Wednesday, June 01, 2011
beginning a summer??
I don't quite know what to say. We have tomorrow left, but it is an hour of student contact time, working on folders and end of the year paperwork, cleaning up rooms, and probably a meeting of some kind. I begin tutoring during the summer park program for four hours a day for four days a week. We have a "training session" for this for 2 hours Friday morning at the fitness center. After that, I'm going to enjoy the pool and do some working out. This program will be a great deal different than when I have done my own program at the church. My son will be doing some teaching there this summer.
Speaking of my son--he got notified today that he has a position teaching fifth grade next year. His pink slip has been rescinded. Yippee, good news--he seemed to expect this all along. I am so glad for him. He is moving into his own apartment right at this minute and over the course of however long it takes, and I am glad to see him coming into his own. I will miss him, but his apartment is only about 4 blocks from my school so I don't think he'll be too big of a stranger.
Anyway, as I reflect over this school year, I served almost 80 kids and some 30+ got their reading up to grade level. Of those who didn't, the older children have multiple issues and I think need more help than 40 minutes of reading instruction daily to solve them. (One of them was very close...) Of the younger ones who didn't make it, I made two year plans for most of them and most of them are where I thought they would be by now and just need more time. There are a few of them who I also have identified (to myself anyway) as having multiple needs that reading support isn't going to resolve. I have done a lot of good work with children and their families this year. As always, there are a few things I wish I had gotten done, but I think I have done far more than anyone could have asked for or expected this year. My biggest concerns are about my co-workers and the general attitude around me. Again, there is little I can do about this--that issue belongs to the administrators to straighten out and work with. It makes me sad to be in a new building that has this type of problem at the end of its first year.
However, summer break is here. I have the first class in my ELL program in July and a four day out of training during the last week of June. I have a big household job in mind that should result in switched bedrooms and a better use of space around here. The rest of the time is for being in the pool or at the fitness center and in their pool or out camping. I plan to have some rest this summer along with everything else. To wrap this up, I have some photos of the fitness center where I spend so much of my time:
This is the front desk and the place where I swipe my membership card when I come to the pool. Then I usually come in with my swimsuit on under my clothing and if I am not starting out on the bike, I cut through the girl's family locker room and head into the pool.
Here are the tools I use when I am working out in the pool:
I generally use a band to warm up when I walk. Then I come back and do some squats and some other band and stretching activities before I put on the bubbles and do some kicks. Then I use the weights--particularly on my right side to strengthen my shoulder. I move on to some pushes with the noodles and then some leg lifts with them. I wear my swim gloves to work on my arm extensions and stretches. Then I do some aqua jogging before I do some balance exercises and some knee stretches. I do some walking and then some actual swimming before I do more stretching before I get out and see the following view of the pool.
If I don't go to the hot tub, I head to the shower and then the sauna to soak up the dry heat before I get dressed to head to the bikes or home. I have one more photo to share--
This is the sign I got placed to mark the accessible shower for those of us who need it.
I'll share some other fitness center photos in a later blog because 1) this blog is plenty long enough and 2) I am wearing my swim suit and am ready to go for a good workout and some relaxing, soothing pool time. Thanks for hanging in with me. I am kind of all over the place in emotions and well, directions in general. I'll get over all of this soon!!
Monday, May 30, 2011
Hi all and Happy Memorial Day,
I wrote quite a nice blog complete with photos on Saturday and instead of deleting the "upload photo" box as I finished, I closed the blog and lost it. That's the way things go sometimes. I will add some of that today and save some for later.
Yesterday, I went with my husband to go to the hospital to see Frank, his cousin who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer last week. He is very ill and it was not a comfortable place to be. I feel deeply for the people who are close to Frank because they are basically watching this come to a natural conclusion. He is lucid and spoke freely of "waiting to die" when we were there. I won't describe the details because you are all capable of "getting this situation." The interesting thing in my thinking was watching my husband's family avoid the conversations that Frank and his wife both wanted to have. I will be thinking about this for a while, and I need to explain the situation to my older kids as well. My husband was not comfortable with taking the trip and avoided it for a while. He wanted to go by himself and then he wanted my company--I have simply listened and waited for my husband to come to the decisions he needed to make. I don't think we stayed as long as we probably should have, given the travel time it took to get there and the likely outcome of all of this. There was no optimism in the air with the nursing staff or the family who had been there. It is all very sad. That is the one thing I can state honestly.
