Tuesday, December 07, 2010
After all of my plans, I slipped up and forgot that Marissa's choir program was yesterday afternoon. Micah's band and choir concert is Thursday evening and Marissa;s band concert is next week. I love the holiday programs and our kids' schools don't seem to have to follow the rules that other school districts have to follow, leaving religion out of the season. I am so glad--I understand the rules and why they exist, but it bothers me that I am not allowed to have my faith be part of the world around me because somebody might file a lawsuit. I think lawsuits have done a lot of evil in our world. (End of that comment... I guess Christmas is Christmas to me and even if you aren't a Christian, it is a very important and widely celebrated holiday. If you don't choose to celebrate this day, just leave those of us who do alone.)
Marissa's concert was beautiful. The music was outstanding, some traditional, some fun, some new. Their little school was one of 12 schools from junior high to college in Illinois selected to perform for the IL Music Educators. Our big surprise was when Marissa received a medal and was honored at this concert for being selected by the state to attend all-state as a future music educator, based on a paper that she submitted and the recommendations of her choir and band instructors. She is a sophomore and usually those types of honors are given to juniors and seniors. It made her mother cry. She is part of the more exclusive Madrigal Choir and their Jazz Choir and she had a lovely solo at the program as well. Her voice has grown and matured so much that whenever I hear her sing, it almost takes my breath away.
I took a lot of photos and I'll share some of them here. Maybe you can get a feel for how awesome it was!!
The stage was lovely--the light made it seem so special.
The musicians entered through the audience serenading us as they climbed on stage--the young lady in the center is Marissa.
The Madrigal Choir added a touch of fun with a PDQ Bach song and some kazoos that had the audience giggling.
I'm sorry the photos of Marissa receiving her medal didn't come out better, but we are so proud of her that this moment won't fade away in spite of that!!
Here she is during her solo with the Madrigal Choir.
As has been true with all of our kids, Marissa is so tall that she is on the back riser during the program. My tall children (except for Megan) are always easy to find.
We had a wonderful time--it changed my plans for Sunday and I missed out on going to the pool. I got my exercise in by walking, working at school, and household chores, and even if I couldn't have, this event was so wonderful that I wouldn't have missed it for anything. The last two songs are always "The Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah and "Silent Night." All of those beautiful voices of the young people at the high school make it an important part of my Christmas season.
Thanks for letting this proud mother do a bit of bragging and sharing!!
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Today, when I was in the sauna, I was reading the October issue of Reader's Digest (I catch up on some things in my own time ) and after I read a rather chilling article about medical mistakes made in America, I turned to the front of the magazine and there was a little half page blurb on "How to Stay Optimistic" with several suggestions from their reader panel. It caught me a bit off guard because I read so many good ideas here at SP as well as quality information from the SP staff on the same topic. The suggestions included things like humming a tune, taking a deep breath, looking at the night sky, and smiling to things requiring more thought such as giving thanks and counting your blessings. The interesting part of this was the answers that might have come right from SP. They included: working towards a goal, helping others, and "Don't sweat the small stuff." I am sure that I have read versions of all three of these things on this site before.
This lead me to think about my Spark Friends. I think you do more to help me be positive than sometimes I do for myself. You give me smiles--and goodies and flash emoticons around in your comments that are precious or cute or sweet or funny. You bring those smiles to my face. You constantly remind me of what I am doing right and gently help me to do some things better. You confirm my efforts and take time out of your own busy days to talk to me--often when I haven't returned the favor because of my hectic, crazy schedule. You provide me with "food for thought" that helps me to find my way down the path I should be on. You help me to remember my goals. Your encouragement is invaluable.
It is funny how the most trivial little thing can help me to stick with my plan here. The past couple of days haven't been my best as far as eating and sparking. I think exhaustion from the week I have had kicked in and every time I got to sit down, I found myself napping. I ate my healthy foods but added in some junk in ways that I don't typically do. However, except for the fact that tomorrow is my weekly weigh-in and that I might have to deal with a number that I might not care for for this week, I realize that no real harm was done and that maybe, something valuable came out of some of my mistakes this past week. I know that it isn't good to put in a work schedule like I did. It is hard on me physically and emotionally, and it makes it hard for me to stay focused on the real reason I do the best job I can one day after another, my students. With so much on my plate, my thoughts were pretty scattered this week, and there is truth in the saying that there is "only so much" that one can do. As I was getting around to some fairly nasty self-talk, along came this little piece in a magazine that brought my thinking and behavior back on track. Actually, it brought my thinking and behavior back to you.
And I am good now. I needed to get redirected. You all did that--and you didn't even know it at that time.
See how good you are?
Thanks for your help and support once again!!
Thursday, December 02, 2010
I am working hard at getting ready for some real rest tonight--and I am thinking that I am now tired enough and healthy enough to actually sleep. It has been the kind of two days I anticipated. I have accomplished a great deal and have been totally on the go, but I need a slower pace now.
