Monday, June 18, 2012
It has started out to be a busy, entertaining, exciting summer break. I seem to be doing everything hard and furious, but it is nice for that to be play instead of only work and worry. (I know about worry, but it is part of who I am and how I am wired.) Anyway, here's my update since I was here last...
Our summer park program is moving fast and furious. We are up to over 100 enrolled students. I have seen all of them in one capacity or another and am really working hard to give them all what they need. I am going in early today--as I have every other day, in order to put a schedule and program together, followed by today's lesson plans. I have had to screen about half of them who attend other schools than ours and that has been time consuming. I have two really energetic and positive staff members who do not have reading background--one is a para from the high school and the other is a beginning education major at Western IL University in the fall, so they need support in this process. It will be work to get going, but I am looking forward to the positive experience.
We got free tickets to see the River Bandits on both Wednesday and Thursday last week. On Wednesday, there was a promotion from our bank to "Pack the Park" and on Thursday, there was a promotion with the Army for Flag Day where my husband works. It was beautiful weather both nights and the game on Wednesday was a knuckle whitening game where our team won in the tenth inning after being behind by 3 hits for most of the game. On Thursday, the Bandits won it with a 3 run RBI that let the game end in the upper half of the ninth. It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to going again soon. Free tickets made a nice evening even other.
Saturday was Megan's birthday and we had part of our family gathering then. We actually went bowling and I gave it a try using an 8 pound kiddie ball. It was a lot for me to take on, but I had fun trying. My youngest son loves to go bowling, so it was especially fun for him. It was a good time after a day of errands, the fitness center, and some gardening. I do wish my body was acting better, but I cannot have everything, so I'll be glad for what I do have.
Sunday started out leaving me pretty teary-eyed. Our pastor is retiring and his last week is this one. We had a Congregational Meeting and the report had a brief pictorial of his 21 years in our church. It made me cry--I have been avoiding thinking about him being gone because I cannot imagine it. However, this coming weekend is all about this--there is a party at his house Friday night, a big community dinner on Saturday, and a "Joyful Celebration" service followed by a brunch on his last day, Sunday. I don't know how I am going to handle all of this, but I just sent him an email to find out if we can have one more talk this week. I hope I figure it out because if not, I will be in tears for a long time to come. He has been there for me during more than I can list, the difficult birth of my youngest daughter. my son's illnesses and hospitalizations, my own health issues that included at least one rescue from poor nursing care gone south, critical issues with my kids growing up, work together on community needs, church camps and summer programs, my health struggle as I have learned to walk again twice, Confirmation of all 8 of my children, baptism of my youngest two children, my father's death and the abuses of my birth family and so on and so on. He has helped me to understand how God loves me and how it shows up looking many different ways. We have been friends and he has taught in my own classroom and read to students in my school. I know that when we have a new pastor for our church that he will be away for a year to let the new guy settle in and make the place his and I know that at age 65, he needs to not be working so hard. Yet, even with all of that "knowledge," I am in tears just the same.
We celebrated Father's Day with a big family picnic at Longview Park under the trees, near their beautiful green house--and of course, swimming at Whitewater Junction. It was a lot of fun and it was another day with my children and a couple of their friends, talking, playing and enjoying each other. These days mean a great deal to me. My kids are growing up and moving on to their own lives, so anytime that I can pull them together to enjoy each other and to play is heart-warming to me. The pool was awesome--my first time this season in an outdoor pool and it was a perfect day. We had some rain Saturday night which my garden really drank up. (It was nice not to have to do all of that watering at least one day.) For the rest of everything we have been up to has been nice temperatures and sunshine. I am a big fan of warm weather and even the 90+ temps didn't botherme.
