Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I am not going to apologize for not sparking very much. Just know that between my job and a lot of homework coming due that I am on my "full steam ahead" mode. Right now, I am on a mini-break to check emails for a couple of things I am looking for. I am worried about not having enough time to get done.
I am reading a book with my second graders called "Feeling Good About Yourself." I am enjoying the lessons that I have created from the book for them and they are more than willing to talk about the book. Today the three main ideas was that: 1) People have feelings such as happiness and love that they find enjoyable. 2) People have feelings like anger, sadness, and fear that we do not find to be enjoyable. 3) We have some choices in how we interpret if a feeling will or will not be enjoyable. I have been thinking about this after a Tuesday this week in which I was mistreated or screamed at inappropriately at least six different times. Even my workout at the pool couldn't let me feel better after all of that stress. However, as I faced more of it today, I decided that just because these people have problems that I am not going to let it make me feel bad too. This is a case of my feeling and my choice.
We are down to seven weeks left of the school year. I have a few very good friends retiring this year who I will miss greatly. I plan to go to their retirement parties and enjoy the last times I will see them during this school year and be glad for them and the life changes that they are getting to make and celebrate. At least one of them will be someone who I hope to see around. They are probably lucky to be getting out of the mess our state is inflicting upon us as educators and citizens. For them, it is time to be happy and I can do that. This is another case of making a choice.
I am working on my interview paper with an amazing refugee from Burma and when it is finished, I will take a few things out to keep her identity to myself, and then, I will share it with you. She is a strong lady who has lived through a lot of tough situations. When I asked her about different aspects of her life, she told me "You keep your smile for the future." and "You do the best you can." and "I have a chance." I am thinking that these ladies who I have met through my church and have interviewed for my classes, have led entirely difficult lives and yet both of them were happy and pushing on, knowing that they could be whatever they chose. I suspect that they are emotionally in a better place than a lot of us would be in if we were handed their issues and problems. They are both here and are celebrating what they have. I'm honored that I have met them and hope to consider their wisdom when things are tough.
Feeling good about ourselves is an art and I am not naive enough to believe that we can smile our way through every issue that comes up, but I am going to try to smile through a lot of the daily meanness and pettiness that is coming my way. It will help me to stay well if I can do it. I believe that if the ladies from refugee camps where they fought for food and they fought deadly diseases and where they both lost loved ones, that I can make it through the next seven weeks.
Let's keep our smiles for our futures and keep on going, making good choices.
Sunday, April 08, 2012
Happy Easter--or Happy Sunday, to my Spark Friends,
My work with multicultural education has helped me to understand why it is so important to respect others and what they believe at every level. I am doing my best to make that part of my life, but my Christian life is so important to me and gives me so much pleasure that it is difficult to not try and share it with everyone. Church has been a vital part of my overly busy last couple of weeks.
My voice is still a problem, but most of the rest of my post-op changes are not an issue any more. I am so sorry that I haven't been able to sing the beautiful Easter hymns. I absolutely love "Christ the Lord is Risen Today." Last Sunday, our youngest son was confirmed as part of a service that would have struck me at every emotional level anyway, but it was enough to cause me to dThe service started with the processional with palm branches. The children's choir sang a delightful little song. Then, we had a baptism of a young couple's first baby whose daddy has grown up with our oldest sons. He is a musician--a trombone player, not a vocalist. However, he sang a song to their beautiful little baby girl and he was crying. Next, Micah was confirmed. Even though I have done this 7 other times, nothing prepared me for the amount of tears that I had. When we went up to do the laying of the hands on Micah, our pastor, slipped his hand to cover mine as well as to be on Micah. I was getting things wet. After that, there was another confirmation, the sermon that praised our young confirmands and spoke of the new level of activity and responsibility this means--and the service wrapped up with the reading of the Passion. Oh my, I went down for the reception and couldn't consider eating cake because I was trying to keep from any more crying.