Last Thursday was the music awards at my daughter's high school. It came as no surprise that she was acknowledged for all that she participates in. It was not really much of a surprise that she was selected the "Top Notch Sophomore" choir student either. She is such a capable musician in many ways. I am sorry that others from our family weren't there to see her receive awards. I'll share some of my photos with you all.
Marissa is receiving an award from the choir director (who is also a member of our church and is the handbell choir director.)
Marissa is with the other sophomores who were recognized.
This is the plaque on display in the choir room that has the names of the "Top Notch" sophomores listed. They also select "Top Notch" freshman and junior choir and band members. Seniors are recognized in many ways that includes scholarships. Megan won two of those when she was a senior and that is a very helpful recognition!
I think my daughter is going to be really blue over the seniors moving on because they have been such a tight-knit group of friends. It will be important for my family to recognize her feelings at this bittersweet time of the year. She did try out for show choir and made it. I was far less surprised by that than she was. Marissa seems to be unaware of the range of her ability and passion for music and what it means to those watching her perform. I have some other photos but I cannot seem to locate them--I will share them later.
Mitchell got the keys to his apartment yesterday. I am happy that he is at this place in his life, but this is another of those bittersweet moments. He and I share a bond that connects us as mother and son and teacher to teacher. I know that he will do well in his career and the only real job I have left to do for him is to continue to pray that that pink slip is rescinded soon and that he has a position for the fall. He is a great guy and will be a good role model for male students who don't have many men in their lives.
I want to express my thanks to each of you who served in the military and gave of your own life for all of us. I have struggled in a very selfish way as our 6th child and 5th son gave a great deal of consideration to enlisting last year at age 17. I was opposed to that for the reasons one would expect of a mother, mostly because one is not able to make those decisions at age 17 and that the inevitable tour in Afghanistan was unacceptable to me. I do not believe any American should be in that awful place where they aren't wanted by the people who are there and where we trained the people who are now the "enemies." I am so glad that my son found a different opportunity. In the meantime, that makes me appreciate each of you who served even more--and for those of you who have a loved one serving in the military or who has lost someone dear to you, this day is too little in giving you the respect and recognition you deserve. God bless each of you. My father was a Korean vet and when he passed away, we became aware of the medals that he won for acts he never spoke of. That makes me understand the depth of what our military people do to protect us all. Again, I give you a big "thanks."
Have a thoughtful day--and for us--maybe there will be no rain to darken this day.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I want to share the issues of this week in reverse order--and then I am going to give myself a shake and share the things that have made it a good week. I can get past this junk!!
--Right now, there is a flat tire on my car and I just learned that the guys didn't have the spare I bought mounted.
--We had a horrible storm last night.
--Micah had a panic attack during his concert and fled the stage during a song.
--My dental work is going to cost over $7,000.
--We had a horrible storm Tuesday night.
--I yelled at a third grade child over not doing his homework for 11 days in a row and sent him back to his room for a "field trip" across the street to play baseball. He cried and his teacher came and yelled at me--then I got called on the carpet by my principal. The child succeeded in playing "divide and conquer." I am now a pariah.
--We had a horrible storm Monday night.
--The other dental clinic that I decided against gave me a hard time when I asked for my x-rays and I ended up quarreling with them twice on the phone and once in person.
--We had a horrible storm Sunday night that included sirens and tornadoes in our area.
--I spent an entire evening doing yard work and cleaning up in the back part of our property that was a mess other people made. I was shocked to find it out there and nobody who was home would help me with all of that work. I fussed at my family over this.
Here is the flip side and the reason that I should let this all go:
--I did buy a spare and my daughter can drive me to work and take one of her brothers to have the new tire mounted, problem averted.
--No damage was done and no lives were in jeopardy because of the big rain and gusty winds last night.
--The junior high concert was really quite good and Micah made it through the entire thing until the last couple of lines of the final song. We talked and he finally agreed with me that he needs to talk to his psychologist about anxiety issues.
--The new dentist that I saw is interested in me and was very sweet and kind. Every step of this dental work was explained and why the choices were made. They are going to help me spread this out so that we can get the maximum dollars out of my dental insurance and he gave me some choices for both my comfort and to reduce costs. I really like this dentist and his staff.
--The Tuesday night storm filled our basement with water, but the sump pump is doing its job and my garden needed some good rain--nothing was harmed by the winds, nobody was hurt. I got to go to the pool and relax.
--I defended what I did with my student and told the people who were fussing that if this child cried, maybe that means I finally found a way to get through to him. If this type of person wants to gossip about me and do whatever, these people aren't people I need in my life. The principal also turned the complaint session around to tell me that I am competent, respected, needed, etc... I didn't let this become a session of her talking down at me.
