Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I conquered my dirty refrigerator today. My long-term sub gig ended last week. Thankfully, the teacher I was subbing for is back in the saddle and doing well. She told me she has her good days and her bad days, but on the whole, she's doing okay. We continue to pray for her and her kids.

Anyway, Corey came down with strep this weekend. Turns out 8 other kids in his class got it this weekend as well!!! Whatev . . . Corey has been on antibiotics since Saturday, but he is still running a fever three days later. He stayed home today, hence, my being able to clean the refrigerator. I thought he would be going to school tomorrow, but he came down with another fever today. I called the pediatrician and they said to lay low today; monitor his breathing; and watch to make sure he doesn't vomit. If he vomits or has trouble breathing I'm to bring him in tomorrow. Also, if he has a fever tomorrow, I'm to bring him in. I guess they want to run a flu test on him as well. Poor kid. :-(

Now, I don't mind staying home with him and taking care of him. Heck, I finally got a chance to clean out the fridge. However, this would be the day that I not only got a call to sub at my kids' school (has only happened 3 times this school year), I also got a call to sub at the school I have been subbing at all school year (BMES). Needless to say, I can definitely use the work. Later in the day, though, BMES called me to come in and sub on Thursday for 3rd grade and Friday for 2nd grade. I'll take it. Of course, about 3 hours later I got a call from my kids' school asking me if I'd like a 3-day sub job in a third grade class up there! AAAAAACCCCCCKKKKKKK! NEVER has their school called me so much, and I'm totally frustrated that I can't do it! Oh well, hopefully they'll call me next week. I'm WIDE open next week!

Keep my baby boy (8-years old . . . he HATES when I say that) in your prayers. He's pretty sick.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sorry it's been so long. Life's been going on if you know what I mean. It was actually going pretty well. My family life is always great, and lately my professional life has been going great. . . until this past Friday.

I am a substitute teacher. I NEVER thought I would teach. NEVER, EVER, NEVER! However, a few years ago I started to teach at the preschool where two of my children attended. They were desperate for teachers and they convinced me to sign on by telling me that I would get free tuition for both of my children, I would get paid, and that any moron could teach the curriculum it was so well laid out. Naturally, I said, "Sign me up!"

They were right, though. The curriculum was awesome! I taught a pre-K 4-year old class for two years and absolutely loved it. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but my students were able to read AND comprehend one-vowel words and sentences, and the parents loved me. My classroom was so fun. The last year I taught, we learned all about the 50 states. Each week I would profile two states. Parents, Grandparents, neighbors of the kids, etc . . . would volunteer to come in and talk about states they had lived in or visited. Of the 50 I think I only had to profile 20 of them myself!

Anyway, I digress. I was a pretty good teacher. I left the preschool because my children had outgrown the school and I wanted to be a presence in their elementary school. All three of my children are in the same school this year. This of course will be the only year that will happen, so I wanted to be a part of it. Since I don't have my teaching certificate (because I never thought I would teach . . . did I happen to mention that?) I signed up to be a substitute teacher in our county. Luckily, the Grandmother of one of my former students worked in the administrative offices for the county and not only offered to put my application in, but actually helped rush my application through. Thank you, Gloria!

With my badge in hand I walked into my children's school and was told that I was one of 100 substitutes on their list. Well, I was hoping to be more of a presence than that. I also needed to work. I went around to a few other local schools and managed to get myself on the list of another school. They called me quite regularly. My own kids' school called me about once a month. I still sub there if they call, but mostly I'm at the other school.

The night before the kids were to go back to school after Christmas break, I got a call from this school about a long-term substituting gig. Now, I had specifically said that I would substitute in any class except Art because I am art inept. I can appreciate art, I just can't do art. So, of course, this call is for a long-term art teacher position. The teacher's husband had been suffering from stomach cancer for years and over the break they got the news that he was terminal and only had weeks if not days to live. How was I supposed to turn that down?

Of course, to seal the deal, they flattered me with how many compliments I've gotten from teachers I've substituted for; and how reliable I am; and how they know I'll do a good job; blah, blah, blah! As I always say, "Flattery gets you everywhere!" They also told me that lesson plans would be included.

I accepted and have been doing this job for the last month. (About two weeks ago the husband did pass away. I ask that any of you who pray keep the family in your prayers.) The job did not come with lesson plans. I have been making them up with the help of the Director of Art for the county schools. It has actually been a fun job. I find myself enjoying it WAY more than I thought I would.