I had a tumultuous week at work with several unpleasant events that included somebody screaming at me on at least one occasion and me forgetting my morning duty on one day--I was worn out with trying to communicate to somebody who couldn't seem to understand that I could do something on Wednesday and what that meant. I work really hard and I finally have one teacher who has grown to figure out how inhumane it can be. I am glad that she has gotten it and that she is a talker as well.
Our Maundy Thursday service was Micah's first Communion. Our pastor had a table set up on the alter area and we actually passed a plate and a cup. It was my new favorite way to break bread. That service always ends with the most dramatic stripping of our beautiful alter and the shroud placed over the cross. We exit in silence. I am having some major new arthritis problems, so I didn't try to go on the Cross Walk with 3 of my children. I have been faithful to my pool work outs however. Our Good Friday service was a bit more traditional. We came and left in silence with the stripped down alter and the sight of that always increases my reaction to the awful story of Jesus' last days on earth.
Saturday was a shopping and preparation day. I spent a good deal of time running errands and cleaning (until I fell, saved only by the wall that kept me upright at some odd level.) My kids took the cleaning out of my hands for the most part after that. Micah took the egg coloring ritual from Mitchell now that Mitchell is living in his own apartment. I know my kids are kind of old for Easter baskets and eggs, but it is so much fun that I can't give it up. Micah did an interesting job of egg decorating and assigning tasks to his siblings. He is becoming quite a responsible young man.
We had a gorgeous service today with lots of flowers and lilies, and a strong message to consider about what the Resurrection means for us. We came home to finish the meal and have all of the kids here for food and fellowship. I love having them all around the table and I love saying my personal prayers for their well-being. It has been an amazing day, Mitchell brought veggies and desserts to compliment our meal--and that seems so "grown-up" to me as well. We had a lot of fun with each other and it has been a very good day.
Now, I have homework and school work. I have the knowledge that we do not have another day away from work until Memorial Day except for the end of the school year activities. Our reading incentive baseball game is on April 30 and I am hoping that I get to go. I cannot ride in a school bus, so I have to figure that one out. (I cannot climb up those very steep stairs.) I don't want to be left behind with naughty children and those who couldn't try to meet their reading goals. Other children who didn't quite finish have been given a chance to spend time with me during the next couple of weeks to catch up on their reading goals, but so far, nobody has taken me up on the offer.
As for me, I have a new issue that I want to ignore, but it is getting more and more difficult to ignore the pain in my right hip. Swimming makes it worse and that makes me very sad. With all of my arthritis related issues, swimming and pool activities have never had a negative impact on anything. I am sad and have decided to try and ride this out for a bit. I am praying that it isn't my usual big ticket problem that will take some big ticket procedure to give me relief. It is pretty sore and my fall didn't make it any worse. so maybe, I have a chance.
I have a presentation and two papers to write and I have 6 stories written by second graders to edit. That is a lot to accomplish at 9:42 PM. I am glad that I took an unplanned nap earlier this evening. Every bit of sleep I can get is a good plan.
I hope to get my SP routine back to normal pretty soon--although it may not happen in its entirety until I finish my classes in the next month. I have so many good things in my mind, so much valuable new learning, and a renewed commitment to my own skills and abilities as a teacher, even in the current political climate that has made us "bad guys" to be reprimanded, stripped of our promises and rights, and made "accountable" in any number of ways that aren't fair nor reasonable. I love my work with children and being an educator, it is the "other junk" that I am determined to ignore and allow me to focus on my students and doing my best on their behalf.
I love my family. I love my actual work. I love my faith and my church. I am trying to love my wayward body. It has been a happy day.
Friday, March 30, 2012
I am sorry that I haven't blogged in ten days--that number was a big surprise to me. Last week was a blur of doing fun things with my family, doctor appointments, and working out at the pool. This week has been back to work and a personal struggle to keep my family in tact as I have dealt with a lot of pain and discomfort.
