Tuesday, May 03, 2011
I sure had a hectic day, but i feel good about everything I finished at work today and I got things going here at home as well. I had a day for the kids to practice the phonics program on the computers today. (Kindergarteners, first and second graders on computers is a handful of work--constant calling out of my name because of all of the things that the computers "do" or "don't do" to them, lol. They never believe it when I tell them that they are the reason that "Adobe reader" gets opened up over their screen or whatever else is going on.)) With help from a parent, my volunteer and 3 5th/6th grade students, I checked every first graders sight word cards. I refiled a large crate of files I had gotten out as resources for my National Boards. I did the same with about 10 large binders of materials. I put away 2 boxes of holiday materials also. I did my 2 extra lessons with my first graders. I put holes in 6 sets of 256 sight word cards and organized them for the children who needs them. I feel pretty satisfied with my day of work. Just setting up those 6 computers is a big deal--I have to connect an ethernet cord to each, as well as the power sources and headphones., and of course, taking them down is the reverse. Anyway, it was a day of lifting and bending over.
When I got home, I sat down to work on my own computer when I did my usual activity an fell asleep for about an hour before dinner and then going to the pool. I cannot say I got much done at home, but it seems as if I really needed that nap. It was pretty quiet at the pool, until of course the family I have described before showed up. I am really bugged by the parents who sit in the waiting area, one with a laptop and the other using a phone or an ipod--and they totally ignore their very naughty children. The kids scream for attention that they don't get and they fight constantly. They don't share the single pool toys that the parents provide, they fight over them. (It would seem that if you have two children that you might buy two toys instead of just one.) Their fighting is slapping faces, hair pulling, and worse. They are noisier than just playing would suggest--and they often don't come into the pool until 8:40. It seems to me that a pre-school child and a first grader should be going to bed at that time rather than getting into the pool. I think the parents use the fitness center as a way to get out of being parents and then they finish their time there by bringing the kids to the pool and showering rather than being at home and actually parenting their kids. It really bugs me after an evening of putting up with them. I refuse to talk to any of them any more because they don't need any encouragement for the inappropriate behavior. Strangers and lifeguards spend their time trying to help those children behave while the parents just ignore what is going on. As a parent, I would be humiliated if somebody else had to manage my kids like that. I just don't get it, but I do know that they have created a monster out of the older girl for sure. The little boy seems to be a bit more reasonable, but he is always competing against that girl for everything and then, he fights back. I guess they aren't breaking any laws except the laws of common sense vs stupidity.
I fell asleep again during the writing of this blog--but that is how I typically sleep. I am falling asleep easier these days, probably due to my med changes--I a, getting more sleep bit it is still interrupted. My doctor has put me on increased meds and told me part of the reason that happens is because the meds wear off and my body recognizes increased pain activity. Pain is a complex thing, I don't recognize it in the way my body does.
Tuesday will be different for me. I am not going to work because it is the day of my final scheduled injection. I am going with my daughter on a college interview and possibly taking my son to the Driver's License place. My other son needs to go to DHS to confirm his services as well. Anyway, I will be busy! I hope I can get time in at the pool around all of this. If I can go during the day, I'll miss some people who make it tough to exercise, lol.
Sunday, May 01, 2011
I want to share the blessings in my life and how I have come to realize that they are even there. I am giving thanks for so much right now!!
I have had a hectic, crazy few weeks, but I finally got all of my writing edited--and then I had to rewrite and delete things to fit the page requirements of the National Boards. I got those videos completed--and I got my daughter to help me and pack my box. That took about 2.5 hours to arrange everything and ti put all of the stickers and barcodes in the appropriate places. We got everything in the proper envelopes with the proper labels and stickers and we taped that box securely. I put it in the mail and we saw the postmark to make sure it meets the requirements. I insured it for the $1350.00 is cost to do the recertification and let the US Postal service have it. I will hear if they got it by a receipt from them--and I believe that NBPTS will also send me a notice. Then, the waiting game begins because they don't get the results to people until sometime in late November. At this point, I know that I did my best and from what I realized, I am a very good teacher doing good work every minute of every day. I want to get my recertification, but if I don't because something in my writing or videos wasn't clear and convincing to them--well, I am clearly convinced.