I woke up at around 3:30 Tuesday morning and after one of my busiest days ever, I didn't get to sleep until sometime after 1:30 in the morning. (What's up with that??? I was trying.) My parent book studies went well--I only had about half of the families who had signed up, but it was snowing like crazy and that tends to happen anyway. the families who attended left really positive evaluations and want to do more of the same type of thing, so I am thinking ahead to late January to a follow-up--and possibly a repeat for those who didn't make it for whatever reason. I think I shared some helpful hints and ideas with them as well as helping them to understand some key pieces of information about how children become readers. I am satisfied with that effort on my part.
One of the parents was very concerned about an older child who is a non-reader, so we talked for quite a while after I was done with the session. It was too late for me o get to the pool--but I think I did okay on exercise that day because my pedometer registered over 22.000 steps. I know it was a pretty "special" kind of a day, but I never expected to see such numbers when I walk with a walker. I had a lot to do to prepare besides my full work day with my tutoring group after school and my other tutoring before school. whew--so why did sleep evade me???
Today was crazy too. I got a lot of things finished for the big community meeting. Our group may be moving into a group with some clout--which is awesome, but I worry that the original intent of collaborating to ensure that high quality summer programs for needy children are available community-wide, and that these programs are academically enhanced within their frameworks. Today, a lot of more private agendas seemed to be coming out of people and it made me a bit frustrated. My motivation and purpose for being there is exactly that. I spent a good deal of time creating a user-friendly document outlining the way that someone can turn any good activity into a better activity by adding language arts/ thinking activities into the situation before, during and after the actual activity. Then, I created packets of graphic organizers and easy-to-implement writing prompts to correspond with this. The frustrating part of that is that the direction that this meeting took left these things behind. Oh well, I will save them--and if this group becomes interested, awesome. If not, I can share with people at my church--or I'll take the packets apart and use the pages as part of my own lessons. Only time will tell what happens next. This could become a politically strong group that can do more for kids than any one person on their own.
I had 2 letters in the mail today and a message on the answering machine. They were from my ortho, the surgery center and my cardiologist. It seems as if my shoulder surgery is absolutely and finally a reality. I have an appointment with my doc, surgery scheduled for the 17th and I need an appointment with my heart doc. I will call him tomorrow and take care of all of that. This has been a long time coming, and finally, in just over 2 weeks, I can get some relief in this ornery shoulder of mine.
I went to the pool tonight--hurray, and it helped all of the tension in my body as well as calming all of the pain and discomfort that I have been living with. That helped me more than I know how to explain to others. the water soothes me and seems to take the choppy achy feelings out of my joints--and the longer I am there, and the more I move leaves me feeling free and capable.
It is now after 4 AM and I started writing this at 10 last evening. I fell asleep and got more uninterrupted sleep than I have had this week. There is a big difference in getting 6 hours of sleep in one chunk and in 4 or 5 chunks. I may be able to go back to sleep for a bit longer yet, so I am going to take my pain meds and close. Thanks for listening to my rambling.
I appreciate you all.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I don't usually blog in the morning, but since I woke up at a different weird time for me today, I thought I'd chat with my SPark Friends before going to work. I woke up at 3:30, which was an hour later than my usual wake up time. My shoulder is driving me nuts. I did get a call from the surgery center yesterday and things are moving ahead. I have an appointment next Tuesday morning to go do my "pre-surgical education." She told me that my cardiologist was being contacted and that he would have to give me an EKG and his blessings--shoot, I haven't seen him in over a year and thought that since I am no longer on those meds and his care that I was off the hook. I don't know if I can get a moment today to give him a call, but tomorrow will probably work out. I still haven;t received the paperwork from my ortho's office that was promised to me on November 10--I am wondering what is the real problem in that very busy office that cares for so many patients. They have always been busy with some 15-20 orthopedists, so why the disruptions now?
Today, I am doing two parent education meetings. I found a great booklet fromt he government called "A Child Becomes a Reader" and I got 50 copies of it. I am going to do a book study with my parents while their kids are with a babysitter and snacks, using some of the strategies I use to help kids with comprehension to share ideas on how kids learn to read and what they can do to help their children. I am hoping that this will turn into something that I can follow up in maybe 6-8 weeks with a "homework" assignment for the families. I think that the real way to help our kids who are struggling is to impact families. Anyway, in order to meet the needs of families who do and don't work, I am doing one session at 4:15 (after I tutor after school) and then a repeat performance from 6-&;15. I figure 15 minutes for clean-up and I will be at the pool by 7:40 to take care of this body. Some time today, I need to create an evaluation for m for my meetings to find out what the parents want and need, which will help grive what I will do later. My son is coming along with me to do some videotaping as well--you can never tell when and how that might come in handy and I have release forms in case I want to include this in my National Boards renewal.
i also have to create a "how to" document for the community agencies providing summer programs for kids before the big follow-up meeting that will be held at our church tomorrow. I have half of this done in another document that I used at the parent night we did over non-fiction reading a couple of weeks ago. I want to tweak it around and add a few things for the different audience. If we can get everyone to use creativity int he programs they already do and add a literacy component, it might help kids to hold on to things they work so hard during the school year to learn. I am excited to work with these groups, because it is my best guess that I can help far more kids through some of these ways than just in my classroom.