This week has some big moments coming. I have an appointment on Wednesday to get my hip re-evaluated. This pain has been a thorn in my life for a while and i need something better to happen. (It also isn't a good mix with my broken rib and my constant lower back pain. It is too much discomfort in the same area.) I need to get some major chores in the house done and my kids will help, but they seem to need a lot of direction. Finally, there are all of the events leading up to Michael's retirement and I am praying that they are designed to leave me feeling more comfortable with this than I do now. 3 days of "celebration" are a lot and I will be there for all of them. He already has a new job as the interim, part-time director of our area alliance for immigrants and refugees. This should be a good position for him because he is passionate and knowledgeable about the topic and it will be part time, giving him a break from all of the work he has done for so many years. I certainly wish him the best that the world has to offer--he deserves that and more.
I think I'll have more "Spark time" this week and will check in soon. Best wishes to each of you as you get started on your week!
Sunday, June 10, 2012
It has been an awesome week--and I am proud of all I have done on this week of "vacation." I have written two blogs that got eaten up by my silly computer--so I'm sorry that I haven't shared some of this with you sooner. Anyway, in spite of some the problems I have with my wonky body, I have done more this week than, well, I would have been able to do 140 pounds ago. I haven't lost much weight lately and I have a goal to lose about 20 more pounds to have a healthy BMI at my new, decreased height, but I am not gaining either and I feel pretty good except for this orthopedic pain that is a result of arthritis that tried to keep me wheelchair bound over 2 years ago. Ha Ha--I sure won that one!! More on that wheel chair later!
Last weekend, we took a family camping trip. It was a no-frills trip with a rented pop-up and a tent. Most of our kids--and my husband--had to come and go because of their jobs, so we weren't too far out of town. It was so much fun!! It was relaxing and I tried to play volley ball and badminton. I did play croquet and the mandatory card and board games. My favorite time was around the campfire with the kids talking and laughing. It was nice to have us all together without having to rush away. Our meals were simple enough--vegiies, fruits and meat or sandwiches. It was perfect weather and a perfect time. (I did break one of my lower right ribs simply scooting up in bed, so I have that little nuisance to remind me of my weekend.) Several of us left to go to church and the choir picnic on Sunday, so I missed being able to do much of the clean up and packing--aw, shoot.
Monday was a day for me to see my doc about the pain in my side and to catch up here at home some. I did some work in my gardens which is always amazing to me and even with the elevated pain in my right hip and the new pain in my right abdominal area, I am able to pull weeds and water plants and simply have fun outdoors. I am working on our frint yard and still haven't made it to the proper store to get some bricks for trimming a couple of flower gardens and to get a trellis for my rose bush. It has been so full of blooms this year that it is hard to believe that we just planted it last year. Our winter made a lot of plant life grow and do better!!
On Tuesday, I went to school to wrap up my evaluation and then I went to church where I volunteered for three days in my son's classroom. He had well over 40 ELL children that he is teaching reading and language arts to while their parents are learning English in the adult class. WOW!! I was able to climb up to the third floor where he was holding his class and I was able to do almost everything that I was needed for. Mitchell had borrowed several books and materials of mine--including a basket of books I started collecting last fall about immigrants and refugee children. He did a nice job of planning and all I did was what he had organized. It is amazing to see my son do such important work as an educator and to see him do it so well. I also am giving myself a pat on the back because I doubt that I could have physically done the work I did two years ago with all of the extra weight that I used to have.
I also called my pain doctor to see if he could provide the care I was getting from Dr. Miller who left our area. I was able to hold my own with his nurse who generally screens calls and doesn't let me talk to him or give him my messages. This is another strength that I have been building since I lost weight. I feel worthy of asking for what I need and confident enough to stick with it. This nurse and I have a history of her not following through on my calls and needs. I basically told her that if I didn't get a response within 3 days, that I would find my doctor or call him at home. She knows he gave me his private phone numbers, so she did exactly what I needed. I couldn't get in until early in July, but I think he is going to do those injections that gave me such relief. Anyway, I stood my ground!!