--Monday night's storm was another "gully washer" as my husband says with no particular damage, just a lot of rain.
--I got my x-rays and they "waved" their ridiculous fees when I told them that they belonged to me and that I had an attorney who would help them to figure that out. I also got to tell them all publicly what my issues were. It was a bit rewarding to get all of that off my chest.
--Sunday night's storm caused a lot of problems in our area, but there was no loss of life. We only had damage that needed cleaning up.
--I got a lot of exercise in cleaning and working in the big mess I cleaned up. When the rest of my family came home, they did give me a hand and commiserate with me over the issue that caused the problem. I don't think anything like this will ever happen again.
--Sunday night's storm caused a lot of problems in our area, but there was no loss of life. We only had damage that needed cleaning up.
--Marissa's spring concert was amazing. We went right after church and I forgot to go get my camera/ video camera, so I cannot share with you. She did the female solo part in the gospel song "Just Tell Jesus." We were stopped by several people giving her accolades--one was a college music director telling her that she "would go on to college in music." She just glowed. (So did I!!) I promise I will get something she sings recorded to share with you!!
In all honesty, I am feeling pretty defeated right now as I try to muddle my way through the end of the school year and all of the stress that goes along with that. Today is "Lunch on the Lawn" and the big "Talent Show." I am not going to participate in the former because I didn't have time to go shopping for my meat to be grilled nor did I have time to prepare a dish for the staff potluck. I am not going to the latter because I am totally unable to participate in the staff dance portion and this is time I can get my extra paperwork done to meet the Title 1 part of my job--that nobody else has to do. Stress is not a good thing.
As for the big (hurtful) thing--I did yell at this kid who keeps manipulating and lying. Is there something wrong in holding a student accountable or even in a teacher raising their voice? Hasn't that happened since the beginning of time in schools? I am not going to let myself dwell on this--I am not sure that even now, knowing what I know, that I would do it differently. I was really upset when the principal told me that there was "only 6 days left" and that I "couldn't do anything now." Hmm, in 6 days, I can raise a first graders reading level by 2 and I can teach a wayward child that honesty is important and that trust is a valuable thing that one does not want to lose. I can teach kids all of the jobs of the letter "y" in phonics and give them another strategy to help them decode. I can give them new stories to understand and enjoy. I don't mark off days of school--I give the kids everything I can give them every day that I teach them. That is what I am there for.
As for my colleague--hmm, yelling at a teacher in front of students is inappropriate ANYTIME, no matter what. Tattling is childish. She needs to look at her role in all of this--like calling a ball game a field trip to get her students out of my class and this child out of his obligations. There are several things in our collegial background that aren't right and I am not going into them here--but I know the kind of person that did all of this and I am glad to not be like her or to need her approval for anything. She kept him out of my class yesterday, probably to console him and whatever--who is she really helping??
I need to get ready for work--I have a half of a day to work with my kids and make a difference and a half of a day to do the extra work placed on me. I don't have any prep time as a rule because I use school hours to tech children--so I am going to look at this day as a gift to me as I avoid the social stuff.
Happy Thursday everyone. I am better now that I vented and found my silver linings!! Thanks for letting me sound off. Time to go to work.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
**I didn't realize how long this story was until I saw it in print--It has been going on a long time and it has a lot of parts. It's a bit whiny, so proceed at your own risk!!**
I am very sad and am so sick of my health attacking one area and then another. I can manage this, if I am allowed to do so in a wise and prudent way. My dental woes go back a long way to a dentist who cared for me for a long time before I realized that he wasn't so competent.
My last set of events with him was over my botched partial. First of all, he scheduled oral surgery for me and requested that they remove about 4 more teeth than I anticipated. He never told me that I needed them all out--but when I was in the chair having them removed, it was a little late for me to fight that. The partial was quite expensive--close to $1000 and it didn't fit correctly. It was created at a lab somewhere, but instead of sending it to them, he just snipped parts off here and there. I have never really been able to eat with it in. I either take my food into another room if I am not home of sneakily wrap the thing up in a napkin or I eat soup or pudding or the like. Not long after I had gotten it, a tooth came out. He drilled three holes in it and glued it back with some sort of dental super glue stuff. This went on and on and on until I got angry. I am a teacher who speaks for a living and giving him my teeth for days at a time while he did something like super-gluing was wrong. Having to hide your teeth from the world is lousy. In the meantime, I had a small spot on one of my upper front teeth. I asked him about it and he insisted time and time again it was nothing--but funny thing, a similar spot on my oldest son's tooth needed work.