I survived the injections in my back on Thursday. I either had 8 or 9--they hurt quite a bit more this week than last week--and one in particular got a "yelp" out of me. My doctor said that she had hit a hot spot and she needed to put more medicine in there to help it. (Hmm, I yelped and needed another shot--doesn't seem fair, lol.) Anyway, I am in the midst of a steroid attack and seem to need a lot of food, as I generally do when steroids are inside of me. I have had either 14 or 15 injections in a week and am getting a big dose on Tuesday for the bursitis in my hip. It's a hard week for me to get focused on healthy eating, but it is my plan and I can do this.
As for my back, I am telling the world that it is a bit better than it has been in years. I don't know which of the 6 new things going on is helping me, but I am not dealing with all of the fatigue from dragging my body from place to place. I don't think even I understand the fog of all of the pain my body gives me anymore. However, a layer or more of that pain is lifting and I am amazed. I feel more energy and well, simply different than I have in so long. I don't know what is doing it and I am back on a large quantity of meds, but this time they aren't shadowing my brain, they are working with me. I am giving thanks for my new doctor. She is a physiatrist and she is really working for me. Hooray!!
Finally, I have avoided my weekly appointment with the scale for almost a month--I missed 3 weigh ins. That happened because I was running on adrenaline and focused on my writing. It turns out that I lost 2.1 pounds in this past 3 weeks. I can't believe it and don't know how that happened, but hooray. I think it means that I have enough good habits built that they take over when I am not paying attention any more. That is another blessing!! I have a lot to do better--no more bites of things that I don't need and the fast food meals of the past couple of weeks have to go. However, I went grocery shopping for the first time in the past 4 weeks yesterday and spent over $400 on good healthy food--When I got home, my kids complained that there wasn't "anything to eat" WooHoo, that means I did what I set out to do and buy healthy foods!!
I am celebrating several personal accomplishments--I completed my National Boards Renewal, I exercised every day and all at the pool except Easter, I started physical therapy for my back, I am feeling a bit better and I am making slow steady progress in all of the right ways. This weight loss is just a little proof that I have built some good habits.
I am giving thanks for all of my Spark Friends who send me little notes and goodies and have stuck with me, even when I have been wildly busy and not returned the favors consistently. I also thank Spark People for being here just when I was ready for making healthy changes for my life.
Monday, April 25, 2011
I stayed awake all night last night--unintentionally, but I did. I ended up getting my final video selected and created for my National boards and I was awake when Micah and Floyd got up for Easter morning around 5:34. That is when I said a few un-Christian-like words because the computer wouldn't let me burn the DVDs. Grr-rr. Not nice to do to an overly tired and aching Sylvia on Easter morning. However, I got ready for church and two of my kids decided that they could and would handle this for me--and after we got home for church, they both put their heads together--and Megan figured out how to do it. We used my flash drive and saved them to it and moved them to another computer that also behaved badly for a while, but she changed something on iDVD and it worked. She burned my two videos and back-ups, yay.
Let me back track though to church. I want to share the photos of the flowers on the cross. Somehow, the photos don't seem quite as breathtaking to me as it was in church. I also didn't get to stay long because I did children's church today, so I didn't get to enjoy it as long as everyone else did...
The wooden cross was covered in chicken wire so flower stems could be kind of easily inserted. This is the result of everyone working together.
This is the pulpit and the alter off to the right, with many Easter lilies in honor of the Resurrection.
Our young children stand next to the cross of flowers, singing an Easter anthem.
Josh is showing off his work at Children's Church (before they got a surprise Easter treat... and after the annual Easter egg hunt where each child gets a miniature artifact from the Easter story. We still have a mini-burro from Christ's trip and a mini-Communion goblet and some mini-palm leaves.)
Here is one more view of that beautiful cross after the service.
We came home and I lent some expertise in the kitchen as long as I could stand up--and then I went back to the computer.
The good news is that I finished the first drafts of all of my writing today and sent my "final drafts" off to my friends who are helping me to edit for one more reading. Tomorrow, I will revise Compnent 2 and the Reflection pages, copy the forms and do 3 minor pages of information that includes a sketch of my classroom. I believe that I will have this ready to pack before the week's end and it will be postmarked before the 10:30 closing of our local post office on Saturday. Then, I have to forget about it until the assessors finish scoring it by Thanksgiving. That is not an easy wait, but it is a necessity.