I teach Art to grades Kindergarten through 5th grade. I truly felt like I was doing a great job when the Principal came to me last week and told me she thought I was wonderful and that it was so nice to know I was there and that she didn't have to worry about that class. What a confidence boost. Also, the kids seemed to be enjoying the lessons, and I had gotten a few compliments from some of the teachers as well. (When you substitute, you're considered an outsider and treated as such. It wasn't until I started to long-term sub that many of the teachers even bothered to say "hello" to me.)

Well, this past Friday any and all confidence I had in myself as a teacher went right out the window. Granted, I had 6 classes that day and 5 of those classes went great. But, for some reason this one class was such a blow to my self-esteem. It was a fifth grade class. I always thought that if I ever did teach, I would have a better rapport with older kids. Apparently, that's not so. This class just would not shut-up. I could not get a word in edge wise, and this wasn't the first time this class had been so obnoxious. Ironically, this isn't even the "notorious" fifth grade class. This is supposed to be one of the better ones.

Anyway, I totally lost my cool with this class. I was literally screaming at them. I told them to shut-up! I am embarrassed to even admit that. From that point on, the class went as well as could be expected which was not as good as it should have. They were shocked into silence, and for a while, they behaved long enough for me to give them the instructions. After that, they were rowdy and nearly intolerable. I knew that it was a mistake the minute I started yelling. I lost all credibility with them and with myself.

This episode has literally eaten away at me all freakin' weekend. It ruined what would otherwise have been a great day. Hell, it's ruined my entire weekend. It also rocked the hell out of my self-esteem. I have agonized over this. I have tried to think of different ways to handle the situation in the future. I know for a fact that I will never do that again! I have to figure out a way to get control of this class, and at the same time, not lose my cool and not lose my credibility.

Everyone makes mistakes. I know this. I just can't seem to let it go. I literally feel like the worst teacher on the planet. I know logically that's not the case, but I'm having an impossible time convincing myself of that.

Later that day, I had a Kindergarten teacher tell me how great she thought I was. Perhaps the 5th grade just isn't for me. Perhaps K-4th is more my speed. I don't know. (You can see how much this upsets me . . . I think I've said "I don't know" about 5 times!)

If anyone out there has any suggestions on how to handle an obnoxious 5th grade class, I'm all ears. I even approached their teacher for help and she just said "they're that way for me, too . . ." Does anyone else see anything wrong with this? How can a class get away with being this way? I don't know . . . I just know that I have to get a handle on them so they don't think they can take advantage of me again.

I am really down about this. I need some insight . . . I need some suggestions . . . I need to go to sleep. Good night


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). If you don't like to talk about the abortion issue . . . stop reading and have a nice day.

Let me be clear . . . I am not against a woman having a choice. That issue was resolved with Roe v. Wade, and I can't say I disagree with the idea that a woman should have the right to make decisions about her own body.

What I have a problem with is that if FOCA passes, I might have to pay for it. Every taxpayer might have to pay for it. I have a LARGE problem with this! Obama has already signed an executive order overturning President Bush's ban on funding family planning clinics abroad that do abortions. Now this administration is looking to pass FOCA which basically says that women are "entitled" to abortions. The last I checked, the Declaration of Independence said:

" We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of justice."
I see nothing there about abortion being an inalienable right, let alone a civil right, a social right, or more importantly, an entitlement. You have the freedom to do what you want with your body, but I should have the right to say "I'm not f-ing paying for it." If you want it, YOU PAY FOR IT.

I am not judging you. So don't even play that card. The pity party is over as far as I'm concerned!

It is a simple fact of life that if you want something, YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT. If you want a car, or a home, or a college education, YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT! If you want groceries, clothing, furniture, etc. . . YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT. If you want medical care YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT. None of those things is an entitlement. Hell, I'd rather fund a college tuition entitlement program than an abortion entitlement. That makes a hell of a lot more sense.