We finally had the grand falling out over that partial and the tooth that kept coming out. I said that I wanted it fixed properly and then he had his "girl" tell me that I would have to schedule an appointment for that. When I asked if I was going to be billed for that appointment, I was told that they couldn't answer that question. I got angrier at that and told them that I had a right to know that. When I sent her back to ask him again, he got angry and told her to tell me that he would send it back to the lab "one more time"and for me to leave it there. I told them I would be glad to leave it for the lab, but I corrected them that it would be the FIRST time the lab had ever seen it. When I picked it up, that ended that relationship. He was getting a lot of money out of us for nothing.
Fast forward to two months ago. I had that same front tooth kind of break in the back where the partial wrapped around it. Then, it broke in the front too--and about 7 weeks ago, I ended up with a hole in it. I went through my dental plan and found a "local" dentist with a dozen dentists and their own lab and thought that it would be a good choice because I would have access to a lot of care givers and my discount too. I made an appointment at this place--not local (Aspen dental clinic) and ten of the dentists were not local but national level administrators. I thought that was the dental insurance issue and kept the appointment. I went to see them a week ago.
The appointment was odd. I got there for the expected paperwork and waited a long time for any service. The x-ray tech was sweet and took a lot of pictures. I was led from there to the dental chair where a tech talked with me about their place for at least an hour and I waited and waited, watching their little TV on the dentist chair. When the dentist came in, he immediately reclined the chair, but I didn't recline. He fussed at me, and when I tried to explain about my back, he snapped at me and told me that he sat in a chair to work and I had to do it his way. I wrote that off as it being late in the day. He was with me about 10-15 minutes an then left for me to have the expensive laser light oral cancer check.
I spent the next half hour with the smarmy office manager who convinced me that I needed $4200 worth of dental work that included extractions, a temporary upper denture, a permanent upper denture, an extraction of a lower tooth and a new lower partial too. I somehow was missing my dental insurance card, so he quoted me the cost without any insurance and told me that the only way I could get a dental account was to apply for credit through Chase and another company RIGHT then. It was 4:58 and their office closed at 5PM, but he was willing to do this--hmm, I had been there since 3. I stupidly thought this was what should have happened. I did as asked and he told me that he would wait for me to bring my insurance card. (My husband had it, but they couldn't wait for him to drop it off...)
I took the card by the next day (when I told him I would come by) and the smarmy guy wasn't there. The other guy in the office didn't seem to get it, but I convinced him to copy my card. I told him I would call the next day. That next day is the next dental disaster--my front tooth broke in half, and I have had only a half of my big front tooth since last Thursday morning. The smarmy guy was still not available, but the guy on the phone set me up an appointment to have the impressions of my teeth made for yesterday after school. (I am thinking, yay, I am on my way!!) My insurance had brought the price of this work down to $2650 and I know I have about $1500 left in my flex plan account, so we can manage this. It won't be easy, but it is necessary.
I got to my appointment yesterday and signed in. 15 minutes later, I was taken tot he smarmy office manager's desk to talk about money. He told me that it would take $1000 down to do the work--and I expected something like that. I told him that would be fine, but then I questioned why the figures didn't match what my insurance coverage said. I am supposed to get 80% on extractions and 50% on partials and dentures from people within the plan with a $1000 limit per year. I told him that since the lower partial wasn't a problem that I only wanted to do the upper one this year and I would do the lower work next year to take advantage of my insurance. This guy told me that I couldn't get an office account and that it wasn't reasonable to act like this and he went on and on and on. As it stood when I left, I have an appointment for Tuesday, May 31 to have the impressions done and I need to talk to the dentist about waiting to do the lower extraction. (I told him that the last thing I wanted was another hole in my mouth and I couldn't understand why we had to extract this tooth now when we wouldn't be doing any work on the lower partial until the upper denture work was done.) Then we scheduled the surgery and temporary denture for Monday, June 6. They never had any intention of doing any impression or work on me yesterday!!!
i was so devastated when I left and my husband was seeing the dollar signs to all of this more than how I was feeling about having this awful mess in my mouth and no real way to repair it. Hmm.... When I got online after the pool last night, I used SP to look up Aspen dental clinics--and I found a lot of stuff. There is an entire website dedicated to consumer complaints against them. I decided to contact my insurance company and go shopping again. I found a few other local clinics who are part of their plan. I found one who was recommended by somebody who is a faithful patient. I called them today and scheduled an appointment. They even asked me if I had any joint replacements--duh, 2 knees and the bar in my spine--and reminded me that I need antibiotic therapy for dental work. I had totally forgotten that. I am going to go to Aspen and ask for my x-rays and I have an appointment with this clinic after work next Wednesday. If I have to wait as long as the other guys want, I certainly have time to shop for decent treatment and patient care.
