Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 random things about me...

This is a re-post from Facebook. If you are reading this, feel free to consider yourself "tagged" and post your own 25 random things...

1. When applying to college, I filled in "Undecided" 8 times. The only school I committed to a major at was USC.. That was where I ended up. Lots of good a degree in Psychology did me, though..

2. I simply LOVED going to an all-girls' high school.

3. I have a terrible fear of heights, snakes and vomiting.

4. Despite growing up around smokers, I have never once even tried to smoke.

5. I spent nearly every spring break of my youth and teenage years on Sanibel Island, and it is still my favorite place on earth (ok, Amalfi comes close) to spend quiet vacation time.

6. The nearly 8 years I have spent in Arizona is the only time in my life that I have lived more than an hour away from a major ocean and I hate it.

7. I am the only child of two only children. My husband's enormous family still overwhelm me in about 5 minutes.

8. Most folks who meet me think that I am either extremely self confident or an incorrigible snob when the truth is I am generally quite private and shy.

9. I love to sing and have been known to break out into song without warning. The piece of flair that says "Be careful, anything you say may remind me of a song that needs to be sung? is ALL me!

10. I am often the loudest person in the room and talk with my hands. There's not a whole lot of Italian in me, but that's what I blame!!

11. After meeting my future mother in law for the first time, she went back to her home town and described me as "Nice girl... talks with her hands a lot"...

12. I was all set to be the mother of girls and even cried when I found out I was having boys, but now that I am a mother of boys, I would not trade it for the world!!

13. I have my first group of "real" language arts kids (english to we kids of the 80's) and simply LOVE them!!

14. I am completely and hopelessly addicted to Facebook and am not yet ready for a recovery program!

15. My boys continue to absolutely amaze and surprise me every day with the things they do, the things they say... I am so completely proud to be their mom.

16. Despite all my years of "proper" schooling and my mother's attempts to make me into a Lady, I swear like a truck driver and might even be able to make a sailor blush!

17. I talk to my mom every day on the phone. Many days, I even talk to her twice.

18. My favorite book ever is The Eight by Katherine Neville. I have not been able to get through the sequel.

19. I think Hugh Jackman is one of the sexiest men alive (and so does People Magazine) but not only is he hunky, the man can sing AND dance.. gotta love a guy who can play Curley from Oklahoma!

20. I let my kid watch way too much TV. I know this - and yet.. I do nothing to change it.

21. I prefer a room full of hormonal 8th graders than a room full of elementary school kids. Most people think that is downright strange.

22. I want to become fluent (again) in French. Mlle Charton from Miss Porters would be so disappointed at how I have let my French go!

23. I miss snow.

24. Even though I have not lived there since 1987, I still consider Avon, Connecticut to be HOME.

25. Regardless of what many people may say.. I do NOT have an accent!

Friday, January 16, 2009

One for the win column...

Anyone who has been following my Twitter updates lately will realize I've been in a fightin' mood lately. It take quite a bit to get me to the place where I am loaded for bear and ready for a fight. I'm really a pacifist at heart.

But there are times when things are just so incredibly messed up that I am spurred to action.

This usually means lots of pontificating and gesturing, and wearing my "Don't fk with me" boots regularly.

The issue du jour regards a little boy with autism, his emotionally fragile older brother, and a system that can't seem to find the forest for the trees.

Special Education teachers base their jobs on numbers. The number of kids you have on your case load and the number of 'touches' or contacts you have with those kids per day determine whether you are a full time teacher, or a part time teacher or if you are working over time. It is an archane and convoluted formula that those with advanced degrees in math will struggle to complete correctly, but its what we've got to determine when we can say UNCLE - I'm FULL!

Our elementary LRC teacher is perilously close to being FULL. So the 'logical' move was to give any new incoming students to me.

Except the two in question are..... 5 and 8 years old. Oh, and one, the 5 year old, has autism. Oh, and I am a middle school teacher.

I was confronted/accosted in the hallway (AGAIN! That ruddy principal just loves to take you on in the hallway!) and was told how I had to MAKE SURE I got it worked out and convinced the mother that I was the best person to take her kids and blah blah blah blah blah.. or ...

they would take away my language arts class.


No way is it right, best practice, or in the best interest of the child to have him serviced in a middle school classroom... No Freaking Way!

No one heard me. No one, except the mother... who called the district... who sent out a truly cracker jack gal who happens to run the elementary special education department.

A very long and drawn out story made short for prime time... we got the schedule worked out so I can KEEP my language arts kids (a class, by the way, that I took to help them out of a scheduling snafu so big it was causing headlines) and the children in question can be serviced by the appropriate personnel.