I spent Friday working in my classroom and getting ready for my tutoring/ reading program during the summer. I really considered not doing this, but I had a temporary lapse and "forgot" that this program which has grown and gotten funding from at least three major funding groups in our local area has happened because of my work and collaboration with my pastor. I found a national article on what cities do for their children in the summer to prevent the "summer slide" of academic and reading skills. From that came a citywide collaborative group that put together a wish list. Move ahead after a lot of meetings and discussion and a trial year and we have reading teachers now imbedded in every summer program in our city to provide tutoring to 100% of the kids who are there. As of Friday morning, I have 72 students signed up in our 4 hour program and I have two (yes, count them--two) paid helpers--a paraprofessional from our district and a college education student who has experience with the park program we are working in. I am excited to see all of the help and the interest in making sure all children get to do some reading. One of the park board's first activities on Monday is a presentation by the library and they are leaving them a collection of books for the kids to use.
I am good--and healthy--and doing good things. I exercise at the pool each day and am back up to about 8-10 laps along with my workout. I don't often think a lot about eating and the scales--I get my fruits and veggies in and my family knows what I expect us to eat and that I will go to the pool. (They even know the schedule!) I have realized this week that:
1) I am able to do so many things that mean a lot to me and I can do most of them ON MY OWN! I can volunteer and work and get around without a great deal of help. I can play and do chores and things I value.
2) I am worthy of whatever I need or value. I never understood this when I weighted 340 pounds--I grew up believing that other people were better than me and that they deserved to be treated well and that I did not because I was obese. I am still "overweight" but I have figured out that that was a bunch of baloney and that I am as worthy as anyone. I am entitled to the same respect and services that other people get--and if I don't get them, it is okay for me to insist upon them. This is a big shift in my thinking about myself.
3) I am NOT, not, not a freak. This is crude, but it is how I used to feel. I never was a freak. All of the names I was called and my sparse little neutral wardrobe that was too boring for a child or teenager were not who I was or am. I can wear colors and patterns, and I can wear shorts and a swimsuit in public. I can do whatever I want to do in public from run to swim to laugh. I can be loud and silly if the mood suits me and it is all okay because I am a worthy human being. I do not have to sit in the back or in a corner or near a door for a quick retreat. I do not have to "stay out of everyone else's way."
4) I am and always have been intelligent. Having been obese didn't steal my brain cells or lower my IQ. I am still intelligent and I have a lot to offer, even with disabilities and at age 56. I am proud of who I am, who I have been, and of a great deal that I have accomplished in my life. Also, I do not have to prove this to anyone anymore than anybody else. I know it and so do my family and my friends--and that is good enough.
Anyway, this busy week has been productive in so many ways. I used to have a lot of inappropriate thoughts about myself and unfortunately, the people in my life gave me those ideas. I am a good and worthy person and I have a lot to give to others. I can enjoy myself and I can do as others do. I believe shedding 140 pounds opened the door for me to understand those truths that were there for me my entire life.
Summer break is here for children and teachers. I will spend four hours each day teaching children to enjoy books in a variety of ways and helping them to stay on top of their reading skills. I will guide two people closely, one who will become an educator soon. I will model for about 8 park board staff ways to enrich their day to day activities including literacy in mundane and fun activities. I am looking forward to changing at least a few lives. On a similar note, I have had similar experiences for myself since I came to SparkPeople and lost weight. This blog is a tribute to what I have learned about myself and who I am.
I am good, worthy, and important. It is okay to say it, and even more okay to think and believe it. What a great discovery on my part!!
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Marissa was in 5 performances in 3 days--I may do a part 2 and 3 to share some of this. We enjoyed these concerts so much that I am sharing and leaving it up to you to decide if it is as wonderful as we (and many members of our church) thought or if it is just wonderful music. This was a solo she did in her 5/22 show.
I haven't loaded one of these in some time--it only took me an hour and a half to get it done... Next time should go easier.
Time to try for some sleep...