Have a wonderful week.
Hallelujah, Christ is Risen.
Christ is Risen indeed, Hallelujah!
Saturday, April 23, 2011
I'm way behind in my writing and am getting right back to it. It has been a buy day with getting ready for Easter--but I wanted to share these photo with you. The river is supposed to stay at this level most of the week, with the biggest problem being the amounts of daily rain we have been receiving.
The former John O'Donnell Stadium is not supposed to be surrounded by the river.
As you back up to avoid the river, you can see the streets covered with water with the ball park totally surrounded. There is no water in the stadium(yet) because it has flood protection.
I have more photos to share, but for some reason, the upload button won't work, so I'll share them tomorrow. (Safari can’t open the page “http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_blog_ad
d_picture.asp” because the server where this page is located isn’t responding.) They really tell the story of the power of this river and what happens when she spills over the banks. Quite honestly, any place that you travel to around here, you drive by a place that is full of water when it typically does not have water there. It will be a while before we are dried out around here.
Finally, my shopping is done and our meal is planned. I have veggies and fruit to prepare for our meal--everything else is done. have children's church tomorrow and I am taking the easy road with a good story of the Resurrection and coloring pages that tell the story. I cannot bring myself to use that time for bunnies and Easter eggs...I'm not a party poop, it just seems that the day should be spent recognizing the power of God's gift to us all rather than consuming jelly beans and marshmallow bunnies.
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I am excited to "start over." It has been a busy week and the coming one will be even more that way as I finish my National Boards and prepare "the box" to mail everything in, so my "starting over" may occur a week later than Easter, but it will happen. I am content to do what I have to.
Have a glorious Easter. I hope to share photos of my church tomorrow and the big wire cross that we will fill with flowers. It is an endearing time and a gorgeous way to celebrate our Risen Savior.
These photos show the makeshift "bridge" that was made so that people could continue to enjoy baseball games. Our minor league team, the "Quad City River Bandits" with their mascot of a masked raccoon is quite popular around here. It is a minor league team for the St. Louis Cards which is one of three very popular ball clubs close to us--the other two being the Chicago White Sox and the Cubs.
Oh my, where will the kids play??? lol, They will swim of course!!
As you can see, the ball park is safe and green and ready to be used--for now. This powerful river may get past the protection that is there, but we are all hoping that that doesn't happen.
We have to do a lot to deal with the river in times like these--You can see our big Centennial Bridge in the background that is no longer a toll bridge and connects Rock Island, IL to Davenport, IA. Our area has about 4 major bridges that keeps us all connected--and that almost always all require construction work when the weather gets nice and gives us quite a commute if we have to go from IL to IA.
If you choose to be in an area near rivers like the Mississippi and the Rock, you benefit from them greatly. They are a source of beauty, wildlife (like our wintering eagles), energy and recreation. However, due to their size and their power, we also have to adapt and deal with it when they are going through natural changes. I have lived here my entire life and have seen everything from drought to flood. Our rich soil and rich history more than compensate for this inconvenience. (The people of the IL Quad Cities decided to protect themselves from the flooding when the big one that happened when I was a sixth grader did so much destruction. IA communities didn't build flood walls because they didn't want to detract from the beautiful river front. They continue to deal with thousands of dollars in damage from floods like this one.)
If I have an opportunity, I will take additional photos of our flooded areas like in the little town of Andalusia and our beautiful Sunset Marina park that is closed off to everyone right now--they even had to move out all of the docked boats. As the newspapers have named it, the flood of 2011 is leaving its mark.
Take care everyone!!
Friday, April 22, 2011
Hi there everyone,
The big news event around here is the Mississippi River and the Rock River reclaiming land in big quantities. qconline.com/flood11/ Check out our local paper--today's front page showed a pair of excellent photos of Davenport, IA from yesterday and the exact same aerial view from the flood in 1993. it was interesting to us to remember and compare notes, so I thought I'd share the site with you all. The Mississippi is a formidable force, even when it is calm and in her banks--so this is pretty intense. It is raining out again and that hasn't helped anything.
I stayed home from work today and got to go to the pool before having the injections in my back. My workout was sure peaceful during the day without certain tricky kids to dodge. It was nice both to have other adults to have conversations with AND to be able to hear enough to have a reasonable conversation.
