Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It is so hard for me to blog with the start of the new school year.

With Summer comes the uncluttering of my mind. Without the cares and preoccupations of school to fill all of my limited, available, brain space, my thoughts are free to roam and find corners in which to lie down and ruminate creatively.

But especially this time of the early school year, when there is so much to be created, assessed, organized and worried over, my mind is always "on". My brain is always abuzz with ideas, things I need to remember, concerns. It will calm down as the year goes on, as I get into a groove. Yeah, as I get my groove back. "How Cathy Got Her Groove Back" lol! Taye Diggs, calling Taye Diggs!

Actually, I've been a little down in the dumps. In fact, I could just cry right now, as I sit at the keyboard. I don't know why. Well, if I analyze it, it's because of a lot of small "whys". I guess I can be thankful that it's not one giant, awful, "why".

I definitely think I need a good cry. The Horse Whisperer would be good. The Family Man (NOT to be confused with Family Guy) always makes me cry. There's the Green Mile and Meet Joe Black. Most Nora Efron movies...I know, I know, her movies are romantic comedies, but they still make me cry.

I don't want any of the heavy hitters like The Boy in Striped Pajamas or a movie where the Mom is dying. I'm down in the dumps. I don't want to turn it into a full blown depression.

What would you recommend? Movies, not therapists.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I always feel like somebody's watchin' me...

I see faces...everywhere!

The mean insect face sits on my husband's side of the vanity in the master bath. It stares at me hatefully as I use the toilet!

When I found this plaque for my living room, I loved it! It picked up on other motifs in the room and looked perfect hanging over the window. In fact, shortly after I got it hung on the wall, I sat admiring it. But soon, all my eyes would see was an odd teddy bear face wearing a big crown! I am unable to look at the piece as a whole. Everytime I see it, my eye is drawn to the crowned teddy bear and I do not like crowned teddy bears in my living room!

I do enjoy my little flock of avian garden shears. They are a happy bunch, in spite of their flightless fate.

The electrical outlets...not so happy. They look alarmed at the thought that they may soon be poked in the eye, yet again!

I think I need to introduce the bitter bathroom boom box to the terrifying cyclops that lives on the work bench in the garage!
Watch out! I think he bites!

My friend Gail, just sent me this one. Poor thing! She is the most miserable LadyBug I have ever seen.

If you see any good ones, send them to me!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Facebook Friends...One is Silver and the other Gold

Okay, so this whole Facebook friends thing...
I just helped my mom get a Facebook account. I was explaining to her how, if you want to be friends with someone, you have to send a friends request.
"You have to ask them if you can be their friend?"
"Well. Yes... sorta. It's just a formality."
She asks a little worriedly, "But, what if they say no!?"
At seventy-five, you don't want to be dealing with school yard rejection.

When I first got on Facebook, EVerybody was my friend! I had tons. Then I realized that I was friends with 11 year old neighbor boys, people I really didn't recognize and some people that, frankly, I had no desire to be friends with. So I culled my list. I immediately felt very guilty and I really did mistakenly get rid of some keepers.
"What if I hurt someone's feelings?"
After I consulted with my kids, they all agreed.
"Never get rid of your friends mom."
"It's a networking thing."
" You want to have friends that you don't know and really don't want to be friends with".
You want to be friends with EVerybody!
So I wrote an apology of sorts, contritely explaining that I had accidentally deleted some people and invited them to come back, and some did.

So far, I have only experienced the humiliating indignity of Facebook rejection once.

Recently, an old school mate, a school mate with whom I was never friends, requested my friendship. By friend, I mean someone I knew, ate lunch with, had sleepovers with, talked to regularly. She was on the edge of my outer circle of friends. But despite all the above, I received a friends request. It came after I had converted back to the EVeryone can be my friend ideology, so I accepted after looking her up in my dusty yearbook.
"Ah yes, I think maybe we had a P.E. class together once." I read her profile.

Married to Ron Seaver. (all names changed to protect...)

