep--end of conversation. (Sometimes Mom really is right.)
When I got to church, I found that I had a preschooler in my group again and I just wasn't happy about it. I found out that our outreach director had told this woman she could bring her child--but my program is about teaching reading and improving the reading of children. Pre-schoolers don't read and many don't even know ABC's. There are 2 parents who are working with the program with older children who have brought these small children (who are sweet, kind, nice , lovable children--but they aren't ready for reading. I told them that I wouldn't throw her out or anything, but when I have children who require a lot of attention for support and behavior and immaturity, that it takes my time away from working on literacy. About a half an hour later, the little girl's mother came and got her--she has another child a year younger, so I would think that she could get child care there. I found out later that this mother is having a lot of serious life issues, but they gave her two days off with pay to work on her life issues. I am so sorry for the major difficulties that this lady is having, but I suggested that maybe we consider that we need a preschool program or a childcare program, but I simply want to maintain the integrity of what I am doing with the schoolage children.
Today, we had a "Telephone Hearing" for the unemployment people since the store my son works for fought his request for unemployment. It was a strange thing, being sworn in over the phone and having a session like something that might have been on "Law and Order." I don't know how they will judge this case, but there was a lot of discussion about the things that made this silly. It was strange not being able to see the others--and one of the "witnesses" from the store flat out lied about something. I encouraged Marshall to question her on this. It wasn't a fun time, that's for sure.
Tonight at the pool, I finally said something to a couple of children who are very young and who usually come to the pool around 8:30 with their parents and stay until the pool closes at 9:15. this has been bothering me--and my children for quite some time. These two children who are around ages 3 and 5 are the naughtiest and orneriest children ever. They break every rule in the place over and over again, and they are mean to people. They do things that are dangerous sometimes and their parents ignore all of these behaviors. The girl who is around 5 runs all over the place, climbs on the diving board and jumps and runs on it, throwing toys off of it and doesn't listen to any redirection from anyone. The little boy like to ask you what your name is and then as you answer him, he squirts you in the face with a squirt gun. He throws things all over if he doesn't get what he wants. He spits water and splashes anyone--babies with their parents or his parents. He slaps his parents too. Both of them go into the adult equipment room and drag anything they want to out of it and make a mess of everything leaving junk floating all around the pool. Since you know that I am not so sure on my feet, you can guess that these children might be a problem. Tonight, as I was walking my laps around the pool, the little boy was slapping the water hard with a noodle and as I walked by he started to hit me with it. I simply said, "Please don't do that" and he didn't hit me but his mother bristled. On my next lap, the little girl had been throwing something into the pool for another little girl to dive and fetch--which might have been a great activity for them--until I walked right by and she threw the object right over my head and it turned out that the object was a 3 pound exercise weight. I was outraged and I asked her why she even had that. I told her that it was dangerous and she needed to put it back--but she lied to me and told me that the lifeguard told them they could play with it. Then I told her that I was going to go check with the lifeguard and she told me that she was going to go put it up, and she begged me not to say anything. I went right over to the lifeguard and told her what had taken place and she went to talk to this child's parents and their daughter. Grr, the mother's look at me could have killed me--but someone needs to help these children learn how to act and the parents don't seem to know how to do it. It is quite irritating--they disrupt my workout almost every evening and I am pretty tired of it. I decided that I am not going to turn a blind eye to this awful situation anymore. That is that.
So, I haven't been calm, quiet or passive today. I haven't pleased the people around me very well. I have been honest in my actions and I have tried to do things that were best for the majority of people around me. As I reflect on my day, I am feeling a bit guilty for causing some problems for other people, but it was important to maintain my own integrity and peace of mind. You judge this a bit and tell me what I should have handed differently. I know this day has left me cognitively exhausted.
And yes, it rained some also--on me and around me. What a day. I have some praying to do.
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