It literally makes me sick to my stomach to think that my tax dollars could be going to fund abortions. Whether you want to admit it or not, abortion is mainly used as a method of birth control. The following stats back this up:

In 2000, cases of rape or incest accounted for 1% of abortions.[11] Another study, in 1998, revealed that in 1987-1988 women reported the following reasons for choosing an abortion:[12]

25.5% Want to postpone childbearing
21.3% Cannot afford a baby
14.1% Has relationship problem or partner does not want pregnancy
12.2% Too young; parent(s) or other(s) object to pregnancy
10.8% Having a child will disrupt education or job
7.9% Want no (more) children
3.3% Risk to fetal health
2.8% Risk to maternal health
2.1% Other

Less than 10% of abortions are for medically necessary reasons. The other 90% are just because they can't handle the situation, or they just don't want it, or it'll screw up their life. What the hell is that? Buy a freakin' condom! Take some responsibility for your actions. Think about the consequences of your actions, and then deal with the consequences. By dealing with it, that means you must PAY FOR IT YOURSELF. The government, nor I forced you to have sex, and the government, nor I should have to pay for your abortion.

If religious hospitals have the right to site the "conscience clause" that allows them the right to NOT perform abortions, then how come I can't site the conscience clause when I'm paying my taxes?

Like I said, I have no problem with a woman having the freedom to choose what to do with her body. I just refuse to pay for it.

By the way, why the hell we are funding family planning clinics abroad while we are in an economic crisis the likes of which the United States has ever seen? A question for another day.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Can you say "Insensitive?"

My husband and I have been married for 9½ years. (That's a record for me!) I have known him for close to 15 years. He is the light of my life, and I would be completely lost without him. He truly is my better half.

There are many things I am good at. I'm not trying to sound conceited . . . believe me, that is not me at all. Everyone has talents; everyone has things about them that they excel at. On the other hand, everyone has short comings as well. I have many, but the one that gets me the most is my insensitivity.

I'm not someone who is socially inept in her insensitivity. i.e. I'm not going to tell a 300lb. woman in a horizontal striped dress that she looks like a zebra with a thyroid problem! My insensitivity is on a far more intimate level. Again, let me clarify . . . I'm not talking about sex.

There are important details about all the lives of people we care about that should be remembered. The most obvious of those details being birthdays, anniversaries, where you went on your honeymoon, etc . . . If it's a happy memory, I'm usually right on target with those sorts of things. If it's a more somber occasion, my mind seems to shut it out right after the event. It's not because I don't care . . . that's not it at all. I guess it's just my way of coping with things.

I am a VERY emotional person. (My brother likes to use that observation against me in an argument. How can that be used against me? It's called being passionate about the issue. But I digress!)

I am the woman who cries in the room with you just because you are crying. The audible gasp in a room full of children when they hear their teacher's husband has died renders me a sobbing mess. I don't even know the teacher or her husband, but I am sad that the children are sad. I'm not sure why I'm trying to convince you about my sensitivity. I guess it's to try to assure you that I am not a heartless bitch. Maybe I'm trying to assure myself I'm not a heartless bitch. I do, however, have sad memory amnesia.

Today is the 7 year anniversary of my Father-in-Laws (these two adjectives can't even begin to describe . . . ) unexpected and sudden death. I COMPLETELY forgot.

I can recount to you every second of that night we got the call. I can tell you what was happening hours before hand (Corey's 1st birthday party), I can tell you what we were doing the exact minute we got the call; who we were with; how we handled the situation. I can tell you every phone call made that night. I can vividly describe to you the primal scream unleashed by every member of the family in the room that night who heard the doctor say those horrible words, "We did everything we could, but I'm sorry, he didn't make it."

Remembering the event is not the issue. Forgetting to commemorate it is where my insensitivity resides. A card; a hug; a special dinner. Anything. It's not difficult. Hell, it's not even too much to ask.

Darrell, I am so sorry. I love you so much. I would be lost without you. I know how close you were to your father. I know how much you miss him.

Don was great man. He was an excellent father. He was an excellent Pa-Pa. He was a tremendous Father-in-Law. The Redskins thing . . . I'll let that go. :-)

I miss him, too.

Don, I know you are up in heaven looking down on us, and I hope you are proud of all you accomplished. Your legacy lives through your children and grandchildren. Darrell is the best father any child could hope to have and husband any woman would dream to have.

You are missed.

You are loved.

And while the memories of that tragic day are stored in the murky part of my brain,

You are not forgotten.


Monday, January 26, 2009

OK, OK, I've had enough. Over the last four days, I have read about or heard about some issues on the news that have made me go practically apoplectic!!

1st off the bat . . . Fairfax County has decided in its infinite wisdom to lower their grading scale. This in an effort to make their kids more competitive in the college admissions arena. Does that sound counter-productive? "Hey, let's make our kids more competitive by lowering the standards!" BRILLIANT!