Monday, May 28, 2012
This past week has been busy, busy, busy and full of things to feel good about. We had Marissa's music concert on Sunday, the 20th. It was as awesome as always, and she sang the solo part in "Just Tell Jesus" which made me feel both proud and moved. On Monday and Tuesday, she had her jazz band and show choir concert. We went to both nights because she sang different solos and mostly because we enjoyed them so much. On Wednesday, after a somewhat successful doctor's appointment that I'll talk about later, she was recognized at the senior awards program even though she is still a junior for her accomplishments as a French student. Thursday evening was music awards at the high school--and of course, she earned several of them. Finally, Friday evening was 8th grade graduation, where Micah was one of 5 kids who won a Presidential Achievement Award. They gave this to kids who improved their grade point average at least .8 from second semester of 7th grade to 8th grade. Micah had a solid 2.2 last winter and this year, it is at 3.67 which is an amazing show of effort and work. Funny thing that it happened after we got him out of the resource room for help in math and grammar. I believe that the special ed teacher was the source of his troubles in seventh grade. Anyway, it was a totally gratifying week for this parent.
On a personal note, my week started out with our last day of school being returned to us as it should have been. I'm guessing that I know why, but it was given back to us as the work day we are supposed to have and I am very pleased with that. On Wednesday, I saw my ortho and after hours of tests and x[rays, I ended up with injections in the bursa and in my arthritis hip. It is a bit better, but not great yet. My PT cancelled services until next Wednesday to give the injections a chance to work. I have had a bit of relief, but it isn't back yet--so I don't know how long it might take or if it will take care of things at all. O Thursday, I was asked to help fix a long-term problem in my school and I am so glad that somebody else is finally acknowledging this problem that I don't know what to say.
We have 4 more days of school remaining and I don't know how I am going to finish up things when I have several groups of children who I cannot see anymore because of schedule changes for early dismissals. It is especially hard because we have 2 primary classes with subs because both of the pregnant teachers gave birth early. It is particularly difficult to try to change any schedules around when they are simply trying to maintain the only schedules that they have. I want to complete some final reading records and share their reading levels with them. I also want to give each of them a bag of goodies to keep them reading and writing at home over the two months of our school break. We are on a mostly year round schedule, but we still have a 2 month break and I have some children who struggle so much that if they do not read and write for two months, they will lose a lot of hard earned gains. I am hoping that a nice goodie bag will help pique their interest and keep them going at least a bit...
I will also share some video blogs of Marissa's most recent music. I have a lot of them--their annual show choir show was "Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat." It was so much fun to watch that I will share that fun with you. As soon as my gardens take off, I will share photos of them as well. We planted corn, green beans, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers in the veggie garden. My flower garden is full of purple and navy flowers with a few marigolds to give some contrast. I need to get a bit more mulch, but the work is mostly done leaving only weeding and watering.
Summer is finally here and I am jazzed by that. Our temps are supposed to back down to the 80's this week and then next week drop more into more seasonal 70's, but this week has been a summer sampler and while many folks have been complaining about the weather, I have been enjoying and embracing it between work, exercise and umpteen hours at the kids' schools. I haven't been here because my life has taken first place. I have a few plans for chores to do this summer, but most likely no traveling unless my husband and I take Micah for a long weekend here or there. We are going camping next weekend. I lover this time of the year, the weather and season give me energy and happiness.
I'll leave you with a few photos o\from Micah's graduation ceremony. (One day, I'll go on a rant with you about the way that most of the girls were dressed--cost of dresses, styles, stilletto heels--all not at all correct for 12-14 year old girls, grr.)
It was a happy ending of a very trying couple of years in our baby's life, rest assured.
Happy Memorial Day!!
Saturday, May 19, 2012
It has been a weird week with a lot of downs that seem to be managing themselves. One of the big ones is the mandatory training day on our last day of school. It seems that something has caused our principal to rethink that one and to let it go, turning our last day into a real last day of school so that we have true closure to a school year. I am so glad because that gives me back my day to prepare for the thing I couldn't let go of. They posted summer positions for teachers--reading teachers in particular--to be embedded in the summer programs by the park board and the King Center and so on. I really had decided that I needed the summer off, but since this all came to be because of my efforts, I sent a letter downtown expressing my interest. I love this kind of work, but I had decided that my body needed the summer off. It has been a crazy school year with 3 surgeries completed and cataract surgery to come on both of my eyes and this saga with my hip. I am the best person for this work and do it better than anybody else, and of course there is the matter of getting paid for what ai used to do as a volunteer. It also will be a social security job rather than TRS (teacher retirement) because the funding comes from a grant obtained by my church and that is a really good thing. With 26 years in this position--and all of the stress I get--retirement comes up in my thinking and conversations with friends and family frequently. However, I am sure that I will work at least until I have 30 years and my youngest son has graduated from high school--and maybe longer if he goes to college. However, I am sneaking away from my own questioning about the "why?" into my own actions. This is probably not in my own best interest.