We had some real high spots last week. I helped Marissa ready for her trip to Washington DC. Our little school choir was one of 12 in the country that was asked to perform. She has saved since they found out last spring and we matched how much she put into it. She also did a really good job with fundraisers to help out too. I talked to her tonight and she was happy, had lots to talk about, and was exhausted. They left by charter bus yesterday and drove straight through, getting there in time for their first appearance this morning. They checked into their rooms at 5:30 and when I talked to her at 7:30, I could hear the tiredness in her voice.
Micah did his Confirmation essay/ speech last Sunday. It was the week we had the African Light Pentecostal Church join us this month and there were a lot of small children who were active, crying, chatting, and making a lot of noise. I was proud of him. Matthew's birthday was Sunday as well--he is the big 3-0 and it doesn't seem to phase him much, but it is affecting me! It seems impossible that he is that old and it seems like yesterday that he was a little guy who was doing a ton of busy stuff with a dinosaur toy in one hand and chatting endlessly about his blessed Thundercats at the same time.
Our first day back to work was Monday. We spent the day in inservices about our coming changes in teacher evaluations. Apparently Illinois wants to make it easier for the district to fire teachers and our district wants to scale back the number of "excellent" ratings that teachers have been receiving. Awesome, add some stress to our jobs because that will get people to work even harder. Anyway, sarcasm doesn't become me and I am not going to dwell on it because I know the quality of my work and that is all that really matters along with the children who really needed me back...
My voice was failing by Tuesday afternoon--I talk for a living and I am thinking that since I am not ill, that that is the result of overusing these vocal cords after they were moved and it was too much on them. I cannot rest them (at work anyway) so it is the way my life is right now. It is hard to get children's attention or to get them to cooperate, when they have to work a bit to hear and understand me. That has made it a problem for me After I was done with work, I had an appointment to interview a wonderful lady who came to the US from a refugee camp in Thailand after having been in an awful situation in Burma as a young girl. She was a "house girl" for a wealthy family from the ages of 13 to 18--she got to live int heri house and they gave her food. In return, she cared for three children- an infant, a 4 year old and an 11 year old, she cleaned, cooked, and did the laundry by hand for them. Hmm, that sure sounds like being taken advantage of to me, but she came out of it with the most positive and pleasant and loving attitude of anyone. Her mother died when she was 1 month old and her father died when she was a year old. She had a boyfriend after she left the home she worked so hard in and they had a baby together--a charming young girl in the third grade, but he contracted malaria and she cared for him as he eventually died from the illness. Then, she and some other people who lived in the same refugee camp got the good news that they were coming to the United States. One of the others was a wonderful and brilliant man who she eventually married. They are hoping to buy a house and she has successfully completed ELl classes and is now working on earning her GED. She only had one year of school--actually preschool when she was in Burma, so it is my impression that she is a very gifted learner. I really enjoyed talking with her. These interviews have been a good experience for me because I have been able to learn a lot about a couple of amazing people who have beat the most life shattering odds to create a new life for themselves. I am impressed. I am also appalled at how horrible the refugee camps in this world are. When I get to feeling better, I want to think about what people without much wealth like me can do about that big world issue.
I have dealt with my usual issues at work and I am not going to upset myself by recounting them right now. The big thing is that the temperatures have dropped this week after the heavenly, gorgeous weather we have had for the past two weeks. It was blustery and cold on Monday and my body doesn't deal with that well. My back is arguing with me and I have had to wear my backbrace and muddle through. It isn't that pain in my neck, shoulder and right arm, hooray! but it is my arthritis and fibro attacking me all over. Add that to the loss of my voice and thinks are pretty tough. I worked so hard and took so many steps--over 18.000 every day this week that I was too tired to physically go to the pool on Monday and Tuesday. I have had some tense moments with my husband and then, Wednesday was here and Marissa was packed to leave. She is in good hands, but she won't be back until Monday which is a really long time.