See.. maybe someday they will let ME rule the world. All the problems would be solved with some heavy negotiations, and a good pair of 3" heels!

Monday, January 05, 2009

S.N.A.F.U 1-6

You have either heard it, or you know what it means... it describes my first day back at school to a "T"...

Our school psychologist, who I really, really like, scheduled an uncharacteristically early meeting for this morning. 7:30 am (A dreadful time to be AT school) on the first day back from break.

Really?? Seriously?? S-E-R-I-O-U-S-L-Y???? Surely, you've got to be joking??

No, I am not joking, and don't all me Shirley!!

Anyway, as is typically for my time frame, we were still finishing all the testing we needed for this kid the afternoon of the last day of school. Admittedly, not the best planning... but you do what you can with what you are given, right?

I went in over break to score his tests, sent the scores to our Psych, and came home, knowing I could write this IEP from home. Our school district paid a ridiculous amount of money for an Internet-based program that will, in theory, make our lives easier. Except that it doesn't ... ever. Case in point was when I tried to log on from home. The website is a nice little link on my desktop on my work computer. Can't remember the website... and neither can anyone else.

Great. LOVELY... only solution is to get up and OUT of the house at O'Mygoditsearly so I can write the damn IEP and make it to the meeting.

Fine.. you do what you have to..

Only I get to school and... guess what... the servers were updated over break and NONE of my links work. NONE... I cannot access this kid's file nor can I write the document that is required for this meeting. CRAP! I decide I can only do what I can do, right? So I grab a blank front page so we can all sign for the fact that we were at a meeting without any documentation... and off I go.

And I wait.

And wait....

And the parent never shows... NEVER SHOWS UP!!!! We have now covered SNAFUs 1, 2 and 3...

More about SNAFUs 4, 5 and 6 tomorrow... stay tuned!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Lessons learned in 40 years

Birthdays are a great time to be somewhat reflective. I think back and cannot fathom the fact that I have been here, alive, on this earth, for 40 years. 40 used to be SO OOOLLLLDDDD... People in their 40s were decrepit and moving into the 'nearly useless' category. I'd like to think I was gravely mistaken (get the pun there? 'gravely'?? I crack myself up sometimes)

I would like to think I have learned a few things along the way; not that I am finished learning - not by a long shot, but hopefully I am a bit wiser than I was in my 'younger days'.

I have learned that that the human heart has a nearly infinite capacity to love. I remember being pregnant with Matthew and scared to death that I would not be able to love this unknown child anywhere near as much as I loved Parker. I had talked with friends, all of whom had more than one child, who assured me that I would love them all with the same depth and breadth and I could not believe it. It wasn't until I held that little squirmy bundle of joy for the first time that I started to understand what they meant... that just like my seemingly ever-expanding belly, my heart would stretch to encompass all those in my life.

I have learned that people generally rise to your expectations. I use this philosophy with my students who all have learning disabilities of one sort or another. I refuse to tell them they CAN"T do something, read Shakespeare, for example, and they continue to not only amaze me, but themselves as well.

I have learned that there are truly restorative powers in hot running water. I am so thankful to live in a time of not only indoor plumbing, but the hot water heater!

I have learned that there is no 'better' way to lose someone you love. You hear people say of a tragedy, "Well, at least they didn't suffer" and of someone who died of a lengthy illness, "Well, at least you got to say goodbye"... but the truth of it is that both ways suck. Losing someone you love is physically painful regardless of the way you lose them. It's a part of life, unfortunately, and we all seem to move ahead with our lives after a loss, but it hurts and it sucks and there is no 'better' way to go through it.

I have learned that some days just require chocolate. Or a martini.. or even a chocolate martini.

I have learned that, while meeting folks and developing friendships throughout your life is wonderful, nothing is better than hanging out with the people in your life who are more like family than friends. Typically, these are the ones you've known 'forever'.

I have also learned that, just like the definition of 'family' is changing with the time, so has the definition of friendship. There is no need to be close in proximity to someone for the bonds of friendship to be strong and tight. In fact, you can have these bonds with people you have never even met in person. I think that 15 years ago, had I said something like that, people would have discounted it or thought me a slight bit batty.. but it is now more commonplace to find 'internet only' friendships. You hear of people meeting, and falling in love over the internet. Some really great relationships have formed from cyber-space. I have noticed that, 10 years ago when I really immersed myself in an internet group, I had to qualify statements like "My friend from the internet".... and that has changed. Today, some of my dearest and best friends are 'internet only' friends, and I feel not only blessed to know them, but I could not imagine my life without them.

Makes me wonder what the next 40 years will hold.....