"Ron Seaver! She's married to my old high-school sweetheart!"
Of course, like any old flame, I wanted to see how he's held up over the years. I mean, anybody on Facebook can see that I look like what I am, a fat, 54 year old school teacher. So, I wanted to see if he'd fared any better. But no pictures were posted on her page and, wouldn't you know, his is a "friends request only" page.

Now, here was my dilemna, although I really was not interested in being friends with his wife, I wanted to find out about "Ron". He must know I am Facebook friends with his wife. He's on Facebook, right, so he knows I'm on Facebook. But no request to be my friend. So I let it lie. In the meantime, Facebook was sending me little friend suggestions, "you should be friends with"Ron". You have friends in common! Ron is nice, be his friend!" But I, erring on the side of discretion, ignored them.

Then, throwing caution to the wind, I hit the button. I requested to be his friend.
"What the hell, all he can say is no, right?"
I got no reply.
I figure maybe he doesn't get on that often but after a week, I felt like a fool.
I felt like I had been turned down for the Sadie Hawkins dance.
I was embarrassed and, somehow, ashamed. But I got over it swiftly.

So, questions:
Are you taking a risk, asking if you can be someone's friend on Facebook?
Should you just be friends with EVeryone?
Did she only want to be my friend to tell me she married my old boyfriend?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Teacher's First Days of School

I drive, twenty miles per hour, in front of the school. The white bearded crossing guard, looking more like an old biker than Santa Claus, steps into the crosswalk, sign brandished, bidding me to stop. I look upon the kids, "my kids". Some stand alone, others run around with or without a soccer ball. The 6th graders, in groups of either boys showing-off or girls posing flirtatiously, eye each other.
It's the first day of school and I tear-up a little, as I do every year. I love these kids. They touch my heart in an inexplicable way.
I have a new job and title. I am now...wait for the herald trumpets... Literacy Facilitator. (Please read that with a British accent.)
I have my own office, a small room with no windows that is hotter than blazes. My tiny fan runs constantly, stirring the hot air like a convection oven. I joke that if I left a small roast there over night, it would slow cook to perfection for my lunch!
So far, as Literacy Facilitator, I have facilitated test after test and we are still testing. There are the D.I., the C.B.M's, the G.R.L's, the SRI's and finally the Iowas. Education loves an acronym: DOL, PE, TAT, ESL, ELL, YPP, and so forth.

Unfortunately, as we conduct these tests, it can get pretty disheartening. I try to keep a "glass half-full attitude". Most of our students are at least 2 years behind, many far below that. Many are EnglishLanguageLearners, 98% are Free Lunch, and some are recent immigrants from Burma, Africa and "south of the border". These circumstances present the "elephant we must eat, one spoonful at a time".
Our Kindergarten teachers are miracle workers. Our little children come in with none of the skills that most middle-classed Kindergarteners enter school with. Honest to goodness, out of 16 children in one class, all but one scored less than 5 on Letter Recognition and that was the norm. Worse than the lack of knowledge, is the attitude a few of the kids have already developed.
I ask in a gently, upbeat manner, "Tell me the name of this letter"
"Phh! I don' know!" came the flippant reply with a slight, beligerent shrug.
How do you get that attitude as a 5 year old?
But then there were others whose knowledge, of even a few letters or sounds, was delivered with a smile, large brown eyes shining with pride.
I don't mean to discount our other teachers when I praise Kindergarten! They all work tirelessly and conscientiously in an old, hot, crumbling building. They spend many hours off the clock and their efforts pay off.
We finally made AYP, another acronym for Adequate Yearly Progress. In fact, our school gained 13% on the CRT's. While this percentage doesn't sound like much, to those unfamiliar with No Child Left Behind or NCLB, it is a considerable achievement. The announcement of our no longer being "a failing school" was met with tearful whoops of joy! The bad news is, we will now lose some funding for the very programs that helped us make the grade.