Our youngest son "graduates" from 8th grade next week. It will be a big week for him and he is on my mind. Besides having a graduation ceremony on Friday, he has his first show choir try outs, a big field trip to six Flags over
Great America, and a promotion dance. This is a great time for him, but with his Aspergers, I am also going to worry. If you don't know much about Aspergers, it is a form of autism at the higher end of the spectrum. Social skills are particularly difficult for Micah because he doesn't read people well, he takes them at face value. Kids can be rude, mean and sassy--some are kind and caring and sensitive, but in the junior high age bunch, they are few and far between. Anyway, that means with all of the fun, there can be issues and the one kid who has been his close friend and confidant is now trying to move up on the social ladder. In other words, Steven is now avoiding Micah and according to Micah and a couple of others, has become a bit of a snob. It is this mama's job to worry about my little guy.
I saw the physical therapist yesterday and she did a good initial evaluation. It is actually the second time I saw Kim, but I don't really remember the first time. (It was after my lumbar fusion surgery and Dr. Rude ordered physical therapy, but he wouldn't let me take my brace off, so there was nothing she could do for me with that big contraption on. It was a waste of both of our time. I think I really needed PT back then and I didn't need the doggone brace, maybe now I wouldn't have a chronic pain problem there. Anyway, back to my hip... As she examined it, she noticed that I wasn't having groin pain and she told me that arthritic hips usually have groin pain so she isn't sure that this problem is my arthritis. Now that makes no sense to me because what that leaves is some sort of injury and given this is my right hip, even when I fell in October, I hit my left side, not my right. She also didn't see swelling in the bursa, but Dr. Miller could see that back in January a year ago when she started giving me injections to bring down the inflammation. Anyway, if Kim is right about these two things, her recognition that there is definitely something wrong leads to an injury of some sort. She modified my pool exercises and gave me a few additional exercises to do on land before ordering an ultrasound treatment to my hip. I will see her again on Tuesday and then I will see my ortho on Wednesday. I expect after he takes x-rays that we will all know what is going on with it.
I think it is time for me to just take it one day at a time. I got all worked up over the principal's bad choice and behavior--and things are better. I am not going to get all worked up over my hip until I have something to get worked up over. I wish I knew more about hip issues, but when I did a search, everything was about hip replacements. I am sure that I have time before I need to consider that, if I ever do--so it left me without any help at all. I will try another search today and see if I can do better. If any of my spark friends know much about this, please let me know your info and experience. It helps me to know before I see the doctor so I can ask questions about what he tells me. Thanks for your help in advance!
I'm glad to be here--As for my spark program, I think I have developed so many good habits here--I'm still having some eating issues, but my PCP thinks it is because of my pain meds. He told me to take Miralax everyday--I bought some, but I haven't used it yet. I keep thinking that a healthy diet with lots of fiber should take care of those issues. I will break down and try this stuff, it just looks a bit scary to me... Anyway, healthy eating and exercise seem ingrained in me these days. Somebody bought a box of bakery chocolate chip cookies and left it by my chair and I am proud to say that I haven't eaten any of them in 5 days. I thank SP for helping me to make good choices in eating. My weight isn't changing much since that last big loss I had--but lately, it seems to take a bit and then show up "big" on the scale. I think the summer will shake that around for me because as soon as we settle down this hip, I will be more active with gardening and Whitewater Junction. I love, love, love the summer!!
We are going camping the first weekend in June and that's the way I want to spend the summer--playing!!
Gentle hugs to one and all,
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