Let's see--and then this morning on our way to school we had a flat tire. I thought that that was a premonition of how the day was going to be--but yay! I didn't even see the principal one time. I had an appointment with my therapist tonight and even with no voice, he heard me and we talked through a few issues. I went to the pool again--it is taking me a lot of time to get my exercise back to what it was. Anyway, today has been much better than the rest of the week.
I have been all over the chart in so many ways since I blogged last, ten days ago. I am hoping that today--this simple Thursday that started with a flat tire, is the day that puts everything back into its place and is going to let me do what I need to do and what I want to do. That sounds like a winner to me!
Have a great end of Marsh and beginning of April. It is spring, the time of renewal and birth. I am loving all of the budded trees and spring flowers that are showing up all over. It is time to enjoy and take care of ourselves.
Monday, March 19, 2012
We enjoyed that parade yesterday--I hope to download the photos soon--probably not until Tuesday since I have some homework to get ready tomorrow and that comes first. It was really crowded with the weather so beautiful. That and the coming election changed the way the flavor of the parade was and it didn't make it better. There were groiups supporting a few of the big Republican presidential campaigns and there have never been politicians at the St. Patrick's Day parade before. The thing that bothered me the most were all of the unsupervised children with buckets and bags screaming for candy. There was an obese woman with several children in front of us and she had a bucket to get candy in as well as her children who kept getting in the road . They were rude and she never made any attempt to monitor their behavior--not for safety or manners or anything. Thank heavens the police kept coming by and telling them (and her) to get back out of the road so the parade could get through. There were a couple of people with floats that had to tell them to get out of the road as well. (This has never been a parade where there is a lot of candy anyway, and except for the politicians, there wasn't much candy at this parade either.) I know it really bothered me and I had to fforce myself to mind my own business and not go tell her what her job was or to tell her children that they weren't acting right. Arghhhh.
We had a nice service at church today. They had opened all of the windows and the lighting and the breeze were different than usual. )We have air conditioning during the summer.) I enjoyed the natural air. Our bell choir did the anthem today and since they had 3 families who generally help with bells who were traveling, so the director had Marissa join them. She seemed to enjoy this as well as her other music. Today she told me that she really hoped to have a career that let her sing. I am not sure, short of education, of a career like that she can get in this area short of something professional that is really hard to find. I think that the world would be a better place with her music though. On a different note, my voice isn't back and I cannot come close to singing. The doctor told me that my voice may take a long time to return and that it might not return. Today, I realized that I feel sad that I cannot sing. I sure hope it comes back soon.
I went to the pool and swam a couple of laps--but I had to do them in back stroke. My neck is sensitive and sharp movements don't quite agree with me. I did a half a lap in freestyle, but it was a lot of work with me trying to hold my head in a stable position. Anyway, I am hoping to have this get better each day this week. I am expecting a lot of this coming week.
Take care--photos coming soon....
Saturday, March 17, 2012
I have worn shorts for the past two days. This is unheard of around here at this time of the year. I plan to wear shorts to the St. Patrick's Day parade tomorrow too. Our area claims to have the only "Bi-state St. Patrick's Day parade in the country." It is a fun parade with lots of beads and interesting floats and displays by different Irish families. I love all of the dogs who come and watch the parade with their people too, lol. Last year, it was too bitter cold to go and the year before that, we found a sleeping bag in the trunk that we shared.
I am almost caught up on my homework, one more article and the midterm test--until the end of next week when I will have a presentation and about 7 more articles to read and write up. I have been working on some of that between napping and exercising. I sure hope to get it under control, although one of my professors offered to give me an incomplete so I could focus on taking care of myself. It was really thoughtful of her, but I hope that I don't have to do that.
Have a great weekend. I will try to remember to bring my camera and I'll share some photos of the parade. I have to find something green to wear--you cannot attend a St. Patrick's day parade in any other colors!
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