So as the new school year begins, with the glass half-full and keeping our chins up , we will keep plugging along. We can only go up from here!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Labor(day) of Love

Twenty-seven years ago I had the best Labor Day weekend ever! I birthed my lovely daughter Shannon. My friend, my cheerleader, my baby girl, Shannon is a delight.

So, every year to celebrate her birthday and say goodbye to Summer, we have a big party. Shan's MIL Patsy, the girls and Nate came without Fred, who was Elk Hunting. My sister's family, whom I am ashamed to admit I have hardly seen this Summer, was here along with all the accompanying kids, spouses and footballs.

Our cats, Beansie and Yitto enjoyed mingling with the guests

Sitting in the fading summer light, watching the boys play football, we laughed and caught up with each other. The BYU win over Oklahoma and Don's celebratory light display was a hot topic!

My sister's famous pretzel/creamcheese/strawberry salad, Patsy's yummy Chinese coleslaw and my own potato salad and homemade salsa made for the perfect accompaniments to grilled burgers.

After eating ourselves silly, we still found room for birthday cake. Sevnteen voices strong, the birthday song was really a rousing chorus!

Happy Birthday Shan and farewell sweet Summer!

I may be wrong...

I don't pretend to know all the answers. I don't want to argue. I'm simply stating how I feel and I may be wrong. Everyone else in my family seems to feel comfortable stating how they feel about it. A day doesn't pass without 2 or 3 "anti government health care" emails arriving in my mailbox.So , here goes...
I would guess that most of the above folks are over 65. I may be wrong. Most of these folks, who make up approximately 12% of the U.S. population, have been depending on and receiving the benefits of a Government Health Care Plan, in the form of Medicare, for quite a few years. And while all town-hall protesters are not Senior Citizens, a good deal are.
I pay a Medicare tax from each of my paychecks to support their care and I am glad to do it, just as I would be glad to pay more taxes to ensure ALL American citizens have adequate health care, not just old folks, congressmen, members of the Armed Services, Government Workers and Veterans.
I would guess these people are all insured,but I may be wrong.
We are insured through my employer. My husband's various employers, for the last 23 years, have not offered affordable health insurance, citing
"we pay you enough to buy your own." Besides my premium of 500 dollars, my employer is, reportedly, paying over 1100 dollars per month to insure my family of 3.
If I were to lose my job, we would be uninsurable because of our weight and the one prescription each, my husband and I use. Even with no preexisting conditions or chronic health problems, once you hit 50, it is very difficult to be insured without being part of a group plan. The insurers simply keep raising your rate until you can't afford to stay with them.

When you are securely insured, either through a government program such as Medicare or as part of a good group plan,
When your employer has not yet fired you and then re-hired you as a contract laborer or cut your hours to 38 per week so they don't have to pay you benefits,
When you do not have a preexisting condition that makes you uninsurable,
When your insurer will pay for your screening colonoscopy, marital counseling, the dermatologist for your teen's acne and your yearly physicals,
Then, it is easy to protest a Government Health Care Plan.
So, I've said my piece.
I know some of you are shaking your heads sadly while lamenting, "She's gone over to the other side"
some of your are shaking your heads while exclaiming "what a dumb-ass"!
and some of you are ready for battle.
I just needed to express my opinion and

I may be wrong.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Michelle Duggar has had a makeover!


Announcing Baby 17-------------------------------Announcing Baby 19

I do believe Mama Duggar got a makeover.
Her old 80's "girl-mullet" has been updated to a 90's gelled, wet curls look. Gone are the big bangs, now swept to the side and the hair around her face is, oh my!...only shoulder length!
Her teeth have been bleached or she's had veneers and , I dare say, she's wearing bronzer!
I guess after all her gussy-ing up it's no wonder she's pregnant with Duggar #19. How could he resist?
"We just couldn't believe this was happening!" Michelle said.
What's so hard to believe? You had unprotected sex, you're only 42. She could easily have at least 2 more kids. In fact, wouldn't it make sense?
Think of the money that would come with the headline "Number 20 for the Duggars!!"