I will have a short break today with some of my morning lasses leaving for a brief field trip. That will give me logistical time to make sure that I have the right rooms for my activities tonight--I need a comfortable place for the parents and a functional place for the kids who are coming. It may allow me to get the paperwork done--or I'll be doing it tonight when I usually do SP stuff. Tomorrow night, will be mine again and I will have extra time at the pool for some hot tub/ sauna after working out--tonight will be only enough time for working out. I can go when the kids are at choir practice and Micah is at confirmation class. (I think our pastor will have a pretty busy tomorrow afternoon/ evening with the meeting followed by all of that stuff.) I need to comandeer the meeting for a short while for my pitch on the literacy activities having equal time on getting funding. This is so important because the state of Illinois is in such a financial bind that there isn't money for summer school programs anymore. All around, the kids seem to get the short end of the stick.
Alright, I have made my plan, checked it twice. I just went over it again with you all... I can do all of this if I stay goal oriented and focused--It's a lot like Spark People. I think my biggest "aha" of the month came when I was talking to my pastor yesterday and we hit upon how the best things that we do seem to be things we have had success with in the past and we figure out how to make them work in other ways. It is simple but genius when we can put things together that way. (I'd like to take credit for wording it like that, but he certainly came to that. I was muddling around with knowing I could use something I did with parents to support the community group and he put it right together for me.)
I had a pretty busy day yesterday, but it was so productive. I reached out to a lot of people and found help with a lot of things. A technology person in our district is coming by tomorrow to help me with problems I have been having on my webpage. Another teacher is going to lend me equipment to videotape and show me how to do it. Our Title 1 home-school facilitator is helping me with refreshments and a babysitter and some freebies for my parent meeting. My son's doctor was a wonderful person in many ways. My pastor really helped me with a long list of things on my mind. My husband is always in there for me--and four of my sons took some pressure off of me in multiple ways. I am blessed--I just have to realize who is there for me and ask sometimes.
Time to get out of here before I start my before school tutoring. Stop and do some deep breathing for me today. I can use it.
Monday, November 29, 2010
I have come to realize that there are some things that help me to do my best in many ways. I need to have goals and I need my sense of direction clearly defined. I also need to have a plan for myself so that I am not muddling through and leaving my choices at the whim of the moment. These are both really important--they are my road map to success whether it be in my maturing healthy lifestyle or any other thing, like preparing for Christmas or the work on my National boards renewal. If I let things slip and try to attack my day without a plan, something will go wrong, I can expect it.
That being said, my coming work week is a doozy. On Monday, Marissa has to go to school early for rehearsals. I go in early (every day) to do some tutoring--but I have to leave early because one of the guys has to go to the doctor. We will drop my oldest son off at work on our way there. I also have to call in and order my pain meds from my pain doc and call another doc to find out where the paperwork for my surgery is. I have an appointment with my pastor on the way home from my son's appointment to prepare some things for the big community based meeting on Wednesday. I plan to get to the pool around 7 when open swim begins so that maybe I can get to bed a bit earlier than usual for my big Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the day starts off as usual, but I have a group of ten first graders who I tutor after school followed by a parent workshop at 4:15 and a second one at 6 PM. I hope that I can get a bite of dinner in me on the way from work to the pool and I will try to be home by 9:45. Don't be surprised if I don't spend much time here at SP on Tuesday.
The rest of the week is closer to "normal." Marissa has another early day on Wednesday... I will have to leave the meeting at school early in order to go to the other meeting regarding summer programming. That will be over at 5 and then I can get home. We need to have dinner and we have to pick Marissa up late--but early from her jazz band rehearsal so that she and two of her brothers can go to choir practice at church while our little guy has confirmation class. I will go to the pool then. On Thursday, I will teach my tutoring group late after school and leave right away to go to my pool class and then I'll do the rest of my workout. I should get home by 6:30 or so and have an evening at home. Friday is a quiet night... I do think I have to find the calendar and check--I usually have at least one doctor appointment for myself, and I'll have to see f that is so, and get that into my master plan. Our youngest has a morning doctor appointment one day this week, but it will be my husband's turn to stay home from work and take him. (Thank goodnes for FMLA and for our jobs and contracts!!)
Since I know that there is a good deal going on, all I have to do is match quick, easy to prepare healthy food with Tuesday and Wednesday, and have a good supply of food in the house. That is the trick with some of the big guys in our house and all of the eating they do, lol I know that I have to drink water , exercise , and get my sleep in too. That is my plan and I have a way to implement things, so even though the week will be a bit nerve-wracking, I know that it will work.
I hope that you all have a happy and productive week. I hope that the pieces all fall into place for each of you. A we move into December and the holiday eaon, I wish you all love and peace.
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