I have worked hard on my National Boards today. The good news is that I am almost done with the final revision on components 1 and 3. The bad news is that the videos I have taken are being difficult to work with. The clips I decided to use are misbehaving. One of them is giving me the sound from the one I want over the video from another. Another one that I selected has audio and video that aren't in sync. My first burning question is "How does this happen?" And my second, far more pressing question is "How do I fix this?" I am giving myself and that computer a rest right now and will get back to it in the morning.
This entire process is certainly "easier" than the original process. National Boards is a way to show that a teacher is an accomplished professional. The original process takes a full year to complete as you create a portfolio of your work with students showing knowledge of your area, student work, work with families and the community, and your own professional training. You do have to provide videos of your work and there is an all day session at the assessment center. Everything is completely designed to the ultimate detail including how things go in the box that you mail in. (Packing that box took a half a day!) The success rate for this activity is 40% (of the teachers who complete their work and submit the portfolio) meet the standards with each of the ten total items in the portfolio and questions at the assessment center being double or triple scored by a separate assessor. It is a pricey process as well, costing around $2600.
The purpose of the renewal process is to show that once you attain this credential that you don't "sit on your laurels" but that you continue to be a leader from in the classroom. I am working to show my professional growth and over the past ten years along with my current skills in working with my students in the classroom. I wish they had had this established when I originally went through the process, because I would have kept more detailed records of my work in a more organized manner. Again, every item is determined to the most minute detail for the submission--for example the font and its size, the number of pages, the questions to be responded to, the length of the videos with no editing allowed, how many support documents (like meeting or class agendas, photos, certificates, transcripts, etc...) are to be included. Their purpose is for you to provide "clear, concise, and convincing" evidence that you are an "accomplished teacher" who leads from the classroom and that the items you share all contribute to student learning. the success rate for renewals is much higher than the original process (around 90%), but it is very intense. It is pricey as well, $1350. I felt that after going through the original process successfully, that it was important to try and maintain this honored credential. I could have started last year so that I had an additional year (in case I don't succeed) and I paid my beginning $300, but when I became so ill after my big surgery, I had to let this go.
Today was an important part of Holy Week and my family attended church together. Our service is very moving on this important day in the Christian calendar, with the culminating activity being the stripping of the alter. There are a pair of people dressed in black who take every beautiful item down to the curtain behind the alter off of it, as the congregation stands and watches in total silence. The cross is shrouded in black net and replaced with the crown of thorns at its base. When this is finished, everyone leaves the sanctuary in total silence. I always walk away with a feeling of almost breathlessness and the sense that things are not finished. We have a number of activities for Good Friday that will move this forward and each piece is designed to help us to meditate on the enormity of the events leading to the Crucifixion and finally, the Resurrection.
I found a quote that I shared with one of my teams:
"The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances." Robert Flatt
I think everything that I am working on--everything that I did today--my National Boards renewal, my workout at the pool, Maundy Thursday services and reflection and my efforts here at SP are that "starting over." I think that not only am I still a "work in process" and that I am "under construction," but that I am on a path to a better me. With reduced pain in my back, an opportunity to reflect on my work and what it means to me and my students, and a recommitment to myself, my family and my faith that I am going to be a more composed and healed person. I have had a lot of things to overcome--and my path has been laden with rocks, debris, and potholes in an uphill climb with a pretty tough incline. The work I am doing now is my path to a more level path without all of the junk in the way that has interfered in my goals of health and happiness. I am going to feel better. I am gaining support at every level of my life--especially at work and medically. I am recouping my time, my feelings, and my body for a far better tomorrow. I am "starting over" and during this most Holy of times, my faith is the clear winner in all of this. My prayers are being answered in so many positive ways. Things haven't been easy, but I get it. With duress comes reflection and growth.
If you are a Christian, I wish you a very personal Easter holiday that has the moments of personal reflection that helps you to feel the enormity of God's gift to each one of us. If you are someone of another faith or belief season, spring time is certainly a time of renewal. I am wishing you a glorious time of "starting over" in your significant areas of need. For each of us, I am sure that your program and journey at Spark People--in becoming more healthy in body and lifestyle--is a part of this "starting over."
My best to you all!
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