I know, I know. That's not why they did it. They want their kids to have an equal shot at admissions. If their kid has to get a 94 to qualify for and A (4.0) and other kids in the nation or state only need to get a 90, then the playing field isn't level. Yeah, yeah, yeah! I know.

The problem is . . . the problem is multifaceted. I don't understand why the government (read the people) don't take a common sense approach to this. While they are doing what they think is in the best interest of their own child, they are not looking out for the interests of all children. Maybe it's too much to expect of others . . . ? You'll learn that my expectations while high, are not unreasonable or unattainable. Here, I'll show you how it's done:

  • First . . . an "A" should not be easily attained. It is not supposed to be attained easily. The object is to give the kids something to shoot for . . . a goal . . . an aspiration. To get an "A" you should have achieved something exceptional! An "A" is not about being "a"bove "a"verage. Part of the problem with the educational system right now is that we are catering to the psychoses of the kids instead of educating children to strive for better. We lower the standards so their feelings don't get hurt. By lowering the standards, you are undermining the foundation of ALL of our futures. I certainly do not want a pilot flying my plane who got an "average" grade in math and physics! I want the pilot who can land the plane in the Hudson River and everyone survives! That guy deserves an "A"!!!! The "A" that is 94 and above!!


B=Above Average


D=Below Average


  • Second . . . The number average assigned to these grades should be consistent at a state level if not a federal level . . .PERIOD! I'd rather the federal government not get any more involved than they already are, so for the sake of smaller government, we'll keep it at the state level. All parents in the state need to contact their school board, the local legislators, the governor, etc . . . and demand a consistent grading scale for the entire state. At a maximum, then, the colleges and universities would only have to keep track of 50 grading scales. In this day and age of computers, don't give me that crap that it's too much administrative work. That's bullshit! These admissions offices keep track of much less critical minutia! Memorizing or keeping tabs on the 50 states' grading scales is nothing.

If you don't agree that colleges and universities have the abilities to keep track of 50 different grading scales, then perhaps the grading scale should be federally mandated. After all, we wouldn't want to put the colleges and universities we're paying 10s of thousands of dollars to do anything that would overburden them. (Sarcasm)

  • Third . . . IF you don't agree that this should be federally mandated, and/or IF you don't agree that the entire state should have the same grading scale, then you suck! I know, I know . . . how mature. Moving on . . . IF you don't agree with the ideas above, then the only other solution to this issue is to have all schools submit the number average the student receives. I'm not talking about a 1.0 or 4.0. I'm talking about 94%, 85%, 72%, etc . . . This allows each university to determine fairly what they will and will not accept. It levels the playing field for EVERY student.

Isn't that ultimately what we want for our children. While we want them to have the same opportunities as all other children, we also need to groom our children to accept responsibility for the work they did or did not put in. If your child received consistent 90s, then he/she doesn't deserve to go to Harvard. They don't deserve to get the full-paid scholarship. The child who puts in the effort, and makes the sacrifices, and comprehends the gravity of the situation deserves it. The children who get the 94s and ABOVE do!

There are thousands of wonderful colleges and universities in this nation. We are truly blessed with an abundance of facilities of higher learning. Whether your child is a 90 student or an 84 student or a 97 student, the college experience will be an unparalleled experience no matter the campus, and the BA or BS they earn will be just as good as one earned at an Ivy League school.

People, this is a call to action. Write your local politicians and school board. Hell, write your federal politicians and demand a common sense approach to this matter. There does need to be a standard by which we assess all students. There does need to be a level playing field so that all students have an equal chance at the opportunities.

With that, the students who achieve exemplary results, deserve the exemplary opportunities.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thank God it's Friday. Even though this week was a short school week, I am exhausted! There are soooo many things I want to write about, but frankly, I am too tired.

I would like to talk about the watering down of the "A", and perhaps a more common sense approach to this mess.

I want to rant about Obama's reversal President Bush's ban on funding to family planning facilities that do abortions. I know, I know . . . soooo controversial! Deal with it.

Right now, however, I am going to watch the Grey's Anatomy that I DVR'd and then go to sleep.
Later, People.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wow, I feel like I just got hit upside the head with a baseball bat. What a way to start off this post, huh?