People who wrote in to that website complained about unnecessary work and shoddy dentures repeatedly. I don't think I need any more of that. I am stuck with this mouth--my former dentist always blamed my issues on "all of the pregnancies" even though literature says that being pregnant doesn't mean you will or need to lose teeth. I never needed more than a couple of simple fillings until I was 26 years old and then it was fairly easy until I got to my late 30's. I think there is a relationship to my bone and joint issues and my teeth--the time frame is a match.
i am glad to be smart enough to know that I don't have to be treated badly by others. I am glad to be pro-active enough to ask questions and ask when things aren't right. That is something new in me and goes along with weight loss for me. When I was so overweight, I wanted to be invisible to others if possible and wouldn't ask questions, let along make a scene or act on a mistreatment. I am much better now in so many ways. I will get my dental needs met in a respectable, professional way without all of this sloppy treatment. I am going to find out if I really need so much drastic work and if I do, if it can be done in my own time frame and accessing my insurance.
This is how I am handling my life these days--I'm guessing you won't want to hear about the new transmission in our car having gone out again this weekend either. Hmm, it is back in the shop for the replacement now. Trust me that we aren't paying for this again after the $1300 bill for the same work less than 2 months ago. I wouldn't take this from them either!!
I'm worked up right now about consumer rights!!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
It is 3:17 and I have been awake for over 2 hours. I took my pain meds which normally help me fall asleep as well as slowing up my pain. they did help my back to calm down--I only have some burning on the right side and in my hip--but I am wide awake. Grr-rr-rr!!
It wasn't a bad work day. My first and second graders are really hard workers and I enjoy them so much. My third and fourth graders aren't quite as easy to deal with. I guess that as kids get older they develop habits and attitudes that make it harder to teach them. They aren't as excited about new things or activities and they bring attitudes of helplessness and disinterest with them. I am working hard to complete some good phonics rules with them and in order to finish it, I am giving them some written homework that goes hand in hand with our lessons as practice. I was doing that in class them as a second lesson for practice, but I cannot finish what I am doing if I stretch it out that way. Of course, I have 3 kids out of 12 who won't do the homework. I wish that I could wave a magic wand and get them to cooperate. (It is only about a ten minute assignment and it is directly the same as what I taught and what we did in class. I don't think it is out of line for these 9 and 10 year olds.) Anyway, it is my plan to give them every tool I can to help them be successful readers and writers and I will keep at it in spite of them. We have 11 days of instruction left. I will do this.
I had a great workout at the pool tonight--I even did some freestyle. I didn't do a lot, it is very difficult for me, but I will keep trying to do it with my other exercises until I can swim a few laps of freestyle too. I have added in several new exercises for my back and am scaling down on my shoulder exercises. I still need to do some, but I can reduce the intensity. I am so grateful for the pool,. I am also happy for physical therapist. My "new" PT is set on giving me exercises to fit into my current routine. All of this is in conjunction with my pool routine. He told me that I already have a quality routine and he doesn't want me to give it up He just wants to add some things for my "deep core." It will help me to get into that area deep inside and near my spine to strengthen in order to help my entire back. Anyway, I love the pool!
I have the information to sign up for classes now. I am pretty excited about adding this to my knowledge--working with English language learners is not always easy and if I can do some things better, I surely want to do so. It will be a good fit with my current position. I need to get myself registered soon--the summer class is online during the month of July. I have a 4 day training scheduled for the last week of June in mentoring new teachers in one of the Chicago suburbs. I am excited to do that as well--it is a repeat training, but it will be good for me to do this. It is important for experienced teachers to share their expertise with new teachers and to help them to grow.
It is concert season here at home. Marissa had a show choir, jazz concert tonight that I passed on, but it is repeated tomorrow. She is in jazz band, playing a big sax even though her regular instrument is the oboe. She is also in the jazz choir. I will try to record it and share her solo. On Wednesday is the junior high band and choral concert. Sunday is Marissa's high school choral and Madrigals concert and Monday is the high school band concert. Whew, we spend a lot of time on music around here between rehearsals, private lessons, and concert.
I think I am going to step away from this machine and see if I can convince myself to sleep a bit before it is time to go to work in about 3 hours. I wish I could explain this sleeplessness.
Have a wonderful day. I hope you have sunny skies and a comfortable temperature around you all!!
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