When I woke up this morning, I had to talk myself into not calling out today. Admittedly, I have no long term interest in being an art teacher. It's fine for now, but it is not something I see myself doing for the rest of my life. As a matter of fact, I think God has an incredible sense of humor for putting this opportunity in my path. I have absolutely no experience teaching art, and I am the most craft inept person you will ever meet. My brother sapped all the artistic talent in our family!

Anyway, I managed to motivate myself and my kids to get to school. Once I got there, things went great. The day went pretty smoothly considering I'm teaching kids ages 5 through 11! I got out of school and went home. My kids were making their lunches and telling me about their day. We got homework and showers done. I ate dinner before I went off to work at Old Navy. The evening was slow at Old Navy and we got out early. On the whole, this day doesn't seem like a journey worth making mention of. It's a pretty run of the mill day.

It wasn't until I got home that I started to realize that a run of the mill day is a blessing indeed. My husband told me that his cousin Curt was not doing well. Curt has been fighting cancer for at least 8 years. Curt is a father of 4 and a grandfather of 3. He has 3 younger siblings who love him, as well as a doting mother and father. His cancer started out as non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. While some said this was unbeatable, Curt beat it.

After a few years, the cancer came back, but it was not the same cancer as before. I have to admit, I forget a lot of the terminology, but nonetheless, the cancer had come back. Curt had to have a bone marrow transplant. Of the three siblings he has, only one was a match . . . his baby sister. Kris didn't hesitate for a second. The transplant was done, and the cancer was once again in remission. This remission didn't last as long as the other one had. After some time, Curt's cancer came back. He had to have procedure done where they take all the blood out of his body and put new "clean" blood in. The blood was donated once again by Kris with the hopes that since it was Kris' marrow in Curt's body that the marrow would recognize the blood and would generate stronger and more white blood cells. The more of those and the stronger, the more likely the body is to fight the cancer and beat it. I think Curt had to do this twice.

Now, I have to make a comment here. Curt is by far the strongest man I have ever met. Despite being in a tremendous amount of pain, and despite going through all these treatments and the chemo and the radiation, Curt continued to work when he could, go to his kids' soccer games and swim meets. He continued to come to all the family parties that were hosted. Through it all, there was not one word of complaint. He was happy to do it. He was happy to see everyone. He was happy to be alive and be able to do it.

This cancer gradually infected his entire spinal column now. He has tumors on his shoulder and hip. One of them was so big, it broke his collar bone. He has these cyber-knife treatments done regularly now to remove whatever tumors they can. His spinal column is very weak and these treatments are less invasive than chemo or radiation.

I was shocked when my mother-in-law told me at Christmas that Curt's doctors asked him if he wanted to know how long he had. It literally took my breath away. I can't imagine this family without him. Curt decided he didn't want to know how long he had. He was going to live his life fully, not live his life waiting for the end. I respect that, and it just renewed my feelings about him being the strongest man on Earth.

As I said earlier, though, my husband told me tonight that things are not going well. Curt is going to have to be in a wheelchair soon. The family is worried that once he has to go into the wheelchair that he will just give up on life.

At first this made me sad . . . . . .

And then it made me mad!

No, I'm not mad at Curt. Curt is a fighter . . . he is my hero. I am mad that people are doubting him . . . that people are saying he's going to give up. I know this fight has been a long one and it has been a devestatingly hard one. I don't know that I wouldn't have given up long before now. I guess what I'm mad at is that the family seems to be giving up. Come on, people! Think positive. Pray. Ask God for a miracle. I don't know. Just don't give up on him!!! Now is the time to rally around him. Now is the time to show him just how loved he his. This journey of his has been agonizing, but the one thing that has kept him going is his FAMILY!! We cannot give up on him now. Damn it, I WILL NOT give up on him. I will not give up on having HOPE for him.

Curt, I love you very much. I cannot tell you how proud I am of you and all you've accomplished. You truly are an amazing man. I pray for you every single night. My kids, and Darrell pray for you every single night. My kids light candles at church for you. Our eyes filled up with tears at Christmas Eve mass when we sang your favorite Christmas song "What Child is This?". You have no idea how much of a hero you are to all of us. Keep fighting the fight, Curt. I know it's hard. It shouldn't be this hard, but God has chosen this path for you because he knows you are the only one who can make this journey.

I will not give up hope, Curt. I will not stop praying. I will not stop pulling for the Dallas Cowboys, no matter how many times you tell me to stop. :-)

Keep fighting, Curt. I love you!